Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama’s Afghanistan Vaudeville

By Tony Karon

"......The reality, of course, is that Kerry’s insistence on standing behind Karzai, as if twisting the visibly uncomfortable U.S.-installed president’s arm as he announced a humiliating retraction of his insistence that he’d won the election on its first round, simply confirmed that the failed U.S. presidential candidate from Massachusetts is a political dolt. But the announcement — a delicious propaganda moment for the Taliban, who insist that Karzai is an obedient servant of the U.S. — was not half as damaging as the political gambit it showcased: Forcing Karzai to accept a runoff election which even the U.S. knows is a farce — so much so, that Washington is now hard at work trying to press Karzai into a power sharing deal so as to avoid the very runoff they had insisted was a precondition for sending more troops......

Indeed, the song and dance over the runoff election is primarily aimed at a domestic audience. After all, President Obama looks set to dramatically escalate U.S. military involvement there. And so the folks back home need a good fairy tale to sustain that commitment. (Those being the folks on Capitol Hill, of course, who are also prone to fantasies that “training” hundreds of thousands of Afghans will turn them into an army ready to fight the Taliban. Curiously enough, the American electorate is far more skeptical of this war than its elected leaders are.)"

Nato faces same problems in Afghanistan as Russia did in 1985

Times Online

"In 1985 the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan was at a turning point. Mikhail Gorbachev had just become Communist Party chief and was looking for an exit strategy. The Red Army wanted more troops.

Both had lost faith in Babrak Karmal, the Afghan President whom they installed in 1979 but who was now weak, incompetent and confined mostly to his palace.

Sound familiar?......

Mohammad Najibullah oversaw the Soviet withdrawal and a civil war before seeking refuge in a UN compound in Kabul in 1992. Four years later the Taleban dragged him out, tortured him to death and strung him from a traffic light."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This poll asks:

Do you support Mahmoud Abbas' announcement of Palestinian elections to be held next January?

With over 6,000 answering already (in less than one day), 74% said no.


With 15,000 responding, the percentage of those opposing Abbas' decision has risen to 80%.

Audio: Interviews with Olmert protesters in San Francisco

Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, 23 October 2009

"....Nora Barrows-Friedman, senior producer of Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio, was on the scene, interviewing those who had gathered to voice their outrage at Olmert's presence. This audio was produced for KPFA's Flashpoints and is reproduced with credit."

Click Here to Listen

Q&A: "Women Will Benefit From Secularism"

Cam McGrath interviews Egyptian feminist author NAWAL EL-SAADAWI

A Good Interview

"CAIRO, Oct 23 (IPS) - Controversy stalks dissident writer Nawal El-Saadawi, whose views on women and religion have put her at odds with Egyptian conservatives.

Recently she returned to Cairo after nearly three years in exile, and has already created a stir with the launch of a local chapter of her global campaign for the separation of religion and state.

"God has no place in politics," El-Saadawi told IPS. "Religion is a powerful weapon to divide people. You are Christian and I am Muslim, and so we kill each other."

Clerics have described her secularism campaign as blasphemous and opponents are now seeking to have her imprisoned. It's nothing new for the outspoken 77-year-old civil activist, who has paid a price for outspokenness. Over the years she’s been removed from her post as a public health official, put in jail for criticising the regime, hounded by lawsuits, and marked for death by Islamists.

Yet she persists.

From her home in Cairo, El-Saadawi spoke to IPS about her efforts to counter the rising tide of religious fundamentalism and free women from all forms of oppression. Excerpts from the interview......"

Bush Jokes as Protesters Burn His Effigy in Montreal

CTV News Canada

"MONTREAL — As George W. Bush cracked jokes with a business crowd inside a hotel ballroom Thursday, hundreds of people outside the building cheered while he was being burned in effigy.

Police in riot gear and others on horseback held back a crowd of hundreds, including many people who tossed shoes at Montreal's historic Queen Elizabeth Hotel in a demonstration of disdain for the man speaking inside......"

Et Tu Al-Manar? And Now From the Land of...Hummus (as As'ad would call it)....No Government but Plenty of...Hummus....

Lebanon Marks New Victory on Israel with Largest Humus Plate Ever


"Lebanon is set on Saturday to set a new world record and mark a new victory on Israel by preparing a two-ton plate of Humus (Chick-pea), thus beating an Israeli record two years ago when the zionist entity prepared an 800kg plate of this pure Lebanese appetizer. On Sunday, a gigantic plate of another main Lebanese dish, Tabboule, will be prepared with a total weight of 3000kg. The Kuwaiti daily Al Rai quoted the head of the ... ...

Robert Fisk’s World: Beirut's history can't be reduced to a mere 'heritage trail'

The Romans were here. The Crusaders were here, and then the Muslims came

By Robert Fisk

And, of course, you can find Crusader stones in the Ottoman fortification, just as you can find Roman columns embedded for support within the Crusader remains and – can we be surprised? – the 19th-century Brits, when they arrived in Beirut to defend the Druze from the Maronites (the French had already arrived to defend the Christians), built their own barracks on top of other defences. In other words, each new military force, Roman, Omayad, Turkish, British, the Lebanese themselves, physically used their predecessor's history. Walking through the ruins with Hans, you can, far below the level of the forthcoming "trail" – outside the dry moat of the lost castle – see the relics of a Canaanite wall. In other words, the old city of Beirut is a giant historical club sandwich, the lower slice of stone "bread" being about 5,000 years old.

Like archive photographs, therefore, ancient cities are about memory – not so much about loss, but about witness. The Romans were here. The Crusaders were here, and then the Muslims came. Indeed, one of the most beautiful mosques in Beirut, less than half a mile away, was a Crusader church, and when you go inside, it clearly was a Christian place of worship, complete with medieval arched windows and apse. And when the French mandate authorities built their own shopping streets, they often used real Roman marble columns on either side of their doors to prettify their buildings. Then came the 1975-90 civil war to wreck the lot. Most of mandate Beirut – though not the Ottoman bit, which was also trashed – has been restored. But the French street names have remained. So the titans of my Dad's First World War – Foch, Clemenceau, Allenby, Weygand – still grace the walls......"

Video: Protesters call Israeli Olmert "war criminal" in San Francisco

Rise of the Turkish crescent


"Since the Israeli war on Gaza last January, Turkey's role in Middle Eastern politics has become significantly more prominent.

When Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development (AK) Party took office in 2002, it pledged that it would not forsake its historic, religious and cultural bonds with other Muslim countries.

During the Gaza conflict, the party made good on its promise. Turkey's government did not hesitate to voice its displeasure at Israel's military actions, which it said were targeting the civilian population of Gaza. Last week, the Turkish government demonstrated its loyalties again, banning Israeli warplanes from participating in an international military air exercise......

Middle East powerhouse

Bashir Nafie, a Palestinian historian specialised in Turkish politics, believes that Ankara is adopting a multi-directional policy, simultaneously resolving conflicts directly linked to its history (rapprochement with Armenia and resolving its Kurdish problem), and tackling the tensions in the greater region.

He said: "Turkey has realised that its future not only with the EU, but more importantly with its Arab, Muslim and Caucasian neighbours. It also realises that Western arrangements imposed after the First World War is the core of many problems the region is suffering, and it is willing to solve the problems of that heavy heritage."

Hasan Koni, a former adviser to the Turkish National Security Council agrees that Turkey is likely to play an increasingly important role in Middle Eastern politics in coming years.

"Given the fact that there are no more neo-cons in the White House, and that the new US administration is attempting to get out of Iraq, the US will need Turkey to stand against Iran in Iraq and the Middle East in general," he says.

"Turkey is qualified to play that role since it is a Muslim state that maintains ties with both Israelis and Arabs.""

Muslim Brotherhood's testing time


"A dispute within the leadership of Egypt's largest Islamist opposition group went public over the weekend, opening a heated national debate about the ability of political groups to tolerate internal dissent and disagreement.

On October 19, Mohamed Habib, the deputy guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that he had been asked by Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the group's 81-year-old supreme guide, to take on many of the leadership responsibilities until 2010.

In January, the opposition group is expected to elect a new supreme guide.

Akef's decision is unprecedented in the group's 80-year history and it came after a heated dispute between Akef and members of the Guidance Bureau - the group's highest ruling body.

Last week, Akef, who announced months ago that he will not run for a second term in January, wanted bureau members to approve the appointment of Esam el-Erian, a senior and outspoken member of the group, to the ruling body.

The 55-year-old el-Erian is widely known for his political and media activism on behalf of the group, and is often described by the press as a relatively younger and reformist leader, who wants to take the group into a different direction that is more open towards women, Coptic Christians and other political groups......"

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

Khalid Amayreh: Israel could do the unthinkable

Friday, October 23, 2009

In praise of… Amira Hass

The Guardian, Saturday 24 October 2009

"Only Amira Hass could have received the International Women's Media Foundation lifetime achievement award by saying her life as a journalist had been a failure. By her standards maybe, but then she sets them high. If her aim is to stop successive Israeli governments lying about what they do in the occupied territories, then it is true that the language laundromat, as she once put it, keeps on turning. But make no mistake, the Haaretz columnist fully deserves this award. She is the only Israeli journalist to have lived in and reported from Gaza and Ramallah for much of the last two decades. In describing the effects of the occupation on the lives of Palestinians, she has been pilloried by Israelis and fallen foul of Hamas. Her moral anchor is firmly rooted in painful collective memories. Her mother survived a concentration camp and her father the ghettos of Romania and Ukraine. "What luck my parents are dead," Hass wrote at the height of the Gaza operation in January. Her parents could not stand the noise of Israeli jet fighters flying over the Palestinian refugee camps in 1982, and nor could they have tolerated going about their daily chores in Tel Aviv with the knowledge of what was going on in their name in Gaza: "They knew what it meant to close people behind barbed-wire fences in a small area." Only a Jew can invert the "never again" logic of the Holocaust that is used to justify Israel's least justifiable actions. It is that very experience, Hass argues, that should teach Israel to behave differently."

Why I disrupted Olmert

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 23 October 2009
(This article was originally published in the University of Chicago's Chicago Maroon newspaper.)

".....Crimes against humanity are defined as "crimes that shock the conscience." When the institutions with the moral and legal responsibility to punish and prevent the crimes choose complicit silence -- or, worse, harbor a suspected war criminal, already on trial for corruption in Israel, and present him to students as a paragon of "leadership" -- then disobedience, if that is what it takes to break the silence, is an ethical duty. Instead of condemning them, the University should be proud that its students were among those who had the courage to stand up.

For the first time in recorded history, an Israeli prime minister was publicly confronted with the names of his victims. It was a symbolic crack in the wall of impunity and a foretaste of the public justice victims have a right to receive when Olmert is tried in a court of law."

Breaking News: The Traitor has Just Announced, after a Call From Obama, that "Elections" will be Held January 24, 2010.

This should drive the last nail in the coffin of the "reconciliation" effort.

However, don't give up; Hamas is still hopeful and optimistic. It is still waiting for an invitation from the Pharaoh to its funeral.

Egypt's harassment disease

From street assaults to abusive phone calls, women in Egypt are plagued by sexual harassment. It's time to act against it

Nesrine Malik, Friday 23 October 2009

"....Even Suzanne Mubarak, the first lady of Egypt, maintains this line of denial, stating that Egyptian men fundamentally respect women and that harassment incidents may have been blown out of proportion by Islamic elements furthering their own agenda. This is where the issue truly becomes cancerous. When the state is more concerned with face-saving and point-scoring, the apathy filters down through all areas of law enforcement. Harsher penalties are hardly going to be dispensed when there is a denial that the problem exists in the first place. There have been some efforts to criminalise harassment and an Egyptian female student has launched an awareness-raising pamphlet distribution programme, but with little official support.

Perhaps the answer is to first dispense with all the excuses and justifications. Men take such liberties when conditions encourage them and the authorities are so indifferent that harassment becomes part of everyday life. However, as with most oppressive governments in the Arab world with weak civil societies, in Egypt any criticism of the status quo is seen as striking at the heart of the establishment. The best approach is to tackle the problem at its roots – on the streets, in the media and in people's homes."

VIDEO: Citizens arrest, disruption of Olmert in San Francisco

Press release, Northern California Palestine justice groups, 23 October 2009

"Twenty-two activists were arrested at Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's speech to the World Affairs Council on 22 October between 6:30 and 7:30pm at the Westin St. Francis Hotel at Union Square in San Francisco. Inside the auditorium, activists began disrupting the event by placing Olmert under citizens arrest. Every couple of minutes, more activists disrupted his speech, barely allowing him to speak, by reading the names of the children killed in Gaza last winter, reading from the recently published Goldstone report and displaying banners that read "Lift the Siege on Gaza" and "War Crimes are Not Free Expression!" Activists were removed from the auditorium chanting "war criminal!" and taken to the Tenderloin Police Station where they are being held for citation. Ten additional persons participated in the action but were not arrested.....

Organizers also expressed outrage that US President Barack Obama has ignored the findings of the Goldstone report......

Eduardo Cohen of San Francisco sums up the sentiment: "The war crimes in the Goldstone Report are not an exception, but a reminder that Israel's apartheid law is itself criminal. We must not only hold Olmert accountable, but all of Israel's leaders, our own elected officials, and other companies and individuals that profit from these crimes. Only then can true justice be reached."

The protest was sponsored by: Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC), Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid (BACEIA), CODEPINK Women for Peace, Friends of Deiribzi'a, Northern California International Solidarity Movement, Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), South Bay Mobilization, Stop AIPAC, CAL Students for Justice in Palestine, US Palestine Communities Network (USPCN), Bay Area Women in Black."

Saada Under Siege

Scorched Desert


The Yemenis in Saada – and I say Yemenis, because regardless of whether they are called Zaidis, Houthis, or Shias, they are still Yemenis – are trapped between the forces of their own government to the south, and a country denying them refuge to the north..

Much as the Israelis blamed the Palestinians of Gaza for their malnutrition, starvation, disease, and impoverishment (a perverse exculpatory practice – blaming the victim for their own misery), Saleh’s government is doing no less to the residents of Saada and surrounding governorates.

By allegedly “cracking down” on al-Qaeda, Yemen has been lauded by the United States for pulling itself back from the brink of “failed state” status. Yet a country and leadership that demonstrates such disregard for the welfare and well-being of its citizens, while simultaneously perpetuating the humanitarian disaster engulfing them, can never be considered to be anything more than the most wretched kind of state there is."

Al-Jazeera Video: Riz Khan - Amira Hass: Covering the other side- 22 Oct09

Part 1:

Part 2:

"One of the most powerful voices of dissent in the Israeli media joins the show. "

Real News Video: Terrorist attack in Iran

Erlich: CIA could be fuelling ethnic unrest, but that does not mean they are behind "Green" protests

More at The Real News

Judge Rejects Blackwater Attempt to Dismiss Cases Filed by Iraqi Victims

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"federal judge has rejected a series of arguments by lawyers for the private military contractor Blackwater who were seeking to dismiss five war crimes-cases brought by Iraqi victims against the company and its owner, Erik Prince. We speak to award-winning investigative journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent, Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”....."

Miles Of Smiles: “We Will Not Go Home Before Delivering The Aid Supplies”

"Isam Yousef, spokesperson of the Miles of Smiles convoy, stated Thursday that convoy participants are determined not to return to their countries in Europe before entering the Gaza Strip and delivering the supplies.

Going back is out of the question”, Yousef said, “We are determined to deliver the humanitarian supplies to the residents of the Gaza Strip”.

In an interview with the Al Aqsa TV, Yousef stated that convoy members started a hunger strike to protest Egypt’s refusal to allow them into Gaza.

He added that they contacted several European institutions and diplomatic missions, but added that ‘so far, the outcome is disappointing”.

The convoy includes more than 100 vehicles, 275 wheelchairs, computers for bombarded schools, and other basic supplies. "

Asad: “Israel Must Choose Between Occupation And Peace”. Earth to the Rabbit: Israel is Having Both Now!

"Syrian President, Bashar Asad, stated Thursday that Israel must choose between occupation and peace, and that Israel cannot choose to remain an occupier and at the same time acts to achieve peace...."

Video: Poll: Obama approval drops most since 1945

Press TV

Video: Poll: Obama approval drops most since 1945

Story: Obama's popularity drop, biggest in 50 years

"Approval rating of Barack Obama has declined sharply since July, the steepest of any president at the same stage of his first term for more than 50 years, a new poll shows.

The first African-American US president averaged a 53% job approval rating in his third quarter in office (July 20 through Oct. 19), according to Gallup Daily tracking.

That is a sharp drop from the 62% he recorded from April, the survey showed. President Obama entered the White House in January with a soaring 78% approval rating......"

Breaking News....Hamas' Number 2 is Waiting....Reconciliation on Life Support...As The Stomach Turns..Stay Tuned...

Abu Marzouk: The reconciliation did not collapse and we wait to go to Cairo

"DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of Hamas political bureau, stated Wednesday that the reconciliation did not collapse despite the clamor raised in this regard, noting that his Movement is waiting for an invitation from Egypt to go to Cairo to discuss the reconciliation paper.

In a statement to Al-Aqsa satellite channel, Dr. Abu Marzouk said that Hamas want to open the new reconciliation paper to match it with what was previously agreed upon......"

Pssst..Have You Noticed Lebanon Has Not Had a Government in 118 Days? Made any Difference? Who Cares? Who Needs it?

Optimism Collapses as Lebanon Enters 118th Day Without Gov't


"22/10/2009 One hundred and eighteen days on the appointment of MP Saad Hariri to form the "partnership" cabinet, Lebanon remains without a government…

One hundred and eighteen days have passed and the Lebanese various blocs are still unable to "discover" the "magical" formula that would allow the "partnership" to be reflected in a real government…

One hundred and eighteen days have passed, half of them filled with non-justified "optimism winds" that turned to be "delusive" and "illusory" at the end…

Indeed, suddenly and without prior notice, "optimism" collapsed on Wednesday and everything returned to square zero…"

Hot Video: Protesters shut down Ehud Olmert's speech in San Francisco

"On October 22 1009, Ehud Olmert spoke at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, an event sponsored by the World Affairs Council. There were protesters inside and outside of the building. Together, we were successfully able to disrupt his speech.

Recording and photography were officially banned at Olmert's request, but I used my cell phone anyway as protester after protester rose to make a statement before police forced them to leave."

See story, 2 posts down.

American jewry and Israel's interests

J Street challenges the monopoly of AIPAC which sees itself as the voice of US Jews
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent

Representativeness, of course, is not the same as power. J Street has a budget of $3m (£1.8m) and AIPAC reportedly one of $70m. When AIPAC earlier this year fired a seemingly innocuous warning shot over a White House clearly bent on reviving a credible peace process, asking President Obama to ensure that America remains a "devoted friend" of Israel and to condition peace talks on an end to violence, its letter attracted 329 signatories in Congress. When J Street wrote its own letter urging active US involvement in the peace process, it got 87.

Neverthless the emergence of J Street is the first development in a long time to challenge the idea that to be a "friend of Israel" – yes even a "devoted" one – does not, as the US President himself put it during his primary campaign, mean signing up to every tenet of Likud policy. J Street certainly has the potential to help a US President who has seriously lost momentum in the Middle East after Mr Netanyahu's humiliating rejection of a total settlement freeze. In the longer-term – though Mr Netanyahu clearly does not agree – it [J Street] may actually have the potential to help Israel too. "

San Francisco Protestors Call Olmert ‘War Criminal’


"23/10/2009 Pro-Palestinian protestors disrupted Ehud Olmert's speech in a San Francisco hotel on Thursday night, exactly one week after the former Israeli premier was verbally attacked at the University of Chicago over war crimes committed by the Zionist entity during the Gaza war.

"You are a war criminal and a murderer," one of the protestors shouted at Olmert during the speech before being removed from the auditorium by security officers. Another protestor shouted, "You are a war criminal. San Francisco should be ashamed to have a war criminal here."

A young woman, identified by the person who documented the incident as a Jew, stood up and shouted, "No more genocide in my name." Another woman waved her hands, which were painted red. The people who documented the protest did it secretly using a cellular phone, as cameras were not allowed into the lecture, and posted the clip on YouTube.[I will try to find it and post it]......"

Our Two-Faced Iran Policy

Engage -- and terrorize

by Justin Raimondo, October 23, 2009

"The news that the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program have produced a draft agreement — okayed "in principle" by the Iranians, as well as the Western powers — puts a happy face on a crisis that, in reality, shows no signs of abating.......

Israel’s campaign to keep Iran from going nuclear is all about maintaining its own nuclear monopoly in the Middle East, as the Iranians pointed out at a secret conference held in Cairo, under the auspices of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), at which both Israeli and Iranian delegates were present. Ha’aretz reports........

The negotiations with Tehran, while a good sign, are likely to run into more than one unforeseen obstacle — including the very powerful Israel lobby. The Lobby’s influence in President Obama’s own party, and its ability to outflank any peace proposals in the US Congress — which is already considering at least one major new sanctions bill — is the main roadblock to peace in the Middle East.

No matter how good the intentions of President Obama, and in spite of his attempts to avoid war with Iran — which would push oil prices beyond the breaking point and plunge our economy into chaos — in the end a military conflict with Iran may be unavoidable. The recent success of the engagement process buys the peace movement valuable time, however, if the agreement goes through without a hitch — and that is reason for restrained optimism. Is far too early, however, to break out the champagne. "

The Palestinian dilemma

This is what is left of the Palestinian "Resistance" in the West Bank!

While Fatah looks to use Palestinian elections as a means to destroy Hamas, it is the Israeli occupation that ultimately uses elections to control the Palestinian struggle

By Khaled Amayreh
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....Indeed, according to Al-Masri , holding elections under Israeli occupation is a heresy "of our own making" that was supposed to be a one-time event pursuant the Oslo Accords and would lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. But via Oslo process Israel continued to control nearly all aspects of Palestinian life while stealing more Palestinian land for Jewish-only settlement expansion.

Hence many ordinary Palestinians, as well as intellectuals, are beginning to question the logic of holding elections if these elections are not going to contribute to ending the Israeli occupation. Since Israel has the final say in matters pertaining to the elections, it is unlikely to tolerate the participation of Hamas and other Palestinian factions whose main goal is ending the occupation.

This is the crux of the Palestinian dilemma."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Israel is in denial over Turkish rage

Turkey was shocked by Goldstone's report on the Gaza conflict, but Israel is seeking other explanations for deteriorating ties

Simon Tisdall, Thursday 22 October 2009

".....On this analysis, Israel's relationship with Turkey, valuable for so many reasons, may soon be a thing of the past – an avoidable outcome since the analysis looks fundamentally flawed. They're not pretending; Turks really are upset about Gaza, as indicated by a much-watched Turkish television drama series depicting clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians that has further inflamed relations. The Turkish public was scandalised by January's events and Turkey's politicians have reacted accordingly, as politicians do.

But among Israeli leaders, the perception is different. Gaza, a justifiable action, cannot be accepted as the real reason for the row; so ulterior motives and complicated explanations are sought. Inhabiting a parallel world, they just don't get it."

Arab winds of change

Who is driving real change in the Arab countries? Not politicians, but feminists, gay people and bloggers

An Interesting Piece

Brian Whitaker, Thursday 22 October 2009

"......If asked where change is likely to come from in the Arab countries, I would not put much faith in "reformist" politicians and opposition parties – they're mostly no-hopers – but I would definitely put feminists, gay men, lesbians and bloggers very high on my list.....

Arab regimes, by and large, are products of the societies they govern and it is often the society, as much as the government itself, that stands in the way of progress. In Kuwait, for instance, it was not the hereditary emir who resisted granting votes to women, but reactionary elements in the elected parliament – and there are plenty of similar examples......

The Arab family as traditionally conceived – patriarchal and authoritarian, suppressing individuality and imposing conformity, protecting its members so long as they comply with its wishes – is a microcosm of the Arab state. Changing the power structures within families (and in many parts of the Arab world this is already happening) will also gradually change the way people view other power structures that replicate those of the traditional family, whether in schools and universities, the workplace, or in government. This is where women come in. In an Arab context, demanding the same rights as men is a first step towards change. Asserting their rights doesn't mean that all women have to be activists for feminism. Even something as simple as going out to work – if enough people do it – can start to make a difference.

Contrary to popular opinion, most human rights abuses in the Arab countries are perpetrated by society rather than regimes. Yes, ordinary people are oppressed by their rulers, but they are also participants themselves in a system of oppression that includes systematic denial of rights on a grand scale......

The third group driving change are the bloggers. A recent survey found 35,000 people blogging in Arabic, plus countless others who use Facebook, Twitter, etc, to communicate over the internet. There has been much debate about the extent to which this is reshaping public discourse and undermining censorship, but that is not really the main significance of blogging and the internet in the Middle East. The traditional "ideal" of an Arab society is one that is strictly ordered, where everyone knows their place and nobody speaks out of turn. Basically, you do what is required of you and no more. You keep your head down, don't make waves and let those who supposedly know better get on with running things.
The point about bloggers is that they want none of that. They are engaged, they are alive, and they'll speak out of turn as much as they like. Put all these elements together and you can see how, sooner or later, the edifice could start to crumble."

Afghan Elections, by Khalil Bendib

Russia's Daring Vote

Endorsing the Goldstone Report


"Russia's vote to endorse the Goldstone Gaza report in the United Nations Human Rights Council last Friday was an important, milestone event both for Palestine and for Russia. For Palestine, this vote opened a way to try and sentence Israeli mass-murderers, and thus ushered Israel into a new era of responsibility after a long period of Wild West-style, Colt-45 justice. For Russia, this vote has proved to its own country and to the world that it is free from American and Zionist diktat and able to navigate its own policy [COMMENT: I am not so sure about that, since Russia is opposed to bringing the report to the Security Council, for further (substantive) action. Russia is playing a double game.]..."

Nazi State won't prosecute officers filmed beating Palestinians

Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan rejected an appeal against the decision not to investigate Border Police officers who documented themselves abusing Palestinians.

The appeal was filed by the Yesh Din human rights group.

Senior deputy to the state prosecutor Nechama Zusman wrote last week on Nitzan's behalf that "the beating in the case was extremely slight and did not cause any actual damage. Therefore, the deputy state prosecutor did not think it was appropriate to intervene in the decision of the Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers to transfer the case to the care of the Israel Police disciplinary department, along with a recommendation to discipline the officers in question."

The video clips in which the officers documented themselves beating and humiliating Palestinians in East Jerusalem were revealed over a year ago, and appear to have been filmed in July 2007 and August 2008.

One clip shows an armed Border Police officer hitting a Palestinian detainee on the back of the head. Another shows a different officer forcing a Palestinian youth to salute.

Al-Jazeera Video: Recording West Bank attacks - 22 Oct 09

"Some Palestinian farmers in the occupied West Bank are complaining that they are being attacked by Israeli settlers living nearby.

To help documenting and reporting the violence, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has been handing out small video cameras to farmers and teaching them how to use them.

Monthly training sessions are held across the West Bank, with simulated settler attacks.

Al Jazeera's Barbara Serra reports from the West Bank. "

Real News Video: Drones and international law

Erlich Pt2: In Pakistan US continues to assert right to attack sovereign countries without declaring war

More at The Real News

"Paul Jay speaks with Reese Erlich about US military involvement in Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Miles Of Smiles Convoy Still Stuck In Egypt

"Members of the Miles of Smiles convoy carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip are still stuck in Egypt as the Egyptian Authorities are holding the donated humanitarian supplies meant to be delivered to the Gaza Strip.

They received several promises to have all procedures eased so they can enter the Gaza Strip and deliver the supplies, but none of the promises came true.

Several European embassies in Egypt are communicating with convoy members and with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in an attempt to know when the convoy would be allowed into Gaza, especially since prior arrangements were made with Egypt to facilitate the trip....."

Breaking & Exciting News...As The Stomach Turns...Will Hamas Sign or Not? Curious Minds Like to Know..Stay Tuned...

Taha: “Hamas Did Not Approve The Egyptian Document Without Modifications”

"Ayman Taha, the spokesperson of Hamas movement denied reports claiming the movement approved the Egyptian document for internal Palestinian unity without any comments or modifications.

His statement came Wednesday after several media agencies in Palestine reported that Hamas movement decided to approve the Egyptian document as it is, and that it sent a letter in this regard to its leadership in exile.

The Hamas leader added that his movement fears deterioration in the Hamas-Egypt relations, as such a deterioration would have negative impacts on the living conditions and the political situation in Gaza as Egypt is the main link between the Gaza Strip and the rest of the world.

Hamas had asked Egypt for a 24-hour period to respond to the document...."

America, condoms and the Taliban

By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times

"The United States didn't seem to care that it was unprecedented for a tribal chief like Afghan President Hamid Karzai to be made to admit defeat in front of his people - as he did in a press conference to announce a run-off election. Whether Karzai was efficient or corrupt is no more the issue. The crux now is the Afghan perception that Westerners use their friends like condoms - to be discarded after use....."

They don't call him dickhead for nothing!

Don’t let Criminals investigate themselves

By Khalid Amayreh

"In its rabid efforts to whitewash the Goldstone report, Israel is likely to carry out another disingenuous probe into its genocidal onslaught against the Gaza Strip nearly ten months ago.....

Israel has already conducted a number of “investigations” into the Gaza blitzkrieg which exonerated the Israeli army of any wrongdoing.

However, nearly everyone familiar with patterns of Israeli behavior realizes that investigations by Israel into crimes committed by Israel didn’t have an iota of credibility.

In the final analysis, criminals, especially war criminals, are unlikely to indict themselves by admitting guilt......

Indeed, if a foreign colonialist occupation is an act of rape, and it undoubtedly is, then a rape victim’s resistance, even if it involves violence, shouldn’t be placed on the same moral footing with the violence and aggression of the attacker.

Otherwise, every person defending himself against oppression and assault ought to be criminalized......."

And Still....As The Stomach Turns....Hamas' Number Two (Abu Marzouq) Says That "Reconciliation" is Still On Track!...Stay Tuned for More Excitement...

أبو مرزوق: المصالحة لم تنهَر.. وننتظر دعوة مصرية لاستكمال المباحثات حول الورقة الأخيرة

"أكد الدكتور موسى أبو مرزوق نائب رئيس المكتب السياسي لحركة المقاومة الإسلامية "حماس" أن حركته بانتظار دعوة مصرية للتوجه إلى القاهرة لبحث الموقف من ورقة المصالحة الأخيرة التي قدمت إليها.

وقال أبو مرزوق في تصريحات لفضائية "الأقصى" مساء الأربعاء (21-10): "(حماس) تريد فتح الورقة الجديدة لمطابقتها مع ما تم الاتفاق عليه سابقًا"، مشيرًا إلى أن هناك ملاحظات لدى الحركة على عدد من البنود المعدلة.

The Emperor’s Ear

by Philip Giraldi, October 22, 2009

"....The murmuring is not about maintaining humility amidst military splendor however. It is rather about global dominance and how to achieve it as taught at America’s leading universities. Yes, the neocons are back.

Actually, the neocons have never left us judging by the coverage they get on the major media and Sunday morning talk shows. If anyone needs to be convinced that the interventionist nation building bad-Muslim-exterminating left essentially converges with the interventionist democracy-building all-Muslim-exterminating right one only has to read the editorial pages of the "moderate" Washington Post and the New York Times, not to mention the hard right National Review, The Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the same old crew is continuing to whisper into the Emperor’s ear. On October 12th, on the Wolf Blitzer show on CNN there was an exchange involving the network’s military affairs expert Chris Lawrence with leading neocon apologist Kimberly Kagan which deserves to be quoted in full:

No way home: The tragedy of the Palestinian diaspora

You might think Palestinian refugees would be welcomed by their Arab neighbours, yet they are denied basic rights and citizenship

The Independent

"It is a cynical but time-honoured practice in Middle Eastern politics: the statesmen who decry the political and humanitarian crisis of the approximately 3.9 million Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in Gaza ignore the plight of an estimated 4.6 million Palestinians who live in Arab countries. For decades, Arab governments have justified their decision to maintain millions of stateless Palestinians as refugees in squalid camps as a means of applying pressure to Israel. The refugee problem will be solved, they say, when Israel agrees to let the Palestinians have their own state.

Yet in the two decades since the end of the Cold War, after two Gulf wars, and the rise and fall of the Oslo peace process, not a single Palestinian refugee has returned to Israel – and only a handful of ageing political functionaries have returned from neighbouring Arab countries to the West Bank and Gaza. Instead, failed peace plans and shifting political priorities have resulted in a second Palestinian "Nakba", or catastrophe – this one at hands of the Arab governments. "Marginalised, deprived of basic political and economic rights, trapped in the camps, bereft of realistic prospects, heavily armed and standing atop multiple fault lines," a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) in Lebanon recently observed, "the refugee population constitutes a time bomb."......"

Who are Syria's real friends?

As its relations with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran blossom, is Syria still keen for a rapprochement with the west?

Ian Black, Thursday 22 October 2009

".....But a couple of things suggest that the Syrian leader is not as keen as some had thought for a rapprochement with the west – or that he has already reached his own limits. Last week the security authorities arrested Haitham Maleh, a leading lawyer and human rights activist, underlining the ease with which opposition figures are thrown into prison.....

Maleh's sudden arrest – apparently because of an interview deemed to contravene the country's draconian emergency laws – is a depressingly familiar phenomenon: Syria's securocrats seem to operate on auto-pilot, oblivious to any effect their moves may have on the wish to be part of the wider world. "Syria is busy welcoming foreign diplomats and talking about peace and development," said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch. "But to its internal critics, it only unfurls the prison mat......."

Iran denies 'secret Israel talks'


"Iran has denied newspaper reports that its officials had held secret talks recently with their Israeli counterparts to explore the possibility of declaring the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

The Haaretz on Thursday said that Meirav Zafary-Odiz, of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, and Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met several times on September 29 and 30 in Cairo, the Egyptian capital.

But Ali Shirzadia, the spokesman for the Islamic Republic's atomic energy organisation, said there was no truth in the claim.....[However, spokeswoman of the Israeli Atomic Commission told AFP on Thursday that several meetings with an Iranian representative took place.
وقالت المتحدثة باسم لجنة الطاقة الذرية في إسرائيل يائيل دورون لوكالة فرانس برس إن اجتماعات عدة جرت بين ممثلة للجنتنا ومسؤول إيراني في إطار إقليمي.]

The Haaretz report said that the talks in Cairo talks were the first direct meeting between official representatives of the two countries since the fall of the Shah in 1979. The meetings were held behind closed doors, and all participants committed to complete secrecy to allow a full and frank discussion, the paper said.

Media leak

But it added that news of the talks was leaked by Australian sources to the Australian daily, The Age......"

Lebanon's refugee waiting room

By Andrew Wander in Beirut

""We thought we would be here for a few months," says Huda al-Rukun, her red-rimmed eyes flicking around the tiny space she shares with her husband and five children. "No-one believed we would stay this long."

Twenty-three years after they were forced out of the nearby Shatila refugee camp during a particularly bloody phase of the Lebanese civil war known as the War of the Camps, the Palestinian al-Rukun family are one of hundreds still living in a disused hospital in south Beirut.

The conflict may have finished 19 years ago, but many of those who fled the fighting have not been allowed back. Rebuilding was only permitted on the original site of camp, so those who had lived in the unofficial settlements attached to Shatila found themselves homeless........

Particularly vulnerable

The community is known as a "gathering," the name given to any informal Palestinian settlement outside Lebanon's 12 official camps.

Officials say that almost half of the 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon now live in gatherings, where they are particularly vulnerable to poverty and ill-health.

"Palestinians in Lebanon live with a very high unemployment rate, and have limited access to public services and to the job market. This makes them poorer than Palestinians living in other countries," says Hoda el Turk, a spokeswoman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Lebanon, which is tasked with providing services for Palestinian refugees......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Goldstone challenges US over Gaza report

"The United States has criticised the Goldstone report into Israel's war on Gaza, calling it one-sided.

In an interview with Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi, Justice Richard Goldstone challenged the US government to justify its claims that his findings are flawed and biased.

Goldstone said the attacks on him have become personal and he believes most critics have not even read the report."

Goldstone dares US on Gaza report


"Richard Goldstone, the jurist who authored a UN report accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity during its war on Gaza, has challenged the US to justify its claims that his findings are flawed and biased.

Goldstone told Al Jazeera on Thursday that he had not heard from the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, about the flaws Washington claims to have identified in the report.

"I have yet to hear from the Obama administration what the flaws in the report that they have identified are. I would be happy to respond to them, if and when I know what they are," Goldstone said....."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My mission was determined to investigate war crimes in Gaza fairly. The Israeli government was wrong to shut us out

Israel's missed opportunity
Richard Goldstone:

"I did not anticipate that the IDF would have targeted the economic infrastructure of Gaza including its agricultural lands, industrial factories, water supply and sanitation works. These are not military targets."
"I sincerely believed that because of my own record and the terms of the mission's mandate we would receive the co-operation of the Israeli government. Its refusal to co-operate was a grave error. My plea for co-operation was repeated before and during the investigation, and it sits, plain as day, in the appendices of the Gaza report for those who actually bother to read it."

Lost picture show: the Palestinian Film Archive

The Palestinian Film Archive was born in 1976 – and destroyed just six years later. Sarah Wood went in search of the missing artists and their work

"Last year, I came across the story of the Palestinian Film Archive. Established in 1976, this was an archive of political cinema, documenting the Palestinian people's struggle and resistance movements, as well as images of their everyday lives – homegrown film of a country and people more usually represented by western news footage. The aim of the film-makers who had established it – and in the 1970s, film-makers really did work collectively – was to make "a people's cinema". For a nation unused to film, with no infrastructure to show it, and where everyday survival seemed more vital than watching images of that survival, it was an ambitious project. But after six years, the archive was lost in the 1982 siege of Beirut."
The Guardian

Palestinians send Blair a wake-up call

In Hebron, the Quartet's man has had his equivalent of Bush's shoe-throwing assault: it's an unmissable signal of a loss of faith

A Good Comment

By Seth Freedman, Wednesday 21 October 2009

"During his visit to a mosque in Hebron, Tony Blair found himself on the receiving end of a stream of abuse from a Palestinian local incensed at his presence in the city. Screaming "you are a terrorist" at the bewildered Blair, the man was bundled off by security guards before getting the chance to ram his point home. This was to be no repeat of the shoe-throwing journalist's attack on George Bush in Iraq, but the sentiments behind both outbursts appeared to be similar......

However, Blair's spell as the Quartet's envoy has been characterised by a great deal of words and precious little action, hence it is small wonder that Palestinians are growing ever less convinced about his ability to bring about the sea-change he promises. Two years ago, I interviewed a resident of the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, whose disparaging remarks about Blair are as relevant today as they were then......

Israel's adherence to the treadmill policy has suckered in countless diplomats and politicians for decades, and Blair is only the latest member of the cul-de-sac club to swear blind that progress is being made between the two sides, while having next to no evidence to back up his claims. Today's attack in Hebron should not be so casually dismissed by Blair or his team; instead he should be aware that eventually every naked emperor is outed as having no clothes – and it seems that the Palestinians' patience with Blair and his partners is rightly wearing thin."

Hersh: Military waging war with White House

"DURHAM — The U.S. military is not just fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America’s most renowned investigative journalist says.

The army is also “in a war against the White House — and they feel they have [President] Obama boxed in,” Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh told several hundred people in Duke University’s Page Auditorium on Tuesday night. “They think he’s weak and the wrong color. Yes, there’s racism in the Pentagon. We may not like to think that, but it’s true and we all know it.”

In a speech on Obama’s foreign policy, Hersh, who uncovered the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and torture at Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraqi war, said many military leaders want Obama to fail.

A lot of people in the Pentagon would like to see him get into trouble,” he said. By leaking information that the commanding officer in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, says the war would be lost without an additional 40,000 American troops, top brass have put Obama in a no-win situation, Hersh contended......"

Israeli intelligence pose as Arabs to spy on citizens

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 21 October 2009

"Civil rights groups in Israel have expressed outrage at the announcement last week that a special undercover unit of the police has been infiltrating and collecting intelligence on Israel's Palestinian Arab minority by disguising its officers as Arabs.

It is the first public admission that the Israeli police are using methods against the country's 1.3 million Arab citizens that were adopted long ago in the occupied territories, where soldiers are regularly sent on missions disguised as Palestinians.........

Orna Cohen, a lawyer with the Adalah legal group, said the accepted practice for police forces was to create specialized units according to the nature of the crime committed, not according to the ethnicity or nationality of the suspect. She warned that the unit's secretive nature, its working methods and the apparent lack of safeguards led to a strong suspicion that the Arab minority was being characterized as a "suspect group." "Such a trend towards racial profiling and further discrimination against the minority is extremely dangerous," she said.

Comments two years ago from Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet, have raised fears about the uses the police unit may be put to. He said the security services had the right to use any means to "thwart" action, even democratic activity, by the Arab minority to reform Israel's political system. All the Arab parties are committed to changing Israel's status from a Jewish state to "a state of all its citizens."

Abdel Fattah said: "This is about transferring the methods used in the West Bank and Gaza into Israel to erode our rights as citizens. It raises questions about what future the state sees for us here.""

POLL: Obama's Ratings Slip on Afghanistan

ABC News-Washington Post Poll: 45 Percent Approve of Obama on Afghanistan

"Barack Obama's ratings for handling the war in Afghanistan have dropped sharply, with Americans by 2-1 saying he lacks a clear plan there. But the public itself is divided on how to proceed, torn between the difficulties of the war and the threat of Taliban or al Qaeda-backed terrorism.

Forty-five percent now approve of the president's handling of the situation, down by 10 points in a month, 15 points since August and 18 points from its peak last spring. His approval rating on Afghanistan has fallen farther than on any other issue in ABC News/Washington Post polls this year......"

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

The "Peace Process".....

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This new poll asks:

Do you support Hamas' reservations on the Egyptian document for Palestinian reconciliation?

With about 1,900 responding so far, 86% said yes.

Another breach in Israel's wall of impunity

Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 21 October 2009

"....The HRC resolution's condemnation of Israel's restrictions on Palestinians "on the basis of national origin, religion, sex, age or any other discriminatory ground" as a "grave violation of the Palestinian People's civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights," is a welcome international recognition of the racist nature of Israel's policies.

It may be too early to hope that the Goldstone report will result directly in Israeli leaders facing trial in international courts; there are still too many opportunities for Israel and its backers to block such action. But Goldstone marks another major breach in the wall of Israeli impunity that is slowly but surely crumbling. It is a matter of time before Israel faces the consequences of its crimes and all who support peace and justice should welcome and work for that with renewed vigor."

Obama surprises Peres gala event with special message

[American War Criminal honors "Israeli" war criminal]

"I'm especially honored to send my greetings to a great statesman, the host of this Conference, President Shimon Peres," said Obama. "His life stands as an extraordinary example how courage and perseverance help shape the future. Turning harrowing challenges into historic opportunities."

"In his lifetime he helped build and secure the State of Israel he faced great threats and forged peace. Always challenge us to seek the promise of a better day. Shimon has contributed to a deep and much abiding friendship between the U.S. and Israel."

International Women’s Media Foundation Honors Israeli Journalist Amira Hass with 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Amira Hass is a regular columnist with Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper and the only Israeli journalist to have spent several years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank. On Tuesday, Hass was awarded the 2009 Lifetime Achievement award from the International Women’s Media Foundation. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour described Hass as “one of the greatest truth-seekers of them all.” Hass joins us to talk about covering the Israel-Palestine conflict; the Goldstone report on the Israeli assault on Gaza; and the need to understand the issue in the context of military occupation....."

Real News Video: Attack on Syria cover up

Erlich: The US massacre at Al-Sukkariya, Syria in 2008 was a clear violation of international law

More at The Real News

"Paul Jay speaks to Reese Erlich about his investigation on the US attack on Syria in 2008."

Israel Refuses To Grant French FM Permit To Visit Gaza

"Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, rejected a request by the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, to visit the Gaza Strip.

Kouchner intends to visit Israel and the West Bank soon, and was hoping to be allowed into the Gaza Strip.

Israeli paper, Haaretz, reported that Netanyahu sent a letter to Kouchner and told him that he cannot approve his request to visit Gaza. Netanyahu claimed that Hamas will be the beneficiary of this visit, and would use it to focus on what happened during the war.

Kouchner wanted to visit Gaza to observe the construction of Al Quds Hospital which is under construction in cooperation with France. He had to postpone his trip to the region till November.

Israel previously rejected similar request made by a number of officials, including a request made by Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, and EU Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana.

Last week, Netanyahu said he was disappointed by France for not voting against the Goldstone report. "

James Petras aclaimed latest book: Global Depression & Regional Wars

"SYNOPSIS: These extraordinary times --unprecedented in modern history-- are marked by a worldwide depression and regional wars involving all the major imperial powers. This book exposes the roots of the crisis in the unsustainability of the United States' military-driven empire building based on a volatile speculative economy, and influenced by Zionist policy makers committed to the colonialist state of Israel......"

Embedded reporter (and former student) tells it like it was


"Dear Professor Finkelstein,

When we first heard that former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was coming to the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, about 30 of us Palestinian activists (mainly students) RSVP’d.

We arrived at the event. They checked our names off and gave us pink wristbands to go in. But once you were in, no re-entry was allowed. So we stayed in the lobby and waited for other activists. We all gathered together and planned out what would be an internal disruption. We were to each stand up and say something to disrupt Olmert’s speech every 2 minutes or so. Some of us would also be holding a banner from the balcony, facing Olmert that said “Goldstone Report” to make him nervous during his speech. While we were doing this, of course a protest would also be held outside.........

Olmert comes in to speak, and after literally 10 seconds from the beginning of his speech, Ali Abunimah disrupts him, standing up and saying that a war criminal should not have freedom of expression, and also expressed his disappointment with his Alma Mater for inviting a murderer. He was escorted out by the police.........

I believe that Thursday was a huge success for us. Olmert didn’t get to speak. About 30 of us stood up and interrupted him throughout his speech. He was constantly getting disrupted. As one of our disrupters said, a war criminal should never be allowed to speak unless it’s in front of an international court. I’m proud of the Chicago activist community for having the courage to look Olmert in the eye and tell him exactly what we feel.

A friend in Gaza contacted me and told me they heard what we did, and that people in Gaza were so proud of us in Chicago. It made me proud of what we did, and it was a historical day I will never forget. But Olmert is still on a speaking tour across America. His next stop: San Francisco. I hope the activists there come out strong and refuse to let him speak as well. As one the students who disrupted said, “Justice will be served.”

Dr. Finkelstein, I wish you were there. But no worries, you were there with us in spirit.

Sincerely, your former student, "

As The Stomach Turns......Is Hamas Still Keen on Rehabilitating the Traitor in the Name of "Reconciliation?"

وجدَّد المصري موقف "حماس" الداعي إلى أن توافق الورقة المصرية المقدَّمة للتوقيع ما تم التوافق بشأنه، وقال: "نحن مع المصالحة قلبًا وقالبًا، ومصر هي أكثر الأطراف معرفة بأن "حماس" معنية بالمصالحة وأنها قدَّمت ما يكفي من المرونة لتحريك عجلتها، لكن ما تريده "حماس" هو مطابقة الوثيقة بما تم التوافق بشأنه؛ لأن عباس يحاول التمسُّح بالديمقراطية، وهو الذي تواطأ عليها وشكَّل حكومة غير شرعية في رام الله لم يوافق عليها المجلس التشريعي، ورفض السماح للدكتور عزيز دويك بأن يزاول عمله، ومدَّد لنفسه خارج القانون، وهو لا يملك أية صفة شرعية للإقدام على أية خطوة سياسية إلا بعد التوافق؛ فنحن نريد أن نمنحه صفة شرعية بالتوافق ليمكنه مزاولة مهامه كرئيس للسلطة، أما بعيدًا عن الاتفاق فإن خطوة يقدم عليها لن تكون شرعية".

A generation traumatized

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 21 October 2009

"Like many other children in the region, 10-year-old Hiba Hammad from the northern Gaza Strip witnessed atrocities by the Israeli army against the population of Gaza during its assault on the coastal strip last winter.

Hiba's smiled returned only after four months of intensive psychological therapy at the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution.

"Thank God that Hiba returned back to normal after we almost lost hope of her recovering. Right after the war, Hiba kept silent, isolated, fearful of everything around her, especially strangers. But now she is getting much better as she scored 91 percent in the final exams of her school year. Moreover, she now smiles, socializes and even jokes, thank God," said Hiba's sister Ettaf, who lost her husband during the attacks.

Wearing a red dress, Hiba sat opposite to her therapist, Haniya Balousha, at the center. It was her first visit there since her treatment was completed four months ago. On that day, Hiba received gifts to celebrate the end of her treatment and her recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).......

According to Balousha, Hiba's case is quite similar to the situation of many children in Gaza during and after Israel's attacks. She explained that since the war came to an end in January, the center treated more than 350 children suffering from PTSD......

According to the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), more than 60 percent of Palestinian children in Gaza suffer PTSD symptoms.

The GCMPHP's survey also shows that hundreds of children were exposed to white phosphorous fired by the Israeli army during the 22 days of attacks on Gaza.

Abdelaziz Thabet, who works with the GCMHP, said that exposure to white phosphorous has made the majority of children and parents in Gaza feel unsafe.

"The most common traumatic events still include hearing sonic booms from the jet fighters, hearing shelling of the area, witnessing mutilation on TV, deprivation from water or electricity......"

What to Do When Caught Red-Handed as a War Criminal? Change the Laws, of Course.

Israel Moves From Rejecting Goldstone's Report to Fighting It


"Israel’s security Cabinet refused Tuesday to establish an independent committee to probe the findings of the Goldstone report and instead decided to form a unit to fight the report and the judicial and international repercussions it may have. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed various officials in the government ministries to examine the possibility of advancing an international initiative to change the laws of war....."

Can International Law Forestall a Golanian Intifada

By Franklin Lamb - Beirut
Palestine Chronicle

Some attendees at the large Damascus conclave, often huddling on the sidelines, discussed, analyzed and even advocated a Golan Intifada. They argued that the whole international community, except Israel, and the full corpus of international law, supported the immediate and complete return of the Syrian Golan Height's to the nearly 350,000 displaced Golan inhabitants, being those who make up 90% of the Golan's pre-1967 population from the 130 villages and 112 agricultural areas Israel destroyed as it occupied the Golan. These delegates explained to observers that Resistance in all its forms may be the most realistic path for the return of the Golan. They point to the success of the Hezbollah led National Lebanese Resistance in regaining most of Lebanon's Zionist occupied territory.

One Golani who studies in Damascus told this observer, "We don't expect help from Hezbollah. They have made clear to us they do not "do branches" in other countries despite requests for help around the region, but we have learned much from their experience and we will apply their logic and tactics."

"Syria is rising" another joined in, "we are strong psychologically, militarily and as a result of more democracy the past several years our people are united and we are motivated to seek the immediate return of our land, whatever it takes."

They argued that what Hezbollah did in Lebanon, and what Hamas is doing in Gaza, Syrian patriots can do in the Golan. They believe they would be joined by thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese that might well lead to an unprecedented violent eruption of the Middle East....."