Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Arabs have their gulags too

How many Independent readers can name a single man imprisoned in the Arab gulags?

A Good Comment by Robert Fisk

Read it to know more about the brutal Syrian regime.

"....But let's flip the curtain a bit and take a look at the other side. For there are Guantanamos galore in the Muslim world and, by and large, we don't care a damn about them.

How many Independent readers can name a single man imprisoned in the Arab gulags?....

....Bahaa Joughel, born in Damascus in 1976, is married with two children and used to live in Pakistan with his family, his sister and her daughters. A partial cripple, Joughel worked on computers and ran a small IT company from his home. Again according to his family, he engaged in no political activities. On 30 January 2002, Pakistani security police raided their home in Islamabad, apparently under the orders of a US officer....

...But the Joughel family was later shocked to learn that he had been "renditioned" to Syria scarcely three months after his arrest – on 4 May 2002, to be precise – and jailed at the "Palestine" branch of Syrian military intelligence. This institution makes the adjective "notorious" irrelevant. He spent 20 months in underground solitary confinementtortured in his grave-like concrete cabin, his sight damaged by his confinement, just as Canadian Maher Arar was after the Americans sent him to Syria around the same time....

But prisoners at Sednaya staged an uprising – we still don't know the details – which was put down with great brutality. For months, his family lived in terror of hearing that he was dead....

....Attot spent 13 years in Turkey, rarely found a job because he could not obtain a full residence permit – he worked for some time cleaning medical instruments – but was suddenly arrested by the Turkish authorities and handed over to the Syrians, even though his wife and children were Turkish.From 1993 to 2005 – a total of 13 years, longer than any Guantanamo prisoner has been held – he was moved between the "Palestine" and Sednaya prisons....

A former prisoner has confirmed that he saw Attot at Sednaya almost six months ago – so, like Bahaa Joughel, we know he is still alive. But it has been the same old story. No further news. No known reason for this obscene term of imprisonment. No charges. No trial. His Turkish wife Laila says only that her husband "received the worst kind of torture" during his first imprisonment which left him physically and psychologically broken....

...Brave people, all of them. But do we care? "

Scapegoating Middle Eastern women

Measures to further restrict the freedoms of women are being taken by conservatives who see women as temptresses

(Left: Graduating women students in Basra in the "New" Iraq.)


By Joseph Mayton, Saturday 8 May 2010

"....There are many examples of women being "protected" from men in the Middle East.

One would think that the rise of ultra-conservatism, namely the Salafi project emanating from Saudi Arabia, would be more tolerant of Islam's historical support for women's rights and their mobility in public – think of the era of the prophet and the openness of that society. The prophet was adamant that all people were welcome in Medina and that women were to be treated with the utmost respect. At the time, unlike today, there was no sexual apartheid in the mosque, with men and women praying together in a show of unity. Now, what we are witnessing is the rise of a movement that is as vehemently anti-women as it is anti-progress.

"Whenever the conservatives enter a society they don't talk politics or economics, they talk of the honour of women", said Hibaaq Osman, the founder and chair of the women's organisation El Karama. She argues, rightly, that what is important to these conservatives – and she is quick to point out this is not a problem limited to Islam – is that women are the key to society. She added that in all societies, women are the building blocks of forward thinking. She believes that once women have shaken off the need for a male guardian and have entered the workforce, then freedoms and laws against sexual violence can be implemented for the betterment and progress of society......Osman says that evidence shows conservative religious folk the world over, including the Middle East, are the most sex-crazed.

This is shown by the large number of "temporary", urfi and mutah marriages. Urfi marriages have no formal contract, while mutah marriages have a defined period of "marriage". Often, this amounts to a form of prostitution where women are "purchased" for a period of time, from their families or pimps, to provide sex for wealthy gulf Arabs, who at the same time push an agenda that attempts to move women away from the public sphere and back into the home. All in the name of honour and moral uprightness.....

Highlighting how deep the conservatism of Egyptian society has become, a recent United Nations study showed that the vast majority of men and women in Egypt believe that it is OK for a man to beat his wife if she refuses to have sex with him, if she does not do as he says or if she talks to a man on the street. They are simply objects that can be controlled and dominated. All in the name of faith and religion......."

Strategic Choice, by Imad Hajjaj

The Arabs' One and Only....
"Strategic" Choice!

Friday, May 7, 2010

كأن الوجود الصهيوني في بلادنا ليس كافيا!

كأن الوجود الصهيوني في بلادنا ليس كافيا!
هيفاء زنكنة

Question to "Secular Arab":

This is Haifa's latest article in Al-Quds Al-'Arabi. Is there anything in it that you disagree with, and why?

"يكرس المرحبون بديمقراطية المستعمر، من 'مثقفين' عراقيين وعربا، جل كتاباتهم للدعوة الى فصل احتلال العراق عن مضمونه التاريخي ونفي مقارنته بنماذج الاحتلال الاخرى في العالم، مركزين في كتاباتهم التبريرية، التعميمية الشاملة، على مظلومية طائفية فريدة من نوعها (كل السنة ضد كل الشيعة)، وقمع قومي لامثيل له في العالم (كل العرب ضد كل الاكراد).
غير ساهين عن التذكير الدائم، بشكل مباشر او غير مباشر،، بان القضايا والمفاهيم التي تربينا على اعتبارها جزءا من هويتنا، كقضية فلسطين وحركات التحرر في جميع انحاء العالم، وحق الحكم الذاتي للقوميات ومفهوم المقاومة ضد الاحتلال والاستعمار، ما هي غير ادوات مصطنعة بيد الحكام لأشغالنا، وليست مبادئ حقيقية كما توهمنا في عصور التحرر الوطني ' البائدة'. ولتسويق تبريرهم يقومون بالخلط الانتقائي ما بين سياسة الحاكم الدعائية وموقف الشعب الذي يحاول كسبه، مما يقودنا الى أولا: ربط القضايا العادلة بالحاكم الذي يتاجر بها وفصلها عن الشعب فلا نعود نراها كقضايا عادلة تهم الجميع، وثانيا الى القبول التدريجي بالاستقواء بالاجنبي، كحل وحيد للتخلص من الحاكم المستبد وما يصاحبه. انه حل يعيدنا الى الاستسلام أمام جوهر المنطق الاستعماري القديم 'لقد جئناكم محررين وليس محتلين'، أو المفهوم الاستعماري الحداثي القائل 'ستستقبلون بالزهور والحلوى'، على لسان 'المفكر الفيلسوف' كنعان مكية اثناء لقائه بجورج بوش عشية الغزو.
واذا ما نظرنا الى محاولة تقديم توصيف احتلال العراق بأنه مختلف عن بقية البلدان المحتلة، حاليا وتاريخيا، لرأينا أمثلة متعددة تفضح تضليل مثقفي ديمقراطية المستعمر، ومن الطائفيين أو الساكتين عن التقسيم الطائفي والأثني لأسباب تتعلق بمصالحهم الضيقة مهما تناقضت مع المصلحة الوطنية العامة. فالاحتلال، مهما اختلفت حيثيات تطبيقه ومدى اهدافه التوسعية، يبقى، بحكم طبيعته، يعتاش على استغلال الشعب واخضاع ارادته وسلبه كرامته، بكل الطرق الممكنة. وتقدم لنا عملية جرد بسيطة لجرائم الكيان الصهيوني بحق الشعب الفلسطيني، في مجال واحد هو انتهاكات حقوق الانسان، وفيما يخص الاسرى والمعتقلين بالتحديد، ومقارنتها بجرائم الاحتلال الامريكي في ذات المجال، لوجدنا ان حقيقة التماثل تكاد تفقأ العيون.
فمن الجانب الفلسطيني، أفادت اللجنة الوطنية العليا لنصرة الأسرى لعام 2010، في تقرير إحصائي شامل، بأن أعداد الأسرى في السجون بلغ ما يقارب 7000 أسير، موزعين على حوالي 25 سجناً ومعتقلاً ومركز توقيف.
وبين التقرير أن عدد الأسيرات قد ارتفع منذ بداية العام الحالي إلى 37 أسيرة، ومن بين الأسرى هناك 340 طفلا دون الثامنة عشرة من العمر. وهم، مع بقية المعتقلين من الرجال، يعيشون في ظل ظروف قاسية حيث يحرم الأسرى من أبسط حقوقهم الإنسانية التي نصت عليها الأعراف والقوانين الدولية وتمارس سلطات الاحتلال بحقهم كافة أنواع الانتهاكات.
ويذكر الباحث عبدالناصر فروانة في تقرير له عن حال الأسرى بانه قد تم تشكيل وحدتي 'امن' خاصتين باسم 'نخشون' و'ميتسادا' تقومان باقتحام زنازين سجون وخيام المعتقلات ليلا ونهارا بحجة التفتيش المفاجئ أو كعقاب لأبسط الأسباب. وأن تلك الوحدات مزودة بأسلحة متنوعة ومختلفة كالسلاح الأبيض والهراوات والغاز المسيل للدموع والرصاص المطاطي وأجهزة كهربائية تؤدي إلى حروق في الجسم وأسلحة تطلق رصاصا حارقا ورصاص 'الدمدم' المحرم دوليا ورصاصا غريبا يحدث آلاما شديدة اضافة إلى الكلاب المتوحشة لترويع الأسرى. ويوثق فروانة مقتل 7 أسرى استشهدوا في السجون الإسرائيلية نتيجة إصابتهم بأعيرة نارية من قبل جنود الاحتلال، وان جرائم وحدات 'نخشون' لم تقتصر على القمع والضرب والإيذاء المعنوي والجسدي بالأسرى بل امتدت في كثير من الأحيان للمساس بمشاعرهم ومقدساتهم الدينية متمثلة بقذف المصاحف الشريفة على الأرض والدوس عليها وتدنيسها ورميها في دورات المياه وتمزيقها كما حصل في معتقلي مجدو ونفحة.
وللكيان الصهيوني سجل اسود في استهداف رجال الدين من مسلمين ومسيحيين. ففي 23 آب (أغسطس) 2002 أعتقل الناطق الرسمي للبطريركية المقدسية للارثوذكس الارشمندريت الدكتور عطا الله حنا بتهمة السفر الى سورية ولبنان وتأييده للمقاومة الفلسطينية وحثه المسلمين والمسيحيين بفلسطين على دعم الانتفاضة.
وكان عطا الله قد تعرض لاعتداء جسدي قبل اعتقاله على يد 'مجهولين'. وفي 6 تشرين الأول (أكتوبر) 2009، تم اعتقال
الشيخ رائد صلاح، رئيس الحركة الإسلامية في الداخل الفلسطيني المحتل، بتهمة 'التحريض على العنف'، بينما كان كل ما قام به هو التصدي للاعتداءات الصهيونية على الأقصى. ولا يسلم الجرحى والمرضى من ملاحقة المحتل، اذ تواصل سلطاته اعتقال أسير في حالة صحية متدهورة، على الرغم من مناشدة عائلة الأسير الجريح عبر كل المؤسسات والمنظمات الحقوقية والانسانية، المحلية منها والدولية، لانقاذ حياة ابنهم الذي اصيب خلال الحرب الاسرائيلية على قطاع غزة هو واخوته الصغار جراء قصف استهدفهم اثناء لعبهم امام منزلهم، الامر الذي تسبب باصابته اصابة حرجة حيث بترت اطرافه وقطعت اجزاء كبيرة من امعائه وفقد البنكرياس مما ادى الى تدهور حالته الصحية بشكل كبير واصابته بمرض السكري.
هذا بعض ما يعاني منه المعتقلون الفلسطينيون، فماذا عن العراقيين؟ بالنسبة الى عموم المعتقلين، يشير تقرير منظمة 'مستهلكين من اجل السلام'، وبناء على المعلومات التي حصلوا عليها مباشرة من آمر قوة المهام 134 الامريكية المشرفة على المعتقلين في العراق، وهي المرة الاولى التي يتم فيها التصريح بهذه الشكل، ان عدد المعتقلين لدى قوات الاحتلال، منذ الغزو عام 2003 وحتى منتصف 2008، بلغ حوالي 200 ألف عراقي. وتشير معلومات أخرى 'من فريق العمل - 134 الى أن عمليات الولايات المتحدة المقترنة بالمداهمة والاعتقال والسجن، منذ الغزو، أثرت على حياة ما لا يقل عن مليوني عراقي، أي ما يقرب 10 في المئة من السكان، إما لأنه تم القبض عليهم أو محتجزين في مراكز اعتقال أو لأن أحد أفراد الأسرة المباشرين أو الاسرة الممتدة قد اعتقل'.
ولنراجع بعض الجرائم والانتهاكات التي حدثت خلال اسبوع واحد.. فقد توفي الشيخ علي عبيد حمزة الهيتاوي إمام وخطيب جامع الشيحة في قضاء أبي غريب غرب بغداد، نتيجة تعرضه للتعذيب في أحد معتقلات الاحتلال الامريكي. وأكدت هيئة علماء المسلمين في تصريح لها إن الشيخ الهيتاوي كان معتقلا منذ عام 2005 ثم تم نقله إلى أحد السجون الحكومية ليلفظ أنفاسه الأخيرة هناك يوم 3 آذار (مارس). وفي اليوم نفسه اغتال 'مسلحون مجهولون' امام وخطيب جامع الخشاب في الحي العربي بمدينة الموصل. وقبله بايام، شاهد المواطنون العراقيون فيلما أثار مشاعر مختلطة من القرف والاشمئزاز والرعب من همجية قوات الشرطة العراقية التي قام افرادها بركل وسحل جثة معتقل مع العلم ان هذه القوات هي التي اشرفت امريكا وبريطانيا على تدريبها على حقوق الانسان! وفي الاسبوع ذاته، قام رئيس 'دولة القانون' نوري المالكي باغلاق معتقل 'سري'، صرح بأنه لم يكن يعرف بوجوده مع العلم بان قواته الخاصة تشرف عليه. ونفت قوات الاحتلال علمها بالامر مع انه موجود، كما العديد من المعتقلات 'السرية'، في معسكر امريكي لا تدخله ذبابة عراقية بدون تصريح امريكي خاص. وتورد منظمة العفو الدولية 'إن ما يربو على 100 من السجناء، البالغ عددهم 431، قد تعرضوا للتعذيب بالصدمات الكهربائية وبالخنق بأكياس بلاستيكية وبالضرب. وكشف السجناء عن وفاة رجل واحد - وكان ضابطا برتبة عقيد في الجيش العراقي المنحل - في كانون الثاني (يناير) نتيجة للتعذيب'. وقد مورست ضد المعتقلين، وكلهم من أهل الموصل، اساليب من الاغتصاب اليومي، وبطرق لا يتحمل الانسان مجرد الكتابة عنها. ولا يمر يوم لا يعتقل فيه مواطنون، نساء ورجالا واطفالا، بتهمة الارهاب والعنف. ولا يمر يوم لا يختفي فيه مواطنون لا يعرف مصيرهم او في أي معتقل سينتهون. كما ان هناك مئات المواطنين، من بينهم نساء، بانتظار تنفيذ عقوبة الاعدام. الاحكام التي يصدرها نظام قضائي يصفه مالكوم سمارت، مدير برنامج الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا في منظمة العفو الدولية، بأنه 'متهالك غير قادر على كفالة إجراء محاكمات نزيهة في القضايا الجنائية العادية، فما بالك بالنسبة للقضايا التي يعاقب عليها بالإعدام، مع ما ينجم عن ذلك، على ما نخشى، من إزهاق لأرواح الأشخاص الذين يدانون إثر محاكمات جائرة'.
هذا غيض من فيض مما جلبه المحتل ويمارسه ومستخدموه باسم حقوق الانسان و'الديمقراطية' الامريكية التي اريد لها ان تكون نموذجا لبقية دول المنطقة. ان تدريب قوات الشرطة والأمن العراقية تتم على ايدي قوات الاحتلال التي تطبق اساليب قوات الأمن 'الاسرائيلية'. وكأن الكيان الصهيوني الذي يقدم نفسه باعتباره الدولة الديمقراطية الوحيدة في المنطقة ليس كافيا. وتتماهى تطبيقات 'حقوق الانسان' في العراق مع نظيرتها في 'اسرائيل'، الى حد بات من حق المواطنين التساؤل عما اذا كانوا يشهدون، بحضور المستعمرالامريكي ومستخدميه من العراقيين، استنساخ 'اسرائيل' في العراق الجديد؟

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This brand new poll asks:

Do you believe that building a wall to surround the Iraqi capital Baghdad has only security objectives?

With over 300 responding so far, 81% said no.

Obama Will Not Allow Unilateral Palestinian Steps. Take That "Palestinian" Ben Gurion!

"Diplomatic sources in Washington reported that U.S. President, Barack Obama, gave Israel verbal and written guarantees that the United States will not allow the Palestinians to conduct any unilateral steps during indirect talks, or in the case of failure of such talks...."

The language of Zionism

The reason for the ongoing "violence" in Israel and Palestine is not on account of Israeli colonialism at all but rather a direct result of mistranslation.

Joseph Massad provides an abridged lexicon of Zionist terminology
Al-Ahram Weekly

""Colonialism is peace; anti-colonialism is war." This is the unalterable equation that successive Israeli governments insist must determine the basis of all current and future relations between Israeli Jews and the Palestinians. Indeed, the deployment of the rhetoric of peace between Palestinians and Israeli Jews since the 1970s has been contingent on whether the Palestinians would acquiesce in this formula or insist on resisting it. The Oslo Accords were in large measure a ratification of this formula by the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Nonetheless, Palestinian resistance, violent and non- violent, to understanding "colonialism as peace" never fully subsided, even as the Palestinian Authority insisted that it become the law of the land.......

After 62 years of persistent Israeli colonialism of Palestine, unless President Obama and Israeli leaders understand that colonialism is war and anti-colonialism is peace and that the only viable state project in the area would be one that encompasses all Palestinians and Israeli Jews as equal citizens in it, whatever "peace plan" they offer to the Palestinians will be nothing short of a war plan."

Reproduction of failure

(Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)

While the Palestinians and Israelis will soon engage in proximity talks, the preceding battle was won by Israel, with Palestinian leaders much weakened

By Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
Al-Ahram Weekly

"At a time when the Obama administration is hailing the imminent resumption of indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a "notable achievement", very few observers in the region think that the upcoming talks will lead to any breakthrough or tangible progress...

With these hard realities, and frustrated by the rejectionist Israeli stance and also by the Obama administration's reluctance to pressure Israel, and still more by Arab states' chronic failure to help the Palestinians in any meaningful way behind paying rhetorical lip service to their cause, Abbas last week called on the US to impose a solution on the two sides. Observers have interpreted his call as an expression of exasperation, if not political depression."

Another battle of Okinawa

Despite protests, the U.S. insists on going ahead with plans for a new military base on the island.

By Chalmers Johnson
L.A. Times

"The United States is on the verge of permanently damaging its alliance with Japan in a dispute over a military base in Okinawa. This island prefecture hosts three-quarters of all U.S. military facilities in Japan. Washington wants to build one more base there, in an ecologically sensitive area. The Okinawans vehemently oppose it, and tens of thousands gathered last month to protest the base. Tokyo is caught in the middle, and it looks as if Japan's prime minister has just caved in to the U.S. demands.

In the globe-girdling array of overseas military bases that the United States has acquired since World War II — more than 700 in 130 countries — few have a sadder history than those we planted in Okinawa......."

General 'tried to cover up truth about death of Rachel Corrie'

Israeli "war hero" accused of suppressing testimony that could reveal what really happened to Gaza activist

By Ben Lynfield
The Independent

"Seven years after the American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, evidence has emerged which appears to implicate Israel's Gaza commander at the time, in an attempt to obstruct the official investigation into her death.

The alleged intervention of Major-General Doron Almog, then head of Israel's southern command, is documented in testimony taken by Israeli military police a day after Ms Corrie was killed on March 16, 2003. The hand written affidavit, seen by The Independent, was submitted as evidence during a civil law suit being pursued by the Corrie family against the state of Israel......"

UK Elections, by Steve Bell

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gazans cut through Egypt's border barrier. Take That, Dying Pharaoh!

BBC News, Gaza

""Every problem has a solution. The Egyptian steel barrier was a problem but we found a solution," says Mohammed, a grimy-faced Gazan tunnel digger who didn't want to give his real name.

Mohammed, covered in dust and dirt, is in the process of digging a 750m (2,460ft) smuggling tunnel from Gaza into Egypt. He says he's been digging it for 18 months.

As he hauls up a plastic container of sand with an electric winch from the metre-wide tunnel shaft, he says the new underground Egyptian barrier aimed at stopping smuggling is a "joke."

"We just cut through it using high-powered oxygen fuelled blow torches," he says....


Mohammed smiles when he hears this.

"We pay around a $1,000 (£665) for a man with an oxygen-fuelled cutter to come and break through it. It takes up to three weeks to cut through but we get there in the end," he says. Mohammed says the steel barrier is 5-10cm (2-4in) thick.

The BBC spoke to one man in Gaza employed to cut through the barrier. He said he could cut a metre-square hole through it in less than a day.

This news will be embarrassing for Egypt's government...."

Quartet ex-envoy's investment helps Israel greenwash settlements

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 6 May 2010

"Former World Bank president and Middle East Quartet envoy James D. Wolfensohn is an investor in an Israeli company that is developing transport infrastructure for Jewish-only settlements built in the occupied West Bank in violation of international law, an investigation by The Electronic Intifada reveals.

Wolfensohn provided some of the start-up capital for Better Place, a company founded by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi. The company owns and operates Better Place Israel (BPI), a division which is establishing a system of charging stations for electric vehicles throughout Israel and for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank...."

Hezbollah and the Policy of "Scud Ambiguity"


"“We do not confirm or deny if we have received weapons or not, so we do not comment and we will not comment. This is our position.”

Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, on charges that the group has acquired long-range Scud missiles from Syria, 1 May 2010

The story first broke in mid-April when the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-Aam reported that Syria recently transferred Scud missiles to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, having trained them in their use the past summer. Days later, when Israeli President Shimon Peres publicly accused Syria of supplying Hezbollah with the notoriously inaccurate rockets, media attention became widespread. The pretense for a “pre-emptive” Israeli strike on Lebanon had been nicely set....

Does Hezbollah believe the U.S. and Israel will exploit the current situation to rationalize an attack? Nasrallah characterized their protestations as mere “noise” and “intimidation.” He is already capitalizing on the strategy of “Scud ambiguity” though, by reminding Israel of the disastrous consequences should it recklessly decide to initiate an assault on Lebanon:

“Do we have what is more or less sophisticated than a Scud missile — these are details I don't want to speak about. If a war breaks out ... we said we will attack their [Israeli] infrastructure. We are able to fulfill these promises.”

Israel would be wise to remember the 2007 admonition made by current Industry, Trade and Labor minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer: “We have to take Nasrallah seriously. He has never lied.” "

History of BP Includes Role in 1953 Iran Coup After Nationalization of Oil

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

With Stephen Kinzer

"History of BP Includes Role in 1953 Iran Coup After Nationalization of Oil
As tens of thousands of gallons of oil continue to spew into the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil spill we continue our series on BP. Sixty years ago, BP was called the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. We look at the story of the company’s role in the 1953 CIA coup against Iran’s popular progressive Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadegh...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Putting the world at risk?

Including Gareth Porter

"May 06, 2010 — Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has warned that Iran's nuclear ambitions are putting the world at risk. Have the NPT conferences become a platform to settle political accounts and an opportunity to lobby against adversaries? Does the treaty help rid the world of nuclear weapons or does it advocate maintaining the status quo? And will Obama's nuclear undertakings help patch the gaps of the NPT? "

Real News Video: Modern history of Lebanon Pt4

Traboulsi on why conflict in Lebanon became so violent

More at The Real News

Arabs In 1948 Areas Prepare For Boycott

"Several popular movements, civil society institutions and women organizations in the 1948 areas are preparing to officially declare the launch of a boycott campaign targeting all settlement products as a means of economic pressure on Israel...."

Time for a nuclear samba

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Iran has all but agreed with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's proposal for a nuclear fuel swap deal for Tehran's research reactor. This makes Brazil the mediator between Tehran and the United Nations - rather than the axis of the United States, Britain and France inside the UN Security Council, plus Germany - to finally settle the Iranian nuclear dossier...."

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition Welcomes UNRWA Gaza Director’s Call to Send Ships to Gaza

The Free Gaza Movement

"[London, UK – 5 May, 2010] John Ging, the Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza, has called upon the international community to break the siege on the Gaza Strip by sending ships loaded with desperately needed supplies to the beleaguered territory. "We believe that Israel will not intercept these vessels because the sea is open, and human rights organizations have been successful in similar previous operations proving that breaking the siege of Gaza is possible."

This month the Freedom Flotilla plans to do just that and we call upon others to join us.

Later this month the Freedom Flotilla, consisting of three cargo ships and five passenger boats, will set sail to Gaza, in the biggest internationally coordinated effort to directly challenge Israeli’s ongoing occupation, aggression, and violence against the Palestinian people. The ships are being readied in Greece, Ireland and Turkey to carry 5000 tons of reconstruction materials, school supplies, and medical equipment, as well as 600 passengers from over 40 countries......"

West Bankers Made Refugees in Their Own Country

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, May 6, 2010 (IPS) - Several Palestinians have set up a protest tent in no-man’s land in the northern Gaza Strip, near the Erez border crossing into Israel, as they protest their deportation from the Israeli occupied West Bank into Gaza where Hamas authorities have refused them entry.

Tens of thousands of other Palestinians face a possibly similar predicament in the near future. This follows a sweeping new Israeli military order which allows for the expulsion of Palestinians or foreigners whom Israel considers to be in the West Bank illegally as "infiltrators"....."

On Goldstone's Bar Mitzvah and Finkelstein's Book

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....My own interest in Goldstone is motivated by three reasons. First, Gaza is still suffering under the very conditions that Judge Goldstone so aptly described in his report. Nothing has happened since then to ease the pain of the victims, nor to heed his call for justice.

Second, there is the ongoing ‘controversy’ over the man’s wish to take part in his grandson’s bar mitzvah in South Africa. He has now been forced to negotiate with a group of South African Jewish leaders in order to participate in this coming of age ceremony. South Africa’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein, accused Goldstone of being a liar whose report is ‘delegitimizing Israel’. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies accused Goldstone of ‘selling out’....."

Loose Lips on Iran Can Sink America

by Ray McGovern, May 06, 2010

".... I believe we need a new poster, because loose lips can also sink whole countries — including our own.

This is a lesson that members of Congress and Washington’s media honchos should have learned from the disastrous invasion of Iraq; especially the ones whose lips helped President George W. Bush portray Saddam Hussein as a monster bristling with "weapons of mass destruction."

In that time frame, of course, cooperating with Bush was "the smart play" for one’s career, even for many Democrats and liberal opinion leaders.......

Getting Played Again

What concerns me greatly, however, is that the American people are being played again by those both in government and the media who wish to zap Iran.

"Do you think Iran currently has nuclear weapons, or not?" Americans were asked in a CNN poll taken earlier this year (Feb. 12-15). Seventy-one percent of Americans polled answered incorrectly, Yes.

That’s very close to the percentage of Americans misled into believing that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons before the attack on Iraq in March 2003. Only later was the Bush administration forced to admit that its claims about an active Iraqi nuclear program were bogus.

Of equal concern to me are the statements of politicians who apparently believe we have forgotten the hype that got us into the Iraq mess — and are trying again to stoke a confrontation with Iran.

The front-burner question today is whether loose lips and looser thinking will lead to an even more disastrous war with Iran BEFORE the intelligence community finishes its update on Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions.

Given the consistency of the recent testimony of top intelligence officials, I will be much surprised if the NIE update comes to conclusions that differ substantially from the judgments of November 2007.

Ironically, that possibility provides more incentive for those who wish to attack Iran sooner rather than later, much as President Bush pushed United Nations inspectors out of Iraq in March 2003 and rushed ahead with the invasion before Americans woke up to the fact that the inspectors weren’t finding any Iraqi WMD stockpiles because none existed.

I worry that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will take the initiative now and provoke hostilities with Iran, judging that political realities in the United States would then leave President Barack Obama little choice but to "finish the job."...."

A Timetable For War

by Philip Giraldi, May 06, 2010

"Readers of my articles will know that I am extremely pessimistic about the prospects for peace in the Middle East. I do not believe for a second that the leaders of Israel actually consider Iran to be an "existential" threat but the fact that they have cried wolf so often has convinced the Israeli public that it is so. Worse still, Israel’s friends in the US have convinced the American public of the same thing even though Iran does not threaten the United States at all. Relying on a complaisant media that has fully embraced the fabricated narrative of fanatical Mullahs brandishing nuclear weapons shortly before handing them over to al-Qaeda, a majority of Americans now believes that Iran must be dealt with by force and that it already has a nuclear weapon. As in the case in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, the fictitious threat has taken on an ominous reality because the lie has been repeated often enough to appear to be truth......

So what can Obama do to stop this? There has been some speculation that he might send a private emissary to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu with the message that the United States does not support an Israeli attack and that Washington will both denounce the action and not back Tel Aviv. I believe that Obama has already told Netanyahu both privately and through diplomatic channels that the US opposes military action but the Israeli government no doubt regards such a warning as toothless, particularly as both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have asserted that Israel has a right to make its own security decisions. Any move to punish or pressure the Israelis would be blocked by Congress, so the Obama warning can be brushed off. The only option that I believe would actually work is for Obama to go public preemptively on the issue and proclaim that there is no casus belli with Iran, that any Israeli attack will not be supported by the United States and that furthermore the United States will take the lead in condemning such an act in the United Nations and in all other appropriate international fora. Is that likely to happen? I think not. And that is precisely the reason why I think a new war in the Middle East is inevitable and will take place this year, probably by August."

It doesn't help to obsess over Iran

By Adrian Hamilton
The Independent

"For those who remember the days of Nikita Kruschev and Fidel Castro, there was something wonderfully retro about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty summit in New York this week. There was Iran's President Ahmadinejad, all smiles and stubble, haranguing the West in general and the US and Israel in particular for their sins. And there were the British, US and French delegations, walking out, all clenched buttocks and po faces, as he gathered momentum.

Ahmadinejad loved it, course. There is nothing a would-be voice of the developing world hungers for more than tweaking the tails of western powers in an international meeting....

Instead we are doing the opposite, trying to corner and beat the country into submission through sanctions which will only reinforce the position of the government. The problem Iran poses is an internal not an external one.

On that score its President is right. The NPT isn't working. It's too lop-sided, too riddled with hypocrisy and exception. As for the Middle East, the US and Britain are in the peculiar position of arguing that peace can only be maintained by preserving the nuclear hegemony of a country, Israel, which has deliberately not signed up to the NPT and beating up on a country, Iran, which has.

If Obama really wants to make a new start, he should start with a fresh approach."

The ocean is a rich blue. But suddenly we see what this crisis is all about

There may be few indicators to the scale of the US oil slick from land, but from the air it is a different story

By David Usborne
The Independent

تعرية فلسطينية وعربية.. لتغطية المفاوضات!!../

نزار السهلي

وإذا طرحنا السؤال المتعلق عن جدوى إعادة المفاوضات، التي باعتقادنا أنها لم تتوقف يوما بين إسرائيل والسلطة الفلسطينية من خلال مرجعية التنسيق الأمني، التي تقاد من خلاله قضية الشعب الفلسطيني تحت مسميات عدة، نجد أن الترحيب الإسرائيلي بالخيار الفلسطيني وبمباركة عربية يهدف إلى إخراج وإنقاذ إسرائيل من مأزقها بعد حربي تموز في لبنان وغزة و تقرير غولدستون، والأمر متساو بالنسبة لإسرائيل إن كان هناك مفاوضات أم لا، عدوانها مستمر ومخططاتها لن تتوقف أمام حالة فلسطينية وعربية مزرية ومشينة في خياراتها.
سؤالنا الآخر: ماذا تفيد اجتماعات اللجنة التنفيذية للمنظمة، إذا كان قرار استئناف المفاوضات اتخذ في الأروقة الخلفية؟
أيضا ثمة تساؤل للفصيلين اليساريين المنضويين تحت عباءة اللجنة التنفيذية، الجبهة الشعبية والديمقراطية، هل الاكتفاء بإصدار بيانات ترفض العودة للمفاوضات هو جل ما تقدمه لشعبها ولقضيته، والتي حسب رؤيتها التاريخية تتعرض قضيته للمؤامرة والتصفية؟ وحسب رؤية المناضل الأسير احمد سعدات الأمين العام للجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين "إن استئناف المفاوضات لن يحقق الأهداف الفلسطينية ويعطي غطاء فعليا لاستمرار الاحتلال" هذا الموقف من المفترض أن يحترم على الأقل وان يكون منسجما مع من يمثل هذا الفصيل في اللجنة التنفيذية، وأن يتخذ قرارا بحجم التضحيات وبحجم المؤامرة التي تمرر باسم المنظمة والتنفيذية وبكل المسميات التي تشكل كماليات وديكور في مسرح العبث الفلسطيني، وتستخدم مظلة لتمرير ما تمليه السلطة ومشاريعها على الشعب الفلسطيني. إلا أن واقع الحال، الذي يطرح مسالة التمسك باللجنة التنفيذية أو بالأصح بالحصة المالية منها، ....
وحدها إسرائيل تبدو في مشهد الصراع ثابتة في مشروع القضاء على "ما يسمى دولة" فلسطينية. وما أنجزته حكومة "فياض" إلى اليوم من بناء المؤسسات الأمنية الرامية لتوفير الأمن للإسرائيليين وتشديد القبضة في الضفة، هو أول النقاش على طاولة المفاوضات بين الطرفين وتقديم كشف بانجازات الأجهزة الأمنية المرضي عنها إسرائيلياً وأمريكياً و جاهزيتها لتسلم الأمن في بعض المناطق، إذ لم تسفر مسيرة المفاوضات المباشرة قبل عقدين بانجاز ما يطمح له الشعب الفلسطيني فما بالنا بجلسات غير مباشرة فارغة من عمقها الجوهري المتمثل بالحدود واللاجئين والاستيطان والقدس، بعد أن وضع الجانب الفلسطيني كل الاشتراطات المتعلقة بها خلف ظهره منذ أوسلو.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye....Preparing for the New McPalestine!

Peace talks by proximity?

By Sherine Tadros

"....George Mitchell, the US envoy, will shuttle between Ramallah and West Jerusalem (and back again), talking to the two sides separately for one week every month. The Palestinians and Israelis will be invited to the US for talks and be in constant contact (not with each other of course, but with the Americans).

The problem is, that’s exactly what Mitchell has been doing for over a year.

US-style re-branding

But the point of these talks may be less grandiose than achieving Middle East peace – the US administration’s aim may be simply to add some momentum to a process currently in regression.

It’s classic American re-branding. If people stop buying the McChicken Burger because it’s become stale and boring, you call it a Chicken Surprise, market it and it will start selling again. It’s still two buns, chicken breast and lettuce in the middle, but it has a different wrapper - and that’s what counts......"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ex-US ambassador Bolton: Obama trying to rid Israel of nukes

The Jerusalem Post

"Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton on Tuesday expressed concern over what he says is pressure being exerted by President Barack Obama on Israel to rid the country of nuclear weapons....

When I was in the Bush administration we refused to even talk about these kinds of ideas,” he said. “I’d be quite worried about the possible outcome there.”

“The president is not happy with Israel’s nuclear capabilities. I think he would be delighted if Israel gave up its nuclear weapons,” Bolton asserted. “The only unknown answer at this point is exactly how much pressure he would exert on Israel to do just that. Part of that pressure is being exerted right now, by even considering the possibility of a conference on a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East.”....

Bolton also expressed dismay at the fact that the UN hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference on Monday, but said that it was business as usual.

“This is nothing exceptional for the UN, this is the way the UN is day in and day out,” Bolton told the radio station...."

Indirect Peace Talks - Stalling for Time

By Abdelbari Atwan

".....These are futile negotiations intended to provide a cover for a US administration that might have good intentions but is unable to translate them into action on the ground. Perhaps it will be a great disaster when we find out that the main and true aim behind these negotiations is to provide a "cover" for an imminent Israeli aggression against Syria and Lebanon on the pretext of the Scud missiles [allegedly supplied by Syria to Hezbollah], which has apparently altered the balance of power in the region and which now threaten the entire existence of Israel.

Congratulations to the Arabs and to the follow-up committee on this great achievement of resuming indirect negotiations. The Arab foreign ministers showed unprecedented courage when they insisted on fixing a timeframe of 120 days for these negotiations. In our opinion, this timeframe is sufficient - if it was not decided beforehand - for Israel to complete its preparations for war."

"Apology" over Lebanon lynching death

Lebanon's justice minister has apologised for the lynching of an Egyptian man accused of a quadruple homicide.

Mohammed Muslem, who was accused of killing an elderly couple and their two granddaughters in Ketermaya, died after being attacked by a mob in the village south of Beirut.

Hundreds of Ketermaya residents attacked Muslem last week, while he was being driven by police to re-enact the crime.

He was beaten and stabbed to death, and his body was hung from a pole.

"I would like to personally apologise to the government and people of Egypt for the reaction in the village of Ketermaya, which would not have happened had it not been for the gruesome crime that preceded it," Ibrahim Najjar, Lebanon's justice minister, said in a statement on Tuesday.[Why even Bother to apologize if you are going to justify the behavior of the mob , Irony is Lebanese often brag about how civilized and refined they are compared to other Arabs]

My mandate on Gaza was even-handed, my loyalty is to justice

It would have been hypocritical for me not to speak out about Israeli violations of international law simply because I am Jewish

Richard Goldstone, Wednesday 5 May 2010

This statement, released Wednesday, was made at the meeting on Monday between South African Zionist Federation chairman Avrom Krengel and Judge Richard Goldstone, following the dispute over Judge Goldstone's attendance of his grandson's bar mitzvah at the weekend. This event had been threatened by Jewish protesters objecting to Goldstone's report for the UN on war crimes in Gaza, but they were called off after mediation led to Monday's meeting. The original report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the "Goldstone report") can be read here. You can read Avrom Krengel's statement here

"....Without more, allow me to turn to the Gaza report that has caused so much anger in this and other Jewish communities. It is well known that initially I refused to become involved with what I considered to be a mandate that was unfair to Israel by concentrating only on war crimes alleged to have been committed by the Israel Defence Forces. When I was offered an even-handed mandate that included war crimes alleged to have been committed against Israel by Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza, my position changed.

I have spent much of my professional life in the cause of international criminal justice. It would have been hypocritical for me to continue to speak out against violations of international law and impunity for war crimes around the world but remain silent when it came to Israel simply because I am Jewish.

The state of Israel was established in 1948 by the United Nations acting on the principles of international law [Really??]. It should not be surprising that Israel has always committed itself to being bound by the norms and practices of international law [Is this Goldstone groveling in front of the Zionist Federation??]. I have always assumed that Israel would wish to be judged by the highest standards of international law [Now Goldstone the Zionist is speaking!]. One of the cardinal norms, accepted by Israel, is that of "distinction", the requirement that there be proportionality between a military goal and civilian casualties caused in achieving that goal....."

All Options on the Table, by Carlos Latuff

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

"Life is Negotiations!"

BP Funnels Millions into Lobbying to Influence Regulation and Re-Brand Image

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"We speak with Antonia Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry – and What We Must Do To Stop It. “The entire oil industry, will continue to use its vast wealth – unequaled by any global industry – to escape regulation, restriction, oversight and enforcement,” Juhasz writes. “BP, now the source of the last two great deadly US oil industry explosions, has shown us that this simply cannot be permitted.”...."

I Wish My People Would Learn

A Pathetic Piece by the Rabbit's Advisor

Of Scuds and Assassinations


"....I wish my people would learn from the organizers of the Freedom Fleet which will sail from Turkey on May 24 to break the Israeli blockade. Organizations from Turkey, Malaysia, Sweden and Greece will send ships carrying goods and educational and medical supplies and ships carrying at least 600 people. Where are the Arabs in this effort? [How about your own regime Bouthaina??] What are Arab businessmen doing to support their brethren in Gaza?

Some Arabs lost their international status and their regional role when they abandoned their people and the dignity and rights of their Arab nation [Because, just like your regime, all they care about is the survival of their illegitimate regimes.]. They should take note because the West, which believes in solidarity, does not respect those who deal with their brothers on the basis of division and fragmentation.

The West is right in considering those who act against their people not trustworthy. That is why those who imagine they are the West's friends live an illusion. The West cares only about itself and about its interests. So, why do not the Arabs befriend themselves and be true to their interests? I wish my people would learn how to unify their ranks even from their enemies. "

Did You Hear the Joke About the Predator Drone That Bombed?

by Medea Benjamin and Nancy Mancias

"At the 2004 Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner, President Bush joked about searching for WMDs under Oval Office furniture. The joke backfired when parents who had lost their children fighting in Iraq said they found the joke offensive and tasteless. Senator John Kerry said Bush displayed a "stunningly cavalier" attitude toward the war and those serving in Iraq.

So it’s odd that President Obama would make a crude joke about deaths that he is responsible for. But that’s just what he did at the May 1 White House Correspondents Dinner....

Whoever said laughter was the best medicine was never attacked by a predator drone. President Obama, just like George Bush before him, should not be allowed to get away with telling tasteless war jokes. But more important, he should not be allowed to keep employing weapons that, as in the case of landmines and cluster bombs, disproportionately kill civilians. "

Real News Video with Transcript: Global food bubble on the way?

Jayati Ghosh: Food prices set to surge due to Wall Street speculation

More at The Real News

Warmongers of the world, unite

Is there any difference between Australia’s leaders and the three front-runners in Britain’s election when it comes to attitudes to war?

By John Pilger
New Statesman via Uruknet

"....All three party leaders are warmongers. Nick Clegg, the darling of former Blair lovers, says that, as prime minister, he will "participate" in another invasion of a "failed state" provided there is "the right equipment, the right resources". His one reservation is the standard genuflection towards a military now scandal­ised by a colonial cruelty of which the Baha Mousa case is but one of many.

For Clegg, as for Brown and Cameron, the horrific weapons used by British forces, such as cluster bombs, depleted uranium and the Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of its victims' lungs, do not exist. The limbs of children in trees do not exist. This year alone, Britain will spend £4bn on the war in Afghanistan. That is what Brown and Cameron almost certainly intend to cut from the health service.

Edward S Herman explained this genteel extremism in his essay "The Banality of Evil". There is a strict division of labour, ranging from the scientists working in the laboratories of the weapons industry, to the intelligence and "national security" personnel who supply the paranoia and "strategies", to the politicians who approve them. As for journalists, our task is to censor by omission and make the crime seem normal for you, the public. For, above all, it is your understanding and your awakening that are feared."

Scoring Round 1 of Hillary vs. Ahmadinejad

By Tony Karon

"Walking out on Monday’s U.N. speech by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have been good domestic politics for the Obama Administration and its closest European allies, but it won’t necessarily help them prevail at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference that began Monday. In fact the move by delegates from the U.S., Britain, France, Canada, Hungary, New Zealand and the Netherlands, among others, may have perversely played to Ahmadinejad’s advantage....."

Colombia: State Terror in the Name of Peace

By James Petras

"The first casualty of state terror is the corruption of language, the invention of euphemisms, where words mean their opposite and slogans cover great crimes: There is no longer a world consensus that condemns crimes against humanity.....

A Novel Definition of Sovereignty

According to el Presidente, ceding territory to a foreign imperial power to build seven military bases operating with their own laws and jurisdiction is the new definition of sovereignty. Sovereignty equals foreign occupation.

The New Definition of Subversion

According to el Presidente, humanitarian accords and initiatives for peace are pretexts for subversion; their advocates know in advance they will be rejected by the State. Instead, dehumanizing the enemy and the advocates of peace facilitates the bombing of subversive villages, the ‘real’ enemies of peace.

On Praise and Condemnation

What does it tell you about a President when he is condemned by all the human rights groups and social movements and praised by all the financial newspapers and military institutions?....."

BP: Billionaire Polluter

By Amy Goodman

"Less than a week after British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and unleashing what could be the worst industrial environmental disaster in U.S. history, the company announced more than $6 billion in profits for the first quarter of 2010, more than doubling profits from the same period the year before. Oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz notes: “BP is one of the most powerful corporations operating in the United States. Its 2009 revenues of $327 billion are enough to rank BP as the third-largest corporation in the country. It spends aggressively to influence U.S. policy and regulatory oversight.” The power and wealth that BP and other oil giants wield are almost without parallel in the world, and pose a threat to the lives of workers, to the environment and to our prospects for democracy......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Ahmadinejad's take on ties with US

"Iran's president says if new international sanctions are passed against his country, relations with the United States will never improve.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was speaking a day after western diplomats walked out during his speech at a United Nations nuclear non-proliferation conference in New York.

He spoke to Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi about Iran-US ties, as well as the possibility of reaching an agreement on Iran's nuclear aspirations."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Death Watch for the Old Cow!

Take a Good Look at This Dying Cow....
It Doesn't Have Many Days Left.

Video: Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian mosque in latest attack

Cartoon for Iranian newspaper Jame Jam, by Carlos Latuff

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Video: The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners

A lecture by Professor John J. Mearsheimer


I posted an article on May 1, which was an excerpt from this speech.

Warehousing Palestinians

(Left: Bashir Gemayel)

Ending the Hypocrisy of Lebanon's "Voice for Palestine"


"This year, the Merry Month of May in Lebanon includes Labor day, the May 15 anniversary of the Nakba, the month-long Lebanese municipal elections and the May 5 elevation of Lebanon to the presidency of the United Nations Security Council.

Yet, for most Palestinians whiling away their lives in Lebanon’s 12 fetid refugee camps and 27 gatherings, May will pass anything but Merry. The festive Labor day and month long elections, held in the 26 municipalities in Lebanon, with the participation of more than 650 glad-handing -vote seeking candidates extolling the Lebanese virtue of working to provide for one’s family, constitute a cruel joke for Palestinian refugees denied the right to work......

The Lebanese Forces has the clearest political party position on the subject of granting the right to work to Palestinian refugees and it has never wavered over the years. During my first ever visit to Lebanon in July of 1981, following the Israeli massacre that killed more than 170 and wounded more than 800, in the Palestinian neighborhood adjacent to Shatila camp called Fakhani, I had lunch with the Lebanese Forces leader Bashir Gemayel. A gracious host and the son of Pierre Gemayel, who along with Camille Chamoun founded the Lebanese Forces in 1976 with the primary objective of killing Palestinians, Bashir invited a couple of his friendly and charming aides, Elie Hobeika ( leader of the LF 1985-86) and Fadi Frem ( leader of the LF 1982-84)-both of whom would participate in the massacre the following fall at Sabra Shatila. The slaughter, which has been planned weeks in advance in Israel according to LF participants, was ordered executed the day after Bashir’s September 14, 1982 assassination.

What Bachir said privately about Palestinians over lunch 29 years ago is virtually identical to what representatives of the Lebanese Forces, which fought Palestinians during the 1975-90 Civil War, are saying today. In public, their language is more restrained and less profane, but equally bigoted. As LF representative Fadi Zarifeh informed a working group on civil rights for Palestinian refugees on February 10, 2010, the Lebanese Forces remain “quite hostile to the whole idea. The Lebanese state should first take care of its own citizens and not others.” Zarifeh added that his party was “the one farthest away from approving greater rights for Palestinian refugees”......"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This New poll asks:

Do you feel the presence of free press in the Arab world?

With about 1,000 responding so far, 90% said no.

EXCLUSIVE…Secret Recording of Erik Prince Reveals Previously Undisclosed Blackwater Ops

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Investigative journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill obtains a rare audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater, to a friendly audience in January. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption, provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater. In a Democracy Now! exclusive broadcast we play excerpts of the recording and speak with Scahill about the revelations......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - The US role in the Middle East

Real News Video: Modern history of Lebanon Pt3

Traboulsi on the roots of militias and the bloody civil war in Lebanon

More at The Real News

Settlers Torch Mosque South Of Nablus

"A group of fundamentalist settlers torched the main mosque of the Al Lubban Al Sharqiyya village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Jamal Daraghma, head of the Al Lubban Village Council, stated that the settlers attacked the mosque approximately at 3 A.M, rounded up several copies of the Holy Koran in one place and set them ablaze.

Daraghma added that the mosque is located in the center of the village which is surrounded by three settlements built on %30 of lands stolen from the residents. The village, 22 kilometers south of Nablus, is inhibited by 3000 residents. He stated that the village is subject to frequent attacks carried out by the settlers who previously set ablaze farmlands and uprooted trees.....

The mosque was totally torched, some fifty copies of the Holy Koran were burnt and its walls and ceilings became cracked with significant parts of its ceramics falling down.....

This is the third mosque to be torched by the settlers this year as the settlers torched a mosque in Yasuf village near Salfit and another mosque in Huwwara town, near Nablus."

Corruption Muddies Egypt’s Labour Pool

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, May 3, 2010 (IPS) - Saeed El-Masry was born poor, raised poor and, unless he can get ‘kosa,’ will probably die poor. Kosa is the Arabic word for zucchini, but it also means someone in a position of power who can open doors to gainful employment.

"There are no good jobs unless you know a cabinet minister or pay off a high-ranking official," El-Masry resigns. "That’s the way it’s always been in Egypt."

Nepotism is a glaring facet of the Egyptian workforce, research has shown. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the bloated public sector, where landing a job often has more to do with who you know than your career qualifications.

"Social background and networks are part of the selection criteria," Transparency International (TI) said in a report released in March. ...."

Israel, Iran Targeted at Nuke Non-Proliferation Meet

By Thalif Deen

"UNITED NATIONS, May 3, 2010 (IPS) - A month-long Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) began Monday with a predictable target: Israel.

As the only Middle Eastern country armed with nuclear weapons, Israel has been treated as a political sacred cow, one whose weapons programmes have not been publicly challenged either by the United States or Western powers.

But on Monday an overwhelming majority of U.N. member states - 118 out of 192 - wanted the defiant Jewish state to come clean with its nuclear weapons programme and sign the NPT, which is aimed at halting the spread of these devastating armaments.

Speaking on behalf of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the fact that Israel has refused to sign and ratify the NPT has resulted in the continued exposure of non-nuclear weapon states of the region to nuclear threats by the only country possessing these weapons of mass destruction......."

Israel's Stasi Watch over Imams

By Jonathan Cook - Jaffa
Palestine Chronicle

"Job interviews for the position of imam at mosques in Israel are conducted not by senior clerics but by the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, a labour tribunal has revealed.

Sheikh Ahmed Abu Ajwa, 36, is fighting the Shin Bet’s refusal to approve his appointment as an imam in a case that has lifted the lid on Israel’s secret surveillance of the country’s Islamic leaders.

At a hearing last month, a senior government official admitted that 60 undercover inspectors were employed effectively as spies to collect information on Muslim clerics, reporting on political opinions they expressed in sermons and relaying gossip about their private lives.....

During one Shin Bet interview, he said, he had been told: “We know everything about you, we are always watching you.”

The goal of such interviews was often to recruit Muslim clerics to become informers themselves, he added."

Who is fanning the flames of this campus conflagration?

After a Jewish-Muslim initiative to defuse student tension was thwarted, critics of Israel are liable to be vilified as 'extremist'

Azzam Tamimi, Tuesday 4 May 2010

".........In a bid to intimidate students and dissuade them from inviting me to speak, the Jewish Chronicle has repeatedly claimed that I was reported to the police after speaking at Soas in February and that "the Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether to press charges" because of comments I made against Israel.

If anything, these interventions by pro-Israel lobbyists in the media and parliament prove that the flame of tension on campus is not without external fanners. The extremism and the hate-speech often referred to as reasons to stifle free speech are nothing but code words for any attempt to criticise Israel or shed light on the plight of the Palestinians, its victims."

Why Elton John is considered a danger to Egypt

A move to ban Elton's gig is about fear of social discord. Yet in other ways the Arab world fails to address 'the public good'

Brian Whitaker, Tuesday 4 May 2010

"Elton John is due to give a private concert in Egypt later this month. Or rather, he was, until the Egyptian musicians' union stepped in.

Mounir al-Wasimi, head of the union, announced on Sunday that he is "co-ordinating" with the authorities to stop the concert going ahead because Elton John is gay, believes Jesus was gay too, and has been critical of organised religions.

Now, you might be wondering why that should be of any concern to a musicians' union or why a union set up (presumably) to promote music should be trying to ban a concert, but it's none of your business. As Wasimi points out, his union is the only body "authorised to allow performances by foreign singers in Egypt".....

It was a lack of this type of regulation that contributed to the deaths of more than 150 people when floods swept through Jeddah in Saudi Arabia last November. One important factor was the unregulated construction that had taken place over many years in normally dry river beds.

But protecting against disasters like that has never figured strongly in the Saudi concept of the public good. Instead, a huge amount of effort goes into ensuring that people comply with the rules of morality set by religious scholars....."