Saturday, July 10, 2010

Al-Jazeera Cartoon: The Devolution of the PLO

Palestine Liquidation Organization?
Mission Almost Accomplished!

Israeli Terrorist Soldiers dancing in Hebron

Palestinian peace activist mock the Israeli Terrorist Soldiers.

Police Brutality And Settler Violence In Sheikh Jarrah

by Max Blumenthal

JERUSALEM — This Friday’s protest at Sheikh Jarrah was met with the most violent repression since the weekly demonstrations began. The Jerusalem police and Israeli Border Guard officers brutalized the three hundred non-violent demonstrators and arrested at least eight in response to the demonstrators’ attempt to protest in front of homes illegally seized from Palestinian families by radical right-wing Jewish settlers.

Though Sheikh Jarrah demonstrators have been arrested en masse in the past, the protest is often a mellow affair characterized by chanting, singing, and kibitzing among a few hundred Jewish Israeli leftists. However, this week the demonstrators demanded to enter the Simeon the Just compound that the police normally cordon off to everyone except settlers. Their intention was to highlight the unfairness of not only the right of settlers to throw Palestinian families out of homes they had lived in for 60 years, but to expose the police’s discriminatory practice of blocking the neighborhood off to supposedly protect the settlers. The police practice is eerily reminiscent of the Israeli Army’s apartheid policies in the West Bank city of Hebron, where access to Shuhada Street is forbidden to everyone except the radical settlers who have occupied the surrounding areas — even the Palestinians who live near the street must avoid it under threat of settler violence or arrest.

Video: Jewish student caught painting Swastikas on her own door then claiming Anti-Semitic Attack

Courtesy of Norman G. Finkelstein

The Siege against Gaza: America's Ongoing Support to Israeli Military and Intelligence Operations

by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research

"...."Our Man in the White House"

While born in the US, Rahm Emmanuel also holds Israeli citizenship and has served in the Israeli military during the First Gulf War (1991).

Rahm is also known for his connections to the pro-Israeli lobby in the US. The Israeli newspaper Maariv calls him "Our Man in the White House" (quoted in Irish Times, March 13, 2010). Rahm Emmanuel gave his support to Obama in the November 2008 presidential elections following Obama`s address to the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC.

At the time of Rahm Emmanuel's confirmation as White House chief of staff, there were reports in the Middle East media of Rahm Emanuel's connections to Israeli intelligence.....

Targeting Iran

The attack on the Freedom Flotilla, might appear as a separate and distinct humanitarian issue, unrelated to US-Israeli war plans. But from the standpoint of both Tel Aviv and Washington, it was part of the broader military agenda. It was intended to create conditions favoring an atmosphere of confrontation and escalation in the Middle East war theater;

"All the signs are that Israel has been stepping up its provocations to engineer a casus belli for a war against Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Tel Aviv sees as unfinished business its inconclusive wars: the first in Lebanon in 2006, and the second in Gaza in 2008-09." (Jean Shaoul Washington Comes to the Aid of Israel over Gaza Convoy Massacre, Global Research, June 4, 2010)

Following Israel's illegal assault in international waters, Netanyahu stated emphatically "Israel will continue to exercise its right to self defence. We will not allow the establishment of an Iranian port in Gaza," suggesting that the Gaza blockade was part of the pre-emptive war agenda directed against Iran, Syria and Lebanon....

The Issue of Territorial Waters: Gaza's Offshore Gas Fields

Israel's blockade of Gaza is in large part motivated by the broader issue of control of Gaza's territorial waters, which contain significant reserves of natural gas.
What is at stake is the confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral de facto declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza's maritime areas. If the blockade were to be broken, Israel's de facto control over Gaza's offshore gas reserves would be jeopardy. (See Michel Chossudovsky,War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza's Offshore Gas Fields, Global Research, January 8, 2009. See also Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006).....

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza's gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine. The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza's offshore gas reserves..... "

Boycott, divestment and sanctions in Australia, five years on

Sonja Karkar, The Electronic Intifada, 9 July 2010

(Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of Women for Palestine and one of the founders and co-convener of Australians for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia. )

"It is five years since Palestinian civil society first made the call for a global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against the apartheid state of Israel. At the time, introducing such action in Australia seemed impossible when the public barely knew anything about the Palestinian struggle for justice and freedom. Education had to be a priority if there was to be any overturning of the long-accepted and indulged Zionist narrative.....

Australia is still a long way off from the effective boycott strategies being implemented in the UK, Europe and the US, which includes an increasing number of divestments from Israeli companies by churches, municipal councils, colleges, unions, banks and pension funds and some countries are calling for sanctions on arms trade with Israel. Certainly, the Australian government is most unlikely to impose sanctions regardless of which political party takes over in the coming elections.

The power lies with activists, unionists and people of conscience to turn these first steps into a dynamic boycott movement much like what is already sweeping the world. The catastrophe facing the Palestinians demands that we give BDS our best shot, and indeed, history is on our side."

"Beware of Small States": journalist David Hirst interviewed

Robin Yassin-Kassab, The Electronic Intifada, 9 July 2010

"Veteran Middle East correspondent David Hirst, author of the seminal work on the Palestinian plight The Gun and the Olive Branch, has a new release: Beware of Small States, an equally important book on Lebanon's complex tragedy. The Electronic Intifada contributor Robin Yassin-Kassab interviewed Hirst on his work and views.....

RYK: The "resistance front" of Hizballah-Syria-Iran seems to be threatening a unified response to any future Israeli attack outside historical Palestine. Is this a credible threat? Does the changing role of Turkey -- its economic and political alliance with Syria and Iran -- and the increasingly warm relationship between Russia and Syria, suggest the Middle East may be approaching a "balance of terror" to deter Israel from adventurism?

DH: There are increasing indications that the "next war" in the Middle East -- what I call the seventh -- may spread beyond Lebanon to embrace Hamas in Gaza, Syria and Iran. There is no formal military alliance between them, but Syria and Iran are clearly seeking to inculcate the fear that, if Israel does go to war against its likeliest, first target -- Hizballah -- they will join in on its side. They might be doing this for deterrent purposes only. Even so the mere hint of it increases the risk that, by accident or design, it will come to pass. Alternatively, of course, if Israel were to hazard a strike on Iran's nuclear sites, it is highly probable that Hizballah would retaliate with its now vastly replenished stock of missiles. And, this time, that could well escalate into the war with Syria which had failed to materialize in 2006 -- with Israel's so-called Second Lebanon War -- and earlier such conflagrations between it and Hizballah.

RYK: British journalist and author Robert Fisk says he is utterly pessimistic about the future of the Middle East. He sees it as an unfolding "hell disaster" with no light on the horizon. Are you equally gloomy?

DH: In my experience it has become a truism: things never get better in the Middle East, they just get steadily worse. I have been hearing that -- from Arabs of pretty much any condition or background -- since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. I don't see any likely change in that reality, certainly not, at any rate, till the chief of the region's many maladies -- the Arab/Israel conflict -- finds a cure, or a convincing remission......"

CNN caves in

By Stephen M. Walt

".....More importantly, plenty of American journalists and politicians have shown "respect" (and in some cases, fawning admiration) for various world figures with hands far bloodier than Ayatollah Fadlallah -- including Mao Zedong, Ariel Sharon, the Shah of Iran, or even Kim il Sung -- but it didn't cost them their jobs....

This incident is also distressing because CNN was essentially caving into a black/white, us vs. them, good vs. absolute evil view of the world. Because the United States had labeled Fadlallah a "terrorist," expressing any sort of positive comment about him was a firing offense....

...But CNN's spineless response to this incident strikes me as one more reason why mainstream journalism is increasingly seen as morally bankrupt and why the blogosphere is slowly taking over. "

CNN was wrong about Ayatollah Fadlallah

By Robert Fisk

".....Well, he wasn't Hizbollah's man, but no matter. He was definitely a giant. A man of immense learning and jurisprudence, a believer in women's rights, a hater of "honour crimes", a critic of the theocratic system of government in Iran, a ... Well, I'd better be careful because I might get a phone call from Parisa Khosravi, who goes by the title of CNN's "senior vice president" – what these boss types do or what they get paid for their gutless decisions I have no idea – who said this week that she had "had a conversation" with Nasr (who'd been with the company for 20 years) and "we have decided that she will be leaving the company".

Oh deary, deary. Poor old CNN goes on getting more cowardly by the hour. That's why no one cares about it any more. That can't be said about Fadlallah. The Americans put it about that he had blessed the suicide bomber who struck the US marine base in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 service personnel. Fadlallah always denied this to me and I believe him. Suicide bombers, however insane we regard them, don't need to be blessed; they think they are doing God's duty without any help from a marja like Fadlallah. But anyway, Washington used Saudi money to arrange a car bombing to assassinate Fadlallah in 1985. It missed Fadlallah. But it killed more than 80 innocent people. I do wonder what Ms Khosravi would have thought of that. No comment, I guess.

And now it turns out that the British ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, has written on her personal blog that Fadlallah was a man she respected and most enjoyed meeting in Lebanon. What possesses these personalities to have blogapops all over the place I have no idea. But Ms Guy has incurred the anger of the Israeli foreign ministry, whose spokesman says it would be "interesting" to know what the British Foreign Office thinks of her remarks. Personally, I would be far more "interested" in what the Israeli foreign ministry knows of the British passports its government forged in order to murder a man in Dubai not many months ago.

.... But I do believe that Fadlallah was a very serious and very important man whose constant sermons on the need for spiritual regeneration and kindness did more good than most in a country constantly flooded in a rhetoric bath. Hundreds of thousands attended his funeral in Beirut on Tuesday. I am not surprised."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guess What? It is a Birthday Party!

Yes! The Palestinian Pundit Has Turned Four!

We started this day in 2006. Since then more than 21,000 items have been posted, with not a single day's interruption.

I promise you at least another four years of the freshest and the highest quality news, comments and opinions.

Cheers to Molly, Zarathustra, TGIA and to all of our readers.

Tony Sayegh

U.S. ignorance about Palestinian conditions is very, very dangerous


The other day I was talking to an Arab-American friend who is incensed by Israel's conduct and I said that the fact that half of greater Israel's population is not politically represented (the Palestinians) means that there could be a civil war in that place; and he nodded and said, Right, as if it were a good thing.

The comment resonates in my mind because it demonstrates how volatile are the political materials that Israel and the lobby and the U.S. are playing with. If you study history, you recognize that the injustice being perpetrated in Israel/Palestine is of such a profound character as to be of the type that people historically have made violent revolutions over.

And this seems to me the huge danger of the denial that the mainstream media and the lobby are perpetrating in the U.S.

They are depriving Americans of knowledge of the terrible reality of the situation, and of the revolutionary tinder it is building. They are stupidly suggesting, every day, for years on end, that a "peace process" will produce justice in Israel/Palestine any minute now, when from a Palestinian perspective this process has only prolonged 60 years of dispossession, now exacerbated by tyrannical murderous occupation.

By dismissing the word apartheid over and over again, when many say that the situation is worse than South African apartheid, the U.S. establishment is in grave danger of reaping the whirlwind. It is true that Nicholas Kristof in the Times has nibbled away at the reality lately; but this is just a nibble, he is still sugarcoating the pill; and the rest of the Establishment media have completely failed to reckon with what is afoot.

Behind Turkey and Israel's Not-So-Secret Meeting

Business as Usual


"Recriminatory words exchanged between Turkey and Israel over the latter’s May 31 assault on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla have given way to the pragmatism of national self-interest. On June 30, ministers from the two countries “secretly” met in Brussels to attempt to smooth over differences and repair bilateral ties marred in the wake of the attack.

It was a startling development when contrasted with the indignation voiced by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after eight Turkish activists and one dual U.S.-Turkish citizen aboard the Mavi Marmara were killed by Israeli commandos. At the time, he characterized the damage done to Turkey-Israel relations as “irreparable.”

Erdogan quickly became a hero in Gaza. He was seen as the only regional leader who had taken demonstrable action and directly challenged the three-year-old siege. His forthright words were surprisingly unencumbered by the diplomatic baggage Middle Easterners have long come to expect from their leaders......

As one Israeli official said, “It’s business as usual.”

Diplomatic initiatives and overtures that reduce Mideast tensions are always welcome. It must be recognized, however, that Turkey and Israel’s motives to do so are self-serving. Many will rightly ask if Turkey is more concerned with repairing relations with Israel so it can continue to acquire the desired military technology. They also wonder if Erdogan may yet find cause not to sell out Gaza’s Palestinians."

20 YEARS LOST IN A SINGLE TWEET: CNN Fires Octavia Nasr, a well deserved humiliating exit from the network

A Good Comment

Contributed by Qasim

".....Nasr deserves all the humiliation she must be feeling at this point. Her firing should be a lesson to all those Arabs and Muslims in this country who are busy garnering mainstream media acceptance. We know Arabs and Muslims are not judged on their journalistic skills or integrity. They are hired based on their willingness and ability to strictly follow rigid narratives on any given topic, especially on issues relating to the Middle East. In Nasr’s case she was the token Arab offering native expertise on Middle East events, and more importantly, native legitimacy for the official narrative. Not once did Nasr dare defend the legally and morally sanctioned Lebanese resistance to the recurring Israeli onslaughts on innocent civilians and occupation of her native Lebanon. She knew what was permissible, and expressing such views would have earned her a much earlier exit from CNN. Not once before her unfortunate (from her perspective) tweet did she deviate from the storyline on any topic or current event. In fairness to Nasr, this may not have been too hard to do. She began her career in Lebanon at the LBC network of the right-wing, Christian fascist groups like the Phalange and Lebanese Forces. This fringe element within Lebanon has always been sympathetic to Zionism and Western meddling in the region.

Nasr’s humiliating exit from CNN should be a lesson to all aspiring journalists pursuing careers in US corporate media outlets, especially those from suspect groups who carry around the extra burden of demonstrating they’re one of “the good ones.” Nasr adopted her views and chose her words carefully......."

Al-Jazeera Video: Palestinian healthcare paralysed by separation wall

"Palestinians in the West Bank are not allowed into Israel for treatment unless they have a permit.

The process of getting one is lengthy and complex. With males often denied permits on security grounds.

The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organisation has issued a report expressing grave concern about Palestinians' access to healthcare due to the barrier.

Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from the West bank on the healthcare implications of the wall."

Al-Jazeera Video: Riz Khan - How do allies become enemies?

"A look at the state of US-Turkish-Israeli relations in the wake of the flotilla raid."

'Mediterranean Intifada' Helping Hamas

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa Al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Jul 9, 2010 (IPS) - Israel's deadly assault on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month has led to mounting international pressure to end the ongoing Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip. The incident, say local analysts, has also served to bolster the position of Palestinian resistance group Hamas, which has governed the strip since 2007.

"Israel's murderous assault has swung the balance in favour of the Hamas-led resistance in Gaza," Abdel-Halim Kandil, political analyst and editor-in-chief of opposition weekly Al-Karama told IPS. "This Mediterranean Intifada will be remembered as a turning point in the history of the Palestinian cause."....."

CNN's Objectivity Questioned in Sacking of Mideast Reporter

By Eli Clifton

"WASHINGTON, Jul 8, 2010 (IPS) - CNN's firing of Octavia Nasr, the editor responsible for the network's Middle East coverage, over a Twitter post in which she expressed her sadness over the death of a Lebanese cleric has set off a firestorm of debate about what the decision says about CNN's fairness in reporting on the region....

Peter Hart, activism director at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a media watchdog group, told IPS that, "If there was some suggestion that she had been producing questionable journalism over all these years you'd think this would have been an issue before this, but it doesn't seem to be the case. So it's a decision which is disconnected from any sensible policy. The real problem is that she said something which offended very powerful people and that was her mistake.".....

"[P]lenty of American journalists and politicians have shown 'respect' (and in some cases, fawning admiration) for various world figures with hands far bloodier than Ayatollah Fadlallah - including Mao Zedong, Ariel Sharon, the Shah of Iran, or even Kim il Sung - but it didn't cost them their jobs," wrote Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University......."

Neocons, Likud Conquer DC, Again

(Click on cartoon by Khalil Bendib to enlarge)

By Robert Parry
July 8, 2010

"The clout of Washington’s neoconservatives and the political fear induced by Israel’s Likud hardliners were on display again with recently released e-mails in which Gen. David Petraeus grovels before a key neocon and in White House meetings at which President Obama pandered to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu......

In short, the American neocons and their Likud friends in Israel still seem to deliver the most powerful one-two punch in Washington policy circles.

That is a lesson that Gen. Petraeus, who is considered by some pundits a possible Republican challenger to Obama in 2012, already appears to have learned."

Lebanon ambassador sparks anger over blog

The Independent

"Britain's ambassador to Lebanon has sparked anger in Israel by praising a man regarded by many as the spiritual mentor of Hezbollah, it emerged today.

An obituary to Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah - entitled "The Passing of Decent Men" - has been taken down from ambassador Frances Guy's internet blog after attracting criticism. The Foreign Office today said the article was removed "after mature consideration"......

Ms Guy's obituary described Fadlallah as the politician in Lebanon she enjoyed meeting most.

"When you visited him you could be sure of a real debate, a respectful argument and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person," she wrote. "That for me is the real effect of a true man of religion; leaving an impact on everyone he meets, no matter what their faith.

"Sheikh Fadlallah passed away yesterday. Lebanon is a lesser place the day after but his absence will be felt well beyond Lebanon's shores.

"The world needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world and daring to confront old constraints. May he rest in peace."....."

Afghanistan is a catastrophe. But we will have to wait for a new Chilcot to admit it

Our leaders would rather avoid embarrassment than be honest about the horrific futility of the wars we are fighting

Simon Jenkins, Thursday 8 July 2010

".....Nato's generals will eventually retreat to Kabul. There they will build a Baghdad-style "green zone" of fortifications and blast walls. The city will become a western client statelet of stunning venality, floating on an ocean of corruption-fuelling dollars. It will last as long as liberal interventionists care to enjoy a lethal cocktail of incoming mortars and outgoing pie in the sky. When it is over, and another war begins, we shall have a new Chilcot inquiry."

Israel’s Nukes Harm US National Interests

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

by John Mearsheimer, July 09, 2010

"What I want to do was ask four questions, and then answer them.

The first is, "why did Israel develop nuclear weapons to begin within the 1950s and 1960s?" Second, "does it make sense today for Israel to have a nuclear deterrent?" Third, "does opacity make good strategic sense for Israel?" "Does it matter for the United States?" And four, "is it in America’s interest for Israel to have nuclear weapons?"......

Let me just conclude with a few words on where this situation is headed.

I actually believe the situation is going to get much worse over time. I believe that we’re not going to have an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. I believe that talk of a two-state solution and all this talk about moving from "proximity talks" to "direct talks " is a charade. I find it hard to believe that people in this town take this discussion seriously. I think, at this point in time, that you’re going to get a "Greater Israel," and it either is, or is going to be, an apartheid state. It is going to cause us enormous problems, in the Middle East, or in the Arab and Islamic world. It is going to continue to keep relations between Israel and its neighbors in a troublesome state.

On the proliferation front, I would not be surprised if Iran and other countries continue to move down the nuclear road. You already see the Jordanians expressing an interest in developing a signification nuclear enrichment capability. It would be interesting to see if Turkey does. As I said before, I think Iraq will want nuclear weapons if Iran has nuclear weapons. It would be foolish not to from an Iraqi point of view. A Middle East where more than one state has nuclear weapons makes me very, very nervous.

What of course all of this is going to point to is the fact that America’s interests and Israel’s interests are going to continue to diverge. And the end result of that, back here in the United States, is that the lobby is going to have to work overtime to cover that up and make it look like everything is hunky-dory when in fact it’s not. And that has all sorts of negative consequences for domestic politics.

So I think things are very bad now but I’m sad to say they’re only going to get worse."

The Arabs and Turkey

What Arabs who look admiringly to Ankara do not understand is that Turkey's leaders act in concordance with Turkish public sentiment, not to save Arab dignity

By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

"There is something in the Arab public space that hampers an objective discussion of Turkey's increasing political involvement in the region, its remarkable stances in favour of Arab causes, and an overall performance record that merits more than just praise. The source of the difficulty is that for more than a year Turkey has increasingly become an outlet for the frustrations of Arab societies and a convenient peg upon which to hang their hopes, but not just their hopes......

A different sort of problem arises from those who want Turkey to become an Arab leader. The problem is that Turkey has no desire to become one. It does not want to lead a rejectionist/ resistance axis. Even to begin to attempt to push it in this direction could create serious trouble for the JDP. At the very least it would open it to accusations from its rivals and from the state establishment to the effect that it is leading the country away from the Turkish agenda and dragging Turkey into a position where it has to be more Arab than many Arabs want to be.

Yet another difficulty comes when some parties try to emulate Turkey only to find that they have failed where Turkey succeeded. The way that Turkey is handling its dispute with Israel, inclusive of Turkish civil society's peaceful activism against Israel, is appropriate to a country that is in a state of peace with Israel. It is effective precisely because it functions in this context. However, when countries or movements that are in a state of war (or at least presumed to be in a state of war) with Israel try to imitate Turkey's style of talk and action they will not be effective. The ways that resistance movements and countries that are at war with Israel have of being effective are totally different and either they should use them or wait until they can, because for them to imitate the Turkish way of handling its disputes with Israel can only be regarded as a form of retreat.

There, Arab alliance with Turkey is very important. However, such an alliance does not mean that we should impose our own perceptions of it on Turkey. Rather, our task should be to form a clear and objective understanding of the actual dynamics of this alliance. At the same time, we should allow Turkey to deal with its conflicts they way it sees fit, while offering our advice when it solicits it, and expressing our gratitude when it does not."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Eunuch and the Bliar; What a Sight!

The Eunuch and the Bliar; What a Sight!

Peace bullish or 'bullshit'

By Marwan Bishara

"The good news: "Netanyahu to give peace process a 'robust push". The bad news, any rational person privy to the ideology and makeup of the Israeli government knows this not serious.

And yet, after their meeting, Barak Obama, the US president, has publically supported his Israeli interlocutor, saying he believed Binyamin Netanyahu would take "risks for peace" and praised the Israeli prime minister for easing the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Obama also called for "direct talks" between Israelis and Palestinians irrespective of the continued illegal settlements.

All of which begs two questions: How does a defunct and discredited diplomatic process continue to masquerade as a success despite its utter failures? And why the US and its Western allies continue to finance and pamper it when it creates more instability and conflict than peace and progress?

The short answer is bullshit.

In is attempt to define bullshit and theorise about its uses and meanings, Harry Frankfurt, the Princeton philosopher, has differentiated between bullshit and lies in his book On Bullshit, and concluded that bullshit can be more dangerous than lying.

Bullshit is more than a word; it is a chronic widespread system of rhetoric and representation that mystifies the truth. It has increasingly become a way of communication not only in the private sphere but has become part and parcel of Western propaganda.....

After hundreds of meetings, tens of initiatives and seven interim agreements, the situation in the Israeli occupied territories might have "improved" in certain micro areas, but at a macro level it has notably worsened.

During that time, the peace process has bestowed on an ever more aggressive Israeli occupier and increasingly discredited Palestinian Authority the title of "peace partners".

In the process, colonisation deepened, the colonised suffered and nonsense triumphed.....

But the peace process is the best way to maintain Pax Americana in the region, secure Jewish support in the US while pampering the special relationship between the US and Israel.

Given the choice between peace in the Middle East and peace between the US and Israel, the Obama administration has made its choice known this week."

Octavia Nasr's firing and what the liberal media allows


CNN yesterday endedthe 20-year career of Octavia Nasr, its Atlanta-based Senior Middle East News Editor, because of a now-deleted tweet she wrote on Sunday upon learning of the death of one of the Shiite world's most beloved religious figures: "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah . . . . One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot." That message spawned an intense fit of protest from Far Right outlets, Thought Crime enforcers, and other neocon precincts, and CNN quickly (and characteristically) capitulated to that pressure by firing her. The network -- which has employed a former AIPAC official, Wolf Blitzer, as its primary news anchor for the last 15 years -- justified its actions by claiming that Nasr's "credibility" had been "compromised." Within this episode lies several important lessons about media "objectivity" and how the scope of permissible views is enforced.

First, consider which viewpoints cause someone to be fired from The Liberal Media. Last month, Helen Thomas' 60-year career as a journalist ended when she expressed the exact view about Jews which numerous public figures have expressed (with no consequence or even controversy) about Palestinians. Just weeks ago, The Washington Postaccepted the "resignation" of Dave Weigel because of scorn he heaped on right-wing figures such as Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh. CNN's Chief News Executive, Eason Jordan, was previously forced to resign after he provoked a right-wing fit of fury over comments he made about thenumerous -- and obviously disturbing -- incidents where the U.S. military had injured or killed journalists in war zones. NBC fired Peter Arnett for criticizing the U.S. war plan on Iraqi television, which prompted accusations of Treason from the Right. MSNBC demoted and then fired its rising star Ashleigh Banfield after she criticized American media war coverage for adhering to the Fox model of glorifying U.S. wars; the same network fired its top-rated host, Phil Donahue, due to its fear of being perceived as anti-war; and its former reporter, Jessica Yellin, confessed that journalists were "under enormous pressure from corporate executives" to present the news in a pro-war and pro-Bush manner.

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This new poll asks:

Do you support Arab countries complying with the new Security Council sanctions against Iran?

With about 1,000 responding so far, 83% said no.

Corruption Watchdogs Bite Selectively

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, Jul 8, 2010 (IPS) - Anti-corruption watchdogs have shown their teeth, but Egypt's fat cats appear safe from prosecution as long as they stay in favour with the regime.

"The state investigates corruption but usually only after officials are out of office, and only with the green light from above," says anti-corruption expert Ahmed Sakr Ashour. "We need (to prosecute) these officials while they are in office and abusing power."....

"We're fighting ghosts," says Hafez Abu Seada, chairman of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR). "It's clear there's corruption. You can smell it, touch it and feel it -- everything indicates that there are big fat cats, but (citizens) have no power to catch them or bring them to court."

It is estimated that some 40,000 cases of graft and corruption are filed each year. Yet the vast majority of the cases that make it to court -- and nearly all the ones in which sentences are handed down -- are initiated by the government.

"From time to time the government hands a corruption case to the courts to make it appear that it is cleaning house," says Abu Seada. "It seems only the government can decide who is corrupt and which cases will go to the courts."....."

Cluster Bombs and Civilian Lives: Efficient Killing, Profits and Human Rights

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"Cluster bombs are in the news again, thanks to a recent report from Amnesty International.

The human rights agency has confirmed that 35 women and children were killed following the latest US attacks on an alleged al-Qaeda hideout in Yemen. Initially, there were attempts to bury the story, and Yemen officially denied that civilians were killed as a result of the December 17 attack on al-Majala in southern Yemen. However, it has been simply impossible to conceal what is now considered the largest loss of life in one single US attack in the country.

If the civilian casualties were indeed a miscalculation on the part of the US military, there should no longer be any doubt about the fact that cluster munitions are far too dangerous a weapon to be utilized in war. And they certainly have no place whatsoever in civilian areas. The human casualties are too large to justify.

Yemen is not alone. Gaza, Lebanon and Afghanistan are also stark examples of the untold loss and suffering caused by cluster bombs. Meanwhile, the unrepentant Israeli army will not consider dropping the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas altogether. Instead it is pondering ways to make them ‘safer’......"

The chronic failure of Israeli leadership

By Patrick Cockburn

"President Obama was full of gushing goodwill towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their summit in Washington this week. There was no mention of an extension to the moratorium on Israeli settlement building or the Israeli commandos' attack on the Turkish aid flotilla bound for Gaza. In private, the White House and even the Israeli delegation were quick to say that Mr Obama's climb-down had not been quite as humiliating as it looked, and assurances had been given that the moratorium would be quietly extended. But the President was at pains to reverse the cool reception Mr Netanyahu got during his visit to the White House in March when when he was not even allowed a photograph with Mr Obama, who kept him waiting while he had dinner with his family upstairs.

The reason for Mr Netanyahu's friendlier reception is obvious enough. Mr Obama needs every vote he can get in the mid-term Congressional elections in November when a third of the Senate and all the House face re-election.....

Political leaders are so often accused of stupidity that it is worth asking if they behave more foolishly in Israel than elsewhere. The main explanation is that Israelis believe their own propaganda and their supporters abroad adopt a skewed view of events as if it was an article of faith. Israelis, leaders and followers alike, acquire a wholly distorted picture of the world around them. Hubris breeds self-righteousness and arrogance that robs Israel of friends and allies and repeatedly leads its leaders to underestimate their enemies.

Critics of Israeli actions, be they Israeli peace activists or members of the Turkish government, are demonised as supporters of terrorism. In this fantasy world sensible policies become difficult for leaders to devise and, if they do so, impossible to sell to voters. It is scarcely surprising that Israel's only victories these days are won on the sofas of the White House."

As Sangin shows, British troops were never geared up to make a lasting difference

By Patrick Cockburn

"British troops are well out of Sangin, where they fought against a classic guerrilla campaign with very little sign of lasting success.

The area, where a tenth of the British troops in Afghanistan suffered one third of total casualties, is symbolic of Britain's involvement in Afghanistan, as a bit player whose contribution was always going to have little effect on the outcome of the whole campaign.....

The idea that British forces could clear the way for good government for the people of Helmand has never made much sense. As American generals and diplomats have made clear, the weakness of the campaign by Western military forces in Afghanistan is that there is no civilian government ready and willing to move in. Opinion polls show that the majority of Afghans see the Kabul government as a racket aimed at extracting bribes. It might have been better if US and British troops had spent more time securing the main roads of Afghanistan rather than trying to root the Taliban out of their villages. What is most shocking over the past four years is the way the Taliban have taken control in areas where they are not popular and have limited forces."

News Corp to partner new Arabian news channel

The Guardian

"Al-Jazeera is about to get competition for Arab TV viewers. A company run by Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal is planning to launch an Arabic television news channel in partnership with Rupert Murdoch's company News Corporation [The Zionist-Saudi alliance is getting stronger!].

The prince, ranked by Forbes magazine as the world's 19th richest person, said the 24-hour news channel will be an "addition and alternative" to the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera and the Saudi-controlled Al-Arabiya.

The new channel's chief will be Jamal Khashoggi, the former editor of the Saudi-based Al Watan newspaper. No date for launch has been announced."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

First Helen Thomas now Octavia Nasr

In the latest case of new media (or oversharing) gone wrong, CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs Octavia Nasr is leaving the company following the controversy caused by her tweet in praise of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah

Mediaite has the internal memo, which says “we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised.”

Nasr tweeted this weekend: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

After a blog post expanding on her position, CNN promised the issue was “serious” and would “be dealt with accordingly.” That’s apparently her exit from CNN. Here’s an internal memo obtained by Mediaite:

From Parisa Khosravi – SVP CNN International Newsgathering

I had a conversation with Octavia this morning and I want to share with you that we have decided that she will be leaving the company. As you know, her tweet over the weekend created a wide reaction. As she has stated in her blog on, she fully accepts that she should not have made such a simplistic comment without any context whatsoever. However, at this point, we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.
As a colleague and friend we’re going to miss seeing Octavia everyday. She has been an extremely dedicated and committed part of our team. We thank Octavia for all of her hard work and we certainly wish her all the best.

Nasr has been with CNN for 20 years.

After U.S. Praise for Netanyahu’s "Restraint", Israeli Journalist Amira Hass Asks Obama to Imagine Life as Palestinian Under Occupation

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Meeting at the White House, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the "unbreakable" bond between Israel and the United States. Despite ongoing Israeli settlement expansion, roadblocks, closures and the attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Obama said he thinks Israel "has shown restraint." The meeting came on the heels of a decision by the Israeli military prosecutor to take disciplinary and legal action in four separate cases from Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza last year. We speak to veteran Israeli journalist Amira Hass....."

Video: Gaza besieged

The Economist

"Photographer Bruno Stevens on Gaza's intricate network of tunnels and circumventing Israel's stifling trade restrictions "

Afghan probe excluded key witnesses

By Gareth Porter and Ahmad Walid Fazly
Asia Times

"Eyewitnesses who saw US troops digging bullets out of the bodies of two Afghan mothers and a teenage girl after a botched Special Operation Forces raid in February were not interviewed in a follow-up investigation ordered by General Stanley McChrystal.....

Yarmand told the New York Times that his investigation had concluded that "there was evidence of tampering in the corridor inside the compound by the members" of the SOF raiding unit.

Within 24 hours of the publication of Yarmand's revelations, McChrystal's spokesman was telling reporters that McChrystal had ordered a new US investigation, even as he was continuing to deny that there was any evidence of SOF tampering with the evidence."

The Charge of the Media Brigade

by John Pilger, July 07, 2010

"....Melvin Goodman is now a scholar at Johns Hopkins University in Washington. He was in the CIA more than 40 years and rose to be a senior Soviet analyst. When we met the other day, he described the conduct of the Cold War as a series of gross exaggerations of Soviet “aggressiveness” that willfully ignored the intelligence that the Soviets were committed to avoid nuclear war at all costs. Declassified official files on both sides of the Atlantic support this view. “What mattered to the hardliners in Washington,” he said, “was how a perceived threat could be exploited.” The present secretary of defense, Robert Gates, as deputy director of the CIA in the 1980s, had constantly hyped the “Soviet menace” and is, says Goodman, doing the same today “on Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iran.”

Little has changed. In America, in 1939, W.H. Auden wrote...."

Bradley Manning, American Patriot

The campaign to smear him is picking up steam

by Justin Raimondo, July 07, 2010

"Army Specialist Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst who leaked the “Collateral Murder” video of US pilots shooting down Iraqi civilians (including two Reuters photographers) in cold blood, is finally being charged. For revealing to the American people the truth about what’s going on in Iraq, Manning faces horrendous legal consequences – nearly sixty years in prison if convicted on all counts. One of the charges, incredibly, is espionage. He was a “spy,” according to the US government – for letting Americans in on the “secret” that we are committing war crimes in Iraq, and around the world....."

American politicians face domestic constraints to talking tough with Israel

US strength in the Middle East has been reduced by the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Patrick Cockburn

"....It may be in the interests of the US to restrain Israel but this is almost certainty not going to happen. The reason why is shown by the strange story of the attempt by General David Petraeus, now commander in Afghanistan, previously head of Central Command and America's most prestigious general, to put on the record the fact that US support for Israeli actions in the Middle East was endangering the safety of US troops. He reiterated this in written testimony before Congress in March.

But no sooner had General Petraeus done so than he was swiftly rowing back. The explanation for General Petraeus's swift turnaround suggests that he wants to keep open the option of running for the presidency as Republican candidate in 2012 and does not intend to alienate Jewish voters or militant neocons....."

Bibi the "Builder," by Dave Brown

Exposed: The truth about Israel's land grab in the West Bank

As President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet, a report reveals 42 per cent of territory is controlled by settlers

By Catrina Stewart in Jerusalem and David Usborne
The Independent

" Jewish settlers, who claim a divine right to the whole of Israel, now control more than 42 per cent of the occupied West Bank, representing a powerful obstacle to the creation of a Palestinian state, a new report has revealed.

The jurisdiction of some 200 settlements, illegal under international law, cover much more of the occupied Palestinian territory than previously thought. And a large section of the land has been seized from private Palestinian landowners in defiance even of an Israeli supreme court ruling, the report said, a finding which sits uncomfortably with Israeli claims that it builds only on state land.

Drawing on official Israeli military maps and population statistics, the leading Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, compiled the new findings, which were released just as the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, arrived in Washington to try to heal a gaping rift with US President Barack Obama over the issue of settlements......."

The 'trick' of Camp David

Palestinians feel they were deceived by a PR exercise. Now aid carries disruptive caveats and the peace process is just a circus

Rachel Shabi, Wednesday 7 July 2010

"If there are Palestinian textbooks on the failure of the Camp David talks with Israel in 2000, they ought to carry diagrams illustrating the use of smoke-and-mirrors tactics. In this case, the confusing burst of smoke used by the Israeli side to such spectacular effect was the "generous offer" made by then Israeli prime minster, Ehud Barak – a now mythically impressive peace proposal which Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, it is claimed, both stubbornly and stupidly refused....

A toxic, humiliating consequence of those peace process years that began with the 1993 Oslo accords has been the creation of an aid economy in the occupied Palestinian territories. Palestinians, who place no less emphasis on education, economy and good business than do their Israeli neighbours, are now ashamed to point out that they are among the most aid-dependent societies.

There is no good reason for this: it is absolutely a decision made by the international community, to allay some of the more devastating consequences of Israel's occupation while refusing to push for a political agreement. Now the aid carries its own disruptive caveats: for instance, USAID feeds funds into swathes of the Palestinian NGO sector, but only on condition that documents are signed to assure that the organisations to be funded are Hamas-free. Observers say that civil society organisations and grassroots groups, pre-Oslo, were far better able to take care of Palestinians than the mushrooming, internationally dependent and politically compromised NGO economy that currently powers Palestine......"

Video (Arabic): Angry Arab Interview

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

هل إسرائيل عبء استراتيجي على أميركا؟

فواز طرابلسي

للمقارنة فقط، أثار حامي الحرمين الشريفين زوبعة من ردود الأفعال إذ صرّح لجريدة «الفيغارو» الفرنسية أثر زيارة واشنطن، ثم كذّب التصريح، أن ثمة دولتين لا تستحقان الوجود في المنطقة: إسرائيل وإيران. ومع ذلك، تمت زيارته تحت لواء الحرب ضد إيران والسلام مع إسرائيل. في واشنطن، توسل العاهل السعودي التصديق الأميركي على صفقة لتحديث سلاح بلاده الجوي من مقاتلات «أف 15». قيمة الصفقة 40 مليار دولار. أما الطريقة التي بها سوف يزيل العاهل السعودي إسرائيل من الوجود فتتمثل في أنه «انتزع»، من الرئيس أوباما دعماً لدوره في مبادرة السلام. لاحظوا: الدعم لا للمبادرة بذاتها، بل للدور القيادي للعاهل السعودي فيها! في المقابل تمنى حامي الحرمين الشريفين الانتقال إلى المفاوضات المباشرة بين إسرائيل والسلطة الوطنية، في وقت يعلن فيه رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية أن لا أمل يرجى من المباشرة ما دام لا شيء تحقق في غير المباشرة!

تصير إسرائيل عبئاً استراتيجياً على أميركا عندما يصير العرب عبئاً استراتيجياً على أميركا. أي عندما يمتلكون القدرة والقوة على تخيير الولايات المتحدة بين مصالحها في المنطقة وبين دعمها لإسرائيل.

إلى أن يتم ذلك، ما يحجم عنه حاكم عربي، من حيث المطالبة والضغوط، يفيد منه حاكم إسرائيلي أضعافاً مضاعفة وهو يمارس المطالبة والضغوط. وكل ما عدا ذلك حديث خرافة يا أم عمرو!