Saturday, January 1, 2011

Terrorist attack church in Alexandria

Contributed by Molly
[This is most terrible and distressing development. A war is being waged on our Christian brothers/sisters that can only benefit the imperial colonial forces of the US.]
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – A powerful bomb, possibly from a suicide attacker, exploded in front of a Coptic Christian church as a crowd of worshippers emerged from a New Years Mass early Saturday, killing at least 21 people and wounding nearly 80 in an attack that raised suspicions of an al-Qaida role.
The attack came in the wake of threats by al-Qaida militants in Iraq to attack Egypt's Christians. A direct al-Qaida hand in the bombing would be a dramatic development, as the government of President Hosni Mubarak has long denied that the terror network has a significant presence in the country. Al-Qaida in Iraq has already been waging a campaign of violence against Christians in that country.

2011 As Seen by Mr. Fish; Help!

Bombs make no moral distinctions where they fall

By Robert Fisk

"To Mannheim for its annual film festival and I am gripped by Armadillo, a documentary on a Danish NATO unit in Afghanistan, real bullets whizzing past one of the bravest directors of photography in the world, real soldiers falling wounded, one with a Wilfred Owen pallour of death on his face.

But he survives. Others don't. After storming a Taliban position, the Danes find at least three Afghans, apparently still alive. There is a crack of gunfire and they are dead. "We eliminated them in the most humane way possible," one of the Danes says afterwards, right there on the soundtrack.

I am stunned. The words "war crimes" are in my mind.....

Were some of the other Mannheimers "just like us", decent men and women who risked life for freedom, who responded to daily bombing in a way remarkably similar to that of Londoners in the 1940-41 Blitz, who wrote "Business as usual" on their shops?.....

Some of these men were war criminals in a most deliberate way, decimating entire peoples. But they also killed wounded soldiers, just as we did in Normandy. And in Afghanistan. And we knew, of course, when we bombed Mannheim, that we would kill a Heinz, a Ruth, a Berta and an Anna amid the destruction of the city's factories.

War crimes? Of course, we can all make moral assessments. Eliminated in the most humane way... The Taliban are not as bad as the Nazis. But they are much worse than the Danes. Isn't that right? What is this life?"

Tunisia's inspiring rebellion

Demonstrations in Tunisia suggest that revolt and regime change are still possible in the Arab world

Nesrine Malik, Friday 31 December 2010

" There are few moments in the political atmosphere of the Middle East that fill me with genuine pride. While eyes have long been fixed on opposition movements in Iran and Egypt, suddenly Tunisia has provided one of the most inspiring episodes of indigenous revolt against a repressive regime.

Following the self-immolation of an unemployed man, riots and demonstrations have swept through the country.

Lebanese journalist Octavia Nasr wrote on Thursday: "I never thought this day would come. Certainly not in Tunisia. To be quite honest, out of the Middle East region, I thought such a rebellious act would come from Egypt where the opposition to President Mubarak's regime is so fierce and vocal that public demonstrations of anger and dismay have become a routine."

Despite distressing reports of security forces shooting demonstrators dead, the events are heartening, not necessarily as a harbinger of transformation in the region, but as an indication that it is possible. Change is sometimes more likely to happen when people know what it looks like, when the first person dares to points to the emperor and say that he is naked.......

Not that outpourings of passion are rare on Arab streets, but they are usually related to the latest events in Palestine, some random perceived insult from the west – or football. It's the rage of an easily slighted dignity, and it's rarely directed against the primary local culprit: the government itself......

Even if nothing comes of the Tunisian revolt, it is proof that the resignation is not an inevitability, that it is not hardwired into our DNA, that the "Arab malaise" is not terminal."

Israelis Resist Their Own Arabs

By Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH, Jan 1, 2011 (IPS) - A number of recent incidents discriminating against Israel’s Palestinian minority has prompted Israeli Knesset (parliament) members to debate whether Israel is becoming increasingly racist.

Ronit Sela from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Acri) has no doubts. "Israel’s democracy is under threat as an increasingly large racist element raises its collective head. A number of racist occurrences have taken place in a climate conducive to racism. This wouldn’t have happened prior to the current right-wing Israeli government," Sela told IPS.

Recently an organisation called Jews for a Jewish Bat Yam (a suburb near Tel Aviv) held a protest against "assimilation of young Jewish women with Arabs living in the city or in nearby Jaffa."....

Haneen Zoabi, an Israeli-Arab member of the Knesset who participated in the ill-fated Mavi Marmara attempt to break the siege of Gaza in May, expressed outrage that some Israeli parliamentarians were feigning shock at recent developments.

"Three months ago the Knesset approved a law that villages with populations smaller than 500 residents could remain Jewish to ‘maintain their cultural identity’. Furthermore, there have been approximately ten laws passed during the last year aimed against the Arab minority," Zoabi told IPS.

"Israel has double standards. Some Knesset members accused the rabbis of being racist despite the loyalty oath they supported and passed several months earlier. This calls for the Israeli citizenship of the Palestinian minority to be dependent on swearing allegiance to Zionism and Israel’s Jewish character despite this conflicting with their rights as an ethnic minority," she said.

"These rabbis authored the letter despite the fact they are Israeli public servants and on the government payroll. We wrote to the justice minister and got a legal injunction asking the minister to look into the matter. We have received no reply and nothing has been done about it," added Sela.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not rebuked the rabbis. The fact that public servants are able to incite to this degree, despite there being no major changes in Israel’s judiciary in the country’s 62-year history, speaks volumes about the current political climate in Israel," Sela told IPS.

Adalah, has meticulously documented the discrimination against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

This includes over 30 laws ranging from the law of return applying only to Jews; the ease with which Palestinians can be stripped of their citizenship; under-representation in the judiciary and politics; under-funding of Arab education and social services; higher rates of unemployment; and inadequate access to land and planning rights."

Emad Hajjaj's First Cartoon for 2011

The Decaying Arab Officialdom....
And the Passage of Time.

Happy New Year to You Too! Palestinian dies of Israeli tear gas

A Palestinian woman has died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops at demonstrators protesting the controversial Israeli separation wall in the occupied West Bank.

Press TV

"Palestinian medics say the 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rachman lost her life at the Ramallah medical center after suffering intense tear gas inhalation during the non-violent rally in the village of Bilin, reported the Palestinian news agency Ma'an.

Medics added that Rachman, whose two brothers had also been killed during anti-barrier protests in the past, did not respond to treatment and died overnight.

At least 10 other people, among them international activists, were injured on Friday when Israeli troops fired tear gas to disperse anti-wall protesters in a village near Ramallah.

Following the death of Rachman, Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti called for an international campaign to pressure Tel Aviv to stop using tear gas against civilians.

Barghouti asked the doctors to document "the crimes committed by Israel" and pursue international legal action......"

War and peace in Quran and Bible

Riz Khan

"One of the widest perceptions in the Western world, especially after the attacks of September 11, is that Islam's holy book, the Quran, promotes conflict, violence and bloodshed.

Muslims argue that many of the verses of the Quran – such as the one asking the Prophet Muhammad and his followers to "slay them [unbelievers] wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out" – are taken out of context.

Muslim scholars say that the scriptures have been intentionally misused by Muslims and non-Muslims alike to advance political agendas.

Critics say that the texts promote extremism, and that Islam has left a trail of blood across world history.

Recently, Philip Jenkins, one of the world's leading religion scholars, conducted a study comparing the texts of the Quran and the Bible, and found that "the Bible contains far more verses praising or urging bloodshed than does the Quran."

Riz speaks with Philip Jenkins and Shaker Elsayed, the imam of Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Centre in the US and former secretary general of the Muslim American Society."

Friday, December 31, 2010

Al-Jazeera Video (Arabic): Interview with Julian Assange (Second Part)

(Scroll down for more new posts)

ويكيليكس.. خفايا الحرب بينه وبين أميركا
مقدم الحلقة: أحمد منصور
ضيف الحلقة: جوليان أسانج/ مؤسس موقع ويكيليكس
تاريخ الحلقة: 29/12/2010


- الملاحقة القانونية وأساليب الضغط المستعملة
- أدوات الحرب على ويكيليكس وسبل الموقع لمواجهتها
- حول الملاحقات القضائية المتوقعة والتهديد بالاغتيال
- استمرارية وصول المعلومات وتعدد موضوعات الوثائق
- عن الوثائق السرية جدا ومذكرات أسانج وفلسفته

The year of truth in Israel

This was (also ) a good year - the year of truth. The year that concludes tonight with a kiss was the year the Israeli masquerade party ended, the year the costumes were torn off and the truth came out. The true face was revealed. This was the year we finally came out of the closet - no more saccharine phrases and hollow talk about justice and equality, no more flowery and superficial words about peace and two states. This year the truth was heard in public, echoing loud and clear from one end of the country to the other, worrisome and depressing.

No one is talking anymore about peace; we even put the "peace process" in quotes this year, to make fun of it, as it deserves. All that's left of peace this year is U.S. special envoy George Mitchell. And nothing remains of the prime minister's two-state vision or the majority in the surveys: This year the Israeli government said no, even to a temporary freeze on settlement construction, and the Israelis said nothing.
After this year of truth, no one will be able to claim seriously that Israel seeks peace with the Palestinians, or with the Syrians, who spoke peace but were left unanswered. All the excuses have lost their value - Palestinian terror has halted and there is at least half a partner who is more moderate than any other. Still, we're sticking to our positions. The truth shouts out: The Israelis don't really want peace, they prefer real estate.
The inner workings of Israeli society have also been unmasked. The appearance of a tolerant, democratic and egalitarian society has been suddenly replaced by an authentic portrait, one that is terrifyingly nationalist and racist. Rabbis and their wives, mayors and parliamentarians all sang together in a discordant choir: no to Arabs and no to foreigners. In the years preceding this year of truth, racists still used to be excommunicated.
In this year of truth we said unabashedly that Meir Kahane was right. Almost half of Israelis oppose renting apartments to Arabs; more than half favor an oath of allegiance to the state; rabbis' wives join their husbands in calling on the modest daughters of Israel not to go out with Arabs; a Knesset member says that those who smuggle in "infiltrators," as migrant workers and war refugees were termed this year, should be shot in the head; and one of his colleagues blames the Russians for Israelis' drinking habits.

The rebirth of Arab activism

How one young Tunisian is emerging as a symbol of disenfranchised and impoverished Arab youth.

Lamis Andoni

"Mohamed Bou'aziz, the young Tunisian who set fire to himself on December 17, is emerging as a symbol of the wider plight of the millions of young Arabs who are struggling to improve their living conditions....

Corruption, nepotism and inefficiency....

A prelude to political liberalism?.....

Crying out against injustice

It was not until the global economic crisis that the Arab world started to witness the recovery of popular opposition - first materialising in Egypt in 2007 and 2008. These strikes and protests were the first indications of a return to organised protests against political repression and poverty inducing economic policies.

These movements, ultimately unsuccessfully, brought students and workers together to challenge the apathy and disdain of the ruling elite to the suffering of the poor and marginalised. The political movement for change, led by Mohamed ElBaradei, to establish a democratic and participatory political system, reflected the merger of the discontented sectors of Egyptian society.

But it was Bou'aziz's heart-wrenching attempt to kill himself that most accurately represented the loud cry of the millions of impoverished and aching citizens against the yoke of politically and economically repressive systems. His act was one of extreme despair. But he is not alone. Lahseen Naji, another young Tunisian, followed - electrocuting himself to death - and at least five others attempted to commit suicide but were stopped.

In Jordan and some other Arab countries, frustration borne out of political and economic disenfranchisement has manifested itself in a higher rate of societal violence, especially among the young. The absence of strong political parties and movements are strengthening tribal rivalries among younger generations, often leading to armed clashes.

But Jordanian society has also witnessed this frustration being turned into affirmative action in the form of workers' and teachers' demands for improved working conditions. Jordan's teachers have emerged as an important force within the country, resisting government attempts to marginalise them and pushing their demand for the formation of a syndicate to protect their interests.

As the Tunisian protests continued, demonstrations took place in Algeria against a housing programme that failed to accommodate the thousands of families made homeless by the country's devastating 2003 earthquake.

Bou'aziz's wounds and Naji's death should not go down in history as mere tragic incidents: if the Tunisian protests do indeed signal the return of social movements to the Arab world, their stifled hopes may just be turned into an outcry against injustice."

Al-Jazeera Video: Iraqi Christians bury their dead

"Christians in Baghdad, Iraq's capital, have buried their family members killed as a result of a wave of attacks targeting the religious minority community. The unrest has forced thousands of Christians to flee from their homes.

In the most recent incident, two Christians were killed from a series of coordinated explosions across the Iraqi capital.

It came after gunmen opened fire on worshippers in a cathedral in October, leaving more than 40 of them dead.

Rawya Rageh reports from Baghdad."

Julian Assange on WikiLeaks, War and Resisting Government Crackdown

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"2010 can be defined as the year of WikiLeaks. The whisteblowing website first made headlines around the world in April when it released a video of a U.S. helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians killing 12 people, including two Reuters news staff. In July, WikiLeaks created a bigger firestorm when it published more than 90,000 classified U.S. military war logs of the war in Afghanistan. Then in October, WikiLeaks published some 390,000 classified U.S. documents on the war in Iraq—the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history and the greatest internal account of any war on public record. And in November WikiLeaks began releasing a giant trove of confidential State Department cables that sent shockwaves through the global diplomatic establishment. Throughout it all, WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange were targeted by the U.S. and other governments around the world. We play our interviews with Assange and with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg....."


By Eric Margolis
December 31, 2010

"A political earthquake seems about to rock Sudan and send tremors across Africa. A referendum is scheduled to occur in a little over a week – on 9 January 2011 - in which southern Sudan’s eight million inhabitants may vote to separate from the 34 million citizens of northern Sudan and create their own new nation - South Sudan.

Since much of Africa’s current borders were drawn by European colonial powers, any changes are likely to unleash dangerous tensions or demands for secession across the continent.....

Just at a time when the US is increasingly active in Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, it finds itself ever more deeply involved in engineering the break-up of Sudan. All this may be a bridge too far for the already over-stretched US military, intelligence services, and State Department, not to mention the empty US Treasury that now runs on borrowed money.

So all eyes on Sudan in the coming weeks."

Right for the Wrong Reasons

Two Truthful Statements From Avigdor Lieberman


".....But in the midst of his speech to Israeli ambassadors, two rare statements of truth emerged from the mendacious Lieberman.

Mahmoud Abbas is an illegitimate president

“It is forbidden for us to reach a comprehensive deal today with the Palestinians. To put it clearly, you have to understand that their government is not legitimate … It is a government that has postponed elections three times, that lost elections, that does not hold elections, does not plan to hold elections and there are no guarantees that next time they do hold elections, that Hamas won't win again.”....

Peace is impossible

“It's not only that it is impossible [to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians], it is simply forbidden.”

Once again putting aside the ridiculous assertion that peace is “forbidden,” Lieberman is correct in contending that it is impossible at present.

Peace cannot occur when West Bank land is being expropriated by new and expanding settlements. Peace cannot occur when Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are evicted from their homes. Peace cannot occur when 1.5 million residents of Gaza are not free to obtain medical care, leave their open-air prison to visit relatives in the West Bank, or adequately rebuild their homes, hospitals and schools

For once Avigdor Lieberman got it right … for all the wrong reasons."

Tunisian Unrest Stirs Arab World

By Emad Mekay

"CAIRO, Dec 31, 2010 (IPS) - As Western countries were busy celebrating Christmas and dealing with air traffic holiday delays because of snow blizzards, the tranquil North African country of Tunisia was going through events that would have been thought unthinkable just three weeks ago - public unrest that saw thousands demonstrate against the regime of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

While the media and policy makers went heads over heals in the United States and Europe during similar protests against the disputed presidential elections in Iran in 2009, the unexpected events went largely ignored in the Western media. Tunisian bloggers and twitter posts are now the main source for minute by minute development of the unrest.....

Tunisia’s protests caught the region by surprise as the Ben Ali regime, like other rulers, had often trumpeted his country as an oasis of stability.

Trying to absorb the shock, Ben Ali announced a small cabinet reshuffle but left the interior ministry intact. He vowed a clampdown on the protestors."

Assange: Many Top Arab Officials Are CIA Spies

WikiLeaks to Name Names if He Is Assassinated

Contributed by Molly

"In an interview with the Arabic-language version of al-Jazeera, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange revealed that a large number of the documents that his organization is in possession of prove that top officials across the Arab world have been spying on their own governments on behalf of the CIA.

“These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” reported Assange, adding that there was also information proving allegations that the US regularly sends “suspects” to some nations for torture.

The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, confirmed during the interview that Assange had personally shown him some of the documents backing up his allegations. Neither, however, provided any specific names (though Assange’s comments implied Egypt was one of the nations involved).

The lack of names was deliberate, according to Assange, who said that his organization is trying to protect itself by trickling out only small portions of its documents, and with names removed. He added that the organization was ready to name names and release documents en masse if he winds up assassinated. A number of top US politicans have openly called for his killing."

Russia, Realism, and the WikiLeaks Factor

Another nugget from Assange's gold mine

by Justin Raimondo, December 31, 2010

"The WikiLeaks cables continue to bear fruit, and what a golden harvest it is: the US spying on the world’s diplomats (and even collecting their bank card numbers!); the US hiding behind the rather thin skirts of the Yemeni "air force" as we bomb and strafe their citizens; the US letting the Israeli Mafia into the country without so much as a by-your-leave; the US standing passively by as their Iraqi sock puppets torture and murder detainees. And now this:

"An observer for the International Bar Association stated his belief that the trial is being conducted fairly…. XXXXXXXXXXXX told us December 23 that he believes the trial is being conducted fairly and that Judge Danilkin has been doing everything in his power to make sure that the defense gets a fair opportunity to present arguments and challenge the prosecution’s evidence."

Written a year ago today by Deputy Chief of Mission Eric Rubin, the cable doesn’t exactly comport with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s outburst of moral indignation at the news of Khodorkovsky’s conviction.According to her, the verdict raises "serious questions about selective prosecution – and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations."........

This, it seems to me, is the chief benefit of the WikiLeaks phenomenon: we get a chance to look at the real reality, or at least catch vivid glimpses of it – and to anyone who wants to understand American foreign policy and where it is going wrong, that is an invaluable tool indeed."

With friends like Avigdor Lieberman...

What is surprising is not the Israeli Foreign Minister's views but Benjamin Netanyahu's tolerance of his expressing them

By Donald Macintyre
The Independent

"....Then this week, he did it again. Just as efforts, undoubtedly in Israel's strategic interest, were being made to patch up relations with Turkey that had gone into deep freeze after Israel's lethal raid on the Gaza-bound vessel Mavi Marmara, Mr Lieberman chose to denounce the Turkish leadership for their "lies", going on to reaffirm his opposition to reaching an agreement with the "illegitimate" moderate Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. The Israeli Foreign Minister, in other words, has made a mockery of Lyndon Johnson's famous remark about why it was better to keep J Edgar Hoover on at the FBI. Mr Lieberman is inside the tent. And he is pissing in as well as out.

What is surprising is not Mr Lieberman's views on these topics but Mr Netanyahu's seemingly inexhaustible tolerance for his expression of them. It can be debated whether an ultra-nationalist who fought the last election on a proposal to force Israeli Arabs to swear allegiance to the Jewish state in order to qualify for citizenship, and who once said that Arab parliamentarians who talked to Hamas should be executed, could ever become the Israeli Prime Minister. But one point on which both men seem agreed – and they are not alone – is that Mr Lieberman remains Mr Netanyahu's most dangerous rival on the right. And Mr Netanyahu has apparently decided, for now at least, that his Foreign Minister is marginally less threatening inside his coalition than out of it.....

With a strengthened Mr Lieberman – who once exhorted his colleagues to treat Gaza as "Russia operates in Chechnya" – waiting in the wings, it's isn't impossible that Mr Netanyahu would be tempted catastrophically into Gaza, as Ehud Olmert was tempted so bloodily in an election year when Mr Netanyahu himself was similarly waiting in the wings. But either way, the momentum towards a Middle East breakthrough that seemed possible when Barack Obama was elected two years ago is at once more necessary and much harder to generate than it was then. "

Lebanon is staring into the abyss

Whatever the tribunal into the death of Rafik Hariri decides, it will pour petrol on Lebanon's raging fire

Fawaz Gerges
The Guardian, Friday 31 December 2010

"Once again, Lebanon is on the brink of major social and political upheaval. Rumours of an impending armed clash between Hezbollah and the pro-western governing coalition have spread like wildfire among the Lebanese people, who are hoarding food and arms in anticipation of the worst....

No matter if Lebanon can weather the gathering storm, this will not be the first crisis, or the last. The country's dilemma is structural; as long as Lebanon's political class substitutes identity-politics for formal institutions, it will continue to be politically unstable. As long as Lebanon's leaders rely on foreign intervention to tip the internal balance of power in their favour, they will remain passive bystanders in determining their country's future."

This week in the Middle East

Can Tunisian protesters end the 'Arab malaise'? Will Egypt ever catch the people traffickers? What is a woman's life worth?

Brian Whitaker
, Thursday 30 December 2010

"Arabs in revolt

The biggest story from the Middle East this week … No, the biggest, most important and most inspiring story from the Middle East this year is one that most readers may only vaguely have heard of, if at all. It's the Tunisian uprising.

For almost two weeks now, people up and down the country have been protesting, some of them rioting, others demonstrating peacefully – and all in a police state where the penalties for defying the regime are severe......

So, what we have in Tunisia today is the birth of a genuine, national, indigenous, popular movement, not against colonialists or foreign occupiers but against their own repressive regime, and one which is not tainted (as in Iran) by international power games.

This is something new, which is why it's so important. For years, writers have complained about the "Arab malaise" – the way Arabs have become accustomed to playing the role of victims, their passivity in the face of home-grown tyrants, and so on. The need, as I explained in my recent book, is for Arabs to stop being prisoners of their history and start shaping their own destiny. At long last, that is what the people of Tunisia are trying to do......

Tackling the economic problems will need a new kind of Tunisian politics – a kind where criticism is allowed, where arguments can be heard and eventually resolved by popular consent. And it's hard to see a role for Ben Ali in any of that, and you can bet your bottom dinar that other Arab leaders will be watching developments nervously."

Surprise, Surprise! "Democracy" Can Be Fatal for Your Newborn: Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault

Defects in newborns 11 times higher than normal
'War contaminants' from 2004 attack could be cause

Martin Chulov, Thursday 30 December 2010

"A study examining the causes of a dramatic spike in birth defects in the Iraqi city of Falluja has for the first time concluded that genetic damage could have been caused by weaponry used in US assaults that took place six years ago.

The research, which will be published next week, confirms earlier estimates revealed by the Guardian of a major, unexplained rise in cancers and chronic neural-tube, cardiac and skeletal defects in newborns. The authors found that malformations are close to 11 times higher than normal rates, and rose to unprecedented levels in the first half of this year – a period that had not been surveyed in earlier reports.

The findings, which will be published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, come prior to a much-anticipated World Health Organisation study of Falluja's genetic health......

No other city in Iraq has anywhere near the same levels of reported abnormalities. Falluja sees at least 11 times as many major defects in newborns than world averages, the research has shown.

The latest report, which will be published next week in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, says Falluja has been infected by a chronic environmental contaminant......"

Watch This Video:

The Children of Falluja

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Role of Israeli firms raises boycott concerns about Rawabi

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 30 December 2010

"The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) in Palestine, has expressed its concern following reports that Israeli companies have been contracted to take part in the construction of Rawabi, an already controversial Qatari-financed Palestinian real estate development in the occupied West Bank....

The BNC, the coordinating body for the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign said in a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada that, "Given that the Rawabi project has taken several deeply problematic decisions that undermine the boycott campaign and principles of national consensus among Palestinians, as well as promotes a 'business-as-usual' approach to Israel, this latest report requires close scrutiny by Palestinian political parties, unions, NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], and civil society at large."...

However, the BNC added that the "involvement of a Qatari business in a Palestinian project where Israeli companies are also involved is certainly a form of normalization" which "uses the Palestinian side as a bridge to normalize, or a fig leaf to cover up, collusion with Israeli companies almost all of which are complicit in Israel's occupation, apartheid and denial of fundamental Palestinian rights." Qatari Diar (, a major real estate development company in the Middle East and Europe, is the only international investor in Rawabi. The BNC strictly opposes normalization between Israel and Arab countries.

Bashar Masri
[For more on this Bashar Masri, see this post from yesterday] , CEO of the Ramallah-based Bayti Real Estate Investment company, the developer of Rawabi and its other major investor, confirmed to The Electronic Intifada that so far a dozen Israeli companies are suppliers to the project......

But, it added, "There is a twisted logic in some Palestinian business quarters that rationalizes working with Israeli companies, even when there are Palestinian or international alternatives, as a means to assure easier issuance of Israeli military permits, necessary for conducting any form of business." While such quid pro quos could help remove obstacles in the short run, the BNC warned, "the ultimate result is perpetuating Israel's occupation and economic subjugation of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian economy.".....

Masri is passionate about Rawabi and presents it as a necessary project in the development of Palestine, especially to address urgent housing needs. Nor does he see it as contradicting efforts to end the "miserable occupation." But in addition to being a private, for-profit venture, there is an unmistakable political dimension, which the latest revelations of Israeli involvement only underscore.

Writing for The Electronic Intifada last February, Ziyaad Lunat placed Rawabi in the context of the "economic peace" promoted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and unelected PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.....

In addition to concerns about possible boycott violations and normalization with Israel, the Rawabi model raises deeper questions for all Palestinians. Even if Masri has the best of intentions, Rawabi represents an entirely top-down, profit-driven approach to the development of Palestine where the "vision" created by financiers, marketers, international investors and "peace process" officials is substituted for the aspirations of the broader community.

Palestinian nationalism is transformed into a zeal for real-estate deals and the establishment of gated communities rather than a focus on liberating human beings and giving them the chance to decide for themselves how they want to live and what they want their communities to look like......"

أسانج يتعهد بكشف جواسيس أميركا


"تعهد مؤسس موقع ويكيليكس الأسترالي جوليان أسانج بكشف أسماء الجواسيس من المسؤولين من مختلف الدول الذين عملوا لصالح الولايات المتحدة.

وعبر أسانج عن ذلك التعهد في الجزء الثاني من حواره مع قناة الجزيرة ضمن برنامج "بلا حدود"، واشترط لذلك ضمان محاكمة أولئك الجواسيس بشكل عادل وعدم إعدامهم.

وفي ذلك الجزء الذي بث مساء اليوم قال مقدم البرنامج أحمد منصور إن أسانج أطلعه على وثائق تشير إلى أن هناك مسؤولين وموظفين عربا يتطوعون للاتصال بالسفارات والقنصليات الأميركية في بلدانهم لمدها بالمعلومات عن زملائهم وعن المسؤولين في المؤسسات والهيئات التي يشتغلون بها، وهو ما يجعل منهم خونة لبلدانهم وشعوبهم.

وأكد أسانج أن هناك أنواعا كثيرة من الخونة في العالم بأسره يتصلون بالسفارات الأميركية لمدها بالمعلومات عما يجري في بلدانهم، قائلا إن هؤلاء لا شك خونة ويجب أن يكشف عنهم.

لكنه أوضح أن القائمين على موقع ويكيليكس لا يؤمنون بعقوبة الإعدام، واشترط لكي تكشف تلك الأسماء ألا يتعرض أصحابها للقتل وأن يحاكموا وفق إجراءات قانونية سليمة، وأشار إلى أنه ستنشر الأسماء في كل حالة يتم التأكد من أن ذلك لن يؤدي إلى قتل أصحاب تلك الأسماء.

وتحدث أسانج عما يتعرض له من مضايقات من طرف الولايات المتحدة سواء على الشبكة العنكبوتية أو من خلال ما يجري من تحقيقات بشأنه ومن تحرك تشريعي لكي تنطبق على ويكيليكس صفة "تهديد عابر للقارات"، مشيرا إلى أنه تلقى قبل أشهر معلومات استخبارية بشأن محاولات لتوريطه في قضايا غير أخلاقية (مخدرات وإباحية) لتشويه صورته.

وقال أسانج إن لديه كما آخر من المعلومات عن القطاع المصرفي وعن الجوانب العسكرية في الشرق الأوسط وعن وزارة الدفاع الأميركية (البنتاغون) وعن عمليات مكافحة ما يسمى بالإرهاب وعن قطاع النفط في الخليج العربي

Many Arab officials have close CIA links: Assange

"DOHA: Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency, says Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks.

These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” Assange told Al Jazeera Arabic channel in an interview yesterday.

The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA......"

Never again? Elderly Palestinian women called “whores” on Yad Vashem tour, while racism explodes across Israel

by Max Blumenthal

This week, a group of elderly Palestinian women were escorted to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance musuem to learn about the Jewish genocide in Europe. At the entrance of the museum, they were surrounded by a group of Jewish Israeli youth who recognized them as Arabs. Sharmouta!” the young Israelis shouted at them again and again, using the Arabic slang term for whores, or sluts.
The Palestinians had been invited to attend a tour arranged by the Israeli Bereaved Families Forum, an organization founded by an Israeli whose son was killed in combat by Palestinians. They were joined by a group of Jewish Israeli women who, like them, had lost family members to violence related to the conflict. Presumably, both parties went on the tour in good faith, hoping to gain insight into the suffering of women on the other side of the conflict.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian members (who unlike the Israelis live under occupation and almost certainly had to obtain special permits just to go to Yad Vashem) learned an unusual lesson of the Holocaust: A society that places the Holocaust at the center of its historical narrative — that stops traffic for two minutes each year on the national holiday known as Yom Ha’Shoah — could also raise up a generation of little fascists goose-stepping into the future full of irrational hatred.
“In Palestinian culture, older women are most honored and they could not believe their ears,” said Sami Abu Awwad, a Palestinian coordinator of the tour. “We never talk like this to older women. The Palestinians, who were all grandmothers, were very shocked and offended.”
The report on this outburst of Jewish Israeli racism comes from the Israeli news websiteWalla! For some reason, I could not find reporting on it anywhere in English.

Huge Rise in War Wounded Civilians in Afghanistan

The number of war wounded civilians in southern Afghanistan has increased dramatically this year following the military troop surge, an exclusive Channel 4 News investigation has found.

Contributed by W

"Thousands more patients are being admitted at one hospital in Kandahar alone - a threefold increase on the previous year in an area which has seen vicious fighting.

The number of children falling victim to the fighting has also risen dramatically.

In many cases civilians have lost limbs in explosions caused by improvised explosive devices or mine blasts while many others have suffered gunshot wounds or injuries caused by shelling.

Channel 4 News spoke to hospitals in the south of Afghanistan – areas where the Taliban is strongest, and where coalition forces are fighting hardest.

All of the hospitals said they were seeing major increases in war wounded civilians. One of the doctors, Matteo Dell'Aira, told Channel 4 News: "We have more war wounded than we have ever had in our six years of being here."......"

Son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg: "My Parents Were Executed Under the Unconstitutional Espionage Act –Here’s Why We Must Fight to Protect Julian Assa

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"As the Justice Department considers charging WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act, we speak with Robert Meeropol, the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenbergthe only U.S. citizens to be executed under the Espionage Act, described as the most controversial death sentence in U.S. history. This week, Meeropol released a widely-read statement in support of WikiLeaks called: "My Parents Were Executed Under the Unconstitutional Espionage Act—Here’s Why We Must Fight to Protect Julian Assange."....."

US military investigates 'death squad' accused of murdering Afghans

Brigadier general to conduct review of 5th Stryker brigade as evidence emerges of widespread complicity in deaths

Chris McGreal in Washington, Wednesday 29 December 2010

"The US military is investigating the leadership of an army brigade whose soldiers are accused of running a "kill team" that murdered Afghan civilians, as further evidence emerges of widespread complicity in the deaths.

A brigadier general is conducting a "top to bottom" review of the 5th Stryker brigade after five of its soldiers were committed for trial early next year charged with involvement in the murders of three Afghans and other alleged crimes including mutilating their bodies, and collecting fingers and skulls from corpses as trophies.

Among the issues under investigation is the failure of commanders to intervene when the alleged crimes were apparently widely spoken about among soldiers......"

Students for Justice in Palestine condemns US government witch hunt

Press release, Students for Justice in Palestine, 29 December 2010

" "For if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night."- James Baldwin, in an open letter to Angela Davis, 19 November 1970.

As students at over fifty American universities, we unequivocally condemn the abuse of grand jury subpoenas to chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by university students and anti-war activists speaking and organizing against Israel's continued oppression of the Palestinian people. Since 24 September 2010, the FBI has served at least 24 grand jury subpoenas on students and activists in a secret investigation that many have called a witch hunt. We call upon Attorney General Eric Holder and United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to respect the civil rights and free speech of all those who support the Palestinian struggle for freedom by immediately withdrawing grand jury subpoenas which threaten the First Amendment rights of students and activists around the country.

The government's assault on organizations and individuals who support the Palestinian struggle for freedom has become increasingly authoritarian. The abuse of laws criminalizing "material support for terrorism" is unprecedented and, had they been implemented at the time of South African apartheid, would have effectively criminalized broad American support for the anti-apartheid movement. At the apparent behest of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the government today has cast a net so wide that it has entangled journalists, college students, and peace activists. We know that a campaign so indiscriminate will seriously impinge on the First Amendment and other civil rights of people living in the United States. This will, in particular, affect active and outspoken students on university campuses, especially those of Palestinian descent.

It is not only our right but also our moral duty to speak and act against American foreign policy and its destructive impact on innocent people around the world. Today, America unfortunately stands behind Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people with money, weaponry, and diplomatic support. We seek to reverse this situation so that American foreign policy stands on the side of people who work towards justice. We reject the government's efforts to isolate the Palestinian people by severing them from their non-violent supporters abroad. Therefore we stand in solidarity with the victims of our government's campaign both in America and around the globe.

If Attorney Fitzgerald's campaign marks the morning of a new day, then we are certain of what awaits us in the night. Like Baldwin before us, we live in an age in which silence is not only criminal but suicidal -- we shall, therefore, make as much noise as we can......"

Will 2011 Become 1848?

by Philip Giraldi, December 30, 2010

".....As in 1848, there is a clear division between the people and their leaders. In Europe, opinion polls indicate that the voters want nothing to do with wars like Afghanistan, but the respective governments continue in their folly, even when they recognize that the conflict is unwinnable. In the United States, support for the wars being fought by the White House and Congress is both low and sinking, but no voters had a chance to express dissatisfaction in the November elections because war was not on the ballot and few candidates even bothered to mention it. The media, which should be exposing the lemming-like march over a cliff, is instead a cheerleader for the catastrophe, fully embracing the concept that the United States has some kind of God-given obligation to intervene everywhere in the world and at any time for the good of mankind.....

Can it be that Obama is a tyrant on the order of the kings and princes of the nineteenth century? He is in fact worse, far worse, because he has the technology and means to monitor and punish every citizen through an acquiescent judiciary and congress, national security letters, military commissions, and Patriot Acts. Guantánamo is still open and Attorney General Holder will undoubtedly be sending more prisoners there in the new year, possibly to include Julian Assange of WikiLeaks fame. If you want to travel on an airplane President Obama even has a machine that can see you naked and if you reject the treatment don’t try to leave the airport because you can be arrested. And when the president imprisons the innocent or strips someone of his or her rights he can cover up the crime, not through citation of the divine right of kings, but through the state secrets privilege. The United States badly need a change of course, and 2011 will be a good opportunity to see if the American people will take up the challenge and march to the barricades. If they do not, there is evil in the air and we have a long and dreary future ahead of us."

Leader: Yes, end the Gaza blockade

Nick Clegg should use his position in government to push for a lifting of the blockade.

Published 29 December 2010

New Statesman

"In December 2009, a year on from Israel's war in Gaza, Nick Clegg, then toiling in opposition, wrote a newspaper column in which he condemned the "humanitarian suffering" inflicted by Israel on the people of Gaza through its near-total blockade of the strip. "The risk of waiting another year is too great," he concluded. "Gordon Brown and the international community must urgently declare that enough is enough. The blockade must end."

So, another year has passed. If Mr Clegg is seeking to bolster his progressive credentials and remind voters of his essential decency, he should use his senior position in government to push for a lifting of the blockade. In this case, he can count on the support of his Conservative colleague and friend David Cameron. "Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp," said the Prime Minister in July.

Tough-sounding declarations are issued at regular intervals but little real pressure is applied," wrote Mr Clegg. He now has the power to change that.

Enough is indeed enough."

Who says Christians and Muslims can't live together?

In the rural Lebanon of my childhood, people of both faiths dwelt side by side and helped each other in times of conflict

Yvette Khoury, Thursday 30 December 2010

"I worship Allah and I am not a Muslim. I celebrate eid, and it is not a Muslim festival. I attended al-madrasa, but it was not a Muslim school. How might one explain what some perceive as contradictory terms? Allah, eid and madrasa are the Arabic words for God, festival and school, respectively. Therefore as an Arabic-speaking Christian these terms were part of my childhood vocabulary and so should have retained their apparent meanings. However, Allah, eid and madrasa have in recent times become associated with Islam and Muslims; they continue to be exploited and at times misused by the media.

Consequently, I have begun to feel alienated from the Arabic that was connected to my cultural upbringing....

I grew up in a Lebanese farming village called Yarun, which was (and still is) inhabited by both Christians and Muslims. Yarun has a church and a mosque. Its patron saint is Saint George and, although I cannot tell you the name of its mosque, I can clarify that the Muslims in Yarun belong to the Shia sect. Furthermore, words such as burqa or hijab were unknown to me as a child – I only became acquainted with them in London. When Muslim Yaruni women went to al-hajj, they would wear scarves upon their return. As a child, I knew therefore that a hajji was a Muslim woman who covered her head because she had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. A Yaruni hajji was respected for what she believed and she did not show non-Muslims any hostility for not covering their heads. It was in London that I first encountered reproachful and contemptuous glances from the so-called pious Muslim women who seem to object to my uncovered and often unbound hair. Moreover, although hajj and hajji are the Arabic titles of masculine and feminine Muslim pilgrims, they are also used by Christians – some of the most devoted Christian couples in Yarun are affectionately known as hajj and hajji....."

Detained journalist questions right to freedom of speech for Palestinians

West Bank security forces allegedly held George Canawati for five days after he reported on tensions within Fatah party

Harriet Sherwood in Bethlehem, Wednesday 29 December 2010

"An independent West Bank journalist detained for five days by Palestinian security forces after broadcasting a news item relating to frictions within the ruling Fatah party has questioned the extent to which freedom of speech is permitted by the Palestinian Authority.

George Canawati of Radio Bethlehem was held in an office at the city's general intelligence service headquarters over the Muslim holiday of Eid last month, according to an account he has given to the Guardian. He was provided with a mattress to sleep on, and food, but was given no explanation for his continued detention beyond an initial three-hour interrogation.

Asked if he believed the detention was intended to intimidate him, Canawati responded by twisting his ear between thumb and forefinger. "I didn't make a mistake [in my report]," he said. "I was professional to the true sense of the word. I will never take their pinch of ear into consideration.".....

Shortly after Canawati's report was broadcast, he received a visit from the intelligence services. He was told to close down the radio station, and to accompany the official for questioning. "I was told it would be for 10 minutes. It took me five days," he said.....

"I'm not confident any more that we have freedom of speech. Our prime minister [Salam Fayyad] is always preaching that the sky's the limit for freedom for journalists. From what happened to me, my experience, that is a false slogan. I really believed it until this happened."....

Independent Palestinian journalists come under pressure from both the PA and the Israeli authorities, said Canawati. "I don't want freedom just in slogans. I want to be free to criticise politicians."

After his release he held a meeting of Radio Bethlehem's staff. "I told them what happened would not affect what we broadcast. The detention has made me stronger."

Earlier this month 12 local radio and TV stations in the West Bank were closed by the PA for failing to properly apply and pay fees for new licences, according to the news website Ma'an. The Palestinian journalists' union said the closures were imposed without warning."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rarity in Region, Lebanese Paper Dares to Provoke

N Y Times

Contributed by W

"BEIRUT, Lebanon — Ibrahim al-Amine, the hawk-eyed editorial chairman of Al Akhbar, describes his newspaper’s founding ambitions this way: “We wanted the U.S. ambassador to wake up in the morning, read it and get upset.”

He succeeded. Earlier this month Al Akhbar became the only Arab newspaper to obtain its own substantial batch of WikiLeaks cables and gleefully cataloged various embarrassments to the region’s kings, princes and politicians. Soon afterward, the paper’s popular Web site came under a cyberattack that became a story in its own right, and provided more free publicity.

It was the latest coup for a five-year-old paper that has become the most dynamic and daring in Lebanon, and perhaps anywhere in the Arab world. In a region where the news media are still full of obsequious propaganda, Al Akhbar is now required reading, even for those who abhor its politics.

They are a remarkable blend....."

Another Arab Dictator for Life; Next His Son Will Take Over.

الحزب الحاكم في اليمن يسعي لأن يكون صالح رئيسا مدى الحياة

"صنعاء- يسعى حزب المؤتمر الشعبي العام الحاكم في اليمن لان يكون الرئيس علي عبد الله صالح رئيسا مدى الحياة، فيما اعتبرت المعارضة تلك المساعي بمثابة انقلاب على الديمقراطية.
ونقل عن الأمين العام المساعد للحزب سلطان البركاني قوله الأربعاء في تصريح صحافي "ننوي إعلان الرئيس علي عبد الله صالح رئيساً لليمن مدى الحياة".

وقال البركاني إن حزب المؤتمر يسعى إلى إلغاء الولايات الرئاسية لرئيس الدولة من قانون الانتخابات و(تصفير العداد) بإعلان صالح رئيساً مدى الحياة.

واعتبر النائب عبدالرزاق الهجري عن أحزاب (اللقاء المشترك) المعارضة تصريحات البركاني بمثابة "عودة نظام الحكم الفردي الذي قضى عليه اليمنيون في سبتمبر من العام 1962".

وقال الهجري "إن ما ورد على لسان الأمين المساعد للحزب الحاكم يكشف بجلاء بانه يراد القضاء نهائيا على نضال رجالات اليمن وخيرة أبنائه الذين قضوا من أجل قيام نظام جمهوري ديمقراطي تعددي، ليعودوا بالعجلة إلى الوراء وليكرسوا حكما وراثيا فرديا".

ويشار إلى أن الرئيس صالح حكم شمال اليمن منذ 17 يوليو/ تموز 1978 حتى عام 1990، ومن بعدها أصبح رئيسا لليمن الموحد.

The Arab Regimes, by Emad Hajjaj.

How Pathetic! Habila Urges Arab League to Stop Israeli Attacks. Where Does This Idiot Live?

Press TV

Habila, fully engaged in his typical media Jihad.

"Palestinian democratically elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has called on the Arab League to adopt effective measures to restrain Israeli aggressions toward the besieged Gaza Strip.

In a message to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa on Tuesday, Haniyeh called on Arab nations to lodge a complaint at the UN Security Council over serious Israeli military threats against the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Information Center reported...."

Allan Nairn: As U.S. Loses Its Global Economic Edge, Its "One Clear Comparative Advantage is in Killing, and It’s Using It"

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"As 2010 draws to a close, what is the role of the United States in the world today? From the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the cuts to social programs here at home, where is there emerging hope for change around the world? We spend the hour with award-winning investigative journalist and activist Allan Nairn. "You vote for Democrat, you vote for Republican, you get the same thing on state murder, on preventable death. But we here have the right to rebel. We have to use it."...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Tunisia jobless protests rage

"Escalating unrest over unemployment in Tunisia, with a rare display of public protest in the capital.

Anti-government protests in Tunisia have spread to the capital.

The demonstrations began 10 days ago in a central rural region - where people are upset about poor living conditions.

And now, some of the country's trade unions have called for a "solidarity protest".

Al Jazeera's Bhanu Bhatnagar reports."

Real News Video: Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish tells the story of the death of his daughters during the Israeli attack on Gaza

More at The Real News

A Former Palestinian "PM" Became Rich Selling Cement to Build Apartheid Wall; Now: Palestinian Developer Intends To Buy Settlement Construction Firm

In pursuit of profit, Palestinian capitalists would sell not just Palestine, but their own mothers.

"A construction firm headed by Palestinian businessman, Bashar Al Masry, intends to buy an Israeli Construction Firm that builds Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. The news angered residents of Nuf Zion settlement neighborhood in Jabal Al Mukabber, in East Jerusalem, as the firm supervises the construction there.Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth reported that the firm could be sold to an investment firm headed by Al Masri, an issue that angered the settlers living in Nof Zion. .....

Al Masri heads a development group registered in Cyprus, and most of the members of this group are businessmen from the United States. The group's consultant in Israel is Lawyer Dov Weisglass, who served as a consultant for the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

According to Yedioth Aharonoth, the brother of Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, owns 30% of the firm's stocks...."