Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mohammad Morsi Mubarak, by Emad Hajjaj

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza children return to school after ceasefire

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Egypt: The president's new powers

Al-Jazeera Video: Number of Syrian refugees 'double'

"The number of Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries has nearly doubled since the beginning of September to more than 440,000, according to the the UN refugee agency on Friday. 

Yet still many Syrians still are fleeing to the Turkish border, Many have fled to a camp in the Syrian village of Atmeh on the Turkish border. 

Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons reports from Atmah."

Briefly President, Now Pharaoh

"CAIRO, Nov 24 2012 (IPS) - When Mohamed Mursi was sworn in as president in June there were concerns that the first democratically elected president in Egyptian history would be subservient to the military council that had ruled the country since dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled in early 2011.
But by August, Mursi had pulled off a political coup, issuing a decree that purged the military of its leadership and left him in sole control of the government, with full executive and legislative authority. A decree issued Thursday expanded Mursi’s power even further, putting his decisions beyond dispute and neutralising the judiciary that was one of the last institutions challenging his Islamist government.

Not since the days of the pharaohs has an Egyptian leader amassed so much power,” says Ahmed Hamid, an activist protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. “Even Mubarak never dared to go this far, and you saw what happened to him.”......

Nathan J. Brown, an expert on Egyptian law and politics at George Washington University, interpreted the underlying message: “I, Mursi, am all powerful. And in my first act as being all powerful, I declare myself more powerful still. But don’t worry – it’s just for a little while.” (END)"

Real News Video (with Transcript): Tens of Thousands of Egyptians Protest Morsi's Power Grab


Hamid Dabashi: On the heels of Israel's attack on Gaza, with support of Obama, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Morsi gives himself powers that rival Mubarak  

More at The Real News

Clashes in Cairo after Mursi seizes new powers

"(Reuters) - Youths clashed with police in Cairo on Saturday as protests at new powers assumed by President Mohamed Mursi stretched into a second day, confronting Egypt with a crisis that has exposed the split between newly empowered Islamists and their opponents.

A handful of hardcore activists hurling rocks battled riot police in the streets near Tahrir Square, where several thousand protesters massed on Friday to demonstrate against a decree that has rallied opposition ranks against Mursi.

Following a day of violence in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Suez, the smell of teargas hung over the square, the heart of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011.
More than 300 people were injured on Friday. Offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled Mursi to power, were attacked in at least three cities.

Egypt's highest judicial authority said the decree marked an "unprecedented attack" on the independence of the judiciary, the state news agency reported.

Leftist, liberal and socialist parties have called for an open-ended sit-in with the aim of "toppling" the decree which has also drawn statements of concern from the United States and the European Union......."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Egypt groups to maintain sit-in until President Morsi withdraws decree

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: Egyptian activists have announced they would remain in Cairo’s Tahrir Square until President Mohamed Morsi withdraws his presidential decree that ostensibly grants him unlimited power.
The National Assembly for Change has urged other political groups, parties and movements, to join the sit-in in Tahrir as a show of force against what they called a power grab that places Morsi above the rule of law.
Around a dozen tents have been erected in the center of the square by early morning Saturday and protesters appear determined to push on with their demonstration until Morsi makes changes.
The Assembly said it is disappointed by the recent moves made by Morsi concerning the drafting of the constitution and said they would not stand by and allow the president to take as much power as ousted President Hosni Mubarak had until he was ousted in a popular uprising in January 2011.
Day of Rage turns to day of clashes
Over 170 Egyptian protesters have been injured in ongoing violence in downtown Cairo on Qasr el-Aini street leading to the iconic Tahrir Square, the ministry of health reported.
Activists and field hospital officials believe the number to be dramatically higher.
According to volunteer doctors at field hospitals scattered around the frontlines, the injuries consist mainly of tear gas inhalation, however many of those being wounded have “been shot by rubber bullets.”
The violence, which is the continuation of the previous four days, increased in dramatic fashion on Friday afternoon, following anger over President Mohamed Morsi’s constitutional declarations that activists say has left the country in the hands of the ultra-conservatives and silences those who fought for freedom during the January 2011 uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.
According to the ministry of interior’s Facebook page, Minister Ahmed Ibrahim reportedly ordered police officers to be “patient” and “to work” with the different revolutionary powers. He also said on state television that no tear gas had been fired into Tahrir Square, where tens of thousands have gathered into the evening, saying they will not leave and have begun an open-ended sit-in demanding change in the country.
The ministry said that police arrested 210 protesters, 85 of whom were transferred to the prosecution’s office and are being held pending investigation for 15 days, and 45 under aged youth were released and had been given to the custody of their parents.
Morsi, for his part, spoke to the nation on Friday afternoon as violence spiraled into chaos in downtown Cairo, telling the country that “thugs” were responsible for the violence. State television also reported that nobody was in Tahrir Square, which online activists said was the same tactic used by the Mubarak government on January 25, 2011, when protests that eventually ousted him from power erupted.
Many believe this could be the beginning of a second uprising that is already demanding the end of Morsi’s rule.
Both makeshift hospitals inside al-Dobarah church and Tal’at Harb street both confirmed the arrival of people shot with rubber bullets. doctors said following an early evening attack that saw 8 protesters arrive with rubber bullet wounds near Qasr el-Aini street, while doctors in Tala’at Harb said about 7 cases were reported......."

No to the New Pharaoh: Morsi's appeal for 'trust' falls on deaf ears in Egypt

Protesting the New Pharaoh: Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid explains what is behind the Egyptian protests

Al-Jazeera Video: الإعلان الدستوري في مصر بين التأييد والرفض

"أعلن عدد من القوى السياسية والحزبية اعتصامها في ميدان التحرير اعتراضا على الإعلان الدستوري، فيما غادر متظاهرون الميدان. ومن أبرز القوى التي قررت الاعتصام في الميدان أحزاب الوفد والدستور والمصريين الأحرار والتيار الشعبي. كان الرئيس المصري محمد مرسي دافع عن قراراته بتعيين النائب العام الجديد وتحصينِ لجنة صياغة الدستور ومجلس الشورى من الحل. وقال في كلمة أمام آلاف من مؤيديه الذين تجمعوا أمام القصر الرئاسي، إنه يعمل من أجل استقرار مصر الاجتماعي والاقتصادي وترسيخ الديمقراطية والحرية ومبدأ تداول السلطة.

Syrian rebels capture three military bases in a week

Attacks yield large number of weapons, which had been in short supply

in Beirut,
Syrian rebels' success in seizing three military bases in less than a week has underscored the growing difficulty faced by Damascus in securing its outposts and stopping a rebel encroachment that has claimed large swaths of the east and north of the country.
Attacks on the bases, one north-east of Aleppo, a second at Mayedin in the far east and a third near Damascus, yielded a large number of weapons, which had been in desperately short supply, especially in positions across Syria's second city.
The impact of the new weapons seemed to have been felt immediately along northern frontlines, where Kurdish groups loyal to the Assad regime were on Friday engaged in their heaviest clashes yet with rebel forces and jihadists, near the border town of Ras al-Ain....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Morsi decree prompts protests in Egyptian cities

Is it Hamas' turn to return the favor and help arrange a ceasefire in Tahrir Square?? 

Morsi decree triggers mass protests in Egypt

Clashes erupt while the president justifies granting himself sweeping powers as necessary to defend the revolution.

"Supporters and opponents of Egypt's president have clashed in several cities after he assumed sweeping new powers, a clear show of the deepening polarisation plaguing the country.

In the largest rally on Friday, thousands of chanting protesters packed Cairo's Tahrir Square, the heart of the 2011 revolution, demanding Mohamed Morsi quit and accusing him of launching a "coup".

Buoyed by accolades from around the world for mediating a truce between Hamas and Israel, Morsi on Thursday issued a declaration giving himself powers that go beyond those held by toppled president Hosni Mubarak, putting himself above the judiciary.

He also ordered that an Islamist-dominated assembly writing the new constitution could not be dissolved by legal challenges.
Liberal and secular members earlier walked out of the body, charging it would impose strict Islamic practices......"

As Gaza is savaged again, understanding the BBC's historical role is vital

By John Pilger

22 November 2012

".....Mark Regev, Israel's chief propagandist, seemingly has a place reserved for him near the top of BBC news bulletins. In 2010, when I pointed this out to Fran Unsworth, now elevated to director of news, she strongly objected to the description of Regev as a propagandist, adding, "It's not our job to go out and appoint the Palestinean spokesperson".

With similar logic, Unsworth's predecessor, Helen Boaden, described the BBC's reporting of the criminal carnage in Iraq as based on the "fact that Bush has tried to export democracy and human rights to Iraq". To prove her point, Boaden supplied six A4 pages of verifiable lies from Bush and Tony Blair. That ventriloquism is not journalism seemed not to occur to either woman.

What has changed at the BBC is the arrival of the cult of the corporate manager. George Entwistle, the briefly-appointed director general who said he knew nothing about Newsnight's false accusations of child abuse against a Tory grandee, is to receive £450,000 of public money for agreeing to resign before he was sacked: the corporate way. This and the preceding Jimmy Savile scandal might have been scripted for the Daily Mail and the Murdoch press whose self-serving hatred of the BBC has long provided the corporation with its "embattled" façade as the guardian of "public service broadcasting". Understanding the BBC as a pre-eminent state propagandist and censor by omission - more often than not in tune with its right-wing enemies - is on no public agenda and it ought to be."

Real News Video: A Night in Gaza Under the Bombs

A mini-documentary report from the emergency ward of a hospital in Gaza as the bombs were falling 

More at The Real News

A Great Cartoon by Carlos Latuff: Morsi’s new hairstyle

Gaza Assault Shows a New Egypt

"The reaction of post-revolution Egypt to Israel's weeklong onslaught on the next-door Gaza Strip – brought to a halt temporarily at least by a Wednesday night ceasefire – has contrasted sharply with the former regime's callous approach to the besieged coastal enclave.....

Notably, Mursi has also shifted Egyptian support from the Palestinian Fatah movement, which leads the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, to Hamas in Gaza.

Egypt now supports Hamas, to which the Brotherhood is affiliated ideologically and which espouses a strategy of armed resistance,” said Fahmi. “The Mubarak regime had supported Hamas’s bitter rival Fatah, which had insisted on holding fruitless ‘peace talks’ with Israel that utterly failed to improve the Palestinians’ position.”

Egyptian support for the people of Gaza – and the resistance based there – has hardly been confined to official circles......"

'People Are Resisting By Existing': Gaza After the Bombing

"....."It was a horrible nightmare," says Dr. Mona El-Farra, director of Gaza Projects for the Middle East Children’s Alliance. "Everywhere we were surrounded with death and horror."......

The destruction of Gaza is severe. Dozens of houses, apartments blocks and offices have been reduced to rubble. The Israeli military targeted numerous civil institutions, including a main bridge on the coastal road connecting Gaza City with the rest of the enclave, as well as several police stations, farms, the Islamic National Bank, and a sprawling government compound housing ministries that once issued identification cards, passports and other official papers.

"In eight days the Israelis inflicted the same amount of destruction as they did in twenty-two days in Cast Lead four years ago," Sourani says. "I think the Israelis wanted to inflict pain and terror in the hearts and minds of the civilian population.".....

"The Israeli talk about ceasefire is not true," El-Farra says. "They did not talk about siege-lifting or lifting of the occupation. What they are really talking about is freedom of movement between Gaza and Cairo. In the long-term I am not optimistic."......

Yet one effect of the Israeli assault on Gaza has been to significantly boost Hamas's popularity—which had been waning in the face of growing dissatisfaction with their rule. "Their popularity is on a peak,” Sourani says. “There is unprecedented, overwhelming support for them.".......

"People are resisting to by existing," says El-Farra. "There was strong social solidarity during this attack. People were staying strong on the ground. This was the real courage and steadfastness.""

Israel’s Crumbling Pillar of ‘Defense’

Hamas, 1 – Netanyahu, 0

by , November 23, 2012

"The big news this Thanksgiving holiday is the announcement of the Gaza ceasefire. Will it last beyond the time you’re eating desert and trying to recover from a massive Tryptophane overdose? Don’t be so sure….

The reason for this uncertainty is because Hamas comes out the winner, on all fronts, and Netanyahu just as clearly the loser. What did the Israelis achieve? Nothing. Hamas, on the other hand, secured growing international recognition, as Arab state officials who had once snubbed Hamas trekked to Gaza to show solidarity. More important, Hamas struck at Tel Aviv itself, taking the Israelis by surprise and showing they aren’t the helpless victims the Israelis thought they were, an important factor in mobilizing Arab public opinion......."

The Muslim Brotherhood/Freedom and Justice Party headquarters in Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, is reportedly on fire.

The Muslim Brotherhood/Freedom and Justice Party headquarters in Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, is reportedly on fire.

Egyptian protesters hold a banner depicting Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as a Pharaoh, during a rally in Cairo against his decision to grant himself sweeping new powers.

Gaza rocket attacks have returned Palestine to the top of the Arab agenda

The spirit of the Arab spring is as important as ever, and it has informed responses to the violence in the Middle East this week,
If we are learning anything from the latest round of woefully predictable slaughter it is how a festering problem got worse, not better, during the Arab spring...... Palestinians first introduced the notion of Arabs rising up against their oppressors. The Arabic term "intifada" means "shaking off" or "uprising" and first entered popular usage during the 1987 Palestinian rebellion against Israel. It was as easily applicable to the Arab spring as it is to those living in Gaza.
There are now signs of change, however. Political leaders who replaced US-backed despots after the Arab spring are openly supporting Hamas.....

It was also in 2008 that Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni actually declared war on Gaza from Cairo – a ruthlessly pragmatic gesture which infuriated the majority of Egyptians. Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's new president, in contrast, frantically stepped up diplomatic efforts to resolve the Gaza crisis.
Terms of the ceasefire were necessarily restrictive and it is, of course, a fragile truce. The crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel remains, for example, and there are ongoing humanitarian concerns for the near 2 million Palestinians living there....."

Morsi 'power grab' angers Egypt opposition groups

Leaders call for Friday protests as ElBaradei says president has appointed himself Egypt's new pharaoh

in Cairo,
Egyptian opposition groups are calling for mass protests amid mounting anger at President Mohamed Morsi's surprise decision to give himself, and the Islamist-dominated assembly writing Egypt's new constitution, extraordinary new powers.....

"This is a coup against legitimacy. We call on all Egyptians to protest in all of Egypt's squares on Friday," Sameh Ashour, head of the Egyptian Lawyers syndicate told a news conference called with two of Morsi's prominent political opponents, Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei.
Morsi, who was feted on the international stage for his key role in bringing to an end the violence in Gaza, issued the decree on Thursday, which also ordered the retrial of former president Hosni Mubarak and officials and security force members accused of killing protesters during the country's revolution.
Although the ending of impunity for those who had committed crimes during the ousting of Mubarak would be widely popular, opposition groups described other new measures a as a power grab.
Presented as a move to "protect the revolution", the decree won immediate praise from Morsi's allies but stoked fears among secular-minded Egyptians that the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies aim to dominate the new Egypt......"

Gaza ceasefire: Syria's shrinking influence now exposed

Bashar al-Assad is not the only Arab leader facing marginalisation,
No one is taking bets on how solid the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians will prove to be. But the Gaza conflict has highlighted one apparently permanent change in the Middle East – the shrinking influence of Syria, stuck in a bloody and unstoppable war.
If Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president, is now basking in glory as the indispensable mediator between Hamas and Israel, his counterpart in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad, looks distinctly like yesterday's man.
Syrian state media focused intensely on Israel's onslaught against the Palestinians in Gaza. But Assad's Arab critics have been doing some bleak calculations: in the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defence 160 Palestinians were killed by Israel. In the same period, Syrian forces killed 817 civilians and injured thousands. Last Monday alone, says the opposition, 150 Syrians died.
Al-Arabiya, the Saudi-owned TV channel, drove home the point about double standards nicely by quoting an Israeli rabbi who publicly urged his army to "learn from the Syrians how to slaughter and crush the enemy.".....

the neighbours have also been "the best of enemies." Israeli leaders preferred Assad and his father Hafez as the "devils they knew" who kept the peace on the Golan, a quiet front until the recent spillover from the uprising and fears that chemical weapons might fall into the hands of rebels. Syria also spent eight years negotiating with Israel, though they failed to reach agreement.
But the country that used to describe itself as the "beating heart of Arabism" has also been a leading member of the "axis of resistance" – an ally of Iran and patron of Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hamas finally abandoned its Damascus headquarters this year, unable to stand the contradiction between demands for Palestinian freedom and the brutal suppression of the Syrian uprising. In early November, the Syrian security authorities closed the Hamas offices.
Khaled Meshal, its best known leader, is now an honoured guest in Egypt and Qatar, Assad's sworn enemy. Hamas, though still shunned as a terrorist group by the US, the EU and Israel, has far more respectable, and influential, Arab friends than Assad these days.
Smaller Palestinian factions are still based in Damascus. One is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine: General Command which claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bus bombing in Tel Aviv. But Palestinians living in Syria have suffered along with Syrians during the 20-month uprising.
Assad is preoccupied with his own survival. But he is not the only Arab leader facing marginalisation. Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, has not had a good Gaza war either, praising Hamas but doing nothing to help it – and drawing attention to the fact that his organisation has not launched any of its thousands of missiles at Israel since the 2006 Lebanon conflict. Nasrallah's "resistance" credentials have also been badly tarnished by his support for Assad. Nasrallah may, some analysts believe, be keeping his powder dry in case Israel attacks Iran.
Nearer to Gaza, another big loser is Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO leader and president of the Ramallah-based Palestinian authority. Abbas's problem is not new but has been exacerbated by a war against Israel in which his Islamist rivals have, with a degree of plausibility, claimed victory.
It has also highlighted his irrelevance and exposed him to the charge that he is simultaneously too close to Israel while failing to extract any concessions from it.
It is all evidence that old Middle Eastern certainties are disappearing while the precise shape of a new regional order has yet to emerge."

Thursday, November 22, 2012


By Tony Sayegh

As a result of the strategic defeat of Israel in its 8-day attempt to crush the Palestinians in Gaza, I was forced to make a major change in my thinking.

For years I was convinced that Israel would sooner or later attack Iran or force the US to do the same on its behalf.

Observing how steadfast the Palestinians were, with their limited armaments, against vastly superior USraeli onslaught, and how Israel was forced in the end to ask for a ceasefire, made me realize the impossibility of subduing the vastly larger and stronger Iran.

The Iranian technology is what made Palestinian rockets that reached Tel Aviv and beyond. Yet Iran has much more than what it supplied the Palestinians.

Do not be fooled by the Israeli propaganda about the effectiveness of the "Iron Dome." It is hogwash, just like the lies about the effectiveness of the Patriot missiles. Even if only half the missiles make it through, and Iran/Hizbullah launch tens of thousands in retaliation for an attack on Iran, the price that Israel would pay would be very high.

As a sign of confidence, Iran boasted that it supplied the missile technology to the Palestinians and was proud of it. It berated all the Arab countries for not doing anything tangible to help the Palestinians. This stance (contrasted with the cowardice of all the Arab regimes, Egypt included) speaks volumes about the strategic shift in the region.

The days are gone when Israel threatens and the Arabs or Iranians tremble. Technology is no longer a monopoly of USrael. Just imagine if the Palestinians had effective missiles against the Israeli air force; the Iranians certainly do.  

Al-Jazeera Video: Gazans begin to clean up and rebuild

Al-Jazeera Video: Deadly air strike damages hospital in Aleppo

"Activists say that at least 40 people have been killed when planes bombed Aleppo's al-Shaar district, badly damaging a hospital. The victims included a doctor who was in the middle of surgery."

Al-Jazeera Video: الإتجاه المعاكس - النظام السوري والقضية الفلسطينية

Features Dr. Ibrahim Hammami (London)

Real News Video (with Transcript): Ceasefire: Egypt Manages the Crisis; More US Arms for Israel

Vijay Prashad: Egypt brokers Gaza crisis working with US; Palestinians won't give up their struggle; There will be no accountability for Israel's illegal war  

More at The Real News

Real News Video (with Transcript): "Mowing the Grass" in Gaza

Michael Ratner: I don't put human rights on an equal footing when it comes to talking about the oppressed versus the oppressor

More at The Real News

“Most” killed in Gaza “deserved it” even though they were children and civilians, says Israel’s Danny Ayalon

By Ali Abunimah

"In a clear indication of Israel’s shocking callousness and disregard for civilian lives, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon today told PRI’s The Takeaway that most of those killed and injured in Israel’s eight day long bombardment of the Gaza Strip “deserved it.”
“If you compare the situation in Gaza to the situation in Syria today,” Ayalon said, “where the Assad regime just mercilessly butchers people and children there is a big difference and I would say that most of the people that were hit in Gaza deserved it as they were just armed terrorists.”

Vast majority killed and injured are civilians and children

But in fact, the vast majority of those killed and injured were unarmed civilians. Up to 20 November, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 91 of the 136 Palestinians killed were civilians, including 28 children and 13 women, and 922 of the 941 wounded were civilians, including 258 children.
So 66 percent of those killed, and 97 percent of those injured were civilians. Almost one third of the dead are children......"

Al-Jazeera Cartoon: Netanyahu's "Iron Dome"

Rebels capture army base in eastern Syria

"(Reuters) - Syrian rebels captured an army artillery base in the eastern oil producing province of Deir al-Zor on Thursday, weakening President Bashar al-Assad's control of the strategic region bordering Iraq, several opposition sources said.
"The Mayadeen military base fell at 8.30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. Eastern Time)," Abu Laila, an official in the Military Revolutionary Council in the province, told Reuters. He said 44 rebel fighters had been killed in the siege of the base.
"The whole countryside, from the Iraqi border and along the Euphrates to the city of Deir al-Zor, is now under rebel control."
Another opposition source in contact with rebels confirmed that the base, 42 km (26 miles) south-east of the city of Deir al-Zor, had fallen.
The capture of the base follows that of a military airport 80 km (50 miles) to the south-east on the Iraqi border last week. Rebels have stormed several bases in the north and center of the country, indicating growing military strength, according to opposition sources and diplomats......"

Guardian Video: Hamas hails Gaza ceasefire as step towards Palestinian state


"Palestinians take to the streets of Gaza City on Wednesday night, celebrating the ceasefire brokered in Egypt between Israel and militant factions led by Hamas. The Hamas leader, Khalid Meshaal, says the truce is a step towards a free Palestine, but warns they have the 'finger on the trigger' should Israel violate the ceasefire."

Gaza: the uselessness of force

Despite his claims to have crippled Hamas, Netanyahu has elevated them into contenders for the leadership of the PLO

An Excellent Editorial
The Guardian,

"Outside the confines of an Israeli election campaign, it is hard to see the last eight days of aerial bombardment of Gaza as a tactical success. What started from the Israeli defence establishment's view with a moment of elation – the pinpoint strike on the car of Hamas's military commander Ahmed al-Jaabari – ended with Hamas and other militant groups breaking two taboos: firing rockets repeatedly at Tel Aviv (not even Hezbollah during the height of the second Lebanon war did that); and returning to the tactic of bombing buses. If the agreement announced on Wednesday night holds, Hamas is hardly ceasing fire while in full retreat.

Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak now find themselves in a similar position to the one Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni found themselves in at the end of Operation Cast Lead in 2008 – struggling to pull something out of the rubble that justifies the decision to attack in the first place. They will claim that they established deterrence against the militant groups in Gaza for at least a couple of years. Hamas has agreed to not fire rockets, detonate bombs or engage in any cross-border activity, but all of that was on offer, and had been the subject of negotiations through intermediaries, before Operation Pillar of Defence was launched. Further, the agreement signed on Wednesday states that all crossings into Gaza – presumably not just the Rafah border with Egypt but the ones on the Israeli side as well – will be open to the movement of people and goods. In other words, the siege of Gaza, which Israel fought so bitterly and for so long to maintain, has just ended. The agreement refers to the fact that procedures for implementation will be "dealt with" within 24 hours of the start of the ceasefire. This was Hamas's central demand, and it appears to have been met. Israeli negotiators had two demands: that the ceasefire last for a stated minimal period of time and that a no-fire zone be established on the border. Neither are in the agreement.

Strategically, the judgment on the last week of war looks even worse. Look no further than what has been happening all this week in the West Bank. In 2008, it was a mortuary and Ramallah seemed to be on a different planet. Not a Palestinian voice dared to be raised against the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza. Dissenters were swiftly locked up by Palestinian policemen. This week, in contrast, the Palestinian police have been strangely inactive. Demonstrations have erupted in major West Bank cities, molotov cocktails have been thrown. On Wednesday both nationalist and Islamic politicians called for a strike in the Hebron region. These are scenes not witnessed since the end of the second intifada. Just as the final link in the physical separation of Hamas in Gaza appears to have dissolved, so the taboo on its political reappearance in the West Bank appears to have melted away also. For the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, this is terrible news. Unity between Fatah and Hamas is de facto being forged, despite his, America's, and the Middle East Quartet's best efforts to exclude the Gazan militants from the political process until they recognise the state of Israel. Wednesday night ended with praise being showered by Israel and Hillary Clinton on the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi. They have just cemented the international standing of a man whose chances they tried their best to undermine five months ago.

Mr Netanyahu claimed that he had crippled Hamas and in heeding the warnings about a ground incursion, he will have cemented his western support. But that has been at the cost of elevating Hamas's position in the Arab world. He has now done to the organisation what he did to Khaled Meshaal, when he ordered his assassination by poison and was then forced to supply Jordan with the antidote. Meshaal's career was propelled as a result. In the same way, Hamas has been elevated into the position of a contender for the leadership of the PLO. Is this what the Israeli premier intended? Or has he just discovered the limits of the use of force? Instead of trying to wipe Hamas out, perhaps Mr Netanyahu should try talking to them."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: الحرب على غزة والمواقف الإقليمية

Al-Jazeera Video: لقاء اليوم- رمضان عبد الله شلح

Netanyahu and the Gaza “terrorists” – Gaza Under Attack, by Carlos Latuff

Iran supplied Hamas with Fajr-5 missile technology

Revolutionary Guards commander says his forces helped militant group in Gaza build missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv,

"The commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards has publicly admitted that his forces supplied the Islamic militant group Hamas with the knowhow to develop Fajr-5 missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv.

"We haven't sent any weapons to Gaza because it is under blockade," Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by Iran's Young Journalists Club news agency on Wednesday. "But we are honoured to announce that we gave them the technology of how to make Fajr-5 missiles and now they have their hands on plenty of them."
Jafar's remarks are a rare admission by such a high profile regime official that Tehran has supported Hamas militarily......"

As Bus Bomb Hits Tel Aviv, Sharif Abdel Kouddous on Egypt’s Mediator Role and Gaza’s Ongoing Torment

Democracy Now!

The Israeli bombardment of Gaza has entered its eighth day with the Palestinian death toll now topping 139. More than 1,200 people have been injured. Earlier today, 21 people were injured in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv when a bomb exploded aboard a crowded bus. International efforts to secure a ceasefire have so far been unsuccessful. We’re joined from Gaza City by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous....."

Debate: From Short-Term Ceasefire to Long-Term Peace, How to Resolve the Israel-Gaza Crisis?

Democracy Now!

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just arrived in Egypt where she will hold talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi about a possible truce between Hamas and Israel to end the Gaza conflict. Clinton has already met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As efforts to secure a ceasefire continue, we host a debate on the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip with two guests: James Colbert, policy director for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; and Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, The Palestine Center....."

Real News Video: US Money and Policy Makes Israeli Attack on Gaza Possible

Phylis Bennis: President Obama's unconditional support for Israeli campaign emboldens PM Netanyahu 

More at The Real News

Real News Video: The Qatari/Egyptian/US Agenda and the Israeli Attack on Gaza

Vijay Prashad: Civilians are still being killed in Gaza as Egyptian Brotherhood and Qatar move in to "manage" the situation

More at The Real News

Video by Egypt revolutionary media group shows scenes of distress at Gaza City’s main hospital

Video by Egypt revolutionary media group shows scenes of distress at Gaza City’s main hospital
A video by Mosireen (website), the independent media and citizen journalism collective born during the Egyptian revolution, shows the disturbing and horrifying scenes in Gaza City’s main hospital amid the ongoing Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
The video, titled “A Night in Gaza Under the Bombs,” was shot on 18 November, the fifth day of the Israeli attack during the visit by 500 Egyptians in solidarity with the Palestinian people of Gaza, who spent the night at al-Shifa hospital.
The video contains some disturbing scenes, including severely injured and dead children, and distressed family members. Medics speak about their struggle to cope with the large flow of casualties amid shortages of medical supplies that were already scarce before the Israeli attack began on 15 November.
At 2:15, the power can be seen going off in the hospital, an example of the chronic electricity problems in Gaza......"

Israeli mayor: expel Palestinian citizens of “hostile” Nazareth to Gaza for opposing war

By Ali Abunimah

"The Israeli mayor of Upper Nazareth, a town in the Galilee, has demanded that the adjacent city of Nazareth be declared “hostile” to the state of Israel, and its predominantly Palestinian population, who are citizens of Israel, be expelled to Gaza.
“If it was in my hands, I would evacuate from this city its residents the haters of Israel whose rightful place is in Gaza and not here,” Mayor Shimon Gapso wrote in a letter to Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

Gapso was angered by protests in Nazareth against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza that has claimed more than 130 Palestinian lives since 15 November.
Calling Nazareth a “fifth column,” Gapso wrote that the city is “a danger in times of peace and a real danger in times of war.” He demanded that Yishai declare it a “hostile” city and cut off all state funding......"

لاريجاني: فخورون بتسليح المقاومة بغزة


"قال رئيس مجلس الشورى الإيراني (البرلمان) علي لاريجاني إن بلاده فخورة بدعمها العسكري للمقاومة الفلسطينية في قطاع غزة، ودعا الدول العربية إلى أن تحذو حذوها بدلا من الاكتفاء بالكلام، وذلك بعد أيام من نفي مسؤول بالبرلمان الإيراني إرسال صواريخ إيرانية للمقاومة في غزة.
ونقلت وكالة فارس للأنباء عن لاريجاني قوله "يشرفنا أن تكون لمساعدتنا أوجه مادية وعسكرية، وعلى تلك الدول العربية التي تجلس وتعقد اجتماعات أن تعرف أن الأمة الفلسطينية ليست بحاجة إلى كلمات واجتماعات".
وأضاف أن رسالة بلاده هي أنه إذا كانت الدول العربية تريد مساعدة الفلسطينيين فعليها أن تقدم مساعدة عسكرية، مؤكدا استعداد إيران للوقوف بجانب الشعب الفلسطيني وأهل غزة ومحاربة "كيان الاحتلال".

The Bitch Came to Check on Her Useless and Toothless Puppy

The Bitch Came to Check on Her Useless and Toothless Puppy

The 'both-sides-are-awful' dismissal of Gaza ignores the key role of the US government

The temptation to wash one's hands of the whole conflict is understandable, but US support of Israel is a central force driving it all,


As my Guardian colleague Seumas Milne superbly detailed in his column Tuesday night, the overarching fact of this conflict is that the Palestinians, for decades now, have been brutally occupied, blockaded, humiliated, deprived of the most basic human rights of statehood and autonomy though the continuous application of brute, lawless force (for that reason, those who like to righteously condemn Hamas' rockets (Pierce, defending Obama; "he happened to be correct the other day. No country can tolerate the bombing of its citizens") have the obligation to state what form of legitimate resistance Palestinians have to all of this). Moreover, as these clear numbers from the Economist demonstrate, the violence and carnage so disproportionately harm the Palestinians that to suggest some form of equivalence between the two sides borders on the obscene.

But the second reason, to me, is even clearer. The government which Americans fund and elect, and for which they thus bear at least some responsibility, is anything but neutral in this conflict. That government - certainly including the Democratic Party - is categorically, uncritically, and unfailingly on the side of Israel in every respect when it comes to violence and oppression against the Palestinians......"

Guardian Video: Gaza-Israel war rages amid international protests


"Israel continues attacking Gaza for a seventh day on Tuesday, killing 21 Palestinians, according to Gazan officials. Meanwhile a rocket from Gaza destroys a building near Tel Aviv. Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu says Israel would prefer a diplomatic solution. In New York, officials show support for Israel. In Chile, hundreds march in support of Palestinians."

Netanyahu wins a Pyrrhic victory

By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cowed the re-elected US president and his domestic opposition with Operation Pillar of Defense and can say he's degraded Hamas's war machine and weakened its threat. However, these appear outweighed by the Iron Dome rocket defense being proven a myth and the fact that Tel Aviv - wary of new regional realities - sued for peace just three days into the offensive....."

Bahrain: Promises of reform broken, repression unleashed

Amnesty International

21 November 2012

"Bahrain is facing a stark choice between the rule of law, or sliding into a downward spiral of repression and instability, Amnesty International warned in a new briefing today. 

The briefing Bahrain: reform shelved, repression unleashed comes days before the first anniversary of a landmark report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which was established by the country’s authorities to investigate abuses during the 2011 anti-government protests.

The BICI report found the Bahraini government responsible for gross human rights violations and documented widespread abuses. It made a series of recommendations including calling on the authorities to bring to account those responsible for human rights abuses and to carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture and other violations.

After BICI published its report in November 2011, the government committed itself to implementing the recommendations.

But as this briefing makes clear, instead of fulfilling this undertaking, the authorities swiftly moved to entrench repression, culminating in October 2012 in the banning of all rallies and gatherings in the country in violation of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and in November with the stripping of Bahraini nationality from 31 opposition figures.

The scale and nature of the violations unleashed in Bahrain since the BICI made its recommendations are making a mockery of the reform process in the country,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International........"

إلى شباب الثورة السورية

20 نوفمبر 2012

By Azmi Bishara

"أساس الثورة السورية عدالة قضيتها ضد نظام أمني أسري فاسد قام على إذلال الإنسان يوميا. 
حليف الثورة السورية الأول هو إرادة الثوار وبطولتهم، وعزيمة الشعب السوري التي لا تتزعزع.
خصم الثورة السورية الأول هو نظام حكم لا روادع عنده ولا خطوط حمر في ارتكاب الجرائم ضد الإنسانية ، وفي الدوس على القيم الأخلاقية في العمل والدعاية السياسية.
خصم الثورة السورية الثاني هو الفوضى العسكرية  والسياسية في صفوف الثورة، وهي تتجلى في:1. الذاتوية التي تتفانى في العمل ضد النظام، ولكنها ترفع الذات والنزوات فوق الجماعة ولا تعترف بسلطة أحد، و2. عدم الحسم في فصل العنف الجنائي عن العنف الثوري، 3. عدم الحسم في فصل الخطاب الطائفي ضد النظام عن الخطاب الديمقراطي ضد النظام، و4. فوضى الاتصال بالقوى الأجنبية الداعمة بما يمس بالطابع السيادي الوطني للثورة.
الخصم الثاني هو العائق الأول في الانتصار على الخصم الأول. ومن هنا، وبغض النظر عن النوايا، يصبح الخصم الثاني مع الزمن على مستوى الخصم الأول نفسه من حيث الخطورة.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera speaks to Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimah


Watch this video and see Ali Abunimah really give it to Al-Jazeera.

Al-Jazeera (English) has been pretty bad in covering the Israeli onslaught on Gaza. As Ali said, the Al-Jazeera "reports" often sound like the Israeli talking points.



It's Palestinians who have the right to defend themselves

The US and Britain stand behind Israel's onslaught on Gaza. Justice requires a change in the balance of forces on the ground


The Guardian,
Whatever the Israeli government's mix of motivations for winding up the past week's conflict, it seems to have backfired. For the first time since the start of the Arab uprisings, the cause of Palestine is again centre stage.

Emboldened by the wave of change and growing support across the region, Hamas has also regained credibility as a resistance force, which had faded since 2009, and strengthened its hand against an increasingly discredited Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah. The deployment of longer-range rockets that have now been shown to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is also beginning to shift what has been an overwhelmingly one-sided balance of deterrence.

The truce being negotiated on Tuesday would reportedly enforce Hamas responsibility for policing the strip and crucially break the blockade, opening the Rafah crossing with Egypt for goods as well as people. It doesn't, however, look like the long-term security deal with Hamas Israel was looking for, which would risk deepening the disastrous Palestinian split between Gaza and the West Bank.

Any relief from the bombardment, death and suffering of the past week has got to be welcome. But no ceasefire is going to prevent another eruption of violence. Whatever is finally agreed won't end Israel's occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land or halt its war of dispossession against the Palestinian people. That demands unrelenting pressure on the western powers that underwrite it to change course. But most of all, it needs a change in the balance of forces on the ground."

Gaza massacre: Netanyahu ‘s path to popularity in Israel, by Carlos Latuff

Death in Gaza, Déjà Vu

A Living Hell


".....Gaza again is a living hell, all of it on record for the world to see. The death toll is climbing by the hour. The photos are everywhere but the New York Times has only a paragraph on the fear Israeli children experience from the loud noises and clamor. You have forgotten the other half of humanity, Mr. Publisher. Not the other half, really; the other 9/10ths of the world. When will you comment on the trauma the Gazan child experiences, and repeatedly, with children across the world under the bombs of the United States and Israel?

All the sounds and sights and smells of slaughter verify the damage and danger of aerial assaults and targeted killings; Apartment buildings still buzzing with human activity when missiles pierced through their ceilings offer up their dead and wounded to the deafening skies. Progressive US President Barak Obama and his allies applaud Israel’s masterful techniques of preventive war as self-defense; its sophistication at using state of the art weaponry against mosques, homes, markets and schools; re-emphasize at press conferences the right of Israel to defend itself against the human cattle they have justly corralled into densely packed camps to be bound and slaughtered or starved and transferred elsewhere. All of it is happening again, today, before our very eyes; before the universal documents proclaiming the rights of mankind and international humanitarian law; before the leaders who have so eagerly abandoned due process and civil liberties but fear the rising tide of rebellion in the Middle East and elsewhere? How dare we pontificate on the atrocities of Damascus after sponsoring such a Juggernaut for Jerusalem? For Gaza? What educated public can still claim they didn’t know? How can anyone any longer pretend the earth was not boiling beneath us like lava under an active volcano?"

"No Place is Safe": After Assault’s Worst Day, Gaza Doctor Says Israel Terrorizing Civilians

Democracy Now!

Over the past week, Israeli strikes have killed at least 116 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the majority of them civilians, including 27 children. Monday’s victims included four members of the same family — two parents and their two toddlers — who were killed in a bombing of a Gaza refugee camp that also left more than a dozen people injured, mostly women and children. We go to Gaza to speak with Dr. Mona El-Farra, director of Gaza Projects for the Middle East Children’s Alliance and the Health Chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip. Dr. El-Farra writes about living under siege on her blog, "From Gaza, with Love."....." 

Gaza Ceasefire to Be Decided in Cairo, But Will Washington Reign In Israeli Occupation, Blockade?

Democracy Now!

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo today as the Israeli attack on Gaza enters it seventh day. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also in the region after calling for an immediate ceasefire and warning an Israeli ground operation in Gaza would be a "dangerous escalation" that must be avoided. As ceasefire talks continue in Cairo, Hamas has set two conditions for accepting a cease-fire: lifting the military blockade on the Gaza Strip and international assurances that Israel would stop assassinations and other military measures. We speak with Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies based in Washington, D.C....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza

Al-Jazeera Video:Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports on gaza diplomacy

Al-Jazeera Video: Israeli airstrikes continue to pound Gaza

"Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip have continued for a seventh day, despite calls for a truce, with the overall death toll reaching 111, according to medical sources.

A media centre was targeted for a second time on Monday when Israeli fighter jets hit the Shuruq tower in Gaza City. The building houses Palestinian and international media outlets, including Britain's Sky News, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya and the official Hamas broadcaster, Al Aqsa TV.

Nicole Johnstone reports from Gaza."

Real News Video: Israel's Media Joins the War

Israel's media rallies support for war as politicians jump on bandwagon for attack ahead of elections. 

More at The Real News

UNRWA condemns Israeli “creation” of footage, tweets falsely claiming Gaza schools used to launch rockets

By Ali Abunimah

A Palestinian man cleans up after a UN food distribution center was badly damaged in an Israeli airstrike on Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on 18 November.

"UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, has hit back at Israeli allegations, made through social media, that it allows schools it runs in the Gaza Strip to be used by Palestinian forces to launch rockets towards Israel.

“The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) denies allegations made online by the IDF Spokesperson that Palestinian militants are using UNRWA schools or facilities in Gaza to fire rockets into Israel,” the agency said in a press release today.

The statement came on the seventh continuous day of Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which has so far claimed 124 lives, more than two dozen of them children, and injured over 800 people......"

محمد ضيف: "حجارة سجيل" بداية لتحرير فلسطين (فيديو)

عرب48 /وكالات

"اعتبر القائد العام لكتائب الشهيد عز الدين القسام أن الإقدام على اغتيال أحمد الجعبري وعدوانه على القطاع يكون قد ارتكب حماقة سيدفع ثمنها.
وقال الضيف في خطاب ألقاه اليوم الثلاثاء 20/11/2012 : "لا بد أن يدفع العدو ثمنا باهظا جراء عدوانه، و يا أبناء القسام اثبتوا وقدموا ما لديكم وأوجعوا العدو وكونوا على ثقة بنصر الله".

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support stipulating Palestinian conditions to arrive at a truce with Israel?

With over 800 responding so far, 90% said yes.

Gaza Live Updates

The Guardian


Gaza's victims

Haaretz's Amira Hass writes that among the 34 Palestinians killed in Israel Defence Forces attacks in the past two days, just six have been confirmed as members of militant groups.

The victims include "farmers on their way to sell vegetables in the marketplace, vendors of purified drinking water and people who just happened to live too close to the targets of Israeli air strikes".
She writes that, since the start of the Israeli military operation, at least 58 civilians have been killed in Gaza, at least 18 of them children. Hass says the figures have been gathered by gathered by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, the al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights and medical sources in Gaza. She writes:
At about 2am yesterday, the IAF (Israeli air force) fired warning rockets at an empty home in the Zeitun neighborhood. The building exploded about a minute later, trapping members of the neighboring Abu Zur family inside their home and killing a 5-year-old boy, Mahmad Iyad Fuad Abu Zur, along with two men and a woman: Ahad Hamdi Samil Katati, 38; Sahar Fadi Assad Abu Zur, 21; and Nasma Halmi Salam Abu Zur, also 21.
Twenty-eight family members were injured in the attack and 20 homes were partly damaged.
In addition to the nearly 100 Palestinians killed since Pillar of Defence began, some 700 Palestinians have been wounded in that time, including at least 215 children.
An estimated 585 buildings have been damaged in the explosions, including 46 that were totally demolished, according to al-Mezan......

The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, has accused Arab governments of acting like sheep over the Gaza conflict and urged them to send arms to Hamas, Beirut's Daily Star reports. It quotes him saying: “Israel is betting that the resistance in Gaza will use all the rockets in its possession ... Arab countries should send arms to Gaza to enhance the resistance’s chances in resisting the aggression rather than just act as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians."....."