United Against Spitting by Gilad Atzmon

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Monday, November 30, 2009 at 9:45AM Gilad Atzmon

Three days ago the Israeli Right wing paper The Jerusalem Post published an exposé of the growing tendency of Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem to spit on their Christian neighbours. (‘Mouths Filled with Hatred’, By Larry Derfner The JPost, Nov. 26, 2009).

Father Samuel Aghoyan, a senior Armenian Orthodox cleric in Jerusalem’s Old City, told the JPost “that he’s been spat at by young Haredi (God fearing religious Jews) and national Orthodox Jews ‘about 15 to 20 times’ in the past decade”. Father Aghoyan added, “Every single priest in this church has been spat on. It happens day and night.”

Similarly Father Athanasius, a Texas-born Franciscan monk who heads the Christian Information Centre in Jerusalem’s Old City, said he’s been spat at by Orthodox Jews “about 15 times in the last six months”.

Jewish spitting is not exactly breaking News. I myself have explored the issue more than once. The Israeli professor Israel Shahak commented on Jewish hatred towards Christianity and its symbolism, suggesting that “dishonouring Christian religious symbols is an old religious duty in Judaism.” According to Shahak, “spitting on the cross, and especially on the Crucifix, and spitting when a Jew passes a church, have been obligatory from around AD 200 for pious Jews.”

Interestingly enough Jewish spitting has had an impact on the European urban landscape. The following can be read in a ‘Travel Guide for Jewish Europe’.

“In Prague’s Charles Bridge, the visitor will observe a great crucifix surrounded by huge gilded Hebrew letters that spell the traditional Hebrew sanctification Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh Adonai Tzvaot, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts.” According to various commentators, this piece, degrading to Jews, came about because in 1609 a Jew was accused of desecrating the crucifix. The Jewish community was forced to pay for putting up the Hebrew words in gold letters. Another explanation is that a Jew spat at the cross and for this he was to be put to death as a punishment. When this man begged for his life, the king, seeking to have good relations with the Jews, said the Jewish community had to rectify the offence….” (To read more: Travel Guide for Jewish Europe, pg 497)

Shahak maintains that “in the past, when the danger of anti-Semitic hostility was a real one, the pious Jews were commanded by their rabbis either to spit so that the reason for doing so would be unknown, or to spit onto their chests, not actually on a cross or openly before a church.”

But times are changing. In the Jewish state most Jewish inhibitions seem to have disappeared. In Israel Jews can spit as much as they like and on whatever they like. As we read above, in the Jewish state it isn’t just Christian symbols that are being spat on, it is actually the Goyim in general. Far more concerning, it isn’t even just kosher saliva. It is actually everything they may find at their disposal: saliva, live ammunition, bombs, missiles, WMD, white phosphorous, you name it, they spit it.

In fact, spitting is not the problem. Spiting is just a symptom of a deeply imbued cultural categorical dismissal of ‘otherness’ that distinguishes Israel as a criminal state. It is also this very dismissal of ‘otherness’ that stops the Israelis and their supporters around the world from understanding the level of resentment that is mounting against any form of Jewish nationalism.

Hatred is a form of blindness. Jewish hatred, that is culturally, religiously and spiritually orientated, is also a form of deafness. This may explain the tragic consequences in which nationalist Jews fail time after time to internalise the criticism leveled against them: against their politics and culture. This may explain why Jews fail to grasp what is the root cause of ‘anti semitism’. Rather than being reflective and engaging in self-mirroring, the nationalistic Jew would insist that the problem is always somewhere else.

As interesting as it may be, Zionism was the only modern serious Jewish collective attempt to amend the cultural abnormalities within Jewish culture. Early Zionism took anti Jewish criticism seriously. It committed itself to bring about a civilized ethical person. Zionism obviously failed completely. Yet, till the 1980’s some fading voices of “humanist Zionism”, people who wanted to see the Jews setting themselves into a peaceful nation living amongst others, could still be heard in occupied Palestine. It may also explain why the most radical and effective voices against Zionism and Jewish nationalism, are in fact people who were a product of Zionist upbringing (Shahak, I. Shamir, Sand, Burg and a few others).

In the late 1970’s a young dissident movement led by an Israeli Refusenik Gadi Elgazi protested against serving in the occupied territories. “Occupation Corrupts” Elgazi said. He was sent to prison repeatedly. Elgazi and his supporters maintained that controlling other people would have a devastating impact on the Jewish state and its morality. They were obviously correct. Through the years Israel has become a criminal collective, complicit in genocide. With 94% of its population supporting the IDF measures in Gaza, there is no room for doubt, Israel has no room amongst nations. As if this is not enough, the level of crime within Israel is also soaring. The rate of homicidal crime is rapidly growing and it seems as if no one there knows how to tackle the problem. Elgazi’s predictions proved to be a prophecy. The occupation turned against the occupier.

Interestingly enough, it didn’t take long before Jewish cultural hatred towards Goyim and their symbols would turn inward and mature into an internal Jewish war where Jews do spit on each other. The tension within Israel’s Jewish communities is rising by the day whether it is the rapid rise of poverty or the rising social division between Israeli Jewish communities. Seemingly, there is a growing unresolved tension between the secular and orthodox Jews in Israel. As much as Jews can hate the Goyim, nothing is comparable with the way and manner in which they despise each other.

Channel 4, the brave British broadcaster that just 10 days ago exposed the cross-party Jewish lobby operating in the UK, did it again. The Battle for Israel’s Soul is an exposé of the feud between Jewish communities in Israel(1). Just like in the case of the occupation that turned eventually against the Israelis, hatred towards Goyim made the Israelis into a vengeful collective. Naturally it didn’t take long before the Israelis would start to spit on each other.

My message to the Palestinians is actually very simple. Give the Israelis time. They do not need enemies. With the level of self contempt they carry in themselves it is just a question of time before they totally implode.

(1) To watch the entire film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRQsJWDTNXA

THE PSYCHOSIS OF THE OCCUPATION

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November 30, 2009 at 7:41 am (Hasbara, Israel, Palestine, Status of Jerusalem)

The Jerusalem Syndrome

Israel is lying to itself about ‘united Jerusalem’

By Gideon Levy

Those types have always been seen on big-city streets, talking to themselves, asking and answering, shouting, speaking in a low voice, deliberating and pontificating. As children, we were afraid of them. They were “crazy.” That’s exactly what Israeli public discourse is like. We are talking to ourselves, inventing bogus axioms and sticking with them as if they were decreed from on high, convinced that the whole world accepts them. But we are only talking to ourselves. No one else accepts them. The Israeli collective is not only talking to itself, it’s deceiving itself completely.
Jerusalem is a perfect example of this. It’s a neglected city, filthy and in parts frightfully ugly, stricken by poverty and ignorance. Nationalist, religious and social tensions are tearing it asunder, and part of the city is under the burden of occupation with all its most violent characteristics. The purported education, culture, openness and prosperity – far from the actual situation – are the locus of our national aspirations.

It’s a capital city which not a single country in the world recognizes, but it’s “our eternal capital,” in the words of the prime minister. It’s a relatively marginal city, certainly when compared to Tel Aviv. From many standpoints it’s a city on the margins which secular Israelis don’t exactly flock to for a good time. It’s a city even the prime minister preaches about. But he doesn’t practice what he preaces when he flees the city for the weekend, whenever he can. It’s the “heart of the nation,” but a city that has gradually become the city of the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs, society’s two poorest minorities.

It’s the “rock of our existence,” but a divided and dismembered city that has in our deceptive words become “united Jerusalem.” It’s a city whose political future is more enshrouded in uncertainty than any other in Israel, but it’s “ours forever and ever.” So this discourse, which is accompanied by plenty of self-deception, is being conducted among ourselves, only ourselves. The Jerusalem syndrome has taken hold of us all.

Jerusalem’s borders are also deceptive. Regarding religious and national feelings toward the Old City, there did not have to be a connection between religion and sovereignty, as Uman in Ukraine is also holy to many Jews and no one talks about imposing Israeli sovereignty there. So it’s hard to understand which national and religious feelings are being addressed here amid the city’s ever-expanding area, east and west, north and south, beyond recognition.

What is the connection between the city’s Gilo neighborhood, which is closer to Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity than the Western Wall, and the sanctity of Jerusalem? What about remote Pisgat Ze’ev and eternal Jerusalem? What’s the connection between Jewish Jerusalem and the Shoafat refugee camp? And how can Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make the artificial distinction between construction in Gilo and Har Homa (which are within Jerusalem’s current municipal borders) and Ma’aleh Adumim, just beyond the city limits on the West Bank? Why is it not possible to freeze construction in Gilo but it is possible in Ma’aleh Adumim? So why not extend Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries to Hebron, the Dead Sea, Ramallah and Ramle? Why not build there recklessly and declare all this our capital?

And the prime minister has told us other lies, such as “our commitment to protect freedom of worship for all the religions in Jerusalem, and to ensure fair and equal treatment for the city’s residents, Jews and Arabs alike.” Freedom of worship? It’s a sad joke. In no other city is access to holy places restricted according to the believer’s age, as Muslims who seek to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque are restricted. Fair and equal treatment? When, if ever, did Netanyahu visit the Palestinian neighborhoods of the beloved city?

Israel of course can continue to talk to itself and lie to itself, to decide that not just Jerusalem but also the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights are Israel’s forever. It can decide that its inhabitants are not “settlers” but “residents,” as they have always called themselves, and that these are not at all occupied areas. It can decide that “settlement blocs,” another Israeli creature, are “at the heart of the national consensus”, as they are now being defined without any basis in fact. It can decide that the current route of the separation fence is the real international boundary. We can talk and talk to ourselves, like the crazies who walked around the streets of my childhood, frightening us very much.

wiss Minarets Not Allowed to Broadcast Prayer Calls, Still, They’ve Been Banned

Almanar

30/11/2009 Swiss voters approved a ban on new mosque minarets being built, prompting dismay and anger in the Muslim world at the success of the far-right initiative.
The referendum to ban the minarets was approved Sunday by 57.5 percent of voters who cast ballots and in 22 out of the country’s 26 cantons.

Far-right politicians across Europe celebrated the results, while the Swiss government sought to assure the Muslim minority that a ban on minarets was “not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture.”
Minarets distinguish mosques and are traditionally used to call for prayers.

The far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP) said that the minarets — of which Switzerland has only four and which are not allowed to broadcast the call to prayer — were not architectural features with religious characteristics, but symbolized a “political-religious claim to power, which challenges fundamental rights.”

The referendum’s approval was quickly condemned in the world’s most populous Muslim nations.
“This is the hatred of Swiss people against Muslim communities. They don’t want to see a Muslim presence in their country and this intense dislike has made them intolerant,” said Maskuri Abdillah, the head Indonesia’s biggest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama.

Egypt’s Mufti Ali Gomaa denounced the ban on new minarets as an “insult” to Muslims across the world.
“This proposal … is not considered just an attack on freedom of beliefs, but also an attempt to insult the feelings of the Muslim community in and outside Switzerland,” he said.

Islam is the second largest religion in Switzerland after Christianity. Muslims in this country make up some five percent of the population.

A mosque in Geneva was vandalized three times during the anti-minaret campaign, local media reported Saturday.

Justice Minister Widmer-Schlumpf sought to reassure Muslims, saying: “It is not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture. Of that, the Federal Council gives its assurance.”
But for the 400,000-strong Muslim community, the harm has been done.
“The most painful for us is not the minaret ban, but the symbol sent by this vote. Muslims do not feel accepted as a religious community,” said Farhad Afshar, who heads the Coordination of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland.

The Conference of Swiss Bishops also criticized the result, saying that it “heightens the problems of cohabitation between religions and cultures.”

Young people carrying candles and cardboard minarets led a mock funerary procession in the federal capital Bern, carrying a banner reading “This is not my Switzerland,” the ATS news agency reported.

Amnesty International said the minaret ban is a “violation of religious freedom, incompatible with the conventions signed by Switzerland.”

The Swiss Green party said it was contemplating lodging a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg for violation of religious freedoms as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

In Morocco, a parliamentarian from the Justice and Development Islamist Party expressed surprise.

“I think that Muslims in Switzerland, and those who live in the European Union, have a lot of work to do in communication to show their real face of tolerance and cohabitation of Islam,” said Saad Eddine Othmani.

French far-right politician Marine Le Pen welcomed the outcome, saying that the “elites should stop denying the aspirations and fears of the European people, who, without opposing religious freedom, reject ostentatious signs that political-religious Muslim groups want to impose.”

“Switzerland is sending us a clear signal: yes to bell towers, no to minarets,” said Roberto Calderoli, minister of administrative simplification and a member of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party, told the ANSA news agency.

However, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner condemned Switzerland’s referendum vote as a show of intolerance and said the decision should be reversed.
“I am a bit shocked by this decision,” Kouchner told RTL radio. “It is an expression of intolerance and I detest intolerance.

“I hope the Swiss will reverse this decision quickly,” he added.
Kouchner said “if we cannot build minarets that means that we are practicing religious oppression”.

“Is it really offensive that in a mountainous country there is a building that is a bit taller than the others?” he asked.
A senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said Monday that the banning is a sign of a fear of Islam that also exists in Germany and must be “taken seriously.”
To criticize the outcome of the Swiss would be counterproductive. It reflects a fear of a growing Islamisation of society, and this fear must be taken seriously,” said Wolfgang Bosbach of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

SWITZERLAND FAR-RIGHT NOT WORRIED ABOUT MUSLIMS REACTION, BARGAINS ON HISTORIC ARAB AND MUSLIM PASSIVENESS

Meanwhile, SVP Vice-President Yvan Perrin cheered the fact that his party had won the vote “without difficulty.”

He told Radio Suisse Romande that Swiss companies should not worry about suffering from a possible backlash from Muslim countries.
“If our companies continue to make good quality products, they have nothing to worry about,” he said.

My compatriots’ vote to ban minarets is fuelled by fear

The Swiss have voted not against towers, but Muslims. Across Europe, we must stand up to the flame-fanning populists

tariq

Tariq Ramadan

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 29 November 2009 20.00 GMT

It wasn’t meant to go this way. For months we had been told that the efforts to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland were doomed. The last surveys suggested around 34% of the Swiss population would vote for this shocking initiative. Last Friday, in a meeting organised in Lausanne, more than 800 students, professors and citizens were in no doubt that the referendum would see the motion rejected, and instead were focused on how to turn this silly initiative into a more positive future.

Today that confidence was shattered, as 57% of the Swiss population did as the Union Démocratique du Centre (UDC) had urged them to – a worrying sign that this populist party may be closest to the people’s fears and expectations. For the first time since 1893 an initiative that singles out one community, with a clear discriminatory essence, has been approved in Switzerland. One can hope that the ban will be rejected at the European level, but that makes the result no less alarming. What is happening in Switzerland, the land of my birth?

There are only four minarets in Switzerland, so why is it that it is there that this initiative has been launched? My country, like many in Europe, is facing a national reaction to the new visibility of European Muslims. The minarets are but a pretext – the UDC wanted first to launch a campaign against the traditional Islamic methods of slaughtering animals but were afraid of testing the sensitivity of Swiss Jews, and instead turned their sights on the minaret as a suitable symbol.

Every European country has its specific symbols or topics through which European Muslims are targeted. In France it is the headscarf or burka; in Germany, mosques; in Britain, violence; cartoons in Denmark; homosexuality in the Netherlands – and so on. It is important to look beyond these symbols and understand what is really happening in Europe in general and in Switzerland in particular: while European countries and citizens are going through a real and deep identity crisis, the new visibility of Muslims is problematic – and it is scary.

At the very moment Europeans find themselves asking, in a globalising, migratory world, “What are our roots?”, “Who are we?”, “What will our future look like?”, they see around them new citizens, new skin colours, new symbols to which they are unaccustomed.

Over the last two decades Islam has become connected to so many controversial debates – violence, extremism, freedom of speech, gender discrimination, forced marriage, to name a few – it is difficult for ordinary citizens to embrace this new Muslim presence as a positive factor. There is a great deal of fear and a palpable mistrust. Who are they? What do they want? And the questions are charged with further suspicion as the idea of Islam being an expansionist religion is intoned. Do these people want to Islamise our country?

The campaign against the minarets was fuelled by just these anxieties and allegations. Voters were drawn to the cause by a manipulative appeal to popular fears and emotions. Posters featured a woman wearing a burka with the minarets drawn as weapons on a colonised Swiss flag. The claim was made that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Swiss values. (The UDC has in the past demanded my citizenship be revoked because I was defending Islamic values too openly.) Its media strategy was simple but effective. Provoke controversy wherever it can be inflamed. Spread a sense of victimhood among the Swiss people: we are under siege, the Muslims are silently colonising us and we are losing our very roots and culture. This strategy worked. The Swiss majority are sending a clear message to their Muslim fellow citizens: we do not trust you and the best Muslim for us is the Muslim we cannot see.

Who is to be blamed? I have been repeating for years to Muslim people that they have to be positively visible, active and proactive within their respective western societies. In Switzerland, over the past few months, Muslims have striven to remain hidden in order to avoid a clash. It would have been more useful to create new alliances with all these Swiss organisations and political parties that were clearly against the initiative. Swiss Muslims have their share of responsibility but one must add that the political parties, in Europe as in Switzerland have become cowed, and shy from any courageous policies towards religious and cultural pluralism. It is as if the populists set the tone and the rest follow. They fail to assert that Islam is by now a Swiss and a European religion and that Muslim citizens are largely “integrated”. That we face common challenges, such as unemployment, poverty and violence – challenges we must face together. We cannot blame the populists alone – it is a wider failure, a lack of courage, a terrible and narrow-minded lack of trust in their new Muslim citizens.

Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University. His most recent book is What I Believe

P.S. I Hate You! –

Amanda Mueller

P.S. I Hate You! –

I keep hours not traditional to those of most in the United States, staying within the same operational hours as those in Palestine that I work with, interview and whose stories I report. I like this, the quiet that enters my home when I wake up at 3:00 AM.

Today I received a very disturbing e-mail in regards to the human rights award that SIANS has just announced they were awarding to me. I am sure you can understand how difficult it can sometimes be reporting on topics not necessarily in agreement with public opinion, much less the opinion of our foreign-policy decision makers. Being given this award meant that my long hours and my outrage was making a difference somewhere – enough for people to notice – and share with other individuals the stories of the Palestinian people I tell, those with no voice – those atempted to be silenced in the media.

Then I received an e-mail today that contained a hateful message and a personal attack because of my belief in non-violence and the movement that Palestinian individuals have practices in so many ways since 1902.

The e-mail read:

Do you really think you are more deserving than, for example, Rachel Corrie? Do you know why Rachel is unworthy of any such award?

If I understand well, you feel quite happy and satisfied with the murder of millions while you continue your useless campaign “supporting and maintaining a commitment to non-violent resistance”!

Rachel Corrie was a volunteer with ISM (International Solidarity Movement) who promotes non violence. Their website states: “The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles. Founded by a small group of activists in August, 2001, ISM aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance by providing the Palestinian people with two resources, international protection and a voice with which to nonviolently resist an overwhelming military occupation force.”

Rachel Corrie was senselessly murdered while practicing non-violence while standing in front of a home to be bulldozed. Her very act is the DEFINITION of non-violence.

That isn’t what disturbs me the most about the e-mail. It is the assumption that I feel quite happy and satisifed with the deaths that have taken place in the area.

I do not know how to react to this, quite honestly. When I first read it, I cried – knowing the work that I do that simply cannot be contained in a press release for a human rights award. Nor do I act as a braggard in my many job functions as that makes my work about me and it isn’t, it is about the violations of human rights of those stuck under an assertive occupation and bringing awareness to THEIR stories, not mine.

To say that I am happy and satisfied with the millions of deaths is perhaps the ugliest thing ever said to me, and as a reporter of Palestinian issues, I have had my share of ugly things said to me.

The e-mail has left me rather sad.

LF Bloc Seeks to Remove Resistance from Policy Statement!

Almanar

29/11/2009 Lebanese were still “celebrating” the “gift” presented by their government on the eve of Al-Adha, in reference to the government’s ministerial statement, when the Lebanese Forces decided once again to “disturb” everyone…

Thus, after his so-called “allies” before his “rivals” confirmed the country’s fundamental right of “Resistance” until the liberation of all Lebanese territory occupied by the Israeli enemy, LF chief Samir Geagea wasn’t satisfied.

The reason is so simple. In his dictionary, there’s nothing called “Resistance”!

Thus, Geagea didn’t hesitate to gather his bloc, including his two “independent” ministers, and announce the Lebanese Forces “opposition” to the concept of “Resistance,” of course without telling the Lebanese what was his “smart plan” to face the Israeli occupation and continuous threats against his country.

Following the “exceptional” meeting at Geagea’s residence, the Lebanese Forces parliamentary bloc claimed that “the mentioning of the resistance in the sixth article of the ministerial Policy Statement contradicts with the statement itself in the first place, and with the Constitution and Taef Accord, as well as with Resolution 1701 and other international resolutions.”

Therefore, the bloc asked the government to “amend that article or terminate it in preservation of its credibility, solemnity, and constitutionality.”

“It contradicts the charter of coexistence in addition to being unconstitutional and illegal, therefore it is invalid,” the bloc went on to claim.

The bloc pretended that the Taef Accord did not include any hint about the resistance, but rather “it urged respecting international resolutions, extending authority of the State on all territories, and disarming Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias without exceptions.”

“The mentioning of the word ‘Resistance’ in the sixth article is a bypassing of the national dialogue table and predetermination of its resolutions,” it concluded.

One message can be understood from the LF new “show”: it’s launching a “trivial opposition within the government,” a concept that the Lebanese Forces itself rejected and condemned before finding itself alone in the “middle of the storm”!

KARKAR: Israeli war criminal welcomed in Australian

{Goldstone} by Naser Al Ja’fari-Al Arabs today newspaper-Jordan

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– November 29, 2009

Olmert in Parl4
PHOTO:
AAP Image/Alan Porritt, Canberra, 26 November 2009

by Sonja Karkar – Australians for Palestine – 29 November 2009

The news that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in Australia and was welcomed by the honourable members of our parliament came as somewhat of a shock. It is one thing to have allowed a man on corruption charges as well as facing war crimes indictments into Australia at all; it is another thing that he was listed as a distinguished guest in Hansard – the official record of parliamentary proceedings – and received a resounding “hear, hear” from our elected representatives.

This is, after all, the man who approved the genocidal attack on the 1.5 million imprisoned and defenceless Palestinians in Gaza less than a year ago. This is the same attack that was the subject of numerous enquiries, not least the UN fact-finding mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone, which found that “the operations were carefully planned . . . and designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population . . . [and] that the serious violations of International Humanitarian Law recounted in this report fall within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).” With further investigations, these violations may well amount to “war crimes and “crimes against humanity”. Read More…

ACTION AGAINST ISRAELI WAR CRIMINALS
November 29, 2009

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Former Israeli Prime Minister and war criminal Ehud Olmert arrived in Australia unnoticed until his presence was noted in the House on Thursday, the last sitting day of parliament for the year. Columnist and propagandist for Israel, Greg Sheridan wrote about him two days later in The Australian and gloated about his long interview with this “giant of contemporary Middle East politics”. That interview resulted in two articles (see first; see second) in the same newspaper on the same day by the same author. I suppose a “giant” needs that much verbiage. Indeed, Sheridan seems to have a penchant for giants: Ariel Sharon was mighty amongst other giants of Israel’s past and even our own John Howard grew into one.

Aside from the casual mention of corruption charges against Olmert, there is nothing to suggest that Olmert is anything but a man of peace whose extensive “generous” offer to the Palestinians seems to have replaced the myth of Barak’s long-touted most generous offer foolishly rejected by the Palestinians. Jonathan Cook exposes that myth here.

Olmert’s war on Gaza is fleetingly described as brutal, but Olmert regrets the innocent Palestinians killed and rejects the Goldstone report accusing Israel of war crimes as “a moral indignity”. Sheridan maintains, however, that he is “best remembered for the extensive negotiations and final peace offer that he undertook with Abbas.” If Barak’s offer did not include the lands Israel has expropriated for settlements and security zones, especially in the Jerusalem area nor that area where Israel has created Canada Park on razed villages, then what area did Omert consider to be 94% of the West Bank when he offered it and all of Gaza including a tunnel “under Palestinian control” linking the West Bank to the Gaza Strip? In the 8 years since Barak’s offer, Israel has furiously increased its settlement building and there is no sign of it stopping despite talk of freezes and partial freezes.

All this talk of peace from a man of war is just more of the same bluff and spin that the media insults us with when it needs to bolster Israel’s image. The indicted war criminal Ariel Sharon was also described as a man of peace before his brain collapsed. Israel churns out these peacemakers made-to-order and the world it seems cannot get enough of these split personalities. But truth, justice and the law is catching up with them.

According to J-wire – Jewish Online News from Australia and New Zealand, Olmert is in Australia attending the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum in Melbourne this coming week. We have no other details. Also arriving in Australia next week is the Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom who will be attending a gala dinner in Melbourne on 6 December hosted by the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICA). Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd will be there as well. For more information about Silvan Shalom and the protest being organised see here.

Don’t let Australia become a safe haven for war criminals. We ask you to write to your local member, the ministers listed below and the media protesting visits and immunity given to suspected war criminals and demand that Australia honours its obligations under international human rights conventions by detaining anyone deemed to be war criminals until court proceedings under universal jurisdiction can be brought against them.

PLEASE PROTEST BY WRITING TO THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE AND MEDIA OUTLETS

The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister of Australia
Fax: (07) 3899 5755 Email

The Hon Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Fax: 08 9272 3477
Email

The Hon Robert McLelland MP, Attorney-General

Fax: (02) 9585 9200
Email

Media outlets:
THE AGE
THE AUSTRALIAN
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
THE CANBERRA TIMES

A Night Unto The Nations

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Posted by realistic bird under Politics Tags: , , , , , ,

by Ali Khalil

by Gilad Atzmon, November 27, 2009

In his latest Haarertz commentary, the Israeli political analyst Yoel Marcus wonders “How Israel became a night unto the nations?” Marcus is obviously nostalgic about the days where the great powers “were not only sympathetic to Israel’s establishment, but admired its valor in repulsing the Arab states’ onslaught.”

Proudly he mentions the ‘renowned foreign journalists’ who came to Israel in 1948 and wrote “glowing reports about this war of David against Goliath”. Noticeably, Marcus fails to mention or to grasp that the expulsion of the indigenous Palestinians from their villages and cities wasn’t exactly a repetition of a ‘David against Goliath’ narrative. Quite the opposite, it was a story of a young organised Jewish army that ethnically cleansed defenseless civilian population consisting mainly of peasants.

As it happens, just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz the newly formed Jewish state ethnically cleansed the vast majority of Palestine’s indigenous population. Young IDF soldiers were following a racist doctrine that was categorically no different from the Nazi agenda. It was all about the establishment of a ‘Jew only’ state. For some peculiar reason Yoel Marcus is convinced that back then Israel was a light unto the nations. Miraculously, the Israelis are pretty efficient in forgetting their original sin. Like their Diaspora ancestors they adopted a banal vision of their historical narrative. This narrative repeats itself in many Jewish and Israeli holidays(1) and is usually described humorously as:

‘They wanted to kill us, we survived, let’s eat’.

But times have changed according to Marcus “admiration for Israel’s strength gradually turned into resentment”. Marcus grasps that “Israel’s military might and its unrestrained use of this might have turned the David-versus-Goliath analogy into an asset for the Palestinians.” Interestingly enough, Marcus fails to understand that for some time now, the public perception has reversed the roles. In the eyes of Palestinians, Israel has never been an innocent little kosher ‘David’. In fact it has always been a crude monstrous genocidal entity. True, Zionists managed to fool the nations for many years presenting Israel as an harmless lost child who ‘returned’ home after 2000 years. The facts are now disclosed. The Jewish nation is an invention. The return saga is based on a fantasy. The only facts surrounding the Jewish state are the barbarian and merciless tactics it performs day by day.

Marcus notes that the reputation of Israel shifted radically. It is now regarded as aggressive and domineering. Unlike Alan Dershowitz who myopically insists that Israeli support in American campuses is guaranteed, Marcus is honest and brave enough to admit that American universities are becoming pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli. “That is dangerous” he says “because this is where America’s future leaders are bred.”

Marcus, however, is obviously extremely naive. Like most Israeli leftists he believes that Israel’s trouble started in 1967 with the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Marcus, like most Israelis, is convinced that once occupation ends the Jewish State would once again surf the waves of glowing admiration. Marcus fails to understand that Israel has past the no-return-zone. In spite of the fact that he has written for Haaretz for decades and must be familiar with the most intimate details of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Marcus, like most Israelis, manages to miss what the Palestinian cause is all about. He somehow dismisses the 1948 Nakba and the refugee issue.

Shockingly enough, in the eyes of the Zio-centric journalist, Palestinians and Goyim in general are an easy target for manipulation. It is this exact tendency that led to the birth of Israel’s ‘unilateral’ philosophy. We the Jews will do what we have to do, the world will follow. In Ben Gurion’s words: “it doesn’t matter what the Goyim say, all that matters is what Jews do.”

Marcus is concerned. Israel’s reputation is falling apart “From a light unto the nations, Israel has become a maligned and ostracized nation”…. “Ever since Operation Cast Lead in Gaza officers in the Israel Defense Forces have been at risk every time they land in an international airport”. However, Marcus is not at all concerned with the fact that he himself is living on stolen land. Morality seems to be beyond him. There is not a single reference to ethics in his entire article. For Marcus and other Israeli leftists, it is all about the exchange rate. It is all about give and take rather than self reflection that may lead into a long overdue ethical realisation.

Marcus wants Israel to be a light unto the nations. He doesn’t understand that this is not going to happen. The window of opportunity is closing down. The disclosure of Israeli barbarism together with the exposure of its relentless lobbies around the world makes it very clear. Israel is not just night unto the nations. It is actually a total nightmare and embarrassment to humanity and humanism.

(1) Hanukah, Passover, Israeli Independence day etc

EVER WONDER WHY NO ONE LIKES THE JEWS?

LINK

November 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm (Chutzpah, Ignorance, Israel, Racism)

For a people that cry constantly about their past suffering…. it is shocking to see behaviour such as described below….

Makes one wonder if the rest of the world will ever accept them as equals…..

Mouths filled with hatred

By LARRY DERFNER

Father Samuel Aghoyan, a senior Armenian Orthodox cleric in Jerusalem’s Old City, says he’s been spat at by young haredi and national Orthodox Jews “about 15 to 20 times” in the past decade. The last time it happened, he said, was earlier this month. “I was walking back from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and I saw this boy in a yarmulke and ritual fringes coming back from the Western Wall, and he spat at me two or three times.”

'Conspicuous

Conspicuous targets. “Every Christian cleric who’s been here for a while, and who dresses in robes in public, has a story to tell about being spat at,” says Father Athanasius, a Franciscan monk.
Photo: Sarah Levin

Wearing a dark-blue robe, sitting in St. James’s Church, the main Armenian church in the Old City, Aghoyan said, “Every single priest in this church has been spat on. It happens day and night.”

Father Athanasius, a Texas-born Franciscan monk who heads the Christian Information Center inside the Jaffa Gate, said he’s been spat at by haredi and national Orthodox Jews “about 15 times in the last six months” – not only in the Old City, but also on Rehov Agron near the Franciscan friary. “One time a bunch of kids spat at me, another time a little girl spat at me,” said the brown-robed monk near the Jaffa Gate.

“All 15 monks at our friary have been spat at,” he said. “Every [Christian cleric in the Old City] who’s been here for awhile, who dresses in robes in public, has a story to tell about being spat at. The more you get around, the more it happens.”

A nun in her 60s who’s lived in an east Jerusalem convent for decades says she was spat at for the first time by a haredi man on Rehov Agron about 25 years ago. “As I was walking past, he spat on the ground right next to my shoes and he gave me a look of contempt,” said the black-robed nun, sitting inside the convent. “It took me a moment, but then I understood.”

Since then, the nun, who didn’t want to be identified, recalls being spat at three different times by young national Orthodox Jews on Jaffa Road, three different times by haredi youth near Mea She’arim and once by a young Jewish woman from her second-story window in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter.

Armenian Archbishop Nourhan...

Armenian Archbishop Nourhan Manougian.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimksi

But the spitting incidents weren’t the worst, she said – the worst was the time she was walking down Jaffa Road and a group of middle-aged haredi men coming her way pointed wordlessly to the curb, motioning her to move off the sidewalk to let them pass, which she did.

“That made me terribly sad,” said the nun, speaking in ulpan-trained Hebrew. Taking personal responsibility for the history of Christian anti-Semitism, she said that in her native European country, such behavior “was the kind of thing that they – no, that we used to do to Jews.”

News stories about young Jewish bigots in the Old City spitting on Christian clergy – who make conspicuous targets in their long dark robes and crucifix symbols around their necks – surface in the media every few years or so. It’s natural, then, to conclude that such incidents are rare, but in fact they are habitual. Anti-Christian Orthodox Jews, overwhelmingly boys and young men, have been spitting with regularity on priests and nuns in the Old City for about 20 years, and the problem is only getting worse.

“My impression is that Christian clergymen are being spat at in the Old City virtually every day. This has been constantly increasing over the last decade,” said Daniel Rossing. An observant, kippa-wearing Jew, Rossing heads the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations and was liaison to Israel’s Christian communities for the Ministry of Religious Affairs in the ’70s and ’80s.

For Christian clergy in the Old City, being spat at by Jewish fanatics “is a part of life,” said the American Jewish Committee’s Rabbi David Rosen, Israel’s most prominent Jewish interfaith activist.

“I hate to say it, but we’ve grown accustomed to this. Jewish religious fanatics spitting at Christian priests and nuns has become a tradition,” said Roman Catholic Father Massimo Pazzini, sitting inside the Church of the Flagellation on the Via Dolorosa.

These are the very opposite of isolated incidents. Father Athanasius of the Christian Information Center called them a “phenomenon.” George Hintlian, the unofficial spokesman for the local Armenian community and former secretary of the Armenian Patriarchate, said it was “like a campaign.”

Christians in Israel are a small, weak community known for “turning the other cheek,” so these Jewish xenophobes feel free to spit on them; they don’t spit on Muslims in the Old City because they’re afraid to, the clerics noted.

THE ONLY Israeli authority who has shown any serious concern over this matter, the one high official whom Christian and Jewish interfaith activists credit for stepping into the fray, is Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.

On November 11, Metzger addressed a letter to the “rabbis of the Jewish Quarter,” writing that he had “heard a grave rumor about yeshiva students offending heaven…[by] spitting on Christian clergy who walk about the Old City of Jerusalem.” Such attackers, he added, are almost tantamount to rodfim, or persecutors, which is one of the worst class of offenders in Jewish law. They violate the injunction to follow the “pathways of peace,” Metzger wrote, and are liable to provoke anti-Semitism overseas.

“I thus issue the fervent call to root out this evil affliction from our midst, and the sooner the better,” wrote the chief rabbi.

Metzger published the letter in response to an appeal from Armenian Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, an appeal that came in the wake of a September 5 incident in the Old City in which a haredi man spat on a group of Armenian seminarians who, in turn, beat him up.

This is not the first time Metzger has spoken out against the spitting – he did so five years ago after the most infamous incident on record, when Manougian himself was spat on by an Old City yeshiva student during an Armenian Orthodox procession. In response, the archbishop slapped the student’s face, and then the student tore the porcelain ceremonial crucifix off Manougian’s neck and threw it to the ground, breaking it.

Then interior minister Avraham Poraz called the assault on the archbishop “repulsive” and called for a police crackdown on anti-Christian attacks in the Old City. Police reportedly punished the student by banning him from the Old City for 75 days.

Read the rest HERE

Iranian Lawmaker: We May Bar Inspectors, Withdraw from NPT

Link

28/11/2009 Iran’s parliament may consider withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), an Iranian lawmaker was quoted by the country’s official IRNA news agency as saying Saturday.

The threat comes a day after a resolution passed by the board of the UN nuclear agency demanded that Tehran immediately stop building its newly revealed nuclear facility and freeze uranium enrichment.

Mohammad Karamirad said Saturday that parliament may also consider blocking inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which it has been allowing routinely so far. Karamirad does not speak for the government.

Earlier on Saturday, a senior Iranian cleric said Iran will produce its own fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran if it is not made available by the UN atomic watchdog.

Ahmad Khatami, speaking at a Tehran University prayer service to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, also warned world powers that Iran would not be swayed by “bribery” or cowed by threats from its rights to nuclear technology.

Uranium enrichment is the process used to make fuel for nuclear power plants, but when extended it can also produce fissile material for an atomic bomb.

Western powers have long suspected that Iran, despite its fierce denials, is trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Tehran insists it is its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) while Israel, which is believed to be the sole nuclear power in the Middle East with more than 200 nuclear heads, is not a signatory for this treaty.

Cleric Khatami deemed the resolution to be “completely political and not technical in nature,” but did not discuss the substance of it.

Addressing the IAEA, he said “it is your obligation, under the law, to provide fuel for the Tehran reactor. “If you did this, the issue would be closed. If you do not cooperate you should know that the nation … which achieved its rights to technology will also provide fuel for its reactor. It is legal and in accordance with international safeguards.”

The IAEA had brokered a deal under which Russia would lead a consortium that would enrich uranium for the Tehran reactor.

Iran, however, has rejected the deal, which would have involved it shipping low-enriched uranium abroad and receiving a more highly enriched version in exchange.

The IAEA has also rebuffed a counterproposal under which the exchange would take place on Iranian soil.

Khatami, who did not specifically address the specifics of the IAEA resolution, said “Islamic Iran has shown to the world over the past 30 years that it will not back down even an inch, whether in regard to its absolute rights or in the face of threats or bribery. He added, without elaborating: “Of course, Iran will have the option to confront you.”

Hours after the resolution was adopted, the spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, called it “theatrical and useless.” “We do not deem it necessary to fully carry out (our) commitments to the agency if Iran’s basic rights as a member of the (nuclear) Non-Proliferation Treaty are not met,” he said, without elaborating.

This is the Israel that does not appear in the US press

Link

“Father Samuel Aghoyan, a senior Armenian Orthodox cleric in Jerusalem’s Old City, says he’s been spat at by young haredi and national Orthodox Jews “about 15 to 20 times” in the past decade. The last time it happened, he said, was earlier this month. “I was walking back from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and I saw this boy in a yarmulke and ritual fringes coming back from the Western Wall, and he spat at me two or three times.” Wearing a dark-blue robe, sitting in St. James’s Church, the main Armenian church in the Old City, Aghoyan said, “Every single priest in this church has been spat on. It happens day and night.”” (thanks Olivia)

Posted by As’ad at 8:59 AM

Israel lies about using depleted uranium in Gaza

More lies from the Apartheid State, you have to remember that at one time they denied using white phosphorus although we could clearly see that they were.


Israel Denies Using Weapons Containing Uranium Components on Gaza

27 November 2009 23:19 Added by PT Editor Sarah Price

BabiesGaza, November 28, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) – I knew it would only be a matter of time before data started coming out of Gaza to prove that the Palestinians had now fallen victim to weapons containing uranium. We have seen the evidence in the Iraq, Afghanistan and now Gaza.

Back towards the end of September the evidence started to emerge after Dr. Mowaiya Hassanen, director of the Emergency department at the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that after more than eight months since Cast Lead several birth defect cases were reported among the Gaza Strip newborns. He stated that several newborn babies have heart defects and abnormalities. Dr Hassanen blamed the IDF for using illegal weapons.

From my perspective I knew it would only take a short time for such weapons to take a toll on the people of Gaza. I would also add that this will not be confined only to Gaza but also to West Bank, Israel and adjacent countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and many other locations in and around the Middle East and beyond.

The many photographs that have come out of Iraq and Afghanistan all show the same characteristics and when one looks closely at these photographs one can see a common feature. We must remember that such defects were not in existence prior to the conflict with Israel. Unfortunately we see that such data is sometime held back by the authorities but I can assure you that this same situation will also exist in Southern Lebanon (2206) and adjacent Northern Israel. Since Gaza received an exceptional amount of such weapons during the conflict this same problem will manifest itself very clearly over the coming months with additional rises in many forms of cancer, diabetes and infertility etc. One can also expect this to show up in both Central and Southern Israel as these weapons do not respect international borders and are totally indiscriminate.

So let’s just look at these three photographs – one from Iraq, one from Afghanistan and now one from Gaza. You can see very clearly that they all show terrible defects that follow the same path, all of which are victims of uranium based weapons. Some of the other photographs I have viewed are far more grotesque and therefore I will restrict them to these three only. The first one on the left is from Iraq; the one in the middle is from Afghanistan and finally the one on the right from Gaza. The same situation is now repeating itself in Pakistan and India both of which are downwind of the current conflict in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. I am sure that given enough time we will get even more photographs from many other locations.

It doesn’t matter how many times we keep pushing this issue forward all the formal organisation, government, departments of defence and the NATO
Command still refuse to accept their responsibility in allowing such weapons to be manufacture and blasted around the world to contaminate millions of people. We have heard so many times that people like Kissinger had said we need to depopulate and others like Nicholas Rockefella said around half of the world’s population needs to go. My question would be would it be ok if the Kissinger and Rockefella families set an example and allowed themselves to be the first pawns? Not forgetting our friends Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to name a few

We can keep talking about removing WMD from our countries but these false and sinister Presidents and Prime Minsters do not tell you that they still have weapons that in some respects are more horrible than the original nuclear weapons. They are mass producing these so called conventional weapons that contain uranium components and the effects once detonated can be far more devastating. The evil history behind DU as an example goes back to WW2 when they realised the terrible consequences of allowing such weapons to aerosol into the atmosphere both in the battlefield and beyond. They have now created a totally indiscriminate array of weapons that does not identify international borders.

It is obvious that until such times as the leaders of these so called superpowers start to loose their own loved ones or see their children give birth to badly disfigured babies will they realise what a terrible mistake they have made. Do we in the world just sit back and let this type of doomsday scenario continue or do we say no to our leaders and call for all weapons that contain any element of uranium to be prohibited forthwith.

After writing my last articles on the Christian and Jewish Zionist Diaspora I have to say we are now almost entirely under the control of some really misguided individuals that will do anything for their own economic greed or Christian misinformation It is time for the people of these countries to take their country back from the brink of this hidden catastrophe and bring stability and pride and respect back into our lives. We are not animals like Kissinger once said about the troops and we certainly do not wish to become slaves to such people as Rockefella.

As far as the environment is concerned we have these G20 people racing around the world living a life of total luxury, planning how they can get a better return on their respective investments. They are bullying the third world countries by forcing the banking system to collapse so that they can pick through what’s left and then raise this very big issue called climate change. I personally think that this is also a false façade and that they are really trying to impose more taxes on the poor and bring underdeveloped countries under their control by way of the WB and the IMF. These countries will then fall victim to high debt and not be able to remain competitive with the west.

If they are so serious about climate change and global warming why are they not interested in the worldwide contamination by weapons containing uranium components. Millions of nanoparticles are floating around our atmosphere and yet they do not appear to show any interest in this aspect of contamination or pollution. Is there any logic in imposing severe restrictions and high stealth taxes hidden under the name of Global Warming if our Global Atmosphere becomes so polluted from these weapons that our respective eco systems collapse?

It is time that we all see through this game our governments are playing and start to address the real issues that exist. Why we went to war in Iraq, Afghanistan and even little old Gaza. This has nothing to do with democracy or global warming it all to do with “Global Control” by a “Global Government” of the earths natural resources. It intends to flatten all trade barriers in the poorer countries and in doing so open up the floodgate for the west to devastate their respective economies. The term “Make Poverty History” is an absolute joke……this can only create more unemployment, more poverty and in doing so make as many people as possible subservient to the west’s greed.

Gandhi would turn over in his grave if he saw what this world has now become….his saying still linger on but most people in the west are now so evil and selfish they would never understand his thoughts:

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS.”
Mahatma Gandhi.

Palestinians forced to demolish their own homes

Palestinians forced to demolish their own homes

By Iqbal Tamimi

We are used to seeing Palestinian homes turned to rubble by the Israeli authorities, but what you probably do not know is that Palestinians are now cruelly being forced to destroy their own homes by their own hands.

I have witnessed this for myself years ago in the town of Halhul near my home town Alkhaleel (Hebron), but this crime is back more than ever.

In 1948 thousands of Palestinians fled their homes, memories, personal belonging when the Zionist immigrants carried out a number of massacres as a warning illustration to those who dared to stay.

Not content with what they seized and with the plans of further expansion Israel refused to declare its borders. In 1967 Israel occupied the West bank and again made life unbearable for every family to stay forcing the indigenous population to flee.

As Palestinian families grow, extra room is needed, be it newlyweds or the sickly who can’t share rooms with everybody else, but since Israeli authorities, who control everything, refuse Palestinians permission to build a doorway or open a window let alone an extra room on their own land, they were forced to build extra rooms any way.

Some people could not stay idle after years of refusal of tens of requests for a building permit.

Mosa Mashahreh was one of those who was forced to demolish his own home earlier this month. He was told by the Israeli authorities that if he did not demolish his own home, they will do it themselves and send him the bill.

Like Mashahreh many Palestinians are now forced to demolish their own homes by their own hands to cut their losses further.

Mashahreh, who is supporting a big family of six, is now homeless and penniless, and has nowhere to go after knocking down his home.

On November 2, he sent a plea for help, his 48m square home in the Sala’a neighbourhood at Mount Almokabber in Jerusalem is now a pile of rubble. He built his home 9 years ago because the Israeli authorities would not permit him to build, so he has sacrificed everything twice, for there no justice at all.

In the cruelest of twists this is happening at a time when thousands of illegal Jewish settlements continue to expand on stolen Palestinian lands and in as dubbed by the West ‘the only democratic state in the Middle East’.<!–

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Mouths filled with hatred"

Link

Via WIC, in JPOst, here

” … Wearing a dark-blue robe, sitting in St. James’s Church, the main Armenian church in the Old City, Aghoyan said, “Every single priest in this church has been spat on. It happens day and night.”…. “All 15 monks at our friary have been spat at,” he said. “Every [Christian cleric in the Old City] who’s been here for awhile, who dresses in robes in public, has a story to tell about being spat at. The more you get around, the more it happens.”

A nun in her 60s who’s lived in an east Jerusalem convent for decades says she was spat at for the first time by a haredi man on Rehov Agron about 25 years ago. “As I was walking past, he spat on the ground right next to my shoes and he gave me a look of contempt,” said the black-robed nun, sitting inside the convent. “It took me a moment, but then I understood.” … But the spitting incidents weren’t the worst, she said – the worst was the time she was walking down Jaffa Road and a group of middle-aged haredi men coming her way pointed wordlessly to the curb, motioning her to move off the sidewalk to let them pass, which she did……

These are the very opposite of isolated incidents. Father Athanasius of the Christian Information Center called them a “phenomenon.” George Hintlian, the unofficial spokesman for the local Armenian community and former secretary of the Armenian Patriarchate, said it was “like a campaign.”…”

Posted by G, Z, or B at 6:49 PM

The “But For” costs: Why we’re Broke

Link

Jeff Gates

3 Trillion Dollars down the Drain!

Though brilliant in its simplicity and the ability to convey the scope and scale of this ongoing disaster, the presentation understates the long-term cos ts of this latest war.

In addition, it provides no means to identify the parties that brought us to this perilous point. It was Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz who in Congressional testimony assured us Americans that the war in Iraq would cost no more than $50 billion, that it would be quickly over, that we would be welcomed, and that the costs would be recovered from the sale proceeds of Iraqi oil. As with the intelligence fixed around this same goal, none of what Wolfowitz said was true.

For perspective, consider that the total securitized federal debt was $900 billion in 1980 when a “fiscally conservative” administration came to power (Reagan-Bush I). When they left 12 years later, the debt was $4200 billion. Though the accumulation of debt slowed slightly under Clinton, the total eight years later (in 2000) was $5600 billion. It now exceeds $12,000 billion.

Within a decade, the ANNUAL interest payments–including the interest on funds borrowed to wage wars in Iraq, Afghanistan (and Iran and Pakistan?) will exceed $700 billion. And that’s before the cost of the next “surge” or the one after that.

For anyone who does not yet comprehend the source of this peril, please review the analyses on Criminal State where you can order Guilt By Association, the first release in the Criminal State series. Chapter Six chronicles the financial HOW of the warfare now being waged on the U.S. by an enemy within.

This sophisticated treason runs deep; its core is found in a shared mindset that took decades to imbed in the national psyche. From the perspective of mental manipulation, there’s little difference between displacing facts with beliefs in Iraqi WMD, ties to Al Qaeda, etc. and the imbedding in the national mindset of “consensus” beliefs that induced us to put our faith in the infallibility of unfettered financial markets.

Both are frauds. Both induced a targeted population to freely embrace forces that systematically imperiled their freedom. Both required lengthy pre-staging and sophisticated orchestration. Is it possible that both mega-frauds trace to a common source?

Here’s a clue: What financially sophisticated subculture within an elite subculture within an extremist subculture granted nation-state status has a multi-century history of inducing targeted nations to incur debt in order to advance a nontransparent geopolitical agenda?

Hint: this is not the first time that a nation has been induced to economic ruin by those who profit on the machinations of international debt.

Who — precisely who — benefits from the “special relationship” that the U.S. has with Jewish nationalists (aka “Israel”)?

What — precisely what — is the benefit to U.S. interests from this entangled alliance with militant Judaism?

If the ongoing conduct chronicled in these analysis is not treason, what — precisely what — is?

An accurate accounting would include the opportunity cost savings. But for this special relationship, what would have been the costs in blood and treasure? But for this entangled alliance, what would be the condition of U.S. national security? But for the duplicity of those profiled in these commentaries, what would be the prospects for peace in the Middle East?

But for the U.S. recognizing an enclave of extremists as a legitimate nation state in 1948, what would have been the condition of international affairs in the post-WWII era? But for this “state,” would the end of the Cold War have segued seamlessly into a Global War on Terrorism? But for the expansionist agenda pursued by those the Joint Chiefs of Staff portrayed six decades ago as “fanatics,” would the U.S. have become the target of terrorists?

How much longer can the global community afford to tolerate the behavior of Jewish religious extremists in the heart of the predominantly Muslim Middle East? At what point does the international community coalesce—in the interests of peace—to disarm nuclear-armed fanatics posing as a legitimate nation-state?

But for the behavior of these fanatics, would the Middle East now be faced with a nuclear arms race?

Would the world now be faced with this threat if John F. Kennedy had succeeded in 1963 in forcing international inspections of Israel’s Dimona reactor? Would the U.S. have this entangled alliance with an extremist enclave Israel if Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Senator William Fulbright had succeeded in 1962-63 in forcing the Israel lobby to register its activities in the U.S. as what it is: a foreign agent?

The “but for” costs are clearly in the trillions of dollars. I will leave it to others to calculate the human costs of this ill-advised and increasingly perilous relationship. At the very least, it cost the U.S. the goodwill it amassed during WWII. As the U.S. sinks steadily deeper into debt, it appears that this relationship cost us not only our credibility but also our credit standing.

To put some historical perspective on this loss of standing, keep in mind that the U.S. was home to half the world’s productive capacity in the post-WWII era, assuring that our bonds would be “gilt-edged” for decades.


Jeff Gates

* Jeff Gates is a widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide; an adviser to policy-makers worldwide; former counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee; and author of numerous articles and books including his latest book Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War, Democracy at Risk and The Ownership Solution. See www.criminalstate.com

November 27, 2009 Posted by Elias

B’TSELEM: Israel-Palestinian conflict kills 8,900 in 20 years

Link

November 27, 2009

apartmetn_325

Dawn.com – 22 November 2009

JERUSALEM: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed almost 8,900 lives in two decades, the vast majority of them Palestinians, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in a statement published on Sunday.

Israeli forces killed 7,398 Palestinians, including 1,537 minors, both in Israel and the occupied territories during that period, while Palestinians killed 1,483 Israelis, including 139 minors, B’Tselem said.

Among the Israeli victims, 488 were police officers or military troops, and the remaining 995 were civilians killed in attacks in Israel or in the occupied territories, the statement said.

This year, marked by Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip, was the bloodiest in the past two decades for Palestinians.

A total of 1,033 Palestinians, including 315 minors, were killed so far in 2009, most of them during the Gaza war, the report said, adding that a total of 1,387 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli offensive.

Thirteen Israelis were killed, including four soldiers by friendly fire, in the three-week-long war that was launched on December 27.

For Israel, 2002, at the height of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, was the deadliest year, with 420 people killed, including 269 civilians of whom 47 were minors, the statement said.

The statement, which marks B’Tselem 20th anniversary, also said 335 Palestinians are currently held without trial under Israeli military orders. In 1989 the number reached 1,794.

It also said Israeli authorities tore down 4,300 Palestinian homes over the past 20 years.

Israel justifies the demolitions saying the houses lacked the necessary permits, but Palestinians and human rights groups say the documents are virtually impossible to obtain.

In addition, B’Tselem estimates that 6,240 houses were destroyed during military operations in Gaza, including 3,540 during the December-January offensive which Israel said it launched to halt rocket attacks from the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave.

The group took out a full-page ad in the Haaretz daily which looked like a funeral notice and stated: ‘The B’Tselem organisation regrets to announce that it has reached 20. We are fed up and people are fed up of us, but four million people live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are to this day deprived of their most basic human rights and they are even more fed up than we are,’ it said. —AFP

"Unprecedentally helpful" Israel OKs more settlments expansions!

Link

Haaretz, here

“Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday ordered the IDF to issue a temporary freeze order, but at the same time allowed the construction of 28 new public buildings in settlements.

Meanwhile, Haaretz has learned that the state is expected to ask the Supreme Court for more time to evacuate illegal outposts….[and] intends to ask the court for more time in order to prepare a suitable policy for razing the illegal outposts, in view of the developments related to the freeze in settlement construction.

For its part, efforts were underway Thursday to maximize the impact of the freeze on the international arena. ………. displeased by the fact that the freeze was not absolute – in other words does not include East Jerusalem….”

Posted by G, Z, or B at 8:07 PM

Israel’s occupation, linked by rail

Linkl

The Jerusalem light railway is set to link to illegal settlements such as French Hill. Palestinians need help stopping it

Seth Freedman Seth Freedman

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 26 November 2009 15.00 GMT

Article history

The architects of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank are highly skilled at the art of needlework, deftly stitching up land inside Israel proper and disputed territory over the Green Line as though it was the most natural thing in the world. According to their logic, it should be possible to seamlessly suture together the two parts without raising eyebrows either at home or abroad, regardless of the contravention of both international law and basic morality that such actions entail.

All that is required is a healthy dose of chutzpah, combined with a drip-drip effect in which a steady stream of expropriating activities are undertaken at a slow but relentless pace, in the hope that insufficient feathers are ruffled to put a halt to the overarching campaign of annexation.

The Jerusalem light railway is a case in point: in isolation, few Israelis would be too perturbed by the idea of providing a rail link between the city centre and outlying towns and suburbs on the periphery of the capital. However, in doing so, the authorities are simultaneously declaring their view that settlements such as French Hill and Pisgat Ze’ev are integral parts of Jerusalem and banging yet another nail into the coffin of a viable Palestinian state.

Under the guise of a desire to ease traffic congestion on Jerusalem’s streets, the project bears all the hallmarks of previous efforts to stake a permanent and intractable claim to areas that once might have been considered as appropriate territory to concede as part of a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. As the Alternative Information Centre notes, “by providing direct access to [these locations], the main illegal settlements will finally be linked with the centre and western part of the City. The adverse effects of this will serve to diminish any chance of East Jerusalem becoming the future capital of a Palestinian state under a two-state solution”.

Palestinian officials this week issued a call for overseas assistance in preventing the completion of the rail link, having recognised that without such external pressure there is no hope of putting a halt to the illegal construction. Basing their opposition on statutes that deem such building work a violation of international law, the Palestinian Authority urged all Arab countries to end their links with companies associated with the light railway – including French conglomerates Veolia and Alstom – in the hope that such a stance would encourage the corporations involved to pull out of the project.

The Palestinians know full well that the rail link’s presence will further ingrain in Israelis’ minds the idea that every affected township over the Green Line is to be viewed simply as a benign part of Greater Jerusalem, rather than a malignant settlement that threatens the security of both Israelis and Palestinians in the long term. To confirm their fears, they need only look as far as Gilo or Har Homa, both areas built over the Green Line outside Jerusalem’s original city limits, but now treated as no more contentious than Rehavia or the German Colony when it comes to Israel’s continued construction there.

Last week’s international criticism of plans to build a further 900 homes in Gilo raised hackles among the Israeli public. Many Israelis have become so accustomed to the idea that Gilo is part of Israel proper that they cannot for the life of them understand why anyone should deny them the right to construct houses there at will. Such a mind-set did not develop overnight; rather, it took years of patient joining of the dots by successive Israeli governments – by way of transport links, forging social ties between Gilo and other parts of Jerusalem, and so on – to convince Israelis that Gilo had come in from the cold and was now Jerusalem through and through.

When my army unit was based in Har Gilo (a suburb of Gilo even deeper into West Bank territory), none of the residents living alongside our headquarters saw themselves as settlers. Those to whom we spoke thought of themselves as simply Jerusalemites with no more reason to feel guilty about the location of their homes than those dwelling in Tel Aviv or Haifa. The fact that their houses were a stone’s throw from Palestinian towns such as Bet-Jalla did little to change their minds: the Israeli government had thrown a comforting arm around their shoulders and told them all was well, and that was what mattered. But all is not well – whether in terms of Israel’s relationship with the outside world, the spectre looming of a third Palestinian intifada, or the fact that Israelis are unquestioningly becoming more and more used to their collective status as perpetual oppressors of another people – and time is not on the peace camp’s side.

The light railway and the construction plans for Gilo are not deal-breakers on their own, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts when it comes to the annexation of the West Bank, and all interested parties should be doing their utmost to oppose anything that further cements an Israeli presence in the area. To sit back and do nothing is to be complicit with the insidious plans of those who seek never to accommodate Palestinian needs in terms of their statehood. Israelis, Palestinians and outsiders alike must continue to stand up to the occupation machine’s operators, before the rot sets in completely and for ever.

The End of the Arabs?

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In 2007 I read Peter W. Galbraith’s “The End of Iraq“, which suggests cutting Iraq into three mini-states, and then responded in two parts. The first part criticises Galbraith’s thesis, and the second part criticises the failures of Arabism. Both are merged below. More recently it has been revealed that Galbraith actually stood to gain financially from the dismantlement of Iraq.

explosion at Baghdad’s Mutanabi Street book market

Peter W. Galbraith’s book ‘The End of Iraq’ argues the initially persuasive thesis that Iraqis have already divided themselves into three separate countries roughly corresponding to the Ottoman provinces of Basra (the Shii Arab south), Baghdad (the Sunni Arab centre) and Mosul (the Kurdish north), and that American attempts to keep the country unified are bound to fail. I agree wholeheartedly with Galbraith’s call for America to withdraw from Iraq – America is incapable of stopping the civil war, and is in fact exacerbating it. (update: I stick by this. The civil war has to some extent calmed because of internal Iraqi dynamics, not because of the US ’surge’ – the Sunni forces turned on al-Qaida, and also realised that they had lost the battle for Baghdad and national power. Some groups then allied with the US for a variety of reasons to do with self-preservation). The rest of Galbraith’s argument is much more debatable.

For a start, he minimises the extent to which the US occupation has contributed to the disintegration of Iraq. I do not wish to deny the sectarian and ethnic fractures which exist in Iraq and other Arab countries, but it is reasonable to expect that any country, having suffered dictatorship, war, sanctions, and then the overnight collapse of all its institutions, would enter a period of chaos and division. Galbraith accurately records Western support for Saddam Hussain throughout the Iran-Iraq war, when he was gassing Kurds, and the American refusal to intervene when Republican Guards were slaughtering southern Shia in 1991 (the massacres happened under the eyes of American forces occupying the south at the end of the Kuwait war). He describes the criminal failure in 2003 of the occupying forces to stop the looting and burning of every ministry except the oil ministry, of military arsenals and even yellowcake uranium stocks the Americans claimed to be so concerned about in the run-up to the invasion, and of the national museum and national library. (He doesn’t examine claims made at the time by Robert Fisk and others that masked men with Kuwaiti accents were bussed in to certain ministries to set fires professionally.) The attack on Iraq’s – and the world’s – heritage is of course a cultural crime far greater than the despicable Taliban destruction of the Bamyan Buddha statues. Bombing and looting ravaged what was left of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure. The Iraqi state was destroyed within the first week of occupation, long before the sectarian killing began.

Galbraith charitably calls incompetence what may more realistically be seen as deliberate divide and rule policies. Certainly arrogance, stupidity and corruption have played a large role – the arrogance and stupidity which allowed Americans to park their tanks on the ruins of Sumerian cities; the corruption which allowed Halliburton to profit by the billion from reconstruction which never happened, and which put Americans in their early twenties, and with no knowledge or experience of Iraq, in charge of entire sectors of the Iraqi economy simply because they were members of the right ‘think tank’ or prayer group. At a certain point, however, it seems naïve to put all the mistakes down to incompetence. From the very beginning it was obvious to me and the people I talk to that a violent assault on an Iraq already crippled by war and sanctions would not result in a prosperous, unified democracy. It was obvious that every ‘mistake’ made would further damage national unity. I and my friends are not geniuses, and unlike the neo-conservative and Zionist architects of the invasion, we aren’t paid to study the Middle East.

The immediate and sweeping dissolution of the Ba’ath Party, the army and security forces made it inevitable that people would look to the nearest militia or criminal gang to provide security and material supplies. Before long each area had its dominant gang, and the country was a free competition zone for Shia, Sunni, takfiri, and Kurdish militias, American and British troops, South African and Latin American mercenaries, imported Wahhabi nihilists, kidnappers and drug traffickers, and so on. John Negroponte, who had made a career setting up fascist death squads to destabilise leftist democracies in Latin America, was brought in to organise Kurdish and Shia militia into ‘police’ to pacify militantly Sunni towns. Meanwhile, Bremer at one stroke abolished Iraqi economic independence, opening every sector of Iraq to privatisation and foreign control.

These supposed ‘mistakes’ give us a much clearer picture of the real purposes of the invasion than all the journalistic psychoanalysis of a traumatised post-September 11th America or of its ignorant president. The war was designed as corporate rape of a resource-rich country and as a further hammer blow to the possibility of any secular Arab state taking on apartheid Israel. Having the Iraqis split into tiny units, each fighting the other and looking for an external sponsor, guarantees that there will be no unified Iraqi force to pose a serious threat to the corporations or their imperial and Zionist facilitators.

Despite the hatreds unleashed by the sectarian war, the number of Arab Iraqis I’ve met who want the disintegration of their country to be formalised is precisely zero. The neat picture ‘The End of Iraq’ presents of three clearcut post-Iraq zones is not realistic. Iraq has splintered into smaller pieces than the three zones Galbraith describes. In the south, the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army battle for supremacy. In al-Anbar, the battle is between the tribes, the Ba’ath, and al-Qa’ida. Baghdad, supposedly part of the Sunni zone, has a Shii majority. Mosul is a largely Sunni Arab city with a largely Kurdish hinterland. For these cities and other mixed areas such as Diyala and Babil a formalised partition would lead to greatly intensified ethnic cleansing. The horrific bomb attacks which recently killed 500 Yezidi Kurds happened within the context of a forthcoming referendum on which northern areas will join the Kurdish zone.

And if Iraq is allowed to formally splinter, where does the break-up stop? The Arabs of the Jezira in eastern Syria have more in common ethnically, culturally and tribally with the Arabs of al-Anbar than they do with the urban Levantine Arabs of western Syria. There are almost two million Iraqi refugees in Syria, most in Damascus, very many of them Sunnis who have nowhere to return to if Iraq is not put back together. An ethnic-sectarian Sunni state would also pull at the fabric of Jordan, as artificial a state as they come with its three populations of urban Iraqi Sunnis, Jordanian Beduin, and Palestinian refugees. And in Syria, if the Sunnis were to give their allegiance to a sectarian identity, what would stop the Alawis demanding a state in the north west, or the Druze in the Hauran? Which would bring us back to an early French imperial plan for Syria. I could go on, ad infinitum, to prospects for the division of Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and further afield.

Division is a disaster for all but imperialists and for Israel, the region’s key sectarian state. If the map must be changed, we should aim for fewer state units, not more. Yet Arabism as manifested so far has clearly failed. I’ll examine why in part two.

Part Two

Peter W. Galbraith writes that Iraq is an artificial creation made up of different ethnic groups. This is true, but Iraq is not alone in its artificiality. All states are artificial in that they have been created by historical process and human machination, not by God or nature, and all contain different ethnic groups. More specifically, the centralised nation state in the Middle East (and Africa and much of Asia) is always artificial because the very concept of the nation state is an import from 19th Century Europe. The borders of every Arab state were determined, suddenly, by imperialism, and not by the long processes of war, negotiation and ideological mythmaking that drew borders in Europe. It is this imperialist division of the Arabs which has led to various forms of pan-Arab nationalism.

The definition of ‘Arab’ has expanded over the last hundred and fifty years from describing tribal nomads as opposed to townsmen, to describing the people of the Arabian peninsula, and then to describe all from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf who share the heritage of the Arabic language.

The Ba’ath Party went so far as to find religious significance in ‘Arab,’ as is evident from the slogan ‘One Arab Nation bearing an Eternal Message.’ The ‘risala’ or message is what Arabs would previously have assumed to be the revelation of the Prophet (more often called Messenger in Arabic) Muhammad. The word used for ‘nation’ is ‘umma’ – a word previously used to denote the international Muslim community. In fact, Ba’athism should be seen as one of the twentieth century’s many attempts to compensate for the collapse of traditional religion (Nazism, Zionism, Stalinism, contemporary Wahhabism and hedonist consumerism are others).

In its effort to spiritualise and mythologise Arabism Ba’athism surely takes nationalism to absurd extremes, but it is significant that the Ba’ath Party was founded by a Damascene Christian, and that it appealed in the main to minority communities. Arab nationalism’s potential strength was its inclusive nature, the possibility that Sunni and Shia, Christians and Muslims, urban and rural populations would all identify together as members of the Arab nation. Sadly, it is precisely this inclusiveness that has failed.

If nationalism’s definition of ‘Arab’ had been the widest possible – to engage all those who share the common heritage of the Arabic language in a cooperative enterprise – the Arabs could perhaps have overcome their underdevelopment and imposed borders more easily. They would have had increased political weight for a start, and would not have wasted so much blood and treasure on intra-Arab fighting (or rather, fighting on behalf of the little ruling classes of each state). Given that some Arab countries are blessed with fertile land but not with oil, others with educated people but not with sea ports, an intelligent sharing of resources would have been mutually beneficial.

This cooperation has failed, and there is no Arab state, but the Arab nation exists. The nation, not the state. The nation exists despite the tens of states, and now the attempt to splinter the Arabs further, into yet more mini-states squabbling over sect and ethnic variation, all of them dependent on a corporate-imperial sponsor for survival. It exists in shared language and cultural reference points. Any Arab who travels the great distances of the Arab world will find each corner foreign and also familiar. He will recognise the classic and contemporary music on the radio. He’ll see the same Egyptian films in the cinemas, the same Syrian comedies and historical dramas on the television. He’ll understand the newspaper. He’ll feel welcomed and understood, more than he would, for instance, in a non-Arab Muslim country. Wherever you go in the Arab world the ordinary people want closer economic cooperation between Arab countries, an end to foreign military bases, and justice for the Palestinians. In these times of rising sectarian conflict, it’s important to realise and remember that the Arab nation exists.

So why then is Galbraith’s thesis – that even a single unit of Arabism like Iraq needs to disintegrate – to some extent persuasive? Because the same homogenising impulse that animates both contemporary Islamism and late capitalism has perverted Arabism. I’ll repeat it: Arabism only had a chance if it recognised the diversity of the Arab world’s peoples. The inheritors of Arab history, culture and language include blue-eyed Syrians and black Africans in the Sudan. Many of the heroes of the Arabist narrative were not ethnically Arab at all. Salahuddeen al-Ayubbi (Saladin) was a Kurd, Ibn Rushd a Spaniard, Ibn Batuta a Berber. In Iraq, where Arabism has failed most spectacularly, ‘Arab’ even began to morph into ‘ethnically-Arab Sunni Muslim,’ but many of the great Arabic-language writers and scientists have been Christians and Jews, Berbers and Persians.

The moral degeneration of Arabism is painfully evident on Layla Anwar’s blog. We must make allowances for the fact that Mrs. Anwar lives, it seems, in Baghdad, in the midst of a savage occupation and civil war. Many of the Iraqis I meet who have recently left Iraq are traumatised in some way or other, and Mrs. Anwar probably is too. But then, she doesn’t make any allowances for the Kurds or Shia who suffered so much under the previous regime. She calls the Kurds turds (ha ha), and denies that any were massacred by Saddam Hussain. I must say here that by now, although I don’t believe that new states can set anybody free, I understand the Kurdish desire for an independent state, at least in Iraqi Kurdistan. Perhaps Iraqi Arabs could have persuaded the Kurds to be part of an Arab state if, from the start, they had treated them as full citizens with full rights to cultural expression. What happened was that they were seen as a non-Arab security problem, and that thousands of their villages were razed, hundreds of thousands of their people subjected to poison gas attacks. True, it was a dictatorship, backed at the time by the West, that committed these crimes, and relations between ordinary Kurds and Arabs often remained good. But if people like Layla Anwar can’t accept that the oppression even happened, we have an insurmountable obstacle to coexistence. Mrs. Anwar declares in one of her postings that the Kurds are guests in Arab Iraq. How shameful that this supposed nationalist is unaware of her own country’s history. Kurds have been present in Mesopotamia for as long as Semites, and for far longer than Sunni Muslims.

Mrs. Anwar regards ALL Shia forces in her country as Persian, and therefore inauthentic. Again, exclusive national-chauvinist extremism has blinded her to her country’s reality. The Shia are of course a majority of Iraq’s people. It is both true and unsurprising that many Shia escaped Saddam’s persecution by crossing the border to Iran, where some founded organisations with Iranian help. Some of these organisations, like al-Hakim’s Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, returned to Iraq after the regime’s fall, made themselves available to the Americans as death squads, and are now in powerful positions. But other organisations, like Moqtada Sadr’s Jaish al-Mahdi, are Arab nationalist as well as Shia, and resent the Iranian-supported organisations. Mrs. Anwar rightly complains about the persecution of Sunnis by Shia militias, but is silent on both the sectarian repression practised by the Ba’ath regime which provoked the Shia revival, and the horrific Wahhabi terrorism to which Shia militia crimes have been retaliation.

As for more general Iranian influence in Iraq, which many Sunni Arabs are unable to accept, this is natural. The word itself, Iraq, comes from the Persian ‘Eraagh’, meaning ‘lowlands.’ The Arabs of southern Iraq have been as influenced by the cooking and religious and philosophical ideas of Persia as much as the Arabs of Syria have been influenced by the Turks and Mediterranean cultures. This doesn’t stop them being Arabs.

Nations (as opposed to states) are imaginary structures. Their borders are porous and membership in them is not exclusive. You can feel allegiance to the Arabs and also to Islam, or Africa, or Christianity, or Shi’ism. Variety and diversity should be the strength and richness of the Arabs, but many Arabs are ill with the centralised state disease, the rage for conformity which made Saddam Hussain brutalise the majority of Iraq’s people. When we replace humane, inclusive nationalism with exclusive totalitarian police states, we have lost nationalism as a positive force.

There are still glimmers of light. Important sections of Sunni Iraqi opinion have turned decisively against both Wahhabism and Ba’athism. The vast majority of Shia feel both Iraqi and Arab. But the Iraqis and other Arabs will be unable to work cooperatively until they honestly confront sectarianism and the class oppression which it usually masks, until they are able to sympathise with the history of the other, until they can think beyond the imported nation state.

AMERICANS~GAZA & HOLLYWOOD

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So, for Americans, it’s the Thanksgiving Holiday long weekend. I assume most Americans are recovering from over stuffing the stuffing yesterday and have now finished picking out the stuffing from their hair and sofas. Faced with three more days before the eventual return to dreaded work, what will Americans be doing with their time, I wondered, as one would wonder. Shopping is always on the list I hear, but what about the downtime, the relaxation time? Perhaps a Hollywood movie? Rent the old DVD and relax in the recliner?

Well, as Thanksgiving is not a holiday here in Ireland, as such, I skipped over the stuffing the stuffing part, and the shopping part (because over here the holiday season begins right after Halloween, that said, many of us are still trying to find that so called “special gift” at midnight on Christmas eve, what can I say, it’s the Guinness) Anyhow, back to the story, so we skipped straight to the downtime category and decided to watch a movie. Now, let me preface this by saying I was not the one responsible for picking the movie, there I’ve said it, don’t blame me! The movie in question was called “Cloverfield” and yes, I hear the gasps, it’s pathetic I know, but it got me thinking……………about Palestine, Hollywood and Americans, funnily enough!! I’ll explain:

For those who don’t know about this movie, it’s the typical America disaster fare, where Americans and America are under attack from some “Awesome Creature” hell bent on killing all Americans and destroying New York (Poor New York it gets everything) And in the end no one survives in Manhattan, except the video camera found in Central Park by the Military when the war was over (I assume America won, after all, America always win don’t they? Except in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and soon to be Iran) So, the found video camera tells the story of a group of friends, who one by one got picked off by the creature, until only the camera survived.

wiki The film is presented so as to look as if it were a video file recovered from a digital camcorder by the United States Department of Defense. The film begins with a disclaimer stating that the following footage about to be viewed is of a case designated “Cloverfield” and was found in the area that was “formerly known as Central Park”.

So, again I wondered, why is it then, that Hollywood makes these types of movies? You know the ones like “Independence Day”, “Signs”, “War of the Worlds” and “Cloverfield” all those where America is under attack, it’s very existence threatened, it all looks dark, all hope is lost, but then WHAMMO the American fighting spirit wins in the end…………..always.

I know why these movies are popular, perhaps it is because Americans live very safe lives on the whole, unless you venture into some bad ass neighbourhood. But on the whole Americans live a comfy life, they don’t know what it is to be truly under attack on their own soil, save for 9-11 which lasted for one day. But never a long protracted war by a powerful aggressor, they don’t know that. They haven’t a clue of what it feels like, so these movies allow them to feel the terror and the hopelessness of facing the loss of their freedoms, identities and yes, ultimately their very lives, all from the safe comfort of one’s favourite armchair.

Well, may I suggest that instead of trying to get that feeling of oppression, hopelessness, being hunted like an animal, being under threat of life and limb, maybe Americans should instead visit Palestine and see first hand what before was only experienced in Hollywood movies. Now there’s a novel thought! Might I suggest instead of overspending on Christmas, take your money and sign up for the Gaza 2010 March instead, witness a real disaster unfolding before your every eyes, instead of a fake Hollywood one.

Enjoy your weekend watching movies……..

"Assad has inherited a regime that is coup-proof domestically & enjoys on-and-off support externally

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[OXFAN: Excerpts]

“…. Despite sustained efforts by the US administration under former President George W Bush to effect regime change in Damascus, and the emergence of a domestic civil rights movement, President Bashar al-Assad has survived the vicissitudes of Middle East politics and international pressures for democratisation. While Syria has implemented economic reforms and the restructuring of the once-socialist economy towards a market economy, this has not been followed by political liberalisation.

Assad owes his survival to the political system that his father, former President Hafez al-Assad, designed….
Regime control. That Assad succeeded his father is in itself evidence that Syria has become a republican monarchy. Like his father, he enjoys the support of a small power elite with a vested interest in preserving the existing distribution of power …

Centralised power. The Syrian system concentrates power in the hands of the president…..

Political legitimacy. The legitimacy of the regime is derived from its endorsement by the Ba’ath Party, and from presidential elections that are supposed to express the will of the people. Assad is now in his second seven-year term.

The legacy of Syria as champion of Arab rights and challenger to Western intrusion also gives the regime strength at home and abroad. Given Syria’s deeply held pan-Arab values and disposition, the regime very ably markets itself as the bastion of Arab nationalism. The indirect confrontation with Israel enables the regime to justify its excesses (under martial law) and most ills — shortages, shortfalls, and failures — by the need to focus efforts on confronting the “Zionist enemy”……

External support. Until the advent of the Bush administration, the first Assad regime enjoyed, for the most part, the support of Western powers for Syria’s role in combating the Muslim Brotherhood, taming the Palestinians in Lebanon, and maintaining stability along the Syrian-Israeli ceasefire line.

Although US-Syrian relations plummeted during the second Assad regime as a result of Syria’s opposition to the US war in Iraq, bilateral US-Syrian relations have improved since US President Barack Obama began a policy of engagement:

  • …. US ambassador to Syria,
  • Western governments still provide support to combat political Islam (through intelligence-sharing and, in some cases, rendition) and other threats, including illegal immigration.
  • The Association Agreement that the EU and Syria are set to sign is a good example…..
CONCLUSION: Assad has inherited a power system in which the regime is coup-proof domestically and enjoys on-and-off support externally. In this case, no global trends and pressures for liberalisation are powerful enough to upset the status quo. Barring any unforeseen events, such as an assassination or a malignant illness, Assad can rest assured that he will survive his second and even a third seven-year term.”

Posted by G, Z, or B at 4:07 PM

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