Who Won the War on Gaza?

English (US)  September 3rd, 2014 by admin ( Email )


Hamas was able to establish deterrence, displaying an incredible level of resilience and strength. (Video still)

By Samah Sabawi

The Palestinian people, who have shown incredible patience, steadfastness and sacrifice in the pursuit of their freedom, won the war on Gaza

Robust and complex discussions are being centred on one simple question: who can claim victory in the war on Gaza? The terms of the ceasefire reveal that neither Hamas nor Israel got what they wanted. So how much was lost and how much was gained and who – if anyone – has emerged a winner?

Hamas was able to establish deterrence, displaying an incredible level of resilience and strength, even when equipped with primitive weapons. It was able to force Israel to agree to ease the siege by allowing for the easier flow of goods, humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment, narrowing its security buffer zone to allow Palestinians more access to their farmland, and extending the fishing limit off Gaza’s coast to 9.6 km. Egypt is said to have agreed to open the Rafah crossing, on the condition that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas take over responsibility for administering it. Above all, Hamas’s biggest and most significant gain was an increase in popular support and admiration from Palestinians across the political and factional divide, as it became the epicentre of Palestinian resistance. Needless to say, it is hard to tell if this support will be maintained in the days and months to come.

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On the downside, Hamas was not able to fully lift the siege; it didn’t get the seaport and airport the Palestinians wanted, nor was it able to broker the release of Palestinian prisoners. Further, there was great loss of human life in Gaza: 2,142 people were killed by Israel – most of them civilians – including more than 490 children. 540,000 people became displaced as Israel deliberately destroyed homes and apartment buildings. Gaza’s infrastructure and economy lay in ruins and almost half of the city is reduced to rubble. Hamas also prompted criticism from human rights groups and international observers for firing indiscriminately at Israel and for its extra-judicial killings of those accused of collaboration.

On the Israeli side, the world’s fourth most powerful military was not able to maintain its ground operation in Gaza, and failed in its stated objective to remove Hamas from power – or to even to weaken it. We will never truly know if Israel destroyed all the tunnels as it claims it has. Israel was not able to bring an end to the unity deal between Fatah and Hamas. It lost the public relations war as images of its brutality in Gaza were broadcasted around the world. It lost 69 lives, nearly all of them soldiers. In return for all of these losses, Israel got an agreement from Hamas to stop the firing of rockets into Israel – something which was agreed upon several times before, without the need for this massive display of savagery. In fact, Israel has achieved very little, save for making its list of war crimes against the Palestinians grow even longer.

As happy as we need to be that the two parties have reached an agreement and that the bombs have stopped falling, we have to acknowledge that the ceasefire is only a Band-Aid solution for a larger problem. Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people, which began more than 67 years ago, rapidly continue today with no accountability. For more than 50 days, we have witnessed Israel being given total impunity for acts that trample on the international rule of law, the lives of humans and the livelihood of Gaza. Meanwhile the Palestinians were left to fend for themselves under the nonchalant gaze of the international community.

A fundamental change is needed and it is on the way. If there were a victory to be claimed, it would be first and foremost a victory for the Palestinians of Gaza, who have shown incredible patience, steadfastness and sacrifice in the pursuit of their freedom. To a lesser degree, it is a victory for people of conscience around the world: from those who stepped out of their tribal loyalties and said “not in my name,” to those who stepped out of their factional line and said “together we stand” – people in the global Palestinian solidarity movement from various walks of life. A victory can be claimed by the millions who marched in protests around the world, who put together creative actions at seaports, erected messages on billboards, draped the Palestinian flag off high bridges and projected it on Parliament buildings. This is a victory for those who occupied the rooftops of arms factories and those who danced in flash mobs in malls. This is a victory for the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions movement, which saw a huge increase in support from artists, academics, politicians and unions.

So who really won the war on Gaza? The Palestinian cause did.

- Samah Sabawi is a playwright, poet, political analyst and human rights advocate. She has written and produced the critically acclaimed plays Cries from the Land and Three Wishes as well as having co-authored the book Journey to Peace in Palestine. She is also Policy Adviser to Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian policy network. (This article was first published in Middle East Eye – www,middleeasteye.net)

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    Netanyahu vs. Abu Ubaydah: On Victory and False Victory

    English (US)  September 3rd, 2014 by admin ( Email )


    The resistance victory statement was different from that of Netanyahu's.
    Sep 3 2014 / 10:29 pm

    By Ramzy Baroud

    In the rush to analyze the outcome of Israel’s 51-day war in Gaza, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, some may have neglected an important factor: this was not a war by traditional definitions of warfare, thus the conventional analyses of victory and defeat is simply not applicable.

    That being the case, how can we explain Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s triumphant statement on 28 August, and the massive celebrations on the streets of Gaza regarding the resistance ‘victory’ over Israel? To be truly fathomed, they must be understood in context.

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    Soon after the ceasefire declaration on 26 August, ending Israel’s most destructive war on Gaza yet, Netanyahu seemed to have disappeared from the scene. Some Israeli media began predicting the end of his political reign. Although this notion was a bit hasty, one can understand why. Much of the man’s political career was predicated on his ‘anti-terror’ stance and Israeli security agenda.
    He served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, with the decided aim of defeating the Oslo ‘peace process.’ He argued it compromised Israel’s security. Then as a finance minister in Sharon’s government (2003-05), he was troubled by Ariel Sharon’s intentions regarding re-deploying out of Gaza. In fact, it was the Gaza ‘disengagement plan’ that ended the Netanyahu-Sharon alliance.

    It took Netanyahu a few years to fight his way back from the seeming oblivion in Israel’s complicated political landscape. He fought a grueling political battle, but managed to redeem only some of the rightwing Likud party’s past glory through fractious alliances. He served as prime minister from 2009-2013, and for a third term (a rarity in Israeli history) from 2013 to the present.

    Not only was Netanyahu the king of Israel, but its kingmaker as well. He did keep his friends close and enemies closer, and cleverly balanced out seemingly impossible coalition odds. He succeeded, not simply because he is a shrewd politician, but also because he managed to unite Israel around one goal: security. This he did by fighting “Palestinian terror,” a reference to various Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas, and building Israeli defenses. He had such command over that political discourse that no one came even close, surly not the newcomer centralist politician Yair Lapid, or even rightwing and far-right hawks Avigdor Liberman and Neftali Bennet.

    But then, Gaza happened, a war that could possibly become Netanyahu’s biggest miscalculation, and perhaps the reason for his downfall. Aside from the collapse in his approval ratings, down from 82% on 23 July, to less than 38% shortly after the ceasefire announcement, the man’s own language in his post-ceasefire press conference is telling enough.

    He seemed desperate and defensive, arguing that Hamas failed to achieve its war objective, although it was Israel, not Hamas, that instigated the war with a list of objectives – none of which were achieved anyway. Hamas responded by mocking his statement as the group didn’t start the war, nor had any demands then, a group official told Al Jazeera. The demands were made in the subsequent ceasefire talks in Egypt, and some of them were in fact achieved.

    Netanyahu is twisting language and stretching the truth in a despondent attempt to score a political victory, or to simply save face. But few are convinced.

    Writing in Foreign Policy on 20 July, Ariel Ilan Roth came to an early conclusion about the Gaza war, which has proven to be only partly true. “No matter how and when the conflict between Hamas and Israel ends, two things are certain. The first is that Israel will be able to claim a tactical victory. The second is that it will have suffered a strategic defeat.”

    Wrong. Even the tactical victory was denied this time around, unlike previous wars, most notably the so-called Operation Cast Lead (2008-09). The Gaza resistance must have learned from its past mistakes, managing to withstand a 51-day war with a destructive outcome unprecedented in all past Gaza conflicts. When the Egypt-mediated ceasefire was announced, every Israeli soldier was pushed behind Gaza’s borders.

    Almost immediately after the agreement, a Hamas official from Gaza read a statement in which he called on Israelis living in the many evacuated border towns to return to their homes, in a statement of defiance also unprecedented. Shortly after, hundreds of fighters representing all factions, Fatah included, stood at the ruins of the Shejaiya, neighbourhood in Gaza city. “There is no room amongst us for that defeated, weak Arab,” the military leader of the Gaza resistance Abu Ubaydah declared, as throngs of people showered the fighters with kisses.

    He too declared some kind of victory. But is his “victory” statement any different from that of Netanyahu’s?

    “Israel has a history of claiming victory when in fact it has suffered defeat; the October 1973 war is the best example,” wrote Roth in Foreign Policy. The difference back then is that many in Israel accepted false victories. This time around they refuse to do so, as various opinion polls by Haaretz, Channel 2 and others are showing. Furthermore, the chasm in Israel’s political class is wider than it has been in many years.

    Irrespective of this, ‘victory’ of the resistance cannot be understood within the same context of Israel’s own definition of victory, or false victory. Surely the resistance “was able to establish deterrence, displaying an incredible level of resilience and strength, even when equipped with primitive weapons,” as argued by Samah Sabawi. The very idea that powerful Israel, and the likes of Netanyahu, can use Palestinians as a testing ground for weapons or to enhance approval ratings seems to be over. The Sharon old wisdom that the Arabs and Palestinians “must be hit hard” and “must be beaten,” as a precondition for calm, or peace, was challenged like never before in the history of Arab-Israeli wars.

    Gaza’s ceasefire “celebrations” were not the kind of celebrations that would follow a football match win. To comprehend it as an expression of mere joy is a mistake, and reflects a lack of understanding of Gaza society. It was more of a collective statement by people who lost 2,143 people, mostly civilians, and have over 11,000 wounded and maimed to care for. Let alone the total or partial destruction of 18,000 homes, 75 schools, many hospitals, mosques, and hundreds of factories and shops.

    No, it was not a statement of defiance in the symbolic sense either. It was a message to Israel that the resistance has matured and that Israel’s complete dominance over when wars start and how they end is over.

    Only the future could prove how accurate such an assessment is and how consequential it will be for the West Bank and East Jerusalem,
    which are under military occupation. Interestingly, “liberating Jerusalem,” was in fact a dominant theme among jubilant Palestinians in Gaza. Another theme was the insistence of national unity among all Palestinians. After all, this was the real reason why Netanyahu had launched his war on Gaza in the first place.

    Resistance discourse, al-Muqawama, is now the most dominant in Palestine, and it goes beyond factional divides, or the tired discussion about useless ‘peace talks’ that garnered nothing for Palestinians but territorial loss, political division and much humiliation. That sentiment is already reverberating in the West Bank. But how it will be translated in the future is yet to be seen, considering the fact that the Palestinian Authority (PA) there is weak in its dealings with Israel, and very intolerant of any political dissent.

    Israeli pressure on PA President Mahmoud Abbas will continue. In his first press conference after the ceasefire Netanyahu repeated the same ultimatum. Abbas “needs to choose what side he is on,” he said.

    After failing to end the Gaza resistance, Netanyahu is left with nothing other than pressuring Abbas, 79, whose choice, after Gaza’s war, means so little to begin with.

    - Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People’s History at the University of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

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      Fearing Political Islam: Why Arabs Betrayed Gaza

      English (US)  August 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


      Some Arabs wish to see Israel crush any semblance of Palestinian resistance. (Video footage still)
      Aug 26 2014 / 1:49 pm

      By Ramzy Baroud

      Ask any Arab ruler, and they will tell you of the great sacrifices their countries have made for Palestine and the Palestinians. However, both history and present reality are testaments, not only to Arab failure to live up to the role expected of them and stand in solidarity with their own oppressed brethren, but also to the official Arab betrayal of the Palestinian cause. The current war on Gaza, and the dubious role played by Egypt in the ceasefire talks between Hamas and Israel are cases in point.

      Read this comments by Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington to appreciate the depth of the unmistakable Arab betrayal. “I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas,” Miller told the New York Times. “The silence is deafening.”

      Miller explains Arab silence in relations to their loathing of political Islam which rose to prominence following the so-called Arab Spring. Such rise saw the advent of movements like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al-Nahda in Tunisia to the centers of power. The ‘Arab Spring’ challenged and, at least temporarily, disabled the hegemony over power by corruption-ridden, pro-western Arab elites, unleashing the energies of civil societies that have been historically marginalized.

      Political Islam, especially that which is affiliated with moderate Islamic ideology known as al-Wasatiyyah (roughly translated as ‘moderation’) swept-up the votes in several democratic elections. Like Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian elections in 2006, other such Islamic movements followed suit the moment the ‘Arab Spring’ pushed open a small margin for democracy and freedom of expression.

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      The danger of political Islamic movements that don’t adhere to an extremist ideology like that of the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, for example, is that they are not easy to dismiss as ‘extremists,’ ‘terrorists’, and such. At times, in fact, often, they seem much more inclined to play the democratic game than self-proclaimed Arab ‘secularist’, ‘liberal’ and ‘socialist’ movements.

      Israel’s most recent war on Gaza, starting on July 7, came at a time that political Islam was being routed out in Egypt and criminalized in other Arab countries. It was the first major Israeli military attack on Gaza since the ousting of democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi on July 3, 2013. Although the Israeli war morphed in the course of a few days to that of a genocide (thousands killed, thousands wounded, and nearly fourth of the Gazan population made homeless), most Arab countries remained mostly silent. They mouthed-off some random condemnations that meant so very little. Egypt, however, went even further.

      Soon after the Israeli war ‘Operation Protective Edge’ began, Egypt proposed a most suspicious ceasefire, one that even the Times found peculiar. “The government in Cairo .. surprised Hamas by publicly proposing a cease-fire agreement that met most of Israel’s demands and none from the Palestinian group (Hamas),” wrote David Kirkpatrick on July 30. Hamas, the main Palestinian party in the conflict, which is also declared by Egypt’s government as ‘terrorist,’ was not consulted and only learned about the proposal through the media. But, of course, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Egyptian proposal; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a main rival of Hamas, and a strong opponent of armed resistance (and arguably, any form of Palestinian resistance, really) welcomed the ‘brotherly’ Egyptian gesture; other Arab rulers rushed to commend Egypt’s Abdul Fatah al-Sisi for his astute regional leadership.

      Of course, the whole exercise was a farce, meant to eventually blame Hamas and the resistance in Gaza for refusing an end to the conflict (which they didn’t start and were its ultimate victim), and to prop up Sisi as the new icon of peace and moderation in the region; the kind of ‘strong man’ with whom the United States government liked to do business.

      It all failed, of course, for one single reason, the Gaza resistance held its ground, costing Israel serious military losses, and igniting worldwide sympathy and respect.

      But no respect came from traditional Arab governments, of course, including those who praise the legendary ‘sumoud’ – steadfastness – of the Palestinian people at every opportunity, speech and sermon. The renewed success of Hamas, which arguably had been fading away into oblivion after the overthrow of Egypt’s brotherhood, and the severing of ties with Damascus and Tehran, was puzzling, and immensely frustrating to these governments.

      If Hamas survives the Gaza battle, the resistance will promote its endurance before the Middle East’s supposedly strongest army as a victory. Netanyahu will suffer dire consequences at home. Ties between Hamas and Iran could be renewed. The ‘resistance camp’ could once more rekindle. The moral victory for the Brotherhood and the moral defeat of Sisi (and his prospected regional role) would be astounding.

      An alliance of sorts was founded between several Arab countries and Israel to ensure the demise of the resistance in Gaza – not just the resistance as an idea, and its practical expressions, but also its political manifestations as well, which are felt far and beyond the confines of Gaza’s besieged borders.

      Former Israel lobbyist and current vice president of the Brookings Institution in Washington, Martin Indyk has an explanation. “There’s an ‘alignment of interests’ between nations that aren’t allies, yet have ‘common adversaries’,” Indyk told Bloomberg. “As they see that the US is less engaged than it was before, it’s natural that they look to each other – quietly, under the table in most respects – to find a way to help each other.”

      Naturally, the latest round of ceasefire talks in Cairo failed because the party that is hosting the talks deems the leading Palestinian resistance group Hamas, ‘terrorist’ and would hate to see a scenario in which Gaza prevails over Israel. If the resistance demand of ending the siege is met, especially the demand of reactivating the Gaza seaport and airport, Egypt would be denied a major leverage against Hamas, the resistance, and the Palestinian people altogether.

      And if the resistance wins – as in holding the Israeli military at bay, and achieving some of its demands – the political discourse of the Middle East is likely to change altogether, where the weak will, once again, dare challenge the strong by demanding reforms, democracy, and threatening resistance as a realistic way to achieve such objectives.

      Interestingly, the Hamas victory in the Palestinian Legislative Elections in 2006 had revived the possibility of political Islam in achieving its goals via the ballot box, which was a harbinger of the rise of political Islam throughout the region following the ‘Arab Spring.’ Any victory for Palestinian resistance can also be considered equally as dangerous for those who want to maintain the status quo throughout the region.

      Some Arab rulers continue to declare their strong support of Palestine and its cause. ‘Operation Protective Edge,’ however, has exposed beyond a doubt that such solidarity is just a mere show of words; and that, although discretely, some Arabs wish to see Israel crush any semblance of Palestinian resistance, in Gaza and anywhere else.

      - Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People’s History at the University of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).


      Related posts:
      1.Re-assessing Political Islam: Part II
      2.Re-assessing Political Islam: Part I
      3.ElBaradei’s Democracy: How Egypt’s ‘Revolution’ Betrayed Itself
      4.Egypt’s Revolution Betrayed: Fuel for al-Qaeda Fires
      5.Obama, Islam and Illusions

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        Israeli War on Gaza: Deafening Silence of the World

        English (US)  August 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

        By Dr. Siri Gamage – Armidale, Australia

        On again and off again ceasefires, rocket launches, bombings and killings involving Israel and Gaza dominate television news at this time. When the indirect talks between the two sides fail in Cairo, the military campaigns restart and the destruction caused by Israeli bombings in Gaza is there for all of us to see. Buildings with several stories, UN schools, civilian areas, shops, electricity generating facilities or any other civilian facility is not out of bound for the Israeli military forces if they believe there are Hamas fighters in them. By now over 2000 casualties and over 10000 injured have been reported in Gaza whereas the Israeli casualty figure is less than 70, overwhelming majority being military personnel. In the meantime, rockets from Gaza keep coming to Southern Israel and other parts but they are ineffective and crude creations as the US funded and provided Dome shield is capturing and destroying them once in the air. These rockets fall largely in vacant areas of land causing no major injury to the civilians in Israel. The casualty rate from such rockets has been remarkably low. Yet the fear caused by these rockets seems to be vey high among the population in Israel subjected to such attacks. Fear –real and constructed- is an important weapon in modern warfare.

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        The scale of firepower available to Israel vs Gaza militants is drastically uneven. Israel has a regular army, airforce, navy, and intelligence services well funded by the government of Israel. It is receiving ammunition, rockets, bombs, armed vehicles, guns, planes and ships from major arms suppliers from around the world on the top of Israel’s own capacity to manufacture such weapons legally. Added to this, Israel also seems to employ a well-funded, highly professional public relations machinery to provide its version of the events to the world through international media.

        The world leaders, in particular President Obama, are alarmingly but not surprisingly silent about the ongoing carnage going on in Gaza due to the close relationship between Israel and the US as allies and friends in the Western sphere. Middle Eastern countries that had voiced their concerns in previous episodes of military conflict are also silent on this occasion. Even the humanitarian catastrophic unfolding in Gaza with Israeli bombings does not seem to be moving Obamas of this world to either exert greater influence on Israel or to condemn its disproportionate attacks in Gaza causing enormous amount of civilian casualties.

        It appears that the strategy on the part of the US and other Western powers is to allow enough time and space for Israel to continue its military campaign to such a point that Hamas, the elected government in Gaza, and it’s armed wing plus other armed groups are annihilated beyond repair. Unlike in other armed conflicts, there don’t seem to be concerns about collateral damage this time when it comes to Gaza attacks by Israel. Israel, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, is hitting hard, and hitting at any target if Israeli war planners deem it necessary to teach a lesson to Hamas and bring its carders to their knees. The publicly pronounced goal however is to secure Israeli populations security and stop the rockets coming from Gaza. Israel leadership argues that so long as rockets keep coming from Gaza, there will be no talks with Palestinians in Cairo, and Israel will employ disproportionate lethal “weapons of deep penetration and destruction”(WDPD) to hit hard at Hamas.

        The UN seems to be irrelevant in this time of human destruction, carnage, and terror unleashed by Israel on the Gaza population except as providers of humanitarian assistance and temporary refuge. Security Council is hamstrung in taking any meaningful decisions because historically the US has used its veto power when discussions on this conflict took place. It is also important to note that the US tried to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians without success before and while the current round of hostilities started. The world body responsible for world peace and security is busy issuing statements about the rise of Islamic terrorists in northern Iraq or the Ukrainian conflict. Both these conflicts are much more important to Western powers than the Israeli and Palestinian conflict because the Western governments know that Israel has the upper hand in that conflict compared to Palestinians who are under long-term occupation and oppression. To obtain an understanding of the extent of Israeli occupation and Palestinian oppression, see this video produced by some human rights activists who visited the West Bank:

        Though the root cause of the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is the former’s occupation of Palestinian land and numerous check points, settlements, roads and other facilities created exclusively for the Jews, dispossession plus the daily humiliation caused, the Israeli, Australian, British and US media give prominence to the Israeli line of argument as to why the current military campaign was started? Namely, it is to provide security to the Israeli population. For this to happen and quietness to dawn on Israel, the argument goes that the rockets from Gaza has to stop completely. The implication drawing from this line of argument is that the carnage being created in Gaza by Israel is justified, irrespective of the human and physical destruction, the imbalance in fire power between the two sides, and the disproportionality of fire power used by Israel. Furthermore, these media in Western capitals also adopt the Israeli line that Hamas has to be blamed for the destruction caused by Israel. So for Israel and its backers in the Western capitals, the conflict between Israel and Palestinians, in this case in Gaza, starts from the fact of firing rockets and disturbing peace and quiet in Israeli life.

        What about the ‘peace and quiet’ of the Palestinians? This is a secondary issue for the above players in the world stage. For those who are supporting the Israeli view, when and if Hamas stop firing rockets to Israel from Gaza, the heavens will open, and people in Gaza will be able to live happily thereafter because Israel will stop bombings and other targeted killings. Is this so? Not quite. One has to listen to the Palestinians to understand why? From their point of view, the Israeli occupation and the blockade of Gaza from air, land, and sea will not stop, even if the rockets being fired from Gaza are stopped. In the view of Palestinians, including Hamas, it is the Israeli occupation that is the root cause of the conflict. Until a permanent solution to this is found through negotiations, peace in Israel is not secured.

        But who can negotiate such a peace deal? Could the US be the broker for peace while at the same time being a close ally of Israel? There is differing opinion about this. But the intention of this article is not to dwell on this topic. It is basically to question the world powers’ conscience and the inability of the current world system and it’s multilateral agencies to exert enough pressure on Israel, being the occupying power, to move in the direction of peace negotiations rather than a military solution. Though it is reported that over 300,000 Jews live in the West Bank in well-secured settlements with government subsidies, and the hard line, conservative parties in the coalition are pressing for further expansion of such settlements -not less- from a long-term perspective, it makes every sense to reach a settlement with Palestinians. Yet Israel seems to be unwilling to do so citing its long-term security. The question one has to ask in this situation is whether Israel has much to lose materially if the occupation is ended, now that it has built a security wall separating so called Palestinians areas from the so called Jewish areas? Water seems to be a crucial factor for Israel along with the land, more than security that is driving its cravings for Palestinian occupation at any cost.

        Those Western governments that are advocating human rights, civil rights, and political rights of peoples governed by tyrants or semi dictators in the name of democracy in various parts of the world thus do not seem to have legitimacy for their calls for such rights so long as they are simultaneously supporting Israel’s occupation of Palestine, modern day apartheid being implemented on Palestinians’ land, and the ongoing carnage and human misery in Gaza. For such governments, there can’t be one logic applied to Israel as a nation among nations and another to various other nations who engage in mischief. The US and it’s allies need to try to resolve the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians by investing more resources and political will instead of repeating the Israeli line and setting aside the issue saying either it is too difficult or it is up to the warring parties to settle for peace. The Palestinians have two choices in this context: Succumb to Western and US pressure and accept the minimum to enjoy modern amenities of life in relative peace or suffer the consequences of a world system and its inaction if they choose to ask for their lost land, equal rights, self determination and liberation from occupation.

        The disenfranchised and humiliated Palestinian population under occupation and modern apartheid deserve the same quality of life, security, and opportunities as those desired by Israelis. In an age where Russian or Chinese expansionism is criticized by Western governments and it’s media as unacceptable and wrong in international law, it is very difficult for the observers of international affairs to understand how these governments can tolerate and almost accept Israeli expansionism that has been at play for over thirty years, against so many UN resolutions?

        Countries like China, Russia, and India also have a special duty to exert their political and moral power on the world stage to canvass support for a negotiated settlement. So should all peace loving peoples, organizations, and individuals around the world. When the mainstream media are biased, one option for these individuals and groups to obtain a balance of reports about the conflict is to access various online media and sites. We are living in an age where governments are increasingly controlling-not only governing- our lives. The tide can be reversed if as informed citizens we look at alternative news sources to obtain accurate reports about what’s happening in the world.

        - Dr. Siri Gamage contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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          Free Speech Firestorm Follows American Indian Studies Professor’s Firing

          English (US)  August 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

          Gale Courey Toensing

          The firing of Dr. Steven Salaita before ever teaching one class at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has provoked a backlash of opposition from thousands of scholars over free speech and academic freedom and promises to boycott the university.

          RELATED:
          Dr. Steven Salaita Fired for Speaking His Mind on Israel and Gaza

          Around 70 faculty in Chicana/o and Latino/a departments across the country expressed “outrage” at Salaita’s firing, calling it “a flagrant violation of academic freedom and an affront to our colleagues in American Indian Studies.”

          Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network

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            Salaita’s Background Is What the College Wanted, Not His Free Speech

            English (US)  August 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

            Gale Courey Toensing

            The move from Virginia to Illinois was already in the works when Dr. Steven Salaita, a Palestinian American scholar in Native American studies, was informed on August 1 by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise that the school would not be needing his services.

            RELATED: Dr. Steven Salaita Fired for Speaking His Mind on Israel and Gaza

            The firing came 15 days before Salaita was to address his first class at UIUC and came amidst him sharing his position on the current attacks by Israel in Gaza.

            His extensive body of work speaks volumes about what he offers in the classroom and shows why the faculty search committee selected him.

            Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network

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              Dr. Steven Salaita Fired for Speaking His Mind on Israel and Gaza

              English (US)  August 20th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


              Dr. Steven Salaita

              Gale Courey Toensing

              8/20/14

              The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has fired a tenured professor in the American Indian Studies program after he tweeted comments criticizing Israel and its actions in Gaza.

              Dr. Steven Salaita is a Palestinian American scholar in Native American studies, who has done groundbreaking work in comparative analysis of the Native American and Palestinian peoples’ experiences. He was scheduled to begin work at UIUC on August 16. But on August 1, UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise e-mailed that he would not have the job after all, according to the Chicago Tribune, which received university documents under the public records law. Wise said that the board of trustees was unlikely to approve Salaita’s appointment so she would not forward it to them, the Tribune said.

              Read more at Indian County Today Media Network

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                Hashtag Genocide: Why Gaza Fought Back

                English (US)  August 13th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                Al-Qassam mosque of Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza, destroyed in Israeli strikes. (Ahmed Al-Tawil)

                By Ramzy Baroud

                My old family house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza was recently rebuilt by its new owner, into a beautiful three-story building with large windows adorned by red frames. In Israel’s most recent and deadliest war on Gaza, the house sustained significant damage. A large hole caused by Israeli missiles can be seen from afar, in a part of the house where our kitchen once stood.

                It seems that the original target was not my house, however, but that of our kindly neighbor, who had spent his entire working-life toiling between manual jobs in Israel, and later in life as a janitor for UN-operated schools in Gaza. The man’s whole lifesavings were invested in his house where several families lived. After “warning” rockets blew up part of his house, several missiles pulverized the rest.

                My entire neighborhood was also destroyed. I saw photos of the wreckage-filled neighborhood by accident on Facebook. The clearance where we played football as little kids was filled with holes left by missiles and shrapnel. The shop where I used my allowance to buy candy, was blown up. Even the graveyard where our dead were meant to “rest in peace” was anything but peaceful. Signs of war and destruction were everywhere.

                [More:]

                My last visit there was about two years ago. I caught up with my neighbors on the latest politics and the news of who was dead and who was still alive underneath the shady wall of my old house. One complained about his latest ailments, telling me that his son Mahmoud had been killed as he had been a freedom fighter with a Palestinian resistance movement.

                I couldn’t fathom the idea that Mahmoud, the child I remembered as running around half-naked with a runny nose, had become a fierce fighter with an automatic rifle ready to take on the Israeli army. But that he was, and he was killed on duty.

                Time changes everything. Time has changed Gaza. But the strip was never a passive place of people subsisting on hand-outs or a pervasive sense of victimhood. Being a freedom fighter preceded any rational thinking about life and the many choices it had to offer growing up in a refugee camp, and all the little kids of my generation wanted to join the Fedayeen.

                But options for Gazans are becoming much more limited than ever before, even for my generation.

                Since Israel besieged Gaza with Egypt’s help and coordination, life for Gazans has become largely about mere survival. The strip has been turned into a massive ground for an Israeli experiment concerned with population control. Gazans were not allowed to venture out, fish, or farm, and those who got even close to some arbitrary “buffer zone,” determined by the Israeli army within Gaza’s own borders, were shot and often killed.

                With time the population of the strip knew that they were alone. The short stint that brought Mohammed Morsi to power in Egypt offered Gaza some hope and a respite, but it soon ended. The siege, after the overthrow of Morsi became tighter than ever before.

                The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah did very little to help Gaza. To ensure the demise of Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority carried on with its “security coordination” with Israel, as Gaza suffered a Draconian siege. There was no question, that after all the failed attempts at breaking the siege and the growing isolation of Gaza, Gazans had to find their own way out of the blockade.

                When Israeli began its bombardment campaign of Gaza on July 6, and a day later with the official launch of the so-called Operation Protective Edge, followed by a ground invasion, it may have seemed that Gaza was ready to surrender.

                Political analysts have been advising that Hamas has been at its weakest following the downturn of the Arab Spring, the loss of its Egyptian allies, and the dramatic shift of its fortunes in Syria and, naturally Iran. The “Hamas is ready to fold” theory was advanced by the logic surrounding the unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah; and unity was seen largely as a concession by Hamas to Abbas’ Fatah movement, which continued to enjoy western political backing and monetary support.

                The killing of three Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank in late June was the opportunity for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to test the misleading theory on Hamas’ weakened position. He launched his war that eventually mounted into a genocide, hoping that Hamas and other resistance groups would be forced to disarm or be completely eradicated – as promised by various Israeli officials.

                But it didn’t. From the very first days of the war it became clear the resistance could not be defeated, at least not as easily as Netanyahu had expected. The more troops he invested in the war on Gaza, the more Israeli army casualties increased. Netanyahu’s response was to increase the price of Palestinian resistance by inflicting as much harm on Palestinian civilians as possible: He killed over 1,900, wounded nearly 10,000, a vast majority of whom were civilians, and destroyed numerous schools, mosques, hospitals, and thousands of homes, thus sending hundreds of thousands of people on the run. But where does one run when there is nowhere to go?

                Israel’s usual cautious political discourse was crumbling before Gaza’s steadfastness. Israeli officials and media began to openly call for genocide. Middle East commentator Jeremy Salt explained:

                “The more extreme of the extreme amongst the Zionists say out loud that the Palestinians have to be wiped out or at the very least driven into Sinai,” he wrote, citing Moshe Feiglin, the deputy of the Israeli Knesset, who called for “full military conquest of the Gaza strip and the expulsion of its inhabitants. They would be held in tent encampments along the Sinai border while their final destination was decided. Those who continued to resist would be exterminated.”

                From Israeli commentator Yochanan Gordon, who flirted with genocide in “when genocide is permissible,” to Ayelet Shaked, who advocated the killing of the mothers of those who resist and are killed by Israel. “They should follow their sons. Nothing would be more just. They should go as should the physical houses in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise more little snakes are raised,” he wrote on Facebook.

                References to genocide and extermination and other devastatingly violent language are no longer “claims” levied by Israeli critics, but a loud and daily self-indictment made by the Israelis themselves.

                The Israelis are losing control of their decades-long hasbara, a propaganda scheme so carefully knitted and implemented, many the world over were fooled by it. Palestinians, those in Gaza in particular, were never blind to Israel’s genocidal intentions. They assembled their resistance with the full knowledge that a fight for their very survival awaited.

                Israel’s so-called Protective Edge is the final proof of Israel’s unabashed face, that of genocide. It carried it out, this time paying little attention to the fact that the whole world was watching. Trending Twitter hashtags which began with #GazaUnderAttack, then #GazaResists, quickly morphed to #GazaHolocaust. The latter was used by many that never thought they would dare make such comparisons.

                Gaza managed to keep Israel at bay in a battle of historic proportions. Once its children are buried, it will once again rebuild its defenses for the next battle. For Palestinians in Gaza, this is not about mere resistance strategies, but their very survival.

                - Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People’s History at the University of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).
                Palestine Chronicle

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                  Unionists Say Stop the Attack on Gaza -- Support BDS!

                  English (US)  August 13th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                  Below is a statment signed by 300 U.S. unionists against Israel's Gaza rampage. Maybe we have missed it, but the statements of SUPPORT for Israeli attacks usually produced by TOP U.S. labor officials seem to be missing. Have there been any?

                  Stop the War on Gaza: No Arms for Apartheid Israel — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions!
                  July 28, 2014

                  "We call on the UN and governments across the world to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel, similar to that imposed on South Africa during apartheid." Palestinian Trade Unions and Civil Society, Stop Arming Israel, July 20, 2014

                  "For the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent." Beyond Vietnam, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1967

                  Read the full statement at The Struggle

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                    George Clooney’s Fiancée Rejects UN Gaza War Crimes Commission

                    English (US)  August 12th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                    AP Images
                    George Clooney and fiancée Amal Alamuddin

                    Gale Courey Toensing

                    Amal Alamuddin, actor George Clooney’s fiancée, has turned down a United Nations appointment to a commission investigating possible war crimes in the occupied Gaza Strip during Israel’s military offensive.

                    The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council announced Monday that Alamuddin, a Lebanese-born British human rights attorney, would join two other experts on a special commission to investigate looking into possible violations of the rules of war during the Israeli offensive against Hamas. The council is a 47 member-state body elected by the member states of the U.N. Its mission is to promote human rights.

                    But just hours after the HRC announcement, Clooney’s Hollywood agent, Stan Rosenfield, issued a statement on Alamuddin’s behalf saying she had pulled out of participating in the probe, The Guardian reported.

                    Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network

                    149 words posted in Human Rights, Apartheid StateLeave a comment

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                      Keith Harper on Indigenous Rights, Redskins and the Israel/Hamas Conflict

                      English (US)  August 12th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                      Courtesy U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva
                      Keith Harper, Cherokee Nation, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council

                      Gale Courey Toensing

                      Keith Harper, a Cherokee Nation citizen, was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the United State ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 3, 2014. Harper is the first citizen of a federally recognized tribe to reach the rank of U.S. ambassador. He arrived in Geneva a week after his Senate appointment and has been on the job non-stop since then.

                      RELATED: Keith Harper, Cherokee Nation Citizen, Confirmed as Ambassador

                      Harper’s ambassadorship caps two decades of legal work on behalf of Native Americans, including a partnership at the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, where he was chair of the Native American Practice Group; senior staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund; Supreme Court Justice on the Supreme Court of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians; and appellate justice on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.

                      ICTMN was pleased for the opportunity to conduct this interview. “This will be my first on-the-record interview since assuming my position so I wanted to be sure we did it with [a publication from] Indian country,” he said.

                      What is your mission as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council?

                      Read the full story at
                      Indian Country Today Media Network.

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                        ISRAEL’S ‘FINAL SOLUTION’ FOR GAZA

                        English (US)  August 2nd, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                        By Gulamhusein A. Abba

                        The thud of Hamas rockets landing in Israel is the voice
                        of Palestinian resistance. The current war by Israel on Gaza
                        is its desperate attempt to silence this voice.

                        *************
                        Hamas is resisting the long drawn, nearly half a century long
                        brutal occupation. And Israel, the occupier has been trying
                        to snuff out this sole source of resistance. Its present carnage
                        in Gaza is its desperate attempt to realize this goal once and for all.
                        **************


                        In justifying Israel’s current war on Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that Gazan terrorists led by Hamas are raining thousands of rockets on Israel in an attempt destroy it, to wipe it off the map, in accordance with their charter. This poses an ‘existential threat’ to Israel and it is the duty of the government to protect its people and defend Israel. It is with this goal in mind Israel has launched the current operation to find and destroy the tunnels Gazans use to infiltrate into Israel and kill its soldiers, and, to locate and destroy the manufacturing, storage and launching sites of the rockets, the training centers and ‘command centers’ of Hamas. (Israel includes homes of Hamas militants and leaders under the term .command centers’)

                        On the face of it, this seems a perfectly valid explanation.

                        [More:]

                        The problem is that each and every component of this claim is false. The rockets falling in Israel are being fired not by ‘terrorists’ but by the democratically elected representatives of ALL Palestinians, including those living in the West Bank.

                        In the Palestinian parliamentary elections for the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem held on January 25, 2006, Hamas won a plurality of 42.9% of the total vote and 74 out of 132 total seats (56%). These elections were certified as being free and fair by international observers. When Hamas assumed power the next month, the Israeli government, the United States and the EU, refused to recognize its right to govern the Palestinian Authority.

                        As for Hamas trying to destroy Israel and wipe it off the map, it is true that its charter, drawn up way back in 1988, mentions eliminating Israel and replacing it with a single unified state embracing all of Palestine. It nowhere speaks of ‘driving all the Jews into the sea’. In any event, Hamas has changed its stance on this issue. Hamas leaders have repeatedly stated that Hamas is ready and willing to accept Israel within 1967 borders that were established after the 1967 war which Israel initiated. It should be noted that the 1967 borders encompass for Israel about 78% of Palestine as it existed in 1947/48 instead of about 55% allotted to it by the UN resolution creating Israel.

                        Limitations of space prevent me from listing all the statements made to this effect by Hamas leaders. Suffice it to record that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal indicated to Robert Pastor, senior adviser to the Carter Center, that the Charter is "a piece of history and no longer relevant …………” and Pastor has stated that that those who quote the charter rather than more recent Hamas statements may be using the Charter as an excuse to ignore Hamas.

                        Given that Hamas has no army, no tanks, no planes, no gunships, no drones, no guided missiles, Hamas cannot even imagine wiping Israel off the map with its primitive, unguided and hopelessly ineffective rockets! These rockets are being fired to send a message to the world and especially to Israel that Palestinians will never lie down on their backs and allow Israel to ride roughshod over them, that Palestinians will never surrender and submit meekly to Israel, that Israel will never have peace and tranquility as long as it keeps Palestinians under its boots.

                        The thud of Hamas rockets landing in Israel is the voice of Palestinian resistance. The current war by Israel on Gaza is its desperate attempt to silence this voice.
                        After all Hamas was formed by Palestinians who believed that the Road Map of peace negotiations crafted by the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations) with the US as an “honest broker”, and agreed to by PLO and the PA, was not the right path to follow. They felt that history had shown that Israel was using it just to delay the creation of a Palestinian state and use the time gained to grab more and more Palestinian land, build Israeli only settlements and roads on them and transfer thousands of Israelis from Israel to these settlements. They felt that resisting the occupation and persistently demanding its end was the only way to get the yoke of occupation off the backs of Palestinians and get for them an independent and sovereign Palestinian state
                        Hamas was formed to give the Palestinians an alternative to the path the PA had chosen to travel. And they chose the path Hamas offered by electing it to power in the parliamentary elections for the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem held on January 25, 2006 – the only fair, free and democratic elections held for that region till now.

                        It needs to be emphasized, and understood by the world, that Gaza (as also West Bank and East Jerusalem) is OCCUPIED territory, and people living in occupied territory have an internationally recognized right to resist the occupation. Hamas is resisting the long drawn nearly half a century long brutal occupation. And Israel, the occupier has been trying to snuff out this sole source of resistance. Its present carnage in Gaza is its desperate attempt to realize this goal once and for all.

                        What is being bombed and destroyed are not just the tunnels and the manufacturing, storage and launching sites of the rockets, the training centers and ‘command centers’ of Hamas. What is being bombed is all of Gaza’s infrastructure, including its sole power generator. What is being bombed are homes of innocent civilians, schools (including UN schools where Palestinians seek refuge), hospitals and mosques. Entire neighborhoods are being reduced to rubble. And those being killed are not only Hamas militants but innocent mn, women and children, in several cases entire families. More than a thousand Palestinians have been killed and more than 85% of them are innocent civilians.

                        Had it been any other country than Israel committing this monstrosity, hell would have broken loose by now. In the case of Iraq, we not only got its occupation of Kuwait vacated by force in record time but also chased the Iraqi army to the gates of Basra, leaving behind a graveyard of burnt-out Iraqi jeeps and charred bodies of Iraqi soldiers.

                        In the case of the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel, even when the occupier is committing war crimes, the US and its allies content themselves by calling on both sides to “negotiate” and “exercise restraint”.

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                          The Palestinians’ Right to Self-Defense

                          English (US)  July 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                          Truthout

                          Chris Hedges

                          If Israel insists, as the Bosnian Serbs did in Sarajevo, on using the weapons of industrial warfare against a helpless civilian population then that population has an inherent right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The international community will have to either act to immediately halt Israeli attacks and lift the blockade of Gaza or acknowledge the right of the Palestinians to use weapons to defend themselves.

                          No nation, including any in the Muslim world, appears willing to intervene to protect the Palestinians. No world body, including the United Nations, appears willing or able to pressure Israel through sanctions to conform to the norms of international law. And the longer we in the world community fail to act, the worse the spiral of violence will become.

                          Israel does not have the right to drop 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs on Gaza. It does not have the right to pound Gaza with heavy artillery and with shells lobbed from gunboats. It does not have the right to send in mechanized ground units or to target hospitals, schools and mosques, along with Gaza’s water and electrical systems. It does not have the right to displace over 100,000 people from their homes. The entire occupation, under which Israel has nearly complete control of the sea, the air and the borders of Gaza, is illegal.

                          [More:]

                          Violence, even when employed in self-defense, is a curse. It empowers the ruthless and punishes the innocent. It leaves in its aftermath horrific emotional and physical scars. But, as I learned in Sarajevo during the 1990s Bosnian War, when forces bent on your annihilation attack you relentlessly, and when no one comes to your aid, you must aid yourself. When Sarajevo was being hit with 2,000 shells a day and under heavy sniper fire in the summer of 1995 no one among the suffering Bosnians spoke to me about wanting to mount nonviolent resistance. No one among them saw the U.N.-imposed arms embargo against the Bosnian government as rational, given the rain of sniper fire and the 90-millimeter tank rounds and 155-millimeter howitzer shells that were exploding day and night in the city. The Bosnians were reduced, like the Palestinians in Gaza, to smuggling in light weapons through clandestine tunnels. Their enemies, the Serbs—like the Israelis in the current conflict—were constantly trying to blow up tunnels. The Bosnian forces in Sarajevo, with their meager weapons, desperately attempted to hold the trench lines that circled the city. And it is much the same in Gaza. It was only repeated NATO airstrikes in the fall of 1995 that prevented the Bosnian-held areas from being overrun by advancing Serbian forces. The Palestinians cannot count on a similar intervention.
                          The number of dead in Gaza resulting from the Israeli assault has topped 650, and about 80 percent have been civilians. The number of wounded Palestinians is over 4,000 and a substantial fraction of these victims are children. At what point do the numbers of dead and wounded justify self-defense? 5,000? 10,000? 20,000? At what point do Palestinians have the elemental right to protect their families and their homes?

                          Article 51 does not answer these specific questions, but the International Court of Justice does in the case of Nicaragua v. United States. The court ruled in that case that a state must endure an armed attack before it can resort to self-defense. The definition of an armed attack, in addition to being “action by regular armed forces across an international border,” includes sending or sponsoring armed bands, mercenaries or irregulars that commit acts of force against another state. The court held that any state under attack must first request outside assistance before undertaking armed self-defense. According to U.N. Charter Article 51, a state’s right to self-defense ends when the Security Council meets the terms of the article by “tak[ing] the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

                          The failure of the international community to respond has left the Palestinians with no choice. The United States, since Israel’s establishment in 1948, has vetoed in the U.N. Security Council more than 40 resolutions that sought to curb Israel’s lust for occupation and violence against the Palestinians. And it has ignored the few successful resolutions aimed at safeguarding Palestinian rights, such as Security Council Resolution 465, passed in 1980.

                          Resolution 465 stated that the “Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 is applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem.” The resolution went on to warn Israel that “all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

                          Israel, as an occupying power, is in direct violation of Article III of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. This convention lays out the minimum standards for the protection of civilians in a conflict that is not international in scope. Article 3(1) states that those who take no active role in hostilities must be treated humanely, without discrimination, regardless of racial, social, religious or economic distinctions. The article prohibits certain acts commonly carried out against noncombatants in regions of armed conflict, including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture. It prohibits the taking of hostages as well as sentences given without adequate due process of law. Article 3(2) mandates care for the sick and wounded.

                          Israel has not only violated the tenets of Article III but has amply fulfilled the conditions of an aggressor state as defined by Article 51. But for Israel, as for the United States, international law holds little importance. The U.S. ignored the verdict of the international court in Nicaragua v. United States and, along with Israel, does not accept the jurisdiction of the tribunal. It does not matter how many Palestinians are killed or wounded, how many Palestinian homes are demolished, how dire the poverty becomes in Gaza or the West Bank, how many years Gaza is under a blockade or how many settlements go up on Palestinian territory. Israel, with our protection, can act with impunity.

                          The unanimous U.S. Senate vote in support of the Israeli attacks on Gaza, the media’s slavish parroting of Israeli propaganda and the Obama administration’s mindless repetition of pro-Israeli clichés have turned us into cheerleaders for Israeli war crimes. We fund and abet these crimes with $3.1 billion a year in military aid to Israel. We are responsible for the slaughter. No one in the establishment, including our most liberal senator, Bernie Sanders, dares defy the Israel lobby. And since we refuse to act to make peace and justice possible we should not wonder why the Palestinians carry out armed resistance.

                          The Palestinians will reject, as long as possible, any cease-fire that does not include a lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. They have lost hope that foreign governments will save them. They know their fate rests in their own hands. The revolt in Gaza is an act of solidarity with the world outside its walls. It is an attempt to assert in the face of overwhelming odds and barbaric conditions the humanity and agency of the Palestinian people. There is little in life that Palestinians can choose, but they can choose how to die. And many Palestinians, especially young men trapped in overcrowded hovels where they have no work and little dignity, will risk immediate death to defy the slow, humiliating death of occupation.

                          I cannot blame them.

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                            HRW Whitewashes Israel, The Law Supports Hamas: Some Reflections on Israel’s Latest Massacre

                            English (US)  July 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                            Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, speaking at the Münich Security Conference in 2012.

                            HRW Whitewashes Israel, The Law Supports Hamas: Some Reflections on Israel’s Latest Massacre

                            [The analysis and data in this article refer to the period prior to the Israeli ground invasion.]

                            On 7 July 2014, Israel unleashed Operation Protective Edge against Gaza. When it launched a ground invasion on 18 July 2014, Israel had already killed 230 Gazan Palestinians, of whom seventy-five percent (171) were civilians and twenty percent (forty-eight) children, wounded more than 1,700, and destroyed or rendered uninhabitable hundreds of homes leaving more than ten thousand Gazans without shelter. On the other side, according to daily updates Palestinian projectiles had killed one Israeli civilian, wounded eighteen, and damaged three Israeli homes. It is hard to conceive of a more disproportionate balance sheet in an alleged “war.”

                            [More:]

                            Nonetheless, Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its legal reckoning, did not so much even out as reverse the balance sheet. It never explicitly accused Israel of committing war crimes, whereas its first press release already accused Hamas of committing war crimes. If in fact HRW accurately interpreted the laws of war, the only rational conclusion would be that these laws are morally bankrupt and deserving of contempt: they would not be distilling but instead grossly distorting the moral realities of war, as they exonerate the major perpetrators of war crimes. But did HRW accurately interpret the laws of war, or did this influential human rights organization give Israel a green light to commit war crimes on a yet more massive scale during the ground invasion? Let us look at the record.

                            Israel

                            In its first press release on 9 July 2014, “Indiscriminate Palestinian Rocket Attacks; Israeli Airstrikes on Homes Appear to be Collective Punishment,” HRW stated that “Israeli attacks targeting homes may amount to prohibited collective punishment.” In its second press release on 16 July, “Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians; Bombings of Civilian Structures Suggest Illegal Policy,” HRW stated that “Israeli air attacks in Gaza…have been targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war. Israel should end unlawful attacks that do not target military objectives and may be intended as collective punishment or broadly to destroy civilian property.” It then proceeded to legally define the meaning of war crimes, but artfully avoided accusing Israel of committing them.

                            In these statements HRW doubly distanced itself from alleging Israeli war crimes: first, it qualified the weight of the incriminating evidence—“appear,” “may,” “apparent,” “may be”; second, it recoiled from explicitly charging Israel with war crimes and instead settled for lesser or vaguer charges—“collective punishment,” “violation of the laws of war,” “unlawful attacks.” The cautiousness perplexes in light of the evidence assembled by HRW itself.

                            In conformity with tenets of international law, HRW stated that “indiscriminate or targeted,” “deliberate or reckless,” attacks directed at civilians or civilian structures constituted “war crimes.” If Israel had a declared policy of targeting civilian homes and seventy-five percent of casualties were civilians, Israel prima facie committed war crimes. Why did HRW not reach this conclusion?

                            Although acknowledging that Israel targeted homes of Hamas militants “that do not serve an immediate military purpose,” HRW denounced these targeted attacks on civilian structures as mere “collective punishment.” Contrastingly, in an 11 July press release, “UN Must Impose Arms Embargo and Mandate an International Investigation as Civilian Death Toll Rises,” Amnesty International forthrightly and unequivocally stated that Israel’s targeting of Hamas militants’ homes not making an “effective contribution to military action…constitutes a war crime and also amounts to collective punishment against the families.”

                            HRW investigated four Israeli strikes in Gaza that resulted in civilian casualties. It consistently found “no evidence,” and “the Israeli military has presented no evidence,” that Israel was “attacking lawful military objectives or acted to minimize civilian casualties.” HRW also observed that “Israel has wrongly claimed as a matter of policy that civilian members of Hamas or other political groups who do not have a military role are ‘terrorists’ and therefore valid military targets” (emphasis added). “Israel’s rhetoric is all about precision attacks,” HRW’s Middle East director stated in the second press release, “but attacks with no military target and many civilian deaths can hardly be considered precise.” If, however, Israel’s “precision attacks” killed civilians in the absence of any military objective, did these not precisely constitute war crimes?

                            “Israel launched 1,800 air raids in one of the most densely populated areas of Gaza,” Raji Sourani, the respected human rights lawyer and founder of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, observed. “It is a shame that Israel and the international community allow this to happen. These are war crimes, just as simple as that.” It really is that simple, and it is worse than a shame that HRW, by its muted legal findings, enables this to happen.

                            Palestinian armed groups

                            “Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel appear to be indiscriminate or targeted at civilian population centers,” Human Rights Watch’s first press release stated, “which are war crimes.” On this point, Amnesty concurred. But are projectile attacks by Hamas (used here as short-hand for all Palestinian armed groups) war crimes or even illegal? In fact, the law is more ambiguous than often allowed.

                            International law prohibits an occupying power from using force to suppress a struggle for self-determination, whereas it does not prohibit a people struggling for self-determination from using force.[1] The International Court of Justice (ICJ) stated in its 2004 advisory opinion that the Palestinian people’s “rights include the right to self-determination,” and that “Israel is bound to comply with its obligation to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.” Israel consequently has no legal right to use force to suppress the Palestinian self-determination struggle. Israel also cannot contend that, because this self-determination struggle unfolds within the framework of an occupation, it has the legal right, as the occupying power, to enforce the occupation so long as it endures.[2] In 1971, the ICJ ruled that South Africa’s occupation of Namibia had become illegal because it refused to carry out good-faith negotiations to end the occupation. It is beyond dispute that Israel has failed to carry out good-faith negotiations to end the occupation of Palestinian territory. On the Namibia precedent, the Israeli occupation is also illegal. The only “right” Israel can claim is—in the words of the United States at the time of the Namibia debate—“to withdraw its administration…immediately and thus put an end to its occupation.”[3]

                            Although claiming for itself the right of self-defense against Hamas projectiles, in fact Israel is claiming the right to maintain the occupation. If Israel ceased using force to suppress the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, the occupation would end, and the projectile attacks would cease. (If they did not stop, the legal situation would, of course, be different.) If it ended the occupation, Israel would not need to use force. The refrain that Israel has the right to self-defense is a red herring: the real question is, Does Israel have the right to use force to maintain an illegal occupation? The answer is no.

                            It might be said that, even if Israel cannot use force to suppress the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, Hamas’s use of indiscriminate projectiles and its targeting of Israeli civilians still constitute war crimes. Here, it is useful to first recall another instance of HRW’s egregious double standard. In 2008, HRW issued a report entitled Flooding South Lebanon: Israel’s use of cluster munitions in Lebanon in July and August 2006. The report found that Israel dropped as many as 4.6 million cluster munitions on south Lebanon during the 2006 war. It was, in HRW’s words, “the most extensive use of cluster munitions anywhere in the world since the 1991 Gulf war,” while relative to the size of the targeted area the density of the attack was historically unprecedented. Some ninety percent of these cluster munitions were dropped during the final three days “when Israel knew a settlement was imminent” (HRW), the UN ceasefire resolution having already been passed but not yet gone into effect. But, although finding that Israel committed “extensive violations” of the laws of war, HRW did not go beyond stating that Israel’s massive resort to cluster munitions was “in some locations possibly a war crime.” Yet, the evidence HRW itself assembled showed that cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons; the cluster munitions carriers used by Israel were, on HRW’s own terms, indiscriminate; and the cluster munitions were fired indiscriminately and deliberately targeted civilian population centers.

                            It is not altogether clear what constitutes an indiscriminate weapon. The apparent standard is a relative one set by the available technology: If an existing weapon has a high probability of hitting its target, then any weapons with a significantly lower probability are classified as indiscriminate. But, by this standard, only rich countries, or countries rich enough to purchase high-tech weapons, have a right to defend themselves against high-tech aerial assaults. It is a curious law that would negate the raison d’être of law: the substitution of might by right.

                            Human Rights Watch has argued that, even if its civilians are being relentlessly targeted, a people does not have a legal right to carry out “belligerent reprisals”—that is, to deliberately target the civilians of the opposing state until it desists. “Regardless of who started this latest round, attacks targeting civilians violate basic humanitarian norms,” HRW’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa director stated in the first press release. “All attacks, including reprisal attacks, that target or indiscriminately harm civilians are prohibited under the laws of war, period.” Not so. International law does not—at any rate, not yet—prohibit belligerent reprisals.[4]The United States and Britain, among others, have staunchly defended the right of a state to use nuclear weapons by way of belligerent reprisal.[5] By this standard, the people of Gaza surely have the right to use makeshift projectiles to end an illegal, merciless seven-year-long Israeli blockade or to end Israel’s criminal bombardment of Gaza’s civilian population. Indeed, in its landmark 1996 advisory opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons, the ICJ ruled that international law is not settled on the right of a state to use nuclear weapons when its “survival” is at stake. But, if a state might have the right to use nuclear weapons when its survival is at stake, then surely a people struggling for self-determination has the right to use makeshift projectiles when it has been subjected to slow death by a protracted blockade and recurrent massacres by a state determined to maintain its occupation.

                            One might legitimately question the political prudence of Hamas’s strategy. But the law is not unambiguously against it, while the scales of morality weigh in its favor. Israel has imposed a brutal blockade on Gaza. Fully ninety-five percent of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption. By all accounts, the Palestinian people now stand behind those engaging in belligerent reprisals against Israel. In the Gaza Strip, they prefer to die resisting than to continue living under an inhuman blockade. Their resistance is mostly notional, as makeshift projectiles cause little damage. So, the ultimate question is, Do Palestinians have the right to symbolically resist slow death punctuated by periodic massacres, or must they lie down and die?

                            [1] International law is either neutral on or supports (scholars differ) the right of a people struggling for self-determination to use force. James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law, second edition (Oxford: 2006), 135-37, 147; Heather A. Wilson, International Law and the Use of Force by National Liberation Movements (Oxford: 1988), 135-36; A. Rigo Sureda, The Evolution of the Right to Self-Determination: A study of United Nations practice (Leiden: 1973),. 331, 343-44, 354.

                            [2] Yoram Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict (Cambridge: 2004), 35, 94.

                            [3] See Norman G. Finkelstein and Mouin Rabbani, How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict (forthcoming 2015).

                            [4] Jean-Marie Henckaerts and Louise Doswald-Beck, Customary International Humanitarian Law, Volume 1: Rules (Cambridge: 2005), 523; A. P. V. Rogers, Law on the Battlefield, second edition (Manchester: 2004), 235.

                            [5] Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (8 July 1996)—Letter dated 16 June 1995 from the Legal Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, together with Written Comments of the United Kingdom; Letter dated 20 June 1995 from the Acting Legal Adviser to the Department of State, together with Written Statement of the Government of the United States of America; Oral Statement of US representative (15 November 1995); Dissenting Opinion of Vice-President Schwebel. The ICJ itself elected not to rule on the legality of belligerent reprisals, para 46.

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                              Revealed: the Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces

                              English (US)  July 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                              Revealed: the Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces

                              More children than Palestinian fighters are being killed in Israel's offensive on Gaza, according to the UN. Shown here are the name, age, and sex of 132 of those children, recorded by the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights

                              See graphics at THE TELEGRAPH
                              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10984259/Revealed-the-Palestinian-children-killed-by-Israeli-forces.html

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                                Senator, Could You Have the Decency to Condemn the Shelling of the UN School?

                                English (US)  July 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                Stan Heller, chair of the Middle East Crisis Committee, confronts Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy on his unconditional obsequious support of Israel:

                                27 words posted in American ZionismLeave a comment

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                                  Do American Indians celebrate the forth of July?

                                  English (US)  July 4th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                  Dennis Zotigh
                                  7/4/14

                                  (The following was originally posted on July 3, 2013 by the National Museum of American Indian and has been updated with more readers’ comments and descriptions. Follow the discussion on the museum's Facebook page.)

                                  How do Indians observe the 4th of July? Do we celebrate? To answer, let’s turn back the pages of time. A reasonable chapter to begin in is July 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and 13 colonies became the United States of America. With the emergence of a nation interested in expanding its territory came the issue of what to do with American Indians. History tells us that as the American non-Indian population increased, the indigenous population greatly decreased, along with their homelands and cultural freedoms.

                                  From the beginning, U.S. government policy contributed to culture and land loss. Keeping our focus on the 4th of July, however, let’s jump to the early 1880s, when Secretary of the Interior Henry Teller developed what has come to be called the Religious Crimes Code—regulations at the heart of the Department of Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, Code of Indian Offenses that prohibited American Indian ceremonial life.

                                  Teller's general guidelines to all Indian agents were to end tribal dances and feasts. Enforced on reservations, the code banned Indian ceremonies, disrupted religious practices, and destroyed or confiscated sacred objects. Indian ceremonial activities were prohibited under threat of imprisonment and/or the withholding of treaty rations.

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                                    Working on Acknowledgment – Interior’s New Hawaiian Recognition Initiative

                                    English (US)  June 25th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                    Gale Courey Toensing
                                    6/25/14
                                    On June 18, the Interior Department issued a press release announcing it is taking “a first step to consider reestablishing a government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian community.” The purpose, the release says, “would be to more effectively implement the special political and trust relationship that currently exists between the Federal government and the Native Hawaiian community.”

                                    Interior issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) – a sort of notice of a possible coming notice of a proposed new rule – that lays out a series of public meetings and consultations in Hawaii and Indian country over the next 60 days, beginning June 23 in Honolulu. The meetings are to solicit comments to help Interior decide if it will move ahead and develop a formal, administrative procedure for “reestablishing” an official government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community and if so, what that procedure should be.

                                    The issue is fraught with complexities, including a growing Hawaiian sovereignty movement that wants its country back. While Interior considers “reestablishing” a government-to-government relationship with Hawaii, the last time one existed was before the U.S. government's illegal military-backed regime change in Hawaii, a sovereign independent state, in 1893 and its backing of a U.S.-controlled ''provisional government'' in violation of treaties and international law.

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                                      Vets Seek to Honor and Be Honored by Bald Eagle

                                      English (US)  June 24th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                      Gale Courey Toensing

                                      Two Vietnam War veterans are hoping that Wisconsin’s statewide observance of American Eagle Day on Friday, June 20, will become an annual event honoring veterans at military posts through the country.

                                      Jim Overman, a citizen of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, and Larry Kutschma, a member of the state’s Board of Veterans Affairs, and past Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) State Commander, took the first step toward their goal by asking Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to issue a proclamation declaring June 20 American Eagle Day throughout the state of Wisconsin. The date is significant: It was on June 20, 1782, that Congress proclaimed the bald eagle as America’s national emblem.

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                                        What Is US Ambassador Keith Harper Calling a ‘Global Scourge’?

                                        English (US)  June 24th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                        Gale Courey Toensing
                                        6/24/14
                                        Describing violence against indigenous women and girls as a “global scourge,” Keith Harper, the United States ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council, called on the world peace organization to use everything in its toolbox to address the problem and urged the upcoming World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to raise awareness of it throughout the U.N. system.

                                        “As we prepare for the upcoming World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, we express great concern that indigenous women and girls often suffer multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and poverty that increase their vulnerability to all forms of violence. We also stress the need to seriously address the high and disproportionate rates of violence, which takes many forms, against indigenous women and girls worldwide,” Harper said on Tuesday (June 24) at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. ”Indigenous women and girls have the same human rights and fundamental freedoms as everyone else, and a common recognition of those rights must underpin efforts to address violence against indigenous women and girls.

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                                          Epic Paskenta Dispute Continues, Despite BIA Cease and Desist Letter

                                          English (US)  June 15th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                          Gale Courey Toensing

                                          A nine-week leadership and disenrollment fight in the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians of California that threatened to spiral out of control into violence abated for a brief moment when the Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a cease and desist letter on June 9. That message ordered one faction to stop illegally operating the tribe’s Rolling Hills Casino, and stated that the agency recognized the elected tribal council as the tribe’s legitimate governing body, and would continue to do so until the tribe resolves its internal dispute according to its own laws and practices. But the BIA’s intervention did not end the dispute: an appeal of the cease and desist order was filed almost immediately and the conflict continues.

                                          Troy Burdick, the superintendent of the BIA’s Sacramento office, issued the administrative cease-and-desist order in a letter based on information received from the State Attorney General's Office and the Tehama County Sheriff's Office.

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                                            Velky to Washburn: Third Party Fed Rec Veto is Unconstitutional

                                            English (US)  June 9th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                            Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky

                                            Gale Courey Toensing
                                            6/9/14
                                            A proposal granting a third party veto power over a tribe’s effort to re-petition for federal recognition is unconstitutional, according to the chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.

                                            In a May 27 letter to the Interior Department’s Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs (ASIA) Kevin Washburn, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN) Chief Richard Velky said that the discussion draft of changes to the federal recognition regulations issued last spring was well received in Indian country. But not so with the proposed regulations announced in May, which included a new supplemental provision giving third parties that have been involved in litigation against tribes veto power over those tribes’ right to re-petition. Tribes would have to go to the same third party that fought its federal recognition at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Interior Board of Indian Appeals and/or in federal court to get their consent before re-petitioning. In Connecticut, which has fought indigenous sovereignty for almost 400 years, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none, Indian leaders say.

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                                              The Books That Brought Bad Luck

                                              English (US)  June 8th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                              Johnny Rustywire

                                              “She had some children. A boy named Yagah, one called Moav, and Voo-muw-watch. In the English way of speaking she is called Maggie.”

                                              “Are those children still living?”

                                              It was winter. The snows were deep and Tagah was going to have a baby.
                                              It was a bad time to have a small one. Those looking for gold were pushing Nuche back deep into the forest, away from the hot springs they loved, their winter camp

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                                                Video: The Invasion of America—Watch the Indigenous Land Base Shrink

                                                English (US)  June 8th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                Steve Russell

                                                American Indians in the United States know there was a time when we represented 100 percent of the population and owned 100 percent of the land. When we think of how we got where we are, the date that matters is 1492, because the Norse settlements that steal Columbus’s thunder were well north of the U.S.

                                                Of course, there was no U.S. in 1492, and there would not be for almost 300 years. Columbus kicked off the greatest treasure hunt in human history, and the Spanish royalty he represented hauled off the lion’s share of precious metals.

                                                Gold and silver were not the whole story. If they had been, the colonists could have been bought off with mining concessions. Europe was feudal when the Americas beckoned, and the basis of wealth in a feudal society is land. Every tract, or fief, belonged to some warlord, and the right to the labor of the actual occupants “ran with the land.”

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                                                  St. Regis Land Rights Lawsuit Nears Settlement

                                                  English (US)  June 3rd, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                  St. Regis Land Rights Lawsuit Nears Settlement

                                                  Gale Courey Toensing


                                                  From the left: Tony Arquiett, Legislator Representing District 13, Jonathan Putney, chairman of St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators Representing District 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance Jr., Tribal Chief Beverly Cook, Tribal Sub-Chief Eric Thompson and Tribal Sub-Chief Michael Conners.

                                                  The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has entered into an agreement with the State of New York and St. Lawrence County that would settle a decades old land rights lawsuit, clarify jurisdictional matters, and finalize the resolution of a dispute over gaming revenues in the tribe’s exclusivity zone. But a final settlement cannot be enacted without support and sign-on from Franklin County.

                                                  On May 28, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT) chiefs and leaders from New York state and St. Lawrence County signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will allow the tribe to buy 4,800 acres of identified aboriginal lands from willing sellers and restore the acres to the reservation

                                                  Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                    Holy Land Visit: Palestinian Christians Need a Political Pope Too

                                                    English (US)  May 30th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                    Pope Francis at Israel's Separation Wall in Bethlehem

                                                    By Jonathan Cook – Nazareth

                                                    When Pope Benedict XVI visited the Holy Land five years ago, Israel heightened its security, gladly emphasizing the potential threat he supposedly faced in Israel from Muslim extremists.

                                                    As his successor, Pope Francis, arrived in Israel late on Sunday, security was no less strict. Some 9,000 police had been drafted in to protect him, Christian institutions were under round-the-clock protection, and the intelligence services were working overtime. According to a Vatican official, Israel’s preparations had turned “the holy sites into a military base”.

                                                    On this occasion Israel was less keen to publicize the source of its fears, because the most tangible threat came not from Islamists but Jewish fanatics linked to Israel’s settler movement.

                                                    [More:]

                                                    Last month they issued a death threat to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Nazareth and his followers, while recent weeks have seen clergy attacked, churches and monasteries defaced with offensive graffiti, and cemeteries desecrated.

                                                    The building where the Pope was due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today was daubed with “Death to Arabs and Christians”. Last Friday, a church in the city of Beersheva was sprayed with “Jesus is a son of a bitch”.

                                                    Israeli police have arrested or issued restraining orders on several dozen Jewish extremists in the past few days.

                                                    Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, has warned that “acts of unrestrained vandalism are poisoning the atmosphere”.

                                                    Indeed, the mood of intolerance has spread beyond a dangerous fringe. Hundreds of Israeli Jews demonstrated angrily in Jerusalem last week against the Pope, while police barred Catholic authorities from putting up banners celebrating his visit, apparently fearful it could trigger wider protests.

                                                    The local Palestinian Christian population, both in the occupied territories and inside Israel itself, is feeling more embattled than ever – and not just from settlers.

                                                    In Bethlehem on Sunday the Pope made an unscheduled stop to pray at the monstrous concrete wall that has turned Jesus’ birthplace into a prison for its modern inhabitants. At a nearby refugee camp he was reminded that Israel bars residents from ever returning to homes now in Israel.

                                                    Meanwhile, Netanyahu has provided his personal backing to a plan whose barely concealed goal is to divide the large Palestinian minority inside Israel – pitting Christian against Muslim – by seeking to draft the former into the Israeli military.

                                                    Despite this Pope’s popularity, there have been rumblings of dissatisfaction at his priorities on this brief, three-day trip.

                                                    The official purpose is to mark the 50th anniversary of a meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras that ended of a 1,000-year schism between Rome and the Orthodox Church.

                                                    The Vatican has emphasized that Francis’ trip is “absolutely not political”. His itinerary, which did not include time for a visit to the Galilee, where most Palestinian Christians are located, suggested the Pope was not likely to offer his flock solace beyond the general hope he expressed in Bethlehem for a “stable peace” in the region.

                                                    The Holy Land’s Christians are an increasingly vulnerable minority. Inside Israel, for example, their proportion has fallen from nearly a quarter of the Palestinian minority in the early 1950s to just 10 per cent today. A similar decline has taken place in the occupied territories.

                                                    Although Israel blames Muslim fanaticism for this decades-long trend, the truth is different. In repeated surveys, only a small minority of Christians blame Muslims for the exodus.

                                                    In part, the proportion of Christians has fallen over time simply because of their tendency to smaller families than Muslims. But equally significant are Israel’s oppressive twin policies of belligerent occupation in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and a political system of exclusive Jewish privilege inside Israel.

                                                    All Palestinians, Muslim and Christian alike, have been harmed by Israeli rule. But Christians have been better able to exploit connections to Western communities, giving them an easier passage out.

                                                    None of this fits well with Israel’s narrative of a clash between the Judeo-Christian world and Islam, or its desire to present itself as a unique haven as neighboring Arab states sink into sectarian conflict. On Sunday Netanyahu claimed Israel was the only Middle East country to offer “absolute freedom to practice all religions”.

                                                    The reality, however, is that the settlers’ violence feeds off a religious and ethnic intolerance cultivated on many fronts by the Israeli state itself.

                                                    It starts early, with a majority of Jewish children educated in religious schools that scorn a modern curriculum. Instead they drill into pupils literal interpretations of the Bible that encourage Jewish chauvinism.

                                                    Israel’s program of Holocaust education rejects universal lessons, preferring to nurture a sense of Jews as history’s eternal victims. Many Israelis believe they should be constantly on guard – and armed – against a world of anti-Semitic gentiles.

                                                    Hardline Orthodox rabbis, given control over large areas of Israeli life, have become the sole arbiters of moral values for many Israelis.

                                                    The government’s latest effort to pass legislation affirming Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people” is designed to stymie any hope of a multi-cultural future.

                                                    And finally, decades of rule over Palestinians have been exploited by Israel to invest ever greater Jewish religious symbolism in contested or shared holy places, most notably the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Slowly a territorial conflict is gaining the attributes of a religious war.

                                                    Local church leaders understand this well. In the run-up to the Pope’s visit, Twal asked pointedly: “What effect is created by [an] official discourse on Israel being a state for one group only?”

                                                    The Pope noted in Jordan on Saturday that religious freedom was a “fundamental human right”. That is certainly a message Israel’s leadership needed to hear stressed when Francis met them today.

                                                    A papal visit that eschews politics to focus only on religion – elevating holy sites above the people who live next to them – betrays a Christian community that needs all the help it can get as it fights for its continuing place in the Holy Land.

                                                    - Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.jonathan-cook.net. (A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.)

                                                    1074 words posted in PALESTINE, Religion, , Racism, , Israel, , Anti-ZionistLeave a comment

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                                                      Anthony Bourdain: Palestinians Have Been Robbed of their Basic Humanity

                                                      English (US)  May 30th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                      Anthony Bourdain

                                                      It is a measure I guess of how twisted and shallow our depiction of a people is that these images come as a shock to so many. The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity….Anthony Bourdain


                                                      Chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain was awarded the Voices of Courage and Conscience in media award by the Muslim Public Affairs Council for the episode he did on Palestine on Parts Unknown, his new show on CNN.

                                                      In the episode he travels to the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the West Bank to explore and experience Palestinian cuisine.

                                                      [More:]

                                                      One memorable moment during his trip to Hebron, he asks about the racist Israeli graffiti that was spray painted on a Palestinian home that said “Death to Arabs”.

                                                      In his acceptance speech for the award he says:

                                                      “I was enormously grateful for the response from Palestinians in particular for doing what seemed to me an ordinary thing, something we do all the time: show regular people doing everyday things, cooking and enjoying meals, playing with their children, talking about their lives, their hopes and dreams.

                                                      It is a measure I guess of how twisted and shallow our depiction of a people is that these images come as a shock to so many. The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity.

                                                      People are not statistics. That is all we attempted to show. A small, pathetically small step towards understanding.”

                                                      Intifada Palestine

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                                                        Bay Mills Beats Michigan; Tribal Sovereign Immunity Upheld

                                                        English (US)  May 27th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                        Rob Capriccioso

                                                        5/27/14

                                                        Tribal sovereign immunity trumps Michigan’s desire to sue the Bay Mills Indian Community over issues stemming from an irksome off-reservation casino that’s been non-operating almost since the day it opened in 2010.

                                                        So ruled the U.S. Supreme Court May 27 in a 5 - 4 decision in a case that a plethora of national and legal tribal law experts had warned the tribe from the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan not to take to the high court.

                                                        Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                          Pope Francis' Visit to Palestine

                                                          English (US)  May 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                          By Richard Falk

                                                          Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land raises one overwhelming question: ‘what is the nature of religious power in our world of the 21st century?’ ‘can it have transformative effects’?

                                                          Media pundits and most liberal voices from the secular realm approve of this effort by Francis to seek peace through the encouragement of reconciliation, while dutifully reminding us that his impact is only ‘ceremonial’ and ‘symbolic’ and will not, and presumably should not, have any political consequences beyond a temporary cleansing of the political atmosphere.

                                                          The June 6th prospect of Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres praying together in the Vatican as a step toward a peaceful end of the long struggle is, I fear, an ambiguous sideshow. For one thing, Peres as President of Israel is about to leave the office, and in any event, his position exerts no discernible influence on the head of state, Benjamin Netanyahu, or the approach taken by Israel in addressing Palestinian concerns. It has long been appreciated that Peres is less than he seems, and beneath his velvet globe is a steel fist. Also, Abbas, although the formal leader of the Palestinian Authority and Chair of the PLO, is a weak and controversial leader who has yet to establish a unity government that includes Hamas, and finally provides political representation for the long suffering population of the Gaza Strip within global venues.

                                                          [More:]

                                                          Yet it would be a mistake to ignore the significance, symbolically and materially, of what Pope Francis’ visit to Palestine heralds. To begin with, just below the surface of what is avowed by words and style, is the contrast between the humility and sincerity of this religiously oriented initiative and the recently acknowledged breakdown of direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel that was the ill-advised and contrived initiative of the U.S. Government, and became the personal project of the American Secretary of State John Kerry. In effect, the Pope epitomizes the moral and spiritual dimensions of the unresolved situation in Palestine while Kerry’s muscular diplomacy called partisan Alpha attention to the political dimensions.

                                                          Undoubtedly more relevant is the degree to which Francis lent his weight to fundamental Palestinian grievances. By referring to the territory under occupation since 1967 as ‘Palestine,’ Francis affirmed the status conferred by the UN General Assembly in 2012, and since then angrily rejected by Tel Aviv and Washington. In doing so, Palestinian statehood was affirmed as a moral reality that should be endorsed by people and governments of good will everywhere, thereby strengthening the call of global solidarity.

                                                          Most dramatically of all, by praying at the apartheid wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and bowing his head prayer while touching with his hand that hated metaphor of Israeli cruelty, illegality, and oppressiveness, Pope Francis has made an indelible contribution to the Legitimacy War of nonviolent resistance and emancipation that the Palestinian National Movement has waged with increasing militancy, and is being embraced throughout the world.

                                                          Such moments of moral epiphany are rare in our experience of the torments afflicting the world. We need to remind ourselves that this pope has imparted a spirit of justice and spirituality. We are responding to his call because of who he is as well as what he is: his warmth, sympathy for the poor and oppressed, and identification with those brutally victimized by war. We are responding to the concreteness of his commitments and the actualities of his performances whether he points to the atrocities of war in Syria or the ordeal that has so long confronted the Palestinian people.

                                                          The Pope challenges all of us to act as citizen pilgrims, having a personal responsibility to act as best we can against bastions of flagrant injustice. The Pope, the most universally acclaimed moral and spiritual authority figure on the planet has spoken by word and deed, and now it becomes our privilege to act responsively. By this means alone can we discover the ecumenical nature of religious authority in our times.

                                                          http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/pope-francis-visit-to-palestine/

                                                          669 words posted in Religion, Anti-ZionistLeave a comment

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                                                            Mashpee Chair Receives Honorary Law Degree; Mashpee Woman Goes to Law School

                                                            English (US)  May 26th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                            Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell and his wife Cheryl at Suffolk University Law School where he received an honorary law degree.

                                                            By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                            The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has two law-related reasons to celebrate: its chairman has received an honorary law degree from a prestigious east coast university and one of its citizens has been accepted at the university some say provides the best Indian law education in the country.

                                                            On Saturday, May 17, Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell received an honorary law degree from Boston’s Suffolk University while 467 students received juris doctor and master of law degrees at the Law School commencement exercises. And in a few weeks, Mashpee citizen Stephanie Sfiridis will travel to Albuquerque to attend the Arizona State University’s Pre-law Summer Institute Program before jumping into the full Indian Legal Program at ASU’s main campus in Tempe, Arizona, in the fall.

                                                            Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                              Federal Recognition Proposal Praised -- Except for CT's 'Third Party' Veto

                                                              English (US)  May 25th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                              By Gale Courey Toensing
                                                              5/25/14
                                                              Indian country has welcomed a set of proposed regulations to reform the federal recognition process, but a provision that would hand third parties veto power to quash a tribe’s request for reconsideration of its petition is raising an outcry that political influence from Connecticut politicians is once again tainting the process.

                                                              Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/05/25/federal-recognition-proposal-praised-except-cts-third-party-veto-155024

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                                                                Q&A: Kevin Washburn on New Proposed Federal Recognition Rules

                                                                English (US)  May 25th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                                By Gale Courey Toensing
                                                                5/25/14
                                                                On Thursday, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn announced the publication in the Federal Register of proposed new regulations that will reform the 35-year-old process by which the federal government acknowledges Indian tribes and enters into a nation-to-nation relationship with them – a much-needed upgrade of a process that’s been described by both tribes and their opponents as broken and unfair. The publication of the proposed new rules follows the release last June of a draft of the proposed changes and, after another period of consultations and comments, will lead to final regulations being published and implemented. Washburn talked about the substance and process of the proposed new rules in an exclusive interview with ICTMN.

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                                                                http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/05/25/qa-kevin-washburn-new-proposed-federal-recognition-rules-155025

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                                                                  Internalized Oppression: Yet another Loss for an Occupied Nation

                                                                  English (US)  April 15th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                                  Sacrifices must be made and sometimes risks must be taken to snatch our life from the jaws of death. (Photo: Activestills.org)

                                                                  By Samah Jabr – Jerusalem, Palestine

                                                                  The chronic tyranny brought by the Israeli occupation has had a devastating effect on the wellbeing of the Palestinian community. But one of the worst effects is the internalization of oppression and the undermining of Palestinian’s collective self-concept. I have observed that since the 2006 elections in Palestine—which were followed by an arrest of the elected parliamentarians and an international boycott of the elected government—the vigorous spirit of the Palestinian community that had previously evolved during long years of resistance has finally been reduced to a state of demoralization.The undermining of this election represented an additional bitter blow after the more subtle impact of the Oslo’s Accords, which had been originally promoted as part of the Palestinian liberation project. However, reports published on the Accord’s 20th anniversary showed that during this period the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank had doubled and the area controlled by settlements had expanded to 42 % of Palestinian land; furthermore, a system of restrictions on Palestinian movement and trade had continued its division of Palestinian families and its decimation of the economy. No mention the infamous collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli security forces that has secured for Israelis a profitable trade and tourism through bed and breakfast hotels overlooking the magnificent hills of the West Bank, dismantled resistance, and incarcerated more Palestinians in prisons.

                                                                  [More:]

                                                                  Over years of occupation, young Palestinians saw their fathers dragged from homes by Israeli soldiers, humiliated at checkpoints, and rendered unable to provide for their families’ safety and basic needs. In reaction to their feelings of shame, such vulnerable children came to identify with the oppressor through oppressing weaker members of their community and developing self-loathing. A Palestinian Jerusalemite told me, “On holidays I don’t go to Eilat because it will be full of Arabs!” The efforts of some Palestinians to assimilate and identify with Israelis are truly pathetic. Some Palestinians shop for their clothing in Israeli boutiques, dress their hair in Israeli salons, and drive while listening to loud music in Hebrew. I have observed more than one Palestinian patient suffering a relapse of manic illness who spoke to me in Hebrew as an expression of grandiosity. Meanwhile, the reality of job opportunities in the West Bank is dismal and work conditions are miserable, so that many laborers are eager to work for Israelis even if they must work in settlements or participate in projects such as building the separation wall. These workers are often treated by Israelis as sub-human: a few months ago Ahsan Abu-Srur, a 54 year old unauthorized Palestinian construction worker from Askar refugee camp, was seriously injured while doing renovation work in Tel Aviv. Realizing that he was critically injured, the Israeli contractor and two of his workers dragged the man to the sidewalk opposite the workplace and left him there to die.

                                                                  The experience of oppression undermines the internal cohesion of the oppressed and creates among them a state of polarization, in which they often direct their rage at others who are similarly victimized. Oppression makes people selfish and greedy, prone to infighting and competition over scarce resources—the scraps of opportunities left over from the oppressor. Oppressed people readily become resentful and envious of one another, creating an ambiance of mutual distrust.
                                                                  The sense of inferiority resulting from internalized oppression sets into motion a vicious cycle. We are treated as inferior—and in the absence of resistance, resilience and self-defense, we internalize the assumption of our own inferiority. Thus we come to believe that we are less capable and less worthy than others. These feelings are then projected onto our perceptions of one another and enacted in our treatment of one another. In this way, Palestinians come to distrust and devalue their own educational and medical systems; there is a spiteful oppression of women, a contemptuous attitude towards persons of a lower socioeconomic class, and an exclusionary and intolerant attitude towards political opposition—just a few manifestations of our internalized oppression.
                                                                  Nowadays, there is a widespread, corrupt system of influence and cronyism in Palestine such that most people are employees of the government. As a consequence, our agriculture is suffering, small independent businesses are crushed, and only the enterprises of a tiny minority, closely allied to the government can flourish. Young people are trapped in a cycle of consumerism, with new apartments, cars, and big loans from banks requiring a relentless lifetime of repayment. The result is decreased social involvement and productivity and rising rates of crime, addiction and diminished wellbeing. Pervasive inadequacy throughout our institutions, nepotism, false representation and mistreatment and torture of Palestinians by fellow Palestinians are just a few of the symptoms of the general degradation of our community.

                                                                  Community leaders and politicians fail to restore our national dignity and pride by taking steps to break through this vicious cycle and shedding light upon resilience, productivity, authenticity and steadfastness. We remember the submissive words of the President following the western boycott of the electoral results, “If we have to choose between bread and democracy, we choose bread.” Since the partition between the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian official discourse seems to confuse the doer and the do-ee. In its relationship with Israel, our officials assume the role of the oppressor, condemning spontaneous Palestinian reactions to Israeli violations and promoting meek submission to Israeli oppression. The people of Palestine are cast by our leadership into the role of the suspect, the offender; such reactions only feed into the entitlement of the occupier’s spin on reality, which turns us into victimizers and assumes the role of the victim.

                                                                  The submissiveness urged by our leaders goes beyond condemning armed resistance to trivializing non-violent measures such as the imposition of boycotts and the use of international law to hold Israel accountable for its actions; the Palestinian official position toward the Goldstone report on Israel’s war crimes is an illustrative example. We should not be deceived by the exaggerated festivities surrounding the UN General Assembly’s change of Palestine’s “entity” status to “non-member observer state.” The change in status was just a smoke screen to blur our perception of the revolutions taking place within the Arab world. We may have retitled our postal stamps by the addition of the words, “State of Palestine,” but have yet to take a single war criminal to the Hague and have yet to pursue our legal right to Palestinian land, waters, or air space—as any sovereign state recognized by the UN would surely do. Instead, “secretive” negotiations continue in the dark while Israel continues to approve the construction of more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and the demolition of more Palestinian homes.

                                                                  The Palestinian President reassures the world that a Palestinian state will be demilitarized while two thirds of the national budget goes to our security forces. Meanwhile, healthcare, education, social welfare, and all other national programs survive on one third of the budget! We need only look to our neighboring Arab countries who were impoverished for decades as they fed the fat cats who ran their armies, while their own starving people were duped into the belief that these armies would “defend” them one day. Now these armies devour the very same people who had supported them—but are we Palestinians any better?

                                                                  Internalized oppression is driven by several engines.

                                                                  The first is media. Anger and dissatisfaction create the momentum for social change, but an artificial leisure and entertainment industry will blind and distract a frustrated public from the reality around them and create a false consciousness. Local media bombard our eyes and ears to dull our critical faculties and weaken our ability to protest, resist, or revolt. Media owners and their donor capitalists ally with the political elite to impose their tastes and ideology on the public. Mohammad Assaf, the Palestinian winning Arab Idol, is a good example—a charming vocalist with a beautiful voice. But the media promotes this triumph as the symbol of “the Palestinian plight,” and mobilizes the public to become consumers of a simplistic, reductionist, and deceptive exploitation of his charm; a thing of beauty can be used for ugly purposes. One might ask why the local media failed to make an equal effort to mobilize against the siege on Gaza, the Prawer plan, or in the service of transparency regarding the ongoing negotiations—matters which connect directly with most Palestinians and their plight!

                                                                  International donation is the second engine. It is a paradox that oppression can come to us through the doors and windows of freedom, openness, and efforts to do good. In her study, “Promoting Democracy in Palestine: Donation and the Democratization of the West Bank and Gaza,” Dr. Leila Farsakh concluded that such projects sought to promote the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority rather than empowering the Palestinian public to challenge the dominance of the Authority or to critique its definition of the national liberation project. Donor-driven projects fail to devote sufficient attention to important institutions central to the democratic process, such as the parliament, political parties, and the electoral process. In the end, these projects tend to entrench the occupation rather than helping Palestinians to create the conditions for national liberation; these projects tend to intensify the grip of the Authority instead of strengthening independent-minded channels.
                                                                  The third engine is the domain of education and institutionalized religion. This year, five Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem substituted the Palestinian curriculum with the Israeli one. The Jerusalem municipality went on to award the administration of these five schools by increasing the personal salaries of their principals and paying them 2000 NIS for every student registered in their schools. A mere glance at the Israeli curriculum reveals how it distorts history, religion, geography, and eventually the mindset and the national culture of pupils: In one textbook, two pupils discuss how Israel brought electricity to their village and granted national insurance to children and their elders; the pupils conclude that they should join the celebration on “Israel’s Independence Day.” And while some of our children are savoring a toxic dose of Israeli indoctrination, others are anesthetized by some misleading religious leaders who form an unholy league with political and financial power elites. Manipulating the public with an insidious form of mind control, they come up with “teachings” promoting a fatalistic, mystical frame of mind and issue “fatwas” that promote compliance and conformity. These religious leaders promote the status quo with all its agony and disadvantages and inhibit people from embracing genuine reform and social change, encouraging people to pin their hopes on the afterlife rather than dealing with the misery of the here and now.

                                                                  In conclusion, since decisions and behaviors of our leaders do nothing but establish internalized oppression, it becomes the social responsibility of ordinary people to work actively to recognize and alleviate this threat to wellbeing, in order to prevent the demise of the Palestinian spirit and cause. Raising awareness about the phenomenon, monitoring and protesting its appearance in official discourse and behavior, bearing witness, empowering economic development, resisting consumerism, connecting them with their own history and community, and helping then to analyze reality— are just a few tools to liberate Palestinians from internalized oppression. So much has been done to efface, harm, eradicate the Palestinian nation or to disfigure it forever. We cannot simply wait for justice to happen—justice is something we must work hard to actualize. Sacrifices must be made and sometimes risks must be taken to snatch our life from the jaws of death. Commitment, awareness, wisdom, and planning are required for recovery and salvation of this injured life—as we want a decent life, not any life. Our work for healing and recovery is indivisible from our work for liberation.

                                                                  - Samah Jabr is a Jerusalemite psychiatrist and psychotherapist who cares about the wellbeing of her community – beyond issues of mental illness. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                    Heated Jerusalem Peace Talks End in Impasse

                                                                    English (US)  April 4th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                                    Erekat reportedly told the Israeli side that “we are here to negotiate in the name of the UN-recognized State of Palestine, not in the name of a Palestinian Authority whose inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel.”

                                                                    A long and heated meeting between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Jerusalem ended early Thursday without any signs of bringing both sides back to the negotiating table.

                                                                    Palestinian sources told Ma’an that the nine-hour meeting with US Special Envoy Martin Indyk was attended by PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, Head of Palestinian intelligence Majid Faraj, and Israeli negotiators Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho.

                                                                    The sources described the meeting as a “fierce political battle”, with Martin Indyk struggling to control heated exchanges between both sides.

                                                                    Erekat reportedly told the Israeli side that “we are here to negotiate in the name of the UN-recognized State of Palestine, not in the name of a Palestinian Authority whose inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel.”

                                                                    [More:]

                                                                    Israeli negotiators responded by threatening to put “endless” sanctions on the Palestinians, the sources said.

                                                                    During the heated exchanges, US special envoy Martin Indyk reiterated his support for Israel’s security.

                                                                    Majid Faraj responded by stressing that the Palestinians were there for “political, not security” talks and to negotiate about Jerusalem as the future capital of an independent Palestinian state.

                                                                    Erekat responded to Israeli threats of sanctions by saying the PLO would go after Israeli officials as “war criminals” in international institutions.

                                                                    US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday as peace talks appeared to have reached an impasse over Israel’s refusal to free prisoners.

                                                                    A day earlier, Abbas said he had begun steps to join several UN agencies and ratify international treaties after Israel failed to release a final group of pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners.

                                                                    The announcement was a blow to Kerry’s frenetic efforts to resolve the dispute over Palestinian prisoners and find a way to extend the fragile peace talks beyond a looming April 29 deadline.

                                                                    In July, the PLO agreed to postpone accession to international bodies in exchange for the release of 104 Palestinians prisoners jailed before the Oslo Accords.

                                                                    “Since Israel failed to release the last group of prisoners, the State of Palestine is no longer obliged to postpone its rights to accede to multilateral treaties and conventions,” the PLO said in a statement Wednesday.

                                                                    “Despite the escalation of oppressive Israeli policies such as the killing of Palestinian civilians, settlement construction, raids on vulnerable communities, arbitrary arrests and detentions, home demolitions and the removal of residency rights, we remained committed to the negotiations process and supported US efforts,” it added.

                                                                    www.maannews.net

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                                                                      Palestinians Must Abandon the ‘Peace Process’

                                                                      English (US)  April 4th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                                      The Palestinian leadership, for too long timid and self-serving, finally has a chance to redeem itself. (Photo: WAFA)

                                                                      By Ghada Karmi

                                                                      No term in the Israeli-Palestinians political lexicon has been so abused or so denuded of meaning as the “peace process”. It was set up after the Oslo Accords in 1993, to settle the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians by peaceful negotiations, but has led nowhere.

                                                                      Yet it is still ongoing, its latest manifestation launched in August 2013, when US Secretary of State John Kerry put forward an ambitious plan to resolve all the major issues that have bedevilled the conflict within the space of nine months. The result he envisaged was a “final-status agreement” over borders, security, Jerusalem and refugees, which when resolved, would supposedly end the conflict for good

                                                                      [More:]

                                                                      .

                                                                      Now close to the deadline proposed by Kerry, it is clear that no settlement is in the offing. Desperate to salvage the process, Kerry has come up with the idea of a “Framework Agreement” that sets out basic principles for the two sides to negotiate on in future. This, he hopes, will keep the “peace process” going for longer.

                                                                      Yet Israel’s policy has been the exact opposite. In December 2013, Israeli ministers voted eight to three to annex the Jordan valley, and from the start of this year, West Bank settlements were set to be expanded by 2,553 new housing units. A law preventing the Israeli prime minister from discussing the status of Jerusalem or the refugee issue at the peace talks without prior majority approval from the Israeli parliament, was proposed in January.

                                                                      The Israeli prime minister subsequently assured his Likud party ministers and other Israeli political figures that he would reject any mention of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem in the Framework Agreement. Israel has also reiterated its refusal to permit any return of the Palestinians refugees within its borders, and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been pushing for a transfer of Arabs living in the Triangle area of the Galilee to Palestinian Authority rule. To all these conditions has been added the requirement to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

                                                                      In an attempt to deter the US secretary of state further, senior Israeli officials have been accusing him of being an anti-Semite. The final straw came last week when Israel refused to release 26 Palestinian prisoners, the last of a total of 104 long time prisoners whose release was agreed on as a condition for the Palestinians’ participation in the revived peace negotiations, last summer. Fearing that they would now pull out as a result of this Israeli breach of its commitments, the US has been making frantic efforts to prevent such an outcome, proposing an extension of the talks beyond the April 29 deadline. Israel has responded by offering to release the prisoners but only if the Palestinians agree to the talks’ extension.

                                                                      These absurd political maneuverings only serve to obscure the fundamental reality. In trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kerry’s task is impossible to realize. This is not, as is often misleadingly asserted, because the issues are complex or because “painful compromises” are needed from both sides. The issues, in fact, are so embarrassingly simple it is an insult to the intelligence to have to set them down.

                                                                      In plain English, one side has stolen land and resources belonging to the other and refuses to give them up. The thief is supported by powerful external agencies, while the losing side has no equivalent support. In this situation, it would be normal to call on an independent force or arbiter to compel the thief to return the stolen goods, and “compromise” would not be applicable.

                                                                      But in the peace process as configured by those on the side of the thief, there is no independent agency, only an “arbiter” whose starting point is one of total commitment to the thief’s welfare. How then, to solve the conflict that has arisen because of the robbery, but without penalizing the robber or forcing him to return the booty? That, in essence, is where the problem lies for Kerry and his predecessors.

                                                                      The “peace process” has all along been predicated on these lines, that Israel’s welfare is paramount. What this has meant in practice is that pressure can only be applied to the Palestinians, and the ineffectual Arab states. Since Israel long ago won the battle to keep 80 percent of Palestine, the area behind the 1967 border and referred to as “Israel proper”, it is the 20 percent that remains which Israel is fighting to keep.

                                                                      Kerry’s negotiations are concerned with how to divide that 20 percent in Israel’s favor while giving the Palestinians something too. Since whatever he proposes requires Israel’s agreement, the only room for maneuvering he has, is to minimize the offer to the Palestinians even further to ensure Israel’s acquiescence. On the other hand, if the offer is too inadequate, the Palestinians will not accept it. This dilemma has forced Kerry to draw up an interim agreement and to propose a time extension for further negotiations.

                                                                      His Framework Agreement has not been published yet, as all peace talks have been conducted in total secrecy, but from various leaks and reports it would seem that it deals with all the major questions. Israel would retain its major West Bank settlements, annexing up to 10 percent of the land.

                                                                      The Palestinians would receive 5.5 percent of as yet unspecified Israeli land in return. Israel would have to give up the Jordan Valley, to be subsequently policed by either NATO or combined Jordanian-US troops, or some combination of troops from friendly Muslim states, with Israeli oversight of the Jordan border and the right of veto over entrants. Gaza would be connected to the West Bank by bridges or tunnels. Israel would evacuate its forces from the new demilitarized Palestinian state over a period of five years, and NATO could take their place.

                                                                      The Palestinian capital would be outside Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, in the villages adjoining East Jerusalem like al-Ram, Abu Dis, or al-Aizariyya, and a multi-national committee would be in charge of the holy places in the old city. The right of refugee return would be dealt with through an international compensation fund for refugees and offers of immigration to Australia, with a token number of returnees to Israel. If all that is agreed, it would constitute the end of the conflict. Kerry is reported to be pressing both sides hard to accept these ideas, many of which have been aired before and already largely accepted by the Palestinian leadership. It is Israel that is likely not to agree, and herein lies Kerry’s problem.

                                                                      Kerry’s plan contains many of the features of previous peace proposals. None of them answers to international law, Palestinian rights or elemental justice. As a Haaretz article candidly put it on January 6, to succeed, Kerry’s plan demands no less than a total and abject Palestinian surrender to Israeli and US diktat. And for that reason, it should be rejected outright without extensions or delays. The Palestinians should immediately join all the UN bodies open to “Palestine” as a non-member state and especially the International Criminal Court where they must initiate proceedings against Israel’s breaches of international law. They must call for an international conference to discuss a settlement of the conflict and the resolution of all their fundamental rights.

                                                                      That none of this has happened so far is testament to the intimidation practiced by Israel and its allies on the Palestinian leadership. They have been persuaded that pragmatism and realpolitik is the best option. Israel is too powerful to fight and so they should settle for what is possible. This pernicious idea has been the guiding principle of the Palestinian negotiators, with the inevitable consequence that they have been forced to concede more of their rights with each round of talks.

                                                                      To this sorry state of affairs has now been added an explicit US threat, that if the Palestinians reject the Kerry peace plan, they will face a political and economic blockade. All US and European aid will stop and they will be isolated. No Arab state has so far stepped in to make up for these threatened Palestinian losses, and most are, anyway, involved with conflicts inside their own borders.

                                                                      At this moment in history the world appears weary of the Palestine problem and wants to see it end. But it is imperative that the Palestinians do not respond to this situation by selling their case cheap. It is true they are weak, but they have one strength: to say “No”. No peace plan can go ahead without their assent, and Kerry and his proposals will come to nothing if they refuse them. They have alternatives and it would be irresponsible not to use them. Applying to accede to 15 multilateral treaties and conventions as the Palestinian president has just done on behalf of “Palestine” is a good start, but it is not enough. The Palestinian leadership, for too long timid and self-serving, finally has a chance to redeem itself.

                                                                      - Dr Ghada Karmi is the author of Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine. (This article was originally published in Al Jazeera – www.aljazeera.com)

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                                                                        Kerry’s Looming Deadline and the Peace Process Industry

                                                                        English (US)  April 4th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                                        In the last four decades, the 'peace process' became an American diplomatic staple in the region. (Photo: WH)

                                                                        By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                        As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. The Obama administration must now conjure up an escape route to avoid a political crisis if the talks are to fail, as they surely will.

                                                                        Chances are the Americans knew well that peace under the current circumstances is simply not attainable. The Israeli government’s coalition is so adamantly anti-Arab, anti-peace and anti any kind of agreement that would fall short from endorsing the Israeli apartheid-like occupation, predicated on colonial expansion, annexations of borders, land confiscation, control of holy places and much more. Ideally for Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies in the right, far-right and ultranationalists, Palestinians would need to be crammed in disjointed communities, separated from each other by walls, Jewish settlements, Jewish-only bypass roads, checkpoints, security fences, and a large concentration of Israeli military presence including permanent Israeli control of the Jordan Valley. In fact, while politicians tirelessly speak of peace, the above is the exact ‘vision’ that the Israelis had in mind almost immediately following the 1967 war – the final conquest of all of historic Palestine and occupation of Arab lands.

                                                                        [More:]

                                                                        Palestinians are currently paying the price of earlier Israeli visions, where Vladimir Jabotinsky’s ‘Iron Wall’ of 1923 was coupled with the Allon plan, named after Yigal Allon, a former general and minister in the Israeli government, who took on the task of drawing an Israeli design for the newly conquered Palestinian territories in 67. Not only would it not make any sense for a Zionist leader like Netanyahu – backed by one of the most rightwing governments in Israeli history – to bargain with Palestinians on what he considers to be Eretz Yisrael – the Whole Land of Israel -he has shown no desire, not even the most miniscule, to reach an agreement that would provide Palestinians with any of their rightful demands, true sovereignty notwithstanding.

                                                                        It is implausible that the Americans were unaware of Israel’s lack of interest in the whole undertaking. For one, Israeli extremists like Naftali Bennett – Israel’s minister of economy and the head of the rightwing political party the Jewish Home – are constantly reminding the US through unconstrained insults that Israel is simply not interested in peacemaking efforts. The Americans persist, however, for reasons that are hardly related to peace or justice.

                                                                        Previous administrations suffered unmitigated failures in the past as they invested time, effort, resources, and reputation, even to a greater extent than to Obama’s, in order to broker an agreement. There are the familiar explanations of why they failed, including the objection to any US pressure on Israel by the pro-Israel Zionist lobby in Washington, which remains very strong despite setbacks. The lobby maintains a stronghold on the US Congress in all matters related to Israel and Israeli interests anywhere.

                                                                        Preparing for the foreseeable failure, US Secretary of State John Kerry remained secretive about his plans, leaving analysts in suspense over what is being discussed between Mahmoud Abbas’s negotiators and the Israeli government. From the very start, Kerry downgraded expectations. But the secrecy didn’t last for long. According to Palestinian sources cited in al-Quds newspaper, the most widely read Palestinian daily, PA president Abbas had pulled out of a meeting with Kerry in Paris late February because Kerry’s proposal didn’t meet the minimum of Palestinian expectations.

                                                                        According to the report, it turned out that Kerry’s ambitious peace agenda was no more than a rehash of everything that Israel tried to impose by force or diplomacy, and Palestinians had consistently rejected: reducing the Palestinian aspiration of a Jerusalem capital into a tiny East Jerusalem neighborhood (Beit Hanina), and allowing Israel to keep 10 large settlement blocks built illegally on Palestinian land, aside from a land swap meant to accommodate Israel’s security needs. Moreover, the Jordan Valley would not be part of any future Palestinian state, nor would international forces be allowed there either. In other words, Israel would maintain the occupation under any other name, except that the PA would be allowed a level of autonomy over Palestinian population centers. It is hard to understand how Kerry’s proposal is any different from the current reality on the ground.

                                                                        Most commentary dealing with the latest US push for a negotiated agreement would go as far back as Bush’s Roadmap of 2002, the Arab peace initiative earlier the same year, or even the Oslo accords of 1993. What is often ignored is the fact that the ‘peace process’ is a political invention by a hardliner, US politician Henry Kissinger, who served as a National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State in the Nixon Administration. The idea was to co-opt the Arabs following the Israeli military victory of 1967, the sudden expansion of Israel’s borders into various Arab borders, with full US support and reinforcement. It was Kissinger himself who lobbied for massive US arms to Israel that changed the course of the 1973 war, and he was the man who worked to secure Israeli gains through diplomacy.

                                                                        While many are quick to conclude that the ‘peace process’ has been a historical failure, the bleak estimation discounts that the intent behind the ‘peace process’ was never to secure a lasting peace, but Israeli military gains. In that sense, it has been a splendid success. Over the years, however, the ‘peace process’ became an American investment in the Middle East, a status quo in itself, and a reason for political relevance. During the administration of both Bushes, father and son, the ‘peace process’ went hand in hand with the Iraq war. The Madrid Peace Talks in 1991 were initiated following the US-led war in Kuwait and Iraq, and was meant to balance out the extreme militancy that had gripped and destabilized the region. George W. Bush’s Roadmap fell between the war on Afghanistan and months before the war on Iraq. Bush was heavily criticized for being a ‘war president’ and for having no peace vision. The Roadmap, which was drafted with the help of pro-Israel neoconservative elements in his administration, in consultation with the lobby and heavy amendments by the Israeli government, was W Bush’s ‘peace’ overture. Naturally, the Roadmap failed, but until this day, Bush’s insincere drive for peace had helped maintain the peace process charade for a few more years, until Bill Clinton arrived to the scene, and kick started the make-believe process once more.

                                                                        In the last four decades, the ‘peace process’ became an American diplomatic staple in the region. It is an investment that goes hand in hand with their support of Israel and interest in energy supplies. It is an end in itself, and is infused regularly for reasons other than genuine peace.

                                                                        Now that Kerry’s deadline of a ‘framework agreement’ is quickly approaching, all parties must be preparing for all possibilities. Ultimately, the Americans are keen on maintaining the peace process charade; the Palestinian Authority is desperate to survive; and Israel needs to expand settlements unhindered by a Palestinian uprising or unnecessary international attention. But will they succeed?

                                                                        - Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter, UK. His latest book is “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).

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                                                                          Israel Cancels Palestinian Prisoner Release

                                                                          English (US)  April 4th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                                          Israel had promised to free 104 veteran Palestinian prisoners in four tranches. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)
                                                                          Apr 3 2014

                                                                          Israel will not release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners because of renewed Palestinian efforts to join international organizations.

                                                                          A spokesman for Tzipi Livni, Israel’s justice minister and the government’s chief negotiator, said on Thursday that the Israeli government had been working to finalize an agreement to free the prisoners when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed letters of accession to 15 international conventions.

                                                                          Abbas said it was a response to Israel’s failure to release prisoners as promised, according to the Associated Press news agency.

                                                                          [More:]

                                                                          Livni said the prisoner release was tied to the Palestinians avoiding unilateral moves, adding that the “new conditions were established and Israel cannot release the fourth batch of prisoners”.

                                                                          Israel had promised to free 104 veteran Palestinian prisoners in four tranches, and in exchange, Ramallah pledged to freeze all moves to seek membership in UN organizations until April 2014.

                                                                          But a crisis erupted at the weekend when Israel refused to release the final 26 prisoners, enraging the Palestinians who on Tuesday responded by resuming their approach to international agencies.

                                                                          Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Jerusalem, said: “It’s almost like watching a game of ping-pong. Lipni said they [Israel] would apply sanctions if they [Palestinians] went to the UN.

                                                                          “The Palestinians said, if you do that we will sue you for war crimes. The language is not conducive to talks. We have not had official confirmation that the talks are over, but things are not going well.

                                                                          “We have seen peace talks come and go. All of these are just talks about talks, talking about a framework. No-one has sat down and discussed the future of Jerusalem. It is very difficult to see how this will ever be solved.”

                                                                          The stalemate comes as Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, prepares to fly to the US on Friday to meet with his US counterpart, John Kerry, who earlier this week rushed to the Middle East in a surprise visit to rescue the peace talks.

                                                                          Lieberman’s office said in a statement on Thursday he would be in New York on Friday to meet Mayor Bill de Blasio and American Jewish leaders, reported the Associated Press news agency.

                                                                          On Sunday he is due to speak on Israel-US relations and the peace talks at a conference in New York.

                                                                          In Washington he will meet congressional leaders at Capitol Hill on April 8 and have talks with Kerry the following day, it said.

                                                                          Kerry has been conducting more than a year of intensive shuttle diplomacy trying to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace.

                                                                          However, talks hit crisis this week after Israel announced a fresh wave of settlement tenders and the Palestinians resumed moves to seek international recognition for their promised state.

                                                                          In February, Lieberman – head of the hardline nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party – defended Kerry after he came under fire from other Israeli ministers for warning that the Jewish state faced growing delegitimization if negotiations with the Palestinians collapsed and referring to “talk of boycotts”.

                                                                          “We don’t agree with Kerry over everything, but he is a true friend of Israel,” Lieberman said at an economic forum.

                                                                          Lieberman, a harsh critic of the Palestinian leadership and campaigner for Israeli Arabs to take an oath of allegiance or be stripped of their citizenship, has in the past been a less than welcome visitor in Washington, the AP reported.

                                                                          But his February remarks were welcomed by State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

                                                                          “It certainly is a powerful statement and a powerful message given his history and his background on these issues and where his view was,” she said at the time.

                                                                          (Al Jazeera and agencies – www.aljazeera.com)

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                                                                            Abbas agrees to extend peace talks

                                                                            English (US)  March 24th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                                            RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to extend peace talks with Israel if certain conditions are met, a Palestinian official said Monday.

                                                                            The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Ma'an that during a recent meeting with US President Barack Obama Abbas agreed to extend peace negotiations if Israel pledged to freeze settlement construction and release more prisoners.

                                                                            A good test to see if Israel is serious about making concessions, the official said, will be whether it releases the last of the four groups of prisoners it agreed to free before talks began in July.

                                                                            [More:]

                                                                            So far, 78 of 104 Palestinian veteran prisoners have been freed in three groups, with the final 26 to be released on March 29. However, recent statements by Israeli officials have cast doubt on whether the prisoners would be released on time, if at all.

                                                                            The official said that if Israel delayed the release of the last group of pre-Oslo prisoners, the Palestinian Authority would immediately take the case to international organizations.

                                                                            Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly three years of impasse.

                                                                            Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the negotiations began.

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                                                                              The Man, the Lad and the Boy: Each Person is in Himself a Sea

                                                                              English (US)  March 24th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                                              By Tamar Fleishman

                                                                              I decided to talk about the detainment of Palestinians by the army through the story of three people; I attempted to portray the larger picture by using personal stories.

                                                                              These people aren’t heroes nor are they warriors, provocateurs, protestors or people who had made names for themselves.

                                                                              A man, a lad and a boy, they are just three among the thousands that are crushed under the violent and vicious boot of the executors of the policy that aims to break the spirit and daily life of the Palestinian people, of thousands of people who don’t know what the future holds. Each one of their hopes and dreams is accompanied by doubt, since this everlasting and advancing terror that is used against the civil population is like a sword that dangles over all of them, men as well as women, children as well as adults, and they never know from where shall evil break and what will bring upon them the next disaster.

                                                                              Statistics show that there are thousands of detainees.

                                                                              [More:]

                                                                              But they, Shadi, Saif and Ali aren’t just statistics, they are human beings. Each one of them was arrested in a different place, at a different time and under different circumstances, and yet in spite of the distinctions, the similarities add up to more than the differences.

                                                                              Even if each of them isn’t but a drop of the sea of detainees- each person is in himself a sea.

                                                                              The Man

                                                                              “Each family has a member that is either in prison or has been to prison” said Shadi the cab driver.

                                                                              Shadi wasn’t always a cab driver, “I used to work in a restaurant that was owned by Jews, but then the Intifada began, there were those who wanted to kill Arabs, they asked if I was an Arab, I said I wasn’t and I ran away. I never came back. I was scared. I started working inside as a cab driver”.

                                                                              Shadi who learned what routes should be taken to get to each town and village in Palestine, be it on a paved road or a dirt path, who knows when the longest route actually the fastest one- as it bypasses the checkpoints and soldiers, had gained a reputation for being a man of his word, someone who will bring his passenger to his destination even if it means using hidden paths to get to the other side of the separation wall, “a man has to live, isn’t that so?” he says.

                                                                              When he isn’t driving his cab he stands by it eager to talk, he can always be found at the same junction, at the entrance to the town. Everyone knows Shadi and they have his phone number. Everyone does, even those who shouldn’t have it.

                                                                              “One day I received a call: where are you? – At the junction, I said – We want to cross to Israel. -Then come here. They came, there might have been thirty of them, I was right here, as always, where we are now talking, they closed all the roads and attacked me, it was a mess you know… “- “Did they hit you?”- “Of course”.

                                                                              There was a trial. Shadi spent five months in Ofer prison. In addition to the time served he was also fined for twenty thousand Shekels. The money was collected with the help of the extended family.

                                                                              The Lad

                                                                              In the dead of night the door busted open. The soldiers came searching for Saif’s rifle; they never found it because he didn’t have one. He only had notebooks, books and a computer. Saif, who had only recently completed his final exams with excellence, was invited to a test to determine whether or not he is entitled to get a scholarship for a university in a faraway land. The invaders who during the search for the rifle shattered and broke every object and furniture that stood in their way, also shattered Saif’s hope for a future in a different place. Saif didn’t make it to the test, he was taken from his home with his eyes covered and his hands cuffed.

                                                                              Saif was detained for sixty two days at Migrash Harusim. Some days he was interrogated and on others he was not. Saif couldn’t tell day from night, he only knew he was tired, he wanted to sleep but they wouldn’t let him, “how do they prevent you from sleeping you ask, each time my eyes would go like this”, he said and closed his eyes, “they would pour water on my head”.

                                                                              Saif was released without any charges, without a trial and without the future he aspired to have.

                                                                              (Learn more about the torture of detainees.)

                                                                              The Boy

                                                                              Ali couldn’t contain his happiness when his father came back from the big city with a present- a toy motorcycle. He hurried out for his first ride. But his happiness and ride were cut short by soldiers who were patrolling the roads by the village: a military hammer pulled over by the young rider, the soldiers got out and placed Ali and his new gift inside their vehicle and left the site (my speculation: according the laws of occupation, up until recently, Palestinians were banned from using motorcycles. It would seem that in this case the law was taken too literally, the toy motorcycle was regarded as a real motorcycle and the boy was regarded as an adult).

                                                                              Ali’s parents spent hours in a state of terror, up until the evening when they managed to locate their son. Ali spent the night detained at Migrash Harusim. His parents hurried to Ofer military court in the morning. There, at the court, they saw their son who was brought before the judge in handcuffs.

                                                                              After paying a bail of 3,000 Shekels their son was released and he returned home with them.

                                                                              But who is to pay for his childhood?

                                                                              (Learn more about the detainment of minors.)

                                                                              I never met Ali. His uncle, his father’s brother, told me his story.

                                                                              And the thing that broke my heart was his last sentence:

                                                                              “He cried when they took him” –”It’s only natural for a person to cry when he is being detained”, I said. – “No”, replied the uncle, “It was because he is little, I don’t cry any more, I’m used to it”.

                                                                              (Thank you to Sharit Michaeli from Beselem for the help in finding relevant references to this article.)

                                                                              (Translated by Ruth Fleishman.)

                                                                              - As a member of Machsomwatch, once a week Tamar Fleishman heads out to document the checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. This documentation (reports, photos and videos) can be found on the organization’s site: www.machsomwatch.org. The majority of the Spotlights (an opinion page) that are published on the site had been written by her. She is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and volunteer in Breaking the Silence. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

                                                                              1173 words posted in PALESTINE, Israel, , Apartheid StateLeave a comment

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                                                                                Internalized Oppression: Yet another Loss for an Occupied Nation

                                                                                English (US)  March 24th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                Mar 23 2014 / 7:35 pm

                                                                                Sacrifices must be made and sometimes risks must be taken to snatch our life from the jaws of death. .

                                                                                By Samah Jabr – Jerusalem, Palestine

                                                                                The chronic tyranny brought by the Israeli occupation has had a devastating effect on the wellbeing of the Palestinian community. But one of the worst effects is the internalization of oppression and the undermining of Palestinian’s collective self-concept. I have observed that since the 2006 elections in Palestine—which were followed by an arrest of the elected parliamentarians and an international boycott of the elected government—the vigorous spirit of the Palestinian community that had previously evolved during long years of resistance has finally been reduced to a state of demoralization.The undermining of this election represented an additional bitter blow after the more subtle impact of the Oslo’s Accords, which had been originally promoted as part of the Palestinian liberation project. However, reports published on the Accord’s 20th anniversary showed that during this period the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank had doubled and the area controlled by settlements had expanded to 42 % of Palestinian land; furthermore, a system of restrictions on Palestinian movement and trade had continued its division of Palestinian families and its decimation of the economy. No mention the infamous collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli security forces that has secured for Israelis a profitable trade and tourism through bed and breakfast hotels overlooking the magnificent hills of the West Bank, dismantled resistance, and incarcerated more Palestinians in prisons.

                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                Over years of occupation, young Palestinians saw their fathers dragged from homes by Israeli soldiers, humiliated at checkpoints, and rendered unable to provide for their families’ safety and basic needs. In reaction to their feelings of shame, such vulnerable children came to identify with the oppressor through oppressing weaker members of their community and developing self-loathing. A Palestinian Jerusalemite told me, “On holidays I don’t go to Eilat because it will be full of Arabs!” The efforts of some Palestinians to assimilate and identify with Israelis are truly pathetic. Some Palestinians shop for their clothing in Israeli boutiques, dress their hair in Israeli salons, and drive while listening to loud music in Hebrew. I have observed more than one Palestinian patient suffering a relapse of manic illness who spoke to me in Hebrew as an expression of grandiosity. Meanwhile, the reality of job opportunities in the West Bank is dismal and work conditions are miserable, so that many laborers are eager to work for Israelis even if they must work in settlements or participate in projects such as building the separation wall. These workers are often treated by Israelis as sub-human: a few months ago Ahsan Abu-Srur, a 54 year old unauthorized Palestinian construction worker from Askar refugee camp, was seriously injured while doing renovation work in Tel Aviv. Realizing that he was critically injured, the Israeli contractor and two of his workers dragged the man to the sidewalk opposite the workplace and left him there to die.

                                                                                The experience of oppression undermines the internal cohesion of the oppressed and creates among them a state of polarization, in which they often direct their rage at others who are similarly victimized. Oppression makes people selfish and greedy, prone to infighting and competition over scarce resources—the scraps of opportunities left over from the oppressor. Oppressed people readily become resentful and envious of one another, creating an ambiance of mutual distrust.

                                                                                The sense of inferiority resulting from internalized oppression sets into motion a vicious cycle. We are treated as inferior—and in the absence of resistance, resilience and self-defense, we internalize the assumption of our own inferiority. Thus we come to believe that we are less capable and less worthy than others. These feelings are then projected onto our perceptions of one another and enacted in our treatment of one another. In this way, Palestinians come to distrust and devalue their own educational and medical systems; there is a spiteful oppression of women, a contemptuous attitude towards persons of a lower socioeconomic class, and an exclusionary and intolerant attitude towards political opposition—just a few manifestations of our internalized oppression.

                                                                                Nowadays, there is a widespread, corrupt system of influence and cronyism in Palestine such that most people are employees of the government. As a consequence, our agriculture is suffering, small independent businesses are crushed, and only the enterprises of a tiny minority, closely allied to the government can flourish. Young people are trapped in a cycle of consumerism, with new apartments, cars, and big loans from banks requiring a relentless lifetime of repayment. The result is decreased social involvement and productivity and rising rates of crime, addiction and diminished wellbeing. Pervasive inadequacy throughout our institutions, nepotism, false representation and mistreatment and torture of Palestinians by fellow Palestinians are just a few of the symptoms of the general degradation of our community.

                                                                                Community leaders and politicians fail to restore our national dignity and pride by taking steps to break through this vicious cycle and shedding light upon resilience, productivity, authenticity and steadfastness. We remember the submissive words of the President following the western boycott of the electoral results, “If we have to choose between bread and democracy, we choose bread.” Since the partition between the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian official discourse seems to confuse the doer and the do-ee. In its relationship with Israel, our officials assume the role of the oppressor, condemning spontaneous Palestinian reactions to Israeli violations and promoting meek submission to Israeli oppression. The people of Palestine are cast by our leadership into the role of the suspect, the offender; such reactions only feed into the entitlement of the occupier’s spin on reality, which turns us into victimizers and assumes the role of the victim.

                                                                                The submissiveness urged by our leaders goes beyond condemning armed resistance to trivializing non-violent measures such as the imposition of boycotts and the use of international law to hold Israel accountable for its actions; the Palestinian official position toward the Goldstone report on Israel’s war crimes is an illustrative example. We should not be deceived by the exaggerated festivities surrounding the UN General Assembly’s change of Palestine’s “entity” status to “non-member observer state.” The change in status was just a smoke screen to blur our perception of the revolutions taking place within the Arab world. We may have retitled our postal stamps by the addition of the words, “State of Palestine,” but have yet to take a single war criminal to the Hague and have yet to pursue our legal right to Palestinian land, waters, or air space—as any sovereign state recognized by the UN would surely do. Instead, “secretive” negotiations continue in the dark while Israel continues to approve the construction of more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and the demolition of more Palestinian homes.

                                                                                The Palestinian President reassures the world that a Palestinian state will be demilitarized while two thirds of the national budget goes to our security forces. Meanwhile, healthcare, education, social welfare, and all other national programs survive on one third of the budget! We need only look to our neighboring Arab countries who were impoverished for decades as they fed the fat cats who ran their armies, while their own starving people were duped into the belief that these armies would “defend” them one day. Now these armies devour the very same people who had supported them—but are we Palestinians any better?

                                                                                Internalized oppression is driven by several engines.

                                                                                The first is media. Anger and dissatisfaction create the momentum for social change, but an artificial leisure and entertainment industry will blind and distract a frustrated public from the reality around them and create a false consciousness. Local media bombard our eyes and ears to dull our critical faculties and weaken our ability to protest, resist, or revolt. Media owners and their donor capitalists ally with the political elite to impose their tastes and ideology on the public. Mohammad Assaf, the Palestinian winning Arab Idol, is a good example—a charming vocalist with a beautiful voice. But the media promotes this triumph as the symbol of “the Palestinian plight,” and mobilizes the public to become consumers of a simplistic, reductionist, and deceptive exploitation of his charm; a thing of beauty can be used for ugly purposes. One might ask why the local media failed to make an equal effort to mobilize against the siege on Gaza, the Prawer plan, or in the service of transparency regarding the ongoing negotiations—matters which connect directly with most Palestinians and their plight!

                                                                                International donation is the second engine. It is a paradox that oppression can come to us through the doors and windows of freedom, openness, and efforts to do good. In her study, “Promoting Democracy in Palestine: Donation and the Democratization of the West Bank and Gaza,” Dr. Leila Farsakh concluded that such projects sought to promote the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority rather than empowering the Palestinian public to challenge the dominance of the Authority or to critique its definition of the national liberation project. Donor-driven projects fail to devote sufficient attention to important institutions central to the democratic process, such as the parliament, political parties, and the electoral process. In the end, these projects tend to entrench the occupation rather than helping Palestinians to create the conditions for national liberation; these projects tend to intensify the grip of the Authority instead of strengthening independent-minded channels.

                                                                                The third engine is the domain of education and institutionalized religion. This year, five Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem substituted the Palestinian curriculum with the Israeli one. The Jerusalem municipality went on to award the administration of these five schools by increasing the personal salaries of their principals and paying them 2000 NIS for every student registered in their schools. A mere glance at the Israeli curriculum reveals how it distorts history, religion, geography, and eventually the mindset and the national culture of pupils: In one textbook, two pupils discuss how Israel brought electricity to their village and granted national insurance to children and their elders; the pupils conclude that they should join the celebration on “Israel’s Independence Day.” And while some of our children are savoring a toxic dose of Israeli indoctrination, others are anesthetized by some misleading religious leaders who form an unholy league with political and financial power elites. Manipulating the public with an insidious form of mind control, they come up with “teachings” promoting a fatalistic, mystical frame of mind and issue “fatwas” that promote compliance and conformity. These religious leaders promote the status quo with all its agony and disadvantages and inhibit people from embracing genuine reform and social change, encouraging people to pin their hopes on the afterlife rather than dealing with the misery of the here and now.

                                                                                In conclusion, since decisions and behaviors of our leaders do nothing but establish internalized oppression, it becomes the social responsibility of ordinary people to work actively to recognize and alleviate this threat to wellbeing, in order to prevent the demise of the Palestinian spirit and cause. Raising awareness about the phenomenon, monitoring and protesting its appearance in official discourse and behavior, bearing witness, empowering economic development, resisting consumerism, connecting them with their own history and community, and helping then to analyze reality— are just a few tools to liberate Palestinians from internalized oppression. So much has been done to efface, harm, eradicate the Palestinian nation or to disfigure it forever. We cannot simply wait for justice to happen—justice is something we must work hard to actualize. Sacrifices must be made and sometimes risks must be taken to snatch our life from the jaws of death. Commitment, awareness, wisdom, and planning are required for recovery and salvation of this injured life—as we want a decent life, not any life. Our work for healing and recovery is indivisible from our work for liberation.

                                                                                - Samah Jabr is a Jerusalemite psychiatrist and psychotherapist who cares about the wellbeing of her community – beyond issues of mental illness. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                  US Desperate to Keep Futile Peace Process Show on the Road a Little Longer

                                                                                  English (US)  March 24th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                  Obama and Abbas in the Oval Office. (Photo: WAFA)

                                                                                  By Jonathan Cook – Nazareth

                                                                                  For the first time since the US launched the Middle East peace talks last summer, the Palestinian leadership may be sensing it has a tiny bit of leverage.

                                                                                  Barack Obama met the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Washington last week in what Palestinian officials called a “candid and difficult” meeting. The US president hoped to dissuade Abbas from walking away when the original negotiations’ timetable ends in a month.

                                                                                  The US president and his secretary of state, John Kerry, want their much-delayed “framework agreement” to provide the pretext for spinning out the stalled talks for another year. The US outline for peace is now likely to amount to little more than a set of vague, possibly unwritten principles that both sides can assent to.

                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                  The last thing the US president needs is for the negotiations to collapse, after Kerry has repeatedly stressed that finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is imperative.

                                                                                  The US political cycle means Obama’s Democratic party is heading this autumn into the Congressional mid-term elections. A humiliating failure in the peace process would add to perceptions of him as a weak leader in the Middle East, following what has been widely presented as his folding in confrontations with Syria and Iran.

                                                                                  Renewed clashes between Israel and the Palestinians in the international arena would also deepen US diplomatic troubles at a time when Washington needs to conserve its energies for continuing negotiations with Iran and dealing with the fallout from its conflict with Russia over Crimea.

                                                                                  Obama therefore seems committed to keeping the peace process show on the road for a while longer, however aware he is of the ultimate futility of the exercise.

                                                                                  In this regard, US interests overlap with those of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has been the chief beneficiary of the past eight months: diplomatic pressure has largely lifted; Israeli officials have announced an orgy of settlement building in return for releasing a few dozen Palestinian prisoners; and the White House has gradually shifted ground even further towards Israel’s hardline positions.

                                                                                  The Palestinians, on the other hand, have nothing to show for their participation, and have lost much of the diplomatic momentum gained earlier by winning upgraded status at the United Nations. They have also had to put on hold moves to join dozens of international forums, as well as the threat to bring Israel up on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.

                                                                                  Abbas is under mounting pressure at home to put an end to the charade, with four Palestinian factions warning last week that the Kerry plan would be the equivalent of national “suicide”. For this reason, the White House is now focused on preventing Abbas from quitting next month – and that requires a major concession from Israel.

                                                                                  The Palestinians are said to be pushing hard for Israel’s agreement to halt settlement building and free senior prisoners, most notably Marwan Barghouti, who looks the most likely successor to Abbas as Palestinian leader.

                                                                                  Some kind of short-term settlement freeze – though deeply unpopular with Netanyahu’s supporters – may be possible, given the Israeli right’s triumph in advancing settlement-building of late. Abbas reportedly presented Obama with “a very ugly map” of more than 10,000 settler homes Israel has unveiled since the talks began.

                                                                                  Setting Barghouti free, as well as Ahmad Saadat, whose PLO faction assassinated the far-right tourism minister, Rehavam Zeevi, in 2001, would be an even harder pill for the Israeli government to swallow. Cabinet ministers are already threatening a mutiny over the final round of prisoner releases, due at the end of the week. But Israeli reports on Sunday suggested Washington might consider releasing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, possibly in return for Israel freeing more Palestinians, to keep the talks going.

                                                                                  Simmering tensions between the US and Israel, however, are suggestive of the intense pressure being exerted by the White House behind the scenes.

                                                                                  Those strains exploded into view again last week when Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defence minister, used a speech to lambast Washington’s foreign policy as “feeble”. In a similar vein, he infuriated the White House in January by labeling Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic” in pursuing the peace process. But unlike the earlier incident, Washington has refused to let the matter drop, angrily demanding an explicit apology.

                                                                                  The pressure from the White House, however, is not chiefly intended to force concessions from Israel on an agreement. After all, the Israeli parliament approved this month the so-called referendum bill, seen by the right as an insurance policy. It gives the Israeli public, raised on the idea of Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive and “eternal capital”, a vote on whether to share it with the Palestinians.

                                                                                  Washington’s goal is more modest: a few more months of quiet. But even on this reckoning, given Netanyahu’s intransigence, the talks are going to implode sooner or later. What then?

                                                                                  Obama and Kerry have set out a convincing scenario that in the longer term Israel will find itself shunned by the world. The Palestinian leadership will advance its cause at the UN, while conversely grassroots movements inside and outside Palestine will begin clamoring for a single state guaranteeing equality between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Israel’s vehement and aggressive opposition on both fronts will only serve to damage its image – and its relations with the US.

                                                                                  An unexpected voice backing the one-state solution emerged last week when Tareq Abbas, the Palestinian president’s 48-year-old son, told the New York Times that a struggle for equal rights in a single state would be the “easier, peaceful way”.

                                                                                  Bolstering Washington’s argument that such pressures cannot be held in check for ever, a poll this month of US public opinion revealed a startling finding. Despite a US political climate committed to a two-state solution, nearly two-thirds of Americans back a single democratic state for Jews and Palestinians should a Palestinian state prove unfeasible. That view is shared by more than half of Israel’s supporters in the US.

                                                                                  That would constitute a paradigm shift, a moment of reckoning that draws nearer by the day as the peace process again splutters into irrelevance.

                                                                                  - Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.jonathan-cook.net. (A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.)

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                                                                                    OMAR: Uncovering Occupied Palestine

                                                                                    English (US)  February 12th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                    "Omar."

                                                                                    By Richard Falk

                                                                                    OMAR is the second film directed by Hany Alu-Assad to be a finalist among foreign language films nominated to receive an Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony on March 2nd. The earlier film, PARADISE NOW (2005), brought to life the preoccupation at the time with suicide bombing as the principle tactic of Palestinian resistance by exposing the deep inner conflicts of those who partake, the tragic effects of such terror on its Israeli targets, and the hardened manipulative mentality of the leaders who prepare the perpetrators. Alu-Assad born in 1961 in Nazareth, emigrated to the Netherlands in 1980, writes the screen plays for his movies as well as directs. He has a profound gift for story telling that keeps an audience engaged with the human drama affecting the principal Palestinian characters while illuminating broader issues of profound moral and political concern without stooping to didactic means of conveying ‘the message.’ So understood, Alu-Assad’s achievement is artistic in the primary sense, yet attunes us to the dilemmas of oppression and servitude.

                                                                                    In these respects OMAR is superior even to PARADISE NOW, telling the story of what life under Israeli occupation means for the way Palestinian lives are lived, the normalcy’s of romantic attraction contrasting with the abnormalities of humiliating lives lived behind prison walls. The film opens with Omar climbing the high domineering security wall to overcome the separation of Arab families living on either side, being detected by the Israeli guards who sound sirens and fire a shot. Omar manages to clamor back down and leap to safety. Israeli police on foot and in cars pursue Omar through the alleyways and streets of an impoverished Palestinian neighborhood. The underlying poignancy of Omar’s situation is to be at once ‘a freedom fighter’ and a sensitive young man deeply in love with Nadia, the younger sister of Tarek, his militia commander. In an unspoken realism, Omar is unconditionally bound to both causes, jeopardizing his chance to live a shadow life of acquiescence to the realities of occupation by his choice to dedicate himself at great risk and little hope to the liberation of the Palestinian people and their land.

                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                    The wall reinforced by the Israeli security forces, portrayed as cunning and unscrupulous, with an occupiers’ fear and loathing for those who cower under the rigors of occupation, provides an unforgettable visual metaphor that captures the daily ordeal of the Palestinian people. In a subtle touch, the rope used by Omar throughout the film to avoid the checkpoints and overcome the separation of his home from that of Tarek and Nadia also conveys an understanding that the wall is much more about humiliation and land than it is about security. The rope remains untouched during the entirety of the film, although its presence and illegal use must have been obvious to the Israeli occupation forces that never bother to remove it.

                                                                                    What emerges most vividly as the story unfolds is the dehumanizing effects of prolonged occupation. Omar and Nadia have charm and humor to give their love for another an unforgettable credibility that is brought to life by their awareness of what it means to live without the right to travel beyond the wall. They talk in the language of fantasy about where to go on their honeymoon: he proposes Mozambique, she counters with Bangla Desh, and then more truly, admits that Paris is her dream, while they both fully realize that they will never get the opportunity to get beyond the dingy confines of the West Bank. Nadia’s biggest trip outside of her immediate neighborhood was a visit to Hebron, the tensest, most humiliated city in occupied Palestine, notorious for daily settler violence against the large resident Palestinian community.

                                                                                    The film conveys better than any book the interactive intimacies of occupier and occupied. The Israeli lead security agent, Rami, calls his mother to ask her to pick up his daughter from school, and when she asks why he can’t do it, he responds “I am stuck in the middle of the fucking West Bank.” Yet the most abiding realization is the horrible dehumanizing effects of this mixture of fear and hatred in contexts of unspeakable inequality, with total control seemingly on one side, and complete vulnerability on the other side. The torture scenes, like the wall, are both horrible in their own enactment, but also metaphors of what it means to live your entire life within master/slave structures of relationship.

                                                                                    The reality of Palestinian violent resistance has two important consequences even though it seems currently futile from the perspective of challenging the occupation in any way that promises to liberation: it gives dignity to Palestinians who seem united in their will to live-unto-death despite their defenselessness and it makes Israelis vulnerable despite their seeming total control of the situation as a result of their weaponry, police, surveillance technology, and arrogant sense of racial superiority. In effect, the desperate slave when life is deprived of all personal meaning can sacrifice himself in a symbolic act of vengeance, and inflict pain and loss on the master. Seen from an Israeli perspective, there is no way to achieve total security (this side of total genocide) no matter how clever, sophisticated, and oppressive the systems of control put in place. Technology is incapable of doing the whole job, and for this reason, human fallibility always produces some sort of payback from the incompletely vanquished subjugated population.

                                                                                    For this reason, from the Palestinian side, nothing is worse that becoming a collaborator, and yet only a hero among heroes, would have the super-human capacity to avoid such a fate given the brutality used by Israelis to acquire the information they need to enforce their will on a hostile population. For the occupier recruiting collaborators is a vital part of improving security; for the occupied, it is the final humiliation, making the fate of the traitor far worse than that of the slave. Omar is portrayed in a fascinating manner because he succumbs, and yet in the end he doesn’t succumb. Amjad, his friend collaborates with the Israelis to steal Omar away from Nadia, with the biopolitical insight that romantic longings may take lethal precedence over political loyalty and lifelong friendship. In this respect, the power of love is greater than the power of power. The film also is faithful to the traditional social norms that bind Palestinians to family relations in ways that also enslave, including the total disempowerment of women. Nadia is portrayed as strong in her dual attachments to love and resistance, and yet is deprived by Palestinian norms of freedom in relation to her body and choice of partner. In this sense, Nadia is doubly occupied.
                                                                                    OMAR makes no effort to depict the larger issues of resistance tactics, to portray some vision of a realizable peace, or to bring into play the behavior of politicians, the UN, the international community. Such considerations are ignored, and seem irrelevant to the forces that impact daily on Palestinian lives. It takes the present as a seemingly permanent given, in effect, a society of prisoners sentenced for life with no hope for parole or escape. So understood, the actual Israeli prison that is depicted in the film is a prison within a prison, that is, a walled enclave that exists within a walled country.

                                                                                    The great achievement of Hany Alu-Assad in this film is to make you feel and think, and maybe hopefully act. I left the theater with the overriding sense that the continuation of this occupation is intolerable for both sides, that it dehumanizes Israelis as much as it does Palestinians, two peoples caught in a vicious circle of subjugation and resistance. But not equally so caught as the masters live life in more satisfying ways than the slaves, at least for now, at least until the walls come tumbling down.

                                                                                    - Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies. He is also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. Visit his blog.

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                                                                                      BDS, ‘Lawfare’ Big Winners at South African Parliamentary Conference

                                                                                      English (US)  February 12th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                      People gathered in the same parliamentary halls where Apartheid politicians once sat, to attend the Parliamentary Solidarity Conference. (Photo: Supplied)
                                                                                      People gathered in the same parliamentary halls where Apartheid politicians once sat, to attend the Parliamentary Solidarity Conference. (Photo: Supplied)

                                                                                      By Suraya Dadoo

                                                                                      Feb 12 2014 / 12:52 pm

                                                                                      2014 was declared the year of solidarity with the Palestinian people, and nowhere is this being taken more seriously than in South Africa. From ordinary individuals, to civil society, and those in the highest echelons of power, South Africa’s message to the Palestinian people is: “Your struggle is our struggle.” In successive State of the Nation addresses since 2010, and during a press conference last year with US president Barack Obama, President Zuma openly stated: “We are with the Palestinians.”

                                                                                      Actions, however, speak louder than words, and on Thursday 6 Feb, people from all walks of life gathered in the same parliamentary halls where Apartheid politicians once sat, to attend the Parliamentary Solidarity Conference. The conference, hosted by the South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation, is the first of its kind in Parliament. The aim of the conference was to produce a practical, action-oriented strategy that could be suggested to the South African Parliament, so that the solidarity campaigns for Palestine, Western Sahara and Cuba could be taken forward.

                                                                                      Following messages of solidarity by anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada and various parliamentarians and civil society representatives, breakaway groups discussed the key question of how to intensify the struggle for self-determination and bring about a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Marthie Momberg of Kairos Southern Africa, an ecumenical voice on local and international issues of justice from within the broader Christian community, called on the South African government to adopt complete military, diplomatic and financial sanctions against Israel until it complies with all applicable United Nations (UN) resolutions and international law, and ends the occupation.

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                                                                                      Kairos also asked that the South African government table this at both the African Union (AU) and the UN. Momberg also asked that all political parties in South Africa clearly communicate their stance on Israel timeously, in the build-up to the 2014 elections in South Africa.

                                                                                      Activist, academic and Middle East scholar, Na’eem Jeenah, explained the South African National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) legal obligation under the Rome Statute to address the ‘Gaza Docket’ – a 5 000 page body of evidence outlining the Israeli government’s war-crimes against the Palestinian people, and instances where South African citizens – in violation of South African and international law – actively participated in Operation Cast Lead and other illegal attacks. Jeenah also stated that a 2009 report from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) of South Africa that found Israel guilty of Apartheid, should be adopted by parliament and government, and must be referred to international bodies including the International Criminal Court, UN and AU. Jeenah also stated that the South African government needed to go beyond relabelling settlement products, and should cease financial transactions with Israeli settlement companies, banks and companies.

                                                                                      The ‘Cape Town Declaration’, as it is now known, was the final outcome of the discussion process, and includes both Momberg and Jeenah’s suggestions, as well as a suggestion, that, as an act of solidarity, visa restrictions on Palestinian students wanting to study in South Africa, should be eased. The Declaration also calls on the South African government to encourage and support Palestinian political reconciliation efforts; fully support the Robben Island Declaration calling for the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian political prisoners, and to campaign for Israel to be suspended from the SWIFT banking network. Witness and solidarity visits to the Occupied Palestinian Territories are to be encouraged by the government so that South Africans can witness Israeli Apartheid first-hand. Apart from an objection from Cheryllyn Dudley, a member of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), a small Christian political party closely allied with the South African Zionist lobby, the Declaration was unanimously accepted. The Declaration will now form part of a Parliamentary Plan of Action.

                                                                                      “It was such an enormous privilege to see how people from different political parties and backgrounds interact with one another. Their support for Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara was not driven by political, religious or cultural interests, but by our shared humanity. We want to be free, and we want it also for others,” said Momberg.

                                                                                      Civil society and Palestinian solidarity groups in South Africa are pleased with the content of the Declaration. BDS South Africa co-ordinator, Muhammed Desai warmly welcomed the conference’s declaration of support for the BDS campaign. The initiators of the Gaza Docket, Media Review Network (MRN), Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), are “delighted” that the South African government’s legal obligations under the Rome Statute, and the need for the NPA to act on the Gaza Docket that is before it, has been highlighted. The ‘lawfare’ groups called the resolution by the Conference to prioritise the Gaza Docket, “imperative”.

                                                                                      To date, there has been no reaction from the Israeli Embassy, or Israel’s chief lobby groups in South Africa: the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation.

                                                                                      - Suraya Dadoo is a researcher for Media Review Network, a Johannesburg-based advocacy group and co-author of Why Israel? The Anatomy of Zionist Apartheid: A South African Perspective (Porcupine Press, 2013). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                        Federal Recognition Process: A Culture of Neglect

                                                                                        English (US)  January 27th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                        By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                        The Shinnecock Indian Nation was petitioner number 4 on the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ list of tribes seeking federal recognition in 1978 soon after the agency established the seven criteria for recognition.

                                                                                        Thirty-two years and $33 million later in June 2010, the BIA acknowledged the Shinnecock Nation as an American Indian tribe with a government-to-government relationship with the United States’ and whose members are eligible to receive health, education, housing and other services provided to federally recognized tribes – services the federal government is obligated to provide as a debt owed to the Indigenous Peoples in exchange for the loss of their lands.

                                                                                        Three or four days after receiving federal recognition, the tribe got another letter from the BIA, Lance Gumbs, former Shinnecock council chairman, said. “It was an internal memo from inside the Office of Federal Acknowledgement and this memo said the Shinnecock Tribe is indeed a tribe and they should be recognized expeditiously in this process,” Gumbs said. “And that letter was dated from 1979.”

                                                                                        Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                                          Osage Blanket

                                                                                          English (US)  January 27th, 2014 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                          Blanket (T809); Osage, Oklahoma; ca. 1890; wool, silk ribbon, beads, thread; Collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York. Gift of Eugene Victor Thaw Art Foundation.

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                                                                                            Inherent Sovereignty Declaration Sets Tone for Federal Recognition Conference

                                                                                            English (US)  January 27th, 2014 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                            Leaders and representatives of 29 indigenous nations that are not acknowledged by the federal government participated in a pipe ceremony and signing of a Declaration on the Exercise of Inherent Sovereignty and Cooperation on the first day of a conference called Who Decides You're Real? Fixing the Federal Recognition Process at Arizona State University.

                                                                                            By Gale Courey Toensing
                                                                                            1/27/14

                                                                                            A unique direct action took place on the first morning of a recent conference on federal recognition: The panel discussions stopped for almost two hours while everyone participated in a ceremony for the signing and witnessing of a declaration asserting the inherent sovereignty of indigenous nations.

                                                                                            The conference, called “Who Decides You’re Real? Fixing the Federal Recognition Process,” was held January 16-17 at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Close to 200 tribal leaders and representatives of both federally recognized and “unrecognized” indigenous nations, attorneys and consultants specializing in the Federal Acknowledgement Process (FAP), and federal officials attended. The discussion focused on the challenges faced by unrecognized tribes under what everyone agrees is a “broken” federal recognition process and ways to fix it.

                                                                                            Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                                              New York Times Fiction: On Obama’s Letter to Rouhani

                                                                                              English (US)  September 26th, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                              Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran, addresses the general debate of the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly, Sep 24, 13. (Photo: UN)
                                                                                              Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran, addresses the general debate of the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly, Sep 24, 13. (Photo: UN)

                                                                                              By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                              Mark Landler is a White House correspondent for The New York Times. Under the title “Through Diplomacy, Obama Finds a Pen Pal in Iran”, Landler wrote of President Barack Obama’s deep “belief in the power of the written word,” and of his “frustrating private correspondence with the leaders of Iran.” (NYT, Sep. 19)

                                                                                              What is also frustrating is the unabashed snobbery of Landler’s and the NYT’s narrative regarding Iran: that of successive US administrations trying their best and obstinate Iranian leaders – stereotyped and derided – who always fail to reciprocate. This is all supposedly changing though since the new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, who they present as different and approachable, decided to break ranks with his predecessors.

                                                                                              This is of course hardly an appropriate framing of the story. While a friendly exchange of letters between Rouhani and Obama is a welcomed development in a region that is torn between failed revolutions, civil wars and the potential of an all-out regional conflict, it is not true that it is Rouhani’s personality that is setting him apart from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

                                                                                              Rouhani’s ‘charm offensive’ as described by the times is a ‘process’ that ‘has included the release of 11 prominent political prisoners and a series of conciliatory statements by top Iranian officials.’ It is natural then, we are meant to believe, that Obama would make his move and apply his writing skills in earnest. Israel was not mentioned in the story even once, as if the fact that Israel’s decade-long advocacy of sanctioning and bombing Iran has not been the single greatest motive behind the deteriorating relations between Washington and Tehran, long before Ahmadinejad was painted by US media, NTY included, as the devil incarnate.

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                                                                                              Dominant US media is unlikely to adjust its attitude towards Iran and the rest of the Middle East anytime soon: the perceived enemies will remain enemies and the historic allies – as in Israel only – will always be that. While that choosy discourse has been the bread and butter of US media – from elitist publications like NYT to demagogues like Fox News – that one-sidedness will no longer suffice as the Middle East region is vastly changing in terms of alliances and power plays.

                                                                                              Iran’s internal politics is multifarious, and the country’s location in a geopolitically complex region makes it impossible, needless to say unfair, to confine the country’s existence to the US whims and expectations. It is US impulses, not the Iranian’s leader lack of letter writing skills that made the relationship extremely difficult since the breakup 34 years ago. Since then, it has been one pretense after the other. At the heart of the US argument is Israel’s security – a doctrine that simply means total Israeli military domination over its neighbors. US insistence to rule over a region it perceives as its domain since the fading of British and French influence in the oil-rich region has its many, violent at times, implications. But there were also many wasted opportunities that could have assured both the US and Iran that mutual respect and cooperation were a possibility worth exploring.

                                                                                              Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami (in office 1997-2005) was a reformist, and he too was seen as ‘different’. In fact, he did try to reach out to the US, but aside from a few symbolic gestures involving both parties, to no avail. The balances of power were extremely skewed in favor of the US, and politicians with sinister ambitions understood well the danger of reciprocal diplomacy with Iran.

                                                                                              The Obama administration is not particularly keen on peace for its sake, but is realistic enough to understand that the balances of power are constantly shifting. If the US continues with intractable attitude, it will leave the space open for its opponents to gain ground, and could find itself mired in new conflicts with dangerous consequences. Russia, whose political lot in the Middle East has grown to an unprecedented extent, delivered a masterful stroke when it capitalized on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s apparent gaffe regarding Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. On Sep 14, Moscow’s proposal to avert war, turned into an agreement, and in record time the mood had completely shifted from one geared towards an imminent war, to one with ample possibilities.

                                                                                              Of course, while the current civil war is tearing Syria to shreds, Iran and its allies – as well as its enemies – have been key players in the conflict. Now that an agreement has been reached regarding Syria, Tom Curry, a National Affairs Writer with NBC News reported that Obama is hoping the Syria agreement “could point the way to a diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.”

                                                                                              Preparing for all possibilities, Rouhani began a quest to fortify his country’s own alliances. In the recent 13th Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Kyrgyzstan, Rouhani showed willingness to resolve problems surrounding its nuclear weapons program. Empowered by the dissipating chances of war against Syria, and Russia’s growing fortunes as a diplomatic arbitrator, Iran sees an opportunity for a dignified solution.

                                                                                              Evidently, Israel and its Washington allies are not happy. To offset a backlash, Kerry selected Israel as his first destination after the signing of the Syria chemical weapons agreement on Sep. 14. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had warned that Rouhani was no different than his predecessor, must now find a way to restate his country’s relevance, and will continue to find ways to push for war. Republican Senator John McCain’s tireless advocacy for military action is not bearing fruits. His song ‘bomb, bomb, bomb Iran’ couldn’t even deliver a limited strike against Syria. Pro-Israel lawmakers such as Ted Deutch and Peter Roskam are merely urging their government to double its efforts to prevent Russia’s arming of Iran with advanced S-300 air defense systems.

                                                                                              Too little too late. Russia knows well that any turning back on its Iranian ally will not bode well for its longer term interests in the region. Andrei Arashev of the leading Russian think tank Strategic Culture Foundation is calling for “strategic alliance” with Iran, a sentiment echoed elsewhere. To achieve that alliance, but also to ease tensions with Washington, the Russian Kommersant reported that Moscow might offer Antey-2500, an alternative air defense system with equal efficiency. But there is more as “Russia is ready to execute the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, ignoring the US sanctions on Iran,” reported Pakistan’s The New International on Sep. 19, citing a Russian minister’s comments in a meeting with Pakistan’s petroleum minister in Islamabad.

                                                                                              It really matters little whether Obama is a true pen pal or not, the same way that his oratory skills have long been disregarded as extraneous. The issue here has much to do with the political landscape in the Middle East, the failed attempt at war in Syria and Iran’s own alliances, starting with Russia. Obama’s alleged morally-driven expectations from Iran’s leaders and his supposed need for a trustworthy Iranian pen pal is all but mere fiction promoted by the New York Times. This strange logic begins and ends there.

                                                                                              - Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is a media consultant, an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).

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                                                                                                Eastern Cherokee Opposition to Catawba Casino Fuels US Senate Race

                                                                                                English (US)  September 26th, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                Courtesy Cawtaba Indian Nation
                                                                                                An artist's rendering of the proposed casino on 16 acres located in Cleveland County, North Carolina.

                                                                                                By Gale Courey Toensing/Indian Coountry Today Media Network
                                                                                                September 25, 2013

                                                                                                The South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation wants to build a casino just over the state line in North Carolina in a county that is within its federal service area and part of its aboriginal lands. But the Nation faces fierce opposition from the North Carolina-based Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who own and operate the successful Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort some 130 miles away as the crow flies.

                                                                                                The Catawba’s casino plan is also opposed by North Carolina legislators who have received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Recently, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis and more than 100 House legislators wrote to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell asking her to block Catawba’s land into trust application, which was filed September 4. Nearly every legislator who signed the letter received campaign donations from the EBCI in 2012 ranging from $500 to $4000, the amount Tillis received, according to Follow the Money.

                                                                                                Read the full story at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/25/eastern-cherokee-opposition-catawba-casino-fuels-us-senate-race-151437"

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                                                                                                  Connecticut Governor Joins Blumenthal’s Anti-Indian Campaign

                                                                                                  English (US)  August 30th, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                  By Gale Courey Toensing
                                                                                                  August 30, 2013

                                                                                                  With the Connecticut governor joining Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s racist anti-Indian campaign against reforming the federal recognition process, the circle of opposition is almost complete.

                                                                                                  The Republican American newspaper reported August 16 that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy “is lining up to oppose the latest efforts to grant federal recognition to three Connecticut Indian tribes.”

                                                                                                  There are no “latest efforts” underway to grant federal recognition to Connecticut’s three remaining state recognized tribes – the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation, the Golden Hill Paugusetts, and the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. But Blumenthal has succeeded in stirring up fear and trembling in Connecticut’s local, state, and federal elected officials over Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn’s “Preliminary Discussion Draft” of potential changes to the federal acknowledgment regulations.

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                                                                                                    The Path to Peace Lies in Rejecting the "Pece Process"

                                                                                                    English (US)  August 30th, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                    For as long as the injustices continue, there can be no peace. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)

                                                                                                    By Jeremy R. Hammond

                                                                                                    Palestine’s illegitimate president, Mahmoud Abbas, is doing incredible damage to the cause of his people.

                                                                                                    It is betrayal enough that he has decided to return to the U.S.-led so-called “peace process”—which is the process by which the U.S. and Israel block implementation of the two-state solution—despite Israel refusing to show even a modicum of good faith. Under threats of punishment for disobedience and promises of financial reward for compliance, Abbas agreed to return to talks “without preconditions”, meaning while Israel’s illegal colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem continue unabated.

                                                                                                    But his betrayal goes much further. He has also expressed his willingness to surrender the Palestinians’ national sovereignty and right to self-defense by agreeing to the Israeli demand that the state of Palestine must be “demilitarized”. Abbas has tried to justify this decision by reasoning, “We don’t need planes or missiles”. But whether having the means to defend the state of Palestine is necessary or not is not the question. It may or may not be necessary, as a practical matter, but by agreeing to Israel’s demand to a “demilitarized” state, Abbas is surrendering, as a matter of principle, that Palestine might have the means by which to exercise its right to self-defense if it ever became necessary to do so—such as if Israel were to do what it often does and launch airstrikes or ground invasions against the state of Palestine.

                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                    Why is Abbas making such enormous concessions to Israel? The answer is that the Palestinian Authority, created under the so-called “peace process”, acts as Israel’s proxy security force. Bureaucrats like Abbas benefit from this system, as they have jobs and salaries, and they don’t want to risk upsetting the status quo if it means losing their relatively comfortable lives. The P.A. doesn’t want to risk losing the funding it receives from the U.S. by disobeying orders from Washington. It is rather content on making deals with the devil while maintaining the delusion that this road will somehow lead to heaven. This dependence of the Palestinian government upon the very nation most responsible for supporting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people and for blocking implementation of the two-state solution is perverse.

                                                                                                    The reason the U.S. and Israel consider Abbas a “partner for peace” is precisely because he is largely willing to comply with orders from Washington and Tel Aviv. If he wasn’t willing to do so, he by definition wouldn’t be a “partner for peace” in their lexicon. The Palestinians must have a leadership that the U.S. and Israel don’t consider a “partner” in their efforts to block implementation of the two-state solution if they ever want to see the two-state solution realized.

                                                                                                    The Palestinians are not without options. Since obtaining the status of non-member observer state in the General Assembly, they now have legal recourse to the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice. They have the option of bringing complaints against Israel’s violations of international law that prejudice their rights, such as its occupation regime and illegal colonization.

                                                                                                    Israel has threatened to withhold taxes it collects on behalf of the P.A. in areas of the West Bank under its control and the U.S. has threatened to cut off aid if the Palestinians pursue such action, but this is also a Catch-22 for Israel and the U.S., since a collapse of the P.A. would not be in Israel’s interests, either.

                                                                                                    The Palestinian leadership will gain nothing by negotiating with the government of the country occupying their land, stealing or destroying their resources, and colonizing their soil. The only possible outcome of participating in the charade known as the “peace process” will be the further loss of Palestinians’ internationally recognized rights. That Palestinians must surrender their rights is an explicit precondition imposed by Israel on any agreement to be arrived at via talks. So what is the point of talking?

                                                                                                    The leadership of Palestine should immediately end talks and make clear that there is no point in negotiating unless and until Israel ceases its illegal colonization and withdraws from occupied Palestine. They should insist that any talks should be based on the equal rights of both parties, rather than agreeing to the framework of the “peace process” that excludes anything international law has to say about it, in which any agreement to be achieved is not about what Israel has a right to under the law, but what Israel wants that contravenes the law.

                                                                                                    The leadership should also immediately file claims against Israel for its crimes against the Palestinians, including the ongoing collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza, and also against the U.S. for its complicity in those crimes with its financial, military, and diplomatic support for them, at the ICC; as well as request that the General Assembly refer the matter to the ICJ.

                                                                                                    The way to make Israel’s occupation unsustainable is for the P.A. leadership to stop acquiescing to sustaining it. Simply choosing not to comply with orders from Washington to maintain the status quo and complacently continue with the charade of the mislabeled “peace process”, to walk away from it and use the legal mechanisms available to them in order to put an end to the U.S.’s support for Israel’s criminal policies by making it politically infeasible to continue, is the only path forward.

                                                                                                    If the current Palestinian leadership won’t do that, the Palestinian people need to rid themselves of the Abbas regime, and perhaps rid themselves of the P.A. altogether, and lead themselves down the path towards an end of the perpetual injustices that have been and are being done to them.

                                                                                                    If the U.S. responds by cutting financing to the Palestinians, let the world see this “aid” for what it really is: bribery payments intended to keep the P.A. leadership dependent upon and therefore compliant with the very nations oppressing them—namely, Israel and the U.S. The Palestinians are a resourceful people, and economic hardship is no stranger to them. The people of the world are with them in their struggle for justice. They will weather the storm. And the sacrifice of U.S. money to the P.A. seems a small price to pay in order to be done finally with the miserable “peace process” and get on with the process of making peace.

                                                                                                    For as long as the injustices continue, there can be no peace. There is law. The path to peace will not be found by continuing with a framework that rejects law. It will be found by choosing the framework that seeks remedy and accountability under the law.

                                                                                                    Let the Palestinian leadership stop this nonsense about negotiating with their oppressor while their land is occupied, stolen, and colonized. The time to begin negotiations on a final peace settlement, including a final agreement on borders, is when the occupation comes to an end.

                                                                                                    That was the original intent of U.N. Resolution 242, and that is officially, under the law, what the international consensus is of how to achieve the two-state solution. That is the two-state solution.

                                                                                                    That is also the reality that the U.S.-led “peace process” has fought so hard for so many years to make everyone forget. The U.S. has effectively reversed the prescription of the two-state solution by accepting Israel’s warped and legally invalid unilateral interpretation of 242, that a final settlement must be achieved first, and only then will it withdraw from some of the Palestinian territory it now occupies, annexing the rest into the “Jewish state”.

                                                                                                    The Palestinians need no one’s permission—least of all Israel’s— to exercise self-determination. There is no sense at all in participating in a “process” in which they must ipso facto agree that Israel may exercise a veto power over their own statehood.

                                                                                                    The Palestinian leadership must stop choosing that the Palestinians live as oppressed peoples. That will be the next step towards peace.

                                                                                                    - Jeremy R. Hammond is an independent political analyst and a recipient of the Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. He is the founding editor of Foreign Policy Journal and can also be found on the web at JeremyRHammond.com. He is the author of Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: Austrian vs. Keynesian economics in the financial crisis and The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Israeli-Arab Conflict. His forthcoming book is on the contemporary U.S. role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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                                                                                                      10 Scariest NSA Secrets Exposed by Snowden; Why Natives Need to Know

                                                                                                      English (US)  August 23rd, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                      By Gale Courey Toensing
                                                                                                      August 23, 2013

                                                                                                      The scariest revelation to come out of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks is that everything you’ve ever known or suspected about government spying, including the use of sinister-sounding code-names, is true -- and then some.

                                                                                                      In early June, The Guardian began publishing articles by journalist Glenn Greenwald about the United States government’s top-secret spying on US citizens through their phones and internet use. News of the mass surveillance programs set off an ongoing international storm of controversy over security and the ethics around the idea of the federal government acting like the government in George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984, where “Big Brother is watching you.”
                                                                                                      The menacing Big Brother poster from the 1956 film adaptation of '1984.'
                                                                                                      The menacing Big Brother poster from the 1956 film adaptation of '1984.'

                                                                                                      Greenwald soon disclosed that it was Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old American computer specialist and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, who had downloaded a trove of top secret documents from NSA systems concerning several top-secret US and British government surveillance programs. The disclosure of Snowden’s identity was made at his request. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said.

                                                                                                      Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network"

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                                                                                                        Egypt: Polarizaton nd Genocide

                                                                                                        English (US)  August 23rd, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                        By Richard Falk

                                                                                                        In retrospect, Tahrir Square was “a revolution” that never was, which has now been superseded by “a counter-revolution” that was never possible. The dislodging of a Mubarak dynasty in 2011 did not even achieve “regime change”, much less initiate a transformative political process. There was no revolution to counter. Even more modest hopes for political reform and humane governance were doomed from the start.

                                                                                                        What then was Tahrir Square? Part project (getting rid of Mubarak and sons), part fantasy (hoping that the carnivalistic unity of the moment would evolve into the sustained pursuit of a just society), and part delusional experiment (believing that the established order of Mubarak elites and their secular opponents would be willing to rebuild a more legitimate political and economic order even if it meant that would be losing significant power and status).

                                                                                                        The turn to “democracy” in Egypt always contained a hidden condition: the Muslim Brotherhood was welcome to participate so long as it wouldn’t come to dominate. What was anticipated in forthcoming Egyptian national elections was 25-35 percent MB support, with the related assurance that the next president of Egypt would not be associated with the Brothers or be seen as a representative of political Islam, but would be drawn from the ranks of liberal seculars (that is, anti-Mubarak, but also fearful of Islamic influence in governing circles).

                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                        Essentially, the fly in this Egyptian democratic ointment was the grassroots popularity and strength of Islam, and specifically, the Muslim Brotherhood winning control in a sequence of five elections during 2011-12, three for the parliament, and two for the presidency. Whether reasonably or not, this revelation of Islamic democratic strength was the death knell of democracy in Egypt. It frightened the anti-seculars into alliance with the fulool (remnants of the Mubarak elite), sealing the fate of the Morsi government. And since the legitimating procedures of the elections had repudiated the old Murbarak order, even in its post-Mubarak liberal, reconstituted self, the anti-MB opposition had to find an alternative strategy. They did: generate crises of governability and legitimacy via a massive populist mobilization.

                                                                                                        The armed forces were “the joker” in the political deck. The military leadership seemed to go along with the Tahrir Square flow, but also to play its cards in such a way as to control the transition to whatever came next, claiming to be the guarantor of order. Sometimes it was perceived as having made a deal with the MB, and it should not be forgotten that Major General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi served as the Minister of Defence in the Morsi cabinet up until the day of the coup. But as the anti-Morsi momentum gathered steam, the military took over the movement, but this time with a popular mandate to restore order and economic stability that had as its first priority the bloody destruction of the MB as a rival source of economic and political power. Think of it: the group that had prevailed in a series of free elections throughout the nation is scapegoated overnight into “terrorists” that must be crushed.

                                                                                                        When the word “terrorist” is deployed to designate the enemies of the state, it signals that the rule of the gun will replace the rule of law. It represents the adoption of extermination tactics by the state, and what has followed should be no surprise. ElBaradei’s participation in the coup and interim government, followed by his resignation, reflects the dilemma of liberals, and their confusion: making nice with the military for the sake of political control, yet not wanting too much innocent blood to be spilled. Note that most of the former liberals refuse to break with the el-Sisi interim government, having made their choice in this situation defined as better “us” than “them”.

                                                                                                        Was the Muslim Brotherhood responsible?

                                                                                                        Could the MB have handled things differently, and avoided the July 3 scenario? Yes, if they had kept their pledge to participate as a minority force in the new Egyptian political order, taking self-denying precautions, not to dominate the parliament, and not to seek the presidency. In other words, it is likely that if the MB had bided its time, and allowed a liberal secular candidate to fail, their overall position might be quite strong at present. This assessment presupposes that whoever was chosen to be the first post-Mubarak leader would not be able to satisfy the expectations of the Egyptian public with respect to economic recovery and social justice, and would be rejected “democratically”.

                                                                                                        It was reported (how reliably is unknown) that in February of 2012, Nabil ElAraby, a globally known and respected liberal secularist and at the time Secretary General of the Arab League, had been told that he would have the backing for the presidency of both the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAP) and the MB, if he had agreed to run for the Egyptian presidency. This support would have assured an electoral victory, but ElAraby prudently declined the offer.

                                                                                                        The imprudence of the MB failure to keep its pledge of non-competition for the presidency is only now becoming apparent. Having waited some 80 years for a chance to control the destiny of the country, the MB would have been wise to wait a few more to see how things were developing in the country, especially given the forces likely arrayed against them if they took centre stage. Of course, retrospective advice is always wise, and rarely relevant.

                                                                                                        Some have pointed to the failures of the Morsi leadership as the proximate cause of the el-Sisi coup. In other words, the fatal mistake of the MB was not their unwillingness to stay in the political background, but their failures when successful in occupying the foreground. The argument goes, had Morsi been more inclusive, more capable in negotiating international loans and attracting foreign investment, more inspirational in promoting a vision of Egypt’s future, less heavy-handed in dealing with oppositional activism, and more patient about promoting an Islamic agenda, things might have turned out differently. Perhaps it is further argued, the Morsi government would likely have lost some of its popularity due to the difficulties any leadership would have faced, but it would not be overthrown, nor would its political base be criminalised and crushed by a post-coup campaign of merciless state terror.

                                                                                                        It is impossible to assess such a counter-factual, but I have my extreme doubts. It is notable that with few exceptions those who were so outraged by the strong arm tactics and incompetence attributed to the Morsi government have averted their eyes from or even endorsed the incredibly more bloody tactics of the el-Sisi regime, denouncing as traitors those few like ElBaradei who have defected.

                                                                                                        After the coup: A genocidal mentality?

                                                                                                        Although much is unknown, the sequence of four massacres when softer alternatives were readily available to restore order, the moves to criminalize the MB (detaining Morsi, arresting MB leaders, and calling on the public to demonstrate so as to legitimize this strategy of oppression), and recourse to the language of “terrorism” to demonize peaceful demonstrators seeking to uphold constitutional rights reveal a pattern of extreme alienation on the part of the coup leaders.

                                                                                                        If polarization poisoned the well of democratic legitimacy, then its accelerated momentum led in Egypt to the emergence of a genocidal climate of opinion. This is what is happening in the country, making it almost to be expected that many of the coup supporters among the mass of Egyptians find nothing wrong with the tactics of the security forces since July 3, enthusiastically call for el-Sisi to become the next president of the country, and view the followers of the MB as undeserving of being treated as “Egyptians”, belonging outside the pale of humanity deserving neither mercy nor rights. In such an atmosphere, anything goes.

                                                                                                        I suppose in this evolving Egyptian melee we can learn about the way the world works by noting who is silent, who is approving, and who is ridiculously calling on both sides to show “maximum restraint”. We still live in a world where hard power strategic calculations almost always outweigh soft power affirmations associated with democracy and human rights. It is not a pretty picture, whether one wonders about such Islamic stalwarts as Saudi Arabia and the Conference of Islamic States or such liberal international advocates as the United States, the European Union, and even the UN Secretary General.

                                                                                                        These Egyptian developments also raise awkward questions about whether there exist outer limits to the politics of self-determination, which has authenticated many national movements against European colonialism and oppressive rule. Egypt is in the throes of what might be called a process of Satanic self-determination, and there is no prospect of humanitarian intervention even if the motivation were present, which it isn’t. Who would even have the temerity to invoke the norm of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), so pompously relied upon to validate the destruction of Gaddafi’s Libya, in the dire circumstances of the Muslim Brotherhood? R2P is not an emergent principle of international law, as advocates claim, but an operative principle of geopolitical convenience.

                                                                                                        The ethos of human solidarity means that none of us dedicated to human rights, to the accountability of leaders for crimes against humanity, and to the quest for humane governance should abandon Egypt in this tragic hour of need. At the same time, we need to admit that there is no politics of human solidarity capable of backing up the ethos even in the face of genocidal tremors.

                                                                                                        - Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. (This article was published in August 21, 2013 at A Jazeera – www.aljazeera.com)

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                                                                                                          A Peek Inside Kerry's "Peace" Process or Propaganda?

                                                                                                          English (US)  August 23rd, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                          By Sam Bahour

                                                                                                          The first proclaimed leak from Secretary John Kerry’s efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as it is so often called, were published last week in the reputable London-based daily Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat. The source is said to be from a posting from the website of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, who claim the information was leaked to them by someone attending the tightly closed negotiating sessions. The validity of this claim and the contents of the leak are unverifiable and the infighting between Hamas and Fatah give both a vested interest to publicly damage the other, however, a read through the supposed leaked information makes anyone familiar with this issue take a worrying note.

                                                                                                          The Al-Hayat article on the leak states that Secretary Kerry obtained Palestinian President Abbas’ approval on general parameters for the restart of negotiations, at meetings between the two in Amman on 17-18 July 2013, prior to Secretary Kerry’s announcement that negotiations would restart. According to the leaked document, “Kerry set a maximum period of time ranging from 6 to 9 months would be dedicated to bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations … without any preconditions,” beyond the principles listed below and whereby Jordan participates in meetings on refugees, Jerusalem and borders where necessary:

                                                                                                          1. “The Separation Wall will serve as the security borders of the ‘Jewish’ state, and the temporary border of the ‘Palestinian’ state… Both parties will acknowledge and announce this.”

                                                                                                          2. There will be “an exchange in disputed territories within the plan of the Separation Wall noted above, as agreed to by both parties and with the blessing of the Arab League Follow-up Committee, as specified by this Committee to Mr. Kerry during their last visit to Washington, ranging in size from eight to ten percent of West Bank lands.”

                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                          3. There will be also be a “freeze in the settlement projects at a number of outposts, as approved by the Israeli government, which does not apply to existing projects in large settlement communities located in the vicinity of Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley, including the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Har Homa, Gilo, Neve Yacov, Ramat Shlomo, Ramat Alman, Kiryat Arba’, and other densely populated settlements.”

                                                                                                          4. The document adds that “residents in frozen settlement communities will have the right to choose between Israeli citizenship, or Palestinian citizenship, or both, at the conclusion of negotiations,” and that “talks will culminate with a historic agreement … along the lines of the Oslo Agreement, during which both parties will announce the end of the historic conflict between their peoples, as well as full normalization with all Arab states, at a celebratory meeting attended by the Arab League and representatives of all Arab countries, announcing their approval of Israel’s establishment of a Palestinian state within the limits set out … above, according to agreements…. concluded by the two parties at the end of the negotiations, which will also entail Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.”

                                                                                                          5. It adds that “at the end of negotiations some Palestinian families will be allowed to reunite in the West Bank, Rafah and Gaza, while others will have the right to compensation, or emigration … to Arab countries, especially the Gulf…” where they will be “…naturalized… utilizing the Right of Return Fund for this purpose.”

                                                                                                          6. Concerning the status of East Jerusalem, the leaked document indicates that it will be “placed under an international administration (Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian) for ten years, whereby resident Israelis in East Jerusalem will have the right to choose their identity,” i.e. citizenship.

                                                                                                          7. Furthermore, “Israelis and Palestinians agree to discuss the issue of land exchanges, in the West Bank and Jerusalem, through negotiating committees despite the non-core points of contention between the two parties… especially those points that are considered important by the delegation of the Arab League, including the proposal to grant citizenship to every Palestinian who has been resident in the Gulf for more than ten years.”

                                                                                                          8. The document indicates that there will be a “discussion of executive steps in this agreement during negotiations within the time-limit mentioned above, and that its implementation will extend to ten years from the signing of the agreement.”

                                                                                                          9. Israel will also “release a number of Palestinian detainees have who spent twenty years or more in detention, and no longer pose a security threat.”

                                                                                                          10. It also stipulates that “President Mahmoud Abbas will call for legislative and presidential elections in the West Bank after the public announcement of the Agreement, in anticipation of the possibility of the emergence of objections to it, and that the terms of the agreement will not fully be announced until after the start of negotiations and the preoccupation of Palestinians with the battles of the Legislative Council and the Presidency.”

                                                                                                          11. It also says that “with the signing of the agreement at the end of the specified time-limit and the declaration of an independent Palestinian state, the Palestinians and Jordanians will, with the blessing of Israel and the Arabs, reach an understandings on the role of Jordanian security assistance … to the Palestinian Authority … to stand by its side and help it overcome potential internal or external dangers … as part of a Confederation, which will be announced in conjunction with a trilateral economic initiative, in which Israel will play an active role in its formation.”

                                                                                                          Shocking, to say the least!

                                                                                                          If these are anywhere near the truth, the region should be preparing for yet another major fallout, this time in Palestine and Israel, again.

                                                                                                          If the U.S. and Israel continue to choose the game of might is right, then they should expect, sooner rather than later, a new generation of Palestinians to look Israel straight in the eye and say, “You win! You get it all Israel: Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, both east and west sides, all of the settlements, all of the water, all of the Jordan Valley, all of the electromagnetic spectrum, all of the airspace, and most importantly, you also get all of us. Now, we heard you have free health care in Israel; where do we pick up our medical cards? We also want some of that free education too.”

                                                                                                          In other words, if the U.S. and Israel are adamant to throw into the sea international law, humanitarian law, UN resolutions, human rights, rights of refugees, and sheer common sense, then expect the Palestinians to redefine their self-determination from a struggle for statehood to a struggle for civil rights between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

                                                                                                          In the words of the late Palestinian (and global) intellectual, Edward Said, it’s “equality or nothing.” What is it about these three simple words that are so hard to comprehend?

                                                                                                          - Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business development consultant from Youngstown, Ohio, living in the Palestinian city of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He frequently provides independent commentary on Palestine and serves as a policy advisor of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and blogs at http://www.epalestine.com.

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                                                                                                            Reviving the Israel-Palestine Negotiations: The Indyk Appointment

                                                                                                            English (US)  August 2nd, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                            4
                                                                                                            Martin Indyk, former ambassador to Israel and onetime AIPAC employee.

                                                                                                            By Richard Falk

                                                                                                            It was to be expected. It was signaled in advance. And yet it is revealing.

                                                                                                            The only other candidates considered for the job were equally known as Israeli partisans: Daniel Kurtzer, former ambassador to Israel before becoming Commissioner of Israel’s Baseball League and Dennis Ross, co-founder in the 1980s (with Indyk) of the AIPAC backed Washington Institute for Near East Policy; handled the 2000 Camp David negotiations on behalf of Clinton.

                                                                                                            The winner among these three was Martin Indyk, former ambassador to Israel (1995-97; 2000-01), onetime AIPAC employee, British born, Australian educated American diplomat, with a long list of pro-Israeli credentials.

                                                                                                            Does it not seem strange for the United States, the convening party and the unconditional supporter of Israel, to rely exclusively for diplomatic guidance in this concerted effort to revive the peace talks on persons with such strong and unmistakable pro-Israeli credentials?

                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                            What is stranger, still, is that the media never bothers to observe this peculiarity of a negotiating framework in which the side with massive advantages in hard and soft power, as well as great diplomatic and media leverage, needs to be further strengthened by having the mediating third-party so clearly in its corner. Is this numbness or bias? Are we so accustomed to a biased framework that it is taken for granted, or is it overlooked because it might spoil the PR effect of reviving the moribund peace process?

                                                                                                            John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, whose show this is, dutifully indicated when announcing the Indyk appointment, that success in the negotiations will depend on the willingness of the two sides to make ‘reasonable compromises.’ But who will decide on what is reasonable? It would be criminally negligent for the Palestinians to risk their future by trusting Mr. Indyk’s understanding of what is reasonable for the parties. But the Palestinians are now potentially entrapped. If they are put in a position where Israel accepts, and the Palestinian Authority rejects, “(un)reasonable compromises,” the Israelis will insist they have no “partner” for peace, and once more hasbara will rule the air waves.

                                                                                                            It is important to take note of the language of reasonable compromises, which as in earlier attempts at direct negotiations, excludes any reference to international law or the rights of the parties. Such an exclusion confirms that the essential feature of this diplomacy of negotiations is a bargaining process in which relative power and influence weighs heavily on what is proposed by and acceptable to the two sides. If I were advising the Palestinians, I would never recommend accepting a diplomatic framework that does not explicitly acknowledge the relevance of international law and the rights of the parties. In the relation of Israel and Palestine, international law could be the great equalizer, soft power neutralizing hard power. And this is precisely why Israel has worked so hard to keep international law out of the process, which is what I would certainly recommend if in Tel Aviv’s diplomatic corner.

                                                                                                            Can one even begin to contemplate, except in despair, what Benjamin Netanyahu and his pro-settler cabinet consider reasonable compromises? On what issues can we expect Israel to give ground: borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security?

                                                                                                            It would have been easy for Kerry to create a more positive format if he had done either of two things: appointed a Palestinian or at least someone of Middle Eastern background as co-envoy to the talks. Rashid Khalidi, President Obama’s onetime Chicago friend and neighbor, would have been a reassuring choice for the Palestinian side. Admittedly, having published a book a few months ago with the title Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Undermined Peace in the Middle East, the appointment of Khalidi, despite his stellar credentials, would have produced a firestorm in Washington. Agreed, Khalidi is beyond serious contemplation, but what about John Esposito, Chas Freeman, Ray Close? None of these alternatives, even Khalidi, is as close to the Palestinians as Indyk is to the Israelis, and yet such a selection would have been seen as a step taken to close the huge credibility deficit. Yet such credibility remains outside the boundaries of the Beltway’s political imagination, and thus inhabits the realm of the unthinkable.

                                                                                                            It may be that Kerry is sincere in seeking to broker a solution to the conflict, yet this way of proceeding does not. Perhaps, there was no viable alternative. Israel would not come even to negotiate negotiations without being reassured in advance by an Indyk-like appointment. And if Israel had signaled its disapproval, Washington would be paralyzed.

                                                                                                            The only remaining question is why the Palestinian Authority goes along so meekly. What is there to gain in such a setting? Having accepted the Washington auspices, why could they not have demanded, at least, a more neutral or balanced negotiating envoy? I fear the answer to such questions is ‘blowin’ in the wind.’

                                                                                                            And so we can expect to witness yet another charade falsely advertised as ‘the peace process.’ Such a diversion is costly for the Palestinians, beneficial for the Israelis. Settlement expansion and associated projects will continue, the occupation with all its rigors and humiliations will continue, and the prospects for a unified Palestinian leadership will be put on indefinite hold. Not a pretty picture.

                                                                                                            This picture is made more macabre when account is taken of the wider regional scene, especially the horrifying civil war in Syria and the bloody military coup in Egypt. Not to be forgotten, as well, are Israeli threats directed at Iran, backed to the hilt by the U.S. Congress, and the terrible legacy of violent sectarian struggle that is ripping Iraq apart. Naturally, there is speculation that some kind of faux solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict would release political energy in Washington that could be diverted to an anti-Assad intervention in Syria and even an attack on Iran. We cannot rule out such infatuations with morbid geopolitical projects, but neither should we assume that conspiratorial scenarios foretell the future.

                                                                                                            - Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored and edited numerous publications spanning a period of five decades, most recently editing the volume, International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice (Routledge, 2008). He is currently serving his third year of a six year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. Visit Prof. Falk’s blog.

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                                                                                                              Once More into the Peace Process Dead End

                                                                                                              English (US)  August 2nd, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                              Saeb Erekat had dared to give away far more than observers had ever imagined possible.

                                                                                                              By Jonathan Cook – Nazareth

                                                                                                              It may not have reached the level of fevered expectation unleashed by that famous handshake between Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the White House lawn in 1993, but the sense of hope inspired by the long-awaited revival of peace talks is both tangible and deeply misplaced.

                                                                                                              The talks, which it was agreed this week will begin in earnest in the region in mid-August, are taking place not because either Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, or the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, believe a deal is in reach. The two sides are talking each to avoid being blamed for embarrassing John Kerry, the US secretary of state.

                                                                                                              The mistaken mood of “change is in the air” was illustrated last week by a much-touted poll showing that 55 per cent of Israelis would vote for an agreement if presented with it, with 25 per cent opposed. Overlooked was the fact that many more Israelis – 70 per cent – believe an agreement cannot be reached, while 60 per cent say the reason is that Netanyahu will never partition the land.

                                                                                                              Palestinians are no more sanguine. A recent poll revealed a measly 8 per cent had any degree of trust in the US as mediator.

                                                                                                              But if ordinary Israelis and Palestinians are either despondent or uninterested, their leaders and many observers are talking up the chances of a breakthrough.

                                                                                                              In part, this optimism is underpinned by the European Union’s unexpected and largely symbolic decision recently to penalize the settlements. From next year, the EU is supposed to deny funding to Israeli institutions in the occupied territories.

                                                                                                              This is a bitter pill for Israel to swallow, and it is already seeking to punish Europe. Last weekend it emerged that the Israeli military was denying EU staff access to Gaza, and blocking European projects in Area C, the nearly two-thirds of the West Bank exclusively controlled by Israel.

                                                                                                              But while Europe’s move has infuriated Israel, it looks suspiciously like it paved Netanyahu’s way to the negotiating table.

                                                                                                              Israel and its supporters have long cultivated the idea that strong-arm tactics, such as boycotts and sanctions, only serve to push the Israeli public and politicians further to the right. This has been the US and Europe’s rationale for treating Israel with kid gloves since the Oslo process began two decades ago.

                                                                                                              And yet the EU’s anti-settlement initiative suggests the opposite to be true. Both Netanyahu and Abbas hurried into the talks in the wake of the EU announcement – and for much the same reason.

                                                                                                              For Netanyahu, Europe’s move was a stick he wielded to frighten into compliance those to his right in the government. He could argue persuasively that continuing Israeli intransigence on talks would only intensify the country’s isolation – the substance of his opaque references to “Israel’s strategic interests”.

                                                                                                              Israel has much more to fear from the Palestinians outside the confines of a bogus peace process. There is the threat of the Palestinians building the momentum for further sanctions from bodies like the EU, or of their again taking their case for statehood to the United Nations, or of their referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court at the Hague for war crimes.

                                                                                                              For Abbas, the same EU decision was a carrot used to disarm critics who have been warning that the revival of futile negotiations will damage the Palestinian national cause. Claiming the Europeans had forced Israel on to the backfoot, Abbas could argue that the moment had finally arrived to negotiate.

                                                                                                              Uncharacteristically, the US has not appeared overly troubled by Israel’s patent displeasure at the sudden stiffening of EU resolve. Or as a senior US official told the Israeli media: “The Europeans are giving us the time and allowing us to try and get the talks going.”

                                                                                                              But while the US, Europe, Netanyahu and even Abbas will gain some breathing space from months of empty talk about peace, there is no sign that the pressure bringing Israel to the table will continue once it is seated.

                                                                                                              The most worrying indication that the US is heading down the same failed path is the announcement of Martin Indyk’s return as mediator. Indyk, a long-time Israel lobbyist, has been intimately tied to previous diplomatic failures.

                                                                                                              In addition, the negotiators themselves are the same compromised figures who have been down this route before. The Palestine Papers, leaked by Al-Jazeera in 2011, revealed that in earlier talks Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat had dared to give away far more than observers had ever imagined possible, while even these generous concessions had failed to satisfy Israel’s Tzipi Livni.

                                                                                                              There is also something puzzling about a peace process driven by a nine-month timetable rather than the logic of the negotiations. A possible motivation for the White House’s desire to drag out the talks was suggested by an official on Wednesday: the US desperately wants to avoid the “train wreck” of the Palestinians returning to the UN.

                                                                                                              Another barometer for judging the chances of a breakthrough are the relaxed smiles of Netanyahu’s far-right ministers, who are clearly undisturbed by thoughts that the settlements are in imminent jeopardy.

                                                                                                              In fact, quite the reverse. Israel has announced it will build 1,000 settler homes over the coming months, in addition to continuing private construction. A train line linking the settlements to Israeli towns, making them even more accessible and attractive, has also been unveiled.

                                                                                                              Regarding the peace process, Kerry has previously warned that there is “a year, a year-and-a-half, or two years and it’s over”. But what would “over” actually entail?

                                                                                                              For one thing, someone will have to be blamed and all past evidence suggests that the someone in question will be the Palestinians. For another, Netanyahu will be able to argue that, just as Kerry feared, the peace process is dead. No Palestinian leadership, he will claim, will ever be capable of making peace.

                                                                                                              That may prove a tempting moment for Israel to carry out the much-longed-for annexation of Area C, the bulk of the West Bank and the site of the settlements. With as few as 100,000 Palestinians left in Area C after decades of ethnic cleansing, Israel can offer them citizenship without threatening the state’s hallowed Jewishness.

                                                                                                              Not only would such a move satisfy Netanyahu’s hunger for more Palestinian land, but it would solve another problem, this time for Europe and the US. They would no longer have to fret about boycotting the settlements; annexation would mean there were no more settlements to oppose.

                                                                                                              - Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). Visit: www.jonathan-cook.net. (A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.)

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                                                                                                                Henry A. Giroux | The Violence of Organized Forgetting

                                                                                                                English (US)  July 27th, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                "People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence." - James Baldwin


                                                                                                                Violence of Organized Forgetting(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

                                                                                                                By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed

                                                                                                                Learning to Forget

                                                                                                                America has become amnesiac - a country in which forms of historical, political, and moral forgetting are not only willfully practiced but celebrated. The United States has degenerated into a social order that is awash in public stupidity and views critical thought as both a liability and a threat. Not only is this obvious in the presence of a celebrity culture that embraces the banal and idiotic, but also in the prevailing discourses and policies of a range of politicians and anti-public intellectuals who believe that the legacy of the Enlightenment needs to be reversed. Politicians such as Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich along with talking heads such as Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Anne Coulter are not the problem, they are symptomatic of a much more disturbing assault on critical thought, if not rational thinking itself. Under a neoliberal regime, the language of authority, power and command is divorced from ethics, social responsibility, critical analysis and social costs.

                                                                                                                These anti-public intellectuals are part of a disimagination machine that solidifies the power of the rich and the structures of the military-industrial-surveillance-academic complex by presenting the ideologies, institutions and relations of the powerful as commonsense.[1] For instance, the historical legacies of resistance to racism, militarism, privatization and panoptical surveillance have long been forgotten and made invisible in the current assumption that Americans now live in a democratic, post-racial society. The cheerleaders for neoliberalism work hard to normalize dominant institutions and relations of power through a vocabulary and public pedagogy that create market-driven subjects, modes of consciousness, and ways of understanding the world that promote accommodation, quietism and passivity. Social solidarities are torn apart, furthering the retreat into orbits of the private that undermine those spaces that nurture non-commodified knowledge, values, critical exchange and civic literacy. The pedagogy of authoritarianism is alive and well in the United States, and its repression of public memory takes place not only through the screen culture and institutional apparatuses of conformity, but is also reproduced through a culture of fear and a carceral state that imprisons more people than any other country in the world.[2] What many commentators have missed in the ongoing attack on Edward Snowden is not that he uncovered information that made clear how corrupt and intrusive the American government has become - how willing it is to engage in vast crimes against the American public. His real "crime" is that he demonstrated how knowledge can be used to empower people, to get them to think as critically engaged citizens rather than assume that knowledge and education are merely about the learning of skills - a reductive concept that substitutes training for education and reinforces the flight from reason and the goose-stepping reflexes of an authoritarian mindset.[3]

                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                Since the late 1970s, there has been an intensification in the United States, Canada and Europe of neoliberal modes of governance, ideology and policies - a historical period in which the foundations for democratic public spheres have been dismantled. Schools, public radio, the media and other critical cultural apparatuses have been under siege, viewed as dangerous to a market-driven society that considers critical thought, dialogue, and civic engagement a threat to its basic values, ideologies, and structures of power. This was the beginning of an historical era in which the discourse of democracy, public values, and the common good came crashing to the ground. Margaret Thatcher in Britain and soon after Ronald Reagan in the United States - both hard-line advocates of market fundamentalism - announced that there was no such thing as society and that government was the problem not the solution. Democracy and the political process were all but sacrificed to the power of corporations and the emerging financial service industries, just as hope was appropriated as an advertisement for a whitewashed world in which the capacity of culture to critique oppressive social practices was greatly diminished. Large social movements fragmented into isolated pockets of resistance mostly organized around a form of identity politics that largely ignored a much-needed conversation about the attack on the social and the broader issues affecting society such as the growing inequality in wealth, power and income.

                                                                                                                What is particularly new is the way in which young people have been increasingly denied a significant place in an already weakened social contract and the degree to which they are absent from how many countries now define the future. Youth are no longer the place where society reveals its dreams. Instead, youth are becoming the site of society's nightmares. Within neoliberal narratives, youth are mostly defined as a consumer market, a drain on the economy, or stand for trouble.[4] Young people increasingly have become subject to an oppressive disciplinary machine that teaches them to define citizenship through the exchange practices of the market and to follow orders and toe the line in the face of oppressive forms of authority. They are caught in a society in which almost every aspect of their lives is shaped by the dual forces of the market and a growing police state. The message is clear: Buy/ sell/ or be punished. Mostly out of step, young people, especially poor minorities and low-income whites, are increasingly inscribed within a machinery of dead knowledge, social relations and values in which there is an attempt to render them voiceless and invisible.

                                                                                                                How young people are represented betrays a great deal about what is increasingly new about the economic, social, cultural and political constitution of American society and its growing disinvestment in young people, the social state and democracy itself.[5] The structures of neoliberal violence have put the vocabulary of democracy on life support, and one consequence is that subjectivity and education are no longer the lifelines of critical forms of individual and social agency. The promises of modernity regarding progress, freedom and hope have not been eliminated; they have been reconfigured, stripped of their emancipatory potential and relegated to the logic of a savage market instrumentality. Modernity has reneged on its promise to young people to provide social mobility, stability and collective security. Long-term planning and the institutional structures that support them are now relegated to the imperatives of privatization, deregulation, flexibility and short-term profits. Social bonds have given way under the collapse of social protections and the attack on the welfare state. Moreover, all solutions to socially produced problems are now relegated to the mantra of individual solutions.[6]

                                                                                                                Public problems collapse into the limited and depoliticized register of private issues. Individual interests now trump any consideration of the good of society just as all problems are ultimately laid at the door of the solitary individual, whose fate is shaped by forces far beyond his or her capacity for personal responsibility. Under neoliberalism everyone has to negotiate their fate alone, bearing full responsibility for problems that are often not of their own doing. The implications politically, economically and socially for young people are disastrous and are contributing to the emergence of a generation of young people who will occupy a space of social abandonment and terminal exclusion. Job insecurity, debt servitude, poverty, incarceration and a growing network of real and symbolic violence have entrapped too many young people in a future that portends zero opportunities and zero hopes. This is a generation that has become the new register for disposability, redundancy, and new levels of surveillance and control.

                                                                                                                The severity and consequences of this shift in modernity under neoliberalism among youth is evident in the fact that this is the first generation in which the "plight of the outcast may stretch to embrace a whole generation."[7] Zygmunt Bauman argues that today's youth have been "cast in a condition of liminal drift, with no way of knowing whether it is transitory or permanent."[8] That is, the generation of youth in the early 21st century has no way of grasping if they will ever "be free from the gnawing sense of the transience, indefiniteness, and provisional nature of any settlement."[9] Neoliberal violence produced in part through a massive shift in wealth to the upper 1%, growing inequality, the reign of the financial service industries, the closing down of educational opportunities, and the stripping of social protections from those marginalized by race and class has produced a generation without jobs, an independent life and even the most minimal social benefits.

                                                                                                                Youth no longer inhabit the privileged space, however compromised, that was offered to previous generations. They now occupy a neoliberal notion of temporality of dead time, zones of abandonment and terminal exclusion marked by a loss of faith in progress and a belief in those apocalyptic narratives in which the future appears indeterminate, bleak and insecure. Progressive visions pale and are smashed next to the normalization of market-driven government policies that wipe out pensions, eliminate quality health care, punish unions, demonize public servants, raise college tuition, and produce a harsh world of joblessness - all the while giving billions and "huge bonuses, instead of prison sentences . . . to those bankers and investment brokers who were responsible for the 2008 meltdown of the economy and the loss of homes for millions of Americans."[10] Students, in particular, now find themselves in a world in which heightened expectations have been replaced by dashed hopes. The promises of higher education and previously enviable credentials have turned into the swindle of fulfillment as, "For the first time in living memory, the whole class of graduates faces a future of crushing debt, and a high probability, almost the certainty, of ad hoc, temporary, insecure and part-time work and unpaid 'trainee' pseudo-jobs deceitfully rebranded as 'practices' - all considerably below the skills they have acquired and eons below the level of their expectations." [11]

                                                                                                                What has changed about an entire generation of young people includes not only neoliberal society's disinvestment in youth and the lasting fate of downward mobility, but also the fact that youth live in a commercially carpet-bombed and commodified environment that is unlike anything experienced by those of previous generations. Nothing has prepared this generation for the inhospitable and savage new world of commodification, privatization, joblessness, frustrated hopes and stillborn projects. [12] Commercials provide the primary content for their dreams, relations to others, identities and sense of agency. There appears to be no space outside the panoptican of commercial barbarism and casino capitalism. The present generation has been born into a throwaway society of consumers in which both goods and young people are increasingly objectified and disposable. Young people now reside in a world in which there are few public spheres or social spaces autonomous from the reach of the market, warfare state, debtfare, and sprawling tentacles of what is ominously called the Department of Homeland Security.

                                                                                                                The structures of neoliberal modernity do more than disinvest in young people and commodify them, they also transform the protected space of childhood into a zone of disciplinary exclusion and cruelty, especially for those young people further marginalized by race and class who now inhabit a social landscape in which they are increasingly disparaged as flawed consumers or pathologized others. With no adequate role to play as consumers, many youth are now considered disposable, forced to inhabit "zones of social abandonment" extending from homeless shelters and bad schools to bulging detention centers and prisons.[13] In the midst of the rise of the punishing state, the circuits of state repression, surveillance, and disposability increasingly "link the fate of blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, poor whites, and Asian Americans" who are now caught in a governing-through-crime-youth complex, which increasingly serves as a default solution to major social problems.[14] As Michael Hart and Antonio Negri point out, young people live in a society in which every institution becomes an "inspection regime" - recording, watching, gathering information and storing data.[15] Complementing these regimes is the shadow of the prison, which is no longer separated from society as an institution of total surveillance. Instead, "total surveillance is increasingly the general condition of society as a whole. 'The prison,' " Michel Foucault notes, "begins well before its doors. It begins as soon as you leave your house - and even before."[16]

                                                                                                                Everyone is Now a Potential Terrorist

                                                                                                                At the start of the second decade of the 21st century, young people all over the world are demonstrating against a variety of issues ranging from economic injustice and massive inequality to drastic cuts in education and public services. These demonstrations have and currently are being met with state-sanctioned violence and an almost pathological refusal to hear their demands. More specifically, in the United States the state monopoly on the use of violence has intensified since the 1980s, and in the process, has been increasingly directed against young people, low-income whites, poor minorities, immigrants, and women. As the welfare state is hollowed out, a culture of compassion is replaced by a culture of violence, cruelty and disposability. Collective insurance policies and social protections have given way to the forces of economic deregulation, the transformation of the welfare state into punitive workfare programs, the privatization of public goods and an appeal to individual accountability as a substitute for social responsibility.

                                                                                                                Under the notion that unregulated market-driven values and relations should shape every domain of human life, the business model of governance has eviscerated any viable notion of social responsibility while furthering the criminalization of social problems and cutbacks in basic social services, especially for the poor, young people and the elderly.[17] Within the existing neoliberal historical conjuncture, there is a merging of violence and governance and the systemic disinvestment in and breakdown of institutions and public spheres that have provided the minimal conditions for democracy. This becomes obvious in the emergence of a surveillance state in which the social media not only become new platforms for the invasion of privacy, but further legitimate a culture in which monitoring functions are viewed as benign while the state-sponsored society of hyper-fear increasingly defines everyone as either a snitch or a terrorist. Everyone, especially minorities of race and ethnicity, now live under a surveillance panoptican in which "living under constant surveillance means living as criminals."[18]

                                                                                                                As young people make diverse claims on the promise of a radical democracy, articulating what a fair and just world might be, they are increasingly met with forms of physical, ideological and structural violence. Abandoned by the existing political system, young people in Oakland, California, New York City, Quebec and numerous other cities throughout the globe have placed their bodies on the line, protesting peacefully while trying to produce a new language, politics, imagine long-term institutions, and support notions of "community that manifest the values of equality and mutual respect that they see missing in a world that is structured by neoliberal principles."[19] In Quebec, in spite of police violence and threats, thousands of students demonstrated for months against a former right-wing government that wanted to raise tuition and cut social protections. These demonstrations are continuing in a variety of countries throughout the globe and embrace an investment in a new understanding of the commons as a shared space of knowledge, debate, exchange and participation.

                                                                                                                Such movements, however diverse, are not simply about addressing current injustices and reclaiming space but also about producing new ideas, generating a new conversation and introducing a new political language. Rejecting the notion that democracy and markets are the same, young people are calling for an end to the poverty, grotesque levels of economic inequality, the suppression of dissent and the permanent war state. They refuse to be defined exclusively as consumers rather than as workers, and they reject the notion that the only interests that matter are monetary. They also oppose those market-driven values and practices aimed at both creating radically individualized subjects and undermining those public spheres that create bonds of solidarity that reinforce a commitment to the common good. And these movements all refuse the notion that financialization defines the only acceptable definition of exchange, one that is based exclusively on the reductionist notion of buying and selling.

                                                                                                                Resistance and the Politics of the Historical Conjuncture

                                                                                                                Marginalized youth, workers, artists and others are raising serious questions about the violence of inequality and the social order that legitimates it. They are calling for a redistribution of wealth and power - not within the old system, but in a new one in which democracy becomes more than a slogan or a legitimation for authoritarianism and state violence. As Stanley Aronowitz and Angela Davis, among others, have argued, the fight for education and justice is inseparable from the struggle for economic equality, human dignity and security, and the challenge of developing American institutions along genuinely democratic lines.[20] Today, there is a new focus on public values, the need for broad-based movements for solidarity, and alternative conceptions of politics, democracy and justice.

                                                                                                                All of these issues are important, but what must be addressed in the most immediate sense is the threat that the emerging police state in the United States poses not to just the young protesters occupying a number of American cities, but also the threat it poses to democracy itself. This threat is being exacerbated as a result of the merging of a war-like mentality and neoliberal mode of discipline and education in which it becomes difficult to reclaim the language of obligation, social responsibility and civic engagement.[21] Everywhere we look we see the encroaching shadow of the police state. The government now requisitions the publics' telephone records and sifts through its emails. It labels whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden as traitors, even though they have exposed the corruption, lawlessness and host of antidemocratic practices engaged in by established governments. Police can take DNA samples of all people arrested of a crime, whether they are proven guilty or not. The United States is incarcerating people in record numbers, imprisoning over 2.3 million inmates while "6 million people at any one time [are] under carceral supervision - more than were in Stalin's Gulag."[22]

                                                                                                                While there has been considerable coverage in the progressive media given to the violence that was waged against the Occupy movement and other protesters, I want to build on these analyses by arguing that it is important to situate such violence within a broader set of categories that enables a critical understanding of not only the underlying social, economic and political forces at work in such assaults, but also allows us to reflect critically on the distinctiveness of the current historical period in which they are taking place. For example, it is difficult to address such state-sponsored violence against young people without analyzing the devolution of the social state and the corresponding rise of the warfare and punishing state.

                                                                                                                Stuart Hall's reworking of Gramsci's notion of conjuncture is important here because it provides both an opening into the forces shaping a particular historical moment while allowing for a merging of theory and strategy.[23] Conjuncture in this case refers to a period in which different elements of society come together to produce a unique fusion of the economic, social, political, ideological and cultural in a relative settlement that becomes hegemonic in defining reality. That ruptural unity is today marked by a neoliberal conjuncture. In this particular historical moment, the notion of conjuncture helps us to address theoretically how youth protests are largely related to a historically specific neoliberal project that promotes vast inequalities in income and wealth, creates the student-loan-debt bomb, eliminates much-needed social programs, eviscerates the social wage, and privileges profits and commodities over people.

                                                                                                                Within the United States especially, the often violent response to nonviolent forms of youth protests must also be analyzed within the framework of a mammoth military-industrial state and its commitment to war and the militarization of the entire society.[24] The merging of the military-industrial complex, surveillance state and unbridled corporate power points to the need for strategies that address what is specific about the current warfare and surveillance state and the neoliberal project and how different interests, modes of power, social relations, public pedagogies and economic configurations come together to shape its politics. Such a conjuncture is invaluable politically in that it provides a theoretical opening for making the practices of the warfare state and the neoliberal revolution visible in order "to give the resistance to its onward march, content, focus and a cutting edge."[25] It also points to the conceptual power of making clear that history remains an open horizon that cannot be dismissed through appeals to the end of history or end of ideology.[26] It is precisely through the indeterminate nature of history that resistance becomes possible and politics refuses any guarantees and remains open.

                                                                                                                I want to argue that the current historical moment or what Stuart Hall calls the "long march of the Neoliberal Revolution,"[27] has to be understood in terms of the growing forms of violence that it deploys and reinforces. Such antidemocratic pressures and their relationship to the rising protests of young people in the United States and abroad are evident in the crisis that has emerged through the merging of governance and violence, the growth of the punishing state, and the persistent development of what has been described by Alex Honneth as "a failed sociality."[28]

                                                                                                                The United States has become addicted to violence, and this dependency is fueled increasingly by its willingness to wage war at home and abroad. War in this instance is not merely the outgrowth of polices designed to protect the security and well-being of the United States. It is also, as C. Wright Mills pointed out, part of a "military metaphysics" - a complex of forces that includes corporations, defense industries, politicians, financial institutions and universities.[29] War provides jobs, profits, political payoffs, research funds, and forms of political and economic power that reach into every aspect of society. War is also one of the nation's most honored virtues, and its militaristic values now bear down on almost every aspect of American life.[30] As modern society is formed against the backdrop of a permanent war zone, a carceral state and hyper-militarism, the social stature of the military and soldiers has risen. As Michael Hardt and Tony Negri have pointed out, "In the United States, rising esteem for the military in uniform corresponds to the growing militarization of the society as a whole. All of this despite repeated revelations of the illegality and immorality of the military's own incarceration systems, from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, whose systematic practices border on if not actually constitute torture."[31] The state of exception in the United States, in particular, has become permanent and promises no end. War has become a mode of sovereignty and rule, eroding the distinction between war and peace. Increasingly fed by a moral and political hysteria, warlike values produce and endorse shared fears as the primary register of social relations.

                                                                                                                The war on terror, rebranded under Obama as the "Overseas Contingency Operation," has morphed into war on democracy. Everyone is now considered a potential terrorist, providing a rational for both the government and private corporations to spy on anybody, regardless of whether they have committed a crime. Surveillance is supplemented by a growing domestic army of baton-wielding police forces who are now being supplied with the latest military equipment. Military technologies such as Drones, SWAT vehicles and machine-gun-equipped armored trucks once used exclusively in high-intensity war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan are now being supplied to police departments across the nation and not surprisingly "the increase in such weapons is matched by training local police in war zone tactics and strategies."[32] The domestic war against "terrorists" [code for young protesters] provides new opportunities for major defense contractors and corporations who "are becoming more a part of our domestic lives."[33] As Glenn Greenwald points out, "Arming domestic police forces with paramilitary weaponry will ensure their systematic use even in the absence of a terrorist attack on US soil; they will simply find other, increasingly permissive uses for those weapons."[34] Of course, the new domestic paramilitary forces will also undermine free speech and dissent with the threat of force while simultaneously threatening core civil liberties, rights and civic responsibilities. Given that "by age 23, almost a third of Americans are arrested for a crime," it becomes clear that in the new militarized state young people, especially poor minorities, are viewed as predators, a threat to corporate governance, and are treated as disposable populations.[35] This siege mentality will be reinforced by the merging of private and corporate intelligence and surveillance agencies, and the violence it produces will increase as will the growth of a punishment state that acts with impunity. Too much of this violence is reminiscent of the violence used against civil rights demonstrators by the forces of Jim Crow in the 1950s and 1960s.[36]

                                                                                                                Yet, there is more at work here than the prevalence of armed knowledge and a militarized discourse, there is also the emergence of a militarized society that now organizes itself "for the production of violence."[37] A society in which "the range of acceptable opinion inevitably shrinks."[38] But the prevailing move in American society to a permanent war status does more than promote a set of unifying symbols that embrace a survival of the fittest ethic, promoting conformity over dissent, the strong over the weak, and fear over responsibility, it also gives rise to what David Graeber has called a "language of command" in which violence becomes the most important element of power and mediating force in shaping social relationships.[39]

                                                                                                                Permanent War and the Public Pedagogy of Hyper-Violence

                                                                                                                As a mode of public pedagogy, a state of permanent war needs willing subjects to abide by its values, ideology, and narratives of fear and violence. Such legitimation is largely provided through a market-driven culture addicted to the production of consumerism, militarism and organized violence, largely circulated through various registers of popular culture that extend from high fashion and Hollywood movies to the creation of violent video games and music concerts sponsored by the Pentagon. The market-driven spectacle of war demands a culture of conformity, quiet intellectuals and a largely passive republic of consumers. There is also a need for subjects who find intense pleasure in commodification of violence and a culture of cruelty. Under neoliberalism, culture appears to have largely abandoned its role as a site of critique. Very little appears to escape the infantilizing and moral vacuity of the market. For instance, the architecture of war and violence is now matched by a barrage of goods parading as fashion. For instance, in light of the recent NSA and PRISM spying revelations in the United States, The New York Times ran a story on a new line of fashion with the byline: "Stealth Wear Aims to Make a Tech Statement."[40]

                                                                                                                As the pleasure principle is unconstrained by a moral compass based on a respect for others, it is increasingly shaped by the need for intense excitement and a never-ending flood of heightened sensations. Marked by a virulent notion of hardness and aggressive masculinity, a culture of violence has become commonplace in a society in which pain, humiliation and abuse are condensed into digestible spectacles endlessly circulated through extreme sports, reality TV, video games, YouTube postings, and proliferating forms of the new and old media. But the ideology of hardness, and the economy of pleasure it justifies are also present in the material relations of power that have intensified since the Reagan presidency, when a shift in government policies first took place and set the stage for the emergence of unchecked torture and state violence under the Bush-Cheney regime. Conservative and liberal politicians alike now spend millions waging wars around the globe, funding the largest military state in the world, providing huge tax benefits to the ultrarich and major corporations, and all the while draining public coffers, increasing the scale of human poverty and misery, and eliminating all viable public spheres - whether they be the social state, public schools, public transportation or any other aspect of a formative culture that addresses the needs of the common good.

                                                                                                                State violence, particularly the use of torture, abductions, and targeted assassinations are now justified as part of a state of exception in which a "political culture of hyper-punitiveness"[41] has become normalized. Revealing itself in a blatant display of unbridled arrogance and power, it is unchecked by any sense of either conscience or morality. How else to explain the right-wing billionaire, Charles Koch, insisting that the best way to help the poor is to get rid of the minimum wage. In response, journalist Rod Bastanmehr points out that "Koch didn't acknowledge the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots, but he did make sure to show off his fun new roll of $100-bill toilet paper, which was a real treat for folks everywhere."[42] It gets worse. Ray Canterbury, a Republican member of the West Virginia House of Delegates insisted that "students could be forced into labor in exchange for food."[43] In other words, students could clean toilets, do janitorial work or other menial chores in order to pay for their free school breakfast and lunch programs. In Maine, Rep. Bruce Bickford (R) has argued that the state should do away with child labor laws. His rationale speaks for itself. He writes: ""Kids have parents. Let the parents be responsible for the kids. It's not up to the government to regulate everybody's life and lifestyle. Take the government away. Let the parents take care of their kids."[44] This is a version of social Darwinism on steroids, a tribute to Ayn Rand that would make even her blush.

                                                                                                                Public values are not only under attack in the United States and elsewhere but appear to have become irrelevant just as those spaces that enable an experience of the common good are now the object of disdain by right-wing and liberal politicians, anti-public intellectuals and an army of media pundits. State violence operating under the guise of personal safety and security, while parading as a bulwark of democracy, actually does the opposite and cancels out democracy "as the incommensurable sharing of existence that makes the political possible."[45] Symptoms of ethical, political and economic impoverishment are all around us.

                                                                                                                One recent example can be found in the farm bill passed by Republicans, which provides $195 billion in subsidies for agribusiness, while slashing roughly $4 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP provides food stamps for the poor. Not only are millions of food stamp beneficiaries at risk, but it is estimated that benefits would be eliminated for nearly two millions Americans, many of them children. Katrina vanden Huevel writes in the Washington Post that it is hard to believe that any party would want to publicize such cruel practices. She writes:

                                                                                                                "In this time of mass unemployment, 47 million Americans rely on food stamps. Nearly one-half are children under 18; nearly 10 percent are impoverished seniors. The recipients are largely white, female and young. The Republican caucus has decided to drop them from the bill as "extraneous," without having separate legislation to sustain them. Who would want to advertise these cruel values?

                                                                                                                Neoliberal policies have produced proliferating zones of precarity and exclusion embracing more and more individuals and groups who lack jobs, need social assistance, lack health care or are homeless. According to the apostles of casino capitalism, providing "nutritional aid to millions of pregnant mothers, infants and children . . . feeding poor children and giving them adequate health care" is a bad expenditure because it creates "a culture of dependency - and that culture of dependency, not runaway bankers, somehow caused our economic crisis." [46]

                                                                                                                But there is more to the culture of cruelty than simply ethically challenged policies that benefit the rich and punish the poor, particularly children, there is also the emergence of a punishing state, a governing through crime youth complex, and the emergence of the school-to-prison pipeline as the new face of Jim Crow.[47]

                                                                                                                A symptomatic example of the way in which violence has saturated everyday life can be seen in the increased acceptance of criminalizing the behavior of young people in public schools. Behaviors that were normally handled by teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators are now dealt with by the police and the criminal justice system. The consequences have been disastrous for many young people. Increasingly, poor minority and white youth are being "funneled directly from schools into prison. Instead of schools being a pipeline to opportunity, schools are feeding our prisons. Justified by the war on drugs, the United States is in the midst of a prison binge made obvious by the fact that "Since 1970, the number of people behind bars . . . has increased 600 percent."[48] Moreover, it is estimated that in some cities such as Washington, DC, that 75 percent of young black men can expect to serve time in prison. Michelle Alexander has pointed out that "One in three young African American men is currently under the control of the criminal justice system in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole - yet mass incarceration tends to be categorized as a criminal justice issue as opposed to a racial justice or civil rights issue (or crisis)."[49]

                                                                                                                Young black men in American have an identity ascribed to them that is a direct legacy of slavery. They are considered dangerous, expendable, threatening and part of a culture of criminality. They are guilty of criminal behavior not because of the alleged crimes they might commit but because they are the product of a collective imagination paralyzed by the racism of a white supremacist culture they can only view them as a dangerous nightmare, But the real nightmare resides in a society that hides behind the mutually informing and poisonous notions of colorblindness and a post-racial society, a convenient rhetorical obfuscation that allows white Americans to ignore the institutional and individual racist ideologies, practices and policies that cripple any viable notion of justice and democracy. As the Trayvon Martin case and verdict made clear, young black men are not only being arrested and channeled into the criminal justice system in record numbers, they are also being targeted by the police, harassed by security forces, and in some instances killed because they are black and assumed to be dangerous.[50]

                                                                                                                Under such circumstances, not only do schools resemble the culture of prisons, but young children are being arrested and subjected to court appearances for behaviors that can only be termed as trivial. How else to explain the case of a diabetic student who, because she fell asleep in study hall, was arrested and beaten by the police or the arrest of a 7-year-old boy, who because of a fight he got into with another boy in the schoolyard, was put in handcuffs and held in custody for 10 hours in a Bronx police station. In Texas, students who miss school are not sent to the principal's office or assigned to detention. Instead, they are fined, and in too many cases, actually jailed. It is hard to imagine, but in a Maryland school, a 13- year old girl was arrested for refusing to say the pledge of allegiance. There is more at work than stupidity and a flight from responsibility on the part of educators, parents and politicians who maintain these laws, there is also the growing sentiment that young people constitute a threat to adults and that the only way to deal with them is to subject them to mind-crushing punishment.

                                                                                                                This medieval type of punishment inflicts pain on the psyche and the body of young people as part of a public spectacle. Even more disturbing is how the legacy of slavery informs this practice given that "Arrests and police interactions . . . disproportionately affect low-income schools with large African-American and Latino populations"[41] Poor minorities live in a new age of Jim Crow, one in which the ravages of segregation, racism, poverty and dashed hopes are amplified by the forces of "privatization, financialization, militarization and criminalization," fashioning a new architecture of punishment, massive human suffering and authoritarianism.[42] Students being miseducated, criminalized and arrested through a form of penal pedagogy in prison-type schools provide a grim reminder of the degree to which the ethos of containment and punishment now creeps into spheres of everyday life that were largely immune in the past from this type of state violence. This is not merely barbarism parading as reform - it is also a blatant indicator of the degree to which sadism and the infatuation with violence have become normalized in a society that seems to take delight in dehumanizing itself.

                                                                                                                Widespread violence now functions as part of an anti-immune system that turns the economy of genuine pleasure into a mode of sadism that creates the foundation for sapping democracy of any political substance and moral vitality. The predominance of the disimagination machine in American society, along with its machinery of social death and historical amnesia, seeps into in all aspects of life, suggesting that young people and others marginalized by class, race and ethnicity have been abandoned. But historical and public memory is not merely on the side of domination.

                                                                                                                As the anthropologist, David Price, points out, historical memory is a potent weapon in fighting against the "desert of organized forgetting" and implies a rethinking of the role that artists, intellectuals, educators, youth and other concerned citizens can play in fostering a "reawakening of America's battered public memories."[53] Against the tyranny of forgetting, educators, young people, social activists, public intellectuals, workers and others can work to make visible and oppose the long legacy and current reality of state violence and the rise of the punishing state. Such a struggle suggests not only reclaiming, for instance, education as a public good but also reforming the criminal justice system and removing the police from schools. In addition, there is a need to employ public memory, critical theory, and other intellectual archives and resources to expose the crimes of those market-driven criminogenc regimes of power that now run the commanding institutions of society, with particular emphasis on how they have transformed the welfare state into a warfare state.

                                                                                                                The rise of casino capitalism and the punishing state with their vast apparatuses of real and symbolic violence must be also addressed as part of a broader historical and political attack on public values, civic literacy and economic justice. Crucial here is the need to engage how such an attack is aided and abetted by the emergence of a poisonous neoliberal public pedagogy that depoliticizes as much as it entertains and corrupts. State violence cannot be defined simply as a political issue but also as a pedagogical issue that wages violence against the minds, desires, bodies and identities of young people as part of the reconfiguration of the social state into the punishing state. At the heart of this transformation is the emergence of a new form of corporate sovereignty, a more intense form of state violence, a ruthless survival-of-the-fittest ethic used to legitimate the concentrated power of the rich, and a concerted effort to punish young people who are out of step with neoliberal ideology, values and modes of governance.

                                                                                                                The value of making young people stupid, subject to an educational deficit has enormous currency in a society in which existing relations of power are normalized. Under such conditions, those who hold power accountable are reviewed as treasonous while critically engaged young people are denounced as un-American.[54] In any totalitarian society, dissent is viewed as a threat, civic literacy is denounced, and those public spheres that produce engage citizens are dismantled or impoverished through the substitution of training for education. It is important to note that Edward Snowden was labeled as a spy not a whistle-blower - even though he exposed the reach of the spy services into the lives of most Americans. More importantly, he was denounced as being part of a generation that unfortunately combined being educated with a distrust of authority.

                                                                                                                Of course, these antidemocratic tendencies represent more than a threat to young people, they also put in peril all of those individuals, groups, public spheres and institutions now considered disposable because that are at odds with a world run by bankers, the financial elite and the rich. Only a well-organized movement of young people, educators, workers, parents, religious groups and other concerned citizens will be capable of changing the power relations and vast economic inequalities that have generated what has become a country in which it is almost impossible to recognize the ideals of a real democracy.

                                                                                                                Conclusion:

                                                                                                                The rise of the punishing state and the governing-through-crime youth complex throughout American society suggests the need for a politics that not only negates the established order but imagines a new one, one informed by a radical vision in which the future does not imitate the present.[55] In this discourse, critique merges with a sense of realistic hope or what I call educated hope, and individual struggles merge into larger social movements. The challenges that young people are mobilizing against oppressive societies all over the globe are being met with a state-sponsored violence that is about more than police brutality. This is especially clear in the United States, given its transformation from a social state to a warfare state, from a state that once embraced a semblance of the social contract to one that no longer has a language for justice, community and solidarity - a state in which the bonds of fear and commodification have replaced the bonds of civic responsibility and democratic vision. Until educators, individuals, artists, intellectuals and various social movements address how the metaphysics of casino capitalism, war and violence have taken hold on American society (and in other parts of the world) along with the savage social costs they have enacted, the forms of social, political, and economic violence that young people are protesting against, as well as the violence waged in response to their protests, will become impossible to recognize and act on.

                                                                                                                If the ongoing struggles waged by young people are to matter, demonstrations and protests must give way to more sustainable organizations that develop alternative communities, autonomous forms of worker control, collective forms of health care, models of direct democracy and emancipatory modes of education. Education must become central to any viable notion of politics willing to imagine a life and future outside of casino capitalism. There is a need for educators, young people, artists and other cultural workers to develop an educative politics in which people can address the historical, structural and ideological conditions at the core of the violence being waged by the corporate and repressive state and to make clear that government under the dictatorship of market sovereignty and power is no longer responsive to the most basic needs of young people - or most people for that matter.

                                                                                                                The issue of who gets to define the future, own the nation's wealth, shape the parameters of the social state, control the globe's resources, and create a formative culture for producing engaged and socially responsible citizens is no longer a rhetorical issue, but offers up new categories for defining how matters of representations, education, economic justice, and politics are to be defined and fought over. At stake here is the need for both a language of critique and possibility. A discourse for broad-based political change is crucial for developing a politics that speaks to a future that can provide sustainable jobs, decent health care, quality education and communities of solidarity and support for young people. Such a vision is crucial and relies on ongoing educational and political struggles to awaken the inhabitants of neoliberal societies to their current reality and what it means to be educated not only to think outside of neoliberal commonsense but also to struggle for those values, hopes, modes of solidarity, power relations and institutions that infuse democracy with a spirit of egalitarianism and economic and social justice and make the promise of democracy a goal worth fighting for. For this reason, any collective struggle that matters has to embrace education as the center of politics and the source of an embryonic vision of the good life outside of the imperatives of predatory capitalism. Too many progressives and people on the left are stuck in the discourse of foreclosure and cynicism and need to develop what Stuart Hall calls a "sense of politics being educative, of politics changing the way people see things."[56] This is a difficult task, but what we are seeing in cities such as Chicago, Athens and other dead zones of capitalism throughout the world is the beginning of a long struggle for the institutions, values and infrastructures that make critical education and community the center of a robust, radical democracy. This is a challenge for young people and all those invested in the promise of a democracy that extends not only the meaning of politics, but also a commitment to economic justice and democratic social change.

                                                                                                                [1]

                                                                                                                I take up this issue in Henry A. Giroux, Universities in Chains: Challenging the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex (Boulder: Paradigm, 2007).

                                                                                                                [2]

                                                                                                                Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: The New Press, 2010).

                                                                                                                [3]

                                                                                                                This issue is taken up brilliantly in Kenneth J. Saltman, The Failure of Corporate School Reform (Boulder: Paradigm, 2013).

                                                                                                                [4]

                                                                                                                These themes are taken up in Lawrence Grossberg, Caught In the Crossfire: Kids, Politics, and America's Future, (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2005); Henry A. Giroux, Youth in a Suspect Society (New York: Routledge, 2009).

                                                                                                                [5]

                                                                                                                See, for example, Jean and John Comaroff, "Reflections of Youth, from the Past to the Postcolony," Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on The New Economy, ed. Melissa S. Fisher and Greg Downey, (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006) pp. 267-281.

                                                                                                                [6]

                                                                                                                Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007), p. 14.

                                                                                                                [7]

                                                                                                                Zygmunt Bauman, "Downward mobility is now a reality," The Guardian (May 31, 2012). Bauman develops this theme in detail in both Zygmunt Bauman, On Education, (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012) and Zygmunt Bauman, This Is Not A Diary, (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012).

                                                                                                                [8]

                                                                                                                Zygmunt Bauman, Wasted Lives (London: Polity, 2004), p. 76.

                                                                                                                [9]

                                                                                                                Ibid., p. 76.

                                                                                                                [10]

                                                                                                                Rabbi Michael Lerner, "Trayvon Martin: A Jewish Response," Tikkun (July 14, 2013).

                                                                                                                [11]

                                                                                                                Zygmunt Bauman, On Education (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012), p. 47.

                                                                                                                [12]

                                                                                                                Ibid., Bauman, On Education, p. 47.

                                                                                                                [13]

                                                                                                                I have borrowed the term "zones of social abandonment" from Joäo Biehl, Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); see also Henry A. Giroux, Disposable Youth (New York: Routledge, 2012) and Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow (New York: The Free Press, 2012).

                                                                                                                [14]

                                                                                                                Angela Y. Davis, "State of Emergency," in Manning Marable, Keesha Middlemass, and Ian Steinberg, Eds. Racializing Justice, Disenfranchising Lives (New York: Palgrave, 2007), p. 324.

                                                                                                                [15]

                                                                                                                Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Declaration (Argo Navis Author Services, 2012), p. 20.

                                                                                                                [16]

                                                                                                                Ibid., Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Declaration, p. 20.

                                                                                                                [17]

                                                                                                                See Loic Wacquant, Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (Durham,NC: Duke University Press, 2009).

                                                                                                                [18]

                                                                                                                John Steppling, "Control & Punish," JohnSteppling.com, (June 22, 2013).

                                                                                                                [19]

                                                                                                                Kyle Bella, "Bodies in Alliance: Gender Theorist Judith Butler on the Occupy and SlutWalk Movements," TruthOut (December 15, 2011).

                                                                                                                [20]

                                                                                                                Stanley Aronowitz, "The Winter of Our Discontent," Situations IV, no.2 (Spring 2012), pp. 37-76.

                                                                                                                [21]

                                                                                                                I take this up in Henry A. Giroux, Education and the Crisis of Public Values (New York: Peter Lang, 2011).

                                                                                                                [22]

                                                                                                                Adam Gopnik, "The Caging of America," The New Yorker, (January 30, 2012).

                                                                                                                [23]

                                                                                                                Stuart Hall interviewed by James Hay, "Interview with Stuart Hall," Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 10:1 (2013): 10-33.

                                                                                                                [24]

                                                                                                                There are many sources that address this issue, see, in particular, Melvin A. Goodman, National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism (San Francisco: City Lights, 2013).

                                                                                                                [25]

                                                                                                                Stuart Hall, "The Neo-Liberal Revolution," Cultural Studies, Vol. 25, No. 6, (November 2011), p. 706.

                                                                                                                [26]

                                                                                                                Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties (New York: Free Press, 1966) and the more recent Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 2006) .

                                                                                                                [27]

                                                                                                                Stuart Hall, "The March of the Neoliberals," The Guardian, (September 12, 2011)

                                                                                                                [28]

                                                                                                                Alex Honneth, Pathologies of Reason (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), p. 188.

                                                                                                                [29]

                                                                                                                C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 222.

                                                                                                                [30]

                                                                                                                See Gore Vidal, Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia (New York: Nation Books, 2004); Gore Vidal, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (New York: Nation Books, 2002); Chris Hedges, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning (New York: Anchor Books, 2003); Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004); Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Chalmers Johnson, Nemesis: The Last Days of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path To Permanent War, (New York, N.Y.: Metropolitan Books, Henry Hold and Company, 2010); Nick Turse, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008).

                                                                                                                [31]

                                                                                                                Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Declaration (Argo Navis Author Services, 2012), p. 22

                                                                                                                [32]

                                                                                                                Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz, "Cops Ready for War," RSN, (December 21, 2011).

                                                                                                                [33]

                                                                                                                Ibid., Becker and Schulz, "Cops Ready for War."

                                                                                                                [34]

                                                                                                                Glenn Greenwald, "The Roots of The UC-Davis Pepper-Spraying," Salon (Nov. 20, 2011).

                                                                                                                [35]

                                                                                                                Erica Goode, "Many in U.S. Are Arrested by Age 23, Study Finds," The New York Times, (December 19, 2011) p. A15.

                                                                                                                [36]

                                                                                                                Phil Rockstroh, "The Police State Makes Its Move: Retaining One's Humanity in the Face of Tyranny," CommonDreams, (November 15, 2011).

                                                                                                                [37]

                                                                                                                Michael Geyer, "The Militarization of Europe, 1914–1945," in The Militarization of the Western World, ed. John R. Gillis (New York: Rutgers University Press, 1989), p. 79.

                                                                                                                [38]

                                                                                                                Tony Judt, "The New World Order," The New York Review of Books 11:2 (July 14, 2005), p.17.

                                                                                                                [39]

                                                                                                                David Graeber, "Dead Zones of the Imagination," HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 2 (2012), p. 115.

                                                                                                                [40]

                                                                                                                Jenna Wortham, "Stealth Wear Aims to Make a Tech Statement," The New York Times (June 29, 2013).

                                                                                                                [41]

                                                                                                                Steve Herbert and Elizabeth Brown, "Conceptions of Space and Crime in the Punitive Neoliberal City," Antipode (2006), p. 757.

                                                                                                                [42]

                                                                                                                Rod Bastanmehr, "Absurd: Billionaire Koch Brother Claims Eliminating Minimum Wage Would help the Poor," AlterNet (July 11, 2013).

                                                                                                                [43]

                                                                                                                Hannah Groch-Begley, "Fox Asks if Children Should Work for School Meals," Media Matters (April 25, 2013. Online:

                                                                                                                [44]

                                                                                                                Amanda Terkel, "Maine GOP Legislators Looking To Loosen Child Labor Laws," Huffington Post, (March 30, 2011).

                                                                                                                [45]

                                                                                                                Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, "Translators Note," in Jean-Luc Nancy, The Truth of Democracy, (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2010), pp. ix.

                                                                                                                [46]

                                                                                                                Paul Krugman, "From the Mouths of Babes," The New York Times (May 30, 2013), Online:

                                                                                                                [47]

                                                                                                                Ibid., Michelle Alexander.

                                                                                                                [48]

                                                                                                                Jody Sokolower, "Schools and the New Jim Crow: An Interview With Michelle Alexander," Truthout, (June 4, 2013).

                                                                                                                [49]

                                                                                                                Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: The New Press, 2010), p. 9.

                                                                                                                [50]

                                                                                                                For a particularly egregious and offensive defense of this racist stereotype, see Richard Cohen, "Racism versus Reality," Washington Post (July 16, 2013). Online:

                                                                                                                [51]

                                                                                                                Smartypants, "A Failure of Imagination," Smartypants Blog Spot (March 3, 2010). Online:

                                                                                                                [52]

                                                                                                                Don Hazen, "The 4 Plagues: Getting a Handle on the Coming Apocalypse," Alternet, (June 4, 2013).

                                                                                                                [53]

                                                                                                                David Price, "Memory's Half-life: A Social History of Wiretaps," Counterpunch 20:6 (June 2013), p. 14.

                                                                                                                [54]

                                                                                                                I take up this issue in detail in Henry A. Giroux, The Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2013).

                                                                                                                [55]

                                                                                                                John Van Houdt, "The Crisis of Negation: An Interview with Alain Badiou," Continent, 1.4 (2011): 234-238.

                                                                                                                [56]

                                                                                                                Zoe Williams, "The Saturday Interview: Stuart Hall," The Guardian (February 11, 2012).

                                                                                                                TruthOut

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                                                                                                                  Minister: Israel Ready to Build 10,000 New Settler Homes

                                                                                                                  English (US)  July 14th, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                  Israel is ready to “immediately” build 10,000 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to lower housing costs, Housing Minister Uri Ariel was quoted as saying on Thursday.

                                                                                                                  “To immediately alleviate the housing crisis we must massively build in (East) Jerusalem and the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria,” the Yediot Aharonot newspaper quoted Ariel as telling a parliamentary committee.

                                                                                                                  “Settlements like Beit Arye, Ofarim, Elkana are in the center of the land,” he said, “and we are prepared to launch 10,000 units there immediately.”

                                                                                                                  On his Facebook page, pro-settler Ariel noted that “For an entire year there has been no state marketing in Judea and Samaria (the biblical term for the West Bank) and east Jerusalem.”

                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                  “Not marketing these units is raising the costs of homes nationwide,” he wrote.

                                                                                                                  In May, settlement watchdog Peace Now said that no new tenders had been issued for West Bank homes as newspapers suggested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to “rein in” construction to help US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to renew a peace process.

                                                                                                                  Israel seized east Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never accepted by the international community. It does not see East Jerusalem construction as settlement building.

                                                                                                                  But the Palestinians consider East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

                                                                                                                  The PLO has said it will not return to direct talks unless Israel completely halts settlement construction and accepts the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations.

                                                                                                                  Although Israel has expressed a willingness to resume talks, it has insisted it would only do so if there were no such “preconditions”.

                                                                                                                  (Agencies and Ma’an)
                                                                                                                  Palestine Chronicle

                                                                                                                  279 words posted in Israel, Human Rights, , Apartheid StateLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                    Samih Al Qasim and the Arab Men of Letters

                                                                                                                    English (US)  July 14th, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                    Samih al Qasim: There is no blood-stained shred ..of a shirt our upright brothers wore."

                                                                                                                    By Talal Alyan

                                                                                                                    Arab poetry has, in some circles, become regarded as being synonymous with political resistance. The role of the written word has been fundamental in reinforcing our commitment to assorted causes and marginalized groups. It has also been irreplaceable in emboldening our cultural links, a political act to be sure in the context of the region. However, there seem to be aspects of Arab political verse that tend to be eclipsed by the more traditional slogans of resistance. By that I mean that sometimes the most commanding works are not those that espouse unwavering nationalism, but instead those that reflect the uncertainty and grief of the landscape. And much akin to the subject of their work, these poets are commonly fated to the same devastation and end.

                                                                                                                    It is hard to find Arab writers whose perspectives remained linear throughout their literary careers. There lie in the writing of even the most renowned political poets an evolution of ideology, a fluctuation of faith. It stands as testament to the veracity of Arab poetry that we find in it such a heavy presence of doubt, skepticism, and disillusion. “We wear the masks of living people,” proclaims Abdul Wahab Al-Bayati, the wandering Iraqi poet, after the 1967 war “We are half men/In the garbage dump of history.”

                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                    Indeed, one of the more protruding reasons behind the strength of Arab verse is its insistence in coinciding with the general sentiment among the people, even when it entails the sacrifice of nationalistic pride. The value of Arab poetics is precisely in its capacity to transcend mere political mantras and, in its place, projects a distinctly human account. It permits the writer the ability to navigate across ideological boundaries and offer to the audience a medium for collectivity, asylum to reflect and lament and rejoice.

                                                                                                                    The poetry of Samih Al Qasim enveloped this multiplicity of perspectives; the evolution of his work concurrently provides a window into the evolution of Palestinian outlook. Although Al Qasim’s poetry is not as prominent as, say, Mahmoud Darwish, mentioning his name to older Palestinians will often elicit a recital of one of his poems from memory. Cultural, locational, and generational separations amongst Arabs have rendered his work at once both renowned and relatively obscure. His is a story that emphasizes the diversity of Palestinian narratives. Al Qasim hails from a Druze family that remained on their land after 1948, he continues to live there today. Although Druze were generally integrated into Israeli armed forces, he rejected conscription and in doing so became the first member of the Druze sect to refuse to serve in the Israeli military.

                                                                                                                    Qasim’s reflections on Palestinian strife were what garnered him acclaim early on. Ghassan Kanafani wrote of Al Qasim’s poem Kafr Qasim that it was “memorized throughout the entire Galilee.” The poem itself is titled after the village in which a massacre of Palestinian took place in 1956. An excerpt from the poem reads:

                                                                                                                    “There is no blood-stained shred

                                                                                                                    of a shirt our upright brothers wore.
                                                                                                                    No stone to bear their names.
                                                                                                                    Nothing. Only the shame.

                                                                                                                    Their spirits are hovering still,
                                                                                                                    Digging graves in the rubble of Kafr Qasim.”

                                                                                                                    These commemorations in poetry highlight an important aspect of Arab culture, the reliance on lyricism, poetry, and words to insist on the memory of that which has been taken: life, land and otherwise. It may very well be a sense of powerlessness that has frequently driven modern Arab writers to hone their relationship with words. “If he dies in exile,” he writes, “let him lie there naked/ to share his horror with you.”

                                                                                                                    Samih Al Qasim is regarded as one of the forefathers of Palestinian political poetry. Under the restrictions on non-Jewish citizens during Israel’s early years, the poet composed lyrics of resistance that provided Palestinians with one of the few outlets for political expression. “I will not give in,” he writes in Address From The Unemployment Bureau, “I’ll resist/ to the final pulse in my veins!” He would go on to spend time in Israeli prisons for his relentless political writings and work.

                                                                                                                    But again, it is evident that Al Qasim did not maintain an identical narrative throughout his career. It is hard not to notice a transformation in his later works into a poet who is less quixotic. In his 1984 masterwork The Tragedy of Houdini The Miraculous, Al Qasim showcases a parallel between his life and that of the magician Houdini:

                                                                                                                    “Samih al Qasim-a maker of miracles, is able to slip out of deadly predicaments: handcuffs and detention camps. Exile and slaughter. The United (Mother of) Nations hid his country in a cell, under lock and key, and returned home to discover that he’d removed its corpse from the cell and the locks had not been picked.”

                                                                                                                    The excerpt is itself an affirmation of the Palestinian writers ability to access his homeland, as though a magician, despite all attempts of concealment. But more striking is the imagery of the homeland being a corpse, a grim meditation on what might actually be left of historic Palestine. The comparison does not signal Al Qasim’s surrender. However, it does echo the unavoidable cynicism that comes with years of political defeat.

                                                                                                                    It is a consequence of our own regional uncertainties that many Arab writers were unable to entirely remove themselves from politics. Even writers whose works traditionally were not centered on these themes were eventually conscripted into the poetics of political despair. “Ah my country,” wrote Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, known primarily for writings on love and the erotic, “you have transformed me from poet of love and yearning to a poet writing with a knife.” Qabbani’s life itself serves as a potent reminder of how inescapable politics and strife are for Arab writers. In a tragic end fit for fiction itself, Nizar Qabbani, the poet of love, would go on to lose the love of his life, his wife Balqis, in a bombing in Beirut. “It’s the fate of Arabs,” he grieved, “to be assassinated by Arabs.”

                                                                                                                    It is odd that for all the cathartic importance the work of these poets has for us, the reader, the toll it takes on them is often cataclysmic. The death of the celebrated writer Ghassan Kanafani, from a car bomb while with his niece, is well known throughout the Arab world. Less known is the final chapter of Rashid Hussein’s life, the Palestinian poet whose writings continue to be criminally overlooked. Political discord about his strong belief in fostering dialogue between Arabs and Jews would result in his exile in New York. Hussein’s poetry always stands out when compared to other Palestinian writers at the time. “Against the revolutionaries of my country injuring a sapling,” he declares, “Against a child, any child, carrying a grenade.”

                                                                                                                    Amidst criticism from his peers, and his own disenchantment, the brilliant poet spent his final hours drinking in his apartment before his lit cigarette set fire to the room. It would be the smoke from his collection of cassette tapes, filled with recitals of poetry, that would finally suffocate him.

                                                                                                                    The emphasis on the tragedies that beset these men is not to dwell on their peculiarity. It is to underline the affinity between these writers and their cities. Like walking incarnations, they too felt every destruction and every loss and every disappointment. Despite the aesthetic appeal of regarding them solely as resistance poets, it seems imperative to acknowledge that their work mirrored more than just our political aspiration. And in doing so provided more solace.

                                                                                                                    Our men of letters are unlike the Gore Vidals or John Updikes of the West. The distinction is not made to claim some kind of literary superiority. Instead, it is to point out that Arab writers very commonly absorb and embody the subjects of writing to such an extent that it often instigates their own decline. I am always reminded of Khalil Hawi, that great Lebanese poet who took his own life in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. And although it comes at such personal cost to the poets themselves, it is also unmistakably beautiful.

                                                                                                                    - Talal Alyan is a Palestinian-American freelance writer currently living in New York. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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                                                                                                                      Egypt in Year Three

                                                                                                                      English (US)  July 14th, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                      by The Editors | published July 10, 2013
                                                                                                                      Middle East Research and Information Project

                                                                                                                      Was the gathering of millions in Egypt on June 30 the continuation of a revolution or the occasion for a coup d’état? The answer is “both,” but the question is not the right one to ask.

                                                                                                                      There is, first of all, no necessary contradiction between the two terms. All of the revolutions in human history have involved the overthrow of heads of state by force or the threat thereof. The revolutionaries, whether they wield weapons themselves or not, must commandeer a portion of the state’s army or persuade the soldiers to lay down their arms. The French Revolution -- the canonical model -- took nearly a century to complete, during which period there were three republics with three different constitutions, two empires, two restored monarchs and plenty of interceding events that might be called “coups” and “counter-revolutions.” The Iranian revolution -- closer to the Egypt of 2013 in space and time -- has been “hijacked” by authoritarian elements (or thus declared) several times over. Yet the upheavals in Iranian society that began in 1979 proceed apace.

                                                                                                                      In Egypt on July 3, the army deposed an elected president, arrested him and several other members of his party, closed down the media outlets sympathetic to him and set about installing a new government. On July 8, the army fired live ammunition on the ex-president’s demonstrating supporters, killing more than 50. These actions were flagrantly anti-democratic, and no one with a pluralist vision for Egypt can applaud them. As during its direct misrule in 2011-2012, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has torn a hole in the national fabric and set back the development of “normal” participatory politics. Yet there remains ample reason to believe that their coup is a moment in a long process of social and political transformation that will continue for years to come.

                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                      The movement aiming to compel Muhammad Mursi’s resignation, for one thing, was not bent on achieving its goal through military intervention, although a number of activists knew that was a possible outcome. The coalition was exceptionally broad and diverse -- women and men, young and old, opponents of Husni Mubarak’s regime and dregs of it, Coptic Christians and hardline Islamists, communists and free marketeers, anti-American nationalists and State Department darlings. Incredibly, its street presence was larger than the epochal 18-day uprising that unseated Mubarak in 2011. The Tamarrud campaign that provided the movement’s formal program claimed 22 million signatures on its petition. Whether one credits this figure or not, there is no doubt that anti-Mursi organizers tapped a deep vein of fury in the population.

                                                                                                                      The bill of indictment against Mursi included complaints about Islamism, but otherwise looked rather like the list of grievances against Mubarak. After prevailing at the ballot box in 2011-2012, Mursi and the Muslim Brothers had enacted a purely majoritarian view of democracy: We won fair and square, so the rest of you should quiet down and trust us to protect your prerogatives. When this message, understandably, alienated Egyptians secular and pious, liberals, Copts, many women and even some unaffiliated Islamists, the Brothers reacted with clumsy efforts to concentrate power in their own hands. Meanwhile, they made no attempt to defang the Mubarak-era police state, instead cutting sordid deals with the SCAF and the various security services. Not only freedom but the other main revolutionary demands, as well, went unaddressed -- there was no more bread than under Mubarak and certainly no more social justice. The Brothers, in fact, had no economic ideas beyond what they inherited by default from Mubarak’s neoliberal cabinets. They may very well have pursued the dismantlement of the welfare state in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and global capital.

                                                                                                                      In Parliament, the Brothers eviscerated legislation that would have introduced more progressive taxation. They spurned a draft labor law that would have guaranteed the right to form independent unions through free workplace elections. Instead, they proposed to “regulate” strikes and sided with employers in the wildcat work stoppages that persisted after Mubarak’s ejection. In early summer, the International Labor Organization blacklisted Egypt in for failing to live up to the labor conventions to which it is a signatory. The Brothers stymied a popular drive to “drop the debt” of the Egyptian state on the grounds that much of it is “odious,” that is, derived from loans that were embezzled or used to bolster the coercive apparatus. The Mursi government ignored a court order to revoke several selloffs of public-sector firms at shamefully low prices and conducted with little or no competitive bidding. It retooled Mubarak’s “Cairo 2050” plan that, among other things, aimed to expel poor residents from prime real estate in the capital in order to make room for five-star hotels. Such schemes met with vociferous community opposition.

                                                                                                                      Notwithstanding the circumstances of Mursi’s removal, there was thus something profoundly democratic about the June 30 mobilization. Much of the Western media could only conceive of the choice before Egyptians as a dichotomy -- the army or the Muslim Brothers, imposed liberalism or elected fundamentalism. It is a centuries-old trope, of course, rooted in Orientalism, propagated by modern Arab states from Algiers to Riyadh and reprised today by insufferable pundits in service of their own agendas. But Egyptians have spent more than two years demanding more and better choices, whether in national politics, in their neighborhoods or in their workplaces. Contra David Brooks and sundry, many Egyptians have a very clear sense of what democracy should be about. It is not merely a trip to the voting booth every four years.

                                                                                                                      Hence one pressing question is why it was that disparate strata within the anti-Mursi movement were willing to countenance -- indeed, cheer -- such anti-democratic means to their preferred end. Egypt is not the only place where citizens have openly or tacitly backed military intervention in times of acute crisis. Nancy Bermeo, a scholar of interwar Europe, argues that material hardships and breakdowns in “civic order” -- the perception of security and predictable rules -- led many Italians, Spaniards and others to support coups d’état. To cite a mundane Cairene example, it was heady at first to live without traffic cops, but the resulting gridlock lengthened everyone’s work day, rich and poor, often by several hours. With no progress in creating a civilian police force, and mutiny or indecision rampant in the ministries, the Brothers’ year in charge was one of steady decay in urban life -- except in prices of basic commodities and fuel, which rose. These conditions were crucial to keeping a very large cross-section of Egyptian society in a revolutionary mood. Ironically, therefore, the events of late June and early July are evidence of both radical democratization and the failure of institutions -- including elections -- to arbitrate popular demands, much less deliver on them.

                                                                                                                      The June 30 mobilization, further, had but a single unifying slogan -- irhal, or “get out” -- directed at Mursi and his confreres. The protesters had neither a coherent organization for the post-Mursi future nor any agreed-upon policy prescription for a new government seeking to provide bread, freedom and social justice. Arguably, as well, they had no more convincing solution to the problem of representation in a democratic Egypt than did the Muslim Brothers. It was effectively an open invitation for the army to step into the vacuum.

                                                                                                                      As for the SCAF, it plainly saw the June 30 protests coming, unlike in 2011. The generals do not want to rule the country de jure. Nor do they want to surround the presidential palace with tanks every so often; they view such bald-faced interference in public affairs as a sign of weakness. They greatly prefer to find civilian partners who will protect their economic interests, wink at their unaccountable habits and, best of all, absorb the criticism for the relentless deepening of Egypt’s many problems. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the SCAF’s bargain with Mursi was insincere or at best contingent. What the Muslim Brothers had, alone among the post-Mubarak political forces, was a party structure to match their ambitions. This advantage made the Brothers the best available civilian partners but also the only ones who could have, eventually, posed a credible threat to the army’s black budget and other privileges. In 2011, the generals had no plan when the opportunity presented itself to tighten their invisible grip. Today, they have one.

                                                                                                                      Phase one was the rapid deployment of helicopters trailing the Egyptian flag over Tahrir Square. The army put its nationalist credentials on display again in phase two -- the enlistment of the Coptic pope, the sheikh of al-Azhar and prominent personalities like Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN nuclear watchdog, to flank Gen. ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi on stage as he proclaimed the dispatch of Mursi’s tenure to oblivion. Phase three was the wave of arrests and the massacre of tens of the Brothers’ constituents, blanketed in a disinformation campaign reminiscent of the lies about the murder of civil rights demonstrators outside the Maspero building in October 2011. Meanwhile, police magically reappeared on the streets and gasoline at the filling stations. Phase four was the quick handover of the reins of government to a civilian prime minister. Make no mistake: The army is not holding hands with revolutionaries or democrats. The army is at the core of a revanchist alliance of unrepentant Interior Ministry personnel and assorted Mubarak-era holdovers wearing silk suits instead of khaki, including a number of crony capitalists. This confederacy of reactionaries is sometimes dubbed Egypt’s “deep state.”

                                                                                                                      All of the major political forces in Egypt seem to be playing a winner-takes-all game where the prize is total control of the state. The rhetorical indicator is the ubiquitous offer to shed one’s own blood; everyone is primed to be a martyr to the cause, whether the purge of Muslim Brothers from government or Mursi’s reinstatement. Almost no one appears ready to face the messy and time-consuming task of power sharing. In this scenario, typical and absolutely logical in societies that have been heavily repressed, the true victor tends to be the entrenched power broker, here the military and its fat-cat friends.

                                                                                                                      And the United States salutes “the transition,” along with most of the “international community,” notable exceptions being Iran and Turkey. There is talk in Washington of putting conditions on Egypt’s military aid package, but the proposed bar of a return to civilian rule is so low that the SCAF has already cleared it. Bashar al-Asad welcomed the coup with a reminder that he, too, is battling the dark hordes of political Islam. But perhaps the strongest endorsement of Mursi’s ouster came from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which offered an immediate $8 billion infusion into Egypt’s ailing fiscal system. Kuwait promised another $4 billion. And just in time -- according to a Reuters story on July 6, the Egyptian central bank has exhausted all but one third of its cash reserves since Mubarak fell in order to prop up the pound. Together with the violence in the streets, the approval of this constellation of counter-revolutionary forces will strengthen the sway of the Muslim Brothers’ narratives of global conspiracy against them. The Brothers swiftly rejected the plan announced by the interim president for another constitutional referendum to be followed by legislative elections in 2014.

                                                                                                                      Distrust between the Brothers and other civilian actors, whether reformists or revolutionaries, has likewise received a hefty shot in the arm. Some of the latter may see the destruction of the Brothers’ experiment as peeling away a layer of authoritarian dominion: Eliminate a non-democratic rival, keep up the mobilization and retarget the “deep state.” But the political arithmetic does not work. In 2011, the revolutionaries needed the Brothers to topple Mubarak; in 2013, they needed Mubarak loyalists and salafis to toss out the Brothers. What coalition can now form to tackle the structures of inequity, arbitrary rule and social strife in Egypt? In the near term, none leaps to mind.

                                                                                                                      In the long term, however, and perhaps the medium, the very structures that oppress Egyptians will generate resistance as well as confusion and despair. Several members of the June 30 amalgamation have registered their own objections to the constitutional decree, an index of Bermeo’s other finding that citizens backing coups rarely support what the coupmasters do after they seize power. Having come so far, the country seems unlikely to accept a restoration that does not respond to at least some of the calls for bread, freedom and social justice. Perhaps the “deep state” will acquiesce in the foundation of a more robust parliamentary democracy than Egyptians knew under Mubarak. Perhaps it will find ways of easing Egypt’s economic pain, including the poverty, joblessness and truncated life chances that are the primary concern of most Egyptian citizens. And perhaps not. The downfall of Husni Mubarak is best described as half-revolution, half-coup; in Mursi’s case, the proportions may differ. The generals might like to write the revolution’s obituary, but it is too soon, and ultimately the pen is not in their fingers.

                                                                                                                      2190 words posted in EgyptLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                        ‘I’m Not Loving It’: Furor as McDonald’s Refuses to Open in Israeli West Bank Settlement

                                                                                                                        English (US)  July 1st, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                        Screenshot from facebook.com/MyIsrael.

                                                                                                                        Israeli settlers are up in arms about McDonald’s refusal to build an outlet in the West Bank, calling to boycott the company’s entire operations in Israel. The chain cited a policy of “staying out of occupied territories” with other businesses joining in.

                                                                                                                        McDonald’s stated that its refusal to operate in the West Bank “had always been the restaurant chain’s policy” and that its decision was not coordinated with McDonald’s headquarters in the US.

                                                                                                                        The co-owner of the new mall in the town of Ariel located in central West Bank admitted that some other international companies which were asked to open up businesses in the mall have also declined. He refused to specify which ones.

                                                                                                                        “The mediators told us that branches operating abroad and other companies holding rights in Israel for international brand names are worried about the potential negative response toward their businesses [from consumers] abroad if they open shops in the mall,” Tzahi Nahmias told Calcalist newspaper.

                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                        In response Israeli settlers have called to boycott McDonald’s altogether. The right-wing ‘My Israel’ Facebook page posted a “McDonald’s: I’m not loving it” sign in protest.

                                                                                                                        “McDonald’s has turned from a business into an organization with an anti-Israeli political agenda,” deputy director of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, Yigal Delmonti, told Jpost.

                                                                                                                        Ariel Mayor Eliyahu Shaviro said McDonald’s refusal is “unfortunate” and it “discriminates against the city’s residents,” adding that “issues of culture and commerce shouldn’t be subject to political considerations.”

                                                                                                                        Despite the fast-food conglomerate’s decision, the new spot will not remain empty. Burger Ranch has offered to step in and take McDonald’s place. In 2010, Burger Ranch had already taken over Burger King’s spots after the latter company closed all of its restaurants in Israel.

                                                                                                                        Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted former Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas as saying on his Facebook page that he would “not only eat the first hamburger grilled by Burger Ranch, but he would also send McDonald’s Israel owner Omri Padan ‘a current map with Israel’s up-to-date borders’”.

                                                                                                                        Israeli Settlements as Obstacles to Peace

                                                                                                                        Padan, the owner and CEO of McDonald’s Israel, is a former soldier in the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit and one of the founders of the group Peace Now, which opposes all settlements and views them as obstacles to peace.

                                                                                                                        Reportedly Padan is no longer a member of the group, but that has always been his policy, according to Israeli business news site Globes. Padan reportedly first heard of the mall seven months ago and rejected the idea outright.

                                                                                                                        Haaretz quoted a source close to Padan saying that the whole thing is a media spin by one of the business investors in the Ariel mall’s investors who are trying to “push the mall forward.”

                                                                                                                        Peace Now has spoken out in support of McDonald’s refusal, stating that the company has a right to decide where to open up new branches and the right to follow its conscience.

                                                                                                                        “We totally understand and support people who think settlements are bad for Israel’s interests,” Executive Director of Peace Now Yariv Oppenheimer told AP. “They don’t want to take an active role by opening a business there and helping to expand and to contribute to the settlement idea.”

                                                                                                                        Haaretz also points that “not only is Ariel [with its 19,000 Jewish settlers] decidedly NOT a part of Israel, but it is even an outlier compared to all the other ‘settlement blocs’ that Israel swears allegiance to in any peace settlement.”

                                                                                                                        It is not the first time the McDonald’s, with its 170 branches in operation across Israel by now, is in the center of public uproar.

                                                                                                                        The company waited until 1993 to open its first branch in Israel due to an Arab League boycott of the country. A year later it was criticized for its large double arches sign near a memorial to Israel’s Golani military brigade, with critics saying it desecrated the site.

                                                                                                                        Boycotting Israeli Settlements Campaign

                                                                                                                        McDonald’s decision is expected to add significant weight to the international movement against Israel’s settlement construction in West Bank as many view the policy as illegal or illegitimate. The UN has repeatedly called for boycotting products made in Israeli settlements.

                                                                                                                        Activists around the world lead a campaign of encouraging consumers and businesses to internationally boycott products made there. Unions, groups and even countries have stepped-up their efforts to label settlement-made products being sold.

                                                                                                                        Some of the recent examples include: Caterpillar Inc., which reportedly provides bulldozers and other construction equipment in Israeli settlement territories, being removed from three ‘socially responsible’ stock indices by the American investment firm MSCI; the World Council of Churches calling for a boycott of products originating in Israeli settlements; and the UK’s Co-Operative Group stopping buying products from companies known to source from the settlements.

                                                                                                                        The Palestinians would like to have complete control over the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Israel has captured those areas, along with the Golan Heights, in the 1967 Mideast War.

                                                                                                                        Despite the pressure, the Israeli settlement building continues as country’s planning committee on Wednesday granted final approval for the construction of 69 settler homes in east Jerusalem. The decision came hours before the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Jordan as part of his efforts to restart direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

                                                                                                                        rt.com

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                                                                                                                          Stamping Impunity on Israel’s War Crimes

                                                                                                                          English (US)  June 27th, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                          Friday, June 28, 2013 Last Update: 3:56 PM GMT

                                                                                                                          Australia Post and Israel Post collaboratively issued two stamps. (Photo: Supplied)

                                                                                                                          By Vacy Vlazna

                                                                                                                          Israel and Australia’s joint projects normalizing Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity has sunk deeper in the degenerate mire of hasbara (propaganda & lies);

                                                                                                                          “So projects that constitute normalization are not about freedom, justice or liberation, but about numbing our minds to the horror of the occupation, so we accept it as normal, as permanent, as an unchangeable fixed reality”! (1)

                                                                                                                          In May, Australia Post and Israel Post collaboratively issued two stamps commemorating the Australian Light Horse and the WWI Battle of Beersheba in Palestine. The $2.60 stamp features contemporary images of Australian Light Horsemen. The 60c stamp features the statue of an Australian Light Horseman in the Park of the Australian Soldier, funded by the Pratt Foundation, at Beersheba.

                                                                                                                          ANZAC heroic courage and endurance warrants commemoration but the issue of the stamps entailed a cynical rewriting of Australian war history that deflects ANZAC honor to deodorize Israel’s stinking reputation around the world; the recent BBC’s 2013 Country Rating Poll places Israel squarely amongst North Korea and Pakistan as the world’s most negatively viewed nations.

                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                          The stamps’ description on the Australia Post shop site states:

                                                                                                                          “The capture of Beersheba allowed British Empire forces to break the Ottoman line near Gaza and then advance into Palestine, a chain of events which eventually culminated in the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.”

                                                                                                                          Connecting the ‘capture of Beersheba’ to ‘the establishment of the state of Israel’ is an outright lie. Australian Communications minister, Steven Conroy, showing off his ready dexterity to bend over backwards for Israel, shamelessly repeated the lie:

                                                                                                                          “I don’t have any role in choosing what’s on stamps, but I do support this – it’s a wonderful tribute to the 4th Light Horse Brigade and recognizes a chain of events that eventually culminated in the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.”

                                                                                                                          The real chain of events began in 1895 with the Zionist ambition to take over the whole of Palestine for a Jewish homeland which was accelerated in 1947 by Plan Dalet’s systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine that destroyed over 500 villages, slaughtered thousands of villagers and forcefully deported over 700,000 indigenous Palestinians. Israel then unilaterally declared an independent state in breach of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, still binding, that guaranteed independence for Palestine.

                                                                                                                          The Australian Zionist lobby has inflated the ANZAC lies. The Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce announcing the special boardroom lunch to celebrate the launch piled on the hasbara:

                                                                                                                          “During WWI, Australian troops fought alongside the British army to conquer Israel from under ottoman rule…. The friendly Australian soldiers were remembered fondly by residents of the Jewish colonies of Israel. Warm ties were also formed with the Australian soldiers who were stationed in Israel during WWII.”

                                                                                                                          Fact: In 1917 (and during WWII) Israel did not exist. World War I and II were fought on Palestinian soil.

                                                                                                                          The claim by Australia Post managing director, Ahmed Fahour is highly questionable, “The Battle of Beersheba is something close to the hearts of both Israelis and Australians” when it was Palestinian fighters who helped the ANZACs …

                                                                                                                          “Defending the west and south west of the town, the 27th Division’s 67th and 81st Infantry Regiments, were deployed in the fortified semicircular line of deep trenches and redoubts strengthened by barbed wire. These regiments consisted mainly, of “Arab farmers from the surrounding region, and although inexperienced fighters they were defending their own fields.”(Massey, Graeme (2007). Beersheba: The men of the 4th Light Horse Regiment who charged on the 31st October 1917. Warracknabeal, Victoria: Warracknabeal Secondary College History Department.

                                                                                                                          … while Palestinian villagers struggled to survive the dire economic impact on their land and livelihoods of the mounted armies of the Imperial and Ottoman forces. The Turks had demolished orchards and all the cavalries ‘drank out wells and grazed their horses on standing crops’. Palestinian foodstuffs and livestock were requisitioned by the British military and consequently there was a shortage of basic food and commodities with awful disruptions to daily life.

                                                                                                                          One generation later, the same villagers were forcefully routed by Jewish terrorist militias to Gaza where they remain in desolate refugee camps under the illegal and inhumane Israeli siege.

                                                                                                                          The decision to include the image of the statue of an Australian Light Horseman in the Park of the Australian Soldier was Machiavellian sleight of hand. The Park professes to be “a permanent memorial to those who died in battle for the Jewish state.”

                                                                                                                          The Park funded by the Pratt Foundation was set up by Zionist Richard Pratt, the Australian Visy Industries billionaire who ripped off Australian customers by fixing prices and market sharing with the rival Amcor group. Visy’s underbelly has been linked to the Hells Angels reputed to have ties to criminal organizations in Australia and overseas.

                                                                                                                          Nevertheless, Australian political luminaries like Ex-PMs Kevin Rudd and John Howard have attended fundraisers at Pratt’s Melbourne mansion, Raheen; Bill Shorten- now a Minister in the Gillard government- was married there, and others such as exPM Bob Hawke, exPM Gough Whitlam, exPM Malcolm Fraser, ex state premier Nick Grieiner, former police commissioner Mick Miller have been on the Zionist’s lucrative payroll as consultants. Anthony Pratt, Richard’s successor hosted in July 2011, an Australian speaking tour of Israel’s darling, Tony Blair, the supposedly neutral envoy for the Middle East Quartet.

                                                                                                                          The Park of the Australian Soldier is included in ‘The Anzac Trail from the Be’eri Badlands to Be’er Sheva’ which is a project of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) which seizes Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem and razes, over and over, villages on the ancestral lands of impoverished Bedouins.

                                                                                                                          If you think that the hijacking of the rising sun’s glory is a preposterous fancy you may change your mind when you scratch the surface of the key-players, to find the web of corporate affiliations to Israel’s military and illegal occupation.

                                                                                                                          Ahmed Fahour Australia’s highest paid public servant, $2.78 million pa, prior to Australia Post, had a long executive career with Citigroup and its website ‘boasts the largest presence of any foreign financial institution in Israel and offers corporate and investment banking services to leading Israeli corporations and institutions, and global corporations operating in Israel’ including equity offerings for Delek.

                                                                                                                          Haim Elmoznino, CEO of Israel Post was deputy CEO of Delek Israel Fuel Corporation which supplies Israel’s military-industrial complex. Delek also fuels US warplanes. Delek was the exclusive distributer of Ford in Israel and according to Who Profits, “Ford F550 trucks were retrofitted by Hatehof for the Israeli army to armored personnel carriers for use by the IDF in the West Bank….and its vehicles are used by the ‘Caracal’ military … a combat unit which patrols the occupied section of the Jordan Valley, in the West Bank areas close to the Separation Wall and on the Israeli-Egyptian border.’

                                                                                                                          Sasi Shilo, Chairman of Israel Post, was, CEO of Netivei Hayovel in which Danya Cebus, a construction firm has a stake. Danya Cebus is a subsidiary of Africa Israel Investments Ltd:

                                                                                                                          “Africa Israel Chairman and founder Lev Leviev and his brother are responsible for the settlements of Zufim (Tsufim) and Zufim North on land belonging to the village of Jayyous in the northern West Bank. They are being built by a Leviev company called Leader Management & Development. The villageës water wells, greenhouses, and most of its agricultural land have been confiscated for these settlements. Among the largest investors in Africa Israel are Barclayës Global Investors (which has been purchased by BlackRock), and the Vanguard Group. In August 2009, Blackrock made a decision to divest from Africa Israel due to its involvement in the occupation.” (2)

                                                                                                                          Attending the stamp launch was Yaron Razon, Director of Israel Philatelic Service. who in a past life was CEO of Ma’ariv Magazines. Ma’ariv, according to The political line of Israeli papers (a reader’s guide) in +972, 2010, “ is extremely hostile to the Arab population and to human rights organizations, and recently, it shows a hospitable attitude to the settlement project (a recent double spread all but invited people to live in Tapuach, a settlement formally known as the stronghold of Kahane supporters). Among Israeli papers, Maariv is the most supportive of Avigdor Lieberman’s policies”

                                                                                                                          Also attending was Australia’s Attorney General Mark Dreyfus whose Zionist colors are for all to see in his 2012 speech (3) to the Zionist Council of Victoria where he reiterated the Australian governments ‘enduring support for Israel’ and pointed out how PM Gillard supported Israel’s wearisome mantra of its right to defend itself by perpetrating war crimes against Gaza in 2008/9 and by voting against the UN Goldstone Report which Dreyfus falsely declared was discredited.

                                                                                                                          Concerned Australians have bombarded the Postal Ombusdman, Australia Post and Minister Conroy with protests against the government’s commandeering of ANZAC and Palestinian history for the whitewashing of Israel state terrorism and demanding the withdrawal of the stamps because young ANZAC soldiers did not sacrifice their lives to give the stamp of approval to Israel’s impunity to daily violate international law and wreak inhuman suffering on Palestinian men, women, children and the elderly.

                                                                                                                          - Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

                                                                                                                          Notes:

                                                                                                                          (1) Samah Sabawi, Colonization of the Mind: Normalize This!
                                                                                                                          (2) Interfaith Peace Initiative.
                                                                                                                          (3) Mark Dreyfus Speech to Zionist Council of Victoria

                                                                                                                          1618 words posted in Israel, Apartheid StateLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                            Unattainable Peace

                                                                                                                            English (US)  June 27th, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                            The deceptive 'freeze' may force Abbas to succumb to American pressure.

                                                                                                                            By Jamal Kanj

                                                                                                                            But for the chap from Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza who emerged earlier this week as the winner of the “Arab Idol,” the news from Palestine is grim.

                                                                                                                            The newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister resigned and Israel still insists it should be able to negotiate over dividing the pie while it continues to eat it.

                                                                                                                            By the end of April, US Secretary of State John Kerry succeeded in tailoring another peace plan to entice Israel. Arab ministers supposedly agreed to amend a decade-old peace plan to satisfy Israeli demand for legalizing major illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                            In May 2009, Israel responded to the US mediated overture by issuing permits to build 296 illegal new homes in the Jewish-only colony of Beit El near Ramallah. This week the Secretary of State was scheduled to arrive on his fifth visit since February in an attempt to restart the Palestinian and Israeli negotiation.

                                                                                                                            The visit seems to be on hold to give time to Palestine’s President to consider a new US economic peace plan and for Israel to give Abbas a face-saving cover to return to the negotiation table.

                                                                                                                            Israel is already sending mixed messages.

                                                                                                                            According to news reports that have appeared in Israeli daily Ma’ariv, Netanyahu is considering a token gesture of releasing a small number of Palestinian prisoners and to issue temporary freeze “outside the settlement blocks” in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                            The deceptive “freeze” may force Abbas to succumb to American pressure while Netanyahu can claim – and rightly so – it is irrelevant as building inside the Jewish-only “settlement blocks” will continue.

                                                                                                                            Affirming its real intention and to pre-empt Kerry’s renewed efforts – in what is becoming traditional embarrassment for visiting US officials – the Israeli government issued earlier this month plans to build more than 1,000 new Jewish-only homes in two West Bank colonies.

                                                                                                                            Instead of addressing Israel’s inflexibility, the US is tantalizing an economic package worth $4 billion of private American and European investment.

                                                                                                                            In fact the new American “economic peace” is a repackaged Netanyahu plan from the 1990s, which was intended to dodge tackling the most pressing issues in the peace talk.

                                                                                                                            In theory, the proposal would expand the Palestinian economy by 50 per cent over three years while granting Israel more time to finish eating the “pie”.

                                                                                                                            But in reality, past investments were undermined by Israeli closures and military checkpoints or even destroyed as the cases for Gaza’s air and sea ports, leaving Palestinians with false promises and the only measurable expansion was in the size of Jewish colonies.

                                                                                                                            To bolster Israel’s arrogance, the US House of Representatives passed two weeks ago the National Defence Authorization Act in which it delegated – for the first time in US history – the power to wage war to a foreign entity when it committed the US to avail “diplomatic, military, and economic support” to Israel should it decide to strike Iran.

                                                                                                                            Along with that vote and at a time when both sides of the isle wrangled over how much more to cut from the defense budget, the US Congress was united in tripling Obama’s request to finance Israeli missile defense from $96 million to $284m.

                                                                                                                            It is indisputable that this unqualified US subservient support is directly responsible for Israel’s intransigence and the failure of the peace process. This was exemplified last week when Polish descendent and Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett – an ex US multi-millionaire who renounced his US citizenship – declared on June 17 the death of the Palestinian state idea and that he wasn’t an occupier and the West Bank was his “home”.

                                                                                                                            Rejecting the Palestinian state, Danny Danon, the Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister, was quoted in the Times of Israel: “The international community can say whatever they want, and we can do whatever we want”. Israeli leaders can’t be more explicit in their rejection of a viable Palestinian state, making the talk about settlement “freeze” meaningless and peace unattainable.

                                                                                                                            - Jamal Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes weekly newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.)

                                                                                                                            725 words posted in American ZionismLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                              Maids for sale: Child exploitation bonanza

                                                                                                                              English (US)  June 19th, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                              By Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                                                              Last night at the hotel lobby of an Arab Gulf country, a family walked in aiming for the westernized café that sells everything but Arabic coffee. The mother seemed distant as she pressed buttons on her smart phone. The father looked tired as he buffed away on his cigarette, and a whole band of children ran around in refreshing chaos that broke the monotony of the fancy but impersonal hotel setting.

                                                                                                                              Chasing behind the children for no other reason but to be constantly vigilant to any unexpected harm was a very skinny Indonesian teenager wearing a tightly wrapped headscarf, worn out blue jeans and a long shirt. She was the maid, or khadama as maids are called here, meaning a servant.

                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                              The girl was but a child, of the same build and overall demeanor of my 14-year-old daughter who is busy with her studies anticipating a very exciting summer ahead. If she is lucky, the Indonesian ‘khadama’ can only expect one day off per two weeks, as she spends all of her time toiling for numerous hours, has no rights, with little or no pay and cannot escape. In most Gulf countries, cheap foreign laborers are asked to hand over their passports in a scheme involving authorities, employment agencies and employers. This is done to ensure compliance and obedience of young men and women that are mostly from southeast Asian countries.

                                                                                                                              Some Arab countries have become a breeding ground for a form of modern slavery that capitalizes on existing miseries found elsewhere in order to feed the insatiable consumerism that permeates most societies. It is particularly disheartening considering that Islamic doctrines emphasized labor rights many centuries ago, leaving no room whatsoever for alternative interpretations to religious texts that people are created equal, deserving of respect, freedom and dignity.

                                                                                                                              The injustice doesn’t start and end there. Rich Arab countries are but a mere manifestation of a relentless global phenomenon that requires more than unbinding international conventions but a major shift in cultural attitude.

                                                                                                                              June 12 was World Day Against Child Labor, an occasion that barely warranted some habitual mentioning by some news media, but certainly not enough to compete with headlines pertaining to the latest gadgets and yet more revealing photos of one Kardashian woman or another. I wonder if we tend to avoid such topics because once they are truly discussed, to varied degrees, we all become culpable? From the brand name clothes we wear, the fancy gadgets we haul around to pretty much everything else we consume, there is surely to be found traces of the sweat and tears of some oppressed laborer or a child with much potential but little hope.

                                                                                                                              No, this is not a guilt trip, but a pressing issue than can no longer be ignored or lumped into some vague notions about the world at large, being unfair and such. Many forms of injustice are driven by conscious decisions made by all of us. They can also be reversed by conscious decisions made by some of us.

                                                                                                                              The International Labor Organization (ILO) has done much to delineate the problem and tried to engage various governments around the world to alleviate the suffering of laborers, especially the children amongst them. Most countries around the world ratified ILO Conventions into law, but most are yet to challenge the rooted exploitation in their own societies.

                                                                                                                              Browsing through the text of ILO’s fundamental child labor Conventions (namely No. 138. No. 182 and the more recently No. 189, adopted at the International Labor Conference of 2011), there is enough clarity regarding the minimum age of admission to employment, the ‘worst forms of child labor’ in domestic work and many other related issues. Yet while governments are giddily signing such Conventions – knowing that accountability is almost nonexistent – often time little changes on the ground.

                                                                                                                              In Burma, an activist, Hsu Hnget told Irrawaddy news, that child labor is “so deeply rooted in society that it had become a ‘tradition.’”

                                                                                                                              According to a survey conducted by Child Rights and You, and cited in the Huffington Post, “19 percent of people in South Delhi believe that an individual is a child if he or she is below the age of 10 and most did not know about the laws that prohibit child labor.”

                                                                                                                              In Indonesia, ILO estimates that almost 2.5 million children are toiling at work, while they should not be working in the first place. The Jakarta Post reported that 21 percent of them are domestic workers and 60 percent work in the tobacco industry. According to the ILO and other organizations, many of them work for no pay.

                                                                                                                              “The children in the tobacco fields worked three to seven hours per day, earning only Rp 15,000 (US$1.51) to Rp 25,000,” reported the Jakarta Post on June 15.

                                                                                                                              Bangladesh is particularly rife with such exploitation, the type that also involves many western companies seeking cheap labor and large profit margins. Many of those who perished under the rubble of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka on April 24 were children, and of course, exploited adults. Since then two relevant anniversaries came and went with little change in work conditions: Labor Day events on May 1 and World Day Against Child Labor on June 12.

                                                                                                                              There are an estimated 215 million children classified as child labors. Amongst them, according to the International Labor Organization, “10.5 million kids are employed to cook and clean homes, where they’re often subjected to hazardous conditions and sexual abuse.”

                                                                                                                              In the Middle East, exploiting laborers is also a ‘tradition’, where there is no uproar, or even a slightly serious protest at the dismal work conditions, especially those involving children. This is not limited to foreign workers, but nationals as well. According to a global interactive map on ILO website, “an estimated 13.4 million, or about 15 percent of all children in the (Arab) region are child laborers.”

                                                                                                                              In a separate study, the ILO explains the types of exploitation in Arab countries. “Working children in this region are vulnerable to participation in illicit activities such as drug trafficking and the commercial sex industry, recruitment by religious extremists, poor health, exposure to unsafe working environments, and lack of access to skills training.”

                                                                                                                              Of course, the Syrian civil war is expectedly important to any discussion related to exploitation as its horrible consequences are now extending all over the region. Many Syrian children are being exploited in Lebanon and elsewhere as laborers and prostitutes, reported Al Akhbar on June 11. Similar reports are resurfacing elsewhere, throughout Arab countries, Turkey and Europe. “Not far from the Lebanese hot zones, media strategy expert Issam Azouri describes the situation of a child receiving $20 a day to throw a hand grenade or burn a tire,” according to Al Akhbar, which also reported on a 4-year-old boy that begs to survive.

                                                                                                                              In some tragic way, the Indonesian teenage ‘servant’ from the hotel lobby last night might not even qualify to be included under ‘worst forms of labors’ per ILO Convention No. 182 which defines the type of labor that is similar to slavery.

                                                                                                                              Regardless, we must not wait yet another year to make a passing mention of the tens of millions of exploited children, nod our heads in predictable tandem about how unfair the world is, and how lucky we are to be spared such injustice. Child laborers would not exist if it were not for the many more millions of willing exploiters, seeking khadamas, fine cigars and brand name garments. The world, after all, is made up by us, so we’d better take responsibility for it and its exploited children.

                                                                                                                              - Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).

                                                                                                                              1279 words posted in Human RightsLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                Inter-American Court Hears Mapuche Human Rights Case against Chile

                                                                                                                                English (US)  June 3rd, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today Media Network
                                                                                                                                June 03, 2013

                                                                                                                                The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has held hearings on several cases against the state of Chile concerning human rights abuses of land rights activists who were imprisoned under a controversial anti-terrorist law that dates back to the reign of former dictator, the late August Pinochet.

                                                                                                                                The court held hearings on May 29 and 30 in San Jose, Costa Rica, on the various cases, which were consolidated under the title Narín Catrimán vs. Chile. Two years ago, the affected families petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous part of the Organization of American States (“OAS”), whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere. In August 12, 2011, the commission submitted the complaint to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for review.

                                                                                                                                Read more at Indian Country Today Media Network

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                                                                                                                                  Open Letter from Alice Walker to Alicia Keys

                                                                                                                                  English (US)  May 31st, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                  Alice Walker. (Photo: Wikimedia commons)

                                                                                                                                  Dear Alicia Keys,

                                                                                                                                  I have learned today that you are due to perform in Israel very soon. We have never met, though I believe we are mutually respectful of each other’s path and work. It would grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists. You were not born when we, your elders who love you, boycotted institutions in the US South to end an American apartheid less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people. Google Montgomery Bus Boycott, if you don’t know about this civil rights history already. We changed our country fundamentally, and the various boycotts of Israeli institutions and products will do the same there. It is our only nonviolent option and, as we learned from our own struggle in America, nonviolence is the only path to a peaceful future.

                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                  If you go to my website and blog you can quickly find many articles I have written over the years that explain why a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major “crime” is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own. Under a campaign named ‘Brand Israel’, Israeli officials have stated specifically their intent to downplay the Palestinian conflict by using culture and arts to showcase Israel as a modern, welcoming place.

                                                                                                                                  This is actually a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about something sorrowful, and amazing: that our government (Obama in particular) supports a system that is cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil. You can spend months, and years, as I have, pondering this situation. Layer upon layer of lies, misinformation, fear, cowardice and complicity. Greed. It is a vast eye-opener into the causes of much of the affliction in our suffering world.

                                                                                                                                  I have kept you in my awareness as someone of conscience and caring, especially about the children of the world. Please, if you can manage it, go to visit the children in Gaza, and sing to them of our mutual love of all children, and of their right not to be harmed simply because they exist.

                                                                                                                                  With love, younger sister, beloved daughter and friend,

                                                                                                                                  Alice Walker

                                                                                                                                  - Alice Walker is an American author, poet and activist. She is best known for the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple for which she won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. (This article was published in the website of Palestinian Students’ Campaign for Academic Boycott of Israel – PSCABI – www.usacbi.org)

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                                                                                                                                    Thanking Bradley Manning

                                                                                                                                    English (US)  May 31st, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                    Afghan Peace Volunteers with a sign that thanks Bradley Manning. (Photo: Hakim/supplied)

                                                                                                                                    By Kathy Kelly – Kabul

                                                                                                                                    A few evenings ago, as the sky began to darken here in Kabul, Afghanistan, a small group of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APVs), gathered for an informal presentation about WikiLeaks, its chief editor Julian Assange, and its most prominent contributor, Bradley Manning. Basir Bita, a regular visitor to the APV household, began the evening’s discussion noting that June 1st will mark the beginning of Bradley Manning’s fourth year in prison. Two days later his trial will begin, a trial which could sadly result in his imprisonment for a life sentence. June 1st also begins an international week of support and solidarity, aimed at thanking Bradley Manning. #ThankManning!

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                                                                                                                                    Basir believes that the vast majority of Afghans are among myriads world-wide who have Manning to thank for information they will need in struggles for freedom, security, and peace. He wishes that more people would find the courage to stand up to military and government forces, especially their own, and act as “whistle-blowers.”

                                                                                                                                    I often hear Afghan individuals and groups express longing for a far more democratic process than is allowed them in a country dominated by warlords, the U.S./NATO militaries, and their commanders. In the U.S., a lack of crucial information increasingly threatens democratic processes. How can people make informed choices if their leaders deliberately withhold crucial information from them? Manning’s disclosures have brought desperately needed light to the U.S. and to countries around the world, including struggling countries like Afghanistan.

                                                                                                                                    Hakim, who mentors the Afghan Peace Volunteers, recalled that Bradley Manning passed on documents that record 91,730 “Significant Actions,” or “SIGACTS” undertaken here by the U.S. /ISAF forces, of which 75,000 were released by WikiLeaks. These SIGACTS include attacks by drones, sometimes invisible drones, and night raids.

                                                                                                                                    Our group turned to discussing the history of WikiLeaks, how it formed and how it now functions. Those most familiar with computers and internet explained the process of disclosing information by anonymously following a computerized route to a “dropbox.” In fact, the Afghan Peace Volunteers themselves have been communicating with Julian Assange.

                                                                                                                                    Last winter, Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire had stayed with them shortly before she traveled to London for a visit to Julian Assange. Through Mairead, they had sent Assange a letter of solidarity.

                                                                                                                                    The APVs heard that Manning has been more isolated than Assange; they all shook their heads when Basir reminded them that Bradley Manning was initially in solitary confinement for eleven months.

                                                                                                                                    Ghulamai thought through the ironic process of how governments designate some documents ‘secret,’ and how he would presume that the person who shares those secrets was a ‘criminal.’ But Ali said that governments chiefly hide ‘secrets’ from the public to maintain power. Hakim asked Abdulhai to imagine himself as the head of a government or of a large family. “If you are working for the good of the family or the state, would you need to do things secretly?” he asked.

                                                                                                                                    “No,” Abdulhai replied. “If I have power, and I am truly working for the best interests of my people, I will not need to do things in secret.”

                                                                                                                                    There was a keen conversation about who Bradley Manning was and what he did. Bradley Manning’s own words, which journalists had to actually smuggle out of his pre-trial hearing, described how Bradley’s mind had largely been made up by watching the secret video that he would come to release under the title “Collateral Murder:”

                                                                                                                                    “They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there’s an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

                                                                                                                                    “While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew– as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.”

                                                                                                                                    Together, the APVs watched the deeply disturbing “Collateral Damage” video itself. They were avid to learn what they could do to support and thank Bradley Manning. Yet they’re aware of the risks faced by people who organize public demonstrations in Afghanistan.

                                                                                                                                    It’s far easier to stand up for Bradley where I live, back in the U.S. I hope many more of us will devote the time and energy we owe this young man for risking everything, as he did, to enlighten us and the world.

                                                                                                                                    The Afghan Peace Volunteers are eager for ways to link with others worldwide to express thanks and concern for a remarkably brave and conscience-driven 25-year old man whose courage and whose light is so acutely needed in this darkening time. I’ve seen the fierce light of these young people and, knowing them, I’m certain that others will be seeing it too in the years ahead. Are we readying signals with which to answer them, are we preparing ways to show people like them, and like Julian Assange, and like Bradley Manning, that they are not alone?

                                                                                                                                    - Kathy Kelly (kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org). She is spending the month of May as a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (ourjourneytosmile.com

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                                                                                                                                      Mubarak-era Cruelty Continues at Rafah Crossing

                                                                                                                                      English (US)  May 31st, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                      Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

                                                                                                                                      By Ayah Bashir – Gaza Strip

                                                                                                                                      Since 2006 — when Hamas unexpectedly won Palestinian parliamentary elections — the situation at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been a source of extraordinary confusion.

                                                                                                                                      For 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza, the Rafah crossing has been the main gateway to the outside world. There are no other routes for entering or leaving our besieged territory — though there were until the late 1990s when Palestinians could travel here via Erez crossing, which separates Gaza and Israel.

                                                                                                                                      Lately, the Egyptian government of President Mohammed Morsi has been following the trends set by the regime ousted following mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square two years ago. Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, carried out Israeli orders at Rafah, which meant the crossing was frequently closed.

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                                                                                                                                      Heavy Toll

                                                                                                                                      This month Egyptian police — enraged by the kidnapping of seven colleagues — kept the crossing blocked, stranding hundreds of Palestinian travelers on both sides, for five days. The closure took a heavy toll on Palestinians travelers, especially those who are unwell. It has caused the death of Ghazza al-Khawaldi from Khan Younis who needed medical treatment abroad that she couldn’t get in Gaza.

                                                                                                                                      Palestinians in Gaza have been questioning why the crossing was closed in response to the hostage situation. The kidnappers were proved to be part of Tawhid wa al-Jihad, a group which espouses a more radical form of Islamism than Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, and which enjoys no support from the vast majority of people in Gaza.

                                                                                                                                      But Gaza is routinely subjected to collective punishment. Last month, militants fired two rockets from Sinai into Israel. In August of last year, 16 Egyptian border guards were killed by militants. Whenever such violence occurs, the entire Gaza Strip pays the price.

                                                                                                                                      Prison Gate

                                                                                                                                      More than two years after the uprising in Egypt, the Rafah crossing remains a prison gate. Cairo’s responses fall short of the demands articulated by protesters in Tahrir Square. Many of them carried Palestinian flags and denounced Egypt’s cooperation with Israel.

                                                                                                                                      Last month a delegation of Palestinian youth living in Gaza, the West Bank, present-day Israel and the diaspora, participated in the World Social Forum in Tunisia. Sponsored by Quaker and health organizations, the six participants from Gaza, including myself, headed to the Rafah crossing believing that we had a special permission from security officers to pass easily and quickly.

                                                                                                                                      We all planned to enjoy the little time we would have in Egypt before flying. I had arranged beforehand to meet some Egyptian friends and activists.

                                                                                                                                      When we arrived at the Rafah crossing, we saw dozens of travelers from Gaza, who were filled with anxiety, wondering if they would be allowed to pass, or be sent back into Gaza. Their cigarette smoke filled up the closed waiting hall. While men were questioned by Egypt’s “national security” agency, our group — three women and three men — waited impatiently for our names to be called.

                                                                                                                                      Meanwhile, we heard a woman in her forties weeping and sobbing hysterically as she was about to faint. The woman, her husband and a five-year-old child were standing near the desk where intelligence officers conducted checks with every man. Essentially, these are the same checks and procedures undertaken by Mubarak’s oppressive police apparatus.

                                                                                                                                      Humiliating

                                                                                                                                      The crying woman was suffering from cancer and had a permit to cross Egypt for treatment. Yet the police officer wanted to return her husband back to Gaza. She moved towards the officer to explain that she couldn’t cross without him. At once, the officer tore her papers and her permit — a document which is difficult to obtain.

                                                                                                                                      At that moment, one couldn’t but ask if the same officer would ever dare to tear the papers of an American, European or Israeli — anyone other than a Palestinian. Yes, they eventually allowed them to pass, while returning most men back to Gaza. But only after subjecting the couple to humiliating and cruel treatment.

                                                                                                                                      Our group was made to wait for five hours in Rafah. Eventually, the three men in our group were told on the Egyptian side of the crossing that they were not allowed go any further.

                                                                                                                                      When we were informed of this decision, I requested an explanation.

                                                                                                                                      I told a security officer that the three men were part of our group and that we, the same people, had been allowed to attend the World Social Forum in Brazil a few months earlier.

                                                                                                                                      “Don’t Argue”

                                                                                                                                      Though people in Gaza have heard about the measure of not allowing men under the age of 40 to travel, we have never been given an explanation for the policy.

                                                                                                                                      Ironically, this is supposed to be one of the measures to “ease” the siege of Gaza taken after the 2011 uprising in Egypt. It is the same condition Israel imposes on Palestinians from the occupied West Bank, who wish to enter Jerusalem and pray in al-Aqsa mosque.

                                                                                                                                      After asking me some questions about myself and my work, the officer replied with only one answer: “These are the orders; don’t argue.”

                                                                                                                                      We, the three women in the group — feeling terribly bad — were taken to our hotel, though we had made a reservation for six people. The men, along with some other youth, were taken to what Palestinians call the “deportation room” in Cairo International Airport.

                                                                                                                                      Even though it may appear to be a “privilege” to be a woman in this case, it was not. Putting us in a different “category” amounts to discrimination against us.

                                                                                                                                      Indeed, we learned from our deported colleagues about how discrimination against Palestinians is becoming more serious. They told us how the Egyptian authorities now have a new category of people to deport: Palestinians residing in Syria. These are people who have fled the appalling violence in Syria, to whom the Syrian embassy in Cairo had initially promised assistance. But the men in our group were told that when the embassy’s staff learned that these refugees were Palestinian, the diplomats stated: “you are not our responsibility.”

                                                                                                                                      The men in our group met a number of Palestinians who had been put in this category. Many of them had been staying in the same room for more than forty days. One of them had a sister in the deportation room for women. Another man had lost contact with his parents who were in a refugee camp in Turkey; he was trying to reach Sweden, where he had relatives.

                                                                                                                                      We made enquires in Cairo about this group. The Egyptian authorities informed us that they had been transferred to al-Qanatir prison.

                                                                                                                                      Freedom of Movement Denied

                                                                                                                                      Almost two years ago, dozens of Arab and international organizations issued an urgent call for the permanent opening of the Rafah crossing. The call was supported by veteran anti-apartheid activists from South Africa such as Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils, as well as by Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur for the West Bank and Gaza, and by the writers Ahdaf Soueif and Tariq Ali.

                                                                                                                                      Freedom of movement is a human right enshrined the Geneva conventions. The Egyptian government is violating that right.

                                                                                                                                      As we struggle to uphold our fundamental rights, we can take heart from the words of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish: “No detention room will remain. Nor will the chains strangle.”

                                                                                                                                      Eli Yishai, who was Israel’s interior minister until recently, has vowed to “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.” The siege imposed on us is both physical and psychological. The work to end this siege needs to stepped up as a matter of urgency.

                                                                                                                                      - Ayah Bashir holds a master’s degree in global politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Her first degree was in English language and literature. She is a member of the Gaza-based organizing committee for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and a supporter of the One Democratic State Group. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (This article was first published in the The Electronic Intifada on May 29, 2013. Visit: http://electronicintifada.net)

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                                                                                                                                        American exceptionalism is a dangerous myth

                                                                                                                                        English (US)  May 26th, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                        Move beyond Tea Party lies and phony patriotism. This Memorial Day, let's remember our history honestly

                                                                                                                                        By Patrick Smith

                                                                                                                                        At one end of the Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., in the expanse between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, the Bush administration authorized a memorial to World War II. This was a matter of months before the events of September 11. It seemed a strange design when it was first shown in the early summer of 2001, and so it proved when the monument was finished and open to the public in 2004. It consists of fifty-six granite pillars arranged in two half-circles around a pool, each pillar standing for a state or territory, each endowed with a bronze wreath. Each side of the entranceway—graceful granite steps down to the level of the pool—is lined with a dozen bas-relief bronzes depicting important moments in either the European or the Pacific war. At the opposite end of the small circular pool, a “freedom wall” commemorates the 400,000 American dead with 4,000 gold stars.

                                                                                                                                        This message, chiseled into a stone tablet, greets the visitor to the World War II Memorial:

                                                                                                                                        Here in the presence of Washington and Lincoln, one the eighteenth-century father and the other the nineteenth-century preserver of our nation, we honor those twentieth-century Americans who took up the struggle during the Second World War and made the sacrifices to perpetuate the gift our forefathers entrusted to us, a nation conceived in liberty and justice.

                                                                                                                                        One must spend a certain time at the memorial to grasp the message it is conveying.This has to do with the monument’s style, as the bas-relief bronzes and the welcoming inscription suggest. This is not a memorial built by people of the early twenty-first century. Part of its purpose, indeed, is to erase all that Americans did between 1945 and 2001 so that we might insert ourselves into the morally pure era (supposedly, as we have reimagined it) of the Second World War. It functions, then, a little like Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village: It is history that is not-history, or not-history dressed up as history. It is history, in short, for those who are devoid of memory. The architect—Friedrich St. Florian, whose studio is in Rhode Island— accomplished this by designing in the style sometimes called modern classical. The modern classical style was popular in the 1930s and forties. It is characterized by mass and volume in its forms and simplified articulations of minimal detail. Roosevelt might have built in this style, as Stalin or Mussolini might have.

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                                                                                                                                        St. Florian’s project, then, is a monument to forgetting, not remembering. There is no bas-relief dedicated to the atomic bomb attacks on Japan or the fire-bombings in Germany; all that occurred after 1945 disappears into the memorial’s antiquated style. We have a hint of this if we consider the date of its conception and construction. The first decade of our new century was marked by a strong, quite evident nostalgia for the Second World War. One found it in best-selling books (“The Greatest Generation”) and in popular films (“Pearl Harbor,” “Schindler’s List”). The monument is of a piece with these cultural productions. It is a memorial as we imagine such a thing would have been made at the time being memorialized. It is a reenactment of a sorrow that is beyond us to feel now. One cannot say this about the other monuments ranged around the Reflecting Pool. They are not reenactments; they are not in quotation marks. In this case, one is placed back in the 1940s so as to see the forties. It is history for people who cannot connect with history. Nostalgia is always an expression of unhappiness with the present, and never does it give an accurate accounting of the past. What are we to say about a monument to a nostalgia for nostalgia?

                                                                                                                                        * * *

                                                                                                                                        The various symptoms of America’s dysfunctional relationship with its past are all in evidence in the Tea Party, the political movement formed in 2009 and named for the Boston Tea Party of 1773. It would be remiss not to note this. Much has been written about the Tea Party’s political positions: Its members are radically opposed to taxation and favor a fundamentalist idea of the infallibility of markets and an almost sacramental interpretation of the Constitution. They cannot separate religion from politics, and they consider President Obama either a socialist or a Nazi or (somehow) both. They hold to a notion of the individual that the grizzliest fur trapper west of the Missouri River 170 years ago would have found extreme. When the Tea Party first began to gather national attention, many considered it a caricature of the conservative position that held too distorted an idea of American history to last any consequential amount of time. Plainly this has been wrong, at least so far, given the number of seats the movement won in the legislative elections of November 2010: At this writing, they number sixty-two in the House of Representatives.

                                                                                                                                        “Take our country back” is among the Tea Party’s more familiar anthems. And among skeptics it is often asked, “Back to what?” I have heard various answers. Back to the 1950s is one, and this is plausible enough, given the trace of the movement’s bloodlines back to the John Birch Society and others among the rabidly anticommunist groups active during the Cold War’s first decade. But the answer I prefer is the eighteenth century—or, rather, an imaginary version of the eighteenth century. A clue to the collective psychology emerged in the movement’s early days, when adherents dressed in tricorn hats, knee breeches, and brass-buckled shoes. This goes to the true meaning of the movement and explains why it appeared when it did. One cannot miss, in the movement’s thinking and rhetoric, a desire for a mythical return, another “beginning again,” a ritual purification, another regeneration for humanity.

                                                                                                                                        Whatever the Tea Party’s unconscious motivations and meanings—and I count these significant to an understanding of the group—we can no longer make light of its political influence; it has shifted the entire national conversation rightward—and to an extent backward, indeed. But more fundamentally than this, the movement reveals the strong grip of myth on many Americans—the grip of myth and the fear of change and history. In this, it seems to me, the Tea Party speaks for something more than itself. It is the culmination of the rise in conservatism we can easily trace to the 1980s. What of this conservatism, then? Ever since Reagan’s “Morning in America” campaign slogan in 1984 it has purported to express a new optimism about America. But in the Tea Party we discover the true topic to be the absence of optimism and the conviction that new ideas are impossible. Its object is simply to maintain a belief in belief and an optimism about optimism. These are desperate endeavors. They amount to more expressions of America’s terror in the face of history. To take our country back: Back to its mythological understanding of itself before the birth of its own history is the plainest answer of all.

                                                                                                                                        I do not see that America has any choice now but to face this long terror. America’s founding was unfortunate in the fear and apprehension it engendered, and unfortunate habits and impulses have arisen from it. These are now in need of change—a project of historical proportion. Can we live without our culture of representation, our images and symbols and allusions and references, so casting our gaze forward, not behind us? Can we look ahead expectantly and seek greatness instead of assuming it always lies behind us and must be quoted? Can we learn to see and judge things as they are? Can we understand events and others (and ourselves most of all) in a useful, authentic context? Can we learn, perhaps most of all, to act not out of fear or apprehension but out of confidence and clear vision? In one way or another, the dead end of American politics as I write reminds us that all of these questions now urgently require answers. This is the nature of our moment.

                                                                                                                                        * * *

                                                                                                                                        In some ways the American predicament today bears an uncanny resemblance to that of the 1890s. At home we face social, political, and economic difficulties of a magnitude such that they are paralyzing the nation and pulling it apart all at once. Abroad, having fought two costly and pointless wars since 2001, we are challenged to define our place in the world anew—to find a new way of venturing forth into it. The solutions America chose a century ago are not available to us now. But the choices then are starkly ours once again.

                                                                                                                                        Our first choice is to accept the presence of these choices in our national life. This is a decision of considerable importance. To deny it is there comes to a choice in itself—the gravest Americans can make. When America entered history in 2001, it was no one’s choice, unless one wants to count Osama bin Laden. This means that America’s first choice lies between acceptance and denial. The logic of our national reply seems perfectly evident. To remain as we are, clinging to our myths and all that we once thought made us exceptional, would be to make of our nation an antique, a curiosity of the eighteenth century that somehow survived into the twenty-first. Change occurs in history, and Americans must accept this if they choose to change.

                                                                                                                                        But how does a nation go about accepting fundamental changes in its circumstances—and therefore its identity, its consciousness? How does a nation begin to live in history? In an earlier essay I wrote about what a German thinker has called the culture of defeat and its benefits for the future. Defeat obliges a people to reexamine their understanding of themselves and their place in the world. This is precisely the task lying at America’s door, but on the basis of what should Americans take it up? “Defeat” lands hard among Americans. The very suggestion of it is an abrasion. We remain committed to winning the “war on terror” Bush declared in 2001, even if both the term and the notion have come in for scrutiny and criticism. Who has defeated America such that any self-contemplation of the kind I suggest is warranted?

                                                                                                                                        The answer lies clearly before us, for we live among the remains of a defeat of historical magnitude. We need only think carefully to understand it. We need to think of defeat in broader terms— psychological terms, ideological terms, historical terms. We need to think, quite simply, of who we have been—not just to ourselves but to others. Recall our nation’s declared destiny before and during its founding. The Spanish-American War and all that followed—in the name of what, these interventions and aggressions? What was it Americans reiterated through all the decades leading to 2001—and, somewhat desperately, beyond that year? It was to remake the world, as Condoleezza Rice so plainly put it. It was to make the world resemble us, such that all of it would have to change and we would not. This dream, this utopia, the prospect of the global society whose imagining made us American, is what perished in 2001. America’s fundamentalist idea of itself was defeated on September 11. To put the point another way, America lost its long war against time. This is as real a defeat as any other on a battlefield or at sea. Osama bin Laden and those who gave their lives for his cause spoke for no one but themselves, surely. But they nonetheless gave substantial, dreadful form to a truth that had been a long time coming: The world does not require America to release it into freedom. Often the world does not even mean the same things when it speaks of “freedom,” “liberty,” and “democracy.” And the world is as aware as some Americans are of the dialectic of promise and self-betrayal that runs as a prominent thread through the long fabric of the American past.

                                                                                                                                        Look upon 2001 in this way, and we begin to understand what it was that truly took its toll on the American consciousness. Those alive then had witnessed the end of a long experiment—a hundred years old if one counts from the Spanish war, two hundred to go back to the revolutionary era, nearly four hundred to count from Winthrop and the Arbella. I know of no one who spoke of 2001 in these terms at the time: It was unspeakable. But now, after a decade’s failed effort to revive the utopian dream and to “create reality,” ww would do best not only to speak of it but to act with the impossibility of our inherited experiment in mind—confident that there is a truer way of being in the world.

                                                                                                                                        * * *

                                                                                                                                        Where would an exploration rooted in a culture of defeat land Americans, assuming such an exercise were possible? That it would be a long journey is the first point worth making. There is time no longer for our exceptionalist myths, but to alter our vision of ourselves and ourselves in the world would be no less formidable a task for Americans than it would be (or has been) for anyone else. History suggests that we are counting in decades, for there would be much for Americans to ponder—much that has escaped consideration for many years. History also suggests that the place most logically to begin would be precisely with history itself. It is into history, indeed, that this exploration would deliver us.

                                                                                                                                        In the late 1990s, a time of considerable American triumphalism at home and abroad, the University of Virginia gathered a group of scholars, thinkers, historians, and writers to confer as to an interesting question.The room was filled with liberals and left-liberals.Their question was, “Does America have a democratic mission?”

                                                                                                                                        It seemed significant even that the topic would be framed as a question. Would anyone in Wilson’s time have posed one like it? This would not, indeed, have been so just a few years earlier—or a few years later. But it was so then, a line of inquiry launched not quite a decade after the Cold War’s end, three years before the events of September 11. Not so curiously, many of those present tended to look to the past. Van Wyck Brooks’s noted phrase, “a usable past,” was invoked: If we are to understand our future, and whatever our “mission” may be, we had better begin by examining who we have been.

                                                                                                                                        Any such exercise would require a goodly measure of national dedication. It would require “a revolution in spirit,” as the social historian Benjamin Barber has put it. But it would bring abundant enhancements. It would begin to transform us. It would make us a larger people in the best sense of the phrase. There is a richness and diversity to the American past that most of us have never registered. Much of it has been buried, it seems to me, because it could not be separated from all that had to be forgotten. Scholarship since the 1960s has unearthed and explored much of this lost history. But scholarship—as has been true for more than a century—proceeds at some distance from public awareness. We now know that the Jeffersonian thread in the American past, for instance, was much more complex, more dense and layered, than Americans have by tradition understood it. In the supposed torpor of the early nineteenth century we find variations of political movements as these were inherited from England. We find among the Democrats the roots of the Populists, the Progressives, democratic socialists, and social democrats. These groups were not infrequently the product of ferment within the liberal wings of various Christian denominations. There was nothing “un-American” about any of them, and all of them were at least partly historicist: They saw America as it was and as it was changing. They understood the need for the nation to move beyond its beginnings to take account of the new.

                                                                                                                                        One need not subscribe to the politics of these or any other formations in history to derive benefit from an enriched and enlivened knowledge of them. They enlarge and revitalize the American notion of “we.” And in so doing, history opens up more or less countless alternatives—alternative discourses, alternative ideas of ourselves, alternative politics, alternative institutions. All this is simply to cast history as a source of authentic freedom. At the moment our standard view of the American past lies behind us like a “flattened landscape,” as one of our better historians put it some years ago. We are thus unaccustomed to a depth and diversity in our past that present us with a privilege, a benefit, and a duty all at once.

                                                                                                                                        Could Americans bear an unvarnished version of their past—a history with its skin stripped back? History as we now have it seems necessary to bind Americans, to make Americans American. Think merely of the twentieth century and all the wreckage left behind in it in America’s name, and it is plain that the question is difficult and without obvious answers. But something salutary is already occurring in our midst. Historians of all kinds have begun new explorations of the past. There are African-American projects, Native American projects, projects concerning foreign affairs, diplomacy, war, and all the secrets these contain. This is the antitradition I mentioned in an earlier essay coming gradually into its own. It is remarkable how sequestered from all this work our public life has proven.The temptations of delusion are always great, and most of America’s political figures succumb to them. But time will wear away this hubris. In the best of outcomes, the antitradition will be understood as essential to understanding the tradition.

                                                                                                                                        I once came across a small but very pure example of a nation altering its relation to its past. It was in Guatemala. The long, gruesome civil war there, which ended in the 1990s, had made of the country at once a garden of tragic memories and a nation of forgetters.The Mayans were virtually excluded from history,as they always had been, and the country was deeply divided between los indigenes and those of Spanish descent.

                                                                                                                                        Then a journalist named Lionel Toriello, whose forebears had been prominent supporters of the Arbenz government in the 1950s (until Americans arranged a coup in 1954), assembled two million dollars and 156 historians. They spent nearly a decade researching, writing, editing, and peer-reviewing work that was eventually published as a six-volume Historia General de Guatemala. Its intent was “pluralistic,” Toriello explained during my time with him. It provided as many as three points of view on the periods and events it took up. So it purported to be not a new national narrative so much as an assemblage of narratives from which other narratives could arise. It was a bed of seed, then. Inevitably, Toriello’s project had critics of numerous perspectives. Unquestionably, the Historia General was the most ambitious history of themselves Guatemalans had ever attempted.

                                                                                                                                        It was an unusual experiment. One of the things Toriello made me realize was that one needs a new vocabulary if one is to explore the past, render it in a new way, and then use it to assume a new direction. A culture of defeat requires that the language must be cleansed. All the presumption buried in it must be identified and removed. Another thing Toriello showed me was that this could be done, even in a small nation torn apart by violence and racial exclusion. The renovated vocabulary arises directly from the history one generates.

                                                                                                                                        None of this, it seems to me, is beyond the grasp of Americans. To consider it so is merely to acknowledge the extent to which the nation famous for its capacity to change cannot change. It is to give in to the temptations of delusion. I do not think “change” took on so totemic a meaning during Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign by coincidence. I also think the ridicule of this thought coming from Obama’s critics bears interpretation. Change is a testament to strength. But as so often in the past, Americans came to fear what they desired, causing many to take comfort in the next set of constructed political figures promising that, no, nothing at all need change.

                                                                                                                                        An inability to change is symptomatic of a people who consider themselves chosen and who cannot surrender their chosenness. When we look at our nation now, do we see the virtuous republic our history has always placed before us as if it were a sacred chalice? The thought seems preposterous. America was exceptional once, to go straight to the point. But this was not for the reasons Americans thought of themselves as such. America was exceptional during the decades when westward land seemed limitless—from independence until 1890, if we take the census bureau’s word for the latter date. For roughly a century, then, Americans were indeed able to reside outside of history—or pretend they did. But this itself, paradoxically, was no more than a circumstance of history. Americans have given the century and some since over to proving what cannot be proved. This is what lends the American century a certain tragic character: It proceeded on the basis of a truth that was merely apparent, not real. Do Americans have a democratic mission? Finally someone has asked. And the only serious answer is, “They never did.”

                                                                                                                                        * * *

                                                                                                                                        Recognizing the truth of this is likely to lead Americans toward a distinction they have heretofore ignored. It is the distinction between a strong nation and one that is merely powerful. One senses that the difference between the two was plain to Americans of the eighteenth century. But then America left this distinction behind. And how fitting, we may now note, that America led the rest of the world into the twentieth century, for if the nineteenth was the century of history, the twentieth was the century of power.

                                                                                                                                        Power is a material capability. It is a possession with no intrinsic vitality of its own. It has to do with method as opposed to purpose or ideals—techne as against telos. It is sheer means, deployment. Power tends to discourage authentic reflection and considered thought, and, paradoxically, produces a certain weakness in those who have it. This is the weakness that is born of distance from others. In the simplest terms, it is an inability to see and understand others and to tolerate difference. It also induces a crisis of belief. Over time a powerful democracy’s faith in itself quivers, while its faith in power and prerogative accumulates. It is true that in the modern world power derives primarily from science. But it is not manipulated—extended or operated, if you like—by scientists. Neither does the use of power require a scientist’s intelligence. It is thus that one may find in twentieth-century history modern technologies deployed by people of premodern consciousness. And we cannot exclude Americans when we consider this latter occurrence.

                                                                                                                                        Americans found in power an especially compelling temptation when it began to accrue to them. It was the temptation of certainty without anxiety. It seemed, from the Spanish war onward, within America’s grasp to leave behind its old apprehensions at last. The twentieth century thus became the century of power because Americans, as I have already suggested, became ever more reliant upon power alone as its years and decades went by. When power functions by itself, means and ends are inevitably confused; and means, eventually, are taken to be their own end: Power is manifest, that is to say, with no intent other than to manifest itself. The Spanish war was therefore a good introduction to the century we would name for ourselves. Americans claimed to feel deeply for the victims of Spanish oppression, but their own, notably in the Philippines, turned out to be other than an improvement. The true purpose of the Spanish campaign, as the histories make plain, was display—a demonstration of power. At the other end of the century, it is useful to review Washington’s various “nation-building” projects in this light.

                                                                                                                                        To reflect upon those final years before 2001, it is not difficult to understand in our contemporary terms the distinction between a powerful nation and a strong one. Strength derives from who one is—it is what one has made of oneself by way of vision, desire, and dedication. It has nothing to do with power as we customarily use this term. Paradoxically, it is a form of power greatly more powerful than the possession of power alone. Strength is a way of being, not a possession. Another paradox: Power renders one vulnerable to defeat or failure, and therefore to fear. Strength renders one not invulnerable—no one ever is—but able to recover from defeats and failures. The history of the past century bears out these distinctions very clearly. Most of all, a strong nation is capable of self-examination and of change. It understands where it is in history—its own and humankind’s.

                                                                                                                                        It is curious to return briefly to Woodrow Wilson’s list of complaints about American democracy at the start of the American century. “We have not escaped the laws of error that government is heir to,” Wilson wrote in 1901. Then came his litany: riots and disorder, an absence of justice, clashes between management and labor, poorly governed cities. “As we grow older, we also grow perplexed and awkward in the doing of justice and in the perfecting and safeguarding of liberty,” Wilson concluded. “It is character and good principle, after all, which are to save us, if we are to escape disorder.”

                                                                                                                                        Wilson wrote at a curious moment in terms of American power and American strength. What he described, plainly enough, was a nation nervous about losing its strength. And with the invasions of Cuba and the Philippines, America began the effort to make itself a powerful nation instead of a strong one. This was the choice it made when it determined to express itself by way of conquest abroad rather than reformation at home. And from Wilson’s day until ours, the progress has proven to be from one to the other, strength to power, as if the one excluded the other. Wilson was a historicist; many intellectuals were by his day. But Wilson was a deeply certain believer, too. He preserved America’s exceptionalism as Frederick Jackson Turner did: by placing America ever at history’s forward edge.

                                                                                                                                        Among Wilson’s useful insights was that Americans possessed a system that did not have the perpetual capacity to self-correct. It required the attention of those living in it. Otherwise it would all come to “disorder.” And this is among the things Americans are now faced with in a different way: Theirs is a system, a set of institutions, that yet less possesses the ability to correct its errors and injustices and malfunctions. Time, to put it another way, has taken its toll. This is a stinging judgment, fraught with implications. But at least since the Cold War, it has been necessary to cancel all previous assumptions that American political and social institutions are able to correct themselves as they are currently constituted. The presidential election of 2000 can be considered a tragedy of historic importance in this respect. Institutional frailty is among the attributes of republics as they mature and come to be in need of repair. It is a sign that strength has deserted them. The polity requires tending. Its institutions cannot, any longer, be left to themselves.

                                                                                                                                        * * *

                                                                                                                                        What are America’s first steps forward, then, given these inheritances?

                                                                                                                                        The first is to look and listen in another way, to see and hear from within the space of history. It is to achieve a condition of history with memory. This means to come gradually to accept that one lives in historical time and is as subject to its strictures, its triumphs, and its miseries as anyone else. It means accepting that encounters with others are an essential feature of the world we enter upon. Equally, we must begin to make certain links so that we know who we are and what it is we have been doing—the connections between feeling and time and between vigilance and distance and history are examples. Others have done this, made the passage I am suggesting is upon us. In time, history teaches, it becomes clear that it is more painful to resist this than it is to accept it.

                                                                                                                                        I have become fascinated with the character of early Americans—even if it is an idealized self-image cultivated by slaveowners, murderers of Native Americans, and witch-hunting zealots. A people of sentiment, an affectionate people, a people of virtue and understanding, gentle toward others: It is like holding up a mirror and not recognizing the face staring back from it. Even the vocabulary: It has a faintly eighteenth-century scent to it. Mercy Otis Warren’s History is full of this terminology. But consider these attributes as they might be understood in our time. There are twenty-first-century ways to describe them— terms developed among philosophers concerned with the progress of human ties. We can now speak of empathy, meaning that one sees another not simply as an object but as another subject—an equivalent. This is achieved through a recognition of another’s perspective, intentions, and emotions. This makes one’s objective experiences available to all other subjects: One feels oneself to be a subject among other subjects. These concepts are drawn from what I will call for simplicity’s sake the discourse of self and Other, which developed in Europe at mid-twentieth century. This line of thought did not travel well in America. Like the ideas that animated Europe in the nineteenth century, it arrived among Americans in brackets: This is what they are up to across the water. The discourse of self and Other concerns the evolution of human relations, which are recognized as plural as opposed to unified. And human relations, as the philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas pointed out, take place in time. As I have already suggested, time is our shared medium.

                                                                                                                                        In all of these matters Americans grew deficient during the last century. One must have a strong sense of self to encounter others and accept difference, and Americans came to lack this. The Cold War, in particular, produced a certain personality such that the concepts I have just described may seem foreign, or fey, or faintly beside the point. This reflects our error. And to understand this error now would equip Americans with the vocabulary, the character and good principle that will be useful in the century to come. To know others well, or let us say better than Americans do, will be part of what it means to be a strong nation in the twenty-first century. The thought seems to imply a reconstruction of the American identity. This is precisely the intended meaning. The project has been accomplished before.

                                                                                                                                        Two American figures are worth considering in this context. I have already noted both. One is Wendell Willkie, the failed Republican presidential candidate in 1940. Midway through World War II Roosevelt dispatched Willkie to tour the world and describe his thoughts as to how our planet was likely to emerge from the war. One World was the result, a now-forgotten book that was at the time widely and eagerly read. The other figure is Jimmy Carter, our thirty-ninth president. Both of these men are often sources of derision among Americans. A certain wide-eyed fatuousness commonly attaches to them. I am not unaware of their reputations in this regard. I simply take issue with such presuppositions. In my view both represented lost opportunities: Willkie by way of the idealism of the immediate postwar period, which was palpable even if brief, and Carter in the chance to begin again in a new direction during the post-Vietnam period—also a window briefly opened. Both men displayed many of the qualities the current century will ask of us. Both were clear in the matter of history. Both drew from rich but obscured traditions in the American past. Both understood, it seems to me, the difference between strength and power. Both knew that the former requires more courage than the latter—the courage to interact with those of different beliefs, the confidence to stay the use of force, the poise to put America’s inbred fear aside and act not out of vengeance but from considered wisdom.

                                                                                                                                        We should remember figures such as Willkie and Carter better than we do. It would enlarge our idea of who we are and of what it means to be American. The inability to advance beyond common caricatures of these two and others is nothing more than a measure of our inability to reimagine ourselves. It is by way of such people, whoever they turn out to be, that we can regain some realistic idea of utopia—utopia in this sense meaning simply a future that transcends the present. Democracy has always been fragile—as delicate as a length of eighteenth-century lace. It is evanescent: Much is done in its name that is not genuinely a reflection of it. Our moment in history, our debt to the future, requires us to begin conceiving of an extensively reorganized society. It requires demilitarization and re-democratization, to take ready examples.

                                                                                                                                        Our difficulties in both respects reflect a failure to keep pace with the progress we have engendered, with the speed we have ourselves created—with history’s acceleration, which is, in the end, our own doing. “The acquisition of new implements of power too swiftly outruns the necessary adjustment of habits and ideas to the novel conditions created by their use.” That is the historian Carl Becker, lecturing at Stanford in 1935. It is prescient by half a century, perhaps more. The core issue is one of control—control over what we are able to do. Closer to our time, the French thinker Paul Virilio suggests that we have to add to our technological revolutions a revolution of consciousness, of ideas, such that our thinking and our purposes are elevated to a value equivalent to our capabilities. We do not typically recognize it, but at present these are unmatched. Science can no longer converge with technology alone, Virilio argues; in our time it must also be animated by philosophy. This is one of the twentieth century’s more profound failings.

                                                                                                                                        All this begins to define our responsibility as we free ourselves of national myths. If there is a case for optimism, it lies in a reconstitution of our thought, our intelligence, in this fashion. Much that is now accepted as fated and beyond our capacity to change must be understood otherwise. We live within a strange contradiction, sour fruit of the century now gone by. In the spheres of science and technology we assume ourselves to be without limit. But we give ourselves no credit for being able to make social, economic, or political change—anthropological change altogether. In 2012 our shared supposition is that there are no new ideas—only old ideas to be tried again. That is what is enacted in our culture of representation today. And we must advance beyond it.

                                                                                                                                        There are implications. Such an endeavor will unmask us. We would have to regain a lost confidence among us in “we.” We would have to look forward and see that a new kind of society is possible. And the project requires us—and notably our leaders—to begin speaking in a language of authentic alternatives.

                                                                                                                                        * * *

                                                                                                                                        The claim to exceptionalism is remarkable for its resilience. Little else remains of the old, not-much-regarded myths. But even now America as the world’s exception is asserted at home and abroad. It is a consequence of history, perhaps: America was an idea before it was a nation. “In 2008, it is absolutely clear that we will be involved in nation-building for years to come,” Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s secretary of state, wrote that year in Foreign Affairs. It was Bush’s last in office. Woodrow Wilson could have asserted this same remark a hundred years earlier. It is pre-historicist. It is exceptionalism as baldly stated as it can be in policy terms—in terms of what America proposes to do. No lessons drawn from the previous century? One would think America remains deaf and blind even now.

                                                                                                                                        Nations are eventually made by those who live in them, no matter whether it is in a great power’s interest to fashion one or another of them to its liking. Americans should know this better than anyone, though the point seems to elude them. Now they have an opportunity to learn this truth from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Both have been failures in the standard sense of an American “mission,” or as new demonstrations of American prerogative. In both nations, what will finally well up from the Afghan and Iraqi earth will be by way of millions of conversations, interests, persuasions, alliances, oppositions—the very fiber of a political culture, none of it having anything to do with America. As for Americans, they were warriors in wars they did not understand. I do not think this will any longer be possible in the century we inhabit. And in the best of outcomes, those final two failures will lead to what I will call a post-Wilsonian idealism. It may be that there is nothing to salvage from Wilson’s thought, for we have found it defective from the first. But for the sake of continuity let us assume it is something to build upon.

                                                                                                                                        The turning forward of the Wilsonian ethos would involve restraint as much as it would assertion. It would also mean accepting that what America exported in the way of “democracy” during the twentieth century was often fraudulent, a duping, a false promise. It would mean looking back at America’s democracy and recognizing that Americans alone had to make it. Is this to say that post-Wilsonian Americans are to sit and watch as others suffer? My answers to this are two. First of all, there is little doubt that the span of American interventions beginning in 1898 and ending now in Afghanistan has caused more suffering than it has relieved. This is so by a wide margin, to put the point mildly. Second, the post-Wilsonian would act abroad rigorously according to his or her ideals and not some hollowed-out version of them, as even Wilson did. He or she would also act with the greatest of delicacy. Understanding one’s own history also means being attentive to others’. The post-Wilsonian will be supremely mindful of this, elevating self-determination to the highest of values.

                                                                                                                                        We have distinguished between relative and absolute decline, noting that the former is inevitable in an age of rising powers. Many of us believe ours to be the “Pacific century,” implying that America’s frontage on the Pacific lake will be its salvation. I do not think this will prove so: The same was said at the end of the nineteenth century. America is a Pacific power; it is now called upon to recognize that this does not make it an Asian power. By the same token, it does not seem to me that we have entered an “Asian century,” either. It will be a century that cannot be named, in my view, because too great a variety of people will contribute to it.

                                                                                                                                        This is a positive prospect. But much hangs on whether Americans are capable of accepting it as such. For at the horizon, relative and absolute decline turn out to meet. If Americans do not accept the advance of history, relative decline will devolve into absolute decline: The rise of others will translate into America being left uncompetitively behind because it has not understood the tasks at hand. But if Americans are able to accept a place in the world that is distinct from all they have assumed since 1898, the nation’s relative decline will prove an experience of benefit. It will change the American character, so far as one can speak of such a thing, and much for the better. It will alter Americans’ stance toward others and their stances toward one another. It will engender that process of self-examination I have already dwelled upon, leading Americans to recognize the tasks before them. Here is the paradox of our moment: Only if Americans resist the defeat I have described will they be defeated. In our refusal to admit defeat would lie our true defeat, for we would have no access to renewal, we would not be able to think anew.

                                                                                                                                        I propose the taking of an immense risk. It is the risk of living without things that are linked in the American psyche: the protection of our exceptionalism, the armor of our triumphalist nationalism, our fantastical idea of the individual and his or her subjectivity. For Americans to surrender this universe of belief, emotion, and thought may seem the utmost folly. A century ago Americans flinched at the prospect. What followed was often called heroic, but in many cases it was just the opposite, for the American century was so often an exercise in avoidance of genuinely defined responsibility. True enough, it ended as it began, with uncertainty and choices. But the outcome need not be the same now, for there is too much more to be gained than lost this time.

                                                                                                                                        Excerpted from “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” by Patrick Smith. Published by Yale University Press. Copyright 2013 by Patrick Smith. Reprinted with permission of Yale University Press. All rights reserved.

                                                                                                                                        Patrick Smith was the International Herald Tribune’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote “Letter from Tokyo” for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications.
                                                                                                                                        Salon

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                                                                                                                                          When Nazis Were Pro-Zionists: The Last of the Semites

                                                                                                                                          English (US)  May 23rd, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                          by JOSEPH MASSAD

                                                                                                                                          Jewish opponents of Zionism understood the movement since its early age as one that shared the precepts of anti-Semitism in its diagnosis of what gentile Europeans called the “Jewish Question”. What galled anti-Zionist Jews the most, however, was that Zionism also shared the “solution” to the Jewish Question that anti-Semites had always advocated, namely the expulsion of Jews from Europe.

                                                                                                                                          It was the Protestant Reformation with its revival of the Hebrew Bible that would link the modern Jews of Europe to the ancient Hebrews of Palestine, a link that the philologists of the 18th century would solidify through their discovery of the family of “Semitic” languages, including Hebrew and Arabic. Whereas Millenarian Protestants insisted that contemporary Jews, as descendants of the ancient Hebrews, must leave Europe to Palestine to expedite the second coming of Christ, philological discoveries led to the labelling of contemporary Jews as “Semites”. The leap that the biological sciences of race and heredity would make in the 19th century of considering contemporary European Jews racial descendants of the ancient Hebrews would, as a result, not be a giant one.

                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                          Basing themselves on the connections made by anti-Jewish Protestant Millenarians, secular European figures saw the political potential of “restoring” Jews to Palestine abounded in the 19th century. Less interested in expediting the second coming of Christ as were the Millenarians, these secular politicians, from Napoleon Bonaparte to British foreign secretary Lord Palmerston (1785-1865) to Ernest Laharanne, the private secretary of Napoleon III in the 1860s, sought to expel the Jews of Europe to Palestine in order to set them up as agents of European imperialism in Asia. Their call would be espoused by many “anti-Semites”, a new label chosen by European anti-Jewish racists after its invention in 1879 by a minor Viennese journalist by the name of Wilhelm Marr, who issued a political programme titled The Victory of Judaism over Germanism. Marr was careful to decouple anti-Semitism from the history of Christian hatred of Jews on the basis of religion, emphasising, in line with Semitic philology and racial theories of the 19th century, that the distinction to be made between Jews and Aryans was strictly racial.

                                                                                                                                          Assimilating Jews into European culture


                                                                                                                                          Scientific anti-Semitism insisted that the Jews were different from Christian Europeans. Indeed that the Jews were not European at all and that their very presence in Europe is what causes anti-Semitism. The reason why Jews caused so many problems for European Christians had to do with their alleged rootlessness, that they lacked a country, and hence country-based loyalty. In the Romantic age of European nationalisms, anti-Semites argued that Jews did not fit in the new national configurations, and disrupted national and racial purity essential to most European nationalisms. This is why if the Jews remained in Europe, the anti-Semites argued, they could only cause hostility among Christian Europeans. The only solution was for the Jews to exit from Europe and have their own country. Needless to say, religious and secular Jews opposed this horrific anti-Semitic line of thinking. Orthodox and Reform Jews, Socialist and Communist Jews, cosmopolitan and Yiddishkeit cultural Jews, all agreed that this was a dangerous ideology of hostility that sought the expulsion of Jews from their European homelands.

                                                                                                                                          The Jewish Haskalah, or Enlightenment, which emerged also in the 19th century, sought to assimilate Jews into European secular gentile culture and have them shed their Jewish culture. It was the Haskalah that sought to break the hegemony of Orthodox Jewish rabbis on the “Ostjuden” of the East European shtetl and to shed what it perceived as a “medieval” Jewish culture in favour of the modern secular culture of European Christians. Reform Judaism, as a Christian- and Protestant-like variant of Judaism, would emerge from the bosom of the Haskalah. This assimilationist programme, however, sought to integrate Jews in European modernity, not to expel them outside Europe’s geography.

                                                                                                                                          When Zionism started a decade and a half after Marr’s anti-Semitic programme was published, it would espouse all these anti-Jewish ideas, including scientific anti-Semitism as valid. For Zionism, Jews were “Semites”, who were descendants of the ancient Hebrews. In his foundational pamphlet Der Judenstaat, Herzl explained that it was Jews, not their Christian enemies, who “cause” anti-Semitism and that “where it does not exist, [anti-Semitism] is carried by Jews in the course of their migrations”, indeed that “the unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America”; that Jews were a “nation” that should leave Europe to restore their “nationhood” in Palestine or Argentina; that Jews must emulate European Christians culturally and abandon their living languages and traditions in favour of modern European languages or a restored ancient national language. Herzl preferred that all Jews adopt German, while the East European Zionists wanted Hebrew. Zionists after Herzl even agreed and affirmed that Jews were separate racially from Aryans. As for Yiddish, the living language of most European Jews, all Zionists agreed that it should be abandoned.

                                                                                                                                          The majority of Jews continued to resist Zionism and understood its precepts as those of anti-Semitism and as a continuation of the Haskalah quest to shed Jewish culture and assimilate Jews into European secular gentile culture, except that Zionism sought the latter not inside Europe but at a geographical remove following the expulsion of Jews from Europe. The Bund, or the General Jewish Labor Union in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia, which was founded in Vilna in early October 1897, a few weeks after the convening of the first Zionist Congress in Basel in late August 1897, would become Zionism’s fiercest enemy. The Bund joined the existing anti-Zionist Jewish coalition of Orthodox and Reform rabbis who had combined forces a few months earlier to prevent Herzl from convening the first Zionist Congress in Munich, which forced him to move it to Basel. Jewish anti-Zionism across Europe and in the United States had the support of the majority of Jews who continued to view Zionism as an anti-Jewish movement well into the 1940s.

                                                                                                                                          sAnti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiast

                                                                                                                                          Realising that its plan for the future of European Jews was in line with those of anti-Semites, Herzl strategised early on an alliance with the latter. He declared in Der Judenstaat that:

                                                                                                                                          “The Governments of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain [the] sovereignty we want.”

                                                                                                                                          He added that “not only poor Jews” would contribute to an immigration fund for European Jews, “but also Christians who wanted to get rid of them”. Herzl unapologetically confided in his Diaries that:

                                                                                                                                          “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”

                                                                                                                                          Thus when Herzl began to meet in 1903 with infamous anti-Semites like the Russian minister of the interior Vyacheslav von Plehve, who oversaw anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia, it was an alliance that he sought by design. That it would be the anti-Semitic Lord Balfour, who as Prime Minister of Britain in 1905 oversaw his government’s Aliens Act, which prevented East European Jews fleeing Russian pogroms from entering Britain in order, as he put it, to save the country from the “undoubted evils” of “an immigration which was largely Jewish”, was hardy coincidental. Balfour’s infamous Declaration of 1917 to create in Palestine a “national home” for the “Jewish people”, was designed, among other things, to curb Jewish support for the Russian Revolution and to stem the tide of further unwanted Jewish immigrants into Britain.

                                                                                                                                          The Nazis would not be an exception in this anti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiasts. Indeed, the Zionists would strike a deal with the Nazis very early in their history. It was in 1933 that the infamous Transfer (Ha’avara) Agreement was signed between the Zionists and the Nazi government to facilitate the transfer of German Jews and their property to Palestine and which broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany started by American Jews. It was in this spirit that Zionist envoys were dispatched to Palestine to report on the successes of Jewish colonization of the country. Adolf Eichmann returned from his 1937 trip to Palestine full of fantastic stories about the achievements of the racially-separatist Ashkenazi Kibbutz, one of which he visited on Mount Carmel as a guest of the Zionists.

                                                                                                                                          Despite the overwhelming opposition of most German Jews, it was the Zionist Federation of Germany that was the only Jewish group that supported the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, as they agreed with the Nazis that Jews and Aryans were massadcoverseparate and separable races. This was not a tactical support but one based on ideological similitude. The Nazis’ Final Solution initially meant the expulsion of Germany’s Jews to Madagascar. It is this shared goal of expelling Jews from Europe as a separate unassimilable race that created the affinity between Nazis and Zionists all along.

                                                                                                                                          While the majority of Jews continued to resist the anti-Semitic basis of Zionism and its alliances with anti-Semites, the Nazi genocide not only killed 90 percent of European Jews, but in the process also killed the majority of Jewish enemies of Zionism who died precisely because they refused to heed the Zionist call of abandoning their countries and homes.

                                                                                                                                          After the War, the horror at the Jewish holocaust did not stop European countries from supporting the anti-Semitic programme of Zionism. On the contrary, these countries shared with the Nazis a predilection for Zionism. They only opposed Nazism’s genocidal programme. European countries, along with the United States, refused to take in hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors of the holocaust. In fact, these countries voted against a UN resolution introduced by the Arab states in 1947 calling on them to take in the Jewish survivors, yet these same countries would be the ones who would support the United Nations Partition Plan of November 1947 to create a Jewish State in Palestine to which these unwanted Jewish refugees could be expelled.

                                                                                                                                          The Pro-Zionist Policies of the Nazis

                                                                                                                                          The United States and European countries, including Germany, would continue the pro-Zionist policies of the Nazis. Post-War West German governments that presented themselves as opening a new page in their relationship with Jews in reality did no such thing. Since the establishment of the country after WWII, every West German government (and every German government since unification in1990) has continued the pro-Zionist Nazi policies unabated. There was never a break with Nazi pro-Zionism. The only break was with the genocidal and racial hatred of Jews that Nazism consecrated, but not with the desire to see Jews set up in a country in Asia, away from Europe. Indeed, the Germans would explain that much of the money they were sending to Israel was to help offset the costs of resettling European Jewish refugees in the country.

                                                                                                                                          After World War II, a new consensus emerged in the United States and Europe that Jews had to be integrated posthumously into white Europeanness, and that the horror of the Jewish holocaust was essentially a horror at the murder of white Europeans. Since the 1960s, Hollywood films about the holocaust began to depict Jewish victims of Nazism as white Christian-looking, middle class, educated and talented people not unlike contemporary European and American Christians who should and would identify with them. Presumably if the films were to depict the poor religious Jews of Eastern Europe (and most East European Jews who were killed by the Nazis were poor and many were religious), contemporary white Christians would not find commonality with them. Hence, the post-holocaust European Christian horror at the genocide of European Jews was not based on the horror of slaughtering people in the millions who were different from European Christians, but rather a horror at the murder of millions of people who were the same as European Christians. This explains why in a country like the United States, which had nothing to do with the slaughter of European Jews, there exists upwards of 40 holocaust memorials and a major museum for the murdered Jews of Europe, but not one for the holocaust of Native Americans or African Americans for which the US is responsible.

                                                                                                                                          Aimé Césaire understood this process very well. In his famous speech on colonialism, he affirmed that the retrospective view of European Christians about Nazism is that

                                                                                                                                          it is barbarism, but the supreme barbarism, the crowning barbarism that sums up all the daily barbarisms; that it is Nazism, yes, but that before [Europeans] were its victims, they were its accomplices; and they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimised it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples; that they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it, and that before engulfing the whole of Western, Christian civilisation in its reddened waters, it oozes, seeps, and trickles from every crack.

                                                                                                                                          That for Césaire the Nazi wars and holocaust were European colonialism turned inwards is true enough. But since the rehabilitation of Nazism’s victims as white people, Europe and its American accomplice would continue their Nazi policy of visiting horrors on non-white people around the world, on Korea, on Vietnam and Indochina, on Algeria, on Indonesia, on Central and South America, on Central and Southern Africa, on Palestine, on Iran, and on Iraq and Afghanistan.

                                                                                                                                          The rehabilitation of European Jews after WWII was a crucial part of US Cold War propaganda. As American social scientists and ideologues developed the theory of “totalitarianism”, which posited Soviet Communism and Nazism as essentially the same type of regime, European Jews, as victims of one totalitarian regime, became part of the atrocity exhibition that American and West European propaganda claimed was like the atrocities that the Soviet regime was allegedly committing in the pre- and post-War periods. That Israel would jump on the bandwagon by accusing the Soviets of anti-Semitism for their refusal to allow Soviet Jewish citizens to self-expel and leave to Israel was part of the propaganda.

                                                                                                                                          Commitment to White supremacy

                                                                                                                                          It was thus that the European and US commitment to white supremacy was preserved, except that it now included Jews as part of “white” people, and what came to be called “Judeo-Christian” civilisation. European and American policies after World War II, which continued to be inspired and dictated by racism against Native Americans, Africans, Asians, Arabs and Muslims, and continued to support Zionism’s anti-Semitic programme of assimilating Jews into whiteness in a colonial settler state away from Europe, were a direct continuation of anti-Semitic policies prevalent before the War. It was just that much of the anti-Semitic racialist venom would now be directed at Arabs and Muslims (both, those who are immigrants and citizens in Europe and the United States and those who live in Asia and Africa) while the erstwhile anti-Semitic support for Zionism would continue unhindered.

                                                                                                                                          West Germany’s alliance with Zionism and Israel after WWII, of supplying Israel with huge economic aid in the 1950s and of economic and military aid since the early 1960s, including tanks, which it used to kill Palestinians and other Arabs, is a continuation of the alliance that the Nazi government concluded with the Zionists in the 1930s. In the 1960s, West Germany even provided military training to Israeli soldiers and since the 1970s has provided Israel with nuclear-ready German-made submarines with which Israel hopes to kill more Arabs and Muslims. Israel has in recent years armed the most recent German-supplied submarines with nuclear tipped cruise missiles, a fact that is well known to the current German government. Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak told Der SPIEGELin 2012 that Germans should be “proud” that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel “for many years”. Berlin financed one-third of the cost of the submarines, around 135 million euros ($168 million) per submarine, and has allowed Israel to defer its payment until 2015. That this makes Germany an accomplice in the dispossession of the Palestinians is of no more concern to current German governments than it was in the 1960s to West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who affirmed that “the Federal Republic has neither the right nor the responsibility to take a position on the Palestinian refugees”.

                                                                                                                                          This is to be added to the massive billions that Germany has paid to the Israeli government as compensation for the holocaust, as if Israel and Zionism were the victims of Nazism, when in reality it was anti-Zionist Jews who were killed by the Nazis. The current German government does not care about the fact that even those German Jews who fled the Nazis and ended up in Palestine hated Zionism and its project and were hated in turn by Zionist colonists in Palestine. As German refugees in 1930s and 1940s Palestine refused to learn Hebrew and published half a dozen German newspapers in the country, they were attacked by the Hebrew press, including by Haartez, which called for the closure of their newspapers in 1939 and again in 1941. Zionist colonists attacked a German-owned café in Tel Aviv because its Jewish owners refused to speak Hebrew, and the Tel Aviv municipality threatened in June 1944 some of its German Jewish residents for holding in their home on 21 Allenby street “parties and balls entirely in the German language, including programmes that are foreign to the spirit of our city” and that this would “not be tolerated in Tel Aviv”. German Jews, or Yekkes as they were known in the Yishuv, would even organise a celebration of the Kaiser’s birthday in 1941 (for these and more details about German Jewish refugees in Palestine, read Tom Segev’s book The Seventh Million).

                                                                                                                                          Add to that Germany’s support for Israeli policies against Palestinians at the United Nations, and the picture becomes complete. Even the new holocaust memorial built in Berlin that opened in 2005 maintains Nazi racial apartheid, as this “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” is only for Jewish victims of the Nazis who must still today be set apart, as Hitler mandated, from the other millions of non-Jews who also fell victim to Nazism. That a subsidiary of the German company Degussa, which collaborated with the Nazis and which produced the Zyklon B gas that was used to kill people in the gas chambers, was contracted to build the memorial was anything but surprising, as it simply confirms that those who killed Jews in Germany in the late 1930s and in the 1940s now regret what they had done because they now understand Jews to be white Europeans who must be commemorated and who should not have been killed in the first place on account of their whiteness. The German policy of abetting the killing of Arabs by Israel, however, is hardly unrelated to this commitment to anti-Semitism, which continues through the predominant contemporary anti-Muslim German racism that targets Muslim immigrants.

                                                                                                                                          Euro-American Anti-Jewish tradition


                                                                                                                                          The Jewish holocaust killed off the majority of Jews who fought and struggled against European anti-Semitism, including Zionism. With their death, the only remaining “Semites” who are fighting against Zionism and its anti-Semitism today are the Palestinian people. Whereas Israel insists that European Jews do not belong in Europe and must come to Palestine, the Palestinians have always insisted that the homelands of European Jews were their European countries and not Palestine, and that Zionist colonialism springs from its very anti-Semitism. Whereas Zionism insists that Jews are a race separate from European Christians, the Palestinians insist that European Jews are nothing if not European and have nothing to do with Palestine, its people, or its culture. What Israel and its American and European allies have sought to do in the last six and a half decades is to convince Palestinians that they too must become anti-Semites and believe as the Nazis, Israel, and its Western anti-Semitic allies do, that Jews are a race that is different from European races, that Palestine is their country, and that Israel speaks for all Jews. That the two largest American pro-Israel voting blocks today are Millenarian Protestants and secular imperialists continues the very same Euro-American anti-Jewish tradition that extends back to the Protestant Reformation and 19th century imperialism. But the Palestinians have remained unconvinced and steadfast in their resistance to anti-Semitism.

                                                                                                                                          Israel and its anti-Semitic allies affirm that Israel is “the Jewish people”, that its policies are “Jewish” policies, that its achievements are “Jewish” achievements, that its crimes are “Jewish” crimes, and that therefore anyone who dares to criticise Israel is criticising Jews and must be an anti-Semite. The Palestinian people have mounted a major struggle against this anti-Semitic incitement. They continue to affirm instead that the Israeli government does not speak for all Jews, that it does not represent all Jews, and that its colonial crimes against the Palestinian people are its own crimes and not the crimes of “the Jewish people”, and that therefore it must be criticised, condemned and prosecuted for its ongoing war crimes against the Palestinian people. This is not a new Palestinian position, but one that was adopted since the turn of the 20th century and continued throughout the pre-WWII Palestinian struggle against Zionism. Yasser Arafat’s speech at the United Nations in 1974 stressed all these points vehemently:

                                                                                                                                          Just as colonialism heedlessly used the wretched, the poor, the exploited as mere inert matter with which to build and to carry out settler colonialism, so too were destitute, oppressed European Jews employed on behalf of world imperialism and of the Zionist leadership. European Jews were transformed into the instruments of aggression; they became the elements of settler colonialism intimately allied to racial discrimination…Zionist theology was utilised against our Palestinian people: the purpose was not only the establishment of Western-style settler colonialism but also the severing of Jews from their various homelands and subsequently their estrangement from their nations. Zionism… is united with anti-Semitism in its retrograde tenets and is, when all is said and done, another side of the same base coin. For when what is proposed is that adherents of the Jewish faith, regardless of their national residence, should neither owe allegiance to their national residence nor live on equal footing with its other, non-Jewish citizens -when that is proposed we hear anti-Semitism being proposed. When it is proposed that the only solution for the Jewish problem is that Jews must alienate themselves from communities or nations of which they have been a historical part, when it is proposed that Jews solve the Jewish problem by immigrating to and forcibly settling the land of another people – when this occurs, exactly the same position is being advocated as the one urged by anti-Semites against Jews.

                                                                                                                                          Israel’s claim that its critics must be anti-Semites presupposes that its critics believe its claims that it represents “the Jewish people”. But it is Israel’s claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all.

                                                                                                                                          Today, Israel and the Western powers want to elevate anti-Semitism to an international principle around which they seek to establish full consensus. They insist that for there to be peace in the Middle East, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must become, like the West, anti-Semites by espousing Zionism and recognising Israel’s anti-Semitic claims. Except for dictatorial Arab regimes and the Palestinian Authority and its cronies, on this 65th anniversary of the anti-Semitic conquest of Palestine by the Zionists, known to Palestinians as the Nakba, the Palestinian people and the few surviving anti-Zionist Jews continue to refuse to heed this international call and incitement to anti-Semitism. They affirm that they are, as the last of the Semites, the heirs of the pre-WWII Jewish and Palestinian struggles against anti-Semitism and its Zionist colonial manifestation. It is their resistance that stands in the way of a complete victory for European anti-Semitism in the Middle East and the world at large.

                                                                                                                                          Joseph Massad teaches Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                          This article originally appeared in Al Jazeera English.

                                                                                                                                          Counterpunch

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                                                                                                                                            Pushing Al Qaeda to Take on Hezbollah

                                                                                                                                            English (US)  May 5th, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                            by FRANKLIN LAMB

                                                                                                                                            Beirut

                                                                                                                                            “This is one damn fine idea, what took us so long to see a simple solution
                                                                                                                                            that was right in front of our eyes for Christ’s sake”, Senator John McCain
                                                                                                                                            of “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” and “no-fly zones for Syria” notoriety,
                                                                                                                                            reportedly demanded to know from Dennis Ross during a recent Washington
                                                                                                                                            Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) brain storming session in Washington
                                                                                                                                            DC.

                                                                                                                                            Ross, a founder of WINEP with Israeli government start up cash (presumably
                                                                                                                                            reimbursed unknowingly by American taxpayers) and currently WINEP’s
                                                                                                                                            “Counselor”, reportedly responded to the idea of facilitating Al Qaeda to
                                                                                                                                            wage jihad against Hezbollah with the comment: “Shiites aren’t the only ones
                                                                                                                                            seeking death to demonstrate their ‘resistance’ to whatever. Plenty of other
                                                                                                                                            Muslims also want to die as we saw last week in Boston. Let ‘em all go at it
                                                                                                                                            and Israel can sweep out their s— when it’s over.”

                                                                                                                                            One Congressional staffer attending the WINEP event emailed me, “Dennis
                                                                                                                                            spoke in jest — well I assumed he did — but who knows anymore? Things are
                                                                                                                                            getting ever crazier inside some of these pro-Israel think-tanks around here.”

                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                            Featured on the front page of its April 25 edition, the Zionist-compliant New
                                                                                                                                            York Times writes that the Assad regime is apparently recovering but, “it
                                                                                                                                            must be understood that for all of the justified worries about the (al Qaeda
                                                                                                                                            affiliated) rebels “Assad remains an ally of Iran and Hezbollah. “

                                                                                                                                            The Times adopts the views of Islamophobe, Daniel Pipes, who recommends that
                                                                                                                                            the US try to keep the two sides in Syria fighting as long as possible until
                                                                                                                                            they destroy each other. Pipes, now serving as an advisor to John McClain,
                                                                                                                                            wrote in the Washington Times on April 11, “Evil forces pose less danger to
                                                                                                                                            us when they make war on each other. This keeps them focused locally, and it
                                                                                                                                            prevents either one from emerging victorious and thereby posing a greater
                                                                                                                                            danger. Western powers should guide enemies to a stalemate by helping
                                                                                                                                            whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their debilitating conflict.”

                                                                                                                                            Both Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs and
                                                                                                                                            Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N, have at a minimum
                                                                                                                                            impliedly joined in the intriguing idea of siccing Jabhat al Nusra on the
                                                                                                                                            Party of God. This scheme, if launched, would be Feltman’s 14th attempt to
                                                                                                                                            topple Hezbollah and defeat the Lebanese National Resistance to the
                                                                                                                                            occupation of Palestine since he first arrived in Beirut from Tel Aviv in
                                                                                                                                            2005 to become US Ambassador to Lebanon. This observer, among others in
                                                                                                                                            this region sense that given the aura still enveloping the American Embassy
                                                                                                                                            here, that Jeffrey never really left his Lebanese ambassadorial post and
                                                                                                                                            continues to occupy this position from his new UN office.

                                                                                                                                            Isn’t Hezbollah the Lebanese National Resistance to the occupation of Lebanon?
                                                                                                                                            This week Feltman warned that the spillover of Syria’s war continues to be
                                                                                                                                            felt in Lebanon as Susan Rice, echoed him and condemned Hezbollah for
                                                                                                                                            “undermining the country’s “dissociation policy.” The latter being a bit
                                                                                                                                            obscure in meaning but connoting something like sitting around doing nothing
                                                                                                                                            while this country is being shelled by jihadists from among the 23 countries
                                                                                                                                            currently fighting in Syria. Feltman informed the media on 4/22/13 that
                                                                                                                                            “The Secretary-General is concerned by reports that Lebanese are fighting in
                                                                                                                                            Syria both on the side of the regime and on the side of the opposition,
                                                                                                                                            hopes that the new government will find ways to promote better compliance by
                                                                                                                                            all sides in Lebanon with the “disassociation policy.”
                                                                                                                                            Given current divisions in Lebanon that will not happen anymore than
                                                                                                                                            Lebanon’s June 9th Parliamentary elections will be held on time.

                                                                                                                                            For her part, Susan lectured the UN Security Council that “Hezbollah
                                                                                                                                            actively enables Assad to wage war on the Syrian people by providing money,
                                                                                                                                            weapons, and expertise to the regime in close coordination with Iran.” This
                                                                                                                                            position was expressed also through a statement by US. State Department
                                                                                                                                            spokesman , Patrick Ventrell, who said that Washington “has always been
                                                                                                                                            clear concerning Hezbollah’s shameful role and the support it is providing
                                                                                                                                            for the Syrian regime and the violence it is inducing in Syria.” Ventrell
                                                                                                                                            added: “We were clear from the start concerning the destructive role played
                                                                                                                                            by Iran as well as the Iranian role.”

                                                                                                                                            Several Israeli agents in Congress are today promoting a Jabhat el
                                                                                                                                            Nusra-Hezbollah war even as the Obama administration terror-lists the
                                                                                                                                            jihadist group. Meanwhile, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), McCain’s neocon
                                                                                                                                            Islamaphobe acolyte, goes a bit further and explains to Fox News, once Assad
                                                                                                                                            falls and Hezbollah is out of the picture “We can deal with these (jihadist)
                                                                                                                                            fellas.”

                                                                                                                                            Recent history in Libya instructs otherwise. As Turkish commentator Cihan
                                                                                                                                            Celik recently noted: “A divorce with al-Nusra will not be easy in Syria”

                                                                                                                                            The past two years in Libya, that shadow of a country, reveals countless
                                                                                                                                            examples, three witnessed firsthand by this observer, during the long hot
                                                                                                                                            summer of 2011. What we saw was Gulf sponsors and funders offering young
                                                                                                                                            men, often unemployed, $ 100 per month, free cigarettes, and a Kalashnikov
                                                                                                                                            to do jihad. Plenty down and out lads still accept these offers in Libya,
                                                                                                                                            as they do in Syria. One reason why the militias proliferated so quickly in
                                                                                                                                            Libya and never melted away was the phenomenon of a wannabe jihadists
                                                                                                                                            deciding to be a leader and recruiting perhaps a brother or two, maybe a few
                                                                                                                                            cousins or tribe members, and presto, they have created a militia with power
                                                                                                                                            they never dreamed of. Their new life can offer many perceived benefits
                                                                                                                                            from running rough shod over the civilian populations and setting up myriad
                                                                                                                                            mini but potent criminal enterprises specializing in kidnappings, robberies,
                                                                                                                                            drugs, trafficking in women, and assassinations for cash. How many of these
                                                                                                                                            young men have turned in their weapons in Libya and returned to their former
                                                                                                                                            lives? Or will do so when instructed by the likes of McCain or Graham?

                                                                                                                                            On 4/24/13 Jabhat Al-Nusra Front intensified its threats to officials here
                                                                                                                                            including the Lebanese president by releasing a challenge from its media
                                                                                                                                            office: “…we inform you – and you may think of that as a warning or an
                                                                                                                                            ultimatum – that you must take immediate measures to restrain Hezbollah,
                                                                                                                                            otherwise, the fire will reach Beirut. If you do not abide by this within 24
                                                                                                                                            hours, we will consider that you are taking part in the massacres committed
                                                                                                                                            by the Hezbollah members and we will unfortunately have to burn everything
                                                                                                                                            in Beirut.” In addition they are calling for Jihad and the establishment of
                                                                                                                                            the “Resistance Factions for Jihad against the Regime in Syria” and also in
                                                                                                                                            Saida and Tripoli, Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                            Israeli officials appear to be in agreement with the Ross/Pipes proposal to
                                                                                                                                            arrange for Al Qeada to launch a war against Hezbollah. The Director for
                                                                                                                                            External Affairs at “The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African
                                                                                                                                            Studies, repeatedly claimed that the Shia are the real threat to Israel, not
                                                                                                                                            the Sunni and with the least threat coming from the Gulf monarchs. He
                                                                                                                                            offered the view recently that “Israel is now a partner of the Sunni Arab
                                                                                                                                            states.” Indeed, Israel hopes that Hezbollah will forget Israel when tasked
                                                                                                                                            with trying repel Al Nusra and other al Qaeda affiliate attacks.
                                                                                                                                            According to various Israel officials who have issued statements on the
                                                                                                                                            subject, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and several other members of the
                                                                                                                                            Arab League constitute an “alliance of anxiety for Israel” because they
                                                                                                                                            claim that “Sunni Arabs are not as competent as the Shia and Iran and as a
                                                                                                                                            result they express doubts that Israel can rely on the Sunni states in the
                                                                                                                                            same way that the Sunni states can rely on Israel.”

                                                                                                                                            In a documentary about the Iraq war, an American soldier explains:
                                                                                                                                            “Actually, we don’t really have much of a problem with the Sunnis. It’s the
                                                                                                                                            Shias who we are afraid of. The problem has something to do with their
                                                                                                                                            leader who was killed centuries ago and these fellas are willing to lay
                                                                                                                                            their life down for the guy. Anyhow, that is what they told us in Special
                                                                                                                                            Ops class.”

                                                                                                                                            Al Nusra fighters currently occupying parts the south west areas of Yarmouk
                                                                                                                                            Palestinian refugee camp in south Damascus, recently expressed eagerness to
                                                                                                                                            fight Hezbollah which they claim would give them credibility with Sunni
                                                                                                                                            Muslims and, oddly, in this observers view, “credibility with western
                                                                                                                                            countries”, who supposedly are al Qaeda’s sworn enemies. It’s sometimes hard
                                                                                                                                            to know who precisely is whose enemy these days in Syria as the rebels
                                                                                                                                            continue using areas east and southwest of Damascus as rear bases and as
                                                                                                                                            gateways into the capital.

                                                                                                                                            Despite boasts to the contrary from Jihadist types in Syria and Lebanon, it
                                                                                                                                            is not clear to this observer if Jihadist and al Qaeda-affiliated groups
                                                                                                                                            living among Hezbollah communities in Lebanon like Fatah al Islam, Jund al
                                                                                                                                            Sham or Osbat al Ansar which have been here for years would actually join
                                                                                                                                            the Zionist promoted anti-Hezbollah jihad.

                                                                                                                                            But it is evident that some Lebanese Islamists and jihadists directly
                                                                                                                                            connected to al Qaeda do have the ability to target Hezbollah. Elements
                                                                                                                                            from each of these groups are startling to associate and identify with Jabhat
                                                                                                                                            al Nusra, inspired partly by their successful military operations in Syria.

                                                                                                                                            Again, we saw the same thing in Libya. Enthusiastic, ambitious young men
                                                                                                                                            who want to improve their lot in life try to go with a winner. According to
                                                                                                                                            sources in the Ain al Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, jihadist leaders such
                                                                                                                                            as Haytham and Mohammed al Saadi, Tawfic Taha, Oussama al Shehabi and Majed
                                                                                                                                            al Majed are recruiting followers and fighters in Lebanon and offer a ticket
                                                                                                                                            out the the squalid army-surrounded, Syrian-refugee-inflated camp.

                                                                                                                                            Homs-based media activist Mohammad Radwan Raad claims that “the embattled
                                                                                                                                            residents of the rebel-controlled Homs province town of Al-Qusayr welcome
                                                                                                                                            Saida, Lebanon-based Sunni Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir’s call for Jihad in Syria.
                                                                                                                                            Claims Raad, “Al-Qusayr residents welcome Assir’s call and hope the Lebanese
                                                                                                                                            people help kick out Hezbollah members in the area…We need anyone who can
                                                                                                                                            get rid of them.” This week Assir urged his followers to join Syrian
                                                                                                                                            rebels fighting troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese
                                                                                                                                            Shiite movement Hezbollah. Al-Qusayr has been under rebel control for more
                                                                                                                                            than a year and on the scene reports indicate that it is about to be
                                                                                                                                            returned to central government control.

                                                                                                                                            In response, two Salafist Sunni Lebanese sheikhs urged their followers to go
                                                                                                                                            to Syria to fight a jihad (religious war) in defense of Qusayr’s Sunni
                                                                                                                                            residents. “There is a religious duty on every Muslim who is able to do
                                                                                                                                            so… to enter into Syria in order to defend its people, its mosques and
                                                                                                                                            religious shrines, especially in Qusayr and Homs,” Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir
                                                                                                                                            told his followers. For now, experts say, such calls on the part of
                                                                                                                                            Lebanon’s Salafists are largely bluster because the movement is far from
                                                                                                                                            able to wield either the arsenal or the fighting forces of Hezbollah.

                                                                                                                                            Local analysts like Qassem Kassir argue that Jabhat al Nusra and friends are
                                                                                                                                            not organized enough to fight against Hezbollah in a conventional war, but
                                                                                                                                            they could cause great damage by organizing bomb attacks against the Party
                                                                                                                                            of God’s bases and militants. The latter would be enough initially for Ross
                                                                                                                                            and WINEP and their Zionist handlers. Creating chaos in Lebanon being one of
                                                                                                                                            their goals but more importantly weakening the National Lebanese Resistance
                                                                                                                                            led by Hezbollah and also challenging Syria and Iran.

                                                                                                                                            In a recent speech, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah offered his
                                                                                                                                            party’s view about a Western-promoted Sunni-Shia clash, with Al-Nusra,
                                                                                                                                            AlQaida and all the groups which flocked to Syria, saying that what was wanted
                                                                                                                                            of them was to kill and get killed in Syria, in a massacre which will only serve
                                                                                                                                            the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims.

                                                                                                                                            The coming months will reveal to us if the several pro-Zionist Arab regimes
                                                                                                                                            as well as Islamophobes, including those at WINEP and other Israel-first
                                                                                                                                            think-tanks, are delusional in believing that John McCain’s “simple solution”
                                                                                                                                            to those resisting the Zionist occupation of Palestine, would be to assist
                                                                                                                                            Jabhat el Nusra type jihadists to make war against Hezbollah.

                                                                                                                                            Whether they could defeat Hezbollah is uncertain but whether Jabhat al Nusra
                                                                                                                                            and friends are capable of igniting yet another catastrophe in this region is
                                                                                                                                            the looming question.

                                                                                                                                            Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and Syria and is reachable c/o
                                                                                                                                            fplamb@gmail.com

                                                                                                                                            http://www.intifada-palestine.com/2013/04/pushing-al-qaeda-to-take-on-hezbollah/

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                                                                                                                                              Israel’s ethnocentric experiment…

                                                                                                                                              English (US)  May 5th, 2013 by admin ( Email )



                                                                                                                                              By JAMAL KANJ

                                                                                                                                              ISRAELI leaders are masters at muddling the international community with trivial issues while turning the peace negotiations into a temporizing process “to end all peace.”

                                                                                                                                              Assured by US subservient backing, and for more than 15 years prior to current Sisyphean process, Israel rejected Palestinian’s peace overtures insisting on impossible chameleon terms to be fulfilled even before agreeing to talk with Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). The first – which became later a US law – was to renounce “terrorism” and recognise Israel without reciprocity. The PLO submitted to the American demand to start the current peace marathon in 1988.

                                                                                                                                              After the signing of the Oslo Accord between the PLO and the Labour party government of Isaac Rabin, rightwing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the Palestinian recognition as incomplete insisting on the PLO to annul its charter, specifically sections calling for establishing a bi-national nonsectarian democratic state on all of historical Palestine.

                                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                                              Again the PLO acquiesced and invited then president Bill Clinton in December 1998 to christen a meeting of the Palestine National Council annulling the provisions demanded by the new Israeli government.

                                                                                                                                              There have been at least five internationally supervised peace milestones and countless schemes negotiated directly between the two parties in the last 20 years. Sequentially they were: Oslo accord, Wye River agreement, Road Map, Annapolis conference, Quartet Peace Plan… etc.

                                                                                                                                              All were initiated at the behest of various American administrations to allay succeeding Israeli governments’ “conditional approval” of the preceding understanding. In fact, US secretary of state John Kerry is leading fresh efforts to customise the 2002 Arab Peace initiative to suit Israel’s reservations.

                                                                                                                                              Out of their magic tricks to throw off the international community, the current Israeli Prime Minister conjured a new condition demanding Palestinians to recognise Israel as an ethnocentric Jewish state.

                                                                                                                                              Keeping in mind, Israel does not have a constitution defining its character or even an official demarcated national borders.

                                                                                                                                              To ascribe national identity for a country is an internal matter. But to mandate on Palestinians to recognise an ethnocentric character for Israel is akin to asking the Pan African Congress to recognise South Africa as a white nation during apartheid.

                                                                                                                                              Ethnocentrism was defined by William Graham Summer, American professor of Sociology at Yale University in 1906 “as having a view of things in which one’s own group is the centre of everything and the feeling that one’s own culture is better than all others.”

                                                                                                                                              Building on Summer’s earlier studies, psychologist Donald Campbell and his associates described ethnocentrism in the late 60s and mid 70s “as a psychological construct,” whereby the individual propensity is “to identify strongly with her own in-group and culture, the tendency to reject out-groups or the tendency to view any economic, political, or social event only from the point of the in-group.”

                                                                                                                                              Ethnocentrism is typified by the in-group proclivity to uphold its own values as being superior and the values of other cultures as inferior. This develops into a groupthink collective behaviour by members of the in-group rationalising the demonisation and rejection of the out-groups.

                                                                                                                                              Israel is a classic ethnocentric example of the in-group vs. the out-groups. In a 2012 survey, it was found that 59 per cent of the Jewish in-group believed that Jews should be given preference over non-Jewish natives in admission to jobs in government ministries, and 49pc wanted the state to treat Jews better than Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                              Unlike Machiavellian Israeli leaders, the late Knesset member Rabbi Meir Kahane was more candid in articulating the ethnocentric state’s vision in his 1981 book They Must Go. He wrote that in a “Jewish state,” Arabs will suffer from discrimination. In such case they will become alienated and antagonistic; therefore the only sensible solution is to “get rid of them.”

                                                                                                                                              “Get rid” of the out-group was an expensive European experiment not taken seriously until it was too late.

                                                                                                                                              ************************
                                                                                                                                              http://www.intifada-palestine.com/2013/05/israels-ethnocentric-experiment/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+intifada-palestine%2FyTiY+%28Intifada+Palestine%29

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                                                                                                                                                Human Rights: Canada in the Dock

                                                                                                                                                English (US)  May 2nd, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                By Eric Walberg

                                                                                                                                                The world is taking note of the ruling Conservatives’ shameful betrayal of Canada’s once admirable reputation as a fair country, sincerely working on the world stage to improve the lot of the disadvantaged and suffering. In the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, Canada was criticized to such an extent that the Council decided to send the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and representatives of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to investigate.

                                                                                                                                                Minister of Foreign Affairs spokesman Joseph Lavoie dismissed complaints by
                                                                                                                                                *China of “widespread racial discrimination”,
                                                                                                                                                *Iran of “child sexual exploitation and trafficking, the right to food, discriminatory law and regulation against indigenous people and minority groups including Muslim, Arab and African communities”,
                                                                                                                                                *Pakistan of “increased poverty and unemployment rate among immigrant communities”,
                                                                                                                                                Egypt of “racial profiling in law-enforcement action”, and
                                                                                                                                                *Cuba of “racism and xenophobia” in Canada,
                                                                                                                                                insisting that “Canada has a track record of being a human rights leader, at home and around the world.”

                                                                                                                                                The visits come at an awkward moment for the Conservatives, as it makes a public display of victimizing Muslims as part of a campaign to ram through the “Combating Terrorism Act” (Bill S-7), which gives the state extraordinary powers to detain suspects without any charges and without any legal protections for up to a year.

                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                This sorry state of Canadian political life is the fruit of the Conservatives’ slavish obedience to every US whim, and of its decision to abandon any pretense of an independent foreign policy, making all decisions in consultation with Israeli advisers under the public security cooperation “partnership” signed in 2008 by Canada and Israel to “protect their respective countries’ population, assets and interests from common threats”. Israel security agents now officially assist Canada’s security services, the RCMP and CSIS, in profiling Canadians citizens who are Muslims and monitoring individuals and/or organizations in Canada involved in supporting the rights of Palestinians and other such nefarious activities. Even the usually timid UN is appalled.

                                                                                                                                                The past two weeks of public spectacle could be lifted from a perverse Alice-in-Wonderland scenario. The latest claim to have uncovered a dastardly scheme by Muslim furriners plotting to explode weapons of mass destruction came just a week after the now legendary Boston bombing. Both incidents were dramatically unfolded to a gullible public as classic ‘good vs evil’, though neither holds water.

                                                                                                                                                Canadian authorities boasted Monday afternoon that, working in concert with the FBI and other US national security agencies, they had broken up a terrorist conspiracy involving an “Iranian-based al-Qaeda cell”. The announcement, made at an RCMP press conference, came out of the blue, just days after the Boston bombing, and a few days after the House of Commons agenda was changed to debate final reading of the draconian anti-terrorism legislation.

                                                                                                                                                On cue, US ambassador to Canada David Jacobson hailed the action as “the result of extensive cross-border cooperation” showing “that we face serious and real threats.” The men were arrested in a Hollywoodesque fashion–Chiheb Esseghaier while eating at McDonald’s in Montreal’s main train station; Raed Jaser, by scores of police armed with rifles and accompanied by search-dogs at his workplace in the Toronto borough of North York. They were charged with conspiracy to bomb a New York-bound Via passenger train, though the RCMP conceded that there had never been an imminent threat of an attack or even a definite plan, that Esseghaier and Jaser have been under police radar since last August (based on a year-old tip from an imam), and that their alleged crimes date back to last year.

                                                                                                                                                The reason for their delayed and then sudden arrest is beyond a doubt the notorious Bill S-7, a bill that was forced on Canada by Big Brother in post-911 2001, and which was not renewed in 2007 thanks to Liberal opposition (they originally passed it and then had enough sense to oppose it). The Conservative government suddenly changed the House of Commons agenda as US authorities placed Boston under martial law. The Canadian copycat arrests clearly are intended to add a Canadian pretext for proceeding with Bill S-7, while showing that “We are all Americans now.”

                                                                                                                                                This episode calls to mind the terrorist scare in 2006, when the RCMP staged the dramatic arrest of 18 young Muslims, whom they accused of preparing extensive terrorist attacks, including blowing up the parliament buildings. During the trial, it emerged that the “Toronto 18” was riddled with police agents, one providing the arms instruction at a “terrorist training camp” while another providing harmless bomb-making ingredients. Nevertheless, eleven were convicted and most given lengthy prison terms.

                                                                                                                                                When Esseghaier, a Tunisian-born Montreal PhD student in nanotechnology, told the judge, “These conclusions are being reached based on facts that are nothing but words and appearances,” he was told to shut up, and the hearing was shut down. Jaser’s lawyer John Norris said his client was “in a state of shock and disbelief” and “intends to defend himself vigorously”. Norris took exception to the police’s attempt to present his client as a non-Canadian, noting that the Palestinian refugee has lived with his family in Canada for the past twenty years.

                                                                                                                                                Is it just possible that UN Human Rights Council members read the ‘news’, are appalled, and are genuinely concerned about what’s happening to human rights in Canada?

                                                                                                                                                Canadians’ plight is bad enough, but this recent orchestration of Isamophobia has another angle, just as appalling. The RCMP assertion that these damn furriners acted under the “direction and guidance” of “al-Qaeda elements located in Iran” is a blatant falsehood, as Iran (like Iraq before the US invasion) is probably the most anti-al-Qaeda country in the world. The fundamentalist Sunni al-Qaeda delights in killing Shia, was (and is?) supported by the US and financed by Canada’s enlightened Saudi oil-millionaire allies. So it’s not just a question of stripping Canadians of their rights, but of adding toxic fuel to the US-Israeli fires intended to launch war against peaceful (pro-Palestinian) Iran.

                                                                                                                                                The RCMP admitted that they had no evidence of Iranian government involvement, but still … (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). When Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Teheran last autumn, Foreign Minister John Baird labeled Iran “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today”. All Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast had to do was to point to the hypocrisy and cynicism of Canada’s government backing the campaign to overthrow the Syrian government—a campaign in which some of insurgents are openly aligned with al-Qaeda: “The same [al-Qaeda] current is killing people in Syria while enjoying Canada’s support.”

                                                                                                                                                And what about the latest hit on the American 911 funny bone? Tamerlan Tsarnaev was under surveillance for four years by the FBI, who were asked by the Russian government to arrest him in 2010 (which they did not do). They do admit to interviewing him in 2011 and sifting through his computer files, but, remarkably for someone allegedly radicalized by the internet, they found nothing of concern. It’s not clear why Russia let him go to visit his parents in the center of terrorism (Dagestan) in Russia in 2012, where purportedly he received some form of terror training or further Islamist indoctrination. Nor how he managed to attend a workshop next door in hostile Georgia organized by the “Fund of the Caucasus” (which works with the US rightwing thinktank the Jamestown Foundation) focused on destablizing the Caucasus region.

                                                                                                                                                Were both the FBI and the Russian FSB asleep? Was Tamerlan an FBI operative? Was he set up to do the bombing, or did he go AWOL on the FBI? Is this Chechen connection intended to frighten Russia into acquiescing to US-Israeli plans for Syria? “This [official] scenario is simply impossible in the real world,” writes former UK ambassador Craig Murray. In an interview with Russian Today, Tamerlan’s mother said, “‘They were set up, the FBI followed them for years.” Is this international intrigue—intended to scare both Russia and Iran into abandoning the beleaguered Syrian government—really what Canadian domestic human rights and foreign policy should be based on? Why should we trust Ambassador Jacobson’s blah-blah about “serious threats”?

                                                                                                                                                Canadians are left with security forces eager to show they are doing something, a craven government intent on passing a draconian bill to take away freedoms, and a foreign policy based on a US-Israel obsession with finding some spark to ignite the latest war craze—attack Iran. The supposed pretext—Iran’s nuclear energy program—is after all wearing a tad thin. Peter Osborne in the Telegraph explained how the West has turned down one serious offer after another by Iran (two in 2005 alone), and argues that it is western rather than Iranian intransigence that prevents a deal being struck today. So if no one believes the cry of “Wolf!” on that boondoggle, then the next best thing is “al-Qaeda”. Hell, Bush got away with it against Iraq in 2003; maybe it will work again.

                                                                                                                                                Iran poses only an ideological threat—telling the truth to the US-Israeli tyrant and inspiring Arab Springs. Concludes Osborne, “The US and its European clients are driven by a different compulsion: the humiliation and eventual destruction of Iran’s Islamic regime.”

                                                                                                                                                As for being killing by a bona fide terrorist, the odds are 1 in 20 million, while every year, 4,600 Americans are killed in workplace-related accidents, and more than 30,000 are killed by gun violence. Every 28 hours a black person is killed by police, security guards or vigilantes. On Boston Marathon Day, six Pakistanis died in a drone strike, while scores were killed in car bombs in Iraq. I won’t even begin to recount the daily horrors inflicted by the US in Afghanistan.

                                                                                                                                                Not that these latter crimes against humanity–committed by us–justify retributive violence in any religion, especially Islam. “You shall not be treacherous, you shall not deceive, you shall not mutilate, you shall not kill children.” But the fact that we in the West are unconcerned with preventing senseless deaths at home, and are unaware or don’t care about the murders committed daily in our name abroad, does not bode well for the future. Only when we stop perpetrating violence will violence against us end.

                                                                                                                                                - Eric Walberg is author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games (2011). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html.

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                                                                                                                                                  Israel PM Says ‘Conflict Not about Territory’

                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  May 2nd, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                  Israeli wall built on Palestinian land occupied since 1967. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)

                                                                                                                                                  Israel’s prime minister says the conflict with the Palestinians is not about territory, rather the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, appearing to counter a modified peace proposal from the Arab world.

                                                                                                                                                  Benjamin Netanyahu has not commented directly on the Arab League’s latest initiative, but his words on Wednesday questioned its central tenet, the exchange of captured land for peace.

                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                  The original 2002 Arab initiative offered a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Muslim world in exchange for a withdrawal from all territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

                                                                                                                                                  Sweetening the offer this week, the Arab sponsor said final borders could be drawn through mutually agreed land swaps.

                                                                                                                                                  Netanyahu questioned the premise that borders are the key.

                                                                                                                                                  “The root of the conflict isn’t territorial. It began way before 1967,” he told Israeli diplomats.

                                                                                                                                                  “The Palestinians’ failure to accept the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict. If we reach a peace agreement, I want to know that the conflict won’t continue, that the Palestinians won’t come later with more demands.”

                                                                                                                                                  Fate of Refugees

                                                                                                                                                  The Palestinians have rejected Netanyahu’s demand to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, saying it would undermine the rights of Israel’s Arab minority as well as millions of refugees scattered throughout the world whose families lost properties during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948.

                                                                                                                                                  The fate of the refugees is a core issue that would need to be resolved as part of a final peace deal.

                                                                                                                                                  Though Netanyahu’s office has remained silent on the modified Arab proposal, his chief peace negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, has welcomed it, as have Israel’s president and the main opposition parties.

                                                                                                                                                  However, Netanyahu’s own political base and one of his main government coalition partners are either opposed to giving up land or suspicious of the Arabs’ motivations.

                                                                                                                                                  Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani tried to allay some of the Israeli concerns as he presented the offer on Monday.

                                                                                                                                                  ‘Comparable’ Land Swaps

                                                                                                                                                  Speaking on behalf of an Arab League delegation, Hamad reiterated the need to base an agreement between Israel and a future Palestine on the 1967 lines, but for the first time, he cited the possibility of “comparable”, mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                                  John Kerry, US secretary of state, called the new peace plan a “very big step forward”.

                                                                                                                                                  Palestinian officials were cool to the concept.

                                                                                                                                                  The original 2002 Arab peace initiative offered Israel peace with the entire Arab world in exchange for a “complete withdrawal” from territories captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

                                                                                                                                                  The Palestinians claim the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all seized by Israel in 1967, for their future state.

                                                                                                                                                  Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

                                                                                                                                                  (Agencies and AlJazeera.com)

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                                                                                                                                                    Palestinians Fight Unlawful Deportation

                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  April 24th, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                    Sisters Doha Ibrahim Abeyat (left) and Hind Ibrahim Abeyet hold a framed photo of their father, Ibrahim Abeyet, who was deported from the West Bank to Italy in 2002. Credit: Jillian Kestler-D’Amours/IPS.

                                                                                                                                                    "This is our homeland, our land. It is our right. The situation is very, very hard for me."

                                                                                                                                                    By Jillian Kestler-D'Amours

                                                                                                                                                    ABEYAT, Occupied West Bank, Apr 24 2013 (IPS) - Hind Ibrahim Abeyat has spent most of her life separated from her father. “Every house in Palestine has something – someone in prison, a martyr,” the 19-year-old told IPS from her family home in Abeyat village, near Bethlehem.

                                                                                                                                                    “For us, our father isn’t here. My friends ask me, ‘How can you live without your father?’”

                                                                                                                                                    Israel exiled Hind’s father, Ibrahim Abeyat, from the West Bank at the height of the Second Intifadah, after the Israeli army’s infamous siege of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem in 2002.

                                                                                                                                                    At the time, Israel was carrying out a large-scale military operation in major Palestinian cities across the West Bank. In the midst of the Israeli assault on Bethlehem in April 2002, a group of Palestinian fighters and civilians took refuge in the Nativity Church, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the city centre.

                                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                                    Some 200 Palestinians were trapped inside as Israel lay siege on the church for 39 days and fired live ammunition and other weapons at the building. After an American-brokered deal was reached to end the attack, Israel exiled 26 Palestinians hiding inside the church to the Gaza Strip, and another 13 to various European countries.

                                                                                                                                                    “It was forbidden to look out the window, forbidden to go outside. We didn’t know what was happening,” said Doha, Hind’s 22-year-old older sister, explaining that the Israeli army surrounded the family home while her father, who is affiliated with Hamas, was in the church.

                                                                                                                                                    After being flown to Cyprus, Ibrahim Abeyat was eventually deported to Italy, where he remains today. His wife spends six months of the year with him there, and the other six months with her children in the West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                    For seven years, Hind and her seven siblings – now aged between 17-30 – could only speak to their father over the phone. They now talk to him daily over the Internet.

                                                                                                                                                    “It’s very, very difficult. I don’t see my family,” Ibrahim Abeyat told IPS via Skype from Italy.

                                                                                                                                                    “I want to go back to my homeland, and end these 11 years (in exile). This is our homeland, our land. It is our right. The situation is very, very hard for me,” Abeyat said.

                                                                                                                                                    Between 1967-1992, Israel deported 1,522 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories, according to Israeli human rights group Btselem. In 1992 alone, with the approval of the Israeli Supreme Court, Israel deported 415 Palestinian members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to South Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                                    Palestinians are deported under Israel’s Emergency Defence Regulations, which date back to 1945 during the British mandate of Palestine. The specific law for deportations – which was cancelled inside Israel yet remains in effect in the occupied territories – states that a military commander can force any person to leave and remain outside of Palestine.

                                                                                                                                                    During the Second Intifadah, the Israeli Supreme Court also ruled that Israel has a right to issue “orders of assigned residence” to transfer Palestinians to the Gaza Strip. The court based its decision on Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an occupying power can subject people to assigned residence “for imperative reasons of security”.

                                                                                                                                                    Article 49 of the Convention, however, outlaws deportations, and individual or mass forcible transfers, of people living under military occupation “regardless of their motive”.

                                                                                                                                                    Israel has also forcibly relocated relatives of people accused of committing crimes against Israelis to the Gaza Strip, in violation of the Convention’s Article 33, which states that no person “may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed”.

                                                                                                                                                    In late 2011, a deal was brokered between Israel and Hamas to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a captive Israeli soldier. Of the Palestinians released, almost 200 were exiled to the Gaza Strip, and 41 were deported abroad.

                                                                                                                                                    “Given the stark asymmetry in power between the occupied Palestinian and occupying Israeli parties involved, neither the potential ‘consent’ of the prisoner, nor the fact that these deals may have been negotiated by a Palestinian authority can serve as justification for the deportation,” stated Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq.

                                                                                                                                                    In March, former prisoner Ayman Sharawna – who was first released from Israeli jail as part of the 2011 prisoner exchange, and then was re-arrested in January 2012 – was deported to Gaza after conducting an open-ended hunger strike for 261 days.

                                                                                                                                                    “I felt sure that if I did not go, I would die. I was suffering, physically and psychologically,” the 37-year-old father of nine from Hebron, told the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).

                                                                                                                                                    “My experience in prison prepared me for life in Gaza. To be exiled to Gaza was the least loss I could expect. I am against exile, but it was my only option. Otherwise, I surely would have died.”

                                                                                                                                                    On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi – who had been intermittently on hunger strike for over eight months – would finally end his protest and be released to his Jerusalem home next December. Issawi refused several Israeli attempts to deport him over the course of his hunger strike.

                                                                                                                                                    “These strong positions never happened suddenly. People should sacrifice themselves and should fight (to reach) a new stage in their fight,” Murad Jadallah, a legal researcher at Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer told IPS.

                                                                                                                                                    “The case of the hunger strike of Samer Issawi will be like a turning point in fighting against the deportations.”

                                                                                                                                                    Inter Press Service

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                                                                                                                                                      Israeli Cloud Hovers Over Green Energy

                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  April 24th, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                      Eliad Orian from Comet inside a cave that is the electricity headquarters for the Masafer Yatta area. Credit: Mel Frykberg/IPS.

                                                                                                                                                      MASAFER YATTA, Occupied West Bank, Apr 23 2013 (IPS) - A quiet diplomatic war is being waged by several European governments against the Israeli authorities, specifically the Israeli Civil Administration which controls the Israeli occupied West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                      At stake is the destruction of a humanitarian project funded by a number of European governments, international organisations and foundations, worth approximately half a million euros and years of voluntary manpower hours put in by Israelis and Palestinians. Should the destruction go ahead more than a thousand Palestinians will be without electricity, and their livelihood would be decimated.

                                                                                                                                                      Community Energy Technology in the Middle East (Comet) has been providing free hybrid solar and wind renewable energy services to off-grid Palestinian communities in the southern West Bank since 2006.

                                                                                                                                                      The joint Palestinian-Israeli organisation was founded by two Israeli physicists, Elad Orian and Noam Dotan, who wanted to do something to counter the destructive nature of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank.

                                                                                                                                                      To date Comet has built 22 electricity installations in 22 communities, providing electricity to more than 1,500 Palestinian farmers, shepherds and their families who live in the arid southern West Bank eking out a living with non-mechanised agriculture and herding.

                                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                                      The Palestinian West Bank is divided into three areas. Area A is nominally under Palestinian control, and Area B, under joint Palestinian and Israeli control. Area C, comprising 62 percent of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is under exclusive Israeli control and primarily set aside for the more than 500,000 illegal Israeli settlers who live in several hundred settlements and outposts.

                                                                                                                                                      “Palestinian communities are deliberately disconnected from road, electricity, water and sewerage infrastructure by the Israeli authorities who want to keep Area C exclusively for Israeli settlements,” Comet’s organisational development manager Aya Shoshan tells IPS.

                                                                                                                                                      Comet’s project has been funded to the tune of approximately half a million euros donated by a number of European governments, specifically Germany, and by international organisations and foundations. The building of the electricity installations has taken three to four years of work, much of it voluntary labour by Israeli and Palestinian volunteers.

                                                                                                                                                      “About a year ago we started receiving demolition orders from the Israeli Civil Administration. Currently 10 electricity installations are under threat of destruction. This would cut more than a thousand Palestinians off from electricity,” Shoshan tells IPS.

                                                                                                                                                      “Israel as the occupying power is responsible for the welfare of Palestinians living under occupation under international law. Not only is Israel not fulfilling this responsibility but it has threatened to destroy a humanitarian project, funded by international donors, seeking to alleviate the hardships of these Palestinian communities.”

                                                                                                                                                      In response to the threats by the Israeli Civil Administration, Comet has embarked on a diplomatic outreach to save their project. This has included visits from diplomatic missions and delegations and appeals to high-level European officials and parliamentary members. Comet has also undertaken legal action as well as getting the international media involved.

                                                                                                                                                      “The German government, a significant donor, has put pressure on the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the demolitions as have several other European donors, and we are sure this is why there has been a temporary halt to carrying out the destruction of the electricity installations. But the threat is still there,” says Shoshan.

                                                                                                                                                      The morning that IPS visited the Gawa’is village in Masafer Yatta, officials from the Israeli Civil Administration arrived shortly after a warning that a demolition was about to be carried out. The presence of an Israeli film crew was possibly persuasive in the “stay of execution”.

                                                                                                                                                      Comet’s electricity installations have improved the lives of the Palestinians and their families immeasurably, and boosted the local economy by about 70 percent.

                                                                                                                                                      “Instead of having to sell their perishable produce, including cheese and butter, immediately by making individual trips to nearby towns, they can now refrigerate their produce, making a single trip and selling it in bulk,” says Shoshan.

                                                                                                                                                      Butter and cheese production has also increased by 15 percent due to the introduction of an electric churn. Previously it took two women hours to produce butter and cheese by hand. The use of cold water has further improved the efficiency of separation, with the farmers able to charge 50 percent more for the end product than previously.

                                                                                                                                                      The lives of women have changed for the better as they are the ones responsible for the dairy production. Clothes are now washed with washing machines. With their menfolk out in the field during the day they now have more free time to watch TV and listen to the radio. Children can do homework at night by light instead of by candlelight.

                                                                                                                                                      “For the first time in my life I feel like a human being,” says Ali Awad from Tuba village. “Can these minimal infrastructures constitute a threat of any sort to Israel?”

                                                                                                                                                      Inter Press Service

                                                                                                                                                      814 words posted in Israel, Apartheid StateLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                        Israeli PM’s advisor “bullish” Israel will benefit from Boston bombing - just like Netanyahu after 9/11

                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  April 21st, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                        Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Sun, 04/21/2013 - 19:00
                                                                                                                                                        Ron Dermer: Netanayhu Is A Hell Of A Captain At The Helm

                                                                                                                                                        In comments reminiscent of Benjamin Netanyahu’s own on 11 September 2001, a senior advisor of the Israeli prime minister has expressed confidence that Israel will benefit from the 15 April Boston Marathon bombing.

                                                                                                                                                        Speaking to US Jewish leaders, Ron Dermer, a senior advisor to the Israeli prime minister, praised Netanyahu’s leadership before stating:

                                                                                                                                                        I’m pretty bullish about the prospects for strengthening cooperation with the United States. Support for Israel – you all can tell me yourselves – I see polls that show that its almost at record highs… The American people stand firmly with Israel. I think they identify with Israel. I think if you look historically, there’s a big change after 9/11. I’m sure that after the bombing, the tragic bombing in Boston, I believe that people will identify more with Israel’s struggle against terror and I think we can maintain that support.

                                                                                                                                                        I think there’s strong bipartisan support in the United States for Israel. I think it’s a critical asset for Israel that that support remain bipartisan and I think there’s very important things this president [Obama] has done for Israel these last four years….

                                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                                        Dermer can be heard making the comments in a two and a half-minute video tweeted by Haaretz diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid.

                                                                                                                                                        Netanyahu on 9/11: “It’s very good”

                                                                                                                                                        Dermer’s comments are remarkably similar to ones his boss, then Israeli opposition leader, made on 11 September 2001 as the world watched in horror as the Twin Towers came down in New York. As The New York Times reported:

                                                                                                                                                        Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied, “It’s very good.” Then he edited himself: “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” He predicted that the attack would “strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we’ve experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror.”

                                                                                                                                                        It is unclear if Dermer’s comments were intended for public consumption, given that they reveal a fairly cynical and calculated Israeli government assessment of how to exploit an American tragedy for nakedly political purposes.

                                                                                                                                                        Electronic Intifada

                                                                                                                                                        388 words posted in ( / ), Politics, , Israel, , American ZionismLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                          A hundred Deir Yassins and counting

                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  April 21st, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                          How many massacres of Palestinians are hidden beneath the fact that unless they are recognised as such by Israeli historians, to Western audiences they never happened, asks Ramzy Baroud

                                                                                                                                                          Few with any sense of intellectual or historical integrity would still question the bloody massacre that took place in the village of Deir Yassin 65 years ago, claiming the lives of over 100 innocent Palestinians. Attempts at covering up the massacre have been dwarfed by grim details unearthed by well-respected historians, including some of Israel’s own.

                                                                                                                                                          Even narratives offered by historians such as Benny Morris — an honest researcher who remained committed to Zionism despite the ghastly history he had himself uncovered — presented a harrowing version of the events that unfolded on that day: “Whole families were riddled with bullets… men, women, and children were mowed down as they emerged from houses; individuals were taken aside and shot. Haganah intelligence reported ‘There were piles of dead. Some of the prisoners moved to places of incarceration, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors…’”

                                                                                                                                                          It was the Irgun Zionist militias of Menachem Begin and the Stern Gang (Lehi) lead by Yitzhak Shamir that took credit for the infamy of that day, and both were rewarded generously for their “heroism”. The once wanted criminals rose to prominence to become Israeli prime ministers in later years.

                                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                                          The importance of the Deir Yassin massacre to historians often obscures important facts. One amongst them is that Deir Yassin was one of many massacres perpetrated by Zionist troops, including Haganah units. Another is that these militias had jointly formed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) following the official Israeli Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948, despite their supposed differences during the conquest of Palestine. David Ben-Gurion had made his decision on 26 May and hesitated little to include both the Irgun and Lehi, alongside the Haganah. Not only did the leaders of the terrorist militias command respect and enjoy prestige within Israeli society, armed forces and the political elite, but the very murderers who butchered innocent men, women and children were empowered with bigger guns and continued to “serve” and terrorise for many more years. Another often overlooked fact is that what started at Deir Yassin never truly finished. Sabra and Shatila, Jenin, Gaza and many more are only recreations of the same event.

                                                                                                                                                          But another sad reality also emerged and crystalised in the last 65 years. Since then the right to credible narration has still largely been reserved for Israeli historians. Most of these historians — whether sympathetic or otherwise — either played no part in that history or were privileged by its outcome, or worse, were themselves active participants. Still, it would take an Israeli historian to “discover” a Palestinian massacre in some village at some point in time. For example, only when Israeli journalist Amir Gilat chose to run a story in Maariv newspaper a few years ago, citing the research of Israeli Master’s degree student Theodore Katz, did Western media acknowledge the Tantura massacre. It mattered little that the descendants and relatives of 240 victims of that grief stricken village who were killed in cold blood by Alexandroni troops, never ceased remembering their loved ones. A “massacre” is only a massacre when half-heartedly acknowledged by an Israeli historian, no matter how long it takes for that admission to resurface.

                                                                                                                                                          Even Palestinian historians, at least those who are held accountable to the rules of Western media and academia, find themselves borrowing mostly from Israeli sources, aggrandising Israeli writers and celebrating Israeli historians who are supposedly more trustworthy than Palestinians. The logic has it that a sympathetic Israeli narrative would win greater acceptance by American or British audiences than one told by a Palestinian, even if the Palestinian historian had lived the event and experienced its every gory detail.

                                                                                                                                                          It is a travesty for the Palestinian narrative to live on borrowed analogies, borrowed histories and borrowed historians in order to enjoy an iota of credibility. This is just the tip of the iceberg and the problem runs much deeper than this.

                                                                                                                                                          In my last book, My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story, I charted a detailed account of the massacre of Beit Daras, when scores of inhabitants of that brave village, located in southern Palestine, were gunned down by Haganah troops only weeks after Deir Yassin inhabitants were massacred in a similar fashion. Beit Daras is the village from which my family was dispossessed to subsist in an impoverished refugee camp in Gaza.

                                                                                                                                                          Although Beit Daras was located at the northeastern part of the Gaza District in southern Palestine, it was high on the Zionist leadership agenda as early as the first months of conquest. The small village was one of a few villages and towns marked for destruction in Operation Nachshon and Harel aimed to completely cut off the Jaffa-Jerusalem landmass. The war for Beit Daras began early, as heavy shelling began between 27-28 March 1948, killing nine villagers and destroying large areas of the village’s crops.

                                                                                                                                                          Several attempts had failed to drive the resilient villagers out. What turned out to be the last battle took place in mid-May. Umm Adel and Umm Mohamed were two young girls in Beit Daras at the time. Now old women in Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza, they helped me connect some of the pieces regarding what happened on that day. I provided their historically consistent accounts in my book on Gaza. Here are few excerpts:

                                                                                                                                                          Umm Adel recalls: “The women and children were told to leave because the news of the Deir Yassin massacre was spreading and with it lots of fear. We were told that the Jews not only massacre people, but rape women. The women had to be sent away, but the men wouldn’t leave. But so many of them were killed. The men fought like lions, and many were killed as well, including Abu Mansi Nassar and his two brothers, Ali Mohamed Hussein Al-Osaji, and four youth from Al-Maqadima.”

                                                                                                                                                          Umm Mohamed elaborated: “The town was under bombardment, and it was surrounded from all directions. There was no way out. They surrounded it all, from the direction of Isdud, Al-Sawafir and everywhere. We wanted to pursue a way out. The armed men (the Beit Daras fighters) said they were going to check on the road to Isdud, to see if it was open. They moved forward and shot a few shots to see if someone would return fire. No one did. But they (the Zionist forces) were hiding and waiting to ambush the people. The armed men returned and told the people to evacuate the women and children. The people went out [including] those who were gathered at my large house, the family house. There were mostly children and kids in the house.

                                                                                                                                                          “The armed men came and said, ‘The road to Isdud is open, evacuate the people.’ The Jews let the people get out, and then they whipped them with bombs and machine guns. More people fell than those who were able to run. My sister and I… started running through the fields; we’d fall and get up. My sister and I escaped together holding each other’s hands. The people who took the main road were either killed or injured. The firing was falling on the people like sand. The bombs from one side and the machine guns from the other. The Jews were on the hill. They showered the people with machine guns. A lot of the people died and got injured.

                                                                                                                                                          But many fighters remained in Beit Daras. Not even a massacre would weaken their resolve. The wounded were gathered in many houses, but with little medical care to count on. Some of the dead were hurriedly buried. Many others were unreachable, lying in the sun amidst the blooming fields of spring.”

                                                                                                                                                          The writer is editor of PalestineChronicle.com.

                                                                                                                                                          Al Ahram

                                                                                                                                                          1310 words posted in IsraelLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                            BOSTON BOMBING, SELECTIVE COMPASSION AND THE “MUSLIM FACTOR”

                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  April 21st, 2013 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                            By Gulamhusein Abba.

                                                                                                                                                            As I write this (morning of Tuesday, April 16) my thoughts, my heart, my sympathies, my condolences, my everything is with the people of Boston, especially those families who have lost a loved one and those who lie injured.

                                                                                                                                                            What a terrible tragedy. A day of rejoicing was reduced to a day of death and mourning. What could be more despicable than to launch an attack on such a day, a day designated as Patriots Day, and target those who were running to raise thousands if not millions of dollars for worthy causes, including those related to the recent Sandy Hook tragedy?

                                                                                                                                                            The noise of the explosions; the smoke billowing upwards; nails, pellets and shrapnel flying all over; those who had come to cheer others running, themselves running as they had never run in their lives before; dismembered limbs littering Boylston Street; blood all over; frightened people running helter-skelter trying to find escape routes, entering stores and exiting from backdoors into an adjoining street.

                                                                                                                                                            Family members attempting to contact those who had gone to the Marathon, to ascertain if they were safe, only to find that cell phones were dead.

                                                                                                                                                            First responders rushing in to tend to the injured. Medical workers treating patients with severed limbs and children with severe burns in a temporary medical tent at the road race. Mayhem. Complete chaos. A bustling scene of cheers, hope, joyous victory, rejoicing suddenly turned into a war zone.

                                                                                                                                                            Imagine the fear of those on the scene. The anxiety of their loved ones. The desperation of those trying to contact them.

                                                                                                                                                            Two people, one of them an eight year old boy, dead; 160 injured, 16 critically; several with a limb missing, at least 4 with their legs amputated in the hospital; nails sticking out of a girl’s body.

                                                                                                                                                            There was no need to imagine all this. Videos being projected round the clock on TV screens showed the unimaginable horror and tragedy in stark detail. Watching, I felt I was there. Having suffered tragedy and fear myself, the whole scene became very personal and palpable.

                                                                                                                                                            I was glued to the TV till well past midnight. Had a very disturbed sleep and was back watching TV as soon as I woke up the next morning.

                                                                                                                                                            A myriad thoughts and emotions ran through me.

                                                                                                                                                            One of the things I greatly appreciated was that President Barack Obama lost no time in going on the air and telling the nation that the authorities did not yet know who is behind the Boston Marathon bombing and urging caution in assigning blame. "We still do not know who did this, or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts," he said.

                                                                                                                                                            Another fact that struck me was the contrast between what was happening here and what was happening in other parts of the world.

                                                                                                                                                            In Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere around the world, such horror and tragedy did not occur once in a blue moon. They were a daily occurrence, routine. Drones buzzed overhead in the skies 24 hours a day. The people huddled in fear, not knowing when a bomb or a missile would swoop down on them, obliterating their home and killing or paralyzing them or their loved ones. When it did and all hell broke loose, no first responders rushed to tend to them.

                                                                                                                                                            And not just two or twenty six died but hundreds did.

                                                                                                                                                            In fact, just a few days before the Boston bombing, a NATO air attack in the Shigal district of restive Kunar province, Afghanistan , killed at least 18 people, including as many as 11 innocent children. There was no ambiguity as to who had killed them and how. They were killed by a NATO air-strike.

                                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                                            Yet, though these tragic occurrences are far worse than what happened at Boston or Sandy hook, they receive hardly any coverage, if at all, unlike the round the clock coverage given by the media in the US to Sandy Hook shooting and Boston bombing. Consequently, neither those who suffer so grievously nor those who die so ingloriously receive any sympathy or condolences or support from any American. No American tears are shed for them.

                                                                                                                                                            Can compassion be selective? Should it be?

                                                                                                                                                            Very disturbing was that, ignoring the appeal made by none other than the President himself, the anti-Islamists in this great country immediately started trying to implicate Muslims!

                                                                                                                                                            For example, one of Fox News contributors, Eric Rush, in response to the Boston attack tweeted -- then deleted -- what he claimed was a joke about rounding up Saudis and killing them.

                                                                                                                                                            When one Bill Schmalfldt tweeted back, “Sweet God. Are you ALREADY BLAMING MUSLIMS??”, Eric replied “Yes they’re evil. Let’s kill them all”.

                                                                                                                                                            Though Eric deleted his original tweets, in later messages he called his critics "Islamic apologist worms" and "vermin."

                                                                                                                                                            The New York Post published a report, under a screaming headline “FBI grills Saudi man in Boston bombings”, claiming that a "Saudi National" had been taken "into custody" by police at a local Boston hospital. In its initial stories the paper said that the person taken into custody was "identified as a suspect." In fact, nobody had been taken into custody and nobody had been identified as a suspect.

                                                                                                                                                            Anti-Islamic blogger Pamela Geller was quick to jump on the New York Post's report, labeling the tragedy “jihad” on her blog, Atlas Shrugged.

                                                                                                                                                            Others, while not directly accusing Muslims of being somehow responsible for the bombing, asked the question that regularly pops up in such situations: Where is the Muslim condemnation? Implying that the silence of the Muslims itself proves that the Muslims in America are salivating at the massacre!

                                                                                                                                                            So where WAS, where IS the Muslim indignation, outrage, condemnation, expressions of sorrow, grief and sympathy in the Boston bombing?

                                                                                                                                                            According to Sound Vision, “There were many Muslims in the Marathon, both as victims, as well as doctors trying to save lives…..…. condemnation by Muslims was not reported by the national media … Radio Islam was on air reaching 60,000 plus listeners sympathizing with the victims within hours of this tragedy.

                                                                                                                                                            “The Muslim community in the United States and abroad began issuing their condolences and condemnations of the Boston incident within hours of receiving news reports about the attack. However, these statements of sincerity and sadness receive little to no attention in the majority of media outlets, specially the Radio and the TV.”

                                                                                                                                                            This is sad -- and dangerous. As pointed out in the said report: “Omitting Muslim statements of condemnation directly leads to Islamophobia, translating into deadly hate – attacks on Masjids and Islamic centers, Islamic schools, and anyone who ‘looks Muslim’.

                                                                                                                                                            As I was about to close this writing, the reassuring words of Obama were ringing in my ears: "We still do not know who did this, or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts," Obama said. "But make no mistake: we will get to the bottom of this, we will find out who did this, we'll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice."

                                                                                                                                                            This triggered a faint echo from the past. Bush, responding to the 9/11 attacks, speaking about flushing out the perpetrators, tracking them down, holding them accountable, bringing them to justice or taking justice to them.

                                                                                                                                                            Suddenly, out of nowhere frightening questions formed.

                                                                                                                                                            Did families and friends of innocent men, women, children and babies killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine ever say to themselves that they would track down the perpetrators, hold them accountable and bring them to justice or take justice to them?

                                                                                                                                                            Did any of their governments ever vow to do this?

                                                                                                                                                            What if all of them start doing it?

                                                                                                                                                            from: Defying Silence http://defyingsilence.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                                            1289 words posted in American Empire, Af-Pak warLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                              Boston’s interfaith memorial deflection

                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  April 21st, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                              Obama at the interfaith memorial service in Boston, by CJ Gunther, EPA

                                                                                                                                                              By Marc H. Ellis

                                                                                                                                                              This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

                                                                                                                                                              With Boston’s lock-down over and the city picking up the pieces of its collective psyche, my thoughts return to the interfaith memorial service held there a few days ago.

                                                                                                                                                              Private mourning and collective mourning are different. Public memorial services are scripted and function in certain ways. They need to be analyzed.

                                                                                                                                                              You may have noticed that the number of these memorials is increasing. They are becoming definitive markers of our political – and religious – culture. What’s spoken and unspoken in these memorials is politically important.

                                                                                                                                                              So many “political” realities go unmentioned in our public tributes to the victims of violence. The politics we “rise” above may be at the heart of the very horrific situations being memorialized.

                                                                                                                                                              Questions need asking. Are we memorializing the victims of furthering our own interests? Are we reaching out to others or are we feathering our own nest?

                                                                                                                                                              Political leaders are liable for such examination. Religious leaders are as well.

                                                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                                                              If after reading what follows, you think that I’m obsessing about Jews, Israel, Palestinians and Palestine, that’s your prerogative. After all, the memorial service in Boston was for the victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. As you will see, I believe that if mourning is to be genuine, we have to dig underneath the sentiments expressed. When we unearth the unspoken that should have been spoken, a more genuine mourning can commence.

                                                                                                                                                              The interfaith service was held in Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Among others, President Obama was in attendance and addressed those gathered. The mood was somber and intense. When the service was held both suspects were still on the loose. More carnage lay ahead.

                                                                                                                                                              Cardinal Sean O’Malley spoke of his recent Easter retreat where he and a number of priests visited Galilee, Jerusalem and beyond. The Cardinal intoned the Hebrew words tikkun olam for the healing needed after the bombings.

                                                                                                                                                              The Cardinal did not mention that part of his retreat was held in Palestine. He did not use any Arabic words of healing. That would strike the wrong “political” note.

                                                                                                                                                              Why Palestine and Arabic is political in our lexicon, therefore divisive, and Israel and Hebrew is typically seen as apolitical, therefore healing, has important ramifications for the cultural and political word we live in. It is reflective of way Jews and Muslims are perceived in America and the imbalance we see on the ground in Israel/Palestine.

                                                                                                                                                              The Jewish community had its representative say with words of healing and reconciliation worthy of our attention. Here’s how the Huffington Post reported the Jewish voices:

                                                                                                                                                              "In times of crisis, we have to make sure we are together. We felt that we're not alone," said Rabbi Matt Soffer of Temple Israel of Boston, who came with a group of clergy from several faiths at 7 a.m. to wait outside the 2,000-seat cathedral. By the time he arrived, the line already stretched for blocks.

                                                                                                                                                              Rabbi Ronne Friedman, the senior rabbi at Soffer's congregation who spoke at the service, cited Psalm 147, addressing God as the "healer of the brokenhearted" who will "empower them with strength and courage and restore to them and to all of us who grieve with them a sense of life's goodness and purpose."

                                                                                                                                                              Though I agree with the sentiments, I’m curious where the Rabbis stand on Israel – and Palestine. I can’t find much of anything on their views. According to the website of Temple Israel where both are Rabbis, in 2011 the congregation embarked on a three year study of “diverse voices” on Israel. The first speaker was Peter Beinart.

                                                                                                                                                              Overall, Temple Israel is a liberal congregation. On immigration, education and racial justice the congregation is quite vocal. The given reason for the congregation’s Israel study is because issues relating to Zionism and Israel are causing tensions within the congregation. More than a year into their study, I wonder where they have arrived.

                                                                                                                                                              Jewish voices lack credibility on other issues if they refuse to speak about what’s happening to Palestinians. It’s too easy to evoke beautiful sentiments about suffering in Boston if you’re not working to end the more or less permanent lock-down Palestinians endure. For Temple Israel the question remains if the reason for their study is to keep the congregation from imploding or to fashion action that confronts the state of Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people.

                                                                                                                                                              The Christians the Cardinal met and prayed with on his Easter retreat were no doubt mostly international. If there were Palestinians from the Galilee present, I’m sure they were on their best “universal Christian” behavior. As with the memorial service, it wouldn’t look right if they sullied spirituality with politics. God forbid!

                                                                                                                                                              If most every religious time is the wrong time, one wonders if there is ever a right time to speak for justice.

                                                                                                                                                              Unfortunately, too many Palestinian Christians buy into Christianity’s false universalism. They believe that Christians from America will naturally be attentive to them, if not because they are suffering, then at least because they are Christian.

                                                                                                                                                              Palestinians couldn’t be more wrong. The Christian hierarchy in the West has a self-interested investment in Jews. It’s about Christians and their credibility after the Holocaust.

                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps, behind the scenes, discussions of the plight of Palestinians did take place. The Cardinal might even know the real score in Israel/Palestine, as more and more Church officials do. But the public airing in Boston was typically Israel and Jewish only. Cardinals know when to keep their mouth shut.

                                                                                                                                                              Check out the Cardinal’s blog which recalls the Easter retreat. (http://www.cardinalseansblog.org/) The pictures of ancient Christian art and churches are marvelous. The retreat participants visited a number of Christian holy sites in northern Israel – as noted in the blog. These included the Basilica of the Annunciation, Mount Carmel, the Sea of Galilee, the Church of the Transfiguration, Qumran, the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Cenacle. The latter are in Jerusalem, part of which international law recognizes as Palestinian.

                                                                                                                                                              On one day of the retreat the Cardinal and his priests ended up you-know-where – at the Western Wall. For those on retreat it was an emotional moment. Father Gregory Vozzo relates it:

                                                                                                                                                              We concluded our day of pilgrimage at the famous Western Wall of the city, where devout Jews of many places and rabbinic schools were getting ready to begin the Sabbath. This wall is significant because it is part of the very same wall that one enclosed the Temple area. Although the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., we do well to remember, as these Jews do, that God’s dwelling in the Holy of Holies was once on the other side of this wall. Although many people call the Western Wall “the wailing wall”, this name is not accepted here. What we saw and learned today makes plain why this is. Those who come here to pray long for what is to come, not what once was. They long for the Messiah and for God’s everlasting reign in Jerusalem. Their pilgrimage, much like ours, is one of joyful remembrance and hope. May all our tears be dried by the God who comes to save His people.

                                                                                                                                                              You can check out the rest of trip on http://www.thegoodcatholiclife.com but be warned, it’s not for the faint or (secular or liberation theology) heart. The Cardinal’s Easter retreat features a world without much reality, political or otherwise. It’s a scandal really. Cardinal Sean, as he likes to be called, should be ashamed.

                                                                                                                                                              There was a Muslim speaker at the memorial service. He was on his best behavior, too. No doubt he was glad to be invited and, like Jews decades ago, he functioned as symbolic representative of the broader American Muslim community. It’s important that he looks good on television and speaks in good English. He did.

                                                                                                                                                              That’s just the beginning of the story of Muslim angle. The Huffington Post reported this way:

                                                                                                                                                              While a suspect has not been named in the Boston attack, speculation has aired in news reports about the race and faith of the culprit. A Muslim who chairs the New England Interfaith Council, Nasser Weddady, who spoke on behalf of the city's Muslims, shared his story of becoming a United States citizen last week. "Whoever kills a soul, it is as if he killed mankind entirely. And whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved all of mankind," he said, referencing Islamic and Jewish scripture.

                                                                                                                                                              The director of civil rights outreach for the American Islamic Congress, Weddady sought asylum from Mauritania in 1999, and though he did not mention it Thursday, was in the media spotlight when he was wrongfully detained by law authorities after Sept. 11 on suspicions of ties to terrorism.

                                                                                                                                                              Thank God, Weddady buried his post-September 11th experience! Can you imagine him weaving an American Muslim “political” view of the aftermath of September 11th into his prayerful reflection?

                                                                                                                                                              September 11th and its aftermath, that’s a whole other kettle of political worms. And with President Obama sitting right there?

                                                                                                                                                              Mondoweiss

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                                                                                                                                                                To Throw or Not to Throw a Stone

                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  April 14th, 2013 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                                Amira Hass: 'Throwing a stone is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule.' (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)
                                                                                                                                                                Amira Hass: 'Throwing a stone is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule.' (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)

                                                                                                                                                                By William A. Cook

                                                                                                                                                                A debate rages in Israel today on the truth of Amira Hass’s words “Throwing a stone is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance” (Amira Hass, Haaretz, 4/3/13).

                                                                                                                                                                The day after Hass’ comment, Dr. Rosenberg offered these objections: a. throwing stones after all can result in death and Hass does not mention that consequence, b. justifying stone throwing “grants legitimacy to the activities of the government she condemns; and c. stone throwing is “a natural right of every human being is futile and invalid, certainly in ethical terms.” Conveniently, Rosenberg does not mention that the Palestinians have no army, no air-force, no navy, no comparable military ordinance of any kind to throw at the fourth largest state of the art military in the world, only stones; can the stone kill, yes, but so can $300,000 missiles and phosphorus bombs. Do we justify death by missiles and phosphorus but damn death by stoning? Does the throwing of a stone justify the carnage of the Israeli IDF against the defenseless Palestinians? Where is the argument here? Is throwing a stone a birthright as Amira states or is that “futile and invalid” as Rosenberg claims? Given the reality of the Israeli military power versus the feeble efforts of the Palestinians, children and teenagers hurling stones, the debate on birthright avoids the obvious: not to throw a stone.

                                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                “Listen to Cain as he walks beside his brother along the path of death: There is no judgment and no judge and no world to come! No reward will be given to the righteous nor any account given of the wicked. Such is the belief of those who would declare their independence of any responsibility for their brother, accept any blame for their deception as they accompany him to his death, or bear any guilt for the wickedness they inflict. Without judgment for behavior determined as good or bad, without reward for acts of love or compassion, without retribution for evil and wickedness against his brother, Cain is free to do what he wills to do. Ultimate freedom, a declaration indeed of independence. Abel responds to his brother in the only terms left to him as he walks to his death, a plea to conscience that binds all in mutual existence, a belief that ―There is indeed a judgment and a Judge and a world to come … and the wicked will be called to account. Without that understanding, those who will can, with impunity, plunder the poor, oppress the defenseless, act to pervert justice, and wreck violence and bloodshed on the world.”

                                                                                                                                                                Such is the moral dilemma Thoreau faced as he delivered his “A Plea for Captain John Brown,” (1859) as that “traitor” to the state faced hanging. Thoreau quotes Brown in his own defense: “No man sent me here; it was my own prompting and that of my maker. I acknowledge no master in human form… I think, my friends, you are guilty of a great wrong against God and humanity , and it would be perfectly right for anyone to interfere with you so far as to free those you willfully and wickedly hold in bondage.”

                                                                                                                                                                Such is the moral dilemma Mahatma Ghandi faced as he sought guidance from Hinduism and the importance of action in one’s life, without concern for success; the Hindu text Bhagavad-Gita says, “On action alone be thy interest, / Never on its fruits / Abiding in discipline perform actions, / Abandoning attachment / Being indifferent to success or failure” (Wolpert 71).

                                                                                                                                                                Such is the moral dilemma Martin Luther King faced as he sat in the Birmingham jail, a threat to the state’s legal system that legislated the segregated lives of the countries African Americans:

                                                                                                                                                                “I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

                                                                                                                                                                And such was the moral dilemma the Jews in Warsaw faced “Between July 22 and September 12, 1942, (as) the German authorities deported or murdered around 300,000 Jews in the Warsaw ghetto:

                                                                                                                                                                “Armed with pistols, grenades (many of them homemade), and a few automatic weapons and rifles, the ZOB fighters (the Jewish Combat Organization, Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa; ZOB) stunned the Germans and their auxiliaries on the first day of fighting, forcing the German forces to retreat outside the ghetto wall. German commander SS General Jürgen Stroop reported losing 12 men, killed and wounded, during the first assault on the ghetto. On the third day of the uprising, Stroop’s SS and police forces began razing the ghetto to the ground, building by building, to force the remaining Jews out of hiding. Jewish resistance fighters made sporadic raids from their bunkers, but the Germans systematically reduced the ghetto to rubble. The German forces killed Anielewicz and those with him in an attack on the ZOB command bunker on 18 Mila Street, which they captured on May 8.” (U.S. Holocaust Museum).

                                                                                                                                                                Such is the need to act, even metaphorically, when loss of life, threatened by those willing and capable of inflicting imprisonment, torture, or death on a person or persons is imminent and obvious. The right to life, to assert that right in the face of certain death, as is the fate of Abel, supersedes all other action. To throw a stone at a tank, the symbol of absolute power of another over personal freedom, to assert, yea even to glorify that birthright to live in freedom and peace in the world, supersedes the illegal laws of the state that occupies and oppresses. Laws are only just when they protect the personal rights and dignity of all. That is the ultimate meaning resident in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that is the criteria Israel must abide by in its occupation of Palestine. Otherwise, one must condemn the Jews that took their birthright to act against their oppressors or find their action a “right” based on some superior testament that negates such a right for the rest of humanity. The world cannot avoid its responsibility to protect the helpless; it must intervene in Palestine.

                                                                                                                                                                “Consider now the events of April 9-11, 1948, the eradication of the citizens of the town of Deir Yassin, a month before the Agency declared the existence of the Israeli state and the implementation of the UN Resolution to partition. This massacre became then and remains the signature example of the intent of the Zionist Consultancy and its agents to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its non-Jewish inhabitants. A plethora of documents abound that claim insight into the events that transpired during those three days, yet all attest to the extermination of the town’s citizens differing only as to numbers and agents responsible. Since Benny Morris relies on official documents released by the government and the military, I will use his summation as an example.

                                                                                                                                                                ‘Deir Yassin is remembered… for the atrocities committed by the IZL and LHI troops during and immediately after the drawn-out battle: Whole families were riddled with bullets… men, women, and children were mowed down as they emerged from houses; individuals were taken aside and shot. Haganah intelligence reported “there were piles of dead. Some of the prisoners moved to places of incarceration, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors… LHI members… relate that the IZL men raped a number of Arab girls and murdered them afterward (we don’t know if this is true).’ Another intelligence operative (who visited the site hours after the event) reported the ‘adult males were taken to town Jerusalem in trucks and paraded in the city streets, then taken back to the site and killed… Before they were put on the trucks, the IZL and LHI men searched the women, men, and children [and] took from them all the jewelry and stole their money.’ Finally, the ‘Haganah made great efforts to hide its part in the operation.

                                                                                                                                                                Despite Morris’ accounting, 50 years after the events at Deir Yassin, Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, attempted to revise history by denying that a massacre took place in his work, Deir Yassin, History of a Lie. Why? Why go to such lengths to deny what is so thoroughly documented? The answer is simple. Deir Yassin is a symbol of ethnic cleansing, of the determination of the Jews in Israel, controlled by the Zionist Consultancy and its armed forces, to “transfer” or kill the indigenous people of Palestine.

                                                                                                                                                                The truth symbolized by Deir Yassin is the calculated Zionist strategy “to terrorize Arabs in order to expel them on the way to depopulating their villages in order to repopulate them with new Jewish immigrants or to erase them from the map” (Passages adapted from the Introduction of The Plight of the Palestinians, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, edited by W.A. Cook).

                                                                                                                                                                But let it be stated here on this 11th day of April as I pen this piece, a day of catastrophe that should never be forgotten, that the people of Deir Yassin did not go gently into that good night; they, like their Jewish brothers and sisters in Warsaw, fought valiantly against terrible odds, against a systematic brutality that has been described above. They fought for their birthright as Amira Hass has established was their right and duty to assert, if they were to proclaim to all the world that no one and no nation has the right to occupy a people’s land or to oppress them wantonly or to humiliate and subjugate them because they have the will and the means to imprison and enslave, to torture and brutalize, to deprive and destroy to accomplish their ends. Such a nation acts without rights and must be subject to international justice that all humans of good will can live in peace and dignity.

                                                                                                                                                                - Professor William A. Cook’s latest book is Decade of Deceit. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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