Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One of the greatest philosophers of our time compares West Bank separation fence to Warsaw Ghetto walls

Zygmunt Bauman
Sygmunt Bauman

Sygmunt Bauman says Israel 'terrified of peace' and 'taking advantage of the Holocaust to legitimize unconscionable acts,' in interview with Polish weekly 'Politika.'
Sygmunt Bauman, the Jewish sociologist and one of the greatest philosophers of our time, castigated Israel harshly this week, saying it did not want peace and was afraid of it.

Bauman said Israel was "taking advantage of the Holocaust to legitimize unconscionable acts," and compared the separation fence to the walls surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto, in which hundreds of thousands of Jews perished in the Holocaust.
Read more

There are things that are said with mathematical precision and infallible logic. And who is more qualified than Bertrand Russel to do just that

"The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was "given" by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their numbers increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict. No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homeland is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East".

"Message from Bertrand Russell to the International Conference of Parliamentarians in Cairo, February 1970." Reprinted in The New York Times, Feb. 23, 1970.

An Israeli report: Is BDS campaign working?

Ynetnews special: Anti-Israel boycotters increasingly successful in strangling economy of Jewish state: More than 20 organizations in Europe in 13 countries endorse boycott of Agrexco, Israel’s leading flower exporte

'Anti-Israel boycott movement notches notable victories' (Photo: AP)
'Anti-Israel boycott movement notches notable victories'

Agrexco, Israel’s leading flower exporter, has recently declared bankruptcy, partially due to the global boycott of its produce, according to some reports. More than 20 organizations in Europe in 13 countries endorsed a boycott of Agrexco.

Many Israeli agricultural products have been recently targeted by the Israel boycott campaign: tomatoes, peppers, citrus fruit, carrots, melons, strawberries and celery. But the flowers have been the primary obsession of the divestment movement, which wants to strangle the Israeli economy.

Read more

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Florida Pastor Doesn’t Get Why Atheists Aren’t Registered Like Sex Offenders

Florida Pastor Doesn’t Get Why Atheists Aren’t Registered Like Sex Offenders

Meet Michael Stahl, otherwise known as "Pastor Mike." Stahl lives in Miramar, Florida, and leads an online church called Living Water Church, which we think is a fancy way of saying he hangs out a lot in a Christian-themed chat room. Stahl has proposed the creation of a national registry for atheists, much like the ones in existence for sex offenders. It's almost self-evident why this is a good idea, but let's have Stahl explain it himself:

Read more


We should be locked behind bars. We've been molesting childish beliefs for too long.

Interview with Max Blumenthal: 'Israel's 'response' to the Eilat bus shootings'

Max Blumenthal, interviewed by Sternchen Productions, on Israel's failure to distinguish civilians from combatants in Gaza in retaliating for Eilat killings...

"This thin but I think really effective and noble structure of international law is just being eaten away each time Israel practices its tactics of asymmetrical warfare on Gaza. That's what this is about, that's what the siege of Gaza is about. It's about going beyond the threshold of what should be acceptable to human values and to our recipe for surviving as a civilization. It goes beyond.... Was it justified? Who's responsible? It can never be justified because the structure itself affects us all and is damaging to Israelis and Palestinians. I think everyone should have the right to be a civilian and enjoy certain protections."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gaddafi family members flee to Algeria

Toppled Libyan leader's wife, his daughter and two of his sons in Algiers, but NTC says it will seek their extraditions.
File picture of Muammar Gaddafi's wife Safia [left], daughter Aisha [centre] and son Hannibal

Muammar Gaddafi's second wife, two of his sons and his daughter have entered Algeria, according to the Algerian foreign ministry.

"The wife of Muammar Gaddafi, Safia, his daughter Aisha, and sons Hannibal and Mohammed, accompanied by their children, entered Algeria at 08:45am local time [0745GMT] through the Algeria-Libyan border," the ministry said in a statement on Monday published by the APS news agency.

However, it gave no information on the toppled Libyan leader, whose whereabouts has remained a mystery since fighters opposed to his government seized control of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, last week.

Read more

Police Brutality in Silwan: 16-years-old and traumatized

On 19 August, 16-year-old Yazen Abbasi was brutally beaten by a gang of soldiers after noon prayer outside the mosque in Ras al-Amud, a neighbourhood in Silwan in East Jerusalem.

Over 100 soldiers were present for Friday prayers that day. According to worshippers, the closure of Al Aqsa mosque for Ramadan brings many more worshippers to Ras al-Amud’s mosque.

Yazen, waiting for his family outside the mosque, was startled by the loud bang of a firework set off. Unknown youths threw it in the direction of an assemblage of soldiers, his older brother, Hussein, tells The Palestine Monitor. Yazen was peering over a wall, looking for the source of the firework, when three soldiers attacked him from behind.

“Witnesses told us the soldiers beat him with batons and the butts of their rifles,” Hussein notes, “before army commanders arrived and joined in until about ten soldiers were involved.”

Read more

Important study shows that a small network is fostering widespread hatred of Islam inside US politics and public opinion

islamophobia network21

Graphic from Paul Woodward.

On Friday, the Center for American Progress published an important and excellent study, called Fear, Inc: The roots of the Islamophobia network in the US. The study shows that the wave of Islamophobia in the U.S. --Americans mistrust Muslims more than they did even after 9/11-- is the product of a few energized individuals. And they're polluting our political discourse.

Specifically, it's a handful of exponents of Islamophobia, among them Daniel Pipes, Sharia-law "expert" David Yerushalmi (whom the NYT profiled in more neutral terms a couple weeks back), David Horowitz, and Steve Emerson, the CNN expert turned wingnut.

Read more

Orwell in East Jerusalem

The Alternative Information Center reports that the Jerusalem Municipality has confiscated more Palestinian-owned land in occupied East Jerusalem, for a new settler parking lot that will serve a religious Tomb.


The Municipality seems to be claiming that is not the case.

“the land remains with its owners and there is no confiscation, but temporary use of the area in coordination with its owners in order to solve parking problems in the area. Owners of the land are those who will operate the car park and (they) can even charge money for the parking. It is important to note that the landowners can stop the…parking at any time and build on (the land)”.
Read more

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why one-fifth of US representatives went to Israel this summer

With Israel facing the potential of increased isolation from the UN move, the congressional show of force sends a clear message to the White House to stand by the Jewish state. It also sends a warning to Palestinian officials that Congress will cut off hundreds of millions in annual aid if they follow through with plans for a unilateral declaration of statehood backed by the UN, analysts say.

Making a case for $3 billion in aid during austere times

The visit is funded as an educational trip by the American Israel Education Foundation – a group affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

While such visits are routine, the unusual size of this year's delegation reflects several factors ranging from the UN vote and rising criticism of White House policy toward Israel, to the bumper crop of freshman representatives who don't have to spend the summer campaigning for reelection. AIPAC wants to use the visit to make the case to newcomers for continued US foreign aid of about $3 billion at a time of fiscal austerity.

Read moreLink

Friday, August 26, 2011

Speeding recovery

Glen Greenwald: The fruits of elite immunity

The fruits of elite immunity

Less than three years ago, Dick Cheney was presiding over policies that left hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead from a war of aggression, constructed a worldwide torture regime, and spied on thousands of Americans without the warrants required by law, all of which resulted in his leaving office as one of the most reviled political figures in decades. But thanks to the decision to block all legal investigations into his chronic criminality, those matters have been relegated to mere pedestrian partisan disputes, and Cheney is thus now preparing to be feted -- and further enriched -- as a Wise and Serious Statesman with the release of his memoirs this week: one in which he proudly boasts (yet again) of the very crimes for which he was immunized. As he embarks on his massive publicity-generating media tour of interviews, Cheney faces no indictments or criminal juries, but rather reverent, rehabilitative tributes, illustrated by this, from Politico today:

Read more


How come this war criminal is running free?

The Angry Arab's homage to Ali Ferzat

Ali Farzat: the dreams of Syria

This most gifted of cartoonist, `Ali Farzat, was kidnapped by armed goons (Shabbihah) of the Syrian regime and severely beaten. What do you call a lousy regime that is terrified of a talented cartoonist? I have written extensively on this blog about this brilliant cartoonist. I recommended a book published in the US containing some of his work. I always credit Lisa Wedeen of the University of Chicago for introducing me to his work back in 1993. He has a unique style and gifts. During the short-lived, "Damascus Spring", he produced a publication "Dumari". It did not last. I still possess some of its issues. Farzat has a website where some of work is displayed but it is now blocked. This is Farzat in his hospital bed. I woke up to the news and was most distressed. The Ba`th Party in its history produced no talents and gifts: so I understand why they want to smash gifts and arts and talents. This is a crucial moment for wavering progressive: a stance against the repressive regime is now badly needed. No argument can be made in support of the regime. And despite is verbal trickery, it does not fight Israel either. It hides under the feet of Hizbullah hoping to reap the rewards of their fighting skills against Israel. This is a regime that smashes hopes and dreams. `Ali Farzat? One of the best talents in Syria and the region? Armed goons of the regime dare to damage his precious hands?? Which side are you on? Ali Farzat or Bashshar Al-Asad?

It's official. Gathafi is in Zimbabwe..

ImageIt official; Col Muammar Gaddafi is now a guest of Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe in Harare, but activists of the Movement for Democratic Change, the MDC Veterans Activists Association (VAA) have called on Zimbabweans to storm the house in the Gunhill suburb of Harare to effect a mass citizens' arrest.

In a statement today the VAA said Gaddafi staged a nocturnal entry into Zimbabwe aboard a Zimbabwe Air force jet that landed at Suri-Suri Airbase in Chegutu at 01:07am on Wednesday morning.

He was quickly whisked to a sprawling mansion in Harare’s Gunhill suburb under the cover of darkness with members of MDC VAA in a secret pursuit.

We kept a hawk’s eye on the house since Wednesday until this morning (Friday) and we don’t doubt even for a second that the fallen despot is now a ‘unique guest’ to Robert Mugabe.

Read more

How the largest social justice movement in Israel’s history managed to ignore the Palestinians

Joseph Dana
The men and women who set out to build a Jewish state in historic Palestine made little secret of their settler-colonial designs. Zionism’s intellectual author, Theodor Herzl, described the country he envisioned as “part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism.” “All the means we need, we ourselves must create them, like Robinson Crusoe on his island,” Herzl told an interviewer in 1898. The Labor Zionist movement’s chief ideologue, Berl Katznelson, was more blunt than Herzl, declaring in 1928, “The Zionist enterprise is an enterprise of conquest.” More recently, and perhaps most crudely, former Prime Minister and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak described the goal of Zionism as maintaining “a villa in the jungle.”
Read more

Cheney tried to persuade President Bush to bomb Syria

In a combative and score-settling new book, former vice-president Dick Cheney reveals how he unsuccessfully tried to persuade his boss George W Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear site, and takes sharp aim at his "moderate" rivals of the time, Condoleezza Rice and in particular her predecessor as Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, to be published next week, has long been keenly awaited, and the man regarded as the arch-conservative in the Bush inner circle does not disappoint. "There will be heads exploding all over Washington," Mr Cheney told NBC in an interview of which excerpts were released yesterday. For once, the hype may not be far off the mark.

Read more

How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones

The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. "Lift up your head! Lift it up!" shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. "I wish you'd let me go," the boy whimpers, "just so I can get some sleep."

During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear.

Read more

Thugs break hands of Syria's top cartoonist for Assad lampoon

Syria's most renowned political cartoonist, who recently drew a sketch comparing President Bashar al-Assad to Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, had both his hands broken in an attack yesterday by masked gunmen who dragged the 60-year-old out of his car.

Ali Ferzat, whose satirical art once drew death threats from Saddam Hussein, was treated in hospital. He was attack as he left his Damascus studio at four o'clock yesterday morning.

Mr Ferzat was trailed by a 4x4 with tinted windows, said activists, and one of Mr Ferzat's relatives. Four men then dragged him out of his car, forced him into the Jeep and drove out to a highway on the outskirts of the capital. "We will break your hands so that you'll stop drawing," said the gunmen, the relative told the Associated Press news agency
Read more

Ali Ferzat in hospital

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Human rights irony for the US and Arab world

Ten years after September 11th, human rights flounder in the United States but flourish in the Middle East.
Since September 11th, the United States and the Arab world have traveled a treacherous road together. Where they have arrived after ten years sets them apart. In the US, the embrace of human rights as a defining value and ideal worthy of considerable sacrifice is gradually fading, while the Arab world is in the midst of a rights revolution.

Throughout US history, promoting individual rights and civil liberties has been central to how Americans defined themselves. To be American was to champion liberty and rights. These were repeatedly billed as inherently American values. Even when they encountered contradictions such as US support for brutal dictators, Americans' faith that more often than not the United States used its power to promote its principles allowed many Americans to continue to take pride in their "America as leader of the free world" identity. In this formulation, human rights, ideals, and morality mattered, at the very least as a bar that should be met.
Read more

Whose Congress and State Department?

Philip Giraldi
"Two recent news stories relate to the United States government and how it has been corrupted by its deference to Israel and wasted tax dollars pandering to the Lobby, almost as if it cannot help itself."

"The first story, that 20 percent of the House of Representatives will be spending its recess holiday on American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tours of Israel, does not seem to have made the mainstream news, though it has been reported extensively in the alternative media, including this site. The visits are on top of a previous tour by more than 20 congressmen in April, and yet another group will be going in December. The current tours, one consisting of 26 Democratic congressmen headed by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and two others of 55 Republicans, one led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are ostensibly intended to provide Congress with a “deeper understanding” of the situation in the Middle East. For “deeper understanding” one might easily substitute “Israeli viewpoint.”
Read more

Syrian forces beat up political cartoonist Ali Ferzat

Ferzat, who had become increasingly critical of Bashar al-Assad's regime, found bleeding at side of Damascus road
Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, at his Damascus gallery
Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, at his Damascus gallery.

Syrian security forces have beaten up a prominent Syrian political cartoonist and left him bleeding on the side of a road, in the latest episode of a campaign to quash dissent against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Ali Ferzat, 60, is one of Syria's most famous cultural figures, and his drawings and cartoons have pushed at the boundaries of freedom of expression in Syria.

Working from a gallery in central Damascus, Ferzat has long criticised the bureaucracy and corruption of the regime and since March has turned to depicting the uprising.

In the early hours of Thursday, masked men seized Ferzat on a Damascus street and forced him in to a van. He was held for several hours and beaten before being dumped, bleeding, on the capital's Airport Road where he was found by passersby, activists said.

Read more

Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat kidnapped and severely beaten by security forces thugs

Damascus: Security forces and Shabbiha gang that kidnapped artist Ali Ferzat eventually threw him at the Airport Road after they had severely beaten him especially on his hands. He is at Al-Razi hospital at the moment after he was found by some passers-by who resuscitated and transported him to the hospital.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Libya is no Iraq – this revolution is the real deal

Far from being on the brink of another quagmire, if left to it Libya is well placed to be the most successful of the Arab uprisings

Rebel fighters in Libya celebrate the capture of Muammar Gaddafi's compound
Libyan rebels celebrate the capture of Muammar Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli.

Libya will be another Iraq and Afghanistan, we are told.

They are wrong, because the post-conflict scenario in Libya differs from those two examples of failed western intervention in several crucial aspects. Indeed if you study the indicators, Libya is poised to be the most complete and potentially most successful of any the Arab uprisings so far.

The roots of Iraq and Afghanistan's tragedy lie in the abrupt and imposed nature of change. It's easy to forget that Libya's organic and intense popular uprising preceded any international intervention. UN security council resolution 1973, which authorised the use of force to protect civilians, was only passed when it became clear that a massacre in the east was imminent. This is not Nato's revolution, not by a long way. The Libyan revolution remains very much the real deal.

Read more

£1m for Gaddafi 'dead or alive'

A Libyan rebel fighter takes a souvenir photograph as they make a final push to flush out pro-Gaddafi forces

A £1 million reward was offered today for the capture of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as Foreign Secretary William Hague called on the Libyan dictator to recognise his 42-year rule was over and stand down his forces.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the Transitional National Council, said he supported the offer by Libyan businessmen for a reward of two million Libyan dinars to anyone handing over Gaddafi "dead or alive".

Read more

The One Billion Dollar Question: Who Are the Libyan Rebels?

Libya_button Libyan rebels have consolidated their grip on the capital of Tripoli by capturing Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s main compound, but the whereabouts of the Libyan leader remain unknown, and he has vowed his forces would resist "the aggression with all strength" until either victory or death. Reporters in Tripoli say heavy gunfire could still be heard nearby the area of the Rixos Hotel, where dozens of international journalists guarded by heavily armed Gaddafi loyalists are unable to leave.
Read more

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who exactly are these people?!

Rebel spokesman to Haaretz: Libya needs help, including Israel
"We are asking Israel to use its influence in the international community to end the tyrannical regime of Gadhafi and his family," says Ahmad Shabani.
When asked what sort of assistance Libya required, Ahmad Shabani, the founder of Libya's Democratic Party, said: "We are asking Israel to use its influence in the international community to end the tyrannical regime of Gadhafi and his family."
Read moreLink

'Flagman' becomes instant hero at Egypt protest

"CAIRO (AP) — With the Egyptian flag draped over his shoulder, a carpenter carefully climbed up the 21-story Israeli Embassy in Cairo on his way to becoming an instant hero to millions across the Arab world.

"Keep going, keep going!" an awe-struck crowd below yelled at dawn Sunday, craning their necks to watch him.

When he reached the top, Ahmed al-Shahat ripped down Israel's blue-and-white flag and replaced it with Egypt's red, white and black. Thousands of protesters cheered; fireworks went off.

And so was born "flagman," a figure who resonates with Egyptians angry not only with Israel's killing of five Egyptian policemen on Thursday, but with Israel's treatment of Palestinians and their own government's decades-long support of Israel under Hosni Mubarak's ousted regime....."
Read more

How protests against Israel (and Flagman) saved lives in Gaza

Ali Abunimah

Israel appears to have backed away from an even more massive assault on Gaza – for now – largely because of protests in Egypt and the broader sense that Israel “lacks legitimacy” to carry out more aggression despite assured diplomatic cover from the United States. This is an enormous victory for people power, and as a result lives have undoubtedly been saved.

In recent days Palestinians in Gaza, hearing the sounds of Israeli warplanes, explosions and drones all around them at all hours, worried that Israel was preparing to launch a massive assault on Gaza similar to “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008 which killed more than 1,400 people, injured thousands and laid waste to civilian infrastructure.

Read more

Patrick Cockburn: No one doubts that Gaddafi has lost. The question is: who has won?

Precedents in Afghanistan and Iraq are not encouraging and serve as a warning
The civil war in Libya went on longer than expected, but the fall of Tripoli came faster than was forecast. As in Kabul in 2001 and Baghdad in 2003, there was no last-ditch stand by the defeated regime, whose supporters appear to have melted away once they saw that defeat was inevitable.
While it is clear Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has lost power, it is not certain who has gained it. The anti-regime militiamen that are now streaming into the capital were united by a common enemy, but not much else. The Transitional National Council (TNC) in Benghazi, already recognised by so many foreign states as the legitimate government of Libya, is of dubious legitimacy and authority.
Read more

Robert Fisk: How long before the dominoes fall?

The West is offering lessons in democracy to New Libya; how to avoid the chaos we ourselves inflicted on the Iraqis

The remaining Arab potentates and tyrants have spent a second sleepless night. How soon will the liberators of Tripoli metamorphose into the liberators of Damascus and Aleppo and Homs? Or of Amman? Or Jerusalem? Or of Bahrain or Riyadh? It's not the same, of course.

The Arab Spring-Summer-Autumn has proved not just that the old colonial frontiers remain inviolate – an awful tribute to imperialism, I suppose – but that every revolution has its own characteristics. If all Arab uprisings have their clutch of martyrs, some rebellions are more violent than others. As Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said at the start of his own eventual downfall, "Libya is not Tunisia, it's not Egypt...It will become civil war. There will be bloodshed on the streets." And there was.

Read more

UN: Syria death toll tops 2,200

Human Rights Council holds emergency talks on government crackdown on protests as activists report more deaths in Homs.
Syrian UN envoy, al-Hamwi, said Syria is the victim of "the lies and the hatred of mass media"

The death toll from Syria's crackdown on anti-government protesters has passed 2,200, the UN says, as the world body's rights council held an emergency session to discuss the situation in the country.

"As of today, over 2,200 people have been killed since mass protests began in mid-March, with more than 350 people reportedly killed across Syria since the beginning of Ramadan," Navi Pillay, the human rights chief, told the council on Monday.

In Syria, activists told Al Jazeera that three more people were killed in the city of Homs on Monday, shortly after a UN humanitarian mission was deployed there to assess the situation on the ground. One of the dead was said to be a baby.

Read more

Monday, August 22, 2011

No smoking gun in Hariri killing

What are the legal and political ramifications of the evidence and the indictments implicating the Hezbollah members?

Al Jazeera
Read more

Ordinary racism in Israel

I was arrested for hiring a Palestinian tour guide
After the police ineptitude and harassment experienced today, it is clear that in certain situations, Palestinians are simply guilty until proven innocent

Last week my tour company, MEJDI, received a tour group from Washington DC. The group members are all part of the same Jewish congregation, and are here on a trip lead by their rabbi, who was inspired by our narratives-based approach to tourism. This morning we took the tour group to the Mount of Olives for a view of the Old City of Jerusalem, and spoke to them about the political and religious narratives of the city. While the tourists were wandering around and taking pictures, a policeman with another woman in civilian clothing approached our Palestinian tour guide, asked for his identity card and tourism license, and arrested him.

Each of our groups has two guides, one Palestinian and one Israeli. Almost all of our Palestinian guides come from East Jerusalem, because of the severe shortage of permits for Palestinian guides based in the West Bank. This guide, who for security reasons will be called “HJ,” is a resident of Bethlehem, and is the first West Bank guide we hired to lead our groups in Israel, in tandem with an Israeli Jewish guide.
Read more

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gaddafi son in Libyan rebel custody

Mohammad Gaddafi speaks to Al Jazeera after surrendering, but interview interrupted by gunfire.
In ... Muhammad Gaddafi

Two of Muammar Gaddafi's sons are now in the custody of Libyan rebels.

Earlier Al Jazeera spoke to Mohammad Gaddafi, after he had surrendered. There was the sound of gunfire before the phone line went down.

But the head of the opposition National Transitional Council told Al Jazeera he was not hurt.

Libyan rebels in Tripoli's central square

Gaddafi's defences collapse in a dramatic turning of the tides in the six-month-old civil war.

Euphoric Libyan rebels have moved into the centre of the capital, Tripoli, as Muammar Gaddafi's defenders melted away and thousands of jubilant civilians rushed out of their homes to cheer the long convoys of pickup trucks packed with fighters shooting in the air.

The rebels' surprising and speedy leap forward, after six months of largely deadlocked civil war, was packed into just a few dramatic hours. By nightfall on Sunday, they had advanced more than 32km to Tripoli.

Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera's correspondent, said from the Green Square: "There's a party in the Libyan capital tonight. The people are in charge of the city. They've decided the square is now called Martyr's Square, the original name. They're shouting 'we're free' and shooting at a poster of Gaddafi." Link

Read more

Libya celebrates in anticipation of the fall of the Lybian regime

Al Jazeera English: Live Stream

Gaddafi forces shrink on all battle fronts

Rebel fighters are holding much of the east and parts of the west.
Momentum appears to have now firmly swung in the opposition's favour after months of near-deadlock, with the rebels holding much of the east and parts of the west.
"Gaddafi's days are numbered,'' said Jeffrey Feltman, US Assistant Secretary of State, during a visit to the de-facto rebel capital of Benghazi. "The best case scenario is for Gaddafi to step down now ... that's the best
protection for civilians.''
Read more

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What Congress Won't See on Its Trip to Israel This Month

Michael Berg-The Huffington Post

During my time in the Holy Land, I had an opportunity to meet and talk with many Palestinians and Israelis. I learned about a system in Israel that discriminates against Palestinians on the basis of their ethnicity. In the West Bank, things are far worse. I observed an explicit system of racial segregation and ethnic cleansing, where Palestinians are separated from their own lands and water by walls, barbed-wire fences and machine-gun-wielding soldiers and Jewish settlers.

I saw the remains of an entire demolished Bedouin village, destroyed in order to expand an illegal Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley. The settlement uses what used to be the wells of the Bedouin village in order to provide water for its swimming pools.

I witnessed a Palestinian farmer coming under fire from projectiles merely for trying to farm his own land. The excuse? His land is too close to a Jewish-only settlement. A European with me did not leave the vicinity as quickly as Israeli soldiers wanted and had his face smashed into the ground. He was detained for approximately one week and then deported.

I observed how Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is being economically and socially stunted by a giant wall that separates it from Jerusalem. It is a wall that Israelis can cross freely to travel between settlements and the rest of Israel. For Palestinians living in the West Bank, it is quite difficult to get a pass to go to Jerusalem, and if they do they must go through a humiliating inspection procedure at the checkpoint.

Read more

Friday, August 19, 2011

Israel's former Soviet immigrants transform adopted country

Harriet Sherwood

"But they almost overwhelmed Israel, causing a severe housing crisis. Many eventually settled in Russian enclaves in cities such as Ashdod, Petah Tikva and Haifa – and in expanding West Bank settlements, such as Ariel.

"It was a very different type of immigration," said Lily Galili, an Israeli journalist writing a book about the impact of the tidal wave from the former Soviet Union. "They didn't want to integrate. They wanted to lead. They changed the nature of the country."

Read more

Right wing and fascists!

Hanan Ashrawi: UN responsible for Palestinian state

BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug -- PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said Tuesday that the United Nations was the proper place for questions of Palestinian self-determination, following a meeting with the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. "As the body charged with upholding international law," Palestinians hold the UN responsible for the establishment of their state, Ashrawi said in a statement.
Read more

Israel to recruit 70 countries to vote against recognizing Palestine, says Israeli official

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, said Wednesday that Israel is working on recruiting 60-70 important countries to vote against the Palestinian quest to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian independent state based on the 1967 borders. In a speech addressing 150 Jewish leaders worldwide to recruit them to support the Israeli efforts to prevent the recognition of the Palestinian state, Ayalon, who is also a member of the Knesset for Yisrael Beiteinu, said "the Palestinians are a majority in the United Nations (UN) and we are trying to recruit the most important countries so that they do not vote according to their conscience, but for the security and stability in the Middle East."
Read more

Occupy, colonize, exploit: the economic uses of the separation barrier

Occ. Pal. 19 Aug -- In the occupied territories people are divided into two groups -- masters and natives. The masters in the settlements have a certain law, Israeli, and they are subject to Israeli courts -- outside of Israel. They are an enclave floating over the occupied West Bank. So what happens when the Palestinian natives work for the masters in the settlements? Ostensibly, Israeli labor laws -- such as they are -- should apply to them: they must pay the minimum wage and respect some rights. But the employing masters in the settlements don’t want that: a native is a native, and his price -- the price of a native. 90 NIS (=$25) a day, 120 NIS ($34) a day: that’s how much is paid for hard work in the Solor gas industries factory. And the natives work. They work with hazardous materials – they work with bromide but without gas masks; in the paint department they work without ventilation and with deafening noise -- and they pay for this with serious damage to their health. All this has been documented by our friends in “Kav L’Oved” who have been accompanying the worker’s struggles for their rights here and in other settlements in the West Bank for years. On October 19, 2010, the workers went on strike.
Read more

Ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem/Al Quds

Israel threatens 384 Jerusalemite figures with exile
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 18 Aug -- Palestinian lawmakers and activists in the occupied city of Jerusalem revealed Israeli intents to exile 384 Jerusalemite figures at the pretext of their activities against the occupation in the holy city. The Israeli intelligence summoned lately those figures at different times and threatened them with expulsion from Jerusalem next September if they did not change their positions and stop their political activities against the occupation. Foreign diplomats and human rights activists in the holy city affirmed that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) prepared a list of 384 noted names from Jerusalem.
Read more
Neve Daniel colony municipality secretly expanding settlement by night
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Aug -- The municipal council of the Israeli Neve Daniel settlement west of Bethlehem has been taking advantage of the Ramadan season to expand the illegal settlement founded on the land of the nearby Palestinian village of Al-Khadr. As Palestinian Muslims break fast at sunset, the municipality brings out its bulldozers to carry out wide-ranging excavations on a 300-dunum (1 Dunum= 1000 square meters) area known as Ayn al-Qissis throughout the night. The night digging has been going on for four days in an area barren of a Palestinian population, said Ahmed Salah, the coordinator for the local anti-settlement committee. He added that a number of local farmers related that when they go to tend to their farms, they have spotted damage caused by bulldozers. They said they have not seen related activity during the daytime.Salah confirmed that a delegation from the anti-settlement committee later investigated and found that digging was actually taking place, and that roads were being etched bridging between the area and Neve Daniel. The bulldozers dug in a way that blocked farmers from having access to their land
Read more

UN office: Settlements expand, while Area C is bulldozed

RAMALLAH (IRIN) 17 Aug -- Each year, hundreds of Palestinians in Area C have their homes demolished by the Israeli authorities because they are unable to obtain permits for their buildings, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Area C covers 60 percent of the West Bank with a Palestinian population of about 150,000. Israel retains military authority and full control over building and planning in Area C: as much as 70 percent of it is inaccessible to Palestinians, classified as Israeli settlement areas, firing zones, or nature reserves. In the remaining 30 percent there are a number of other restrictions that reduce the possibility for Palestinians to obtain a building permit, reports OCHA. In practice, Palestinian construction is normally permitted only within the boundaries of a plan approved by the Israeli Civil Administration, which covers less than 1 percent of Area C, much of which is already built-up, according to OCHA. Many Palestinians living in Area C are left with no choice other than to build without a permit.
Read more

Israel's mad dog policy..Indiscriminate, disproportionate as usual..

Protest in Cairo: Israeli ambassador must leave

At the #Israeli embassy in Cairo few hours ago. Protesters refused to leave or negotiate before the ambassador leaves. #Egypt #IsraeliEbassy #Determination.

At the time of writing [23.40 GMT], according to Palestinian medical sources, the death toll has climbed to 19 Palestinians, with 42 more wounded, all within the last 24 hours.

Israel deliberately targets civilians. It's the Dahiya doctrine!

Gaza in the last 24 hours:15 killed, 44 injured. among them 11 children, 10 women, and 3 elderly. Israel F16s are hovering on low altitudes

Robert Fisk: It's his fast-disappearing billions that will worry Assad, not words from Washington

Nearly 10 per cent of Syria's deposits went in the first four months of 2011, some ending up in Lebanese banks
The real fear for Bashar is not oil sanctions but banks – especially the £12bn in foreign reserves that existed in Syria's Central Bank in February, a sum which is now being depleted by around £50m a week. In May, Syria's foreign minister – the mighty (physically) Walid Moallem – asked Baghdad for cheap Iraqi oil. Nearly 10 per cent of Syria's banking deposits disappeared in the first four months of 2011; £1.8bn was withdrawn, some of it ending up in Lebanese banks.
Read moreLink

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lessons of two wars: We will lose in Iraq and Afghanistan

Stephen M. Walt

The truth is that the United States and its allies lost the war in Iraq and are going to lose the war in Afghanistan. There: I said it. By "lose," I mean we will eventually withdraw our military forces without having achieved our core political objectives, and with our overall strategic position weakened. We did get Osama bin Laden -- finally -- but that was the result of more energetic intelligence and counter-terrorism work in Pakistan itself and had nothing to do with the counterinsurgency we are fighting next door. U.S. troops have fought courageously and with dedication, and the American people have supported the effort for many years. But we will still have failed because our objectives were ill-chosen from the start, and because the national leadership (and especially the Bush administration) made some horrendous strategic judgments along the way.

Read more

Replanting Resilience: Replanting million trees that have been uprooted

"Our main project in Palestine at the moment is the Million Tree Campaign, where we plan to replant trees that have been systematically uprooted by Israel. Indeed, only a few weeks ago, we celebrated planting the millionth tree, immediately thereafter launching the second project for the next million trees.'
Read more

Quartet alarmed by Israel's settlement plans

Mediating group says it is 'greatly concerned' by recent announcement to advance planning for new housing units.
Israel approves the building of almost 300 new homes in Ariel, inside the occupied West Bank

The Middle East Quartet, consisting of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN, has expressed concern over Israel's move to build 277 houses in the occupied West Bank and 900 houses in occupied East Jerusalem.

"The Quartet is greatly concerned by Israel's recent announcements to advance planning for new housing units in Ariel and east Jerusalem," the the mediating group said in a statement on Tuesday.

"This comes at a critical juncture with Quartet efforts ongoing to resume negotiations which are the only way to a just and durable solution to the conflict," the statement said.

The statement came amid intense efforts by Tony Blair, the Quartet's special envoy, to get Palestinians and Israelis back into direct talks.

Read more

Assad to UN: Syrian operations over (yeah, right!)

President tells UN that police and military operations have stopped, as world body set to discuss country's crackdown.

Military and police operations against protesters in Syria have stopped, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the world body said in a statement.

The announcement comes ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday at which the UN's human rights chief, Navi Pillay, could call for Syria's crackdown on protesters to be referred to the International Criminal Court, according to diplomats.

Read more

Israel firm on not apologising over flotilla

Israel sticks to refusal to apologise to Turkey for killing nine of its citizens on Gaza-bound aid ship last year.

Israeli marines shot dead nine Turkish passengers on the Mavi Marmara aid ship in May 2010

Israel says it will stick to its refusal to apologise to Turkey for killing nine of its citizens on a Gaza-bound aid ship, an Israeli official has said.

Wednesday's announcement, which the official said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu conveyed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a telephone call a day earlier, was made days before the publication of the findings of a UN inquiry into the deadly raid of the Mavi Marmara boat last year.

The so-called Palmer report was repeatedly delayed to allow for Israeli-Turkish reconcilliaiton talks amid concern in Washington at the rift between two countries that had been strategic partners in an increasingly volatile Middle East.

Read more

Left and right in Israel: As the French say, 'bonnet blancs et blancs bonnet' (same sh*t)

Leading Labor Party candidate: I don't see Israeli settlements as a crime

Shelly Yachimovich claims settlement building was completely consensual move; says it was Labor Party that founded the settlement enterprise in the territories.
Prospective Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich has defended her party's role in the establishment of the settlements, saying, "I certainly do not see the settlement project as a sin and a crime." In an interview to be published in Haaretz Magazine Friday, MK Yachimovich added, "In its time, it was a completely consensual move. And it was the Labor Party that founded the settlement enterprise in the territories. That is a fact. A historical fact."
Read more

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

U.S. Senator seeks to cut aid to elite IDF units operating in West Bank and Gaza

Senator Patrick Leahy claims Shayetet 13 unit, undercover Duvdevan unit, and the Israel Air Force Shaldag unit are involved in human rights violations in occupied territories.
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy is promoting a bill to suspend U.S. assistance to three elite Israel Defense Forces units, alleging they are involved in human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Leahy, a Democrat and senior member of the U.S. Senate, wants assistance withheld from the Israel Navy's Shayetet 13 unit, the undercover Duvdevan unit and the Israel Air Force's Shaldag unit.
Read more

Nurit Peled-Elhanan on Israeli textbooks: ‘I didn’t know I would fall on so much racism’

Nurit Peled-Elhanan interviewed for the book "Abraham's Children."

Peled-Elhanan: I didn't know I would fall on so much racism.....

Palestinians are, if they are represented, usually they're are not represented at all..........they don't exists, nothing of their culture/customs nothing only as problems..and to represent people as problems is racism. Visually you don't see even in all Israel none of them can you find a photograph of a Palestinian person..a teacher a doctor whatever nothing you only find racists icons of Ali Baba

Monday, August 15, 2011

Israel approves 277 new homes in West Bank settlement

Israeli tractors working at the construction site of 50 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Ariel

The Independent

Israel has approved the building of 277 apartments in the Jewish settlement deepest inside the West Bank, defying US criticism of continued construction on land the Palestinians claim for a state.

The planned construction in Ariel — the core of the settlement bloc farthest inside the West Bank — is the third project on disputed (disputed?!!) lands to be advanced in the past week.

Read more

The World Should Be Watching Tahrir Square

Global media coverage of news from Egypt over the last week was focused on the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It ignored--or gave only footnote status to--a more important development: the forcible expulsion on Monday, August 1, of democracy activists from Tahrir Square in Cairo, and the occupation of the square by the Egyptian military and police. Armed forces now surround the central square area, literally taking up the space occupied by the democracy movement only a few days ago.

The trial of Hosni Mubarak, who oversaw his government’s killing of more than 1,000 Egyptians, whose only crime was peacefully protesting for basic human rights and dignity, is an important step toward establishing the rule of law in Egypt. But, it is only one step toward democratic reform. That the ruling Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) saw fit to shut down Tahrir Square shows, at best, that they don’t understand the importance of that place for the democratic development of Egypt.

Read more-CommonDreams

Tarzan and Arab: the Gaza artists determined to make it against all odds

Despite a lack of training, equipment, funding or an audience, Gaza's twin artists are determined to succeed as film directors
"As artists we are restricted by living in a conservative and tough community," says Arab. "Let's be realistic. Our life is under siege, under control. People don't have time for art. They spend all their time looking for crumbs. They say, 'What use is art? Art will not give you bread.' "
Read more
(thanks vza)

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Cagle Cartoon

US porn : Congress does Israel

Photo from the Israeli Embassy of that congressional junket to Israel. These are Dems, I figure; that's Steny Hoyer, seated, with Shimon Peres.

Via Mondoweiss

Peres HoyerCongress

Mainstream Economist Nouriel Roubini: Marx Was Right. Capitalism May Be Destroying Itself

Nouriel Roubini is a mainstream economist who teaches at New York University and may be best known as one of the early predictors of the '08 crash.

He is no Marxist.

But today, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Roubini admitted that Marx was right about Capitalism and raised the possibility that Capitalism is destroying itself in the way Marx outlined more than a century and a half ago.

I've produced a rough transcript (Roubini's accent gives me some trouble) of the critical portion of this very interesting interview. I urge you to read each word carefully at least once, if not twice.

Read more

US censures report on drone casualties. Possibly up to 168 children have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan

Officials reject independent UK study's finding that up to 168 children have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan.

US officials have strongly rejected allegations in an independent UK study that a covert drone war in Pakistan has killed large numbers of civilians, saying the numbers are "way off the mark".

On Friday, US officials criticised the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism report's finding that there had been many more CIA attacks on alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban targets and far more civilian deaths than previously reported.

The report said that bombing raids by unmanned aircraft had killed up to 168 children in Pakistan over the last seven years.

Read more-Al Jazeera