Saturday, 21 February 2009

Turkey's "neo-Ottomanism"...


In the IHT, here, via WIC
"....Some call it neo-Ottomanism, others an "independent" foreign policy that defines a new role for Turkey on the world stage. But some things are changing in Turkey and, it seems, for good.......The junior parliamentarian talked about establishing some sort of a “commonwealth” with Turkey’s eastern neighbors, including Iran and Syria, and about the importance of building new alliances in Asia and the Muslim world......

Turkey's turn towards the east follows a logic that runs roughly like this: Turkey does not fulfill its full potential when it is aligned solely with United States and the European Union; there is an untapped potential in trade and political gains eastward in its immediate neighborhood; and Ankara needs to embrace alternative axes - with Russia, Iran and the Muslim world - in order to be able to garner greater influence in the Middle East and beyond..."

Draft Res. for Durban II: Israel Is Racist, Occupying State


Al Manar TV - Hanan Awarekeh

Draft resolutions for the Durban II United Nations summit on racism brand Israel as an occupying state that carries out racist policies, Israeli daily Haaretz has reported.

The resolutions appear to confirm concerns that the second World Conference against Racism will be used by Arab nations and others to criticize Israel. Despite those concerns, the United States said last week it would participate in planning the summit.

United Nations sources relayed on Friday that the resolutions, which will be voted upon at the summit, were formulated at a planning session held by a number of nations in Geneva last week. They refer to the situation of the Palestinian refugees and the "the plight of Palestinian refugees and other inhabitants of the Arab occupied territories," apparently meaning Israel itself.

Israel and a number of other countries have already decided to boycott the summit, which is set to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in April.

In a statement released last week, the State Department said the U.S. delegation to the planning discussions would review current direction of conference preparations and whether U.S. participation in the conference itself is warranted. "This will be the first opportunity the [Obama] administration has had to engage in the negotiations for the Durban Review, and - in line with our commitment to diplomacy - the U.S. has decided to send a delegation to engage in the negotiations on the text of the conference document," the department said.


IDF: War crime charges over Gaza offensive are 'legal terror'



War crimes charges brought abroad against Israeli soldiers and officers involved in Operation Cast Lead are nothing but "legal terrorism," Col. Liron Liebman, who heads the military prosecution's international law department, said Wednesday.

Liebman, who recently replaced Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, was speaking at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem about the role of the law in fighting terror.

There is little chance that war crimes charges abroad will end in conviction, or, for that matter, in acquittal, since procedural issues will end up derailing the allegations before they reach that stage, Liebman told Haaretz. But that doesn't much matter to those bringing the charges, he said.

"The goal is achieved when the charges are publicized," Liebman said. "The objective is to cause damage to morale, more than legal damage."

In Spain, for instance, legal charges are being brought over the Gaza war. Liebman says this is no coincidence: The country was the site of major protests against Israel while the fighting was taking place.

He also said the Israel Defense Forces would be completing five investigations within the next few weeks relating to a variety of wartime incidents. Although the military prosecution was involved in providing legal opinions regarding Operation Cast Lead, Liebman said it did not play a role in choosing the targets nor could it be present in the pilot's cockpit.

"Even the brigade commander doesn't always know what's going on," he said. "The fog of war applies to us as well. You have to make a distinction between planning the targets ahead of time and checking whether it's possible to attack targets [on the one hand] and ad hoc factors in the field [on the other], when there are forces firing on our troops or a pilot has three seconds to decide one way or the other."

If the investigations reveal that Israeli troops committed offenses or exceeded their authority, "they will be dealt with appropriately," Liebman said.

"Commanders during the fighting shouldn't be losing sleep because of the investigations," he added. "It's impossible not to make mistakes in such a crowded environment, under pressure. There's a large gap between mistakes and the 'war crimes' people like to accuse us of."

Indeed, international law expert Yoram Dinstein said at a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv late last month that a ratio of three or four civilian deaths per combatant death was the norm in most wars.


Palestine Forever

Sami Yusuf Going Mainstream?
February 17, 2009


Sami Yusuf is known as the king of Islamic pop. That may sound like an oxymoron but the British born singer of Azeri origin has made a name for himself and garnered fans from all over the world with his spiritual music. His first two albums al-Mu’allim (2003) and My Ummah (2005) have sold over 5 million copies. His song “Supplication” was also featured on the Kite Runner soundtrack. He’s now set to release a new album in a month or so. In a recent interview with Riz Khan on Al Jazeera English, Yusuf talked about the legal battle with his former record label, Awakening Records, that’s taken place over the past year or so. Awakening decided to release an album last month with songs that Yusuf says were a “work in progress” and incomplete. It goes without saying that the album was released without his blessing. However, his new real album, delayed as a result of the legal battle with Awakening, should be released soon and it’ll be a crossover of sorts. Most of the songs will be in English. And Yusuf says he does not want to focus on just recording religious songs just because they sell. He feels he has so much more to offer and to say as an artist.

There’s no question Sami Yusuf is quite gifted. He writes and composes almost all of his music and he has an amazing voice. The only thing that I find off about his songs sometimes is that the English lyrics seem to be a bit weird. I don’t know if it’s a result of him trying to adhere to the exact translations of the words from the Quran in Arabic or what, but they do seem odd at times. However, the combination of his voice and his music composition can be very mesmerizing. His good looks don’t hurt either.

After seeing what happened in Gaza recently, Yusuf decided to release the song “Forever Palestine” as a free download on his website. The song was originally recorded in 2002 but Yusuf didn’t feel it was complete at the time. After seeing the effects of the assault on Gaza, particularly among Gazan children, he chose to complete it and release it.

I’m anxiously awaiting to hear his new songs. Yusuf has been able to move millions of young Muslims with his music so far. Perhaps he will become even more mainstream. He definitely has the talent. Hopefully he can reach millions more with his new English focused album; Muslims or not.

Sameh Brill - Parricide, Homicide and the Sanctimonious


By Guest Post • Feb 21st, 2009 at 8:25 • Category: Analysis, Counter-terrorism, No thanks!, Israel, Newswire, Palestine, Religion, Resistance, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, War, Zionism

Homicide, a Zionist holy war: The 22-day sadistic Israeli Assault on Gaza which ended up with flowing rivers of innocent blood of 108 women and 437 children isn't a deviation of the Zio-Nazi mainstream terrorism in the region, The Israel of Operation "Cast Lead" is still the Israel of 1948 Plan Dalet, under which 840,000 Arabs were expelled from more than 530 Palestinian Villages and towns. 15,000 of them were ethnically cleansed adding 20,500 square Km to the Zionist occupied land. Like a jigsaw collecting piece after piece to complete the ugly picture of a so-called Promised Land for the Jews, hiding behind their holy scriptures interpreted by ill minds and worldly whims.

Israel of Operation "Cast Lead" is still the 1948 Israel of massacres; of Deir Yassin where in all over 100 men, women, and children were systematically murdered. Fifty-three orphaned children were literally dumped along the wall of the Old City; of Sabra and Shatila where 1,500 Palestinians were massacred under the watchful Eye of Ariel Sharon, the Defense Minster back then. Who entered with his cursed Zionist feet into Al-Aqsa Mosque and provoked the Intifada (up-rising) of Al-Aqsa in 2000; Still Israel of more than 50 documented bloody massacres committed over 60 years of occupation.

Israel remains Israel of defilement, Terror, Massacres and malignant merciless policies towards the Palestinians, but what really grasped my attention in the latest Israeli assault wasn't the Gaza war crimes but the dramatic changes and major turns from friends rather than foes. From family rather than enemy.

Parricide, an Arabic Backstab: In 1948 as soon as Tel-Aviv announced the establishment of an official Jewish state in Palestine. Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria gathered forces and tried to face such budding Zionist threat with military might before it spreads likes cancer in the region despite it ended with a ceasefire the year after, it certainly proved that the word "dignity" used to exist in the Arabic dictionary back then.

Unfortunately, regarding Arab Patriotic, heroic moves history doesn't repeat itself. For more than thirty-five years now, with every Israeli demoniac move in the region we find the very same scenario happens. Israel acts, Arabic Street watches, Arab leaders talk and the western world enjoys the show. Every Player performs his normal routine.

Along the years of this Conflict, We didn't need fortune tellers to prophesize the reactions of the Arab/Islamic leaders towards Israel's inhumane actions. Starting with some preliminary Denials and Disagreements launched from Arab Capitals being broadcasted in news channels, followed by telling off the Israeli Ambassadors; "How bad you naughty guys are!" then ending up with an action reveals an everlasting wisdom from the Arab world; calling for a quick unscheduled Arab summit, where every Arab leader takes his private plan and joins the big boys club. Then in the end of the day, after some good quarrels and talk fights between them, accusing one another with treason and idiocy comes out some more announcements carrying more denials, disagreements and a Decalogue of what Israel should/shouldn't due as if they are the Ten commandments Israel ought to follow! Not to mention that such meek announcements from the so-called summit is fortified with some "change" from the fat wallets of some leaders. Thinking that such funding removes the sense of Guilt from their consciences, anesthetizing their super-egos with "that's the best we can do for now."

In the Arabic world of today, such humble and meek actions don't even exist.

This time, reactions were different, in fact frightening, from the Arabic/Islamic world. A day before Gaza Genocide Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni held talks with Egypt's Mubarak regarding the situation in Gaza and Hamas. After the talk has ended she said the following:
"Enough is enough. The situation is going to change," and that Israel will "change the reality" of the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Hearing this kind of statement given out from an Israeli official in an Arabic capital without even hearing a direct counter-reply from the Egyptian side only meant one thing that the sequel of events and responses from the Arab side will be much more different this time and things going to get much worse.

Absolutely, Leaders of the Middle East understands that the only winning card to polish their pictures in front of the Arabic street is Palestinian. Hizbullah has used this card pretty well with some furious speeches to achieve Iran's hidden agenda to gain the loyalty of the Arab street. Qatar drove a hard bargain as well to save face after the long shameful co-operation with the United States against Iraq. Trying to show the world it's hard thriving to make all Arab leaders sit together around a single table, acting innocent. Egypt decided to blow this humble summit not only by declining the invitation but also preventing Mahmud Abbas (The Palestinian President) from attending. Since Egypt realized that it's so-called leading role and its political throne in the region is in jeopardy since other leaders began to start other peace initiatives stepping Egypt aside. Kuwait decided to sell stocks of Palestinian blood in the Arab economic summit after more than 20 days of the assault.

Saudi Arabia along with Egypt claimed that a summit is useless and it's time to act, but eventually their actions were much more worse than attending a Summit.

What I find ironic is to see frontline articles in Egyptian national newspapers that without the help and wise actions from the Egyptian side, things would have gotten much worse in Gaza and it was Egypt, and Egypt alone, who ended the Israeli Assault with it's wells of wisdom, patient and skillful diplomacy.

The Cease-fire didn't end with the Egyptian initiative but with the U.S.-Israel agreement to condemn any pockets of resistance in Palestine.

On the other side of the Red Sea, We see Qatar greeting its King as a Conqueror who came from a Victorious Battle, only because he called for an urgent Summit, talking to the press of how stubborn Arab leaders are, as soon as a leader agrees to attend the summit another declines. With all this Propaganda giving me the feeling that all praise shall be given to Qatar for ending the Arab/Israeli Conflict that existed for decades! Neither the Conflict ended, nor Qatar did add anything to this Issue.

In the end of the day, we are witnessing a Parricide committed towards Palestine by the hands of its siblings.

Sanctimonious, Uncle Sam: Definitely, Israel failed this time to imitate her elder brother Uncle Sam, the United States kept on throwing the same winning card (war on terrorism) on the "international community" table for over 6 years. Still winning with it the blessings of the Western world to bully around the world, doing whatever it likes whenever it likes. Israel thought it can use the very same card, to justify the Gaza offence as they are fighting terrorism exactly like America, thinking that this will pass quietly and smoothly with the help of the World's bully to shut ever mouth with a "Veto" tape in the Security Council.

So, it was not surprising to see the IDF spokesman calmly answers the question of weather Israel is using illegal Weapons like D.I.M.E (Dense Inert metal Explosives) and WP (White phosphorus) in Gaza with such words "IDF is not using any weapon that has not been used before by the United States on its war on terrorism". Still the United States sets a perfect example of the Sanctimonious showing the world how great values it conveys to the third world, and how it is an excellent example of the free world. Still remains ugly from the inside.

The winning American "war on terrorism" card didn't quite fit well in Gaza war, this time War Crimes, Genocide and ethnic cleansing were broadcasted on many non pro-Zionist media witnessed by the whole world in such a way neither Israel nor the US could control.

In the end of this tragedy "parricide, homicide, and the Sanctimonious" which was preformed at Gaza theater this time. And after the curtains fell, we shall say to the international legality "Rest in Peace" and to inform the three actors of this play that "Tiochfaidh ar la" which means in Irish, "our day will come".

Sameh is a 23 years old training surgeon in Orthopedics. He just started Article writing as soon as he graduated from medical school this year. Sameh's main interests lie in political and "Sarcastic Comedy" articles, currently writing comedic articles called "Living in the Republic Series" discussing daily problems facing Arabs in the middle east. He is now living in Cairo, Egypt.

Celebrities asked to boycott diamonds from settlement builder


Press release, Adalah-NY, 20 February 2009

Adalah-NY and Jews Against the Occupation-NYC (JATO-NYC) have called on 16 Hollywood PR firms and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to ensure that no stars wear Leviev diamonds at this Sunday's Academy Awards. In a two week campaign involving letters and dozens of phone discussions with PR firms, the groups drew attention to Leviev's violations of human rights and international law in the occupied West Bank where his companies build Israeli settlements, and in the diamond industry in Angola and Namibia. Leviev reportedly controls one-third of the world's diamond mines.

The 16 PR firms contacted include six firms representing the ten nominees for best actress and best supporting actress, and representatives for many other female stars. The PR firms acknowledged receiving the Adalah-NY/JATO-NYC letter, and a number of the firms said the letter had been circulated among their senior staff. In a 18 February phone call with Adalah-NY, a press spokesman for the Oscars also said they had received Adalah-NY and JATO-NYC's letter, but had no comment on the letter's appeal to ban Leviev's jewelry, or the groups' assertion that "the presence of Leviev jewelry at the Academy Awards would taint the events with complicity in Leviev's companies' egregious" human rights violations.

Salma Hayek wore Leviev's jewelry to the 2006 Academy Awards. In a 19 February 2008 report on Warner Brothers Extra TV days before the Oscars, host Dayna Devon said she was wearing "$17 million of Leviev jewels you'll also see at the Oscars." However, there were no subsequent reports that Leviev's jewelry was worn at the 2008 Oscars. Dita Von Teese wore Leviev's diamonds at a 19 February 2008 pre-Oscars party.

Alexis Stern of Adalah-NY commented, "After the outreach we've conducted, we certainly hope that the Academy Awards and the stars attending the awards ceremony and related events will steer clear of any association with Leviev. It would be a shame to link such a high-profile event with the destruction of Palestinian communities, the firing of Namibian workers, the abuse of Angolan miners, and with blood diamonds." Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY added, "As Palestinians in Jayyous and Bilin struggle to save their villages from Leviev's settlement construction there can be no excuse for promoting Leviev's name. Just yesterday, in an effort to crush Jayyous' protest campaign, the Israeli army held the village under curfew and detained 50 residents. Jayyous' Mayor Mohammed Taher Jabr called for international support, saying that that 'the Israelis are using any means necessary to try and force us off our land.'"

Leviev has suffered a string of setbacks since he was lauded by the New York Times in September 2007. One of his major companies, Africa Israel, has lost 90 percent of its value and has been engaged in an embarrassing battle over plans to turn the Manhattan landmark the Apthorp into high-priced condos. Adalah-NY has held 13 protests at Leviev's Madison Avenue jewelry store since it opened. UNICEF and Oxfam have renounced Leviev over human rights, major Hollywood stars have distanced themselves from him, and the governments of United Kingdom and Dubai are under pressure to boycott Leviev's businesses. Leviev was also dropped from the sponsor list of the star-studded Carousel of Hope Ball last October.

Leviev's companies Africa Israel and Leader have built Jewish-only homes on occupied Palestinian land in the Israeli settlements of Zufim, Mattityahu East, Har Homa and Maale Adumim, impoverishing villages like Bilin and Jayyous and violating international law. Leviev also funds the settlement organization the Land Redemption Fund. In December, the Israeli financial journal Globes published an expose of Leviev's serious human rights abuses and failure to fully comply with the Kimberley Process in Angola, where Leviev benefits from close ties with the repressive Dos Santos regime. And in Namibia, Leviev recently fired around 200 striking diamond polishers, some of whom were already struggling to survive on less than $2 per day.

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Hezbollah adopts 'new security measures'

Hezbollah adopts 'new security measures'
Fri, 20 Feb 2009 08:05:54 GMT

Hezbollah soldiers march during a military Parade in southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah resistance movement has adopted 'new security measures' after the arrest of an alleged Israeli agent in southern Lebanon.

Citing Hezbollah security sources, Lebanese daily Al-Balad reported that the movement made changes amid concerns that its security information had been passed to Israel.

The report comes after the Lebanese army arrested Marwan Faqih, a Lebanese national in the southern town of Nabatieh, on charges of spying for Israel.

Faqih who owned a gas station in the area, have started collaborating with Israeli intelligence since he was recruited in France in 1990, Al-Akhbar reported.

Security sources however said official charges have not been filed against him, and the case is still pending before the military prosecutor.

Hezbollah has also stepped up security measures against a possible Israeli offensive against the country.


Once you see what truly happened in Gaza …



By Medea Benjamin

When I traveled to Gaza last week, everywhere I went, a photo haunted me. I saw it in a brochure called “Gaza will not die” that Hamas gives out to visitors at the border crossing. A poster-sized version was posted outside a makeshift memorial at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. And now that I am back home, the image comes to me when I look at children playing in the park, when I glance at the school across the street, when I go to sleep at night.

It is a photo of a young Palestinian girl who is literally buried alive in the rubble from a bomb blast, with just her head protruding from the ruins. Her eyes are closed, her mouth partially open, as if she were in a deep sleep. Dried blood covers her lips, her cheeks, her hair. Someone with a glove is reaching down to touch her forehead, showing one final gesture of kindness in the midst of such inhumanity.

What was this little girl’s name, I wonder. How old was she? Was she sleeping when the bomb hit her home? Did she die a quick death or a slow, agonizing one? Where are her parents, her siblings? How are they faring?

Of the 1,330 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military during the 22-day invasion of Gaza, 437 were children. Let me repeat that: 437 children — each as beautiful and precious as our own.

As a Jew, an American and a mother, I felt compelled to witness, firsthand, what my people and my taxdollars had done during this invasion. Visiting Gaza filled me with unbearable sadness. Unlike the primitive weapons of Hamas, the Israelis had so many sophisticated ways to murder, maim and destroy-unmanned drones, F-16s dropping “smart bombs” that miss, Apache helicopters launching missiles, tanks firing from the ground, ships shelling Gaza from the sea. So many horrific weapons stamped with Made in the USA. While Hamas’ attacks on Israeli villages are deplorable, Israel’s disproportionate response is unconscionable, with 1,330 Palestinians dead vs. 13 Israelis.

If the invasion was designed to destroy Hamas, it failed miserably. Not only is Hamas still in control, but it retains much popular support. If the invasion was designed as a form of collective punishment, it succeeded, leaving behind a trail of grieving mothers, angry fathers and traumatized children.

To get a sense of the devastation, check out a slide show circulating on the internet called Gaza: Massacre of Children ( It should be required viewing for all who supported this invasion of Gaza. Babies charred like shish-kebabs. Limbs chopped off. Features melted from white phosphorus. Faces crying out in pain, gripped by fear, overcome by grief.

Anyone who can view the slides and still repeat the mantra that “Israel has the right to self-defense” or “Hamas brought this upon its own people,” or worse yet, “the Israeli military didn’t go far enough,” does a horrible disservice not only to the Palestinian people, but to humanity.

Compassion, the greatest virtue in all major religions, is the basic human emotion prompted by the suffering of others, and it triggers a desire to alleviate that suffering. True compassion is not circumscribed by one’s faith or the nationality of those suffering. It crosses borders; it speaks a universal language; it shares a common spirituality. Those who have suffered themselves, such as Holocaust victims, are supposed to have the deepest well of compassion.

The Israeli election was in full swing while was I visiting Gaza. As I looked out on the ruins of schools, playgrounds, homes, mosques and clinics, I recalled the words of Benjamin Netanyahu, “No matter how strong the blows that Hamas received from Israel, it’s not enough.” As I talked to distraught mothers whose children were on life support in a bombed hospital, I thought of the “moderate” woman in the race, Tzipi Livni, who vowed that she would not negotiate with Hamas, insisted that “terror must be fought with force and lots of force” and warned that “if by ending the operation we have yet to achieve deterrence, we will continue until they get the message.”

“The message,” I can report, has been received. It is a message that Israel is run by war criminals, that the lives of Palestinians mean nothing to them. Even more chilling is the pro-war message sent by the Israeli people with their votes for Netanyahu, Livni and anti-Arab racist Avigdor Lieberman.

How tragic that nation born out of the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust has become a nation that supports the slaughter of Palestinians.

Here in the U.S., Congress ignored the suffering of the Palestinians and pledged its unwavering support for the Israeli state. All but five members out of 535 voted for a resolution justifying the invasion, falsely holding Hamas solely responsible for breaking the ceasefire and praising Israel for facilitating humanitarian aid to Gaza at a time when food supplies were rotting at the closed borders.

One glimmer of hope we found among people in Gaza was the Obama administration. Many were upset that Obama did not speak out during the invasion and that peace envoy George Mitchell, on his first trip to the Middle East, did not visit Gaza or even Syria. But they felt that Mitchell was a good choice and Obama, if given the space by the American people, could play a positive role.

Who can provide that space for Obama? Who can respond to the call for justice from the Palestinian people? Who can counter AIPAC, the powerful lobby that supports Israeli aggression?

An organized, mobilized, coordinated grassroots movement is the critical counterforce, and within that movement, those who have a particularly powerful voice are American Jews. We have the beginnings of a such a counterforce within the American Jewish community. Across the United States, Jews joined marches, sit-ins, die-ins, even chained themselves to Israeli consulates in protest. Jewish groups like J Street and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom lobby for a diplomatic solution. Tikkun organizes for a Jewish spiritual renewal grounded in social justice. The Middle East Children’s Alliance and Madre send humanitarian aid to Palestine. Women in Black hold compelling weekly vigils. American Jews for a Just Peace plants olive trees on the West Bank. Jewish Voice for Peace promotes divestment from corporations that profit from occupation. Jews Against the Occupation calls for an end to U.S. aid to Israel.

We need greater coordination among these groups and within the broader movement. And we need more people and more sustained involvement, especially Jewish Americans. In loving memory of our ancestors and for the future of our-and Palestinian-children, more American Jews should speak out and reach out. As Sholom Schwartzbard, a member of Jews Against the Occupation, explained at a New York City protest, “We know from our own history what being sealed behind barbed wire and checkpoints is like, and we know that ‘Never Again’ means not anyone, not anywhere — or it means nothing at all.”

On March 7, I will return to Gaza with a large international delegation, bringing aid but more importantly, pressuring the Israeli, U.S. and Egyptian governments to open the borders and lift the siege. Many members of the delegation are Jews. We will travel in the spirit of tikkun olam, repairing the world, but with a heavy sense of responsibility, shame and yes, compassion. We will never be able to bring back to life the little girl buried in the rubble. But we can-and will–hold her in our hearts as we bring a message from America and a growing number of American Jews: To Gaza, With Love.

For information about joining the trip to Gaza, contact

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK:Women for Peace.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.


Hamas isn’t Hizbullah, and Gaza isn’t Lebanon.

After the Massacre 1 – Palestine and Israel

(A version of this was published at The Electronic Intifada)

Hamas isn’t Hizbullah, and Gaza isn’t Lebanon. The resistance in Gaza – which includes leftist and nationalist as well as Islamist forces – doesn’t have mountains to fight in. It has no strategic depth. It doesn’t have Syria behind it to keep supply lines open; instead it has Mubarak’s goons and Israel’s wall. Lebanese civilians can flee north and east; the repeat-refugees of Gaza have no escape. The Lebanese have their farms, and supplies from outside; Gaza has been under total siege for years. What else? Hizbullah has remarkable discipline. It is surely the best-trained, best-organised army in the region, perhaps in the world (I’m not talking of weapons, but of men and women). Hamas, on the other hand, though it has made great strides, is still undisciplined. Crucially, Hizbullah has air-tight intelligence control in Lebanon, while Gaza contains collaborators like maggots in a corpse.

But Hamas is still standing. On the rare occasions when Israel actually fought – rather than just called in air strikes – its soldiers reported “ferocious” resistance. Hamas withstood 22 days of the most barbaric bombing Zionism has yet stooped to, and did not surrender, and continues to fire rockets.

Let’s put this in context. In 1947 and 48 Zionists drove out over 800, 000 Palestinians without too much trouble. In 1967 it took Israel six days to destroy the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian armies, and to capture the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. In 1982 it took Israel a week to reach Beirut. That was Zionism’s last victory, if it was a victory.

The long and bloody occupation of Lebanon gave birth to new forms of resistance. Where Arab states and armies had failed, popular resistance removed American and French forces from Beirut, and then steadily rolled back the Israelis. The first suicide bomber of the conflict was a Marxist woman of Christian background. The human bomb was a tactic to which Israeli troops had no answer. Hizbullah formed, and developed into the power that would drive Israel from almost all of Lebanon by 2000. In 2006 Israel returned, in an effort to finish the resistance once and for all. What happened was a historic turnaround: for five weeks Israeli troops bled in the border villages, and failed to move beyond them. For the first time, the hi-tech, first-world savagery of the Zionist army, supposedly the fourth strongest army in the world, was kept at bay. Israel of course killed far more civilians than Hizbullah did, and performed its usual rampage against civilian infrastructure, but in terms of the soldiers in battle, casualties were roughly equal. A lot of rubbish is talked, especially by Arab collaborators, about Hizbullah being an Iranian proxy. While Iran does, to its great honour, assist Hizbullah with weapons and funds, the Lebanese resistance is Lebanese, the creation of the villagers of the south and the families of the Dahiyyeh. It was the people themselves who turned Zionism back.

One reason given for this latest massacre in Gaza (it’s by no means the first) was Israel’s desire to restore its deterrence after the 2006 debacle. Certainly the Arabs now know (as if they didn’t know before) that any whisper of resistance will be met by the most fanatical violence. Certainly Hamas and others will have to factor this into their tactical decisions. But in strategic terms the Israeli deterrent looks even shoddier than it did a month ago. The Arabs are no longer scared of Israel, whatever Israel throws at them. A psychological tipping point has been passed, and this, in the long term, counts for more than nuclear bombs.

I have already written a little about the incredible devastation unleashed on Gaza. The siege continues, even as Western and Zionist officials grin and hug, and the people in Gaza are now facing starvation. I don’t intend to belittle this suffering, or to pretend to know the political ramifications it will eventually have for the resistance. Thus far, however, the suffering seems to have strengthened the resistance, as you would expect. The communities of south Lebanon and south Beirut, those which suffered most in 2006, have redoubled their loyalty to Hizbullah. Our friend who lost 42 family members in Aita ash-Shaab adores Shaikh Nasrallah with a burning passion.

According to Angry Arab, ‘from a very reliable source in Beirut’, Hamas has lost only 5% of its military capacity. In Palestine, and throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds, Hamas and the resistance option it represents is immeasurably stronger. The ridiculous no-longer-president-of-anything Abbas, and the Dahlan gangs, are much weaker. It wasn’t Abbas but Khaled Misha’al who represented Palestine at the Doha summit. While the Abbas-Dahlan traitors arrested Hamas activists, and tried (and largely failed) to suppress solidarity demonstrations on the West Bank, the resistance was standing firm against Zionist terror.

In solidarity with the resistance, the so-called ‘Arab-Israelis’ organised the biggest demonstrations in their history. There is no doubt to which nation these Palestinians belong, especially in the eyes of the main Israeli political parties – which sought to ban Arab parties from standing in the approaching elections on the grounds of ‘disloyalty’ to the apartheid state.

What now? Enough nonsensical talk of peace processes. Peace might be nice, but it isn’t, and never has been, on the agenda. It is time to build a new PLO, as elected as possible, to represent all Palestinians, both Islamist and secular, from the lands stolen in 48, the lands stolen in 67, and outside. The PA should be abolished; and the Oslo/Road Map farce officially abandoned. Then Palestinians have to decide what their aims and strategies will be. I suggest that the two state solution is no solution, but I’ll write more about that at a later time. There is a huge amount of work to do. All Palestinians should agitate for the new organisation.

Now Israel.

This massacre was never about Hamas rockets. The rockets were a minimal, if growing, threat, and the rockets stopped during the ceasefire. Israel broke the ceasefire by entering Gaza and killing six people, and by besieging the prison territory. If Israel had wanted to stop rockets it could have stopped besieging Gaza. The real aim of the massacre was to destroy the will and political identity of the Palestinian people. Beyond that, Zionism intends to make of Gaza an international basket case, run by gangs, begging for aid from Europe. This is why over 50% of agricultural land in the prison territory was blasted beyond repair.

The fact that a sheepish Jewish-Israeli public swallows the rockets propaganda, that even when a hundred caged Palestinians are killed for each Israeli, they still feel like the victim, that the Zionist leadership is only now beginning to realise, with shock and surprise, how much this massacre has turned world public opinion against them, points to a deep psychosis. Most Israeli Jews are mentally, morally and spiritually sick. It is to be hoped that one day they will find health. Until then, talk of peace with them is as absurd as talk of peace with the Nazi party or al-Qa’ida.

Why the psychosis? One reason is their need to repress knowledge of the truth: that the land is not theirs, that they have stolen their homes from the people who now live in refugee camps in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere. When the whining inhabitants of Sderot complain about the occasional projectile, they know somewhere in their dark hearts that the man who fired the projectile himself comes from Sderot, or more properly, from the bulldozed village upon which Sderot is built. The settlers and cleansers must shout ever louder of their victimhood and righteousness, precisely because they know their own guilt. This is the way white Americans used to behave, all of a righteous fury, when the remnants of the native tribes fired an occasional arrow their way.

Another reason for the madness is the sad story of European Jewish history. The Holocaust, specifically. “The place of the non-Jew in the Jewish imagination is a complex affair growing out of generations of Jewish fear,” the Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld told Philip Roth. The endless comparisons of Arab or Muslim leaders – Abdul Nasser, Arafat, Saddam Hussain, Ahmedinejad – to Hitler, and calling the victims of genocide genocidal, is not merely propaganda to dazzle the Western world. Many Israeli Jews actually believe this delusional nonsense, as a result of Holocaust trauma. Trauma freezes the psyche in the moment of pain; many Jews are frozen in the 1940s. Of course, most actual Holocaust survivors have died by now, and over half of Israel’s Jews are Arabs. But Zionist education creates new generations of Zionists by erasing distance from the Holocaust. It’s happening today! screams Israeli culture. The Arab is the German! The Muslim is the fascist! That impoverished refugee in his breezeblock hovel is a Gestapo man pointing to the gas chamber!

European oppression of the Jews generated Jewish fear, and also Jewish envy of the Gentile. Zionists accuse anti-Zionist Jews of self-hatred, but it’s the other way round. In Israel’s early years, Aharon Appelfeld said, “ ‘Never again like sheep to the slaughter’ thundered from loudspeakers at every corner.”

Not like sheep. Rather, like the slaughterer. We’ve gone wild, gone mad! they exult, overjoyed at their own violence, living the image of the fat-fisted anti-Semite.

And Jewish anti-Semitism found in raped Palestine a newly externalised target: the Palestinians. The Palestinians are, after all, Semitic descendants of the ancient Israelites and Judeans. The Palestinian is religious, bound to tradition, obedient to dietary prohibitions, dark-eyed, bearded, heavily-nebbed. The Palestinian is, most of all, weak – the very picture of the ghetto Jew.

The best part of it is that European Jews and European Gentiles could now agree on a target. This is how they ‘healed’ the wounds of the Holocaust, in a brotherhood of oppression directed at the filthy hook-nosed irrational Arab, whose women wear headscarves, who breed too much.

According to opinion polls, over 90% of Israeli Jews supported the Gaza massacre. The Israelis are so convinced of their righteousness they can’t believe that anyone reasonable would consider them wrong, in anything. Zionist education has produced a generation which is not only wrong, but now profoundly irrational. What they’ve just done is like a man humiliated by a smaller man in a bar (Hizbullah, 2006) who goes out into the street and finds a small child to beat to a pulp. When he’s finished, he feels strong again. He can’t understand why passers-by give him funny looks (of course, none of them stop him). This is psychodrama, not strategy. It’s as insane as Abu Musab az-Zarqawi. And, in a very very sad and frightening way, it’s encouraging. Zionism is now in its insane age, its mind broken by its own insane contradictions, and it is slowly but surely dying.

Neglected Palestinian refugees pose threat


The Belgium-based independent non-governmental organization said in a report released Thursday that Lebanon's security-first policy has left the Palestinian population in the country marginalized and susceptible to recruitment by jihadi militants, the Crisis Group reported.

The report, titled "Nurturing Instability: Lebanon's Palestinian Refugee Camps," calls on leaders in Lebanon to address the neglect of hundreds of thousands of increasingly heavily armed Palestinians or face the possibility of a serious conflict that could spread throughout the region.

"The camps are a tinderbox blend of socioeconomic deprivation, political marginalization, mistrust of the state, ineffective security, radicalization, weapons and divided leadership," Robert Malley, Crisis Group Middle East program director, said in a statement.

"The Gaza conflict did not spark a conflagration. But the next match, domestic or regional, is likely to be struck soon."

The Crisis Group report calls for clarifying the status of the Palestinian refugees, a review of security at the Palestinian camps and a strengthening of Lebanese-Palestinian and inter-Palestinian cooperation.

Jerusalem and its residents are under fierce attack from occupation


[ 20/02/2009 - 06:09 PM ]

Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabayya, deputy head of the Jerusalem Committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that the Aqsa Mosque and other holy places in Jerusalem are under a fierce attack by occupation.

He said, in a press statement on Thursday, that "January this year witnessed many violations against the citizens of Jerusalem, their families, homes and land by the occupation institutions and its army and police."

He pointed out that those violations included, demolition of home, bulldozing lands, land confiscation as well as assaults and arrests against Jerusalem citizens causing many confrontations between those citizens and the occupation army.

He added that his press statement coincided with the start of activities to celebrate Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture 2009, for which a national committee has been formed.

Abu Halabeyya added that Jerusalem has recently witnessed acceleration of settlement activities and land confiscation, adding that the Israeli occupation is uprooting Palestinian families from Jerusalem using various pretexts and then confiscating their property.

He sighted the example of the Israeli occupation government refusal to hand back the Jerusalem ID cards to Jerusalem members of the PLC.

He called upon the Muslim and Arab people to act to save Jerusalem and its holy places before it is too late.

Meanwhile, the Zionist municipality of Jerusalem is seeking to transfer 1500 Palestinian citizens from the Silwan neighbourhood, according to Haaretz newspaper on Friday.

The paper reported that the Mayor of Jerusalem will try to convince 1500 Palestinian residents of the neighbourhood, which is close to the Aqsa Mosque, to voluntarily move out of the neighbourhood.

The municipality intends to demolish the homes of those Palestinians under the pretext that they were built without a permit.

US Interference in Leb. Raised Again: Is Sisson Lebanon's PM?


Hussein Assi

Once again, it's the US interference in Lebanon that imposes itself through… the US ambassador in the country, Michele Sisson!

Indeed, in a country that has transformed the ambassadors into "stars" who can tour around the various politicians and express their opinions over all internal and external issues, no one has the "force" to just criticize the US ambassador..

In a country where all international resolutions and agreements concerning the work of ambassadors, mainly the Vienna Accord, are violated, the US ambassador turns to be a political star who does not give any consideration to the international pacts and treaties…

In a country like Lebanon, it's very normal that the US ambassador becomes a "diplomat" by name but a "politician" with excellence by practice, and the strange thing comes out when the mentioned ambassador does not declare his own opinion regarding a topic from here or there…

Thus, it's not anymore strange to say that the US ambassador seeks to be the country's ruler, the one who dictates the country's general policies and interfere even in every little detail of the Lebanese internal affairs…

For all these reasons, the US Ambassador Michelle Sisson seems determined to continue interfering in Lebanese affairs, engaging in the internal conflicts and taking the side of one political bloc against another. Indeed, and after expressing her country's desire not to see Speaker Nabih Berri elected for another term, Sisson interfered lately in the issue of the Council for South Lebanon. The debate on the Council's budget has prevented the government from voting on the state's budget.


The head of Hezbollah's political council Sayyed Ibrahim Amin Sayyed raised the issue on Friday during a ceremony held in the southern suburb of Beirut to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Sayyed Ibrahim Amin Sayyed wondered who Lebanon's acting Prime Minister was. "Who's our acting PM? Is it Fouad Saniora or Michele Sisson?" Sayyed asked.

His eminence warned against the potential return of the so-called March 14 forces alongside the US administration to the previous policy of adopting the American tutelage in the Lebanese internal affairs.


Meanwhile, the member of the Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc MP Hussein Hajj Hasan criticized the US daily violations of the Lebanese sovereignty, pointing out that there were different forms of such violations.

Speaking to Al-Manar on Friday, Hajj Hasan noted that one of the forms of the US violations was the unscheduled visits of US officials, stressing that those visits were not even coordinated with the Lebanese Foreign Ministry. "Other forms of violations reside in the speeches of the US officials that extend to embrace the Lebanese electoral affairs.

The Hezbollah MP wondered what the stance of the "new sovereignty protectors" was, noting that silence to such violation was tantamount to deliberate and intentional collusion. He called on the Lebanese officials to put a limit to the ongoing status-quo since four years.

"For four years, their false allegations and speeches in support of the government .., have not succeeded in hiding the shameless collusion that facilitates American intervention in Lebanese affairs," Hajj Hasan emphasized, "most notably the July War, which had full American cover."

The MP said Senator John Kerry’s visit to Beirut earlier this week, which "happened independent of any coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," and subsequent media statements on the parliamentary elections confirmed that the US continued to meddle in Lebanese domestic affairs.


For his part, Lebanese former minister Wiam Wahhab denounced fiercely the US daily interference in the Lebanese internal affairs, through the ambassador Michele Sisson.

Wahhab criticized Sisson's practices and held the Lebanese authorities responsible of the whole situation.

US Mideast Envoy Wants 'Transparent' Elections in Lebanon

Tayyeb Saleh Passes Away, Migrating to the North (Arabic)


Tayyeb Saleh, the Sudanese novelist and writer passed away yesterday in London. He was nearly 80 years old. He left behind a rich literary collection that has a number of novels, the most famous of which is Season of Migration to the North, which gained fame for being one of the first novels to deal with the "clash of civilizations" (who wrote this expression?!) and how an individual from the third world looked at the first world in a sensitive artistic manner.


Friday, 20 February 2009

French FM: No Reason to Link Shalit Deal with Gaza Crossings


Hanan Awarekeh

20/02/2009 French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Friday that Paris does not agree with Israel's position that a deal must be set for the release of captured Israeli occupation soldier Gilad Shalit before Gaza Strip crossings are opened.

Kouchner said that France support an Egyptian proposal for a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and does not believe it necessary to link Shalit with any cease-fire deal. The two issues should be worked out simultaneously, Kouchner said, but the one should not be conditioned on the other.

He also confirmed that France has been indirectly negotiating with Hamas via mediation of Syria, Qatar and Norway.


Meanwhile, Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir al-Thani told French President Nicolas Sarkozy when the two leaders met in Paris two weeks ago that he would engage Hamas intensively to help release Shalit, according to a foreign source.

Israel is still waiting for an answer from Hamas and Egypt on a proposal for marathon talks in Cairo on a new list of Palestinian detainees to exchange for Shalit.

Sarkozy told al-Thani this was a humanitarian issue and that Shalit was also French citizen, ignoring at the same time thousands of Palestinians detainees in the Israeli jails, including minors and women in addition to many parliamentarians. A few months ago Sarkozy gave al-Thani a letter from the Shalit family for Gilad, who gave it to Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal.

Mashaal, who visits Qatar frequently, is there now as a participant in a conference on assistance to the Gaza Strip. Olmert's emissary for the Shalit affair, Ofer Dekel, returned Thursday from meetings abroad on Shalit and informed Olmert of the results.

The Israeli government source said Hamas and Egypt have "not been enthusiastic" about a meeting in Cairo about the new detainee list.

Hamas's conditions for truce, swapping of prisoners

[ 20/02/2009 - 10:52 AM ]

DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Senior Palestinian political leader MP Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar has reiterated Thursday Hamas's conditions for truce in the Gaza Strip, and for swapping prisoners with the Israeli occupation government, stressing that the two files are separate, holding the Israeli occupation government responsible for derailing Egypt's efforts in this regard.

Zahhar, who is the legitimate PA foreign affairs minister, asserted in an interview with the PIC that his Movement has coordinated with Egypt in both files, and both Egypt and Palestine positions in this regard were identical, but, he added, the Israelis were deliberately derailing those efforts with the aim to embarrass the Egyptian leadership.

He also underlined that the file of swapping prisoners was absolutely separated from the file of the truce, adding that if the Israeli occupation government wants its captured soldier Gilad Shalit to return home, then that government should answer Hamas's conditions and release Palestinian prisoners placed on the list that was submitted to them (Israelis). He described Israel's attempts to mix the two files as "last minute dodging" that aims at blackmailing Hamas.

"They (Israelis) are trying to circumvent the list of names of our prisoners that we had submitted to them (through the Egyptians), and they are trying to delete and add some names on it, but the names that they are refusing to release are the core of the prisoners' swap deal" underscored Zahhar.

Reacting to Egypt's decision to postpone, for a while, the invitation for inter-Palestinian dialogue in Cairo, Zahhar explained that Egypt's program for the next stage was in series as it prioritized the truce agreement and opening of crossing points before it started the prisoners swap deal, and finally the inter-Palestinian dialogue; but due to the Israeli rejection of the truce deal, the said program was delayed.

The Palestinian leader also disclosed the role the seven Arab countries that would sponsor the Palestinian national dialogue, pointing out that those countries will be the supreme reference for any Palestinian understanding achieved in the dialogue, and to follow up the committees that would be created by the dialogue to tackle the main issues of disputes between Hamas and Fatah movements. Qatar, Egypt, Syria, and Algeria in addition to three other "important" Arab countries would sponsor the talks, highlighted Zahhar.

As far as the results of the Israeli elections are concerned, Zahhar said, "The fact that the Israeli far right would most probably form the new Israeli cabinet, after extremist Israeli leader Avigdor Lieberman expressed his support for Binyamin Netanyahu, would certainly unveil the real face of Zionism; and if those who ruled in the past succeeded in covering that face through the meetings and negotiations they held with the Ramallah-based PA (in allusion to Kadima party under Ehud Olmert), then I would believe that such thing isn't possible with the next Israeli cabinet".
He finally stressed that amidst the new changes in the Hebrew state, the advantage of continuing the negotiations with the Israelis and the "peace" option that the other Palestinian party (Fatah and the Ramallah government) sees as strategic option will be in a very embarrassing position.

Long road to rehabilitation for Gaza's amputees


Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 20 February 2009

Abdel Naser Zemo with his wife, Suheir, in her room a the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. (Matthew Cassel)

"As the only facility of its kind in Gaza, al-Wafa is set to receive more people who have lost limbs to begin a rehabilitation process that can take weeks, months and even years. Patients receive physical, functional, psychological and clinical support, and may receive cosmetic or other surgery to prepare them to use prosthetics. "

"Resistance": The Essence of the Islamist Revolution


Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker magazine:

Crooke’s mission in this erudite and most readable book is to reassure America and the rest of the world that Hamas, Hezbollah and the seemingly menacing Islamic governments in Iran and elsewhere are not the enemies of the West… a scholarly and closely argued critique of what passes for Western diplomacy today.’

John L. Esposito, professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University and co-author of Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think:
‘This book is required reading at a time when alternative perspectives on the causes of global terrorism and new Western diplomatic initiatives urgently need to replace the failed policies of the Bush administration-led “War on Global Terrorism”. ‘

THIS BOOK traces the essence of the Islamist Revolution from its origins in Egypt, through Najaf, Lebanon and Iran up to the present day. Alastair Crooke presents a compelling account of the ideas and energy which are mobilising the Islamic world. The story of the emerging Islamist Revolution is largely one of an Islamic response to western thinking based around individualism and personal relationships with the divine, juxtaposed to the Islamist demand to place human values above politics and self-interest. Crooke argues that the West faces a mass mobilisation against the US-led Western project. The roots of this conflict are described in terms of religious themes that extend back over 500 years. They represent clashing systems of thinking and values. Islamists have a vision for the future of their own societies which would entail radical change from Western norms. Resistance is presented as the means to force Western behaviour to change and to expose the essential differences between the two modes of thinking. This is a rigourous account that traces the threads of revolution of various movements, including the influence of ‘political Shi’ism’ and the Iranian Revolution and its impact on Hezbollah and Hamas.

Ramattan's war: The world's eyes into Gaza



Toufic Haddad, The Electronic Intifada, 20 February 2009

If there is controversy about who won the recent war in Gaza, there is no question that Ramattan News Agency of Gaza City won the war to broadcast it.

It was Ramattan's images that beamed Israel's 22-day "Operation Cast Lead" into millions of households across the globe, capturing the indelible visual moments of the war: the aftermath of Israeli shells that hit a UN school compound killing 46 refugees; the streams of incendiary white phosphorus raining down upon civilian neighborhoods; the family members who desperately dug out the corpses of their relatives beneath the layers of collapsed homes. Ramattan's images were broadcast uncensored around the clock and only stopped on the few occasions the staff had to evacuate the studios fearing the 11-story building was about to be bombed.

"We stop killing you in Iraq, allow us to carry on with our nuclear programme.."


In the BBC, here

"...But now a senior British official has revealed that not only did the Iranians privately admit their involvement, they even made an astonishing offer to switch off the attacks in Iraq if in return the West would stop blocking Iran's controversial nuclear programme. "The Iranians wanted to be able to strike a deal whereby they stopped killing our forces in Iraq in return for them being allowed to carry on with their nuclear programme: 'We stop killing you in Iraq, stop undermining the political process there, you allow us to carry on with our nuclear programme without let or hindrance.'....

" "We had advocated regime change," said Mr Burns. "We had a very threatening posture towards Iran for a number of years. It didn't produce any movement whatsoever."

Lieberman's firm suspected of doing business with PA officials

Lieberman's firm suspected of doing business with PA officials

By Uri Blau

Lieberman's firm suspected of doing business with PA officials

(.....) It was in 1999 that millions of shekels began to flow into the company's coffers from firms dealing with wood and construction materials, in which officials from the Palestinian Authority were involved, Haaretz has learned. At this time Lieberman was already an MK and supposedly not involved in the dealings.

"In the period in question Avigdor Lieberman was already an MK and was not involved in the activities of the company," Lieberman's office said. "Any further response could be considered obstruction of justice."

It is surprising to some observers that Lieberman, with his hawkish opinions on the Palestinians, would have had such dealings. In May 2001, for example, Lieberman said that to stop Palestinian violence, Israel should go into Area A in the West Bank and "crush" the Palestinians.

Also in 2001, in a eulogy to a terror victim, Lieberman compared Yasser Arafat to Osama bin Laden and said "you don't talk to them ... you send planes."

After Nativ el Hamizrach began to flourish in 1999, just before Lieberman became an MK, he established another company, Cyprus-based Trasimeno Trading Ltd. The two firms are mentioned together in Trasimeno's books, as revealed in Haaretz Magazine in April 2007. For example, in March 2001, the Israeli company transferred some $35 million to the Cypriot company.

In April 2001, Nativ el Hamizrach was taken over by the accounting and consulting firm Strauss Lazar and Co. The latter, and Lieberman's wife, Ella, who were the declared shareholders of Nativ el Hamizrach, transferred the shares to a Belgian citizen, Yosef Schuldiner, a close friend of Lieberman, who died in 2006. In June 2001, Schuldiner deposited about $450,000 in Trasimeno's account.

Thus, although Lieberman is not officially listed as the owner of the company he founded, people who worked with him in the Knesset and the cabinet say they recall executives from Nativ el Hamizrach visiting his office frequently when he was an MK and a minister.

Justifying Israeli War Crimes

Reem Salahi

By Guest Post • Feb 19th, 2009 at 21:56 • Category: Analysis, Children's Corner, Counter-terrorism, No thanks!, Israel, Newswire, Palestine, Resistance, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, War, Zionism

Having left Gaza now, I am trying to come to terms with what I saw, what I heard and honestly, what I don't think I will ever understand is the justification. While Israel's recent offensive has been the most egregious of any historical attack upon the Palestinians in Gaza, it is just that, one of many. Gaza has been under Israeli bombardment and sanctions for many years. Prior to the Israeli pullout in 2005, Gaza was under the complete control and occupation of Israel. Nearly 8000 Israeli settlers occupied 40% of Gaza while the 1.5 million Palestinians occupied the remaining 60%. Settlements were located on the most fertile lands and along Gaza's beautiful coastal regions and checkpoints prevented Palestinian mobility. Despite being one-fifth the size of Rhode Island, 25 miles long by 4-7.5 miles wide, Gaza was divided into three sections and Palestinians had to pass through multiple checkpoints to get from one section to the next. Often Israeli forces would close these checkpoints and not allow the Palestinians access to the other regions in Gaza as a form of collective punishment.

Yet with Israel's pullout in 2005, the Palestinian experience has not improved. Rather, it has become even more unpredictable and isolated. Palestinians who celebrated the exodus of the Israeli settlers and the return of their land could not have imagined what would follow and how Israel would subsequently unleash its brutal force against them. As the saying goes, nothing in life is free and the Palestinians have paid, and continue to pay, a dear and unforgivable price for Israel's withdrawal from their legally rightful land.

From the first moments of Israel's military campaign on December 27, Israel's indifference to civilian casualties was clear. Its first attacks started at around 11:30 AM, at a time when children leave the morning session of school and the afternoon students arrive. The streets were packed with civilians,­ children no less. Within moments, hundreds of Palestinians were killed and even more Palestinians were injured (at least 280 Palestinians were killed on the first day, and 700 wounded, including more than a dozen policemen attending a graduation ceremony at the Gaza City police station). One of the little girls in Jabalia told me that she was in school when the attacks started. She fainted from the overwhelming fear and was not able to go home and see her family for days. When she did go home, she remembers seeing dead and injured bodies stranded all over street and hearing the thundering sound of missiles falling.

In its offensive, Israel attacked UNRWA warehouses, schools, mosques, civilian neighborhoods, businesses, factories, hospitals, universities and the media center. Its attacks took place during the day, night, during temporary ceasefires, and often without any notice or warning. I would ask the Palestinians I met who had lost loved ones in the recent incursion whether they were warned about an oncoming attack by some flyer or radio announcement. The majority would laugh at my question. "Why would I stay in my home if I knew that it was going to be attacked? Do you think I want to die? Do you think I would want to put my family and children in danger?" Most of the Palestinians had no notice that they were going to be attacked and bombarded until it was too late, and at that point, all they could do was stay in their homes, far from any window or door, and pray that their house would not be next.

Those, like Majid Fathi Abd al-Aziz al-Najjar, who were warned, tended to flee to "safer" areas. Majid and his wife and children resided in a border town in Khan Younis. Shortly after the start of its incursion, the Israeli military dropped flyers on his town, a copy of which he showed me. It said in Arabic that militants had entered your area and as a result we are forced to react and attack this area. Yet these flyers were only dropped in the center of town and Majid did not even realize that they were dropped until after the attacks on his way to see the rubble that used to be his home. Realizing that Israeli tanks were planning on entering Gaza and would destroy anything that would block their entry, Majid packed his family and fled to his relative's home far from the border, in an area deemed safe. Yet at 10 PM on January 3, 2009, a white phosphorus missile strayed off course and rammed right into the home that Majid and his family had taken refuge in, along with 15-20 other Palestinians. The missile came through the roof and broke through the wall and hit Majid's wife, Hanan Abd al-Ghani al-Najjar, dead center in her chest. She died immediately upon impact. Six or seven others, including Hanan's elderly mother and Hanan and Majid's daughter were severely injured by shrapnel and rushed to the hospital. Whereas Majid thought he had fled from certain death in his home on the border, death followed him to his place of refuge. Yet the sad reality is that no matter where Majid fled, no place in Gaza was safe. Hanan's death was not the unpredictable result of a misguided missile, but rather the predictable consequence of a one-sided war waged by the fifth largest army against a population that is trapped within a prison and weakened by decades of occupation and years of blockade.

While Israel has perfected its many excuses in justifying innocent Palestinian death and destruction ("there were militants present…well we thought there were militants present" ,"we warned them but they did not to leave", "missiles were being fired from that [insert location here]", "we are investigating this attack", "it was an accident"), Israel has fallen short of providing actual evidence to substantiate killing people like Hanan Al-Najjar, Kassab Shurrab, Mahmoud Masharrawi, Sabha's husband and the majority of others killed. After attacking the UN-operated al-Fakhura School in Jabalia on January 6, where many families had taken refuge and killing at least 40 innocent women and children and injuring dozens more, Israel made a rare attempt to actually justify its attacks. Not only did Israel use one of its staple excuses ("militants were firing from inside the school"), but it actually showed a video of militants firing mortars from the school. Within a matter of days, though, the video was dated to 2007 and till now, Israel has not provided us with another staple excuse of why, two years later, the al-Fakhura School was attacked and the hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed and injured.

How does Israel explain the executions, the shooting of Palestinians point blank in cold blood? How does it justify Israeli soldiers shooting Kassab Shurrab with five bullets across the chest as he came out of his car with his hands to his side, especially as one of the Palestinian hostages sitting blindfolded by the soldiers heard the commander tell the soldier in Hebrew to shoot the civilians that were driving down the road. What about the two daughters of Khaled Abed Rabbo, Amal, age 2, and Suaad, age 7, murdered by an Israeli soldier using a semi-automatic rifle before their father's eyes as the other Israeli soldiers ate chips and chocolate? Let us not forget about Sameer Rashid Mohammad Mohammad, a 43 year old UNRWA worker, who was separated from his family by Israeli soldiers and taken to a separate room and shot in the chest? For four days after killing Sameer, Israeli soldiers held his family hostage and would make the family prepare the murdered Sameer food. Only when the Israeli soldiers left their home, did Sameer's children see that their father was executed and by their father's dead and bleeding body were piles of food. How about Farah al-Halo, 1.5 years of age, who was shot in the stomach when her family was forced to evacuate from their home at 6:30 PM by Israeli soldiers who assured them of their safety? Only 50 meters down the road they were shot at by other Israeli soldiers. Farah, with her intestines spilling from her stomach, died on the side of the road a few hours later as the same soldiers that had assured their safety watched.

Further, how can Israel explain its use of the Palestinians as human shields? Upon entering a village, Israeli soldiers would separate the men from the women. Sami Rashid Mohammad Mohammad, Sameer's brother, was taken as a hostage and forced to accompany the Israeli soldiers for four days. He was handcuffed and blindfolded and made to walk in front of the Israeli tanks and soldiers as bullets would whiz by. At other times, he was made to sit on his knees in an open field for hours while Israeli soldiers would shoot from behind him and often at his feet. These Palestinians were nothing more than entertainment for the soldiers, a child's play toy. When I asked Sami whether he saw any Palestinian militants during his time as a human shield, he laughed and said that he only saw Israeli soldiers with their blackened faces and camouflage outfits. "It was only Israeli soldiers shooting at each other," he remarked. It is thus no wonder that between four to six Israeli soldiers were killed and 24 others injured in "friendly fire."

Additionally, how can Israel explain the humiliation tactics it used against the Palestinians such as forcing Palestinian ambulance drivers to abandon their ambulance cars and drive donkey carts to pick up the dead and wounded as if to equate Palestinians with donkeys? The soldiers would grant the ambulance drivers half an hour to clear the area using donkey carts and threatened to shoot after half an hour. And what about the racist remarks painted on the walls of the Palestinian homes? One of my co-delegates took pictures of the Hebrew writings graffitied on the walls of some of the Palestinian homes we visited in Zeitoun and had a friend translate them. Among the things written were: "Death to Arabs", "War now between Arabs and Jews", "An Arab brave is an Arab in a grave" "Bad to the Arab=good for me", "He who dreams Givati [Israeli infantry brigade] does not expel Jews. He who dreams Givati kills Arabs!!!"

The reality is that Israel cannot explain or justify any of these things, nor does it even care to do so. When Israel's staple excuses are not readily consumed or when it is examined under a critical lens, Israel applies another tactic­ threat and demonization. Israel has created one of the strongest lobby organizations in the U.S., AIPAC, which actively demonizes any opponent or criticizer of the State of Israel. Due to John Ging's, the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), open opposition to Israel's attacks in Gaza and his call for the investigation of Israeli attacks, he has been demonized and AIPAC recently introduced House Resolution 29 attacking UNRWA and alleging that it supports terrorists. Even I have received a few threatening emails upon the issuance of NLG's Press Report which documented some of our findings. One of the emails indicated that I, along with the other attorneys, will have our careers followed. As the email stated, "Israel is smart not stupid, and will continue to do what they must as will America to survive even over the bodies of their leaders if necessary."

Almost every Palestinian I met in Gaza believes that Israel's recent attack will only be followed by another bloodier and more deadly attack on Gaza that will exterminate the Palestinians once and for all. Considering the history of attacks on Gaza, the level of atrocities recently committed in Gaza and the lack of international redress, I do not think that these statements are mere paranoia. Israel must be held accountable for its crimes in Gaza lest it commit larger and more egregious crimes in the future. As one who has been trained in the legal profession, I demand that Israel engage the legal arena and provide the international community with real evidence, and not just staple excuses and dated videos, that can justify every single civilian murder and the widespread d estruction of Palestinian civil society. Until Israel is able to do so, the evidence in Gaza leads anyone willing to visit to the inevitable conclusion that Israel has committed war crimes.

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