Saturday, 18 September 2010

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban: When they shout: “We strongly condemn …”



Segregating Desert Poison from Desert honey
Two days ago I highlighted the reaction of the Hasbara outlet "Desertpeace" towards killing four settlers near Kiryat Arbai

"Murder is murder!

Killing of civilians is NOT resistance!!

Killing of settlers living illegally on Palestinian soil will not end settlement activity!!!"

"Desert Peace" claimed "Whoever that group might be, they DO NOT speak or act on behalf of the Palestinian people. Only Israel wants the ‘Peace Process’ to fail, only zionism itself benefits from such actions.

DesertPeace condemns this action. This is NOT RESISTANCE and is definitely NOT the road to a just and lasting peace."

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban: When they shout: “We strongly condemn …”

17. Sep, 2010 
By Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

On August 29, 2010, Martin Indyk wrote an op-ed in The New York Times entitled “For once, hope in the Middle East”.  When I read it, I felt I should respond with an article that sheds light on the issues which Mr, Indyk has chosen to ignore.  One of the premises he based his analysis on was that violence has receded in the Middle East in the past two years compared with the 1990s. 

Here, like most Western officials and journalists, Indyk ignores daily and persistent Israeli violence against Palestinians for the past sixty years which has risen to record levels in terms of the number and ferocity of Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians in the past two years, particularly in the city of Hebron.  How could Indyk ignore the ‘violence’ which Israel has been using for years against civilians in Gaza in terms of blockade and artillery, missile and warplane attacks? 

I would not have guessed that that the paradox, on this particular point, would become so stark on the international scene after four Israeli settlers were killed in a village near Hebron.

Jewish settlers, as everyone knows, have been killing Palestinian farmers, burning mosques, running over children with their cars, desecrating cemeteries, demolishing houses and whole villages.  The lack of Western reaction towards this rise in the number of crimes against Palestinians reflects the conviction in the West that ‘violence has receded in the Middle East’, as if killing the Arabs is not ‘violence’, while killing these settlers is the only ‘violence’ in the Middle East! 

The US President hastened to condemn this ‘absurd killing’ while he kept silent regarding the killing of four thousand civilians, including women and children in Gaza.  His Secretary of State also condemned the ‘brutal violence’, while she never condemned the Israelis for killing any Palestinian.  The United Nations representative considered killing the Israelis a ‘mean’ attempt at undermining the negotiations, while his organization has done nothing to stop Israeli daily killing of Palestinians for the past sixty years.  As usual, the European Union, and Japan too, condemned killing the Israelis, while they turn absolutely deaf when Israelis kill Palestinian civilians in their thousands. 

Even the Palestinian Authority condemned the killing of the four settlers without reminding the world of the crimes committed daily against the Palestinians, particularly in Hebron, and have never been ‘condemned’ or even mentioned  be any American or European official. 

For them, that is ‘natural violence’, because Palestinian lives do not mean anything to the West.  Only when an Israeli is killed, ‘civilized’ Westerners hasten to ‘denounce’ and ‘condemn’ violence.

In this article, I would just remind readers of some of the ‘acts of violence’, ‘ugly crimes’, ‘absurd killings’ and ‘brutal violence’ committed by the Israeli settlers in the West Bank, particularly in villages of the Hebron region, against unarmed Palestinians simply trying to live on their land with freedom and dignity and away from the killing and oppression practiced against them by Israeli settlers on a daily basis.  Such acts and crime have never been condemned by Obama, Clinton, the European Union, the United States, or even Japan.

Since March 2010, Israeli occupation forces killed in cold blood Mohammad Ibrahim Abdul Qader Qadus on March 16, 2010 in Southern Nablus; and on March 21, child Mohammad al-Qanbar was run twice over by a settler’s car before he was detained in Ras al-Amoud.  On April 3, an Israeli settler ran over Samar Saif Radwan, 17, in eastern Hebron.  On April 5, 2010, the settlers of Kriat Shmona burned a Palestinian to death.  On the same day, three settlers poured hot water on the body and face of Munjed Bsharat, 26, who sustained serious burns and wounds.  On April 11, an Israeli settler ran over a Palestinian child in the village of Laban West of Ramallah.  On April 27, occupation forces assassinated young man Ali Sweiti, maimed his dead body and blocked out his eyes.  On May 10, a Palestinian child died of the tear gas he inhaled.  On the same day, occupation forces beat child Abdullah Isa to death.  On May 16, an Israeli settler ran over a mother and her two daughters Rowa, 2, and Nagham, 5, at the entrance of their village, Jabaa south of Bethlehem.  On June 11, an Israeli military jeep ran over and killed Mazen Naem al-Jamal, 48, in Hebron.  On July 19, an Israeli settler ran over and killed Abdullah Hasan al-Muhtaseb, 12 in Hebron.

Thus, Israeli settlers and occupation forces killed during the first months of 2010 fourteen Palestinians.  No country in the world condemned the killing of these people.  And this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the brutal crimes committed by settlers on a daily basis against innocent children, women and young people in Hebron and other West Bank cities and villages.  What would the Palestinians do if no country in the world condemned killing them?  No Western media outlet even keeps a record of the crimes committed against them on a daily basis.  Palestinian anger reaches unbearable levels not only because of the settler violence committed against them, but also because of the silence and complicity of Western powers.
A quick review of the racist Western perspective of what is happening in occupied Palestine explains the failure of all previous attempts to reach real solutions and just and comprehensive peace.  It is because such a peace should be based on fair and balanced solutions.

For negotiations to succeed, the sponsors of the process should be convinced that the life of the Palestinians is at least equal to the life of a criminal settler living on a land not his own in order to steal this land and kill the people living on it.  Only then, there might be some hope of achieving peace based on justice and not on killing one party and giving the occupying killing party everything it wants.  When Obama, Clinton and the European Union condemn killing the Palestinians with the same strength they condemn the killing of settlers, there might be hope of a real peace in our region.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has been the spokesperson for Syria and was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Three Jewish-mothers........

Frustrated Arab's Diary

Nicolas Sarkozy , Bernard Kouchner and Tipsy Livni
all have had a Jewish mother.
Which is,  logically ,not a crime ,
nor anything that makes you ashamed of .

But ,
France invented the separation of the religion from politics
while Israel reconnected religion with politics.

Although  Kouchner , Livni and Sarkozy
all do qualify to be called "Jews",
none of them is a Semite
nor is a grand-child of Abraham.
Livni is Polish ,
Sarkozy is Hungarian
Kouchner is Latvian.....

but all of them want to decide on the fate of Palestine
which is 100% semitic

Sherlock Hommos


Posted by Tlaxcala at 3:03 PM

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

MP Fadlallah: PM Group Revealed Involvment In Scheme against Lebanon

MP Fadlallah: PM Group Revealed Involvment In Scheme against Lebanon

18/09/2010 Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc MP Hasan Fadlallah said Saturday that “the Prime Minister’s group, through its sectarian rhetoric, has revealed its involvement in the sedition that is being schemed for Lebanon.”

MP Fadlallah was speaking to Al-Jadeed TV to retort to Mustakbal MP Ammar Houri’s accusation to Hezbollah of “threatening the leader of the Sunni community in Lebanon.”

“We are witnessing a blatant bid to ruin the country,” Fadlallah said, stressing Hezbollah will not be dragged to any sectarian rhetoric.

The Hezbollah MP noted that sectarian incitement by PM Saad Hariri’s bloc coincided with what the American administration is preparing for Lebanon and the region, through the direct Israeli-Palestinian Authority direct talks. “Their (Hariri’s bloc) resorting to sectarian rhetoric is an attempt to use their last card after the false witnesses (in the Rafiq Hariri assassination) have been exposed,” Fadlallah stressed.

Moreover, the MP pointed that the “political decision to persecute General Jamil Sayyed has harmed the Lebanese judiciary the most…and we had heard this decision from political powers before it was issued.”

The Loyalty to the Resistance bloc member stressed judicial authorities should have been mobilized to counter the false witnesses, those who unjustly put the four generals behind bars for four years, and those who have been bragging about their alliance with Israel.

False witnesses, on top of whom is Mohamed Zuheir Siddiq, testified to international investigators probing the assassination of Hariri, and their false testimonies led to the imprisonment of Sayyed, who was the general director of the General Security apparatus, Brigadier General Reimond Azar, the military intelligence chief, General Ali Al-Hajj, the general director of the Internal Security Forces, and Brigadier General Mustapha Hamdan, who was the head of the Republican Guards Brigade. The four Generals were released in 2009 after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon decided that no evidence link them to the Hariri murder.

Sayyed accused General Prosecutor Said Mirza among other senior security and judicial officials of standing behind his apprehension.

"I demanded that General Prosecutor Saeed Mirza step down because I consider him as my opponent and therefore any decision he issues will be rejected," he stated from Paris.

Mirza had earlier summoned Sayyed for questioning about his remarks, however the former general said that Mirza’s request was illegal. Sayyed had brought two lawsuits against Mirza in Lebanon and Syria, and therefore, according to a statement by Sayyed’s media office, Mirza cannot take such action because “he is an opponent in a lawsuit filed by Sayyed.”

“I will return to Lebanon as scheduled (today...and it makes no difference if I were arrested because the law is not on their side.”

"The tribunal's decision to hand us evidence is a new setback for the sides that have been trying to cover up the facts in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri," Sayyed Said.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Sons of Hariri and Sons of Gemayyel

Angry Arab

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar:  "Sons of Gemayyel and Sons of Hariri: Mistakes, boasts, and Israel."

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

IOF murders QB leader in W. Bank in cold blood - Hamas holds Fatah responsible for Shelbaiya assassination

[ 17/09/2010 - 02:48 PM ]

TULKAREM, (PIC)-- IOF troops have executed Palestinian fighter Eyad Asad Shelbaya, 37, Friday morning after storming his home in the refugee camp of Nur Shams in Tulkarem city, northwest of the West Bank.

Sources in the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas Movement, mourned the martyr and confirmed to the PIC correspondent in the city that Shelbaya was shot at close range. Local sources in the refugee camp said that the martyr was killed while sleeping in his house.

PIC correspondent in the city added that nearly 15 members and local leaders from Hamas Movement were also rounded up at the hands of the invading IOF troops in the operation where they used tanks, infantry, and the special forces amidst intensive shooting of live bullets and sound bombs at homes of the Palestinians.

Hamas condemned the assassination of Shelbaya and accused the Fatah-dominated PA security forces in the West Bank of extending assistance to the IOF troops in carrying out the assassination, explaining that Shelbaya was under intensive surveillance from the PA intelligence.

The PIC correspondent quoted one of Hamas leaders in the city, who preferred not to be identified, as saying "We hold the Fatah security apparatuses fully responsible for participating in the killing of Shelabaya who was under concentrated surveillance from those apparatuses, and he was detained in Pa jails till just a couple of days ago".

He also vowed that Hamas won't let the crime pass unpunished, but confirmed that place and time of Hamas's retaliation to the crime will be specified by the leaders in the field only.

A state of extreme anger and disgruntlement is prevailing in the city as Palestinian citizens poured their anger on the Fatah forces that connived with the IOF troops and allowed them to enter the refugee camp and kill Shelbaya in cold blood.

Over the past three years, many Palestinian fighters, mostly from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, were assassinated or arrested by the IOF troops in full coordination with the Fatah militia in the West Bank.

Hamas holds Fatah responsible for Shelbaiya assassination

[ 18/09/2010 - 08:17 AM ]

TULKAREM, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement held Fatah faction along with Israel fully responsible for the consequences of assassinating one of its armed wing's leaders Iyad Shelbaiya in Tulkarem, stressing that such a crime would not undermine its resistance activities against the occupation.

In a news conference on Friday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated that Shelbaiya was kept under constant surveillance by Fatah militias and was kidnapped by them seven times, the latest was on 13 August, before releasing him a few days ago.

Spokesman Abu Zuhri criticized the condemnation remarks made by Fatah and its authority, saying they were only an attempt to cover its involvement in this crime.

The spokesman accused the international community of keeping silent on Israel's violations of human rights, especially the extrajudicial executions it carries out against the Palestinians, while raising its voice when one Israeli gets scratched.

He stressed that this crime is part of the price his Movement constantly pays as a result of its fixed political positions in the face of attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause.

For its part, the Islamic Jihad Movement strongly denounced the assassination of Shelbaiya and held the Palestinian Authority and its security militias fully responsible for all arrests and assassinations carried out by Israel against resistance fighters in the West Bank.

"Simultaneously with the launch of negotiation rounds between Oslo authority and the Zionist enemy, a joint security campaign was waged against the Palestinian people and their fighters that started with hot pursuits and arrests and ended with the Israeli occupation's crime of executing fighter Shelbaiya, one of Al-Qassam Brigades' leaders in the West Bank," Islamic Jihad said in a statement on Friday.

It emphasized that this "heinous crime" was committed under the cover of the Palestinian Authority's peace talks and security cooperation with the Israeli occupation state, pointing out that many resistance fighters were kidnapped or killed by Israeli troops only a few day after the PA's militias summoned or detained them.

Al-Ahrar Movement also condemned the crime and said the assassination of Shelbaiya a few days after releasing him from West Bank jails proved the serious security cooperation between Fatah and the occupation.

Salahuddin Brigades, the armed wing of the popular resistance movement, for its part, called on all resistance factions to retaliate to the assassination of Shelbaiya.

Secretary-general of the Palestinian legislative council Mahmoud Al-Ramahi, for his part, condemned the PA's silence on the murder of Shelbaiya and demanded it to withdraw from its "shameful" talks with the Israeli occupation state.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Will Hezbollah provide 'security' for Jamil Assayed upon his return to Beirut?

Via Friday-Lunch-Club

Seriously. Lebanon does not deserve the appellation 'banana republic' any more ... With a president scurrying to 'put Lebanon on the World's map', a prime minister hiding in Saudi Arabia ... and the affairs of state left pretty much for ad-hoc measures & citizens 'creativity' ... Big players, puny players & criminals, the Lebanese political landscape looks headed towards a stampede!

Al Akhbar:

يصل المدير العام السابق للأمن العام اللواء جميل السيد إلى بيروت اليوم، في ظل مشهد انقسام سياسي لم تشهده البلاد منذ ما قبل الانتخابات النيابية الأخيرة. حزب الله، ومعظم حلفائه، أعلنوا صراحة وقوفهم إلى جانب السيد. وأبعد من ذلك، فإن عدداً من نواب الحزب ووزراءه ومسؤوليه سيستقبلونه على المطار، إلى جانب عدد من شخصيات المعارضة السابقة. إلا أن ما رفض الحزب تأكيده رسمياً أو نفيه هو المعلومات التي تحدّثت أمس عن أنه سيوفر المواكبة الأمنية للسيد، خلال انتقاله من مطار رفيق الحريري الدولي إلى منزله، سواء من خلال المواكب السيارة، أو من خلال نشر مئات الأفراد المدنيين التابعين للحزب على طول الطريق.
أما رئيس الحكومة الذي لا يزال معتصماً في المملكة العربية السعودية، فيصرّ على المضيّ في ملاحقة السيد الذي رجح بعض عارفيه أن يكون مستعداً للمثول أمام القضاء والضابطة العدلية، في حالة واحدة فقط، عنوانها أن يتنحى القاضي سعيد ميرزا عن القضية.
وبعد يومين على بدء التحرك القضائي في حق السيد، وبعد مشاورات شملت معظم أطراف المعارضة، ووصلت إلى العاصمة السورية، أصدر حزب الله بياناً أمس دعا فيه إلى التراجع عن القرار باستدعاء السيد للمثول أمام المباحث الجنائية المركزية، والتحقيق معه بجرم تهديد الدولة ورئيس الحكومة والمس بالقضاء وتعكير صلة لبنان بدولة شقيقة.............».
وفي أول رد من تيار المستقبل على بيان حزب الله، خرج النائب عمار حوري ليضع الخلاف في إطار مذهبي، قائلاً إن حزب الله، «ورغم لونه المذهبي، لم يتورّع عن دعم من هدّد زعيم السنّة في لبنان». وفيما أكد مقربون من رئيس الحكومة أن كلام حوري يعبّر عن رأيه الشخصي ولا يمثل الحريري، لفتوا إلى أن أفضل من يعبّر عن رئيس الحكومة هو النائب عقاب صقر الذي أصدر بياناً حمل لهجة تحذيرية (إن لم تكن تهديدية) لحزب الله، دعاه فيه «إلى تلقف اليد الكبيرة الممدودة بمثلها، كي لا يدخل البلد أزمة يعرف (الحزب) جيداً كيف يفتعلها، لكننا على يقين بأنه لا يعرف إلى أين ستصل به وإلى أي مستوى ستنتهي
ودعا صقر حزب الله إلى «التراجع عن هذا البيان السابق الذي يشكل منعطفاً خطيراً في حياتنا السياسية وغطاءً مكشوفاً وغير مسبوق لتهديد علني لرئيس حكومة لبنان»
قانونياً، تقدم اللواء السيد بمراجعة قانونية، عبر وكيله المحامي أكرم عازوري، إلى محكمة التمييز الجزائية، طالباً «تنحية المُدّعي العام للتمييز سعيد ميرزا عن منصبه ووضعه بالتصرف»، بسبب «الخصومة الشخصية» بين السيد وميرزا، لكون الأخير مُدّعى عليه من الأول لدى القضاء اللبناني، وذلك في محاضر التحقيق الرسمية التي أحالها ميرزا إلى لاهاي، إضافة إلى كون ميرزا مُدّعى عليه أيضاً في الدعوى الشخصية المقدمة من السيّد أمام القضاء السوري «في جريمة مؤامرة شهود الزور». وأشار بيان أصدره المكتب الإعلامي للسيد إلى أن من نتائج هذه المراجعة أيضاً «إقصاء» اللواء أشرف ريفي والعقيد وسام الحسن عن منصبيهما، لكونهما «الضّابطة العدلية التي تتبع لميرزا، وكونهما مُدّعى عليهما في جريمة شهود الزور».
ولم تقتصر المراجعة على طلب رفع يد القاضي ميرزا، إذ تضمنت طلب منعه من إعطاء أيّ أمر إلى أيّ نائب عام آخر يكلف بالإشراف على هذا التحقيق، نظراً إلى «خضوع جميع النيابات العامة لإمرته، وإن لم يكن له شخصياً حقّ الادعاء»، وبالتالي إبطال أو وقف تنفيذ أيّ إجراء يكون قد اتخذه بحقّ اللواء السيّد في هذه القضية، وخصوصاً أيّ مذكرة جلب أو إحضار
Posted by G, Z, or B at 8:57 PM

See also:

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Abbas's militia kidnap 53 Hamas supporters, nine PFLP supporters - Captives taken tortured, abused

[ 17/09/2010 - 09:43 PM ]

WEST BANK, (PIC)-- Abbas's militia continued to kidnap Hamas supporters in all districts of the West Bank kidnapping 53 of them according to local sources on Friday morning.

The PA security detained 15 people in Nablus district, 14 from al-Khalil district, 5 from Qalqilya district, one from the Jenin district, two from the Salfit district, three from the Jerusalem district, two from the Ramallah district, nine from the Tulkarem district and two in the Ramallah district.

Meanwhile, Khaleda Jarrar, member of the PFLP's political bureau said that the PA's security arrested on Thursday nine PFLP supporters on behalf of the "military prosecutor" and that all efforts to get them released were in vain.

She said that Abdel Rahim Mallouh, the movement's secretary general contacted the concerned authorities for that purpose.

Jarrar further said that the PA security had sent summonses to 15 young supporters of the PFLP in Deheisha refugee camp and nine of them were detained, and stressed that her movement will work on their release.

The PA security claims that the young activists confronted its elements during an operation in the camp and threw stones at their cars causing damage to one of them.
PA source: Captives taken during PA militia arrest campaign tortured, abused

[ 18/09/2010 - 08:08 AM ]

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- A source close to the Palestinian Authority security militia in Al-Khalil confirmed that detainees held during the PA militia’s recent arrest campaign in the West Bank are brutally tortured.

This comes after several prisoners released the night before Eid al-Fitr reported several instances of torture and abuse during their detention.

Dozens of Palestinians arrested after the Qassam Brigades operation in Al-Khalil late August were severely beaten and brutally assaulted by guards and investigators while in detention, the source said.

The source added that he saw elements from the PA militia using force against prisoners without regard for their ages, underscoring that some of the prisoners aged over 50 years.

The source reported several cases of chronic medical conditions progressing due to beatings, solitary confinement, malnutrition, and physical and psychological fatigue.

Sheikh Mohammed Halayqa, husband to Palestinian Legislative Council MP Samira Halayqeh has suffered from severe stress and fatigue after he was beaten several times by investigators in the Dhahiriya prison and placed in the prison’s bathroom for long hours.

Sheikh Nidhal al-Qawasema, who was among the 400 deportees to Maraj al-Zuhour in South Lebanon in the nineties of the past century by the Israeli occupation authority, was knocked unconscious several times in the Dhahiriya prison after he was beaten and abused.

Sayyaf Asafira, a young ex-prisoner from Beit Kahil, bears signs of severe torture on his feet.

One detainee who was released from the Dhahiriya prison said in an exclusive interview that prisoners suffer from shortage of necessary supplies, adding that guards treat prisoners harshly and have banned even paper tissues along with other fundamental items.

There are more than 400 detainees from Al-Khalil alone in the Dhahiriya prison, most of them ex-prisoners, he said.

A large number of women, most of whom are wives to prisoners and war casualties, are interviewed daily, he added.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

A Heinous Crime Without Punishment - The Sabra and Shatilla Massacre

A history of heinous massacres follows Israel's path throughout its zionist colonial project in Palestine and the surrounding countries. This was not the first genocidal crime against the Palestinians and other Arabs, nor the last, I fear.

The Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Robert Fisk: At Last the Truth About Sabra and Chatila Massacres:

"Sabra and Chatila Massacres - After 19 years, The Truth at Last?

By Robert Fisk
The Independent

Date: November 28, 2001 [19 years after the massacre]

Sana Sersawi speaks carefully, loudly but slowly, as she recalls the chaotic, dangerous, desperately tragic events that overwhelmed her just over 19 years ago, on 18 September 1982. As one of the survivors prepared to testify against the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon--who was then Israel's defence minister--she stops to search her memory when she confronts the most terrible moments of her life. 'The Lebanese Forces militia [Phalangists] had taken us from our homes and marched us up to the entrance to the camp where a large hole had been dug in the earth. The men were told to get into it. Then the militiamen shot a Palestinian. The women and children had climbed over bodies to reach this spot, but we were truly shocked by seeing this man killed in front of us and there was a roar of shouting and screams from the women. That's when we heard the Israelis on loudspeakers shouting, 'Give us the men, give us the men.' We thought, 'Thank God, they will save us.'' It was to prove a cruelly false hope.

Mrs Sersawi, three months pregnant, saw her husband Hassan, 30, and her Egyptian brother-in-law Faraj el-Sayed Ahmed standing in the crowd of men. 'We were told to walk up the road towards the Kuwaiti embassy, the women and children in front, the men behind. We had been separated. There were Phalangist militiamen and Israeli soldiers walking alongside us. I could still see Hassan and Faraj. It was like a parade. There were several hundred of us. When we got to the Cite Sportif, the Israelis put us women in a big concrete room and the men were taken to another side of the stadium. There were a lot of men from the camp and I could no longer see my husband. The Israelis went round saying 'Sit, sit.' It was 11am. An hour later, we were told to leave. But we stood around outside amid the Israeli soldiers, waiting for our men.'

Sana Sersawi waited in the bright, sweltering sun for Hassan and Faraj to emerge. 'Some men came out, none of them younger than 40, and they told us to be patient, that hundreds of men were still inside. Then about 4pm, an Israeli officer came out. He was wearing dark glasses and said in Arabic: 'What are you all waiting for?' He said there was nobody left, that everyone had gone. There were Israeli trucks moving out with tarpaulin over them. We couldn't see inside. And there were jeeps and tanks and a bulldozer making a lot of noise. We stayed there as it got dark and the Israelis appeared to be leaving and we were very nervous. But then when the Israelis had moved away, we went inside. And there was no one there. Nobody. I had been only three years married. I never saw my husband again.'

Today, a Belgian appeals court will begin a hearing to decide if Prime Minister Sharon should be prosecuted for the massacre of Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982. (Belgian laws allow courts to try foreigners for war crimes committed on foreign soil.) In working on this case, the prosecution believes that it has discovered shocking new evidence of Israel's involvement.

The evidence centres on the Camille Chamoun Sports Stadium-- the 'Cite Sportif'. Only two miles from Beirut airport, the damaged stadium was a natural holding centre for prisoners. It had been an ammunition dump for Yasser Arafat's PLO and repeatedly bombed by Israeli jets during the 1982 siege of Beirut so that its giant, smashed exterior looked like a nightmare denture. The Palestinians had earlier mined its cavernous interior, but its vast, underground storage space and athletics changing-rooms remained intact. It was a familiar landmark to all of us who lived in Beirut. At mid-morning on 18 September 1982--about the time Sana Sersawi says she was brought to the stadium--I saw hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners, probably well over 1,000, sitting in its gloomy, dark interior, squatting in the dust, watched over by Israeli soldiers and plain-clothes Shin Beth (Israeli secret service) agents and men who I suspected were Lebanese collaborators. The men sat in silence, obviously in fear. From time to time, I noted, a few were taken away. They were put into Israeli army trucks or jeeps or Phalangist vehicles--for further 'interrogation'.

Nor did I doubt this. A few hundred metres away, inside the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian refugee camps, up to 600 massacre victims rotted in the sun, the stench of decomposition drifting over the prisoners and their captors alike. It was suffocatingly hot. Loren Jenkins of The Washington Post, Paul Eedle of Reuters and I had only got into the cells because the Israelis assumed--given our Western appearance--that we must have been members of Shin Beth. Many of the prisoners had their heads bowed. But Israel's Phalangist militiamen--still raging at the murder of their leader and president elect Bashir Gemayel--had been withdrawn from the camps, their slaughter over, and at least the Israeli army was now in charge. So what did these men have to fear?

Looking back--and listening to Sana Sersawi today--I shudder now at our innocence. My notes of the time, subsequently written into a book about Israel's 1982 invasion and its war with the PLO, contain some ominous clues. We found a Lebanese employee of Reuters, Abdullah Mattar, among the prisoners and obtained his release, Paul leading him away with his arm around the man's shoulders. 'They take us away, one by one, for interrogation,' one of the prisoners muttered to me. 'They are Haddad [Christian militia] men. Usually they bring the people back after interrogation, but not always. Sometimes the people do not return them.' Then an Israeli officer ordered me to leave. Why couldn't the prisoners talk to me, I asked? 'They can talk if they want,' he replied. 'But they have nothing to say.'

All the Israelis knew what had happened inside the camps. The smell of the corpses was now overpowering. Outside, a Phalangist jeep with the words 'Military Police' painted on it--if so exotic an institution could be associated with this gang of murderers--drove by. A few television crews had turned up. One filmed the Lebanese Christian militiamen outside the Cite Sportif. He also filmed a woman pleading to an Israeli army colonel called 'Yahya' for the release of her husband. (The colonel has now been positively identified by The Independent. Today, he is a general in the Israeli army.)

Along the main road opposite the stadium there was a line of Israeli Merkava tanks, their crews sitting on the turrets, smoking, watching the men being led from the stadium in ones or twos, some being set free, others being led away by Shin Beth men or by Lebanese men in drab khaki overalls. All these soldiers knew what had happened inside the camps. One of the members of the tank crews, Lt Avi Grabovsky--he was later to testify to the Israeli Kahan commission--had even witnessed the murder of several civilians the previous day and had been told not to 'interfere'.

And in the days that followed, strange reports reached us. A girl had been dragged from a car in Damour by Phalangist militiamen and taken away, despite her appeals to a nearby Israeli soldier. Then the cleaning lady of a Lebanese woman who worked for a US television chain complained bitterly that Israelis had arrested her husband. He was never seen again. There were other vague rumours of 'disappeared' people.

I wrote in my notes at the time that 'even after Chatila, Israel's 'terrorist' enemies were being liquidated in West Beirut'. But I had not directly associated this dark conviction with the Cite Sportif. I had not even reflected on the fearful precedents of a sports stadium in time of war. Hadn't there been a sports stadium in Santiago a few years before, packed with prisoners after Pinochet's coup d'etat, a stadium from which many prisoners never returned?

Among the testimonies gathered by lawyers seeking to indict Ariel Sharon for war crimes is that of Wadha al-Sabeq. On Friday, 17 September 1982, she said, while the massacre was still (unknown to her) underway inside Sabra and Chatila, she was in her home with her family in Bir Hassan, just opposite the camps. 'Neighbours came and said the Israelis wanted to stamp our ID cards, so we went downstairs and we saw both Israelis and Lebanese Forces [Phalangists] on the road. The men were separated from the women.' This separation--with its awful shadow of similar separations at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war--were a common feature of these mass arrests. 'We were told to go to the Cite Sportif. The men stayed put.' Among the men were Wadha's two sons, 19-year-old Mohamed and 16-year-old Ali and her brother Mohamed. 'We went to the Cite Sportif, as the Israelis told us,' she says. 'I never saw my sons or brother again.'

The survivors tell distressingly similar stories. Bahija Zrein says she was ordered by an Israeli patrol to go to the Cite Sportif and the men with her, including her 22-year-old brother, were taken away. Some militiamen--watched by the Israelis--loaded him into a car, blindfolded, she claims. 'That's how he disappeared,' she says in her official testimony, 'and I have never seen him again since.'

It was only a few days afterwards that we journalists began to notice a discrepancy in the figures of dead. While up to 600 bodies had been found inside Sabra and Chatila, 1,800 civilians had been reported as 'missing'. We assumed--how easy assumptions are in war--that they had been killed in the three days between 16 September 1982 and the withdrawal of the Phalangist killers on the 18th, that their corpses had been secretly buried outside the camp. Beneath the golf course, we suspected. The idea that many of these young people had been murdered outside the camps or after the 18th, that the killings were still going on while we walked through the camps, never occurred to us.

Why did we not think of this at the time? The following year, the Israeli Kahan commission published its report, condemning Sharon but ending its own inquiry of the atrocity on 18 September, with just a one-line hint--unexplained-- that several hundred people may have 'disappeared' at about the same time. The commission interviewed no Palestinian survivors but it was allowed to become the narrative of history. The idea that the Israelis went on handing over prisoners to their bloodthirsty militia allies never occurred to us. The Palestinians of Sabra and Chatila are now giving evidence that this is exactly what happened. One man, Abdel Nasser Alameh, believes his brother Ali was handed to the Phalange on the morning of the 18th. A Palestinian Christian woman called Milaneh Boutros has recorded how, in a truck-load of women and children, she was taken from the camps to the Christian town of Bikfaya, the home of the newly assassinated Christian president-elect Bashir Gemayel, where a grief-stricken Christian woman ordered the execution of a 13-year-old boy in the truck. He was shot. The truck must have passed at least four Israeli checkpoints on its way to Bikfaya. And heaven spare me, I realise now that I had even met the woman who ordered the boy's execution.

Even before the slaughter inside the camps had ended, Shahira Abu Rudeina says she was taken to the Cite Sportif where, in one of the underground 'holding centres', she saw a retarded man, watched by Israeli soldiers, burying bodies in a pit. Her evidence might be rejected were it not for the fact that she also expressed her gratitude for an Israeli soldier--inside the Chatila camp, against all the evidence given by the Israelis--who prevented the murder of her daughters by the Phalange.

Long after the war, the ruins of the Cite Sportif were torn down and a brand new marble stadium was built in its place, partly by the British. Pavarotti has sung there. But the testimony of what may lie beneath its foundations--and its frightful implications--might give Ariel Sharon further reason to fear an indictment.

[Press TV News] 28th Anniversary of Sabra and Shatilla Massacre - Details:

"shabbirh | September 17, 2010

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Palestine Video - A Palestine Vlog

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Grim prospects for Gaza's fishermen and farmers

Mohammed Omer, The Electronic Intifada, 17 September 2010

Zaki al-Habeel (left) prepares his boat. (Mohammed Omer/IPS)

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - As the many colors of the fish and flowers slowly disappear from the Gaza landscape, the already grim prospects of the besieged residents begins to look even bleaker.

Fishing was a profession that used to keep thousands of fishermen and their families fed, but with Israel restricting the movements of fishermen, the catches are diminishing.

The same fate has overtaken the local flower farmers whose carnations were the delight of lovers and loved ones across Europe. Gaza used to export 75 million flowers to the European Union duty free, before Israel embargoed all export.

There is little movement on the harbor during the day. Only a few fishing boats line the piers of the Gaza Strip.

"The fish are waiting, but the fishermen are being kept away," says Zaki al-Habeel, a 33-year-old father of seven. But just before sunset, he is ready to go fishing.

Al-Habeel is not allowed to go as far out as he used to. The fishermen have been set a limit of three miles. "But it is not really three full miles," he says.

Often he is only a mile-and-a-half out before the Israeli navy fires at him. Al-Habeel and his brothers who are all fishermen risk injuries and damage to equipment every time they sail out.

Over the last decade, the Israeli navy has increasingly restricted Palestinian access to fishing zones along the Gaza beach, a UN report revealed last month.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) compiled the report in cooperation with the World Food Program (WFP).

The report said Palestinian fishermen have been barred from 85 percent of the naval territory to which they are entitled under the Oslo agreement of 1993 between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The report also focused on the buffer zone between Israel and Gaza where farmers are shot at for tilling their own lands. The report mentions 22 Palestinians killed and 146 wounded in such incidents since January 2009.

Yet the farmers and fishermen continue to access these prohibited areas, risking their life and limb.

As al-Habeel says, he and his brothers "have to feed our families." The last time, the Israeli navy shot out the fuel lines that are connected to his boat. Al-Habeel was just relieved they did not hit the small fuel tank, which is expensive and hard to find.

Last month, a 22-year-old fisherman was hospitalized with gunshot injuries when he was perhaps a little more than two miles from the shore, other fishermen said.

The plight of the flower growers is just as wretched. Gaza-grown carnations, marketed under the brand name Coral, were popular all over Europe. But the situation has been going downhill for a while. In 2008, IPS had interviewed the carnation farmer Majed Hadaeid when his situation was quite desperate.

He had owned a 130-dunam (32-acre) farm yielding 16-17 million carnations a year in 30 different varieties and colors. This year he has lost his entire four-million-dollar business, and is burdened with debts amounting to $1.5 million.

There is a faint hope though. The European Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza announced in July that more than 9,000 delegates have applied to take a "Freedom Flotilla" to Gaza. They are raising 100,000 Euros to send an Irish ship this autumn.

Hadaeid hopes these aid boats from Europe will help the other farmers to survive. "We need the flotillas to keep up continuous pressure on Israel," he said.

The fishermen nostalgically remember that day in August 2008 when the first flotilla arrived and members of the Free Gaza Movement joined them on their boats.

Al-Habeel says, "We were then able to get as far as six miles to fish."

Everyone cheers the news of another flotilla. Fatima Subhi, a 49-year-old schoolteacher said, "I welcome such delegations."

The news has not all been positive though. In May this year, Israelis attacked the Turkish aid boat Mavi Marmara killing nine persons on board, including a Turkish-American passenger.

Turkish flags are seen at almost every street corner. A dish seller is wearing a Turkish flag as a T-shirt. "They shed their blood for us, so we wear their flag over our hearts," he says.

This summer, quite a few Turkish names have appeared on shop fronts. There is the Marmara Restaurant, the Istanbul Cafe and a ladies cosmetics shop simply called Istanbul.

Samir al-Ejjel, who owns a shop selling carnations, has designed a bouquet he calls Erdogan in honor of the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and has a Turkish flag flying outside his shop.

There was a report in the Israeli daily Maariv last week that thousands of activists from Western nations, as well as from Arab countries and even Israeli citizens, were preparing to send a flotilla of thirty ships.

Al-Habeel likes to think that the many different people who came by land or sea are just like the wide varieties of fish he used to catch.

As he waits hopefully for the flotillas to return, a younger fisherman talks about the "beautiful ladies" who were on board. "The Israelis do not dare to shoot at [European] women," he says with a smile.

"Those flotillas gave us hope that rights can be protected -- even under gunfire," he added.

In the past, the fishermen and flower farmers have appealed to the EU for support. But with governments turning a deaf ear, they call on humanitarian activists from around the world. They hold on to the hope that by Christmas there will be more varieties of fish on the table here, and colorful Gaza carnations in the markets of Europe.

All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2010). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.

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Three Palestinians wounded in Bil’in march against apartheid wall

[ 18/09/2010 - 06:55 AM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Three Palestinians were wounded and dozens choked by tear gas Friday in clashes that broke out between Israeli troops and demonstrators in Bil’in village, Ramallah district, during a weekly march against the apartheid wall and settlement activity.

Local sources said Israel troops fired stun grenades, rubber bullets, and gas bombs at protesters. Tal Shapira, 25, Amjad Abu Rahma, 16, and Fadi al-Khatib, 15, were hit with gas bombs during the incident.

The march was also in support of detained anti wall activists Abdullah Abu Rahma and Adeeb Abu Rahma, against whom Israeli military prosecutors are pushing for a maximum sentence.

Dozens of other demonstrators suffered breathing difficulties in the Bethlehem village of Al-Ma’sara when Israeli forces suppressed a weekly march in protest of the separation wall and settlement activity in the village.

Dozens of villagers and foreign activists raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against Israel’s settlement policies to play their part in the march.

IOF detains six Jerusalemites after clashes

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Ramallah traitors lauche "Smiles and Appeasement Campaign" among Jews ...

Via Friday-Lunch-Club

Campaign aims to drum up support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his upcoming U.S. visit to participate in the UN general assembly.

By Shlomo Shamir

American Jewish publications have received numerous proposals in recent days from senior Palestinian officials to interview Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who will be arriving in New York next week to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

The Palestinians hope to utilize Abbas' trip to carry out what they describe as a "smiles and appeasement campaign" among America's Jewish community, in efforts to raise sympathy and support among U.S. Jews.

Abbas' senior advisers were also trying to secure an interview on the popular channel Fox News.

Abbas is scheduled to arrive in New York at the beginning of next week to speak at the UN assembly. The Palestinian president is also expected to participate in a panel as part of a summit organized by former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

The campaign is part of a targeted Palestinian effort to communicate a message to the greater Jewish community in the U.S. that Abbas is serious about peace negotiations and is ready to strike a peace agreement with the U.S.

The non-profit organization Israel Project, which provides information on the Middle East, was planning to hold a special dinner in Abbas' honor during his visit.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

The U.S. Stirs Persian Gulf Waters - The Saudi Arms Deal

Via South Lebanon

By RANNIE AMIRI, CounterPunch, September 18th, 2010

It would be the single largest foreign arms deal in United States history.

Pending congressional approval, the Obama administration plans to sell $60 billion in advanced aircraft and sophisticated weaponry to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Add $30 billion in proposed enhancements to the country’s navy and ballistic missile-defense systems, and the result is one huge jobs program, further deterioration in Saudi-Iranian relations and heightened tension in the Persian Gulf—all calculated endpoints.

That the colossal arms package was made public enough to be reported on in Monday’s Wall Street Journal indicates it comes without serious Israeli objection—giving credence to the longstanding notion that Saudi Arabia and Israel maintain increasingly close ties, joined by a mutual animus toward Iran.
The agreement would authorize Riyadh to buy 84 new F-15 fighter jets, upgrade another 70 and purchase three types of attack helicopters: 70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds. If Congress makes no significant modifications and Saudi Arabia opts for the entire package, a $90 billion deal to allegedly help the Kingdom counter Iranian influence is in the offing.

Boeing would be responsible for production of all aircraft other than the Black Hawk. They estimated the deal would support at least 75,000 direct or indirect jobs in 44 states. The muted criticism of the proposal by reflexively pro-Israel lawmakers was aided—not by the potential for job creation—but by knowledge that the fighters will not be equipped with long-range missiles and would soon be followed by the sale of the even more advanced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Israel as part of $30 billion in military assistance over 10 years.
Loren Thompson, defense consultant with the Lexington Institute, said, “With domestic demand for weapons headed down, the big defense companies have been looking overseas to customers like Saudi Arabia to make up the difference. Those countries have money to spend at a time when the U.S. government is in dire fiscal straits.”

It is lamentable that the type of economic stimulus upon which the Obama administration is embarking will come at the expense of exacerbating, rather than easing, hostilities between Persian Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Anthony Cordesman, defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies superficially concluded that the anticipated sale will “ … help give Saudi Arabia the capability to convince Iran that it can't use missiles or air power against Saudi Arabia or its neighbors.”

That might hold true if anyone seriously believed Iran was foolish enough to contemplate the use of military force against its Arab neighbors. In fact, it is arguably Iran who ought to be wary of Saudi Arabia.
As The Sunday Times reported in a June 2010 article titled “Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites,” U.S. defense sources stated that Saudi Arabia had agreed to stand down its air defenses and allow Israel use of a narrow stretch of airspace should they decide to conduct bombing raids into Iran.

“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way … This has all been done with the agreement of the [U.S.] State Department,” said one source.

The etiology of Saudi Arabia’s antagonist Iran posture is multifactorial. It not only involves the Wahabi establishment’s intolerance of Shia Muslims (the same Wahabis whose religious sanction is required for the al-Sauds to govern at all), but recognition of what Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution led to and may continue to inspire: the overthrow of repressive, corrupt, Western-backed royal dynasties.

The same anxieties are held by other like-minded Persian Gulf monarchies, Egypt and Jordan—all recipients of American military largesse. Indeed, the U.S. and Israel have done their utmost to stoke and capitalize on these fears.

The massive arms deal with Saudi Arabia is just one more step toward war, one more step toward death in the Persian Gulf.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator. He may be reached at: rbamiri [at] yahoo [dot] com

Posted by Jnoubiyeh at 9:30 AM

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United States laid ground for Ergenekon “Deep State” in Turkey

By Wayne MadsenOnline Journal Contributing Writer
Sep 17, 2010, 00:24

(WMR) -- WMR has discovered a formerly Secret document from the U.S. Department of State that confirms the United States not only supported the Turkish military coup that ousted the nation’s democratically-elected government in 1980 but actively supported the military-imposed Turkish Constitution as “reformist.”

The citizens of Turkey recently voted in a referendum and approved 26 constitutional amendments that will transform Turkey into a democratic state without the threat of the military and national security state-affiliated judiciary trumping the power of the Parliament and the people. Neocons have condemned the referendum as a threat to secularism in Turkey and a move to an Islamic state. However, the neocons and their allies in Israel are concerned that a Mossad -and CIA-imposed Turkish “Deep State” has finally seen its power largely destroyed with the impending adoption of a new Turkish Constitution. The referendum, which passed with 58 percent of the vote, is a victory for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Many of the roots of the creation of the most recent variant of the Turkish Deep State, known as Ergenekon, can be seen in the State Department policy paper dated September 5, 1981, and titled “USG Policy toward Turkey.” When the State Department document was drafted, Turkey’s military junta leader, General Kenan Evren, was drafting the present Turkish Constitution. The 1981 Turkish military draft Constitution’s “reforms” were referred to in the State Department policy document’s author Lawrence Eagleburger, the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs: “It is too early to judge whether the fundamental GOT reforms, now in place or in prospect, will succeed.” The document also talks about the “relief” provided to the United States by the 1980 military coup: “The military takeover of September 1980 brought temporary relief and for the moment broke the back of radical movements -- including pro-Islamic ones -- which had come to the fore in the 1970s.”

Eagleburger signaled his and the Reagan administration’s support for the Turkish junta because of the same bogus reasons that neocons today criticize the Erdogan government: the bogeyman of Turkish Islamic political power. Eagleburger warned that Turkey could “drift away from NATO and Western-style government; alignment with Middle East states which supply oil and markets; possibly even neutralism growing out of accommodations with the USSR.” Today, the neocons, Israelis, and their Ergenekon allies in Turkey argue the same points in demonizing the Turkish government: that Turkey is drifting from NATO, that it is turning to oil suppliers and markets like Iran, and has a growing relationship with Russia.

Eagleburger then outlines how the Reagan administration would cement U.S. ties with Turkey to prevent the above scenarios from being realized. He writes: “ . . . the Turkish-American relationship has no natural constituency in terms of shared history, economic interdependence, ethic or family ties. The absence of a ‘Turkish lobby’ in the United States is indicative.” Two of the recipients of the Eagleburger document would later help fill the void and help create the American Turkish Council (ATC), a lobby group patterned after their friends at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Those two recipients of the Eagleburger document were Richard Perle, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, and Paul Wolfowitz, Director of Policy Planning at the State Department. Other recipients of the Eagleburger policy document on Turkey included Robert Hormats, the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs [and who is now the Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs under Hillary Clinton]; Ronald Spiers, the director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1977 to 1980; and the prospective U.S. ambassador to Pakistan; Richard Burt, the Director of Politico-Military Affairs for the State Department; and Nicholas Veliotes, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
The nature of the bilateral U.S.-Turkish relations were described as a “best effort” to help Turkey in all respects, including an “understanding” of Turkey’s position in Greek-Turkish issues and dealing with “Armenian terrorism.” In 1981, Armenia was a constituent republic of the USSR. Today, it is “Kurdish terrorism” that plagues Turkey since Armenia is now an independent state with a natural and politically-powerful constituency in the United States. The Eagleburger document describes the Evren junta as perceiving the Reagan administration as making a “best effort” in providing financial support to Turkey from Washington’s “weighing in” on the “International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Saudis, and other potential donors.”

Eagleburger also warns of “nettlesome” issues that could adversely affect U.S. relations with the Turkish junta, for example, “Congressional badgering on Cyprus, on relations with Greece, on the pace of return to democracy, and an Armenian niche in the proposed Holocaust Museum.”

The United States, through an alliance with Israel and its influence peddlers in Washington, would ensure that the Turkish pace of democracy would not return to normal until the recent approval by the Turkish people of a new constitution that will eradicate the Turkish junta’s military “reforms” championed by Eagleburger and his band of proto-neocons in the Reagan administration in 1981. Attempts over the past eight years by Ergenekon to overthrow the AKP government failed and with the new constitutional changes, Ergenekon’s and Israel’s ability to influence events in Turkish politics have been curtailed, save for the continuing threat of covert Israeli provocation of terrorism involving the Kurds.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2010
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

"... A Nightmare for All..."

Via Froday-Lunch-Club

Abumuqawama at CNAS:

" I want to make clear that I do not believe another war in southern Lebanon is likely to serve the interests of the peoples of either Israel or Lebanon. I also do not believe the kind of war Jeff foresees will serve U.S. interests. I think peace, in other words, is in everyone's interests....
Finally, Jeff feels confident that Israel would "win", operationally and tactically, in the event of another war with Hizballah. I, by contrast, think the scenario he envisions amounts to a nightmare for all parties in the region and do not think either Israel or Hizballah would end the war with a better peace than the one they enjoy now."
(Full report/ here)
Posted by G, Z, or B at 5:24 PM
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Novel gets to truth of Sabra and Shatila

Matthew Cassel, The Electronic Intifada, 17 September 2010

Israel's invasion of Lebanon and subsequent 22-year-long occupation has been the focus of three acclaimed Israeli films in recent years: Lebanon, Waltz with Bashir and Beaufort tell the story of this era from the perspective of the occupiers. All young men serving in the Israeli army, the films' protagonists question their roles in Lebanon. However, this narrative perspective leads the viewer to empathize with the occupier and thus do little other than reinforce a simplistic falsification of Israel's history as a country always conflicted when waging necessary wars of self-defense. This is the narrative that continues to dominate the Western media.

Not one of these films makes the slightest attempt to humanize Israel's victims or tell the story from their perspective. In contrast, UK author Mischa Hiller's first novel, Sabra Zoo is told through the eyes of a young man named Ivan. Sabra Zoo follows the adventures of this son of a Dutch mother and Palestinian father who serves as an officer in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Beirut during the most intense period of Israel's invasion of Lebanon.

Ivan's thrilling story starts in the weeks following the evacuation of the PLO after more than a decade of being based in Lebanon and ends soon after the Israeli invasion of Beirut. The evacuation of the PLO was followed by the infamous massacres at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in southern Beirut committed 28 years ago this week by right-wing militias allied with Israel. Because of his multicultural background and European passport, Ivan acts as an interpreter for foreign nongovernmental organization (NGO) workers in Sabra and Shatila and also runs packages and undertakes other menial yet dangerous tasks for a presumed PLO operative working covertly in West Beirut.

Sabra Zoo leads the reader through various aspects of Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon in the midst of the country's 15-year-long civil war. Yet Hiller attempts to ground the story through its protagonist. As an 18-year-old, Ivan acts like many other young men, constantly preoccupied with thoughts of sex and alcohol. At points throughout the story, however, Ivan's character comes across as insensitive and unbelievable for the way he jumps from the horrors faced by people in the camps to his more immediate obsession with getting laid.

Yet, like most who witness war at a young age, Ivan shows a wisdom that others only get much later in life, if ever at all. He's deeply disturbed through his exposure to Palestinian children and families affected by cluster bombs and other ordnance and is distraught when he has to translate the doctors' unfortunate prognoses to patients and their families. But he never shies away. Ivan shows incredible courage, learning to deal with the siege and attack while continuing his various jobs.

Ivan's character is also able to offer readers a glimpse of Western perception of the war through the eyes of foreign NGO workers and journalists with whom he collaborates throughout the story.

A foreign cameraperson covering the war tells Ivan while editing video of cluster bomb victims that doing so is a "'waste of time.'" He explains: "'People in the West don't want to see too much reality over dinner. All the gory stuff gets edited out in London or New York ... I think if they showed the real effects of war we wouldn't have it anymore.'" Through this character, Hiller presents a universality that any Western journalist who has covered conflict in this region is aware of: the horrific effects of war as seen on the ground are much different than the sanitized imagery the media sells in the West.

However, throughout the book Hiller leaves the reader frustrated by not narrating who fired the cluster bombs, even making it difficult to understand who is laying siege to Beirut. The most problematic part comes when Hiller introduces the reader to the Nakba, or "the catastrophe" as Ivan translates it while working with refugees in the camp, with no mention of the ethnic cleansing that took place by Zionist militias who forced 750,000 Palestinians to leave their homes in what is today considered Israel. Sure to mention that "back home was Palestine," the story goes no further to describe the circumstances in which Palestinians, soon to be massacred in refugee camps, had to leave their homes in the first place. While a reader familiar with the history of this region can easily deduce that Israel is responsible for the Nakba, firing cluster bombs and laying siege to Beirut, others might be left wondering. This is a novel and not a history text book, but as an historical novel, such context is important.

Despite this, Sabra Zoo makes viscerally clear the brutality of Israel's invasion, unlike the skewed history presented in Waltz with Bashir, which also focuses on the massacres. Waltz's portrayal of mostly benign Israeli soldiers who merely fired a few shots on their way to Beirut and then lit flares over the camp, mostly oblivious to the massacring happening below, is contradictory to both history and Hiller's narrative. When Israel finally entered Beirut after a brutal assault that killed nearly 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians and injured many more, the PLO had already left and thus the invading army faced practically no resistance at the Lebanese capital. "'Who will resist them now?'" asks Ivan's PLO friend, frightened after the fighters had left and turned their weapons over to the Lebanese authorities. Hiller's narrative exposes the utter cowardice of Israel's invasion of a city unable to defend itself as well as its responsibility for one of the most gruesome events of recent decades.

Retelling the story of an event that took place 28 years ago may seem trivial to some who want to remain focused on the present and future, rather than with events of the past. But before Beirut -- now one of the world's most popular tourist destinations -- becomes a city that can be enjoyed by foreigners and its inhabitants alike, those who have devastated it before with impunity and are threatening to do so again must first be brought to justice. Sabra Zoo is recommended reading for anyone hoping to better understand Israel's invasion of Beirut and Palestinian refugees' long struggle for justice that continues to this day.

Matthew Cassel is based in Beirut, Lebanon and is Assistant Editor of The Electronic Intifada. His website is

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