Saturday, 16 May 2009

Media official of the Future Movement’s electoral campaign in the Central Beqaa Arrested for Collaborating with Israel

Future Movement denied any relation with the SPY.
Jumblat Rafea' was arrested.
Stay tuned, Nasrallah will speak on Istael's Spy network on Monday.


Hanan Awarekeh Readers Number : 94

16/05/2009 Lebanese security sources revealed on Saturday to Al-Manar Channel that Ziad al-Homsy, the Media official of the Future Movement’s electoral campaign in the Central Beqaa and deputy head of the Saadnayel Municipality, has confessed of collaborating with Israeli enemy after the army intelligence broke in to his home and found advanced equipments there.

The sources added that within the spy networks arrested during the last month, there were more than evident that lead to Homsy’s involvement.

Meanwhile, informed political sources stressed that official connection took place with some high-level parties’ sides including the head of the Future Movement MP Saad Hariri to inform them of the reasons and information that led to the arrest of Homsy and advised them to call on their supporters to withdraw from the highway after they have blocked it in protest of the arrest. The sources confirmed that the case was linked to sensitive security issues, noting that other arrests have taken place in other regions, however they were not faced with such reactions. In contrary, the sources continued, the residents of those areas have shown full support for the Lebanese army since it is practicing its duty in protecting the country’s security.

Earlier, Saadnayel residents had blocked the highway linking Zahle with Beirut following protests against the army breaking into Homsy’s residence but the situation was back to normal as the residents have understood the reasons behind the arrest of al Homsy.

Report: Israel kidnapped more than 2,500 Palestinians last year

Report: Israel kidnapped more than 2,500 Palestinians last year

[ 16/05/2009 - 08:06 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian center for human rights on Thursday reported that the IOF troops kidnapped more than 2,500 Palestinians last year, most of them from the West Bank.

In its annual report, the center said that the vast majority of these prisoners were arrested during raids on cities, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip or at military checkpoints.

The report emphasized that until the end of 2008, more than 9,000 were still in Israeli jails including 248 children and 69 women.

It added that more than 900 prisoners are administratively detained in Israeli jails without trials, noting that two prisoners died in 2008 as a result of the medical neglect policy pursued by Israel against Palestinian detainees.

The report pointed out that there are still about 40 Palestinian lawmakers imprisoned by Israel including PLC speaker Aziz Al-Dweik, adding that an Israeli military court sentenced Dweik to three years.

It accused Israel of providing its intelligence officers, who tortured Palestinian prisoners, with immunity, saying that hundreds of complaints about torture cases were neglected or ignored by Israeli courts except in rare situations where judges issued lenient sentences against officers.

The Israeli military court in Ofer prison, west of Ramallah, has sentenced a 15-year-old Palestinian boy to five months in jail in addition to about 1,200 dollars fine.
Nine Palestinian citizens were wounded on Friday at the hands of Israeli occupation forces while peacefully marching in Bilin village in the weekly demonstration against the separation wall.
16/05/2009 - 08:06 AM

Sayyed Nasrallah: "We Don't Want You to Forget May 7"


15/05/2009 Hezbollah held on Friday a ceremony Friday to honor some 2300 graduates at the Sayyed Shouhada complex in Beirut’s southern suburb.
Thousands of students, their families as well as political and religious figures attended the 21st commencement ceremony.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah addressed the students and praised their efforts to achieve this stage of high education.

His eminence promised to address the serious issues of the Israeli maneuver next month, the Israeli spy network and elections on Monday during an interview on Al-Manar TV.

“Today I would like to speak about you, about the Redwan Class, about the brothers and sisters and the familes, and I would like to speak about Lebanon and tackle the Lebanese issue, especially that we are passing through a critical stage with regards to elections, and then I end my speech with addressing (the May 17 agreement) and the 7th of May.”
Sayyed Nasrallah said that the graduates had the will to achieve education, “which in our religious belief is Jihad for the sake of Allah and on behalf of your brothers in Hezbollah, I thank the families, the mothers and the fathers who insisted and supported their sons and daughters to achieve this level of educations. We know that most of the Lebanese live on the edge of poverty, yet we find that the families spare no effort to provide their loved ones the chance to have education and build their future.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said: “Your class hold the name of the beloved martyr Hajj Redwan. I would like to unveil what most people don’t know about him. He used to urge the mujahideen not to abandon education, especially at universities. He used to provide every organizational and financial facilitation to our brothers to go to universities. It was not a personal desire of his. This was founded on his clear strategic foresight. Our resistance, since the very beginning, has been the Resistance that has the characteristics of will, determination and sacrifice, yet is has also been known to be the Resistance characterized by education, knowledge, specialization and clever minds. This is what our enemies have acknowledged at the battlefields and in confronting the psychological war.”
His eminence added that this great number of graduates constitute the heart of Hezbollah’s path. “You are giving the world the true image of the believer who is not held back poverty and deprivation; the bright image that expresses the path of the resistance in Lebanon, its belief, humane characteristic, patriotism, sincerity, devotion and the great hope in the future. Today, you are also giving a strong message to all those who question the Lebanese opposition’s ability to manage the state of Lebanon in every domain and bargain on the failure of the opposition. They say if the opposition wins the majority we will not participate in a government they would form. I tell those that we would love your participation because this is what we have been calling for, but if you chose not to take part we will not beg you. If you are bargaining on our failure, the answer is the 2883 graduates in this ceremony alone. I tell you that the minds and the hearts and the wills that defeated the strongest state and army in the region is capable of running a country that is 100 times stronger than Lebanon. They accuse us of seeking to create an empire in the region, if this is the case, then 10452 square kilometers will not be hard to manage. Like we managed, with Lebanese hearts, minds and sacrifices, to liberate our land and detainees and to protect our country, we are capable God willing to build our country. ”

The Hezbollah chief added: “The Lebanon we want is the following: A country for all the Lebanese, a country with one people. We have to stop talking about Lebanese peoples whether overtly or covertly. We are one Lebanese people and we have no problem to speak about the historic multiplicity of civilizations and culture. Intellectuals used to argue about what we have, a multiplicity of civilizations or cultures or religions. This multiplicity is a blessing and we can transform it into an asset in our country and the world. I don’t say that we have mutual interests; I say that we have common interests.”

His eminence added that “we look for a unified Lebanon, unified in land, people, institutions. This is why Hezbollah has always rejected dividing Lebanon and we will resist any idea to divide Lebanon, today or in the future. Some still have this idea and this is not a dream, it’s a hope that they speak of in their inner circles. They speak of federalism, but this will never happen in Lebanon. All those who accuse us of seeking a three-party rule are working to achieve federalism. We also look forward for a Lebanon free from baseless racism, but not free from minds, laws and values in our milieu. We also seek a Lebanon with an Arab identity free from racism that has nothing to do with religion, knowledge and humanity.”
Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the dispute is over the resistance and the arms of the resistance and the defensive strategy. We want a strong state that would tell the resistance fighters to go back to their universities, colleges, fields and to your normal lives. Therefore, we also look forward to a state that practices real and effective administrative reform to implement a modern electoral law that secures the best representation…We want a government that sets sight on the sufferings of the people, poverty and the problem of unemployment, not to spend the next four or five years in a political conflict on issues they know they will fail to achieve any of them even if they use all political, security and media means. We have to help to help find a government that is serious, devoted and sincere to solve our problems of development, finance and economy. We also look forward to a strong and independent judiciary free from political interference. What we have today in Lebanon is not a judiciary, even if the Higher Judicial Council says it is. We have honest judges and corrupt judges.
What kind of judicial authority is that which punishes agents who spent decades collaborating with Israel and commits high treason? What kind of a judiciary is that which sentences to one month or six months or even a year and then sets them free for some of them to return to collaborate with the Israeli enemy, and on the other hand the same judiciary detains senior officers for three years and eight months without charges? Is this an honest and independent judicial authority?
Since the very beginning we pledged to hand the collaborators to judicial authorities and we did not follow the example of all resistance movements throughout history; the movements that set up field tribunals and punished the traitors. I told this to the French Ambassador after Jospin described Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Months later liberation was achieved and I told the French Ambassador: Relay my greetings to your Prime Minister and tell him that our resistance is more civilized and more ethical than the French resistance, because you executed ten thousand agents, some of which never had a trial, whereas we have not killed ‘a chicken’ that belonged to Antoine Lahed.”
Sayyed Nasrallah stressed a unity government was the best for Lebanon. “If you want democracy then let it be complete democracy. The best form of such democracy would result from democratically electing a parliament based on an electoral law that makes Lebanon one electoral district.”

On the “one-third veto power”, sayyed Nasrallah said: “I call on our brothers in the Future movement to look back at martyr Rafik Hariri’s sufferings in forming cabinets and find out why he did not head the last government before his assassination. Martyr Hariri used to tell me that ‘If I don’t name one third of the ministers, I will not form a government.” He always sought to have one-third of the ministers and when he couldn’t, he stepped back and PM Omar Karami was appointed. Anyone who wants real partnership should search for the guaranteeing third or the veto power in the opposition government. As for the three-party governance, this is something that they had created and nourished. No one in the resistance has spoken about it. No one even understands what three-party rule they are speaking about: based on confessions, sects or political alliances?”

The Hezbollah Secretary General added that the aim at this phase was at the Christians of the opposition, “because when they say that the Shiites in the opposition want the three-party rule – if we assume that they mean three-party rule base on confessions, then this might not harm the Shiites, not the Sunnis who will have the second one-third. What they are trying to tell Christians in Lebanon is that General Michel Aoun, Suleiman Franjieh, Elie Skaf and other Christians in the opposition agree to this kind of governance. This is baseless. General Aoun did not accept such formula in Jizzine, so how can you accuse him as such? As opposition, we must not stay on the defensive. We want participation and we want to implement the Taef Accord and work on developing our political system.”

“In respect of our memory and to the commemoration of the May 17 (agreement), it is regrettable to see those who stood up to the May 17 agreement that was signed by the then Lebanese regime that yielded to Israeli conditions out of weakness, defeat and disgrace take a different position today.
Who signed the agreement? Who wanted to succumb Lebanon to Israel through that agreement? Who stood up to the agreement, from scholars, men and women, particularly in the Imam Rida mosque in Bir el-Abed (Beirut’s southern suburb)? Who spilled his blood to declare Lebanon’s rejection to the agreement, other than martyr Mohammed Najdeh?
Who signed the agreement of disgrace with Israel? Today, those who had sought to give in Lebanon to Israel have become symbols of sovereignty, freedom and independence while those who offered their blood to liberate Lebanon have become symbols for subordination to the outside powers. Isn’t this unfair? Can we forget this? We want a strong state that can gain back its lands not by begging for it and not by grants from Netanyahu during elections season.”

“A few days ago was the first anniversary of the May 7 events.

As opposition, we avoided raising this issue because raising it will cause more strife in this elections season. However, the other camp still recalls these events in every speech they make. Our silence was described as weakness or embarrassment. I found myself obliged to comment this out of respect to the blood of martyrs who fell on the 7th of May. Therefore, I remind those who are raising the May 7 events issue that they ought to remember what they did on the fifth of May that same year. It is enough to read the Winograd report to know that one of Hezbollah’s main assets that should be eliminated is the party’s communications network. Does anyone doubt that the Israelis are eavesdropping everything in Lebanon? The most efficient weapon during the 2006 war was the fortified communications network that was beyond eavesdropping.

The government back then convened and decided to dismantle the network and consider it illegal and against the state’s sovereignty. The government also decided to bring to justice everyone involved in it. The illegitimate government ought to realize that May 5, 2008 was a stigma on its face and its history because it sought to achieve what Israel had failed to achieve in 33 days of war.

Why did they deploy thousands of fighters from outside Beirut? The Beirutis may as well ask those who want their votes to be in retaliation to the May 7 events, who turned Beirut into a city of militiamen and filled it with arms under the camouflage of security firms? Who deployed thousands of fighters in Beirut’s apartments?

The scheme was that the government takes the decision, Hezbollah would call for protests and civil disobedience thus giving way for the government to seek other options: if the protests were banned then a confrontation between the resistance and the Lebanese army would ensue. The scheme was thwarted because we have a national patriotic army. Some foreign sides had studied whether the army was ready for such a confrontation with the army and reached a negative conclusion because they found that they can never depend on the army to fight the resistance. This is a legion of honor for the army that preserves national security.

There had been a scheme to drag Beirut to sectarian strife that would last for weeks. Consequently, they would call in foreign forces to help stop a sectarian war in Lebanon. The scheme of May 7 was set for execution. Then why did stay up until morning? Why did you call Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the US during the Cabinet session? This is no longer a secret. That illegitimate government had taken a decision to put Lebanon in front of a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites.

I tell all the Lebanese, the Sunnis and the Shiites in particular, to our brothers and sisters in Beirut, what happened in May 7 had put an early end to a sectarian war that could have led to setting Beirut ablaze.

May 7 had also stopped a conspiracy against the resistance. May 7 had preserved the houses and the families of Beirut. After hearing what is being said today, I say that May 7 was a glorious day for the resistance in Lebanon. Consequently, May 7 has put Lebanon on the right track towards solution and pulled it out of the stalemate that was imposed on it.

The relative calm in the past year was the fruit of the May 7 events and the blood of the martyrs. I have been hearing a lot of slogans like ‘we won’t forget (May 7), who told you that we want you to forget? It is required that we don’t forget May 7 so that no one would repeat the stupidity of May 5.

As for the people who were brought in from the regions, I want to be fair to them. We know that the people of Akkar and Bekaa are courageous, credible and they are not cowards and they don’t run away from the battlefield. But you brought them not to fight Israel. You may try them with Israel. But you brought them to fight their own people, to fight the resistance that every Arab –whatever his religion or sect- is proud of. So, yes they did not have the motive and the momentum to fight their people in the resistance. They were brought to a battle they never ever believed in.

We don’t want May 7 or May 17. We are calling for cooperation and partnership. To discard the past and to merge efforts, build our country hand in hand and pull it out of its different crises. Like I said before, we have close ranks to build Lebanon hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder.
Whatever the results of the election will be, we will need all this cooperation and joined efforts to protect Lebanon and build it together. I once again congratulate our graduate brothers and sisters for their achievements and success.”


Iran to Host Summit with Afghan, Pakistan Presidents


16/05/2009 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will host a summit with his counterparts from Afghanistan and Pakistan in Tehran on May 19, his office said on Saturday. The Agenda of Tuesday’s talks wasn’t revealed.

The gathering comes less than three months after the three presidents met in Tehran for a regional economic summit, along with leaders from other neighboring states. The economic summit pledged to help rebuild war-shattered Afghanistan and the Gaza Strip.

Its Preying Time at PP




Israel pressures U.S. on Iran   (cartoon Carlos Latuff)

Israel pressures U.S. on Iran (cartoon Carlos Latuff)

The Bomb Iran Faction

by Gary Leupp

There is clearly a faction of the power elite that is, and has for some years been pressing, for a U.S. military attack on Iran. It is not advocating a war, at least openly, or an occupation of that vast nation; rather, it is advocating an operation similar in concept to the Israeli attack on Iraq’s French-built Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981. In a word, it is both advocating an Israeli-like action and justifying it explicitly as one on behalf of Israel.

That Israeli raid on the Iraqi reactor in 1981, justified at the time by Tel Aviv as an act of “preemptive self-defense,” was condemned by the entire world as an egregious violation of international law. President Ronald Reagan directed the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to vote with other members of the Security Council to condemn the attack. It is a measure of the Israelification of U.S. foreign policy that a quarter-century later Vice President Cheney and the neconservatives who used his office as their general headquarters praised this action and raised preemption to the status of a sacred U.S. military doctrine. What was the attack on Iraq in 2003, to eliminate its (imaginary) weapons of mass destruction, but a preemptive Osiraq raid on crack?

George Bush declared that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction threatening its neighbors, requiring U.S. action (despite lack of UN approval). Iran and Kuwait, recent victims of real Iraqi aggression, stated that they did not feel threatened. Neither did any other bordering state. That left, by implication, Israel. But Israel was not much discussed as an issue during the massive propaganda build-up to the Iraq War. The last thing its proponents wanted was to convey the impression that this was a war for Israel, although that was in fact the only country in the world where the war enjoyed any popularity outside the U.S. (It was, as Joe Klein put it in a 2003 column, “the casus belli that dare not speak its name.”)

With Iran, it’s very different. Those advocating the attack on Iran don’t mince words: the U.S. must, they tell us, use its armed might to destroy Iran’s nuclear program for Israel. For years now they’ve been telling us that Iran is months away from the bomb and that therefore Israel hovers on the edge of the abyss. Oh, the issue of Iranian nukes threatening Europe is also used to justify the construction of the Polish missile base and Czech tracking radar system which many mainstream analysts find at best strategically futile and diplomatically provocative to Russia. No one in Europe takes an Iranian nuclear threat seriously. And the U.S. rhetoric about those facilities last year following the Russian invasion of Georgia (following the Georgian attack upon South Ossetia), exposed their real purpose.

But to the Chicken Littles crying that the sky is falling, Iran’s nuclear program is an existential issue for Israel, hence for the Jewish people. There is a certain intransigent reasoning here and manifest desperation. One saw it in the screeching editorials of Norman Podhoretz in 2007 praying for Bush to bomb Iran to prevent a “nuclear holocaust.” One saw it in the Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by neocon Iran expert and Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute Michael Ledeen, “Iran and the Problem of Evil” in June 2008 linking the entire history of anti-Semitism culminating in its European fascist varieties with Iranian Khomeinists and the Saudi Wahhabis. And one sees this craziness too in the ceaseless barrage of AIPAC-backed congressional resolutions targeting Iran.

The call for an attack on Iran, to the extent it is being voiced in the ruling class, is being most sharply framed by neocon columnists including some who recently served in the Bush administration. It is echoed by AIPAC and other Lobby organizations. In a just world the former would be completely disgraced by now, their lies about Iraq having been fully exposed, and the latter would be shamed into silence by the Israeli espionage scandal. But now that the Justice Department has dismissed the AIPAC spying charges filed in 2005, the Lobby and neocons are proclaiming the decision as a “vindication” of the activities of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman (passing U.S. documents pertaining to Iran to Israeli Embassy staff). An emboldened Jane Harman addressing AIPAC can made light of her wiretapped conversation with the “Israeli agent” revealed by Jeff Stein of the Congressional Quarterly. (You know, the guy who offered AIPAC money to buy her the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee in return for getting Rosen and Weissman off the hook.)

The message of the AIPAC spy case dismissal seems to be: the foreign policies of these two countries are one, or if not so, the desire of the smaller to determine that of the greater is understandable and legitimate (since its very existence is at stake). There is really no such thing as “spying” or “treason” in this relationship. We’re all family, for God’s sakes! AIPAC emerges as strong as ever with half of Congress dutifully attending its convention.

That message rankles many in the Justice Department, including prosecutors who thought they had a cut and dried case against the AIPAC operatives. And I’d think there are many in the “intelligence community”—the professionals who use their research skills to prepare such reports as the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that stated “with a high degree of confidence” that Iran did not have an operative nuclear weapons program—who are galled by apparent Israeli influence on their work. They must be irked their findings can be ignored by higher-ups who tell them, “No, you don’t understand; Iran threatens Israel with nuclear holocaust.” They are, in effect, being told that Israeli policy requires the circulation of false propaganda concerning Iran’s nuclear program, and that Washington is going to cooperate in that propaganda, ignoring its own intelligence.

That’s the message George Bush conveyed to his own intelligence services when, after the NIE was released (having been delayed a year by the intervention of Cheney’s office), he met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and told him the document didn’t “reflect his own views” about the Iranian nuclear program. (As though a man challenged to pronounce “nuclear” has “views” about Iran’s nuclear program of comparable sophistication to the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, etc.!) What better manifestation of the division within the ruling class than this division between a president, fed bogus intelligence by neocon advisors with a Southwest Asia regime-change agenda, and his own intelligence agencies?

There is a section, a rather larger section, of the ruling class that doesn’t buy the alarmist depiction of Iran, and doesn’t see the point of a U.S. attack. Certainly they don’t see Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat to themselves. Indeed, the blowback potential of such an attack is obvious to all with eyes to see, conscious of the existing increasingly problematic consequences of the U.S. alliance with Israel, and not blinded by paranoia. Maybe I’m projecting, but allotting some common sense to these people I’m assuming they realize there’s no way that public opinion in Europe, or in Latin America, Japan, China, South Asia, would see an Iran attack as anything other than an insanely immoral deployment of the preemption principle that underlay the Iraq attack. They’d see it as a ratcheting up of the bullying tactics that an hyper-puissance—in precipitous decline, maybe—felt compelled to adopt. Obama’s reputation would be toast.

There’s no way the 67 million Iranian people, most of whom view the nuclear program as an object of national pride, would understand a U.S. attack as anything other than a savage assault on the Iranian nation, and not the first by the U.S. As all Americans should know, the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 to punish it for its efforts to nationalize the nation’s oil industry. It installed the Shah whose vicious rule provoked the most mass-based revolution ever to sweep an Islamic society in 1979.

But we must understand, a neocon like Ledeen (whom by the way an Italian parliamentary investigation has linked to the Niger uranium documents forgeries behind Bush’s infamous State of the Union speech claim) sees the CIA overthrow of Mossadegh as a great moment in history, a great CIA success story. And he emphasizes that no people in the Middle East love Americans more than Iranians and are more eager to be freed!

This kind of delusion recalls neocon predictions the U.S. troops would be greeted in the streets of Baghdad with flowers. It also recalls what the unnamed White House official told New York Times columnist Ron Suskind in the months leading up to the war based on lies in Iraq. He berated Suskind for being rooted in the “reality-based community,” among those who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” The Bush insider warned against such belief, dismissing it as naïve: “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he declared. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality, we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” The Bush administration is gone, but that (Straussian?) mindset persists in some quarters.

Those who don’t buy the alarmist case against Iran may be becoming increasingly concerned over time about the success of the attack-advocates in advancing their cause; indeed, the frontal attacks on the Israel Lobby from academics like John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt and former President Jimmy Carter— unthinkable just a few years ago—testify to such concern. (On the Lobby and Iran, see especially pages 283-294 of the Mearsheimer-Walt book.)
Similarly the analyses of the “neoconservative” phenomenon, both as an intellectual movement that influences elite public opinion through such organs as the National Review and the Weekly Standard and editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and as a self-proclaimed “cabal” within government, have come under scrutiny especially since 2003 when journalists like Seymour Hersh, Jeet Heer and William Pfaff all indicated concern with a genuine threat. These days a well-known Jewish columnist, Time Magazine’s Joe Klein, in an exchange with Abraham Foxman notes a “dangerous tendency among Jewish neoconservatives to encourage a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear program. Their gleeful, intellectual warmongering—given the vast dangers and complexities of an attack on Iran–is nauseating.” (He wrote this in response to Foxman’s allegation that his critique of the influence of neoconservatism in producing the Iraq War constituted “anti-Semitism.”)

The neocons are sometimes described as an intellectual movement influenced by University of Chicago philosopher Leo Strauss as well as (in a curious way) Trotskyism, the principle proponents of which are almost entirely secular Jews and passionate Zionists. They argue that the U.S. should use its military power to bring “democracy” to the world and so many see them as neo-Wilsonians (with all the shoddy cynicism the originals represented). But Strauss, as leading authority on his thought Shadia Drury points out, argues that deception is the norm in political life, that the big lie is necessary to get the masses to embrace wise policy. (Thus the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq really have nothing to do with “democracy” but with unspoken geopolitical objectives.) The neocons have yet to be sufficientlyexposed, or defeated as a political force, but they’ve come under scrutiny in part because of the alarm some in the power structure feel at their rise to power in the early Bush years.

In Bush’s first State of the Union address, in January 2002, he made the reference to the “Axis of Evil,” bizarrely linking Iraq, Iran and North Korea to one another and—in that surreal atmosphere, in the minds of his audience, as the U.S. flag fluttered in the background of every TV screen 24/7—to 9/11. He somehow, when he held the respect of 90% of the people (when he served as what the Straussian would call the “gentleman” ruler manipulated in the background by the “wise”), was able to conflate the rogue Saudis who destroyed the Twin Towers and attacked the Pentagon with absolutely unrelated phenomena—the countries of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which had little to do with or even hostile relations with one another. Who was responsible for this preposterous phrase but neocon David Frum, associate of neocon Richard Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board who was to insist that Mohamed Atta met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad?

That phrase “Axis of Evil”—placing Iran in the same crosshairs as Iraq—drew consternation from European allies. Asked at a security conference in February what it meant, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the top-ranking neocon in government, replied mysteriously, “You’re either for us or against us,” prompting continental editorialists to muse darkly about the descent of a kind of Manichaenism upon the post 9/11 U.S. Here in this country while (following, one might say, the Straussian game plan) fear fed gullibility and the Big Lie generally worked well, many in the intelligentsia (and academia in particular) suspected that the Iraq War was based on calculated deception. Whether it was the lies of Big Oil or the Military-Industrial Complex, clearly there were lies here. It was only after Iraq was firmly under U.S. occupation that the role of the neocons in the war preparations, and of Douglas Feith’s “Office of Special Plans” (what Mother Jones appropriately called the “Lie Factory”) in particular, became clear. (Most people still don’t know that Leo Shulsky, who headed the OSP under Feith, wrote this interesting paper “Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence” with Gary J. Schmitt earlier in his career.)

Since then many have come to think that in their desire to reconfigure Southwest Asia in what they suppose to be the interests of Israel the neocons are (1) prepared to lie through their teeth, and (2) threaten to severely jeopardize U.S. security.

My own critique of the neocons, the Lobby and Israel differs from the mainstream ones, coming as it does from a left anti-imperialist perspective. I’ve made as much a fuss as anyone about the neocons’ lies, by way of exposure. (My first forays out of academic writing into political column writing were to perform the sort of exposure which was not entirely absent in the mainstream press—in fact it was there in bits and pieces for those who looked for it—but seldom sharply expressed.) But liars are of course representative of bourgeois politics and mainstream journalism in general; lying is quite normative and so it, even of a Straussian variety, is not the main issue here.

Nor is “U.S. national security” as mainstream analysts understand it—the security of an imperialist country, a country which is as about as aggressive as a country can possibly be in the history of the world—the issue for me. For me the issue is that this faction of the power elite has a known project—there’s no secret about it—to transform (or in their cynical euphemism “bring democracy to”) what they call “the Greater Middle East.” This includes Afghanistan and whatever other parts of Central Asia they find useful. Various benefits accrue from their project, which they link to such ruling-class objectives as the Indian Ocean-Caspian oil pipeline project and the establishment of permanent military bases in the region. And they are prepared to slaughter hundreds of thousands to achieve their aims.

A conception of Israeli security guides their project, and central to it was the bloody conquest of Iraq. But this is only the beginning of the project. Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser (who also worked in the OSP), and Meyrav Wurmser (of the Middle East Media Research Institute) all participated in the drafting of a white paper for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996 entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” have observed how it envisions “regime change” throughout the region to “secure the realm” of Israel. The “effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq,” according to the report, “—an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right.”

Those bearing responsibility for the Iraq War, for the propaganda campaign leading up to it, for the editorials, for the disinformation, for the forged documents, for the coordinated public statements (“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud over New York”), for the war—bear a heavy responsibility indeed. They are not limited to the neocons; as many have pointed out, Wolfowitz would be nothing without Rumsfeld, Libby would be nothing without Cheney, the Lie Factory products nothing without the performance of shame of Colin Powell at United Nations in February 2003. And Bush as Commander-in-Chief is ultimately responsible. But the neocons were unquestionably central players in the crime.

The neocons have generated enemies and lost credibility. But they’ve successfully eluded responsibility for their actions and continue to appear as respectable commentators on Fox News (if that’s not an oxymoron) and write columns for reputable publications. (Bill Kristol was just recently terminated as a New York Times columnist but was picked up by the Washington Post.) They are not without a lingering presence in the halls of power. Dennis Ross, Hillary Clinton’s Special Advisor on the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (i.e., key advisor on Iran), also known as “Israel’s lawyer” for his efforts on behalf of the Jewish state as a U.S. diplomat during Israeli-Palestinian talks in 1999-2000), is probably the key such figure at present and a person to watch. He co-authored an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal Sept. 22, 2008 with Richard Holbrooke, R. James Woolsey, and Mark D. Wallace entitled, “Everybody Needs to Worry About Iran.” It stated without evidence that, “Iran is now edging closer to being armed with nuclear weapons, and it continues to develop a ballistic-missile capability.” In other words it was intended to make you worry and make you forget about the 2007 NIE.

(Former CIA boss Woolsey by the way seems a big enthusiast of the Noble Lie concept, having originally promoted the lie about the meeting between Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi embassy official in Prague and praised the disinformation articles about Saddam-al-Qaeda ties published by Jeffrey Goldberg in the New Yorker in 2002. He claimed that by showing that the Kurdish al-Ansar group was al-Qaeda affiliated and operating on Iraqi territory, Goldberg had decisively established Saddam’s al-Qaeda ties and put the CIA to shame.)

Ross is known to favor a policy of ultimatums to Iran followed by a
naval blockade to prevent gasoline imports, then a blockade of oil exports, then massive air strikes on the nuclear facilities and military facilities. The goal would be not only the crippling of the nuclear program for a few years but the destruction of the military and regime. His may be a minority view within the administration, and his appointment even a sop to the Lobby, but he is dangerous.

The ruling class is clearly divided over how to deal with Iran, with the rise of Iran that has paradoxically accompanied the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Maybe this precipitous ascent occurred as a result of the cluelessness of neocon policymakers, few of whom understand Arabic or Persian or Middle East culture and history behind that of Israel. Maybe they genuinely didn’t understand the historical specificities of Shiism or the strength of Shiite solidarity. But by toppling the Sunni-based Baathists (whom the CIA had once favored as an alternative to communists or Islamists), the U.S. brought pro-Iranian Shiite Islamists to power—to Tehran’s great delight.

Meanwhile China, replacing Japan as Iran’s main oil customer, signs more and more contracts for pipeline construction and Russia continues work on the Bushehr nuclear reactor. The Russians and Iranians say that that reactor is for entirely peaceful purposes, and the IAEA backs them up, while the Israelis insist that it (like Osiraq 28 years ago), ought to be bombed—by the U.S., preferably. But the fact that that hasn’t happened yet, and that indeed the Bush administration denied the Israelis bunker-busting bombs in 2008, shows that the “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” faction of the U.S. ruling class has been on the defensive if not decline for some time now.

I’m not saying the U.S. ruling class is fundamentally divided into factions that are divided over Israel or an Israeli security agenda, more deeply than it is divided, say, about how to grapple with the collapse of the economy. Nor am I suggesting that the struggle between these factions is the only dynamic shaping Middle East policy or foreign policy generally. Foreign policy is generally shaped by its framers’ perception of what serves the interests of the ruling class as a whole, which is to say, what generates maximum profit for corporations in which U.S. capitalists are invested. It’s not unusual for the interests of the oil companies, for example, to diverge from the interests of Israel as promoted by the Lobby, although they can also converge. But there is a faction in the U.S. polity whose commitment to Israel, or to a particular vision of Israel’s security, seems to trump all other considerations including the broader “global interests” of U.S. imperialism. It is an understatement to say that during the George W. Bush years that faction was extraordinarily bold.

The general consensus in the ruling class seems to be at present that its needs are best served by this popular president as a uniting figure with a centrist politics that can distance the country from the Bush policies abhorred by the world and the American people while avoiding any major shifts in foreign policy. Thus we have plans for a gradual withdrawal from Iraq in accordance with the agreement already worked out by the Bush and Maliki regimes; a continued counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan that isn’t yet too controversial; continued Predator drone attacks on Pakistan, etc. The plan is to stay the course on the Bush foreign policy that meets with the approval of the generals. There may be some significant shifts from the preceding administration in U.S. policy towards Latin America and Europe, Russia. On Iran we have renewed diplomacy, and perhaps even the vital concession that Iran indeed has the right under the NPT to enrich uranium and master the nuclear cycle despite some technical violations of the agreement years ago which the U.S. has used to vilify Iran but have nothing to do with Iran as a nuclear weapons threat. In this context we might be seeing the twilight of the neocons as a political force.

But it is important to note the obvious, without being overly delicate about it: the government of Israel, its friends and advocates in the U.S., the neocons and the Lobby retain enormous political power to affect the course of policy. When AIPAC met last week, more than half the members of the House and Senate attended its gala Monday night dinner, featuring the “roll call” when all the legislators rise when asked to demonstrate the lobbyists’ clout on Capitol Hill. Their willingness to take part in such a ritual under current circumstances is itself an extraordinary statement of Lobby power.

But this takes place at a time when the Obama administration is rumored to be heading for a confrontation with the new Netanyahu administration in Israel over the fundamental problem in the Middle East: the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories seized during the (preemptive) war of June 1967. By his selection of former Senator George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East Obama signaled that the U.S. would start getting serious about obliging Israel to comply with international law. This provoked an outcry from those worried about a shift from the Bush policy of ignoring the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank, Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms.

“Senator Mitchell is fair,” complained Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “He’s been meticulously even-handed. But the fact is, American policy in the Middle East hasn’t been ‘even handed’ — it has been supportive of Israel when it felt Israel needed critical U.S. support. So I’m concerned. I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”

Obama however may be quite sure that after eight years of slavishly, unprecedentedly pro-Israeli policy the U.S. needs to try to establish some credibility as a rational if not dispassionate party in the Middle East. That means telling the Israelis they have to make peace with the Palestinians, stop settling their land and leave the illegal settlements they’ve established.

What he’s likely to be told is what Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s new foreign minister (whom many Israeli’s consider a “fascist” for his views on Palestinians, a particularly harsh designation in the Jewish state) told the Jerusalem Post in a recent interview. He complained that “People try to simplify the situation with these formulas — land-for peace, two-state solution — it’s a lot more complicated.” The real problem, he declared, “is not occupation, not settlements and not settlers. The biggest obstacle is the Iranians.”

Lieberman has also surprised many lately by stating that Israel after years of threats would not attack Iran after all. On April 26 he told the Austrian Kleine Zeitung, “We are not talking about a military attack. Israel cannot resolve militarily the entire world’s problem. I propose that the United States, as the largest power in the world, take responsibility for resolving the Iranian question.” In other words, he’s leaving it to the U.S. to solve the problem of Iran as the precondition for Israel addressing the problem of peace with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile we read of another Israeli Air Force refueling drill between Israel and Gibraltar, a 3,800 km flight the first week of May. This could be preparatory for an attack on Iran or designed to signal the U.S.: “We’re serious. You do this for us, or we’ll do it ourselves. Either way, you’ll take the consequences with us, as your Vice President Cheney noted in January 2005 when he said, ‘the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.’ So understanding our resolve, please do the right thing and do it instead of us!”

Because that really is the logic. And within the ruling circles of this imperialist country, where the interests of the masses don’t have much to do with decision-making, there are those who are terrified by this illogic. But then again you have the broad bipartisan support for AIPAC-drafted Congressional resolution 362 designed to provoke war with Iran. Your characteristic politician—shallow, amoral, pragmatic, ignorant of the world and of history but acutely sensitive to constituency issues, calculating, reliant on opportunistic arrogant staffers—can simultaneously understand that something doesn’t make sense and yet requires political support. (Just like he/she may have concluded in high school that there probably was no God but for campaign purposes has to have a religious affiliation.) How many politicians have so much as cited the NIE?

Where this is all going to go is anyone’s guess. There’s a meeting coming up between Obama and Netanyahu May 18 in Washington. The Israeli press is expressing some anxiety about the encounter since U.S. officials have made it clear the U.S. president will pressure Netanyahu on the settlements issue. Obama seems to want to say to the world that he’s serious about getting some justice for the Palestinians. He may believe he can do so at minimal political expense, and this could be a shrewd political device at this juncture given the deterioration of the U.S. position in the world. Following the global revulsion at the New Year’s Gaza blitzkrieg the U.S. can obtain political capital from a period of public tension with its de facto ally over the settlements.

In that likely context of tension, the calls for bombing Iran will continue, coming from Israel, from the neocon columnists, from the Lobby, maybe from some inside the State Department and Pentagon. The cooler heads in the power structure, including in the intelligence community fighting heroic rear-guard actions, will continue to say in various ways privately and publicly: “Look, this is stupid. Not only does Iran not constitute an ‘existential threat’ to the state of Israel, it doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program, period. That’s just not what the science says (not that these people care about science). That’s what some people want you to believe to scare you into supporting their criminal plot to attack a sovereign country, just like they did Iraq on the basis of lies.”

Again, I’m not saying this matter of attacking Iran is the most fundamental issue dividing the power elite at this time. Nor is it the main issue on the minds of the people. But it’s something a strongly determined faction in this country have successfully placed on the policy agenda. They owe a great debt to Dick Cheney who bearing no outward marks of Zionist sentimentality but merely Big Oil written all over his face while nurturing the neocons during two Bush terms in office constantly declared and gave pseudo-legitimacy to the argument that Iran could have a nuclear program for one reason only: nuclear weapons. (This despite the fact that successive U.S. administrations had promoted an Iranian civilian nuclear program in the ‘60s and ‘70s when the Shah was in power and the Ford administration was doing so when Cheney served as Ford’s chief of staff.)

Let’s now see what kind of clout this “bomb Iran” faction can muster vis-à-vis the reasonable people within the crisis-ridden U.S. ruling class. As pro-Taliban Islamists take power in much of Pakistan, the Taliban continues its revival in Afghanistan, and the policy of paying off the Sunni tribes in Iraq crumbles, U.S. imperialism confronts the limits of its power and has (so to speak) to rethink. “Time for some real apocalyptic savagery” think some, the crazy ones, who imagine using nukes against Iran. They know that there are tens of millions of Christian Zionists, including Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins readers, who’d be down for unprecedented fireworks tomorrow, no questions asked. These folks aren’t providing intellectual leadership to the movement; they’re just yearning for the End Times and that affects their judgment.

Others probably think this has to be the time for a show-down with the nuts. One faction in the power elite must be thinking: They cannot be allowed to get their Iran attack on the basis of fantasy. Whatever one thinks about the mullahs, or Ahmadinejad, or Islam—they can’t be allowed another war-based-on-lies.

People on the radical left should observe the efforts of this faction, encouraging it of course, but observing how the root problem is really the system which nurtures and validates nuts like Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Bolton, and their media cheerleaders like Kristol and Podhoretz. But we should raise, if only for discussion the question: why is a system based indifferently on the pursuit of profit (which is what capitalist imperialism is all about) being asked to risk its health for this minor accretion to itself—the nuclear-powered settler-state of Israel–in a confrontation with Iran, a country that doesn’t even threaten the U.S. system (but actually in fact holds open broad investment opportunities with other imperialist countries are expoiting)?

What role do purely ideological factors play here? How do Zionism and, for some, biblical mythology about a Chosen People and a Promised Land intersect with and even outweigh other considerations such as “national security” in a conventional sense and most fundamentally, U.S. corporate profit?

In the collective mind of the U.S. ruling class, such questions are no doubt being posed, probably sometimes in wrong ways. Accused AIPAC spy Rosen now tells the Jerusalem Post his arrest was all due to anti-Semitism. There is such a thing as anti-Semitism, and a deep almost instinctual tendency to think in terms of ethnic stereotypes corrupts the American soul. The blogosphere abounds with commentaries that mix rational critique of U.S. policy with essentializing nonsense about the power of “the Jews” behind policy, without recognizing the diversity of Jewish opinion and the vital role of Christian Zionists with their belief in the End Times in enhancing Lobby strength.

But if the Lobby and the neocons step up their efforts to get the U.S. to bomb Iran on behalf of Israel (because make no mistake, that is exactly what is happening here), their opponents may respond in a way that produces a widespread campaign of criticism in society pertaining to Israeli influence and Lobby power such as we have not seen in this country. That would be a very good thing. The objects of scrutiny will likely however claim that they are victims of anti-Semitism, and some of this will be imaginary. But there is real anti-Semitism in this country, and there can be dangerously essentializing explanations and attributions that contribute to it.

This is the first time that a major U.S. foreign policy question has been posed very frankly as an Israeli security question, posed as such, it must be said, by the “bomb Iran” advocates themselves. If the debate heats up in the coming months, during which by everyone’s calculations Iran is reaching goals which it says are milestones in peaceful nuclear energy development and Israel says are unacceptable, many issues not typically central to U.S. political discourse may come up. The public debate won’t be about blood and oil, bases and pipelines.

It will be about whether Israel is really threatened by Iran, a nation that hasn’t attacked another in centuries. It will be about whether the Lobby, on behalf of a nuclear power exposed as such, can successfully make the case that Israel as a nuclear power is truly threatened by a country with three thousand centrifuges producing small test batches of low enriched uranium. It will be about whether conventional political discourse in this country (which has always in any case been conducted in code obscuring the raw class interests involved, always broadcast in a cynical language in which “democracy” means “capitalism” or at least U.S. imperialist interests), will be eclipsed for a time by a discourse in which “Islamofascism” and “nuclear holocaust” and other sensationalistic terms (ridiculous terms which the neocons got Bush to vocalize publicly) designed to stifle thought are at the center of public discussion.

And it may be in part about the usages of the anti-Semitism charge. It will be necessary to carefully follow and objectively analyze the “bomb Iran” faction, its struggle with its opponents, and its defenses from criticism in the months to come.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Religion. He can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Source: Cartoon Illustration by Carlos Latuff

May 15, 2009 Posted by Elias NEWS & POLITICS , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Israel’s FM threatens to Ban Arab Israelis Their Right to Peaceful Protest!



Palestinians hold banners reading: "No peace without the right of return"

Thousands of Palestinians gather to mark the ‘catastrophe’


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party wants to ban Israeli Arabs from marking the anniversary of what they term “the Catastrophe” in 1948 when Israel was created as thousands of Palestinians marked the 61st anniversary of the Naqba that sparked an exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party said it would propose legislation next week for a ban on the practice and a jail term of up to three years for violators.

The draft law is intended to strengthen unity in the state of Israel and to ban marking Independence Day as a day of mourning “

Yisrael Beitenu spokesman

“The draft law is intended to strengthen unity in the state of Israel and to ban marking Independence Day as a day of mourning,” said party spokesman Tal Nahum.

The initiative could fuel racial tensions stoked by Lieberman’s February election campaign call to make voting or the holding of public office in Israel contingent on pledging loyalty to the Jewish state.

Arabs, who make up 20 percent of Israel’s population, said the allegiance demand was aimed at them and accused Lieberman of racism.

I came here to show that we believe that one day we will return. If not me, then my son “

79-year-old Palestinian

Israel celebrated its Independence Day this year on April 29, in accordance with the Hebrew lunar calendar. Palestinian refugees around the world and Israel’s Arab citizens mark the Nakba on May 15, the day after the British mandate over Palestine ended in 1948.

Ceremonies in the occupied West Bank were held a day early this year because May 15 falls on Friday, the Muslim day to go to the Mosque and pray.

Holding Palestinian flags and large wooden keys to symbolize those of homes from which they were forced out of by Israeli forces six decades ago, demonstrators marched in the center of Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

“The right of return is sacred”, “No peace without the right of return“, proclaimed banners held by the marchers.

The demonstration was headed by political figures and religious leaders and began at the tomb of legendary Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, today run by his successor, president Mahmud Abbas.

“I came here to show that we believe that one day we will return. If not me, then my son,” said Mohammad Hassan, 79.

Abbas, on a visit to Syria, was to make a televised address later in the day to mark the Nakba.

The right-leaning government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Lieberman’s party is a key ally, has not endorsed the Western and Arab-backed goal of Palestinian statehood.

It also firmly opposes the division of Jerusalem and the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and Netanyahu recently introduced a demand that Palestinians, as part of any future peace agreement, recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.”


In the northern West Bank town of Nablus, about 2,000 people participated in a march, holding Palestinian flags tied with black ribbons as a sign of mourning.

In the Gaza Strip, its Hamas rulers prevented the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from holding a ceremony to mark Naqba in the tiny territory that today is home to one million refugees.

A PLO committee said in a statement that Hamas police had prevented the group from holding any events to mark the Naqba, slamming the decision as “a violation of political and democratic rights.”

Witnesses said Hamas police were deployed in force in the center of Gaza City, preventing any public gathering. No comment was immediately available from the Islamist group.

This year’s Naqba fell during the first official visit to the region by Pope Benedict XVI, who during a visit to the West Bank on Thursday alluded to the commemoration and expressed deep sympathy with refugees.

“In these days … (the longing for peace) takes on a particular poignancy as you recall the events of May 1948 and the years of conflict, as yet unresolved, that followed from those events,” he said at Aida refugee camp outside Bethlehem.

With anguish, I have witnessed the situation of refugees who, like the Holy Family, have had to flee their homes,” he said.

May 14, 2009 Posted by Elias

Al-Nakba and Memories (1967 War) By Mike Odetalla

Al-Nakba and Memories (1967 War) By Mike Odetalla

Al-Nakba and Memories (1967 War)

By Mike Odetalla

Al-Nakba: Refugees picture gallery

May 15th. 2009 - The 61st anniversary of Nakba: the disaster of the people of Palestine. On this date, May 15th 1948, we, the people of Palestine began our long and painful journey into exile. Dispossessed from home and homeland, this was the start of the refugee ‘problem’ that still exists today. More than 3 million Palestinians live as refugees in squalid conditions in camps in Palestine and throughout the Arab world. I sat this week watching old black and white films of my people as they fled their homes, clutching children and what few possessions that they could carry, I could not help but realize that there, but for the grace of God, could easily have been my family as well. But I, it seems, have a different fate, a different responsibility: to tell our story, to document, so that it may never be forgotten.

Shortly after the June 1967 War began, the people of our village, Beit Hanina, realized with grim reality that the Israeli army would be coming here: the realization brought panic; people began to prepare to flee their homes. With memories of the atrocities of Deir Yasein and other Palestinian villages still vivid in their minds, they feared that massacres might once more be carried out. The gruesome stories of death and murder were known by all Palestinians, indeed, by all in the world who chose to know them.

It was against this backdrop that my mother decided to join our neighbors as they fled with their families to the surrounding caves in the hills overlooking our village. I recall my mother frantically trying to gather what she thought we would need and could manage to carry. She instructed me to go across our village and get my oldest sister, Aziza, who, married for a year, had given birth to her first child, a son, on May 20th, 1967. Running as fast as a six year old could, I reached her house and relayed the message. My sister instructed me to tell mom that she would follow us, with her husband, as soon as they were able to gather a few belongings. I returned home and assured my mother that Aziza and her family would join us soon.

Meanwhile, my mom decided that my second sister, Najah, a 13-year-old beauty with long, beautiful, blond hair and striking blue eyes, must be made to look like a boy. She feared for her safety if the Israeli soldiers should happen to come upon us. Grabbing a pair of scissors, she chopped away at that long, beautiful hair, and then she tossed some of my brother, Musa’s, clothes to wear. There! Now she looked just like a little boy.

When my sister, her husband, and infant son arrived, shortly before sunset, we took what we could carry and ran to the hills. After a long and arduous climb, we made our way to a large cave whose opening faced Jerusalem, providing a vantage point for viewing the battle raging in the distance. Already inside the cave were about 17 people, mostly women and children. We brought in our belongings and settled into a niche of the cave. Then, I made my way to the cave’s mouth and sat down to watch the "fireworks show" lighting the night sky. Fear and anxiety could be seen on all the faces of the adults inside, but the only noise was the crying of my infant nephew and the muffled weeping of the women who pondered our fate. We had left our homes and all we had behind, and now we were sharing our fate in a cave infested with snakes and scorpions.

Around midnight, when we’d been in the cave about 4 hours, my mother noticed an Israeli jet circling and buzzing the area of our cave, which was lit by a very bright, full moon. After a couple of more passes over our heads, my mom instructed us to gather our belongings and get out of the cave. Others pleaded with her, trying to convince her to stay: if she left in the full moon, she would be inviting the slaughter of her children. But, my mother refused to listen and grabbing me by the hand began walking with me away from the cave to a large olive tree about 50 meters away. My mother called out to those still in the cave, begging them to join us: she feared that the Israeli jet was about to strike. Slowly, they began to leave the cave and joined us under the olive trees. Just then, the jet reappeared: it made two passes, before, on the third, it fired two missiles into the mouth of the cave. The explosion and light was beyond anything I’d ever imagined; the ball of fire that blew out of the mouth of the cave was so terrifying that I still hear it today. I realized that, had we not listened to my mother, we would have blown to bits in the cave.

We stayed under the olive trees for about an hour, waiting, lest the jet returned; eventually we headed to the other side of the mountain to seek another cave. We found one whose mouth faced straight up to the sky. Once inside, one could go deeper in any direction. A child of 6, I was no stranger to the caves surrounding my village, none of us children were. We had spent glorious days playing there: flying kites; tagging along as the older boys hunted pheasants; climbing in the olive trees; eating the succulent grapes from the vines all around.

After a couple of days, the hunger and thirst began to set in: we were nearly 20 people in the cave; there was not enough food or water for everyone. My mom would sneak into the wheat fields and cut bunches of wheat stalks, still green in mid June. She brought back the stalks and roasted their soft, green grains over an open fire, then rubbed them together to make the roasted grains fall out so that she could give us the grains to eat. Hunger helps enrich the memory of the food we eat for a long time: I remember the taste of that grain to this day. (Author’s note: the practice of roasting green grain is still practiced over much of the Arab world. The grain is roasted and cracked before being cooked in a type of soup called "freaka", usually cooked with lamb or chicken.)

Today, I can’t help being mindful that we Palestinians have our own experiences with the unleavened bread - as is celebrated by the Jews who commemorate their exodus and freedom from Pharaoh. Except, of course, we commemorate our exodus and entry into Diaspora. The Palestinian women, anxious to feed their children, would slip into nearby abandoned homes looking for any kind of food to feed us. Once they returned with flour, water, sugar, and olive oil. They kneaded the dough and immediately baked it over a fire covered with the metal lid of a barrel, the lid providing the surface upon which the bread was baked: there was no time to wait for the dough to rise. As an adult, sharing the Jewish holiday of Passover, with my friends, I am drawn by powerful but ironic parallels between the Palestinian experience of running away in fear into the wilderness, chased by an army, looking for freedom, eating unleavened bread as we ran. For me, Pharaoh’s army was the Israel Defense Forces and we; the Palestinians were the persecuted Jews.

Not 42 years, but a mere 10 days had elapsed since we were forced to flee our homes. Still wearing the same clothes, the clothes, which we had left with, no bath since we fled, our situation was becoming quite desperate: there was no food or water. What little water we were able to get from the nearby wells was dangerously costly: some of the men had been shot and killed trying to draw water from those wells. Most of the people staying with us in the cave began to speak of heading for Jordan, about 30 Km to the east. We had heard that the Israelis were offering ‘safe passage’ to Palestinians fleeing to Jordan: indeed, the policy of the Israeli government was to ‘facilitating’ the movement of Palestinians into Jordan. My grandfather, uncles, their families, had all made their way to Jordan: none of my mother’s family had remained in Palestine. Still, my mother was hesitant to leave our home. The entire group, we among them, left the cave early that morning, in the already hot, blistering mid June sun. We tied a white piece of cloth to a stick, and marched behind it, a flag of surrender. A neighbor, an elderly gentleman of 75, took me by the hand, carefully instructing me to stay with him: if the Israeli soldiers came for him, I was to start crying and tell them he was my grandfather. He could barely walk without the aid of a cane; I clung to his hand and helped him walk the entire way. We headed due east to Jericho and Jordan. About 6 kilometers into our journey, we came across an abandoned home. The residents had left in a hurry for the door was wide open. One of the ladies went inside and returned a few minutes later with dried loaves of bread, several days old. My mom took a piece from her and gave it to me to eat. She then went to the remains of the vegetable garden and cut some green onions for me to eat with my stale bread. I had one hell of a time trying to swallow that mixture of green onions and stale bread, but my mother noticed and offered me a sip of precious water to help it down.

The sights and smells that greeted this 6 year old boy as we made our way toward Jordan, can never be forgotten: the bullet riddled bodies of Palestinian fighters, Jordanian soldiers, and of Palestinian civilians, mostly women and young children; the putrid stench of the decaying bodies, bloated by the hot June sun. I noticed some medical personnel wearing masks drenched in perfume, trying to bury some of the bodies. My mom urged me not to look, to keep walking, but I could not obey: death and destruction were all around and sometimes; I still see these images in my sleep.

We walked for another 3 hours and suddenly, my mom stopped. She told us we were going to head back: she feared that if we did get to Jordan, we would never be allowed to return home. There was no one to help us in Jordan: our only option there would be a refugee camp. My mom refused the prospect of condemning her family to a refugee camp for the rest of their lives. Against all the protestations of our fellow refugees, my mother turned us around and headed back to Beit Hanina. The others tried to tell her that she would get herself and her children killed, but she wouldn’t hear any of it. About half of the people with us joined her lead and headed back into Palestine, the rest joined the long, steady stream of refugees headed for Jordan: parents carrying children, men carrying the elderly, poor people clutching their meager belongings. We were human beings, in great pain, trekking in fear and in search of sanctuary. Most were never allowed to return to their homes in Palestine. Some managed to sneak back, but most become refugees in Jordan. My aunt and uncles were among those stranded in Jordan.

The pictures of the “humane” Israeli army helping people across the Allenby Bridge into Jordan, make great propaganda: the Israeli soldiers carried children across collapsed bridges - a very powerful image for the world to see: I, too, see them helping the poor Palestinian refugees flee, but I also see that this was the intent of the Israeli government –which was fully aware that their job was to maximize the number of Palestinians “ethnically cleansed” from Palestine by helping them to cross over into Jordan. The Israeli government had no intent of ever allowing these people to return to their homes. The Israeli soldiers were not performing humanitarian aid to refugees: they were carrying out the orders to transfer Palestinians out of Palestine. They were merely expediting the departure of the Palestinians, and getting good press from it at the same time. This past year, 42 years later, and the world is again witnessing refugees on the move in Palestine and elsewhere. The suffering and injustices committed against the Palestinians goes on unabated. The pain and anger has resurfaced as if they had never died: old wounds not yet allowed healing…In Gaza today, Palestinians (most of whom are the every same refugees and their descendants that were brutally expelled from their ancestral homes and lands in 1948) are being blockaded and starved, with the acquiescence of both the Arab world and the world at large, as the Zionist try to finish what they started in 1948…

Mike Odetalla. (All rights reserved 2009)

Mike Odetalla..."A seed in the eternal fruit of Palestine"
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

"Come, I'll tell you about Palestine"

My Home Town:

“The ink of the scholar is holier more than the blood of the martyr"- Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)

posted by annie at 8:09 PM