Saturday 12 March 2011

Israeli Military Not Able to Crush West Bank Uprising

Antiwar Forum

Top commanders in the Israeli military are warning that the military is completely incapable of crushing an Egypt-style popular uprising in the West Bank, assuming one actually begins.

There is nothing for it,” one of the commanders noted, and while the Israeli military apparently developed a major program last year to plan a response for mass public protests amongst the Palestinians, it seems the conclusion is that they simply can’t win.

Not that they don’t intend to try: officials emphasized that they would be attacking Palestinian protesters that are trying to damage the military’s checkpoint system, and would also do so to keep them away from the settlements.

But it’s a losing proposition, most of the commanders believe, and while the US would no doubt ensure that there would be no UN sanctions as there are in Libya, violent crackdowns would be extremely difficult to sell to the public across the world, particularly given public awareness for the similar protests across the region.
The pessimism amongst Israeli officials is perhaps the ultimate testimony to how poorly regimes are able to crush the uprisings, as Israel’s military is the best armed in the region and has a level of experience in crushing dissent that few other nations can lay claim to. If they cannot destroy the protests, it makes it difficult to fathom how nations like Yemen hope to do so.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Why Syria is NOT next

 [Image from author's archive]

As millions of Arabs stir their respective countries with demonstrations and slogans of change and transition, certain Arab states have been generally spared, including some oil rich countries and Syria. Syria stands out as a powerful regional player without the benefit of economic prosperity and with a domestic political climate that leaves a lot to be desired. Some say it combines the heavy-handedness of the Tunisian regime, the economic woes of Egypt, the hereditary rule aspects of Morocco and Jordan, and a narrower leadership base than any other country across the Arab world. Why, then, is all relatively quiet on the Syrian front? 

We can delude ourselves by resorting to facile explanations related to the threat of severe coercion facing a potential uprising in Syria—which certainly does exist. But the reality of the matter is more complex. To begin with, one must account for the unexpected: a clumsy incident involving a disproportionately brutal reaction against civilians, even in Syria, will spin structural variables out of control.

“Syria is not Egypt”

Any cursory review of the Syrian press, or the press on Syria, reveals that many Syrians empathize with the grievances of their rebellious Arab brethren and share many of them. This includes those who actually protested in small numbers and were harassed and/or beaten on Friday, February 4th, the planned “Day of Anger” in Syria, and during the few days prior. Other sporadic incidents took place in the past few weeks, but none rose to the level of an explicit anti-regime demonstration, as happened in Egypt and elsewhere. This puts Syria in stark contrast with Egypt.

Egyptian protesters grew in courage gradually as civil society snatched gains such as degrees of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of organization and contestation by truly independent political parties, not least among whom is the Muslim Brotherhood, even if by proxy. On the other hand, Syrian civil society does not enjoy nearly the same measures of liberty. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was correct in saying that Syria is not Egypt in a January 31 Wall Street Journal interview. The reverse is equally true.
As repressive as the government of former President Hosni Mubarak might have been, Egypt’s public space was much more open than that of Syria. Independent papers, parties, and political activists have proliferated in Egypt for the better part of the past decade, gaining adherents and mobilizing supporters via various forms of networking. With time, the components of, and room for, collective action have broadened considerably. Between 2004 and 2010 more than 6,000 small- and medium-sized protests took place throughout Egypt, most of them labor protests. Over the past decade in Egypt, these led to a level of individual and group empowerment—as well as re-politicization of the society—from which Syrians are quite removed. 

In addition, while social polarization and poverty are increasing in Syria and social safety nets are deteriorating, the overall socioeconomic conditions are nowhere near those endured in Egypt. Furthermore, the heterogeneity of Syrian society (in terms of politics, region, community, sect, and ethnicity) exacerbates divisions among those affected and discourages cohesion among the opposition. Snowballing demonstrations that would dramatically raise the cost of brutal reaction in Syria are thus unlikely for the time being. As matters stand today, the calculus of the ordinary Syrian does not favor going to the streets – absent an unexpected incident of regime brutality, of course. 

…Nor is it Tunisia or Libya

Individual and group decisions are not motivated solely by social connectivity, legal permissiveness, and collective action. Otherwise, Tunisia’s revolt would have not seen the light of day, as Tunisians dwelled in a security atmosphere intolerant of independent organization and collective action, much like Syria’s today. But Tunisia’s state, regime, and government did not overlap nearly as much as those of Syria do, and certainly the Tunisian coercive apparatuses and army were not as closely knit around the heights of power as they are in Syria. As a result, expecting the Syrian army/security services to jettison al-Assad as their Tunisian counterparts did to Ben Ali is simply a non-starter. 

At the same time, despite the existence within both the Libyan and Syrian regimes of a will and rationale to fight for survival, state-society relationships in Syria are much thicker than those of Libya, where detachment at the top has reached delusional levels. For instance, the Syrian regime has promoted a new cross-sectarian business class often with considerable roots in traditional city quarters. If something is afoot in Syria, however, it is likely to come from the northern cities.

The “Resistance” Factor

Discussions of Syria’s vulnerability to internal protests often posit Damascus’s resistance status to explain why Syria will be spared: i.e., that because of Syria’s confrontational stance toward Israel and the United States’ brutal policies in the region, the regime enjoys a form of Arab nationalist legitimacy. In particular, Syria’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas is considered a unique and legitimate tool for manifesting such confrontation to imperialism. After all, President Bashar al-Assad polls quite well throughout the region compared to other Arab leaders, and enjoys significant popularity among various segments of Syrian society.
Still, overemphasizing the regime “resistance legitimacy” is problematic on two counts: first, even in Egypt, where Mubarak was viewed as a U.S. protégé and Israel’s accomplice, the demonstrators did not make that point a major issue. Second, the region is entering a new era in which Syria’s confrontational stance might become less unique, as Egypt and other Arab governments take more independent positions and withdraw from the strong U.S. orbit.

It is difficult to make blanket predictions due to the constant dynamism of the factors involved. While Syria’s confrontational positions regarding Israel and the United States might be increasingly popular in the region, the citizens of democratizing Arab states will want governments that are more responsive to them regarding domestic as well as foreign policies. The Syrian government will face this growing demand in due time. For now many factors weigh against revolution in Syria, barring an extraordinary event such as an excessively violent regime reaction to a demonstration or other incident. Observers would be wise not to hold their breath. 

لماذا يُستبعَد أن تكون سوريا هي التالية . . . حتى إشعار آخر
فيما يحرّك ملايين العرب بلدانهم رافعين شعارات تطالب بالتغيير والتحوّل، ظلّت بعض البلدان العربية بمنأى عن الاحتجاجات في شكل عام، وبينها بعض البلدان الغنية بالنفط إلى جانب سوريا. تبرز سوريا لاعبة إقليمية نافذة مع العلم بأنها لا تنعم بالازدهار الاقتصادي ويسودها مناخ سياسي تشوبه نواقص وعيوب كثيرة. البعض يقول إنها تجمع بين الوطأة الثقيلة للنظام التونسي والمصاعب الاقتصادية لمصر وأوجه الحكم الوراثي في المغرب والأردن، هذا إلى جانب قيادة ذات قاعدة أضيق من تلك التي تنطلق منها أي قيادة أخرى في العالم العربي. إذن لماذا يعمّ الهدوء نسبياً على الجبهة السورية؟

قد نخدع أنفسنا باللجوء إلى تفسيرات سهلة تشير إلى خطر القمع الشديد الذي تواجهه أي انتفاضة محتملة في سوريا – وهو خطر موجود بالتأكيد. بيد أن واقع الأمر أكثر تعقيداً. وقبل الدخول في هذا النقاش، لا بد من توضيح مهم. يجب التحسّب دائماً للتطوّرات غير المتوقّعة، فمن شأن سوء تقدير يؤدّي إلى رد غير متكافئ على المدنيين يُستخدَم فيه العنف المفرط، أن يتسبّب، حتى في سوريا، بخروج متغيّرات بنيوية عن السيطرة في هذه الأجواء الإقليمية المشحونة.

سوريا ليست مصر

تكشف أي مراجعة سريعة للصحافة السورية أو المقالات والأخبار المنشورة في الصحف عن سوريا، أن عدداً كبيراً من السوريين يتعاطفون مع مظالم وثورات إخوانهم العرب ويشاركونهم بعضها. ومنهم السوريون الذين تظاهروا بأعداد صغيرة وتعرّضوا للمضايقات أو الضرب في الرابع من فبراير/شباط الذي كان مقرّراً أن يكون "يوم الغضب" في سوريا، وخلال الأيام القليلة التي سبقته. ووقعت حوادث أخرى متفرِّقة في الأسابيع القليلة الماضية، لكن أياً منها لم يرقَ إلى مستوى تظاهرة علنية وواضحة ضد النظام، كما حصل في مصر وأماكن أخرى. وذلك يضع سوريا في تناقد واضح مع مصر.

تحلّى المتظاهرون المصريون بمزيد من الشجاعة مع انتزاع المجتمع المدني مكاسب عدّة مثل حرية الصحافة وحرية الرأي والإتاحة للاعبين سياسيين مستقلّين بكل معنى الكلمة، أبرزهم الإخوان المسلمون، مساحة للتنظّم والتنافس – وإن كان عبر الإنابة. كان الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد محقاً في تصريحه في مقابلة مع صحيفة وول ستريت جورنال في 31 يناير/كانون الثاني بأن سوريا ليست مصر. والعكس صحيح.

رغم أن نظام الرئيس المصري السابق حسني مبارك كان شديد القمع، لكن المساحة العامة في مصر كانت أكثر انفتاحاً بكثير منها في سوريا. فقد انتشرت الصحف المستقلة والأحزاب وتعزّز حضور الناشطين السياسيين في مصر في الجزء الأكبر من العقد الماضي، مما أتاح لهم استقطاب الأتباع وتعبئة الأنصار من خلال أشكال متعدّدة من التواصل الشبكي. ومع مرور الوقت، توسّعت مقوّمات التحرّك الجماعي والفسحة المتاحة له إلى حد كبير. فبين عامَي 2004 و2010، شهدت مصر ما يزيد عن 6000 احتجاج متوسّط وصغير الحجم، ومعظمها احتجاجات عمّالية، مما خلق مستوى معيّناً من التمكين الفردي والجماعي خلال العقد المنصرم – وأطلق عملية إعادة تسييس المجتمع – وهو ما ليس موجوداً إلى حد كبير في سوريا.

فضلاً عن ذلك، وعلى الرغم من تفاقم الاستقطاب الاجتماعي والفقر وتدهور شبكات الأمان الاجتماعي في سوريا، فإن الظروف الاقتصادية والاجتماعية لا تُشبه أبداً تلك التي يعاني منها المصريون في الإجمال. كما أن عدم تجانس المجتمع السوري (لناحية السياسة والمنطقة والجماعة والمذهب والإتنية) يزيد من حدّة الانقسامات ويحول دون أن يكون هناك تماسك في صفوف المعارضة. ولذلك من المستبعد حدوث تظاهرات في سوريا يكون لها مفعول كرة الثلج وتتسبّب بردود فعل عنيفة جداً من جانب النظام. كما تقف الأمور اليوم، حسابات الفرد السوري لا تحبّذ النزول الى الشارع إلا مع حصول حادثة همجية غير متوقعة من قبل النظام.

... ولا هي تونس أو ليبيا
القرارات الفردية والجماعية لا يُحفِّزها فقط التواصل الاجتماعي والسماح القانوني والتحرّك الجماعي. وإلا ما كانت الثورة التونسية لترى النور، إذ إن التونسيين كانوا يعيشون في أجواء أمنية لا تُجيز التنظيمات المستقلّة والتحرّكات الجماعية، كما هو الحال في سوريا إلى حد كبير. بيد أن الدولة والنظام والحكومة في تونس لا تتداخل بالقدر نفسه الذي نجده في سوريا، ومن المؤكّد أن أجهزة القمع والجيش في تونس لم تكن متلاحمة حول رأس السلطة كما في سوريا. ولذلك، ليس وارداً أن يتخلّى الجيش والأجهزة الأمنية السورية عن الأسد كما فعل نظراؤهم التونسيون مع بن علي.

في الوقت نفسه، بالرغم من وجود نية ومنطق للمحاربة عند قادة النظام السوري، كما يفعل نظراؤهم الليبيون، فإن علاقة التجاذب بين النظام السوري ومجتمعه أعمق بكثير من العلاقة ما بين النظام الليبي ومجتمعه، حيث يوجد إنشطار كبير في الطبقات القيادية العليا المتوهمة. على سبيل المثال، عزز النظام السوري طبقة من التجّار عابرة للطوائف وفي معظم الأحوال متجذرة في جهات تقليدية من المجتمع – وإن كان ليحصل تحرّك في سوريا فمن المحتمل أن يأتي من المدن الشمالية.

عامل "المقاومة"

عند الحديث عن احتمال اندلاع احتجاجات داخل سوريا، غالباً ما تتم الإشارة إلى موقف دمشق المقاوِم لتعليل الأسباب التي تجعلها بمنأى عن مثل هذه الانتفاضات، والمقصود بذلك موقف المواجهة السوري ضد السياسات الغاصبة لإسرائيل والولايات المتحدة في المنطقة الذي يمنح النظام شكلاً من أشكال الشرعية القومية العربية. وفي شكل خاص، يُعتبَر دعم سوريا لحزب الله وحماس أداة فريدة وشرعية أبان مواجهة الامبريالية. فاستمرّ الرئيس بشار الأسد، لفترة على الأقل، في تسجيل نسب جيدة في استطلاعات الرأي في مختلف أنحاء المنطقة مقارنة بالقادة العرب الآخرين ويتمتع بتأييد بارز من عدد من الركائز الشعبية السورية

ومع ذلك، لا يمكن الركون بالمطلق إلى مسألة شرعية المقاومة، وذلك انطلاقاً من معطيَين اثنين: أولاً، حتى في مصر حيث كان مبارك يُعتبَر رجل الولايات المتحدة وشريك إسرائيل المتواطئ معها، لم تكن هذه نقطة أساسية بالنسبة إلى المتظاهرين. ثانياً، تدخل المنطقة حقبة جديدة حيث يمكن أن يصبح موقف المواجهة السوري أقل فرادة، مع اتّخاذ مصر وحكومات عربية أخرى مواقف أكثر استقلالية وانسحابها من الفلك الأمريكي الصلب.
من الصعب الإحاطة بالعلاقات السببية إذ إن العوامل المعنيّة تتغيّر بصورة ديناميكية. صحيح أن مواقف المواجهة التي تتّخذها سوريا ضد إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة تلقى ربما شعبية متزايدة في المنطقة، لكن مواطني الدول العربية السائرة على طريق الديمقراطية سيرغبون في حكومات أكثر تجاوباً معهم في سياساتها الداخلية والخارجية. سوف يصطدم النظام السوري بهذا المطلب عندما يحين الوقت. أما في الوقت الراهن، فهناك عوامل عدّة تحول دون اندلاع ثورة في سوريا، إلا إذا وقع حدث استثنائي مثل لجوء النظام إلى العنف المفرط في ردّه على تظاهرة أو حادثة ما. إذن الأجدى بالمراقبين ألا يحبسوا أنفاسهم
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

David Halpin Writes to William J Hague

DateSaturday, March 12, 2011 at 3:12PM AuthorGilad Atzmon

In response to the inevitable question about the universal jurisdiction law which has prevented various Israeli dignitaries from visiting the UK for fear of arrest, Gould said: "We got ourselves into a bit of a mess because of a legal anomaly that needs to be fixed. A legal amendment to the law has been introduced, he said, and is working its way through the parliamentary process. "All three major political parties support the change." Gould was confident that the amendment would pass into law "in months not years."

Her Majesty's ambassador

 to Israel refers of course to our Geneva Conventions Act 1957.  He confirms, if we did not knowit, that an amendment is being pressed in the Mother of Parliaments in response to requests from Tel Aviv.   He did not have the courage to say that the threatened arrests of Israeli leaders came directly out of their criminal actions.  It is normal and principled is it not for nations to uphold their laws rather than finding ways of accomodating the perpetrators of the  most heinous crimes?  But we see that Mr Gould is consistent in bending his knee before criminals.

Click to read more ...
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Fayyad condemns Killing Five Israeli settlers in Itamar built on Palestinian land, Israeli soldier gone missing since Monday, army says,

[ 12/03/2011 - 08:31 AM ]

NABLUS, (PIC)-- Five Israeli settlers were killed in their house in Itamar settlement, which was built on Palestinian land in Nablus, at dawn Saturday.

Hebrew media claimed that a "terrorist suspect" infiltrated into the settlement and killed the father, mother, and three of their children.

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) were immediately deployed in the surrounding areas and clamped a curfew on nearby Palestinian villages as a large-scale combing operation was kicked off under heavy presence of choppers and reconnaissance planes.

PIC reporter said that the IOF troops closed off all entrances into Nablus city causing long queues of vehicles.

He quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the IOF soldiers manning roadblocks at the entrance to the city fired at anyone approaching them.

Local sources said that the soldiers stormed the village of Orta to the east of Nablus and broke into many homes and took away citizens.

Meanwhile, other IOF units stormed five villages south of Jenin city shortly after the attack and used flare bombs in abundance before combing the villages.
Israeli soldier gone missing since Monday, army says

[ 12/03/2011 - 09:19 AM ]

NAZARETH, (PIC)-- The Israeli army has announced one of its soldiers has gone missing, Ynet reported.

His unit has lost contact with the soldier since Monday, the army said Friday after carrying out covert searches. It is still trying to learn why he has disappeared.

The last contact was made with Sgt. Dan Bogedan Sherkov while he was riding a bus in Tel Aviv bound for Beit Shimish before his traces were completely lost.

The disappearance came at a time when Israeli and Palestinian security forces say Hamas activists have become more and more intent on capturing soldiers and retain them to bargain for Palestinian captives.

Fayyad condemns killing of five Jewish settlers near Nablus

[ 12/03/2011 - 04:37 PM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Illegitimate PA premier in Ramallah Salam Fayyad has denounced the killing of five Israelis from the Itamar settlement near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

But Fayyad meanwhile failed to denounce the daily attacks and riots targeting Palestinians by armed Jewish settlers backed by Israeli armed forces as well as the Israeli authorities' onslaught of arrests and home demolitions.

”There should be no doubt about our position relating to violence. We categorically reject it,” Fayyad said during a ceremony on Saturday to place the foundation block of the Beit Jala municipal building.

”We have repeatedly said that we reject and condemn the violence against our people,” he said. ”Violence does not justify violence.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier vowed to punish the ”perpetrators” and called on de facto Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to give the Israeli forces full aid in the matter.
In case you missed it: DesertPoison: PALESTINE BETRAYED BY ITS OWN

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

CIA to Geagea' via Syria: ".. You decide what to do with Aoun, follow him into a war with Syria or remove him... but expect no support from the US.."

An exclusive excerpt from the new novel by Robert and Dayna Baer, based on a husband and wife true-life spy story:

"...Once we're out of the airport, the three BMWs take off... My Geneva friend doesn't say anything, and I look out the window at the passing darkness, thinking about the chain of events that got me here.
Ali had once been a Syrian general. Now he's a very rich businessman with a grand villa above Cannes, a spectacular Geneva mansion, and elegant stopping-off spots all around the world. I'd phoned him out of the blue in Geneva two years earlier, not expecting he'd give me the time of day. Almost ever since, he's been tutoring me on the nuances of Syria and its secretive president, Hafez al-Asad....
Only a few days earlier, I'd stopped by Ali's Geneva place just as the news arrived that the American embassy in Beirut was closing because of a flare-up of fighting in Lebanon — and Syria's threat to intervene with its army to stop it. Ali sighed, saying a renewal of Lebanon's civil war was in neither America's nor Syria's interest. It was rare that our two countries shared a common interest, he said. This was one such time.
Ali explained to me something I already knew: that the man intent on dragging Lebanon into a new civil war was General Aoun, a Maronite Christian and the former commander of the Lebanese army. As we spoke, Aoun was trying to enlist his fellow Christians in an all-out war against Syria. In particular, Aoun wanted the backing of the commander of the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia. Aoun had told the Lebanese Forces commander that the United States fully backed him. It wasn't true, but, as I told Ali, there wasn't anything the United States could do about it now because we no longer had an embassy in Beirut to tell the Lebanese Forces commander differently.
Ali asked me if I'd go to Lebanon to tell the Lebanese Forces commander that Aoun was a liar. He'd believe an American official. At first I didn't think Ali was serious. The airport was closed, and the Syrian border tricky to cross. But Ali said he could arrange it. He'd been true to his word.
Sometime after one in the morning, we begin to ascend into the mountains between Syria and Lebanon. At the border, the convoy veers to the right, onto the military road. A soldier watches us silently. As soon as we're through, I turn around and see him closing the gate behind us....
Another mile up the road we stop again, at the edge of a village. Before I can get out, an old Mercedes pulls up next to us. A man in jeans and a collared shirt gets out and introduces himself to me as Captain Walid. He doesn't say it, but I know he's Syrian intelligence. He opens the back door of the Mercedes, and I get in. Captain Walid gets in the front, next to the driver. The driver doesn't look at me, and we start.
The road up into the mountains is one lane, large stretches of it rough. It's too dark to see if the villages are inhabited or even where we are, but the shelled-out buildings say we're close to the confrontation lines. After a mile the driver gets out to push a couple of boulders off the road, the only thing that separates the Syrian army from the Christian Lebanese Forces militia. There has been fighting along this front since 1975.
We stop at the far edge of an abandoned village. "Here we wait," Captain Walid says. So I doze off.

When I wake up, it's dawn. The driver is gone, and Captain Walid's staring straight ahead. I've no idea what he's looking at, and I close my eyes to see if I can get back to sleep. Maybe five minutes later, Captain Walid says it's time for me to go. He gets out and opens the door for me. Above us on the road, about 50 yards away, is a white Isuzu, with a man behind the wheel. I walk toward him. The fresh air wakes me up. I can see down in the Biqa'. It's hard to tell, but I think we're in the mountains across from Tripoli.
I climb into the passenger side of the Isuzu....Another hour later, we reach the coastal Tripoli-Beirut road. We're only on it ten minutes before the Isuzu turns back up into the mountains at the sign to Laqluq,(Michel Murr) a small summer resort in the mountains.
The chalets and hotels in Laqluq are closed for the season. The driver turns down a gravel road lined by pine trees, and we stop in front of an A-frame house with a Lebanese Forces radio jeep parked outside. When I get out of the Isuzu, I can hear the heavy artillery from the direction of Beirut.
The Lebanese Forces commander — hollow cheeks, bald, dressed in olive green — opens the door for me. "Thank you for coming,"...I start. "The United States in no way supports General Aoun. No matter what he says about secret emissaries and a back channel to Washington, there isn't one."The militia leader's wife interrupts. "If this is to be believed, you know what it means." "This is strictly a Lebanese affair. It's the Lebanese who must decide what to do with Aoun, follow him into a war with Syria or remove him. Either way, expect no support from the United States."....
"Why is he saying he has American support?" the militia leader asks.
"He's a liar."
"Can we trust you?" his wife asks.
"You'll have to decide that on your own."
When we finish, the Isuzu is waiting outside. If I'm lucky, I'll make it back to Damascus by dark..."
Posted by G, Z, or B at 11:32 AM
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Gilad Atzmon: The Shekel Has Dropped

A few days ago, I published a short piece about a BBC global poll gauging attitudes towards various countries worldwide. In the poll, Israel came pretty much at the bottom.

The world seems to dislike the Jewish State, and this is not a big surprise.

The text of the BBC Poll can be found here.

The text is actually far more revealing than I had initially realised.

The following diagram illustrates the popularity and unpopularity of Israel in various countries.

In the last decade Israel and Zionist lobbies have been doing their very best to incite anti-Muslim feelings amongst Europeans. Yet, it seems as if this revolting tactics has backfired. It is actually the Jewish State which European seem to dislike.

In France 56% hold negative opinions of Israel and in Britain the figure is 66%.

In spite of the relentless and powerful Jewish lobbies operating in both France and Britain, the people actually see Israel for what it it. They seem to detest the Jewish State in rapidly growing numbers.

But here is the most significant statistic.

In spite of the emotional blackmail the Germans have been subjected to for the last sixty years, it is becoming clear that Germany is just about to liberate itself from the Shoa tyranny of collective guilt . In Germany only 15% are positive about Israel. 65% expressed a coldness towards the Jewish state.

It might well be possible that the Germans have grasped by now that the Palestinians are the last victims of the Hitler. It is also possible that German’s regret of their past has eventually matured into a collective humanist insight , and perhaps it might be that they now realise it is the Israelis that are the ‘Nazis of our time.’

As much as Israel’s world popularity is at its very lowest level, the BBC poll reveals that Germany is “the most positively viewed nation, with 62% rating its influence as positive.”

I guess there is a clear message here for Zionists and Israelis: your dirty game is over — Germany and the rest of the world are now officially liberated.

However, I wonder how long it might take for Germany before it gets the stomach to officially strip itself of its guilt, and look at its glorious past with pride, for they are responsbile for some of the world’s greatest symphonies, philosophy, science, poetry and industry.

I wonder, how long will it take for the Germans to look into their history with no fear ?
I guess that it will happen pretty soon.

Hizbullah to increase military power to scare Israel

Posted on March 12, 2011 by rehmat1|

While the former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri is dancing to USraeli tune by calling for disarming the Islamic Resistance – on Thursday, the head of its executice council, Sayyed Hashem Safieddine, declared that “Hizbullah would increase its military strength to fight and scare Zionists“. He also added that those who stood against the Resistance are scared because they’re witnessing the collapse of all anti-Resistance regimes “While the path of the Resistance is expanding in Lebanon and Palestine and the whole region, the path of surrender is collapsing with the tyrant rulers“.

Hizbullah had already defeated the Jewish army in 2006. In December 2010, Israeli General Giora Eiland had amitted that “Israel does not know how to beat Hezbollah”.

Canadian research scholar, lecturer and author, specializing on the Middle East affairs, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, in his recent article wrote:

Saad Hariri and his March 14 Alliance are itching for confrontation with Hezbollah and its political allies in Lebanon. This itch is far more than mere politicking.

Over the years the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance has worked with the U.S., the E.U., Saudi Arabia, Mubarak, Jordan, and even Israel to pave the way for foreign intervention in one form or another in Lebanon against the Lebanese Resistance. Hariri and the March 14 Alliance have also been very close allies to all the Arab dictators and absolute monarchs. The support that the March 14 Alliance receives from the U.S., Britain, France, and Saudi Arabia is not due to any self-styled democratic values that its members talk about, but due to its willingness to transform Lebanon into a colony.

In 2006, Hariri and his allies covertly supported Israel in its war against Lebanon. When Lebanon was being attacked, they ordered the Lebanese military to stand-down in the face of Israeli aggression. After the Israeli defeat in 2006, they went on to import Fatah Al-Islam into Lebanon in the hopes of using it as an armed option against Hezbollah and its allies; they would later shamelessly try to blame the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon for the materialization of Fatah Al-Islam. They also tried to dismantle the vital communications network used by Hezbollah in 2008.

Now, Hariri and his political allies loudly criticize the Lebanese Resistance for its arms. This is ironic, because the March 14 Alliance themselves have been arming their own militias over the years. This was proven during the fighting of May 2008 when both sides brandished guns. The groups within the March 14 Alliance have also been the ones who used militias in the past exclusively for fighting their own Lebanese countrymen. They have a history of fighting other Lebanese and a disregard for democracy.

A pause is in order to consider the reasons Hariri and his crew have armed themselves. It has not been to defend Lebanon from the external threat of Israel, but they have been arming themselves for internal fighting in Lebanon. Hariri and the March 14 Alliance only talk about democracy, because they do not have enough force to impose themselves in Lebanon.

Today, they are attempting to use the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) as a snare to internationally indict Hezbollah. Once an indictment is made at the international level, the U.S. and its allies could intervene on the pretext of international justice. Washington and Brussels could also be called upon for help in bringing Hezbollah to justice by Hariri and the March 14 Alliance.

Hariri did not foresee the plug being pulled by Hezbollah and its political allies on his government and his impotence to regain power. This has been a crushing blow to the Hariri family. They have run out of cards and are working to keep the STL alive. As long as the STL remains, it leaves an open option for some form of foreign intervention for the U.S. and its E.U. cohorts into Lebanon.

Increasingly, the language of Hariri is that of confrontation and sectarianism. Even without the STL, Hariri and the March 14 Alliance may yet ignite another civil war in Lebanon. They can also still play the sectarian card and Hezbollah and its political allies are well aware of this. This is why Najib Al-Mikati and Hezbollah are moving forward cautiously in an effort to dismantle the sectarian card. Through starting a civil war the Lebanese could risk inviting a U.S. and NATO intervention in Lebanon.

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Collaborator's rejects Hamas unity initiative

Via A4P

Ma’an News Agency -  12 March 2011

Fatah has rejected Hamas’ proposal to form a united leadership to administrate Palestinian affairs until the PLO is restructured, a senior Fatah official said Friday.

Hamas called an all-factions meeting on Wednesday to present proposals for a new unity effort. Officials said the meeting would strengthen the political scene in Gaza.

Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhassen told Ma’an that Fatah insisted Hamas must sign the Egyptian-mediated reconciliation agreement.

Muhassen said Hamas had been more demanding since the Egyptian uprising which overthrew President Hosni Mubarak.

Hamas did not want to reconcile with Fatah, and rejected Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s proposal which offered to include Hamas officials in the PA government, Muhassen said.

Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine official Muhammad Khalaf said Hamas presented “nothing new” in the meeting, a view shared by Islamic Jihad leader Sheikh Nafeth Azzam.

Azzam told Ma’an the key point of the proposal was to discuss a national unity government that would handle the reconstruction of Gaza and prepare for elections.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Kayed Al-Ghoul agreed that Hamas did not propose anything that had not been discussed before.

Regarding Fayyad’s initiative, Al-Ghoul said Hamas’ principles were incompatible with the Ramallah premier, and the Islamist movement would never accept his proposals.

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Tear gas fired by Israelis ejects woman, two children from Silwan home

[ 12/03/2011 - 10:13 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- A woman and her two girls evacuated their home in the Bir Ayyub neighborhood in East Jerusalem's Silwan district after Israeli occupation forces launched tear gas inside, locals said on Friday.

The Khatour family including two girls under the age of five were forced out of their home after sustaining breathing difficulties caused by a cloud of tear gas.

Every Friday, children in Silwan fall into a state of panic and suffer severe breathing problems due to tear gas and stun grenades fired by Israeli soldiers.

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Sheikh Salah: The Arab uprisings renewed hope for Palestinian liberation

[ 12/03/2011 - 07:32 AM ]
GENEVA, (PIC)-- Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands, said that the Arab revolutions renewed the Palestinian young men’s hope for the liberation of occupied Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque.

“There is a conviction that the revolution that started to extend to the Arab depth has undoubtedly impacted in a positive way the reality of the Palestinian street which is seeing wide popular moves especially among the youths,” Sheikh Salah stated on Friday.

“These moves have started to clearly call for converging on the Palestinian constants, and in my opinion, there is no Palestinian official regardless of his name or post who is able to ignore this voice, which began growing in the Palestinian community,” he added.

The Palestinian leader also stressed that the success of the Arab peoples in making their future with their free will is a good omen for the approaching demise of the Israeli occupation.

The leader denied that the inter-Palestinian division between Gaza and the West Bank affected the Palestinian street’s position on the need to resist the Israeli occupation and end all kinds of talks with it.

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PFLP slams PA security for arresting its cadres in Nablus

[ 12/03/2011 - 10:38 AM ]

NABLUS, (PIC)-- The popular front for the liberation of Palestine (PFLP) strongly denounced the Palestinian Authority security militias for arresting a number of its members in Nablus city at the behest of the Israeli occupation forces (IOF).

The PFLP demanded the PA to stop its security cooperation with Israel and release all political detainees from its jails, pointing out that many of its members have been in jail for over a year.

It said that the PA helps Israel to escalate its aggressive acts against the Palestinian people as long as its security collaboration have not stopped.

In a separate incident, the PA militias kidnapped three Palestinian citizens affiliated with Hamas in Nablus city, according to local sources on Friday.

A military court in Jenin city also extended the detention of university student Mohamed Jaradat from Zabuba village for 15 days.

The IOF for their part kidnapped two students at Al-Najah university called Mohamed Amori and Qa’ed Al-Mutawakel-Alallah.
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Interview: Palestinian women prisoners shackled during childbirth

Mehru Jaffer, The Electronic Intifada, 11 March 2011

VIENNA (IPS) - Female Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel are often denied legal representation and medical care while being housed in squalid conditions that can include sharing cells with rodents.

According to Fabrizia Falcione, a women's human rights officer for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), now part of UN WOMEN, told IPS that it is crucial to reveal the human face behind this breach of international law and international humanitarian law in order to address the plight of Palestinian political prisoners, including women and children.

Since 1967, more than 700,000 Palestinians have been arrested or detained in Israeli prisons and detention centers. Approximately 10,000 of these prisoners were women.

Today, 37 female Palestinian prisoners continue to be held in Israeli prisons -- out of a total of about 7,500 inmates. The reason is primarily political -- most of the prisoners are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Falcione's work includes providing legal aid and representation to female prisoners, psychosocial support to family members of prisoners, and preparation for release and reintegration of prisoners into family and society.

This week Falcione participated in the first international meeting of its kind organized by the United Nations to focus on the question of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention. During the two-day meet she took time out to talk to IPS about the absolute urgency of specifically addressing the rights of female prisoners.

IPS: What are the most immediate concerns for Palestinian women prisoners in Israeli prisons today?

Fabrizia Falcione: The situation of Palestinian women and minors in Israeli detention facilities is bad. In terms of numbers, Palestinian female political prisoners and detainees in Israel prisons almost disappear compared to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian male political prisoners. But the plight of female prisoners is worse than the men.

The situation, condition and violations faced by women in jails in Israel needs to be addressed from a gender perspective. At present the number of women prisoners is considerably lower than before, but women and girls continue to be arrested, their special needs continue to be neglected and their rights violated.

IPS: You talk of physical and psychological problems faced by female prisoners. What do you mean?

FF: There is medical neglect and lack of specialized medical services for the prevention and treatment of illnesses of women.

The female prisoners at present are mainly incarcerated in two Israeli facilities in Hasharon and Damon -- both of them located outside the occupied [West Bank and Gaza Strip], in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Former Palestinian female prisoners in both these prisons and family members of women currently in prison say that the cells are infested with insects, particularly cockroaches as well as rodents. A former inmate released a few months ago said, "No matter how hard I try to describe the cell to you, I cannot. It is like an underground grave ... There are so many insects in the cell, the mattresses and cover sheet were damp and smelled awful. Sewage was overflowing. I could barely make my ablutions to pray."

Beyond general healthcare there is no gynecological support. Women require medical attention regularly, which is their right during confinement as recognized by CEDAW [the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women].

The great majority of Palestinian women political prisoners in Israeli prisons suffer from various health problems.

IPS: Is it true that pregnant women are shackled during childbirth?

FF: It is true. Pregnant women are shackled while giving birth, and soon after. There is a total lack of medical care, particularly during childbirth. Women lament that infants born to them are taken away after two years. In Israeli prisons, the rights of Palestinian women prisoners is recognized, but not respected.

IPS: And the psychological concerns?

FF: Women bear the brunt of the infringement upon their cultural and religious rights. A former prisoner said, "They took away my jilbab [long dress] and gave me their special brown prisoner uniform. It was short sleeved. I asked for a long sleeved shirt that I could wear under the uniform. Again they refused. I moved between cells among male guards in a short-sleeved uniform ... what hurt me most were the insults they hurled at me."

Women's privacy is violated and male guards conduct room searches without any consideration for religious norms. Prisoners are counted four times a day, including very early in the morning, and punishment is inflicted if women are found asleep or do not reply immediately to the count.

The most troubling aspect is the denial of family visitation rights. Family visits to prisoners are allowed twice a month, theoretically, but are drastically restricted due to the fact that the prisons are outside the occupied Palestinian territory.

A round-trip visit to the prison is a ten-hour journey -- not only due to geographical distance but also because the movement of Palestinians in Israel is controlled. If families succeed in making the journey, they are allowed to visit for thirty minutes -- speaking through a thick glass divider that prevents any physical contact, even between mother and child. This affects the well-being of not just the mother but also the children. The break in family and social relations is severe on the psychological state of the women.

IPS: What exactly is the crime of these women?

FF Many women are imprisoned without trial for belonging to organizations banned by Israel, under the guise of protecting the national security of the state.

Untried Palestinian women political prisoners are detained in Neve Terza prison in the women's section allocated to convicted criminal offenders in clear violation of Rule 85 of the United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners that says "Untried prisoners shall be kept separate from convicted prisoners."

This allows Israeli prisoners to threaten and humiliate Palestinian women through verbal and physical abuse. Palestinian women prisoners and detainees are further prevented from using prison facilities like pens, reading material and recreational time.

All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2011). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.

Hariri tribunal: Just as it can be 'frozen' to assist Siniora, its indictments can be 'amended' to prevent Mikati ...

Via Friday-Lunch-Club

Read the two links below and draw your own conclusion!

Posted by G, Z, or B at 3:06 PM

Hariri tribunal prosecutor Bellmare files an 'amended indictment based on further evidence'....
"AFP-THE HAGUE — Prosecutors of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon filed an amended indictment on Friday based on further evidence in the probe into the killing of Lebanese former premier Rafiq Hariri, the tribunal said. "As a result of the gathering and analysis of further evidence, the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Daniel A. Bellemare today filed an amended indictment for confirmation by the Pre-Trial judge," a tribunal statement said. "This amendment expands on the scope of the indictment filed on 17 January 2011 ....
Its first indictment, filed by Bellemare on January 17, is widely believed to name the Hezbollah militant group..."
Posted by G, Z, or B at 3:03 PM

Wikileaks: Siniora asks Chirac to "put the 'tribunal' in the freezer" to help him remain relevant ...
[Basically, and again, this is confirmation that the 'tribunal' is a tool, was created as such, and can be manipulated for the specific needs of the supporting powers.

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 000257
¶1. (S) Summary: French NSA-equivalent Maurice Gourdault-Montagne (MGM) told the Ambassador on January 22 that "some" are calling for France to freeze plans for establishing an international tribunal on LEBANON until next autumn, in the hope that this delay would allow Lebanese PM Siniora to break the political deadlock in BEIRUT. MGM said that President Chirac did not espouse a delay, but suggested (more than once) that the Lebanese themselves might request one.....
¶2. (S) The Ambassador hosted French NSA-equivalent Maurice Gourdault-Montagne (MGM) for breakfast on January 22.....
¶3. (S) MGM said he saw little chance of resolving LEBANON's domestic political crisis prior to the Lebanese presidential election in November 2007. Consequently, some had raised the idea of "putting the tribunal in the freezer" until that time, in hopes that a delay in setting up the tribunal would aid PM Siniora to break the political deadlock. "Of course, we (neither he nor Chirac) are not advocating this idea," MGM stressed at several points....... The only other option, MGM continued, would be to change the scope of the tribunal itself -- something France found unacceptable. When pressed on why the French were contemplating a change in their approach to the tribunal at this point -- especially when it was unclear that LEBANON's opposition had the upper hand -- MGM made another (and somewhat jumbled) reference to the need to obtain the opposition's support for economic reform........"
Posted by G, Z, or B at 1:47 PM
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Gaza truckers protest Israel's closure of commercial crossing

Rami Almeghari, The Electronic Intifada, 11 March 2011

Palestinian truck drivers stop protest Israel's closing the Karni crossing, 7 March. (ZUMA Press)

On 2 March Israel announced the complete closure of Karni, the principal commercial crossing into the Gaza Strip, prompting protests by Palestinian traders who rely on the crossing to bring goods into the territory.

Karni, known by Palestinians as al-Muntar, has functioned intermittently for the past 16 years, since Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Oslo accords in 1993.

The Gaza Strip has four crossings through which vital supplies can be brought in from Israel -- Sufa, Nahal Oz, Kerem Shalom and Karni. Only Kerem Shalom, a small crossing located right at the south of Gaza, is allowed by Israel to function to capacity.

Nahal Oz, east of Gaza City, and Sufa in the southeast, have been kept shut by Israel almost without exception since Israel tightened its siege of the territory almost five years ago, severely choking the commodities available to Gaza's 1.5 million residents. Sufa was briefly reopened this week to allow for the transfer of a small amount of construction materials for a UN crossing.

"The closure of Karni further tightens the blockade of Gaza and makes us lose hope that the siege will ever be eased," Dr. Maher al-Tabaa of Gaza's chamber of commerce told The Electronic Intifada. "Israel's makeshift crossing at Kerem Shalom does not handle large shipments of goods and Kerem Shalom's capacity amounts to only about 10 or 20 percent of Karni's," al-Tabaa added.

In 2006, after Hamas decisively won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, Israel began to close Karni from time to time, reducing the flow of goods into Gaza. In 2007, after Hamas ousted US-supported militias loyal to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, Israel tightened the siege even further.

According to al-Tabaa, Karni -- which is best equipped to handle Gaza's once-thriving export and import trade -- has received only essential goods like wheat and animal fodder.

"Karni crossing, Gaza's largest, has the capacity to handle 500 truckloads of imports and 250 truckloads of exports daily. It is close to Gaza City and controlled by Palestinian officials. Yet with [Israel's] imposition of the blockade on Gaza in 2007, Israel has directed many shipments to the makeshift Kerem Shalom crossing which is 30 kilometers from Gaza City," al-Tabaa said.

The extra distance that the few goods allowed in to Gaza must travel imposes major additional costs on local traders. Over the weekend, dozens of Gaza truck drivers protested the closure and the high customs fees they are charged, by parking their trucks at the Palestinian side of the crossing.

The Electronic Intifada attempted to interview some Gaza traders about the closure, yet none were willing to speak, apparently out of fear for their ability to do business with the Israeli firms on which Gaza must rely for many supplies.

Transactions between Palestinian traders and their Israeli counterparts have carried on for decades, but this trade has been severely affected by political developments. In order to travel to Israel to do business, for example, merchants from Gaza must obtain special Israeli permits which Israel can delay or refuse to issue at any time.

Traders will now be forced to pay higher costs and wait longer times for shipments to enter Gaza due to the closure of Karni, according to the chamber of commerce's al-Tabaa.

Truck drivers strike at Kerem Shalom
On 9 March scores of truck drivers gathered at Sufa crossing which Israel reopened to allow for the transfer of concrete for a housing project being built by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees. But according to the Private Courier Companies Association, only ten truckloads were allowed in.

Nahed Shehaibar, a spokesperson for the association, told The Electronic Intifada that he and hundreds of other truck drivers have been on strike at Kerem Shalom crossing in the south since the previous weekend, but many drove up to Sufa to help transfer the cement which is in devastatingly short supply.

"We are heading back to Kerem Shalom to continue our protest at the closure of Karni and the skyrocketing customs imposed jointly by Israel and the Palestinian Authority [in Ramallah] for the transfer of shipments," Shehaiber said after having overseen the movement of the ten truckloads of cement.

"Customs fees at Karni were approximately $100 per truckload, but at Kerem Shalom they are approximately $500," Shehaiber said. "That's why we will keep striking."

The sudden reopening of Sufa crossing, after almost five years of closure, came on the heels of protests by hundreds of Palestinians outside UNRWA headquarters demanding the reconstruction of homes destroyed in Israel's winter 2008-09 assault on Gaza.

Shehaiber estimated that 72,000 tons of cement have been held up at Sufa during this closure.

"Sufa was not reopened normally today," Shehaiber observed. "We want all the crossing, including Karni, to be reopened permanently.

International agencies warn of humanitarian consequences
The UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) states that the closures will make the delivery of food more difficult to the 750,000 Palestinians in Gaza who receive food assistance.

According to the IRIN news service, UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness warned that "The closure of Karni will also add 20 percent to the cost of aid delivery ... at a time when UNRWA is facing a budget deficit of $50 million" ("Gaza food situation tight as Karni crossing closed," 7 March 2011).

IRIN added "supplies to Gaza were still at about 40 percent of pre-June 2007 levels."

While imports to Gaza have been hit hard by the siege, exports have suffered badly as well. For almost five years, Israel has allowed almost no exports out of Gaza. According to a December 2009 report by several international agencies, including Oxfam and Save the Children, Gaza used to produce approximately 400,000 tons of agricultural goods annually, including tomatoes, strawberries and fresh flowers, about a third of which were exported.

According to the economic agreements that were part of the Oslo accords, as well as a 2005 American-brokered agreement on the crossings, Karni is supposed to remain open to allow normal commercial activities.

According to al-Tabaa, the chamber of commerce recently submitted an appeal to the Quartet, the self-appointed committee that has taken over the running of the moribund peace process (made up of representatives of the US, EU, Russia and the UN Secretary General), and the United Nations, to pressure Israel to reopen Karni.

"We believe that the closure is a violation of the signed agreements. Therefore, we appeal to all parties concerned to pressure Israel to lift the closure immediately due to the vital role Karni crossing plays in the economy of Gaza," al-Tabaa said.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

Tens of thousands in Gaza march demanding national unity

March 12, 2011 — occupiedpalestine
[ 12/03/2011 - 06:04 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)– Tens of thousands took part in the march organized by national factions in Gaza Strip on Friday demanding an end to internal division and restoration of national unity.

The marchers hit the streets following the Friday congregation and headed to the Palestinian legislative council hoisting placards calling for an end to the internal rift and an end to the siege while hoisting Palestinian flags only.
Almost all factions took part in the march with the exception of Fatah as their leaders marched hand in hand and lifted Palestinian flags.

One of those leaders read out the march’s statement affirming that the Palestinian people would remain resolute and would continue along the road of resistance and would not be dissuaded from its rights and constants by “Cast Lead” crimes.

He added that all participants affirm the importance of national unity.

He stressed that the West Bank and Gaza are part of one nation that would eventually unite to confront “Zionist challenges”.

The leader said that democracy must prevail to ensure presidential, legislative, and municipal elections that should be respected by all, calling as a priority for ending political detention and allowing freedoms.


Never Cast Lead Again | Memorial of the War on Gaza 2008- 2009 in which over 1400 people were killed, in just 22 days

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