The Middle East after the Gaza War

Hamas

Hamas

In the past sixty years the Israeli regime has been implementing a strategy in order to prolong and expand its life. This strategy uses three effective factors; a powerful military, geopolitical allies, and public opinion. Israel has now entered a stage where the implementation of this strategy has come to an end.

Emanuel, in an article titled ‘The story of Israel; a prediction of suicide’ states that Israel has surpassed internal conditions of success. He states that the age when Israel’s superior military might made those that opposed them surrender, the age when France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Russia broke their backs to be Israel’s allies, and the age when Tel Aviv relied upon the exaggerated holocaust in order to explain their expansive nature have come to an end. Now, there is not a powerful army facing this regime, children and teenagers are facing them and who do not flee the battlefield when faced by F35 warplanes and special war helicopters. In this war, when one person was killed, ten other stood up. Today, there is no desire to improve relations with Tel Aviv, even America’s voice is starting to be heard. The energy taken from the holocaust has run out and there is no other possibility for them to invent a new story. Oppositely, the stories of Gaza and Qana are being broadcasted over and over again and are playing a role in newspapers to incite feelings towards Palestine.

Israel has reached such a stage that Kaufman, the Jewish representative in the English Parliament and a member of the Labor Party, clearly stated that he distances himself from the crimes of the Tel Aviv government. He even pressures the English government to implement the prohibition of selling arms to Israel. Kaufman, according to the newspaper World Press Daily Herald, states that Tzipi Livni’s is father Eitan Livni who was the head of the terrorist missions of the Irgun (National Military Organization in the Land of Israel) group which planned the explosion of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem where 91 people were killed, four of them being Jews. He added that Israel was created by Jewish terrorists. Jewish terrorists hung two English officers. Irgun, next to Eshtern, killed 254 Palestinians in the village Diryassine, 1948.

After the Gaza 22-Day-War, the Zionist regime is faced with many questions – not only by Muslims, but by their most important supporters as well. These questions include political, legal, security, military, and cultural subjects. If we look at European, and even American, newspapers we would see that they are being defended much less than they were in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The number of articles being written about the pains of Palestine is thousands of times greater than the number of them in the 60s and 70s. This is the case when the United Nations wrote many resolutions against the government in Tel Aviv during that age – but the European, American, Russian, Chinese, and many other countries media outlets supported Israel, not giving any importance to what happens to the Palestinians.

Moshe Yalon, the previous chief of staff of the Zionist regime’s armed forces said in 2002: “Palestinians must realize deep down that they are a defeated people.” When Yalon publically announced this many others thought the same way as him. But today, about seven years later, Israel is in a strange position.

The Zionist regime in the war against Gaza, according to Olmert’s confessions, used all of its resources for victory. Look at his loss of words at the end of the war when he said: “The Israeli armed forces used all ground and sea resources in their brilliant missions.” And: “The Israeli armed forces had good training and were equipped with everything that they needed.” Again: “We spend two years preparing the people of Israel.” And: “All decisions were made after deep discussions.” Again: “I received letters today from the heads of Russia, England, Italy, Germany, and France which announced their unconditional support of Israel, especially in the issue of making sure that Hamas does not have the ability to get weapons.” Finally: “I am announcing the important role that Hosni Mubarak played in the Middle East and his efforts for reaching a cease-fire.”

In reality, Olmert is confessing that what occurred in the 365 square-kilometers of Gaza and in facing the resistance forces was the complete internal, international, and regional ability of the Zionist regime. The size of Gaza is about 1.3 percent of Palestine and Palestine is about the size of a middle-sized county in Iran. When this regime was defeated by resistance forces it is understood that they cannot be considered a power in the Middle East. Look at the phrases that Nahum Barney, an analysist of the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, printed in Tel Aviv, which were printed in the first days of the war against Gaza: “This military advancement must have happened quicker, but doing it is better than not doing it. How can a country that cannot face Hamas warn Iran and support its interests in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority?”

Israel has even lost face for Mahmoud Abbas, Hosni Mubarak, and prince Abdullah, their allies, in securing their regimes against the human wave of Islamic awakening in the region. Today they are in dire straits. From one side Mahmoud Abbas said that Hamas is the axis of any movement in Palestine, Hosni Mubarak and his foreign minister continually praise the Palestinian resistance, and prince Abdullah introduced himself as the protector of Palestinian principles and freedom. These show the geopolitical change in the region.

Yedioth Ahronoth quoted a high-ranking Israeli officer of the armed forces who helped plan the attacks on Gaza: “What happened in Gaza was the largest military mission in Israeli history.” Haaretz also wrote: “Barak used all of this might in these missions.” The under-secretary of the International Federation of Human Rights in the United Nations officially announced three days ago: “Israeli crimes in Gaza were unprecedented in the last 40 years in the whole world.”

In the 22-Day-War helped the birth of a new Middle East without knowing what it was doing. This will be a Middle East that where a unified Israel, America, Europe, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and with using the most crimes and the most military strength will not be effective and the resistance of a small public group will have much more effect than them.

Toda, the legal condition of Tel Aviv and along with it the legal condition of the occupation has left their fold and is now being reviewed by other nations. Today tens of courts in tens of countries are prepared to review the crimes of Israel committed in Gaza and they are prepared to issue a ruling against Israel. It is not a distant expectation for at least 50 countries to organize such courts and Olmert will be faced with 50 judgments. These judgments would be effective in the Zionist regime’s foreign relations and would open the mouths of the many people who oppose that regime throughout the world. The wave of critical articles against Tel Aviv has risen and at the same time the Palestinian nation, the 27,070 square kilometers, is coming to life. It is not bad to end the article with the words of Patrick Seale, a European political opinionist in the newspaper al-Hayat: “The war that Israel started in Gaza is a form of political insanity. This war achieved making the society in Israel extremely nervous.

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Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail

George Bush

George Bush

Karl Rove recently described George W. Bush as a book lover, writing, “There is a myth perpetuated by Bush critics that he would rather burn a book than read one.” There will be many histories written about the Bush administration. What will they use for source material? The Bush White House was sued for losing e-mails, and for skirting laws intended to protect public records. A federal judge ordered White House computers scoured for e-mails just days before Bush left office. Three hundred million e-mails reportedly went to the National Archives, but 23 million e-mails remain “lost.” Vice President Dick Cheney left office in a wheelchair due to a back injury suffered when moving boxes out of his office. He has not only hobbled a nation in his attempt to sequester information – he hobbled himself. Cheney also won court approval to decide which of his records remain private.

President Obama was questioned by George Stephanopoulos about the possibility of prosecuting Bush administration officials. Obama said: “We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions and so forth. … I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward … what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.”

Legal writer Karen Greenberg notes in Mother Jones magazine, “The list of potential legal breaches is, of course, enormous; by one count, the administration has broken 269 laws, both domestic and international.”

Torture, wiretapping and “extraordinary rendition” – these are serious crimes that have been alleged. Obama now has, more than anyone else, the power to investigate.

John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has just subpoenaed Rove while investigating the politicization of the Justice Department and the political prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Rove previously invoked executive privilege to avoid congressional subpoenas. Conyers said in a press release: “I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court. … Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who blocked impeachment hearings, is at least now calling for an investigation. She told Fox News: “I think that we have to learn from the past, and we cannot let the politicizing of the – for example, the Justice Department – to go unreviewed. … I want to see the truth come forth.”

Why not take it a step further?

Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who led the charge in Congress for impeachment of Bush and Cheney, has called for “the establishment of a National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, which will have the power to compel testimony and gather official documents to reveal to the American people not only the underlying deception which has divided us, but in that process of truth-seeking set our nation on a path of reconciliation.”

Millions have served time in federal prisons for crimes that fall far short of those attributed to the Bush administration. Some criminals, it seems, are like banks judged too big to fail: too big to jail, too powerful to prosecute. What if we apply Obama’s legal theory to the small guys? Why look back? Crimes, large or small, can be forgiven, in the spirit of unity. But few would endorse letting muggers, rapists or armed robbers of convenience stores off scot-free. So why the different treatment for those potentially guilty of leading a nation into wars that have killed untold numbers, torture and widespread illegal spying?

Which brings us back to Bush and books. Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451” is one of the titles in the National Endowment for the Arts’ “The Big Read.” This ambitious program is “designed to restore reading to the center of American culture.” Cities, towns, even entire states choose a book and encourage everyone to read it. In “Fahrenheit 451” (the temperature at which paper spontaneously combusts), books are outlawed. Firemen don’t put out fires, they start them, burning down houses that contain books. Bradbury said: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” The secretive Bush administration is out of power; the transparency-proclaiming Obama administration is in. But transparency is only useful when accompanied by accountability.

Without thorough, aggressive, public investigations of the full spectrum of crimes alleged of the Bush administration, there will be no accountability, and the complete record of this chapter of U.S. history will never be written.

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History, Hypocrisy, and Empire

The so-called democracy of the powerful U.S. elite continues to live up to its legacy of hypocrisy and deceit.

Now that the spectacle of the Barack Obama coronation as the “American” Empire’s first African-American emperor has run its course, and many, many millions of dollars have been spent on self-adulation by the power elite of this nation, the huddled masses will necessarily be compelled to return to a system of no universal, single-payer health care, increasing joblessness, insatiable corporate / military greed, homelessness, de facto racial disparity & discord, police brutality, a burgeoning U.S. prison population, and endless U.S. wars abroad. For yet again, this nation will have done what it all too often does: perverted its promise, including the dream of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., into a hypocritical nightmare of gigantic and historic proportions.

For the majority of Black, Brown, White, Red, and Yellow peoples, the “dream” to which the late Langston Hughes referred [in the poem A Dream Deferred] has not only been “deferred,” it has been obscenely and grotesquely disfigured and distorted into something almost beyond recognition. Barack Obama’s presidency is not a step forward nor is it a step towards the fulfillment of the struggles by Nat Turner, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so very many others. Rather, he is the slick pro-apartheid Zionist antithesis and perversion of the fulfillment of these struggles.

Barack Obama has already begun to repeatedly and shamelessly call upon the people of this nation to make “sacrifice[s],” as if the everyday people of this country have not already made enormous, heart rendering sacrifices. How about having Obama’s elite corporate backers in Lockheed, Goldman Saks, and the insurance and banking industries make some meaningful, ongoing, and painful sacrifices?! How about reversing the government’s criminal financial bail out of the big corporations [which government bail-out Obama enthusiastically supported], and passing those billions upon billions of dollars back directly to the everyday people of this nation – no strings attached?! How about immediately stopping all U.S. wars of aggression, and bringing our men and women in uniform home right NOW – no strings attached?! So many of these men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of so-called U.S. “national security,” which false “security” has meant their being the perpetual working-class cannon fodder for Halliburton and other avaricious corporate components of the U.S. “military / industrial complex.”

Barack Obama, though the first African-American “presidential” figurehead of the U.S. Empire, is actually the last best hope of continuing U.S. international hegemony under the fake cloak of democracy and justice at home and abroad. Therein is Obama’s appeal to the political and economic ruling elites. He is a conscious, willing, and potent tool of the power elite, and should be understood and dealt with as such. He is neither a progressive, nor a leftist or socialist. He is a cynical opportunist and a shrewd politician, who cloaks his double-speak in glitzy so-called “progressive” sounding rhetoric. He is arguably the most dangerous U.S. politician, to the actual economic and political well being of everyday people of all colors, thus far in this 21st Century.

A reader of The Black Commentator recently reminded me of what is undoubtedly the most important, defining, and yet perhaps the least known speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is the speech that Dr. King delivered on April 4, 1967 at the Riverside church in New York City, precisely one year before he was shot down in Memphis, Tennessee, under the auspices of the U.S. Government. The speech is titled, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Every discerning person who peruses this speech will quickly realize what a perversion, of the struggle for justice at home and abroad, the pro-apartheid Zionist Barack Obama really is. We can and must do so much better.

The installment of Barack Obama as U.S. president has not ushered in a “post racial” era in this nation. To the contrary, it has ushered in a heightened economic, political, and yes racial hypocrisy, which the masses of Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow peoples will ultimately not ignore.

The paraphrased adage, often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, that: “You can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time” is absolutely correct. And even though the U.S. corporate media (including CNN and PBS) is unabashedly complicit in their de facto mission to “fool the people,” the legitimate needs and aspirations of the people can be contained for only so long; Obama or no Obama.

To the people of this nation of all colors and ethnicities who are losing your jobs, your homes, and your families…to those with no health insurance… to those who cannot afford to send your children to college…and to those languishing in prisons… this writer says: Place not your faith in the rhetoric of politicians or the false promises of such cynical opportunists. Place your faith in yourselves and each other, in your / our ability to discern the difference between rhetoric vs. reality, and in our determination to find and create ways of organizing and coming together to bring about real systemic change dedicated to everyday people and not the corporate blood suckers of the peoples of this nation and world.

To the long-time freedom fighters, including Assata Shakur, Reverend Edward Pinkney (no relation), Leonard Peltier, the SF 8, and so many others who have held on and struggled for collective justice for so long, and to all political prisoners everywhere, this writer says: Please keep holding on, for the time is approaching when your struggles will

be rewarded and that proverbial “day of reckoning” is hastening hither, sooner than some may realize.

To Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente, and Cindy Sheehan: Thank you for your ongoing and brave examples of what it means to be truly for-real and in service to the people and not the blood sucking corporate / military / prison apparatus.

To the young people of this nation and world be you Black, Brown, Red, White, or Yellow: This writer understands your legitimate rage and your desire for a better world. You have every right to want a just and humane world. YOU are humanity’s present and future. YOU are why so many of us have struggled and died so that we might live through you. YOU must carry this struggle on.

To the peoples of Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti, and elsewhere: Know that the peoples of the U.S. do not hate you and that those of us who are socially and politically conscious stand with you in your just quests to live free and strong, unfettered and unhindered by U.S. hegemony.

History does not repeat itself. People repeat history.

Let us commit and re-commit ourselves to the struggle for systemic change in this nation, and not be duped by this latest dose of U.S. hypocrisy in the person of Barack Obama.

Onward…

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Cash Rules Everything Around Me

Liquor Store

Liquor Store

In the midst of the Black and Brown neighborhoods across America, you find liquor stores posted on residential corners every few blocks or so. We call them convenience marts. In the land of milk and honey, these businesses are perfectly lawful because no legal infringement forbids the exchange of cash for alcoholic substances. Not since the days of bootlegging liquor during our country’s prohibition days, at least. From 1920 to 1933 the making, selling and transporting of alcohol was punishable by law until Franklin Roosevelt changed the game by signing an amendment.

Juxtaposed with businesses like this are churches that safely house the many denominations of Christianity. By equal comparison there are reachable markets selling intoxicants and vices of all sorts like pornography and cigarettes. Provided, these small business merchants sell many other items like household staples, beverages, junk food, lottery tickets and a myriad of miscellaneous product. The residents hurriedly dash to these stores when visiting a supermarket isn’t convenient or if they need a quick supply of this or that. Outside the entrance, other activities like dice games and dope dealings take place.

Store owners make a decent living, which speaks to the perpetuated allure of the American dream. However enticing this may seem, making a decent living is often earned at the expense of vulnerable, downtrodden and sometimes chemically dependent locals. Whether the addiction is nicotine or alcohol, consumption of these injurious products only contribute to a greater pathology and sadly, one whose cause has long been legalized.

Where consumer accountability is considered, accessibility must be too.

If there were a rehabilitation center within the same proximity of these liquor stores, perhaps my tension would cease to exist. And the framework for which I’ve built this argument would easily collapse. But that’s not the case in disadvantaged areas where people survive in the most compactly populated places.

The demographics in these neighborhoods are chiefly African American, working class Whites and Latinos that were born here or immigrated. Seldom are adults college graduates or hold a job that can reap a family wage which necessitates the taking of two jobs, government assistance or other means of income. Urban planning and economic development are only regarded when old homes are demolished to make way for new townhouses and condos.

Similarly, schools have the lowest standardized test scores while classrooms have the highest student to teacher ratios. Government funding is munificently given to school districts whose students score the peak ranking in their assessments at year’s end. It doesn’t take a genius (or a college grad) to calculate what that means for inner city kids who would be provided the opportunity to thrive academically if our government helped schools without rigid stipulations.

And if it’s not Oakland or Richmond, it’s Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago or a neighborhood like Watts in Southern California. It’s an issue that deserves national attention, however, it is also an issue disregarded by government because answerability is tossed back and forth between merchants and lawmakers.

Three years ago while most Bay Area residents were carving turkeys and eating sweet potato pie, a wave of vandalism, arson and then kidnapping struck the community liquor stores by mysterious men, cloaked like Nation of Islam followers. The public was later notified that stores were set ablaze by the late Yusef Bey’s disciples who cleared shelves of alcoholic beverages, and left the floors covered in liquid poison and shattered glass. The owners were left with a clear message- it is moral hypocrisy to sell alcohol in these neighborhoods, to another browbeaten group of people. The news was immediately sensationalized and nightly broadcasts kept playing footage taken from surveillance cameras.

The Bey family debacle has been forever colored with scandal- sexual abuse, alleged kidnappings, murder and torture in their twisted understanding of justice. It was whispered that Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey was murdered by adherents to this cult-like following.

This moment in time presented a dilemma for Muslims on both sides; nobody appreciates the presence of Arab owned liquor stores especially when other members of Islamic centers work hard to erect a better example. Muslims largely felt as though the collective group of merchants, the Yemeni Grocers Association amounting to 300 members, were unapproachable. In fact, they were labeled “mafia” when the subject was brought up at a masjid in East Oakland years before the wave of crime washed upon our shores. Secondly, Muslims objected to and seldom affiliated with the Bey family for the same reasons. Although they didn’t attend our masajid, there was a brawny presence of this family and their businesses throughout Oakland.

Yet, somehow and in some way, we were still wedged in the pandemonium. Media outlets would ask leaders for comments and only a handful of Muslims were prepared to really deal with backlash and public relations. With every passing day, the relations among African American Muslims (and non Muslims) became strained with the Arab community.

Most would agree that it’s duplicitous to have Arabic calligraphy illustrating the words of the Qur’an hanging on the walls of a liquor store. It was further demoralizing to see the hijabi wives of these merchants standing behind the counter, ringing up the largest bottles of cognac, pricing condoms, men’s magazines, bacon and so on. This is no exaggeration. This is happening across America right under your nose.

And this, dear readers, blurs the line between our way of life and their way of business.

Although named Yemeni Grocers Association, a percentage of these Arabs are Palestinian. They are refugees from a land in which displacement, dispossession, unemployment and poverty are the primary reasons for flight. Is it fair then, that in this great escape, they resettle in neighborhoods afflicted with the same state of affairs? Is it fair that our neighborhoods are being gentrified as quickly as their homeland is, making way for European immigrants in the Jewish religion?

No, it is not fair but evenhandedness isn’t always considered in my America, a land for capital gain. Truthfully we know that where one gains success, another may be exploited.

Immediately following the vandalism and arson, Muslims made sincere attempts at being proactive by handing out leaflets, organizing meetings and holding press conferences. In addition to diplomatic measures, one group located in East Oakland led a three mile march up Macarthur, down 98th avenue, up East 14th and finally stomped the remaining blocks of 82nd back to their starting point. During the course of this march, an annual activity every Friday following Thanksgiving, they passed several liquor stores whose owners looked mortified. Some of them even called Oakland Police Department in fear they would suffer another blow. Those in procession kept walking, some with strollers and little ones, or handed the merchants inspirational writings about Islam, the religion of their homeland.

But my applause ended when the efforts of these groups did too. Once again, we found ourselves suspended in the hype of sensationalism with no unyielding plan for the next day, month or year to come.

The sales of Islamically-illicit substances grows and finances not just families and those back home, but this cash may also finance the masjid depending on where you attend. In my current city, the masjid was taken from the hands of African American leadership and “given” to local merchants.

This should be a point of contention if you live in a neighborhood like mine.
It’s ironic that Muslims are more likely to boycott Starbucks than approach leadership of these masajid and argue a plea. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to state my case against this hypocrisy. Starbucks is said to donate to the state of Israel and Muslims have joined Palestinian activist groups in a divestment campaign reminiscent of ones carried out during the South African Apartheid against companies like Coca-Cola.

And if it’s not Starbucks, it’s Wal-Mart as a trendy target of consumer consciousness.

But this situation is deeper than the pockets of both corporations. While we are willing to join the ranks in these campaigns, no less honorable than those of a political struggle, we overlook that race relations and fair play aren’t even guaranteed with those we stand next to in this movement.

If we’re willing to give up a caramel macchiato at a café said to be associated with Palestinian repression, are the Palestinian store owners willing to stop selling their beverages too? To what extent is the real sacrifice in these matters?

Let’s be real- the international cause is indeed noble but don’t let that engross you from what’s happening in your own backyards. Racism is an institutional condition mirrored by the ugliness of social conditioning, both here and abroad. My neighborhoods are occupied by several forces- cops, criminals and those who peddle dope both legal and illegal. We are in a state of occupation too.

We must continue to initiate constructive dialogue about the destructive forces in our communities, even if these forces are coming from our brothers and sisters in faith.

Solidarity must be reciprocated in practice, not merely in theory.

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Let’s Rethink Military Escalation in Afghanistan Before It’s Too Late

Why is our government sending an additional 30,000 US soldiers to Afghanistan? So far, not even members of the Obama administration seem able to answer this question. Last week, The Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss had a chance to ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen why they’re pushing to double our troop presence in Afghanistan. Both Gates and Mullen said that while they’re thinking about the war in Afghanistan in terms of a 3-5 year time frame, their immediate goals are unclear. What’s more, a final decision has not been made yet to commit those additional brigades.

Like Dreyfuss says, the fact that a final decision hasn’t been made is key, because it opens the door slightly for a much-needed public debate about what 30,000 more soldiers can possibly achieve. Some of the big questions that must be addressed include whether those extra troops alone will be able to secure a lasting peace for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States? That seems highly unlikely, considering each military operation targeting insurgents–like the one yesterday that killed 15 militants and 16 innocent civilians (including two women and three children)–only fans the flame of Afghan fury toward the United States.

Just as important, we must ask how are we planning to pay for this escalation, considering our economic crisis at home and the fact that so much of this war has been paid with borrowed money. And is committing tens of thousands more troops really the best way to help a war-torn nation with 40 percent unemployment and some 5 million people living below the poverty line? Proponents of escalation like Karin von Hippel, an Afghanistan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, suggest that 30,000 more troops will make a psychological impact. But wouldn’t a more profound psychological impact come from to sending humanitarian aid, creating jobs, and getting Afghanistan away from what Secretary of State Clinton recently called a “narco state?”

Perhaps Andrew Bacevich, an international relations professor at Boston University, and author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, put it best in yesterday’s NY Times when he said,

“There’s clearly a consensus that things are heading in the wrong direction. What’s not clear to me is why sending 30,000 more troops is the essential step to changing that. My understanding of the larger objective of the allied enterprise in Afghanistan is to bring into existence something that looks like a modern cohesive Afghan state. Well, it could be that that’s an unrealistic objective. It could be that sending 30,000 more troops is throwing money and lives down a rat hole.”

Throwing money and lives down a rat hole is exactly what Derrick Crowe found on Daily Kos recently, when he did the math to figure out how many troops might actually be called for in Afghanistan. Crowe points out that by the military’s own standards, a successful counterinsurgency could require 655,000 troops throughout Afghanistan, or, if the military simply wants to go after surge proponents like the 14 million Pashtuns, we’re still talking 230,000 troops.

If that’s the case, then why send 30,000 soldiers at all? Is it to get us used to the idea that this is just the beginning of a long, drawn out, unwinnable quagmire of Vietnam proportions? Vice President Biden has grimly assessed there will be “an uptick” in casualties from the initial military escalation in Afghanistan. Already we have lost over 600 US soldiers–155 of which died in 2008 alone–to say nothing of the thousands of Afghan civilian casualties. Imagine how many more will die in this “uptick.” Imagine what escalation will cost on every level, and then let the debate begin to rethink a solution.

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Neither The US Nor Israel Is A “Genuine Party To Peace.”

Barack Obama is recognized to be a person of acute intelligence, a legal scholar, careful with his choice of words. He deserves to be taken seriously – both what he says, and what he omits. Particularly significant is his first substantive statement on foreign affairs, on January 22, at the State Department, when introducing George Mitchell to serve as his special envoy for Middle East peace.

Mitchell is to focus his attention on the Israel-Palestine problem, in the wake of the recent US-Israeli invasion of Gaza. During the murderous assault, Obama remained silent apart from a few platitudes, because, he said, there is only one president – a fact that did not silence him on many other issues. His campaign did, however, repeat his statement that “if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.” He was referring to Israeli children, not the hundreds of Palestinian children being butchered by US arms, about whom he could not speak, because there was only one president.

On January 22, however, the one president was Barack Obama, so he could speak freely about these matters – avoiding, however, the attack on Gaza, which had, conveniently, been called off just before the inauguration.

Obama’s talk emphasized his commitment to a peaceful settlement. He left its contours vague, apart from one specific proposal: “the Arab peace initiative,” Obama said, “contains constructive elements that could help advance these efforts. Now is the time for Arab states to act on the initiative’s promise by supporting the Palestinian government under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, taking steps towards normalizing relations with Israel, and by standing up to extremism that threatens us all.”

Obama is not directly falsifying the Arab League proposal, but the carefully framed deceit is instructive.

The Arab League peace proposal does indeed call for normalization of relations with Israel – in the context – repeat, in the context of a two-state settlement in terms of the longstanding international consensus, which the US and Israel have blocked for over 30 years, in international isolation, and still do. The core of the Arab League proposal, as Obama and his Mideast advisers know very well, is its call for a peaceful political settlement in these terms, which are well-known, and recognized to be the only basis for the peaceful settlement to which Obama professes to be committed. The omission of that crucial fact can hardly be accidental, and signals clearly that Obama envisions no departure from US rejectionism. His call for the Arab states to act on a corollary to their proposal, while the US ignores even the existence of its central content, which is the precondition for the corollary, surpasses cynicism.

The most significant acts to undermine a peaceful settlement are the daily US-backed actions in the occupied territories, all recognized to be criminal: taking over valuable land and resources and constructing what the leading architect of the plan, Ariel Sharon, called “Bantustans” for Palestinians – an unfair comparison because the Bantustans were far more viable than the fragments left to Palestinians under Sharon’s conception, now being realized. But the US and Israel even continue to oppose a political settlement in words, most recently in December 2008, when the US and Israel (and a few Pacific islands) voted against a UN resolution supporting “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” (passed 173 to 5, US-Israel opposed, with evasive pretexts).

Obama had not one word to say about the settlement and infrastructure developments in the West Bank, and the complex measures to control Palestinian existence, designed to undermine the prospects for a peaceful two-state settlement. His silence is a grim refutation of his oratorical flourishes about how “I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Also unmentioned is Israel’s use of US arms in Gaza, in violation not only of international but also US law. Or Washington’s shipment of new arms to Israel right at the peak of the US-Israeli attack, surely not unknown to Obama’s Middle East advisers.

Obama was firm, however, that smuggling of arms to Gaza must be stopped. He endorses the agreement of Condoleeza Rice and Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni that the Egyptian-Gaza border must be closed – a remarkable exercise of imperial arrogance, as the Financial Times observed: “as they stood in Washington congratulating each other, both officials seemed oblivious to the fact that they were making a deal about an illegal trade on someone else’s border – Egypt in this case. The next day, an Egyptian official described the memorandum as `fictional’.” Egypt’s objections were ignored.

Returning to Obama’s reference to the “constructive” Arab League proposal, as the wording indicates, Obama persists in restricting support to the defeated party in the January 2006 election, the only free election in the Arab world, to which the US and Israel reacted, instantly and overtly, by severely punishing Palestinians for opposing the will of the masters. A minor technicality is that Abbas’s term ran out on January 9, and that Fayyad was appointed without confirmation by the Palestinian parliament (many of them kidnapped and in Israeli prisons). Ha’aretz describes Fayyad as “a strange bird in Palestinian politics. On the one hand, he is the Palestinian politician most esteemed by Israel and the West. However, on the other hand, he has no electoral power whatsoever in Gaza or the West Bank.” The report also notes Fayyad’s “close relationship with the Israeli establishment,” notably his friendship with Sharon’s extremist adviser Dov Weiglass. Though lacking popular support, he is regarded as competent and honest, not the norm in the US-backed political sectors.

Obama’s insistence that only Abbas and Fayyad exist conforms to the consistent Western contempt for democracy unless it is under control.

Obama provided the usual reasons for ignoring the elected government led by Hamas. “To be a genuine party to peace,” Obama declared, “the quartet [US, EU, Russia, UN] has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel’s right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements.” Unmentioned, also as usual, is the inconvenient fact that the US and Israel firmly reject all three conditions. In international isolation, they bar a two-state settlement including a Palestinian state; they of course do not renounce violence; and they reject the quartet’s central proposal, the “road map.” Israel formally accepted it, but with 14 reservations that effectively eliminate its contents (tacitly backed by the US). It is the great merit of Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, to have brought these facts to public attention for the first time – and in the mainstream, the only time.

It follows, by elementary reasoning, that neither the US nor Israel is a “genuine party to peace.” But that cannot be. It is not even a phrase in the English language.

It is perhaps unfair to criticize Obama for this further exercise of cynicism, because it is close to universal, unlike his scrupulous evisceration of the core component of the Arab League proposal, which is his own novel contribution.

Also near universal are the standard references to Hamas: a terrorist organization, dedicated to the destruction of Israel (or maybe all Jews). Omitted are the inconvenient facts that the US-Israel are not only dedicated to the destruction of any viable Palestinian state, but are steadily implementing those policies. Or that unlike the two rejectionist states, Hamas has called for a two-state settlement in terms of the international consensus: publicly, repeatedly, explicitly.

Obama began his remarks by saying: “Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel’s security. And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats.”

There was nothing about the right of Palestinians to defend themselves against far more extreme threats, such as those occurring daily, with US support, in the occupied territories. But that again is the norm.

Also normal is the enunciation of the principle that Israel has the right to defend itself. That is correct, but vacuous: so does everyone. But in the context the cliche is worse than vacuous: it is more cynical deceit.

The issue is not whether Israel has the right to defend itself, like everyone else, but whether it has the right to do so by force. No one, including Obama, believes that states enjoy a general right to defend themselves by force: it is first necessary to demonstrate that there are no peaceful alternatives that can be tried. In this case, there surely are.

A narrow alternative would be for Israel to abide by a cease-fire, for example, the cease-fire proposed by Hamas political leader Khaled Mishal a few days before Israel launched its attack on December 27. Mishal called for restoring the 2005 agreement. That agreement called for an end to violence and uninterrupted opening of the borders, along with an Israeli guarantee that goods and people could move freely between the two parts of occupied Palestine, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The agreement was rejected by the US and Israel a few months later, after the free election of January 2006 turned out “the wrong way.” There are many other highly relevant cases.

The broader and more significant alternative would be for the US and Israel to abandon their extreme rejectionism, and join the rest of the world – including the Arab states and Hamas – in supporting a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus. It should be noted that in the past 30 years there has been one departure from US-Israeli rejectionism: the negotiations at Taba in January 2001, which appeared to be close to a peaceful resolution when Israel prematurely called them off. It would not, then, be outlandish for Obama to agree to join the world, even within the framework of US policy, if he were interested in doing so.

In short, Obama’s forceful reiteration of Israel’s right to defend itself is another exercise of cynical deceit – though, it must be admitted, not unique to him, but virtually universal.

The deceit is particularly striking in this case because the occasion was the appointment of Mitchell as special envoy. Mitchell’s primary achievement was his leading role in the peaceful settlement in northern Ireland. It called for an end to IRA terror and British violence. Implicit is the recognition that while Britain had the right to defend itself from terror, it had no right to do so by force, because there was a peaceful alternative: recognition of the legitimate grievances of the Irish Catholic community that were the roots of IRA terror. When Britain adopted that sensible course, the terror ended. The implications for Mitchell’s mission with regard to Israel-Palestine are so obvious that they need not be spelled out. And omission of them is, again, a striking indication of the commitment of the Obama administration to traditional US rejectionism and opposition to peace, except on its extremist terms.

Obama also praised Jordan for its “constructive role in training Palestinian security forces and nurturing its relations with Israel” – which contrasts strikingly with US-Israeli refusal to deal with the freely elected government of Palestine, while savagely punishing Palestinians for electing it with pretexts which, as noted, do not withstand a moment’s scrutiny. It is true that Jordan joined the US in arming and training Palestinian security forces, so that they could violently suppress any manifestation of support for the miserable victims of US-Israeli assault in Gaza, also arresting supporters of Hamas and the prominent journalist Khaled Amayreh, while organizing their own demonstrations in support of Abbas and Fatah, in which most participants “were civil servants and school children who were instructed by the PA to attend the rally,” according to the Jerusalem Post. Our kind of democracy.

Obama made one further substantive comment: “As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime…” He did not, of course, mention that the US-Israel had rejected much the same agreement after the January 2006 election, and that Israel had never observed similar subsequent agreements on borders.

Also missing is any reaction to Israel’s announcement that it rejected the cease-fire agreement, so that the prospects for it to be “lasting” are not auspicious. As reported at once in the press, “Israeli Cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who takes part in security deliberations, told Army Radio on Thursday that Israel wouldn’t let border crossings with Gaza reopen without a deal to free [Gilad] Schalit” (AP, Jan 22); ‘Israel to keep Gaza crossings closed…An official said the government planned to use the issue to bargain for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by the Islamist group since 2006 (Financial Times, Jan. 23); “Earlier this week, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that progress on Corporal Shalit’s release would be a precondition to opening up the border crossings that have been mostly closed since Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007” (Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 23); “an Israeli official said there would be tough conditions for any lifting of the blockade, which he linked with the release of Gilad Shalit” (FT, Jan. 23); among many others.

Shalit’s capture is a prominent issue in the West, another indication of Hamas’s criminality. Whatever one thinks about it, it is uncontroversial that capture of a soldier of an attacking army is far less of a crime than kidnapping of civilians, exactly what Israeli forces did the day before the capture of Shalit, invading Gaza city and kidnapping two brothers, then spiriting them across the border where they disappeared into Israel’s prison complex. Unlike the much lesser case of Shalit, that crime was virtually unreported and has been forgotten, along with Israel’s regular practice for decades of kidnapping civilians in Lebanon and on the high seas and dispatching them to Israeli prisons, often held for many years as hostages. But the capture of Shalit bars a cease-fire.

Obama’s State Department talk about the Middle East continued with “the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan… the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism.” A few hours later, US planes attacked a remote village in Afghanistan, intending to kill a Taliban commander. “Village elders, though, told provincial officials there were no Taliban in the area, which they described as a hamlet populated mainly by shepherds. Women and children were among the 22 dead, they said, according to Hamididan Abdul Rahmzai, the head of the provincial council” (LA Times, Jan. 24).

Afghan president Karzai’s first message to Obama after he was elected in November was a plea to end the bombing of Afghan civilians, reiterated a few hours before Obama was sworn in. This was considered as significant as Karzai’s call for a timetable for departure of US and other foreign forces. The rich and powerful have their “responsibilities.” Among them, the New York Times reported, is to “provide security” in southern Afghanistan, where “the insurgency is homegrown and self-sustaining.” All familiar. From Pravda in the 1980s, for example.

insight-info

Israel’s destruction is a reality; Ahmadinejad was right

Ahmadinejad

Ahmadinejad


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Moshe Feiglin, the leader of the fanatic Jewish sect called Zo Artzeinu (this is our land/country) which is dependant on the Likud Party defended the speeches of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s president in regards to the internal destruction of Israel.

What is in my mind does not need to be repeated to anyone. But, I am not opposed to much of what Ahmadinejad stated in the United Nations. The media tries to conceal what he says and refrain from facing it, but put this first glance aside, and listen to his words with precision: “The Zionist regime is falling apart and there is no way to escape its destruction.”

This is the meat of what Ahmadinejad stated which reached our ears from the seat of the United Nations. He did not mean that Israel would be destroyed financially or militarily, rather wanted to state that the merits that the Zionist regime was founded upon are falling and that this fall will end up in the fall of the regime.

I have seen with my own eyes the families of Jewish inmates, in their tents close to Yeshiva Merkaz where they were on a food strike. I visited with them. They wanted to review the words of Ahmadinejad. Isreal’s Minister of Public Security, Avi Dichter, without shame and without knowing what was said, stated that he does not have a great desire to free the Jewish prisoners. Israel now does not care about the principle of trading Israeli prisoners for Arab terrorists. In Israel, where Dichter is the Minister of Public Security, the feeling of desire to free Israeli prisoners is not there, even if the Arabs would free them.

These prisoners, in liberal terms, have at least lost their rights. The Israeli Minister of Public Security wants to prove that food strikes will not change anything. In his opinion these prisoners are accused of breaking Israeli law; they did not defend its borders because instead of defending Israel they stood up against it.

This is how we see that the Israeli regime does not want the prisoners to be taken out of their chains, rather they want them to die in prison.

This is the ethical level of Israeli leaders who only speak of interests. Ethics have no importance with them. If they freed Gilad Shalit they would have done so with disgust because if they do not do it they would not remain safe from international pressure. Now they fear that the inhabitants of Gaza will be given merits similar to those given to Gilad Shalit under international pressure.

While thinking about this issue an ethical joint comes to mind – something that is hidden within Zionists. The leaders of the Israeli regime give so much importance to their interests that they forget the Jewish people. It is as if they consider the Jews to be temporary inhabitants of Israel. It must be said truthfully that they do not consider Arab fighters to be as much criminals as Jewish prisoners. It is here that the children and grandchildren of the Israeli Prime Minister and other Israeli leaders must listen to the speech of Ahmadinejad; the same person who invited us to return to our other promised land.

It seems as if a thought process from the heart of Israel is forming which is similar to being anti-Jew.

Minorities in the Israeli government are not in congruence with the Jews.

It is possible that Ahmadinejad’s words in this year will give us hope. The evil regime of Israel practically kicks us into a well that they created.

But, Ahmadinejad has still yet to realize some angels. He does not know that the Israeli regime is establishing the continuation of the Israeli society in some centers. It is true tat the Zionist regime is falling apart. But, there is no doubt that the Jews must save themselves from this fall.

insight-info

Financial Elite Have No Shame

Bailout

Bailout

Let’s imagine, for a moment, how different the public debate would be today if it had been unions that had caused the current economic turmoil.

In other words, try to imagine a scenario in which union leaders – not financial managers – were the ones whose reckless behaviour had driven a number of Wall Street firms into bankruptcy and in the process triggered a worldwide recession.

Needless to say, it’s hard to imagine a labour leader being appointed to oversee a bailout of unions the way former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson was put in charge of supervising the $700 billion bailout of his former Wall Street colleagues.

My point is simply to note how odd it is that the financial community has emerged so unscathed, despite its central role in the collapse that has brought havoc to the world economy.

Of course, not all members of the financial community were involved in Wall Street’s wildly irresponsible practices of bundling mortgages into securities and trading credit default swaps. But the financial community as a whole, on both sides of the border, certainly pushed hard to put in place an agenda of small government, in which financial markets largely regulated themselves and citizens (particularly high-income investors) would be spared the burden of paying much tax.

The agenda advanced much further in the U.S., but had an impact in Canada, particularly on the tax front.

One would think that those who pushed this agenda so enthusiastically would, at the very least, be a tad embarrassed today.

But so influential are those in the financial elite – and their hangers-on in think-tanks and economics departments – that they continue to appear on our TV screens, confidently providing us with economic advice, as if they’d played no role whatsoever in shaping our economic system for the past quarter century.

Of course, we’re told there’s been a major change in their thinking, in that many of them are now willing to accept large deficits in today’s federal budget, in the name of stimulating the economy.

While this does seem like a sharp departure from the deficit hysteria of the 1990s, a closer look reveals the change may not be that significant.

In fact, financial types have always accepted deficits – when they liked the cause. Hence their lack of protest over George W. Bush’s enormous deficits, which were caused by his large tax cuts for the rich and his extravagant foreign wars.

What they don’t like is governments going into deficit to help ordinary citizens – either by creating jobs or providing much unemployment relief.

So the Canadian financial community has been urging that the stimulus package consist mostly of income tax cuts – even though direct government spending would provide much more stimulus and do more to help the neediest.

If the Harper government follows the financial community’s advice, we will simply move further along with the small government revolution launched by Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s.

Of course, tax cuts are not the same as financial deregulation. But they are twin prongs of a bundled package aimed at reducing the power of government to operate in the public interest.

Surely it’s time to rethink this resistance to government acting as an agent of the common good.

And maybe it’s time for a little humility on the part of a financial elite that long has enjoyed such deference while turning out to be so spectacularly inept.

insight-info

Iran moves to hold war crimes tribunal

Gaza

Gaza

The Iranian cabinet introduces a bill to take action on individuals accused of war crimes amid a seeming ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The cabinet of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad laid out details of the bill on Sunday, discussing methods to track down and prosecute individuals accused of committing or issuing the order for war crimes.

Under the newly-introduced bill, launching a military offensive, killing civilians, employment of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), laying a siege to civilians and military personnel and imposing food shortages on them are regarded as war crimes.

Individuals charged with committing or ordering such crimes, depending on the extent of their involvement, would be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison by an Iranian court or would face execution.

Should the bill receive Iran’s Majlis (parliament) vote of approval, the country’s legislative assembly would then task penal institutions with prosecution of the accused.

Under international law, war crimes are “violations of the laws or customs of war” including murder, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps, the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, the killing of hostages, the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military necessity.

The International Criminal Court, a treaty-based court located in The Hague, came into being in 2002 to take legal action against war crimes committed on or after that date.

However, countries like the United States and Israel have so far refused to sign the treaty which created the court and therefore do not permit The Hague to have jurisdiction over their citizens.

While Israel cannot be tried in the International Court of Justice, any country that is a signatory to the Geneva Convention can try to prosecute individuals who took part in the Gaza operation as culpable of war crimes.

The move by Iran’s cabinet comes as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed Sunday to protect any Israeli soldiers accused of war crimes in the Gaza Strip from prosecution overseas.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Olmert said, “The commanders and soldiers that were sent on the task in Gaza should know that they are safe from any tribunal and that the State of Israel will assist them in this issue and protect them as they protected us with their bodies during the military operation in Gaza.”

The use of controversial chemical white phosphorous shells as well as indiscriminate firing during the offensive in the densely-populated coastal sliver are among accusations the Israeli military is facing.

According to Health officials in the embattled Gaza Strip, 23 days of intense Israeli military operation left more than 1,330 Palestinians dead and some 5,450 others wounded.

Following the shelling of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency headquarters with phosphorus munitions in Gaza, UN officials called for independent probes into whether war crimes were committed during the Israeli offensive.

insight-info

What if Israel Were in Your Neighborhood?

Israeli Soldier

Israeli Soldier

I left Washington last week when many of friends and family members were coming here to celebrate the inauguration of our first African-American President.

My eleven year-old son asked me — why turn your back on Obama?

I threw back at him Martin Luther King — It’s not the color of his skin, it’s the content of his character.

What does it say about Obama’s character that he sides with the Israeli slaughter machine against those that it slaughters?

What does it say about the character of his “progressive” supporters, who cry for joy at his inauguration, but say not a peep about the slaughter machine and its victims?

(See, for example, former AIPAC staffer and “progressive Democratic” columnist David Sirota, who broke down and cried watching Obama’s inauguration, but has not written one word about the slaughter in Gaza.)

Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) took out full page ads in major newspapers around the country.

The ad was titled: What if Hamas Was in Your Neighborhood? (link to ad at: http://www.adl.org/Israel/posters/HamasAd_Phoenix.pdf)

The ad showed missiles reigning down on Phoenix, or Boston, or Washington, D.C.

“Imagine if Hamas terrorists were targeting you and your family,” the ad read. “No country would allow such danger on its border, and neither will Israel. That’s why Israel is fighting back.”

In response, the American Arab Anti-Defamation Committee (ADC) last week put up an ad on its web site titled — What If Israel Were in Your Neighborhood? (Link to ad at: http://www.adc.org/PDF/gazaposter.pdf)

Answer?

Death and Destruction with American built F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters.

Yes, when Hamas launches rockets that kill innocent civilians, it engages in war crimes.

But Hamas has no Army, no Navy, no Air Force.

The slaughter machine has a modern military with hundreds of nuclear weapons and U.S. supplied F-16s and Apache helicopters.

So, there is a balance of terror.

And the Palestinian bodies tip the scales in the slaughter machine’s favor.

Since the first rocket was launched into Israel in 2002 up until the December 17, 2008 invasion of Gaza, the Israel body count was maybe two dozen.

The Palestinian body count was 2,700.

That would be about 100 to one.

Since the invasion, the Israeli body count is 14.

The Palestinian body count was more than 1,400.

That would be about 100 to one.

As the ADC ad puts it: “Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip cannot be justified by self-defense. An armed attack that is not justified by self-defense is a war of aggression. Under the Nuremberg Principles affirmed by U.N. Resolution 95, aggression is a crime against peace. Prosecute Israel for War Crimes.”

So, here’s one concrete thing you can do to counter the slaughter machine’s propaganda.

If you are interested in placing the “What If Israel Were in Your Neighborhood?” ad in your local newspaper, contact ADC’s Nabil Mohammad at organizing@adc.org.

Turn the tide of terror.

Insight-info

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