Hamas: Our Arsenal of Rockets Has Not Been Affected

Hamas: Our Arsenal of Rockets Has Not Been Affected

Hanan Awarekeh Readers Number : 219

19/01/2009 Hamas vowed on Monday to rearm in defiance of any Israeli and international efforts to prevent the Islamic resistance group from replenishing its arsenal of rockets and other weapons after the Gaza war.

“Do whatever you want. Manufacturing the holy weapons is our mission and we know how to acquire weapons,” Abu Obaida, a spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing, Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, told a news conference.

Addressing journalists with his face masked by a checkered Arab scarf, he said that only 48 Hamas resistance fighters were martyred in the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Abu Obaida also said that Israel lost “at least 80 soldiers” in the fighting; however the Zionist entity has adopted the media blackout policy concerning its losses there.

Palestinians report that at least 1,300 people were killed in the Strip in the past three weeks, including 420 children.

Abu Obaida went on to say that “all options would be open” if Israel failed to pull its occupation troops out of the Gaza Strip within a week, a demand raised by Hamas when it announced on Sunday a ceasefire after three weeks of fighting. “We have given the Zionist enemy one week to pull out of the Gaza Strip, failing which we will pursue the resistance.”

The Islamic resistance movement’s capacity to fire rockets into the occupied territories had not been reduced, he added. One of Israel’s main aims during the offensive was to stop rocket attacks. “Our arsenal of rockets has not been affected and we continued to fire them during the war without interruption. We are still able to launch them and, thanks be to God, our rockets will strike other targets,” in the Zionist entity, he said.

Israel had failed to achieve “any of the objectives it had set for the war .. and only killed hundreds of children, women and old people.” “The main aim of the war was to destroy Hamas and this resulted in crushing failure,” Hamas’ armed wing’s spokesman said. “What we lost during this war in terms of military capability is small and we managed to compensate for most of it even before the war ended.”

Israel, which has declared unilateral ceasefire, has threatened to renew military action if Hamas tries to smuggle more weapons into the Gaza Strip. Israel wants Egypt to prevent arms from reaching Palestinian resistance fighters through tunnels running under the border with the Gaza Strip.

On Friday, Israel signed a security accord with the United States that calls for increased information-sharing, technical assistance and the use of various US “assets” to prevent weapons from getting to Hamas from air, land or sea.

Erdogan: Hamas Authority Must Be Respected

Erdogan: Hamas Authority Must Be Respected

Readers Number : 172

19/01/2009 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday described the war on Gaza as a “tragedy” and urged the international community not to marginalize Hamas after its war with Israel.
He also criticized Israel for having showed a lack of respect in keeping Turkey, their main regional ally, in the dark over the Gaza offensive.
Erdogan, speaking on a visit to the European Union headquarters in Brussels, said Hamas had clearly won elections in Gaza in 2007 and this had to be respected.
“We should not be squeezing them into the corner,” he said.
Hamas should be left the time to show if it was capable of improving conditions in Gaza, he said.
“If they are not successful they will lose the next time,” Erdogan said in a speech at a European Policy Center conference.
“If we are to move towards democracy in that region then we should respect the decision of the people who went to the ballot box,” the Turkish premier added.

Erdogan again denounced the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and the fact that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had given them no warning of the coming offensive.
“I have to say we have been saddened by what went on. Israel did not really respect us in that process,” he said.
Erdogan said he had had six hours of talks with Olmert at the end of December, during which they had discussed indirect talks with Syria — in which Turkey had been acting as an intermediary — and other matters.
“But no mention was ever made during these discussions with Mr. Olmert about Gaza, and three or four days later he should have contacted me,” he added.
“Not only did he not contact me, but we then discovered,
December 27, that Israel had started to bomb Gaza.
“This lack of respect is something that Israel has to remedy.”
“We cannot talk about revenge and hatred,” he said. “We will continue to have talks at different levels.”

Israel to Complete Gaza Pullout before Obama Inauguration

Israel to Complete Gaza Pullout before Obama Inauguration

Hanan Awarekeh Readers Number : 139

19/01/2009 Gaza enjoyed a second night of calm on Monday as Israeli troops began withdrawing after their deadly 22-day onslaught in the battered territory was halted by a fragile ceasefire deal. Israeli reservists who were called-up by an emergency draft order may be discharged as early as Tuesday.

Israeli army officials estimate that Hamas will begin to assess the damage done to the group in the coming days. “When the leaders will come out of their hideouts, they will have to confront the Palestinian population – and then they will realize that another round of fighting against Israel is not in their best interest,” one official said.

The final decision on continuing to pull troops out of the Strip is in the hands of Israeli army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin. Any decision they make would penned the approval of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Olmert said Sunday that Israel does not intend to keep a military presence inside the Gaza Strip, nor does it aim to “reconquer” the territory, despite its three-week offensive on the coastal enclave.

“We didn’t set out to conquer Gaza, we didn’t set out to control Gaza, we don’t want to remain in Gaza and we intend on leaving Gaza as fast as possible”, Olmert said on Sunday evening at a dinner with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Israel declared on Saturday night a unilateral cease-fire in its offensive. The declaration was followed by a separate truce announcement from the Palestinians resistance factions for a week giving time for Israel to withdraw its occupation soldiers from the Strip. Medics took advantage of the ceasefire to comb areas which had been inaccessible, pulling at least 100 bodies from the rubble, including those of several children. The discoveries brought the overall death toll since Israel launched its offensive on December 27 to more than 1,300, including 420 children. None of the European leaders condemned Israel for these casualties.

Olmert told the European leaders visiting occupied Jerusalem that in the wake of the cease-fire, Israel planned to withdraw all of its troops as soon as possible. He said that such a move would come when the situation between Israel and Gaza was “stable.”

He thanked the Europeans for their support in mediating a truce between Israel and Hamas, and for its commitment to end the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip. They offered to provide troops and technological assistance to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons and terrorists into the Gaza Strip, in cooperation with Egypt and the United States.

The Israeli prime minister said that Israel has put advancing the peace negotiations with the Palestinians at the top of its agenda, beside its own national security.

Senior officials who attended the dinner party with the world leaders at the Israeli PM’s residence, including Barak, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel is looking to complete its withdrawal as soon as possible.

Earlier, Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev said the crossings into Gaza would open if the truce persists: “If this ceasefire holds, and I hope it does, you’ll see the crossings open to an enormous amount of humanitarian support,” he said.

As a gesture to the incoming US president, Israel plans to complete Gaza pullout before Obama inauguration. Barring any unforeseen developments, Israeli occupation forces are expected to complete their withdrawal from Gaza prior to the inauguration of US President-elect Barack Obama on January 20 (7 pm GMT).

Israeli cabinet ministers told Israeli electronic site Ynet that Israel does not want to “embarrass” Obama as he takes office and is hoping to continue its cooperation with the US in the global fight against “terror” and the prevention of arms smuggling into Gaza, in accordance with the “memorandum of understanding” signed this week by Livni and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Spanish Premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Czech PM, Mirek Topol?nek, all traveled to the Middle East over the weekend to assist in the Gaza ceasefire efforts.

Sarkozy hailed Israel’s ceasefire but said it was “only a first step” and must go further. “We should immediately convene a major international conference which would allow us to establish peace this year,” Sarkozy said.

Brown urged Israel to reopen the crossings to long-blockaded Gaza, saying a sustainable ceasefire would require “humanitarian access” to the territory.

UK Preparing to Send Warships and Nucleas of International Force

Interdiction of Sea Routes, desired mechanism for trapping those nations foolish enough to support self-defense against the Zionist master-state.

Britain to send warships to Gaza as Israel

prepares for ceasefire

Britain will send warships to the eastern Mediterranean to prevent arms being smuggled into the Gaza Strip after an Israeli ceasefire.

Israeli tanks roll into Gaza - Britain to send warships to Gaza as Israel prepares for ceasefire

Intense fighting marked the closing hours of Operation Cast Lead as Israel sought to entrench its military superiority Photo: GETTY

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown also appeared to suggest that Britain might put people on the ground to help secure the crossings into Gaza.

“Germany, France and Great Britain have just sent a letter to Israel and Egypt to say they will do everything we can to prevent arms trafficking which is at the root of some of the problems,” Mr Brown said. “I believe that will help get a solution to this crisis.”

His declaration came as the Israeli government appeared poised to end its three-week assault on the Palestinian territory by adopting a unilateral ceasefire plan.

Intense fighting marked the closing hours of Operation Cast Lead as Israel sought to entrench its military superiority over the radical Islamic movement Hamas.

The Prime Minister said that he had been in talks with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and with European leaders over the last few days.

“I believe there is general understanding that the appalling violence and the tragedies that have happened should come to an end as quickly as possible,” he said.

Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, declared the country had achieved its goals for the 22-day conflict as he toured military units involved in the offensive.

“After three weeks of Operation Cast Lead, we are very close to reaching the goals and securing them through diplomatic agreements,” he said. “The defence forces must continue their operation and be ready for any development.”

Israel appeared to have come to its decision after reaching a bilateral agreement with America to establish a tough monitoring regime to stop weapons being smuggled to Hamas through tunnels under Gaza’s border with Egypt.

The Egyptian government has said the tunnels are mainly used for food while most arms are being smuggled into Gaza by sea.

Mr Brown said that if the ceasefire held, Britain would send in extra humanitarian aid. “We’re prepared to help move children, to take them out of the area so they can be treated elsewhere.”

Thousands of people gathered in Britain yesterday to demonstrate against the continuing Israeli attacks on Gaza.

While Israel has conceded that Hamas has not been wiped out by Operation Cast Lead, it is determined to deprive the Islamic group of any attempt to claim a victory.

Israeli officials said their decision to declare a ceasefire unilaterally would make Hamas responsible for any fresh clashes.

“It doesn’t matter what Hamas says now, its what they do,” said Mark Regev, an Israel government spokesman. “The world will see that after this Hamas will be responsible for what happens.”

The ceasefire announcement was expected to be made after a meeting of the security cabinet at the end of the Jewish Sabbath holiday.

The government’s key figures – Mr Barak, the prime minister Mr Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Lipni – presented a united front to push for a cessation of the campaign.

However a top Hamas official vowed the group would continue its attacks on Israeli forces. Osama Hamdan, who is based in Lebanon, said: “If any vision does not achieve these things, then we will continue in the battle on the ground.”

Chronic malnutrition in Gaza blamed on Israel

Chronic malnutrition in Gaza blamed

on Israel

Donald Macintyre reveals the contents of an explosive report by the Red Cross on a humanitarian tragedy

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The Red Cross says the diets of those living in the impoverished Gaza Strip are deteriorating

The Israeli blockade of Gaza has led to a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.5 million people living in the strip, according to a leaked report from the Red Cross.

It chronicles the “devastating” effect of the siege that Israel imposed after Hamas seized control in June 2007 and notes that the dramatic fall in living standards has triggered a shift in diet that will damage the long-term health of those living in Gaza and has led to alarming deficiencies in iron, vitamin A and vitamin D.

The 46-page report from the International Committee of the Red Cross – seen by The Independent – is the most authoritative yet on the impact that Israel’s closure of crossings to commercial goods has had on Gazan families and their diets.

The report says the heavy restrictions on all major sectors of Gaza’s economy, compounded by a cost of living increase of at least 40 per cent, is causing “progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70 per cent of Gaza’s population”. That in turn is forcing people to cut household expenditures down to “survival levels”.

“Chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern,” it said.

Since last year, the report found, there had been a switch to “low cost/high energy” cereals, sugar and oil, away from higher-cost animal products and fresh fruit and vegetables. Such a shift “increases exposure to micronutrient deficiencies which in turn will affect their health and wellbeing in the long term.”

Israel has often said that it will not allow a humanitarian crisis to develop in Gaza and the report says that the groups surveyed had “accessed their annual nutritional energy needs”. But it warned governments, including Israel’s, that “food insecurity and undernutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies” were occurring in the absence of “overt food shortages”.

A 2001 Food and Agriculture Organisation definition classifies “food security” as when “all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

The Red Cross report says that “the embargo has had a devastating effect for a large proportion of households who have had to make major changes on the composition of their food basket.” Households were now obtaining 80 per cent of their calories from cereals, sugar and oil. “The actual food basket is considered to be insufficient from a nutritional perspective.” The report paints a bleak picture of an increasingly impoverished and indebted lower-income population. People are selling assets, slashing the quality and quantity of meals, cutting back on clothing and children’s education, scavenging for discarded materials – and even grass for animal fodder – that they can sell and are depending on dwindling loans and handouts from slightly better-off relatives.

In the urban sector, in which about 106,000 employees lost their jobs after the June 2007 shutdown, about 40 per cent are now classified as “very poor”, earning less than 500 shekels (£87) a month to provide for an average household of seven to nine people.

The report quotes a former owner of a small, home-based sewing factory, who said he had laid off his 10 workers in July 2007. “Since then I earn no more than 300 shekels per month by sewing from time to time neighbours’ and relatives’ clothes. I sold my wife’s jewellery and my brother is transferring 250 shekels every month … I do not really know what to say to my children.” Others said they were not able to give their children pocket money.

In agriculture, on which 27 percent of Gaza’s population depends, exports are at a halt and, like fisheries, the sector has seen a 50 per cent fall in incomes since the siege began. Among the two-fifths classified as “very poor”, average per capita spending is down to 50p a day. In the fisheries sector, which has been hit by fuel shortages and narrow, Israeli-imposed fishing limits, “People’s coping mechanisms are very limited and those households that still have jewellery and even non-essential appliances sell them”.

The report says that if the Israeli-imposed embargo is maintained, “economic disintegration will continue and wider segments of the Gaza population will become food insecure”.

Arguing that the removal of restrictions on trade “can reverse the trend of impoverishment”, the Red Cross warns that “the prolongation of the restrictions risks permanently damaging households’ capacity to recover and undermines their ability to attain food security in the long term.”

The detailed Gaza fieldwork for the report was carried out between May and July. An International Monetary Fund report confirmed in late September that the Gaza economy “continued to weaken”.

Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that, contrary to hopes when Israel pulled out of Gaza, the Gazan people were being “held hostage” to Hamas’s “extremist and nihilist” ideology which was causing undoubted suffering. If Hamas focused resources on the “diet of the people” instead of on “Qassam rockets and violent jihadism” then “this sort of problem would not exist”, he said.

Smugglers of truth

Smugglers of truth

Naomi Wolf discusses the book and film of The End of America Link to this video

Every once in a while, a culture shifts. You feel like a Luddite until your new learning curve is complete. That is the experience I have been having recently, as my book The End of America has been turned into a documentary. Can political documentaries make a difference? For someone who lives mostly in the dimension of words, it is an exciting and scary question.

The End of America details the 10 steps that would-be dictators always take in seeking to close an open society; it argued that the Bush administration had been advancing each one. I took the message on the road, and one of those early lectures – at the University of Washington in Seattle, in October 2007 – was videoed by a member of the audience. Even with its bad lighting and funky amateur vibe, this video, posted on YouTube, has been accessed almost 1,250,000 times.

This was a humbling lesson. While a polemical argument in prose may reach tens of thousands of the usual suspects – formally educated people who like to follow such texts – the video version reached far beyond that audience. Everywhere I went, from the gas station to the nail salon, I ran into people who would have been unlikely to read a book of mine, but who were passionately supportive of the argument from having watched it on YouTube.

The medium really is the message, in this case. For any opposition to Bush’s assault on liberty to be real, we would need hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life to become outraged. Many other videos and films helped reached those masses, including Taxi to the Dark Side, Alex Gibney’s documentary about US brutality towards terror suspects, which last year won an Academy award, at a time when the major newspapers were still queasy about calling Bush interrogation tactics torture.

My humbling experience of the limits of print was taken one step further by a team of documentary-makers, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (who together made the inspired The Devil Came on Horseback, a film that singlehandedly raised awareness of the Darfur crisis in the US). As they worked on their film of The End of America, I experienced something incomparably fascinating for a non-fiction writer: sources I had quoted at length from the written record – and felt close to, for that reason, but abstractly – were interviewed in person, with all their humanity and quirkiness. Oh my God: there was Captain James Yee, the Guantánamo chaplain framed and held in a navy brig in isolation, because he spoke up against abuse of the detainees. There he was in his living room! Wow: here was Colonel David Antoon, the Vietnam veteran, fighter pilot and Iraq war critic, breaking down in tears as he described the harassment of his elderly mother. These voices came to life with surreal vividness.

I also saw the power of news footage, both archival and contemporary, to move the emotions in a way that my poor computer could never do. It is one thing to invoke in prose the history of how Pinochet rounded up citizens for violent intimidation, and another to see actual footage of people who look like you and me dragged off by the hair in modern city streets. It is one thing to analyse a militarised post-9/11 US police response to protesters, and another to watch never-before-seen footage of US police officers – now trained by Homeland Security, and dressed like Darth Vader in helmets and black body-armour – engage in mass sweeps of terrified citizens in St Paul, Minnesota, including parents with children, and dragging a frightened reporter, Amy Goodman, off by her sweater. (Since police destroyed most cameras at the 2008 Republican National Convention, the footage survived only because a protester buried his camera underground as he was being arrested.)

Is this medium effective in bringing about change? A follow-up video I made with a young dissenting Iraq war veteran, Sergeant Mathis Chiroux, shows smuggled-out footage of mounted police officers deliberately trampling Iraq war veterans with their horses; one young man’s face was trampled so badly that a metal plate had to be installed under his eyeball. After this interview aired on YouTube, the vets went from facing charges to seeing their charges dropped; the Long Island district attorney initiated an investigation into police brutality. Could writing alone – an outraged editorial – have managed that, these days, so quickly? Very unlikely.

The history of documentary film is nearly 100 years old, and its tradition owes much to early documentarians in Britain in the 1920s and 30s. In the US, the 50s and 60s marked the documentary’s golden age, especially at CBS, where pioneering televison journalist Edward R Murrow, immortalised in George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck, produced such landmark investigations as the CBS Reports programme Hunger in America. Recent heirs to this tradition include such films as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth – which, with his book, arguably did more to raise mass awareness of the reality of global warming than any amount of print analysis, or legislative debate, might have. At a time when investigative print reporting is withering, through shrinking newspaper budgets and readerships, when journalism schools are turning out fewer and fewer investigative reporters for that reason, one could argue that documentaries are becoming our main source of investigative journalism.

But remember: Gore brought out his film along with his book. For all the power of video and film, I am not giving up my pen. I am just much more likely to try to link essays to webcasts or videos. The best way for these two media to move forward, to inform and make change, is in tandem; together they are more than the sum of their parts. Documentary film without nuanced journalistic sourcing risks being sensational, tendentious or broad-brushed. And these days, print without a dimension of imagery risks being flat, especially to a younger audience. So while we need not despair about the future of investigative journalism, or the power of print alone to drive change, we writers should accept the inevitable: those damn film-makers have tools we need to adapt to, and, wherever possible, appropriate. Wherever we want to turn out the deathless prose of political polemic to drive great change – well, we just have to smuggle out the video footage to go with it.

• Naomi Wolf is the author of The End of America and its sequel, Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. The End of America is out on DVD from today. This article, with weblinks, is at guardian.co.uk/film

Israel kept out aid for Gaza

Israel kept out aid for Gaza

Jason Koutsoukis

ISRAEL deliberately blocked the United Nations from building up vital food supplies in Gaza that feed a million people daily before the launch of its war against Hamas, according to a senior UN official in Jerusalem.

In a scathing critique of Israeli actions leading up to the conflict, the UN’s chief humanitarian co-ordinator in Israel, the former Australian diplomat Maxwell Gaylard, accused Israel of failing to honour its commitments to open its border with Gaza during several months of truce from June 19 last year.

“The Israelis would not let us facilitate a regular and sufficient flow of supplies into the Strip,” Mr Gaylard said.

The chief spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yigal Palmor, said the claims were “unqualified bullshit”.

“At no time was there a shortage of food in Gaza over the past three weeks,” Mr Palmor said.

Mr Gaylard, who is the UN Special Co-ordinator’s Office’s most senior representative in Israel, told the

Herald that when Israel launched its surprise attack on Gaza on December 27, the UN’s warehouses in Gaza were nearly empty, with all food and equipment sitting in nearby port facilities. “The food was in Israel but we couldn’t get it in. This is before. The blockade was very tight.”

As the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, halted the attacks, declaring Israel had attained its goals in the lethal assault on Gaza that has killed more than 1240 Palestinians – a third of them children – Hamas militants continued to fire rockets into Israel. Thirteen Israelis have also been killed.

A 20-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops in the south of the Strip yesterday. He died after being shot in the chest in a vehicle near the town of Khan Yunis, near the border crossing and was the first fatality since Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire.

Five Qassam rockets hit the Israeli city of Sderot yesterday, with no reported injuries, hours after Mr Olmert said the ceasefire would be maintained as long as Hamas stopped firing rockets.

He said Israel would continue to occupy Gaza and was working with several international partners including the US to prevent Hamas re-arming by putting an end to its smuggling operations.

“Hamas was hit hard,” Mr Olmert said. “Both its military capabilities and its governing infrastructure.” Operation Cast Lead erupted after Hamas declared it would not extend a six-month truce with Israel that had expired on December 19.

Hamas argued it had no incentive to renew the truce because conditions had not improved during the months of calm.

According to Hamas, in return for stopping the rocket fire, Israel had promised to ease its blockade of Gaza and allow the passage of more food and commercial supplies.

“I think the expectation on the Israeli side was that the rockets would stop. Well, they nearly did. I think there were 40-odd rockets fired over four months roughly,” Mr Gaylard said.

Before the truce there was a monthly average of several hundred rockets and mortar shells being fired into Israel.

“The expectation on the Gazan side . . . was that more supplies would be allowed in, and it didn’t happen,” Mr Gaylard said.

“In fact, we noticed, I think from 19 June for the next four or five months, or up to even 19 December, less of our supplies and spare parts and items of equipment, less got in than before the 19th of June.”

Mr Gaylard slammed Israel’s siege policy towards Gaza, which he said had strengthened the popularity of Hamas.

“It’s difficult to understand the mentality of firing these rockets . . . it is equally hard to understand why the Israelis are strangling this place,’ Mr Gaylard said.

“It is to cause Hamas to fall, but my experience of the last year of going in and out of Gaza and staying there, was that it had exactly the opposite effect.

“Hamas did not keep its commitments during the truce, they maintained the rocket fire and continued to attack Israeli technicians who were sent in to Gaza to repair various facilities.”

Mr Gaylard, who is also the UN’s deputy special co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said it would require several billion dollars and at least five years to repair the physical damage caused by the last three weeks of fighting.

As for the long-term goal of resolving the 60-year Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said that had been dealt a severe setback.

Mr Gaylard urged the world to put more pressure on Israel to stop the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which he said Israel had pledged to do several times, most recently at the Annapolis Middle East Peace conference in November 2007.

‘Gaza war failed to wipe out Hamas tunnels’

Gaza’s tunnels were a test run for Iran and Lebanon, to see the penetration capabilities of the new bunker-busters provided for the murderous operation, knowing full well, their intended destination.

‘Gaza war failed to wipe out Hamas tunnels’

Ceasefire ... Palestinians walk in front of a building destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City.Ceasefire … Palestinians walk in front of a building destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City.
Photo: AP

Israel’s offensive on Gaza failed to wipe out Hamas’s network of arms smuggling tunnels below the border with Egypt which Palestinians will now likely rebuild, Israel’s intelligence chief said on Sunday.

Speaking at the end of the weekly cabinet meeting, Yuval Diskin said he fears the situation along the border, known as the Philadelphi route, will return to the pre-war status quo unless agreements with the US and Egypt on greater surveillance are followed through.

“The operation did not deal an irreversible blow to the tunnels industry,” Diskin, the head of the Shin Beth internal security service, said.

“Not all of the tunnels have been destroyed. The

second calm is restored and if Israel does not insist on the implementation of agreements on the issue, the situation along the Philadelphi route will return to its previous state within several months.”

Israel carried out hundreds of bombing raids during the course of its 22-day offensive in and around the southern border town of Rafah where between 300 and 500 tunnels have been carved out.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called a halt to the campaign on Saturday night after securing agreements from both the United States and Egypt designed to clamp down on the smuggling, although few details have been released.

AFP

Israel recruits army of TROLLS to combat anti-Zionist Web sites

Israel recruits ‘army of bloggers’ to combat anti-Zionist Web sites

By Cnaan Liphshiz

The Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced on Sunday it was setting up an “army of bloggers,” to be made up of Israelis who speak a second language, to represent Israel in “anti-Zionist blogs” in English, French, Spanish and German.

The program’s first volunteer was Sandrine Pitousi, 31, from Kfar Maimon, situated five kilometers from Gaza. “I heard about the project over the radio and decided to join because I’m living in the middle of the conflict,” she said.

Before hanging up the phone prematurely following a Color Red rocket alert, Pitousi, who immigrated to Israel from France in 1993, said she had some experience with public relations from managing a production company.

“During the war, we looked for a way to contribute to the effort,” the ministry’s director general, Erez Halfon, told Haaretz. “We turned to this enormous reservoir of more than a million people with a second mother tongue.” Other languages in which bloggers are sought include Russian and Portuguese.

Halfon said volunteers who send the Absorption Ministry their contact details by e-mail, at media@moia.gov.il, will be registered according to language, and then passed on to the Foreign Ministry’s media department, whose personnel will direct the volunteers to Web sites deemed “problematic.”

Within 30 minutes of announcing the program, which was approved by the Foreign Ministry on Sunday, five volunteers were already in touch, Halfon said.

America is a Jewish Colony: Olmert reveals all

America is a Jewish Colony: Olmert reveals all

By Bob Finch

On January 12, 2009, the leader of the Jews-only state in Palestine Ehud olmert revealed to a Jewish audience in Ashkelon that he had insisted George Bush should tell Condoleezza Rice to vote against a United Nations’ resolution calling for a ceasefire to the Israeli attack on Gaza. Olmert did not inadvertently humiliate the president of the United States of America; the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice; congress; and the American people, by divulging this information. On the contrary. He was boasting about his power to humiliate the president and thus the American people.

The global Jewish Empire: a global Zionist conspiracy

There are a handful of commentators in the Western world who have been compiling the evidence that America, the world’s greatest democracy and military hyper-power, has been taken over by a Jewish elite which acts on behalf of the Jews-only state in Palestine. America’s ruling Jewish elite’s most well known operatives are the Jewish lobby and the Jewish neocons. These Israel-firsters have been corrupting the Bush regime into implementing policies which promote the interests of the racist state even though they have become increasing catastrophic, economically, militarily, politically, and morally, for America and the American people. After the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Zionists imported Israel’s decades-old war against terrorism into America and ever since the Bush regime has been implementing this disastrous Zionist doctrine.

Hardline warmongering Zionists in the Jews-only state, America, and the rest of the Western world, (including most recently, India) have been setting the global political agenda: an invasion of Afghanistan, an invasion of Iraq, an invasion of Lebanon, continued ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and an attack on Iran to trigger a regional, perhaps even a global, war to boost the Jews-only state’s military dominance of the greater middle east.

The mainstream media in the Western world is dominated by Zionists who use their paper publications, tv, and films, to issue the most blatant Zionist propaganda which many Westerners welcome because of the disgusting Islamophobia in which it is wrapped. Jewish power in America is now so blatant that Jewish extremists are commissioned to publish articles in the country’s most prestigious newspapers advocating world war three. It has to be asked: what normal, sane, decent person around the world wants another world war? The only people insane enough to demand world war three are hysterical, paranoid, warmongering, Jewish supremacists.

The irony of the politically kosher worldview which pervades the Western world is that the Jewish propagandists who go out of their way to ridicule the idea of a global Jewish conspiracy are themselves advocates of a global Islamic conspiracy. In this hollywood concoction Al Qaeda, Osma bin Laden, Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, Saddam’s Iraq, etc, etc, have all been secretly working together to exterminate the Jews and overthrow Western civilization. Such fantastic drivel is being spewed out solely to cover up the global Jewish conspiracy.

Any decent, open-minded, person observing geopolitics since the foundation of the Jews-only state in Palestine, would have been all too well aware of the way that America has been colonized by Jewish neocons. What is so remarkable about this feat is not so much that a tiny minority could colonize a global hyperpower but that this minority could keep the colonization out of the public realm for so long even though the facts themselves have been screaming out to anyone who could be bothered to listen.

In the politically kosher Western world, anti-Zionist propositions are usually ostracized but mostly ridiculed or denounced in passing. However, when one of the Jewish leaders at the centre of this global Zionist conspiracy gives a clear cut example of his treatment of the president of the United States as a whipping boy, the deniers are put in an embarrassing position. This is especially so since Olmert’s order to Bush was in the best interests of the Jews-only state but was in the president’s (and America’s) worst possible interests because it provoked the rest of the world to despise him, and America, even more for his continued warmongering. So, the question arises, how are mainstream commentators going to confront such a shocking and indisputable revelation? Here’s a spectacular firework display of the truth about Jewish control over America so are they now going to pretend they can’t see the fireworks? In the recent past Western politicians wholeheartedly supported the Jewish fantasy that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons. Is the world just going to continue upholding the latest Jewish fantasy that Iran is close to getting closer to acquiring nukes while, at the same time, pretending that the Jews don’t have them? This article looks at commentators’ response to Olmert’s sudden revelation.

Olmert’s Statement

Many mainstream American publications covered the story of Olmert’s abusive and humiliating treatment of Bush. Although they quoted from his speech the vast majority used only a few selective quotes and often quoted from different parts of his speech. It is only when the entire speech is heard that the intensity of Olmert’s taunting of Bush becomes clear. The American media thus seemed to limit the quotes it used partly in order to avoid undermining the authority of the president of the United States but also to protect the racist state by preventing Americans from appreciating just how vicious Olmert’s attack on Bush had been.

The three following quotes provide a sufficient account of Olmert’s speech. “According to Olmert, he called the White House upon hearing of the upcoming UN Security Council resolution. “I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone.’ They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care: ‘I need to talk to him now.’ He got off the podium and spoke to me,” Olmert said, according to multiple media reports. As a result of his conversation with President Bush, Olmert claimed, the president called Rice and forced her to abstain from voting on the measure, which she herself had helped author. “He gave an order to the secretary of state and she did not vote in favor of it, a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organized, and maneuvered for. She was left pretty shamed and abstained on a resolution she arranged,” Olmert said.” (Daniel Luban ‘Olmert’s Claims Revive Israel Lobby Controversy’ January 14, 2009); “According to Olmert, he told Bush that the US should not vote for the resolution, and Bush then directed Rice to abstain. “She was left pretty embarrassed,” Olmert said. Like Olmert’s aides, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said “the Prime Minister’s comments on Monday were a correct account of what took place.”” (Herb Keinon, Allison Hoffman ‘’PM stands by his version in diplo spat’’ January 14, 2009); “So, here, in Olmert’s words, is what happened next. “In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a cease-fire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favor. I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone.’ They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now.’ He got off the podium and spoke to me.” According to Olmert, Bush was clueless. “He said: ‘Listen. I don’t know about it. I didn’t see it. I’m not familiar with the phrasing.’ I told him the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor.”” (Patrick J. Buchanan ‘Is Ehud’s Poodle Acting Up?’ ).

U.S. State Department response

America’s state department was angry with Olmert but whether this was because it didn’t like the president being humiliated or because they were furious he’d given the game away is not clear. “The U.S. State Department fiercely denied claims made by Ehud Olmert about his influence over President George W. Bush, in an incident that has stirred up old debates about the role of the Israeli government and the so-called “Israel lobby” in formulating Middle East policy in Washington.” (Daniel Luban ‘Olmert’s Claims Revive Israel Lobby Controversy’ ).

Olmert not backing down

“The State Department immediately contradicted Olmert’s claims, insisting that “the government of Israel does not make US policy.” Spokesman Sean McCormack also suggested that Israel might want to “clarify or correct the record” with respect to the comments. Rice has dismissed Olmert’s claims as “fiction.” The comments have sparked no small concern in Israel, where the fear is that Olmert’s claims to be able to order the President of the United States around will only increase public opposition in America to Israel’s influence on its foreign policy. Yet spokesmen for Olmert say that the prime minister stands behind his version of events.” (‘Olmert Stands Behind Rice-Shaming Claim: Rice Calls Prime Minister’s Comments “Fiction”’ January 14, 2009).

Haaretz suggests Olmert closer to the truth than Rice

“Inquiries with people uninvolved in the spat between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reveal that his version of the lead-up to America’s vote on last week’s Security Council resolution is closer to the truth than hers. The whole story would have ended well had Olmert behaved like a responsible adult and restrained his own impulses. Even his close associates admit that he would have done better to skip the public boasting about how he persuaded Bush to overrule Rice. Quite aside from the fact that this embarrassed the U.S. administration, Olmert’s associates understand all too well that this story merely provides fresh ammunition to those who claim the Jews are the ones who really control America.” (Akiva Eldar ‘Inquiries show Olmert version of UN Gaza vote spat closer to truth than Rice’s’ January 01, 2009).

How have America’s commentators reacted to Olmert confession?

In the past, American commentators have adamantly refused to discuss Jewish economic, cultural, or political, power in America. Indeed, their silence is yet another piece of evidence as to the existence of such power. So, will Olmert’s confession set them free to challenge the Jewish supremacist colonization of America and its calamitous consequences for the country (and many other countries around the world)? Or will they just go on living comfortably in the Zionist fantasy world created for them by America’s Jewish ruling elite?

Juan Cole proposes that Zionists are exercising power not just by Bribery but Blackmail

Cole covered the outburst in detail and speculated that Zionist power in America might derive from Mossad’s acquisition of material with which it could blackmail Bush. For a political commentator such as Cole, a high profile member of America’s defunct wasp establishment, to have to resort to such a wacky, fringe, idea is unusual to say the least. But then again what alternative does he have since he won’t talk about America’s ruling Jewish elite, the colossal economic power acquired by the Jewish elite, nor the zionists near total domination of congress and the American media.

Steven C. Clemons

Clemons personalizes Olmert’s statement so that it is merely a kick in the face for the president and Condoleezza Rice rather than a statement of shame about the gross subservience of America’s much vaunted democratic system and the ignominious position of the American people whose political leaders care more about protecting the Jews-only state in Palestine than looking after their own citizens. “No matter what one may think of Condoleezza Rice’s diplomatic record, which I think is better than many liberal critics gauge, the fact that Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave her a kick in the teeth as she departs her office is obnoxious and harmful all around. Shaming a US President and Secretary of State may not change the course in policy and may not shift America’s general approach to the region, at least for the time being, but it does take the fizz out of the unique relationship.” (Steven C Clemons ‘Defending Condi: Olmert Shames Himself in Kick-in-the-Teeth Attack on Rice’ January 12, 2009). Clemons has no interest in questioning the political significance of America’s democracy, reputed by common opinion to be the best in the world, even though its president and members of congress are mere vassals to a rogue state, a hive of Jewish racists, in the Middle East.

Philip Weiss

“Clemons gets it right re Olmert and Condi, that it’s a disgraceful attack. I missed the humiliation in this. Israel often treats our executive like the help, because Israelis know they have power in Washington. It’s similar to Ehud Barak treating Bill Clinton like a peer in 2000, and Yitzhak Shamir lying to George Bush about not building more settlements, in ’91. They always get away with it, because of the lobby.” (Philip Weiss ‘Where is Hillary on cease-fire?’ January 13, 2009). Here’s one Jewish writer making a determined effort to learn the truth about American politics.

Xymphora points out Kouchner’s Zionist Treachery

“Juan Cole, who seems to be letting his freak flag fly recently, has an excellent detailed posting on the automatic control that the Israeli government has over the American government, exemplified by Olmert picking up the phone and ordering Bush around to the extent that the United States changed its mind and abstained, rather than voted for, the latest UN cease-fire resolution. This was a public slap in the face for Rice, who actually helped draft the resolution, and Olmert is crowing about it. Note the behind-the-scenes trickery of the Jew Kouchner, who valiantly worked for his homeland, Israel, naturally, not France, to try to block the resolution. Cole concludes by raising the most important issue of all, the consideration of which is necessitated by the lack of any obvious motive for Bush to act as he did, the conspiracy theory that the mysterious hold of Zionism over American politicians is connected to blackmail. Israeli intelligence, with the aid of the secret cadre of dual-loyalty American Jews, gathers dossiers of information on characters like Bush, people who have a lot of embarrassments in their pasts, and holds it over them. Other than direct payments of cash, which probably explains Cheney, this is by far the most plausible theory for why American politicians consistently and blatantly act against American interests (sorry Noam). I wonder what the Israeli dossier on Obama looks like?” (Xymphora ‘The mysterious hold of Zionism over American politicians’ January 13, 2009).

Matthew Yglesias

“The State Department has some not-terribly-convincing denials out. But one way or another it seems both telling and unseemly that Olmert is going around bragging about this.” (Matthew Yglesias ‘Olmert Claims to Control US Foreign Policy’ January 13, 2009). Olmert should be applauded for telling the truth not criticized for bragging. Now that the truth is out why doesn’t Yglesias spend his time outlining its fundamental political implications and ramifications?

Paul Craig Roberts

The inimitable Paul Craig Roberts is a unique and fearless commentator: a former Treasury Official who speaks truth to power. “Israeli politicians have been bragging for decades about the control they exercise over the US government. In his final press conference, President Bush, deluded to the very end, said that the whole world respects America. In fact, when the world looks at America, what it sees is an Israeli colony. What is happening to the Palestinians herded into the Gaza Ghetto is happening because of American money and weapons. It is just as much an attack by the United States as an attack by Israel. The US government is complicit in the war crimes. “Our” president was a puppet for a cabal led by Dick Cheney and a handful of Jewish neoconservatives, who took control of the Pentagon, the State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, and “Homeland Security.” From these power positions, the neocon cabal used lies and deception to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, pointless wars that have cost Americans $3 trillion, while millions of Americans lose their jobs, their pensions, and their access to health care.” (Paul Craig Roberts ‘The White House Moron Stumbles to the Finish: The Humiliation of America’ January 14, 2009).

Steven Spiegel

“Middle East expert Steven Spiegel described the episode as “the worst faux pas by an Israeli prime minister in history. You really do wonder what the prime minister was thinking, if it’s true, you’d really want to keep it as quiet as possible, and if it’s not true, why would you want to make up a story that would embarrass both the Bush administration and the Israeli government and draw criticism from those who are antagonistic to Israel?” asked Spiegel, director of the Center for Middle East Development at UCLA. “No matter how you play it, exaggeration, falsehood, whole truth, the whole thing makes them all look bad,” Spiegel told The Jerusalem Post.” (Herb Keinon, Allison Hoffman ‘’PM stands by his version in diplo spat’’ January 14, 2009).

Justin Raimondo

In the past, Raimondo has been edging towards stating that the Jews-only state in Palestine, with the aid of its political agents in America, controls America’s foreign policies. It might have been thought he would have taken Olmert’s statement as a great opportunity to highlight this fundamental reality of American politics. At first it seems he would. “It (Olmert’s statement) tells us who is used to giving orders, and who is accustomed to obedience.” (Justin Raimondo ‘Israel versus America: Is the ‘special relationship’ over? January 16, 2009). But he doesn’t. “What Gaza signals is a new turn for the Israelis, a clean break, if you will, with their status as an American puppet in the Middle East. They are clearly going off on their own, intent on waging a war of unmitigated aggression against all their neighbors.” When given the opportunity he ducks it. The apartheid state has always been an American puppet but is now going off on its own. Such an argument would make sense if America had stopped giving the racist state vast annual tribute payments and stopped providing it with endless quantities of weapons and munitions with which to slaughter innocent civilians. Oh well, seems like Raimondo’s back in the closet.

Patrick J. Buchanan

Over the last couple of decades, Buchanan has been one of the few mainstream American politicians who have criticized the Jews-only state and Jewish power in America. And yet he’s been quite restrained about Olmert’s confession. “With Bush and Rice leaving office in hours, and Olmert in weeks, the story may seem to lack significance. Yet, public gloating by an Israeli prime minister that he can order a U.S. president off a podium and instruct him to reverse and humiliate his secretary of state may cause even Ehud’s poodle to rise up on its hind legs one day and bite its master. Taking such liberties with a superpower that, for Israel’s benefit, has shoveled out $150 billion and subordinated its own interests in the Arab and Islamic world would seem a hubristic and stupid thing to do.” (Patrick J. Buchanan ‘Is Ehud’s Poodle Acting Up?’ January 17, 2009).

Brian Cloughley

Cloughley enters the fray, “And the President of the United States of America jumps to obey the Israeli prime minister.” (Brian Cloughley ‘The Power of AIPAC: Who Runs America?’ January 16-18, 2009). However, the reason that America’s ruling Jewish elite is nigh on impervious is because those on the left refuse to challenge it. Cloughley points out that members of congress are funded by Jews but doesn’t generalize beyond this to expose America’s ruling Jewish elite. “There is one thing certain: the US Congress is going to continue its unconditional support for Israel, no matter what war crimes are committed by its disgusting thugs-in-uniform. The Reps need the money, after all, which they get through political action committees which are generously funded by American Jews. And they are scared to political death by the threat that pro-Israel agencies will destroy them politically if they dare say a word against Israel. There are very few Representatives of the people of America who would dare challenge Israel, or who might possibly criticize Israel, or who have the courage to condemn atrocities committed by Israel.”

He criticizes the American media for not telling the truth. “Not many Americans know anything about the hideous barbarity in Gaza, because US cable networks and newspapers rarely carry pictures of disfigured blood-splashed children who have been killed, maimed or orphaned by the Israelis. But here in Europe we have access to some TV channels and newspapers that are very different from the pliant pro-Zion patsies of the major news outlets across the Atlantic.” But he fails to tell the truth by not denouncing the Zionist owned and controlled American media. The media in any country is a reflection of that society’s ruling class. No ruling class rules without the help of a cheerleading media. The reason that America’s mainstream media supports the Jews-only state is because it is owned and staffed primarily by members of
America’s ruling Jewish elite.

Tony Karon

As far as is known Karon has made no comment about Olmert’s confession. However, the confession places Karon’s comments about Rice’s supervision of the Jewish war against Lebanon in 2006 in a different light. “It was clear, at the time, that the neophyte Olmert was outsourcing his decision-making to Condi Rice. I wrote at the time of the sense that Israel was waging a proxy war for the Bush Administration, a sense confirmed at the time by the hawkish dean of Israeli military correspondents, Ze’ev Schiff, who wrote at the height of the conflict: “U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the figure leading the strategy of changing the situation in Lebanon, not Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or Defense Minister Amir Peretz. She has so far managed to withstand international pressure in favor of a cease-fire, even though this will allow Hezbollah to retain its status as a militia armed by Iran and Syria.” (Tony Karon ‘Olmert: His Own Shlemiel, or Bush’s?’ January 31, 2008). If Olmert was capable of humiliating Rice over the United nations’ resolution over Gaza is it likely that, two years earlier, he’d allowed her to run the show slaughtering Lebanese civilians?

George Bush, the expendable whipping Boy

What has not been pointed out by commentators on Olmert’s confession was that he was referencing a statement made by Ariel Sharon a few years earlier. In september 2001, Sharon had publicly humiliated Bush by calling him a Chamberlain. “Don’t repeat the terrible mistake of 1938 when the enlightened democracies of Europe decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for a convenient temporary solution. Do not try to placate the Arabs at our expense … Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terror.” (‘Israel consumed by victim culture’ Guardian 5.10.2001). A few days later, Sharon compounded the humiliation, “Every time we do something, you (Shimon Peres) tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear. Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel; we, the Jewish people, control America and the Americans know it.” (Zionist Prime Minister Ariel Sharon October 3, 2001 IAP News).

Olmert’s Jewish audience would have picked up on this reference and understood that Olmert was trying to cloak himself with Sharon’s mantle as one of the Jews’ most belligerent warmongers (although whether they believed Olmert deserved such a comparison is another matter).

Olmert’s humiliation of Bush could not be a more fitting finale to Bush’s presidency. His presidency began not so much on september 11, 2001 with the attacks on New York and the Pentagon but with Sharon’s success in forcing him to accept the Likudnik interpretation of this event. The Bush regime did not respond to this event by implementing policies to protect and promote American interests. On the contrary, Sharon, and the Jewish neocons/lobby in America, pushed the Bush regime into implementing policies that boosted the interests of the Jews-only state in Palestine even though these policies would have a catastrophic impact on America’s interests. In other words, the president of the United States failed to interpret this critical event, even though it happened in his own country, because he was overwhelmed by the narrative put forward by the leader of a little country on the other side of the planet and by Jewish neocons in America loyal to that country. Bush and America could have realized that such unconditional support was against America’s interests, but the rogue state and its Jewish agents in America pressured the president into adopting even more extreme Zionist policies which put America interests at even greater risk.

9/11 was a major turning point in American history but Americans had nothing to do with the direction in which their own country then moved. “Common wisdom has it that after 9/11, a new era of geo-politics was ushered in, defined by what is usually called the Bush doctrine: pre-emptive wars, attacks on terrorist infrastructure (read: entire countries), an insistence that all the enemy understands is force. In fact, it would be more accurate to call this rigid worldview the Likud doctrine. What happened on September 11, 2001 is that the Likud doctrine, previously targeted against Palestinians, was picked up by the most powerful nation on earth and applied on a global scale. Call it the Likudisation of the world: the real legacy of 9/11.” (Naomi Klein ‘The Likud doctrine’ The Guardian, September 10, 2004); “But the idea of a super-power behaving in a similar way, responding to terrorist threats or guerrilla incursions by flattening another country just to preserve its own deterrent credibility, is odd in the extreme. It is one thing for the US unconditionally to underwrite Israelis’ behaviour (though in neither country’s interest, as some Israeli commentators at least have remarked). But for the US to imitate Israel wholesale, to import that tiny country’s self-destructive, intemperate response to any hostility or opposition and to make it the leitmotif of American foreign policy: that is simply bizarre. Bush’s Middle Eastern policy now tracks so closely to the Israeli precedent that it is very difficult to see daylight between the two. It is this surreal turn of events that helps explain the confusion and silence of American liberal thinking on the subject … the United States now has an Israeli-style foreign policy and America’s liberal intellectuals overwhelmingly support it.” (Tony Judt ‘Bush’s Useful Idiots’ September 21 2006).

An American president who calls for a Palestinian state (the first to do so) but fails to deliver it, despite the successive, nonstop, diplomatic efforts of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, America’s massive funding of the apartheid state, and the widespread international support for such a goal, is clearly subservient to Zionist power and influence. Brent Scowcroft was one of the few to confront such fundamental realities of American political life when he stated that Ariel Sharon had Bush wrapped around his little finger. It is a remarkable testimony to Americans’ capability for living in their highly leveraged Zionist fantasy world that they ignored Scowcroft’s insider remark and continued their patriotic bleats about how America is the most powerful country in the world with the world’s sole military hyper-power.

For a number of other blatant examples of how Sharon continually beat up Bush and got him to support extreme Zionist policies which have had the most devastating economic, political, and military, consequences for America please see ‘America is a Jewish Colony: Bush is Sharon’s Muppet’ .

It is hardly surprising then that the Bush presidency should end so ignominiously when another hysterical, paranoid, warmonger from the Jewish supremacist state boasted to the whole world that, in effect, Bush was nothing but his whipping boy. Why should Olmert fear retribution for his gross humiliation of Bush and the American people when they can’t harm Jewish power in America?

http://atheonews.blogspot.com/2009/01/america-is-jewish-colony-olmert-reveals.html

Palestinians’ fate worse than Shoah!

Letter to Editor Palestinians’ fate worse than Shoah!

Jan 09, 2009.

Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

If were were to speak about the literature of war with regard to today, I’d have to say that there is no war in Gaza. In Gaza today, all that we have experienced and lived through and dealt with the meaning of, tells us that a war is a conventional army fighting another conventional army. But here the tanks are going against flesh and human beings; bullets and bombs and fighter jets against bodies and eyes, children and women; death before blood and earth. This is no war. What is going on in Gaza, if we are to express it correctly, is state terror.” (Sayyid Najm, an Egyptian novelist and literature specialist on war in literature)

This is way beyond state terror. We need to look for proper terminology for this US-UK-and-company’s legitimized, slow, systematic and agonizing holocaust that spans over decades.” ( Dictatorshipwatch.com )

Indeed, “This is way beyond state terror”! Lal-masjid ops was state terror. War on terror is state terror. Tank on Tank is state terror. Blowing up wedding parties in Afghanistan is State Terror. Military occupation of Iraq and Afganistan is State Terror. ‘Western State Terrorism’ by Noam Chomsky is capturing state terror. ‘Rogue State’ and ‘Killing Hope’ by William Blum is depiction of state terror. But what sort of hell on earth is this which the Palestinians are being subjected to?

While the Holocaust suffering of the Jews lasted for six long apocalyptic years, the suffering and persecution of many Palestinians has gone on for more than three decades and is no less cataclysmic for the victims, some displaced in 1948 are still living in refugee camps with generations growing up and dying in these camps. With children being born in refugee camps in appalling conditions in the sniper gun-sights of the Israeli soldiers, and dying in the same camps under a hail of Israeli tank shells, never having seen the outside world, and never having entertained any hope of escape from their predicament, in their innocence they ask what makes the Jews suffering an holocaust and theirs merely murder that the world can tolerate as if it was an ordinary street crime? Millions are being held captives in their own homeland with daily humiliations and torture, treatment that one would not met out to a dog. Killing them in small numbers at a time on a daily basis and wounding many more so that they would eventually die off as cripples but not raise the alarm in the rest of the world because numbers seem to define when mass killing is called a genocide and when it isn’t. ( Chapter 3 , http://prisonersofthecave.org )

And it is indeed instructional to learn of the sorrows and calamitous suffering from the perspective of the victims themselves, an oft neglected sin in the West which prides itself in its own articulate description of the World’s victims and in unfurling the crimes of their own hegemonic emperors by writing prolific books and touting their much wonted freedom of speech – to absolutely zero degree of efficacy except more books sold and more prominence gained – rather than listen to the victims themselves with as much credibility lent to their own suffering voices. Somehow, the victim screaming in pain is considered biased, but their victimizers’ description of their plight is academic honesty and intellectual brilliance! ( The Endless Trail of Red Herrings , http://humanbeingsfirst.org )

I want no new terminology, no syntactic sugaring, no collateral language damage, no resemanticising of words, no intellectual brilliance, no proper nouns appropriated for the Palestinians as the Jews did the Shoah.

I want the exact description as noted above, and in the plaintive eloquent words of the Palestinians themselves, not anemic ones like mine, to continually describe the cataclysmic suffering of a people before which, the Creator too, must curse its Creation for permitting it!

A very profoundly religious friend of mine once told me: you know, I think “heaven” must be a very tiny place, and Hell must be vast – its got to accommodate so many peoples! While I am sure he must have been referring to Valhalla, I take it to mean right here on earth!

And therefore, as must be self-evident to many a Palestinian, if not to the West, this 2008 Leap Year threat made by Deputy Israeli Defence Minister Matan Villnai is only disingenuous in that it’s promising Shoah in the future, when it has been ongoing for the past sixty years:

(the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust”

There will be no end in sight to this Shoah unless these words of Edward Said are realized:

‘Palestine/Israel is no ordinary bit of geography; it is more saturated in religious, historical and cultural significance than any place on earth. It is also now the place where two peoples, whether they like it or not, live together tied by history, war, daily contact and suffering. To speak only in geopolitical clichés (as the Clinton Administration does) or to speak about “separating” them (as Rabin does) is to call forth more violence and degradation. These two communities must be seen as equal to each other in rights and expectations; only from such a beginning can justice then proceed.’

Zahir Ebrahim

Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

SEE: PALESTINIANS DON’T BLEED

Can’t You See the Similarities?

THE GRANDCHILDREN OF HOLOCAUST

SURVIVORS FROM WORLD WAR II ARE DOING

TO THE PALESTINIANS EXACTLY WHAT WAS

DONE TO THEM BY NAZI GERMANY

BUILDING WALLS & FENCES TO KEEP PEOPLE IN PRISON

Hitler  Yesterday Israel   Today

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Disintegration of the Neo-liberal Order

Disintegration of the Neo-liberal Order
Towards a New Socio-Economic Equilibrium

By Prof. S. T. Hettige

The newly elected President of the United States, Barak Obama, in a recent interview has remarked that the economists are all over the map as regards the current global economic crisis. What he probably meant was that economists are not able to either properly diagnose the problem or prescribe an effective remedy. Yet, one thing is clear. The way the global economy was organized was wrong. Otherwise, how can it go wrong so badly?

The purpose of this article is to advance the argument that we need a new socio-economic equilibrium, based not simply on the imperatives of an unregulated market but on the needs of a more sustainable and just global order .We need a global economic order not simply driven by insatiable individual greed but guided by the present and future needs of the world population. As we all know, global wealth became so unequally distributed over the last three decades that unsustainable over-consumption in the developed world became the driving force behind the global economy.

The neo-liberal economic order came into being when the dominant global interests resolved to unleash unfettered market forces on a global scale. Global capital flowed almost everywhere, moving into almost any economic activity that produced profits, with little attention being paid to social and environmental consequences. Commodities began to flow in all directions, often undermining long established, sustainable productive activities everywhere. Rapidly increasing cost of living, newly created consumer aspirations and loss of livelihoods encouraged millions of people to migrate to cities and overseas looking for higher incomes. Cheap goods produced in countries with abundant cheap labour flooded consumer markets in rich countries, reinforcing already unsustainable and undesirable over consumption. Movement of mass produced goods in large qualities, mobility of millions of tourists across continents, etc. led to an unprecedented expansion of sea and air transport.

The developments mentioned above exerted unprecedented pressure on natural resources leading to environmental pollution, deforestation and global warming. Climate change became a hot topic in international circles including the UN. Yet, all the remedies suggested stopped far short of demanding a reappraisal of the global economic order, which is essentially the root cause of the global environmental crisis.

Today, we are living in a highly inter-dependent world. Not many countries produce their own food, not even those that have the resources to do so. Localized agriculture was discouraged by global policy advisors. Increasing price of imported inputs and cheaper food imports made local agriculture unprofitable and farmers began to commit suicide due to increasing indebtedness. Their sons often migrated to cities to sell imported fruits on the pavements in cities and towns. People in rich countries traveled thousands of miles to have two weeks holiday, partly become it is cheaper to do so than spending two weeks in one’s own country. Industrial goods are produced in certain countries largely because they have cheap labour. These goods can be produced almost everywhere but this does not happen because human labour is very cheap in some places while it is very expensive in others. The result is a global division of labour based on unequal exchange, inequality and social injustice. Under this system, women leave their children behind and travel to far away lands to mind children of other women and do all the domestic chores for workers whose wages are high enough to employ domestic workers on a full time basis, in addition to paying for everything else. The domestic servant stays with the employer and the latter has the servant at his or her disposal at any time of the day to attend to any domestic need.

It is difficult to imagine how the western car culture could be propagated across the world. Moreover, the Americans produced the largest family car in the world and this has become a craze and a status symbol everywhere. Now the Japanese and others are doing it even better. With import liberalization under neo-liberal reforms, sleek Japanese, American and European cars have flooded the cities of the developing world, virtually destroying fragile mass transit systems that post-war regimes had built with considerable effort and investment. You can no longer run an efficient public bus service on congested roads dominated by private vehicles, both big and small. It is not surprising that development assistance is extended to build more roads, rather than finance new railway lines.

When conditions in the developing world deteriorate, more and more people migrate to other countries, both legally and illegally. It is usually more productive and skilled people who are welcome in the developed world. Doctors, engineers, technicians, IT specialists, scientists, etc. have the greatest chance of finding their way out. These are exactly the kind of people a country needs if it were to have any chance of economic and social development. But they leave, often leaving behind the deadwood and the least qualified. A country can keep investing scarce resources in education and produce more and more such people but, at the end, it is a loosing battle. The only people who may be happy are mediocre politicians. They can have a field day in the absence of such qualified and smart people in their midst.

In a world dominated by the free market, all are supposed to be equal. That is why free markets are said to create a level playing field. How can an uneven world be a level playing field? First, colonialism structured the world, introducing a clear dichotomy between the industrialized North and the underdeveloped South. When the British left Sri Lanka in 1948, latter was basically an economy producing primary goods. It was only after independence that the country attempted to establish some industries with limited success. Then came economic globalization under-neo-liberalism. This time, export-led growth in a liberalized global market. The only comparative advantage that most developing countries had was their cheap labour. But, labour cannot remain cheap when the cost of living goes up due to currency devaluation, mobility of labour and increasing price of imported consumer goods. So, unless a country quickly moves away from labour intensive production, it is destined to be abandoned by foot-loose foreign investors. The latter naturally move into countries with cheap labour. This seems to be Sri Lanka’s fate today. Our situation of course has been more complex due to the on-going conflict.

Many developing countries adapted to the new global economic environment. Today these economies are well integrated with the global economic system. When the demand for their exports declines, the producers of these goods are adversely affected. Unlike the governments of rich countries, most developing country governments do not have the capacity to support people who have lost their livelihoods. These countries usually have huge accumulated debts and large trade imbalances, not accumulated foreign or domestic reserves.

If millions of people lose their jobs, social disorder can set in. Violence and crime can spread across the world. This is particularly so in countries where access to food, shelter, transport and medicine depends entirely on regular cash incomes.

Today, in the midst of the current global economic crisis almost everybody is talking about the need to restore normalcy. Most people seem to have forgotten the fact that before the crisis set in, the global economic system was already bursting at the seams. As mentioned before, the demand for oil had reached a point where the high price of oil itself had led to an energy crisis of unprecedented proportions. Rapid economic expansion on a global scale had begun to exert pressure on natural resources as never before. When people talk about the need to restore normalcy, are they talking about restoring the status quo that existed prior to the present crisis?

If the present global financial crisis did not materialize so soon, what would have been the impact of high oil price and the worsening global environmental crisis on the global economy? There were already food riots in some countries. Even the World Bank started talking about agriculture, as if it has woken up from a long slumber. When the price of grains went up rapidly, many people started going back to their abandoned agricultural fields. They did not wait for expert advice. In other words, there were signs of a gradual reversal of some of the ideas and practices. So, why don’t we go for a comprehensive reappraisal of the global economic order in the light of the recent experiences? Why do we have to promote global interdependence for everything when localization of certain economic activities is more desirable from a social and environmental point of view?

Why not promote technology transfer when it can improve the life chances of millions of people in poorer countries? Why turn education into a money making industry in the west when easy access to knowledge can improve social and economic conditions in poorer countries in the world? Why do we promote over-consumption in developed countries when inadequate nutrition is a major factor contributing to morbidity and mortality in poorer ones? Why should millions of people travel around the world looking for work? The above questions may not necessarily be meaningful in a conventional economic sense. If you invest private capital in any area, you have to make a profit? But, if you make a public investment in a particular sector, you do not necessarily have to make a profit, so long as the investment can be justified in terms of tangible benefits to the wider public. At the end of the day, we all want a higher standard of living in a sustainable, just and a peaceful world. The world that came into being following economic globalization was certainly not sustainable just or peaceful.

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

R Arun Kumar

KILLING an ant is a greater crime than killing a man,” stated Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, a dictator who ruled El Salvador in 1932. Today’s rulers of Israel too share this idea. With shameless monstrosity they are indulging in one of the worst crimes on humanity in Gaza. They are closely following the lead of their mentor- the US-in murdering innocent citizens. Even after witnessing Afghanistan and Iraq, every sensible human being is shaken out of their numbness watching the gory in Gaza.

Infants, children, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers are dying in the air raids and ground offensive. Israeli military had bombed a clinic run by the Near East Council of Churches and destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth equipment and most importantly life saving drugs. The ICRC states that some of the primary health centres too were damaged in the air raids. Israel is preventing medical aid and relief from reaching the people in dire need of it and thus indirectly strangulating them.

According to International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), its war-surgery team waited for three days to secure Israeli authorisation to enter Gaza and finally entered on January 5. The ICRC states that they had sought permission from the Israeli military for a safe passage for its ambulances on the January 3 and got it only on January 7. Krähenbühl, director of operations of ICRC, recounting the tragedy of a woman in northern Gaza who gave birth to a dead baby because the ambulances couldn’t reach her in time, said that people are “dying because ambulances can’t reach them in time, which is frankly appalling”.

Deploring the behaviour of the Israeli military, ICRC issued an unusually blunt statement. It stated that when a team of four ambulances went to Zeitoun, they found “four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all, there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses. Israeli soldiers posted at a military position some 80 meters away from this house ordered the rescue team to leave the area which they refused to do. There were several other positions of the Israeli defense forces nearby as well as two tanks”.

Pierre Wettach, the ICRC’s head of delegation for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories said, “The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation, but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent to assist the wounded. The ICRC believes that in this instance, the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable”.

Condemning the attack on UNRWA shelter in Jabaliya by the Israeli forces which killed and injured a large number of people, ICRC said it was ‘shocked’. “We too had referred families who were seeking safety to this particular shelter. This is a very serious incident which shows that people cannot be sure of finding safety anywhere right now”.

WHO states that 21 medical personnel had died, 30 more injured and 11 ambulances struck by Israeli attacks. In all, four of UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) staff involved in supplying relief material and aid to the refugees were killed. Antoine Grand, head of the ICRC office in Gaza mentions that many of the relief workers are stating that rescue and relief operations are becoming very, very dangerous and that they are ‘scared’. “To hear such words from Palestine Red Crescent paramedics, who are among the bravest – and who have been working under fire, in extremely difficult conditions – makes our call for safe access and security ever more pressing”. According to the international humanitarian law (IHL) quoted by the president of ICRC, Jakob Kellenberger, medical personnel, ambulances, hospitals and other medical units must be respected and protected-precisely what Israel didn’t.

IHL requires parties to a conflict to pay particular attention to the types of weapons and munitions used and their possible effects on civilians and civilian infrastructure. They also prohibit the use of indiscriminate weapons like cluster bombs, white phosphorous on civilians and in densely populated areas. But this is precisely what Israel is doing. All the incidents that were mentioned by the ICRC, the attacks on the UN relief workers, on the UN refugee shelter, on schools etc., also are damning proof of Israel’s transgression of the IHL.

The UN had stated that it would enquire into these incidents and come out with a report. If the investigation found that Israel is guilty on these counts then it could be tried for war crimes. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stated that the incident “appears to have all the elements of war crimes”.

The UN special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Richard Falk, has labelled what Israel is doing as “a crime against humanity…a flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”. It is for the first time since the heydays of apartheid in South Africa that the UN representatives are denouncing any country in such terms. For stating the facts he was debarred from entering Gaza and detained in a filthy lock-up for 20 hours.

ICRC also records the collateral damage done to the infrastructure and states that most of the high-voltage lines bringing electricity from Israel into Gaza have been damaged during the air raids. “Ten of Gaza City’s 45 water wells are no longer working as a result of this, others were damaged in air strikes and yet others are expected to stop working soon”. The ICRC states that many people were calling them telling that “they had not had drinking water for almost six days because the well supplying water to their houses had been damaged”. It fears the spread of many diseases because of the water scarcity.

Another serious crisis looming large is the scarcity of power to the hospitals which are entirely dependent on generators. Krähenbühl, director of operations for ICRC in that area states, “these generators could break down at any moment from the lack of maintenance and spare parts over the past 18 months…there was concern that two hospitals were about to run out of generator fuel. The ICRC is trying to solve this problem by negotiating safe passage for UNRWA fuel tankers”. Tetanus vaccine, life saving drugs, anaesthetics, pain killers, body bags and sheets to wrap the dead are running out of supply. ICRC states that it is trying to ensure their availability. Nobody knows how long would it take.

To understand the gravity of the situation a recap of the geography of Gaza is essential. Gaza is a small strip of 146 sq kilometres. It is in such a small swath of land that nearly 1.5 million Palestinians live. Surrounded on three sides by Israel and the Mediterranean on the other side (with a small tiny border with Egypt in the south) it is virtually a prison. Nothing can pass in or out of Gaza without the permission of the Israeli authorities. Israel is strangling Gaza and its intensity increased after the victory of Hamas in the democratic elections held in Palestine in 2006. Falk states that Israel maintains its “Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease”. Quite remorselessly, Israel defends its polices. Dov Weisglass, an adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” Result – 1.1 million people dependent on food aid, one in four children malnourished and 70 per cent suffering from Vitamin A deficiency.

Nothing more than the present day war can explain more explicitly the barbarian cruelty. 1028 dead, more than 40 per cent of them women and children. 90,000 forced away from their houses. 35,000 staying in 38 UNRWA refugee camps.

For record, UNHRC had voted condemning Israel, UNESCO condemned the killing of a journalist in the attacks and called Israel to allow media into Gaza, UNICEF demanded the safety and protection of children from the attacks.

The UN Security Council has the authority to order an investigation and set up a war crimes tribunal. Israel knows well that once brought to the dock, the veil would be off and they would stand exposed. It needs to be seen whether UNSC would set up a war crime tribunal and if Israel would allow UNHRC to carry this investigation.

Infants, children, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers are dying in the air raids and ground offensive. Israeli military had bombed a clinic run by the Near East Council of Churches and destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth equipment and most importantly life saving drugs. The ICRC states that some of the primary health centres too were damaged in the air raids. Israel is preventing medical aid and relief from reaching the people in dire need of it and thus indirectly strangulating them.

According to International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), its war-surgery team waited for three days to secure Israeli authorisation to enter Gaza and finally entered on January 5. The ICRC states that they had sought permission from the Israeli military for a safe passage for its ambulances on the January 3 and got it only on January 7. Krähenbühl, director of operations of ICRC, recounting the tragedy of a woman in northern Gaza who gave birth to a dead baby because the ambulances couldn’t reach her in time, said that people are “dying because ambulances can’t reach them in time, which is frankly appalling”.

Deploring the behaviour of the Israeli military, ICRC issued an unusually blunt statement. It stated that when a team of four ambulances went to Zeitoun, they found “four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all, there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses. Israeli soldiers posted at a military position some 80 meters away from this house ordered the rescue team to leave the area which they refused to do. There were several other positions of the Israeli defense forces nearby as well as two tanks”.

Pierre Wettach, the ICRC’s head of delegation for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories said, “The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation, but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent to assist the wounded. The ICRC believes that in this instance, the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable”.

Condemning the attack on UNRWA shelter in Jabaliya by the Israeli forces which killed and injured a large number of people, ICRC said it was ‘shocked’. “We too had referred families who were seeking safety to this particular shelter. This is a very serious incident which shows that people cannot be sure of finding safety anywhere right now”.

WHO states that 21 medical personnel had died, 30 more injured and 11 ambulances struck by Israeli attacks. In all, four of UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) staff involved in supplying relief material and aid to the refugees were killed. Antoine Grand, head of the ICRC office in Gaza mentions that many of the relief workers are stating that rescue and relief operations are becoming very, very dangerous and that they are ‘scared’. “To hear such words from Palestine Red Crescent paramedics, who are among the bravest – and who have been working under fire, in extremely difficult conditions – makes our call for safe access and security ever more pressing”. According to the international humanitarian law (IHL) quoted by the president of ICRC, Jakob Kellenberger, medical personnel, ambulances, hospitals and other medical units must be respected and protected-precisely what Israel didn’t.

IHL requires parties to a conflict to pay particular attention to the types of weapons and munitions used and their possible effects on civilians and civilian infrastructure. They also prohibit the use of indiscriminate weapons like cluster bombs, white phosphorous on civilians and in densely populated areas. But this is precisely what Israel is doing. All the incidents that were mentioned by the ICRC, the attacks on the UN relief workers, on the UN refugee shelter, on schools etc., also are damning proof of Israel’s transgression of the IHL.

The UN had stated that it would enquire into these incidents and come out with a report. If the investigation found that Israel is guilty on these counts then it could be tried for war crimes. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stated that the incident “appears to have all the elements of war crimes”.

The UN special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Richard Falk, has labelled what Israel is doing as “a crime against humanity…a flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”. It is for the first time since the heydays of apartheid in South Africa that the UN representatives are denouncing any country in such terms. For stating the facts he was debarred from entering Gaza and detained in a filthy lock-up for 20 hours.

ICRC also records the collateral damage done to the infrastructure and states that most of the high-voltage lines bringing electricity from Israel into Gaza have been damaged during the air raids. “Ten of Gaza City’s 45 water wells are no longer working as a result of this, others were damaged in air strikes and yet others are expected to stop working soon”. The ICRC states that many people were calling them telling that “they had not had drinking water for almost six days because the well supplying water to their houses had been damaged”. It fears the spread of many diseases because of the water scarcity.

Another serious crisis looming large is the scarcity of power to the hospitals which are entirely dependent on generators. Krähenbühl, director of operations for ICRC in that area states, “these generators could break down at any moment from the lack of maintenance and spare parts over the past 18 months…there was concern that two hospitals were about to run out of generator fuel. The ICRC is trying to solve this problem by negotiating safe passage for UNRWA fuel tankers”. Tetanus vaccine, life saving drugs, anaesthetics, pain killers, body bags and sheets to wrap the dead are running out of supply. ICRC states that it is trying to ensure their availability. Nobody knows how long would it take.

To understand the gravity of the situation a recap of the geography of Gaza is essential. Gaza is a small strip of 146 sq kilometres. It is in such a small swath of land that nearly 1.5 million Palestinians live. Surrounded on three sides by Israel and the Mediterranean on the other side (with a small tiny border with Egypt in the south) it is virtually a prison. Nothing can pass in or out of Gaza without the permission of the Israeli authorities. Israel is strangling Gaza and its intensity increased after the victory of Hamas in the democratic elections held in Palestine in 2006. Falk states that Israel maintains its “Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease”. Quite remorselessly, Israel defends its polices. Dov Weisglass, an adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” Result – 1.1 million people dependent on food aid, one in four children malnourished and 70 per cent suffering from Vitamin A deficiency.

Nothing more than the present day war can explain more explicitly the barbarian cruelty. 1028 dead, more than 40 per cent of them women and children. 90,000 forced away from their houses. 35,000 staying in 38 UNRWA refugee camps.

For record, UNHRC had voted condemning Israel, UNESCO condemned the killing of a journalist in the attacks and called Israel to allow media into Gaza, UNICEF demanded the safety and protection of children from the attacks.

The UN Security Council has the authority to order an investigation and set up a war crimes tribunal. Israel knows well that once brought to the dock, the veil would be off and they would stand exposed. It needs to be seen whether UNSC would set up a war crime tribunal and if Israel would allow UNHRC to carry this investigation.

CIA “Jihad” Reaches Indian Muslims

“Western powers invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and, at the same time, also launched a sustained attack against Islam itself. Hence began a well-planned conspiracy to defame Islamic institutions and to seek to link Islam and Muslims with terrorism.”

Many scholars and researchers have produced mountains of evidence on the  roots of terrorism, planted by the CIA in the Islamic world, in the creation of the original Mujahedeen army which defeated the Soviets.  Little has been said about the creation of the bastardized form of Wahabbi “Islam” introduced into the madrassas along the Durand Line.

This new violent, radicalized form of Islam, normally  a true religion of peace, infiltrated the Muslim world from its base in Saudi Arabia and its many outposts throughout the region.  New definitions of “jihad” set the stage for the armies of the West, giving them a new ideology to combat.  The CIA brought the ideology, the weapons, the terrorist skills and the weapon/drug pipeline into the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan, then we send our soldiers of fortune to fight the enemiew that we have created, to escalate the global conflict today.

For those of you who doubt that our own government has been promoting religion in South Asia, there are always those stubborn Mujahedeen textbooks we printed and shipped by the thousands to the madrassas.  One of the elementary primers began with “A is for Allah…J is for Jihad.”

The evil that we have done under cover of darkness is slowly coming to light.

Deoband’s Deputy Rector Rebuffs Terror Charges: interview with Maulana Abdul Khalid Madrasi

The Dar ul-Uloom at Deoband, which played a leading role in the struggle for India’s freedom from the British, has, in recent years, been targeted by certain forces that have sought to link it with terrorism. In this regard, Shahid Zaidi, correspondent for the Urdu Alami Sahara, recently interviewed Maulana Abdul Khalid Madrasi, the Deputy Rector of the Dar ul-Uloom, to elicit his reactions. It appeared in the 17th January, 2009 issue of the paper. Below are excerpts of the interview, translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand.

Q: For some years now, charges have been levelled against the Dar ul-Uloom Deoband of being allegedly associated with terrorism. Why is this so?

A: This requires a detailed explanation, but I will be brief. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the West, principally America, required an enemy to sustain itself, and this it conjured up in the form of Islam. In this project, the Jewish lobby had a key and leading role to play. Following the attacks of 9/11, the Western powers invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and, at the same time, also launched a sustained attack against Islam itself. Hence began a well-planned conspiracy to defame Islamic institutions and to seek to link Islam and Muslims with terrorism. In such a situation, how could one expect that the anti-Islamic forces would not make the Dar ul-Uloom an object of their attack? However, not only has the Dar ul-Uloom effectively rebutted this malicious and false propaganda against it, but it has also unleashed a jihad against terrorism. And, besides tearing off the veil behind which American global terrorism masquerades, it has also sought to expose the growing terrorism within India itself, and this struggle continues.

Q: But why is it that within India some forces are seeking to present a very negative image of the Dar ul-Uloom Deoband?
A: This is not limited just to the Dar ul-Uloom Deoband. Islam and Muslims themselves are being sought to be projected in the same light. Behind this, too, is the hand of Israel and America, who are being helped by the Sangh Parivar in India. I believe that this game started ever since our country’s relations with America and Israel became increasingly close. Muslim intellectuals, ulema and also the leaders of the Dar ul-Uloom Deoband have consistently been stressing the point that this unholy and dangerous game of terrorism is being jointly played by the Israeli secret service agency Mossad, the American intelligence agencies and the Sangh Parivar, acting together, who have sought to place the blame for this squarely on the Dar ul-Uloom and on Muslims in general. This is clearly evident from the terror links of some people associated with the Sangh Parivar that were unearthed by the chief of the Mumbai Anti-Terror Squad, the late Hemant Karkare, a brave officer who was recently martyred. Had he survived a few more days he would have brought to light much more evidence. The circumstances surrounding his death have raised numerous doubts and questions.  (read the rest here)

Hayden On Bin Laden: Missed Him By This Much

Departing spy chief brags about efforts to kill Pakistanis, promote the scam we call “al Qaida,” and set the stage for nuclear genocide in Iran.

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CIA Director Michael Hayden gestures during a news conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

Hayden: al-Qaida boxed in, Iran near nuke

decision

By PAMELA HESS

WASHINGTON — The CIA has hampered al-Qaida’s free rein in the tribal region of western Pakistan, and Iran appears to be nearing a decision on whether to build a nuclear warhead, departing CIA chief Michael Hayden said Thursday.

“The great danger was that the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan was a safe haven. My belief is that it is neither safe nor a haven,” Hayden said at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va., in what probably was his final briefing for reporters.

President-elect Barack Obama has picked Leon Panetta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and a former Democratic congressman from California, to head the agency.

Hayden said the progress in the tribal region was a “big deal.” It is the result, he said, of the Bush administration’s push to dislodge al-Qaida from the enclave the terrorist network established on the Pakistan border after it fleeing Afghanistan in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Hayden said he leaves office after a decade at senior posts in intelligence agencies with few regrets. As for Osama bin Laden, “We have not killed or captured him. That is a disappointment, rather than a regret,” he said.

The CIA director noted with satisfaction that the latest bin Laden videotape, issued Wednesday, includes only audio of the al-Qaida leader and is an appeal for donations. The tape may be intended to offer proof he is still alive to his supporters as much as it is continued propaganda, Hayden said.

He predicted that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 in al-Qaida, will be captured or killed before bin Laden is because the deputy is more exposed. “I do know what we and our Pakistani allies have been able to do has changed the equation,” Hayden said.

Shifting to Iran, Hayden said that country steadily is producing low-enriched uranium and soon will have enough to create highly enriched uranium – the fuel for a nuclear warhead. The CIA does not have clear intelligence saying that a decision has been made, but the agency is aware of the amount of uranium Iran has produced so far.

Agency officials presume that Iran is seriously considering using its uranium stocks to make nuclear weapons because of its willingness to endure the economic pain of penalties for refusing to agree to international safeguards.

“I’m amazed Iran is willing to run the costs they are running if they are not trying to keep the option open for a nuclear weapon,” Hayden said.

The possibility of an Iranian warhead is on a list of 10 potential problems that Hayden says his successor should keep watch on over the next 12 months. That list is far more detailed than the note that Hayden’s predecessor, Porter Goss, left: “Good luck,” it said.

Panetta’s major challenge may be improving the agency’s relationship with Congress after eight years of the Bush administration’s dismissal of the intelligence oversight committees.

“We’re digging out of a hole a little bit,” Hayden acknowledged. But he said agency morale, bruised by intelligence failures before the Iraq war and the failure to stop the Sept. 11 attacks, is high.

“When I have lunch in the cafeteria I don’t see a troubled agency,” Hayden said. “I don’t see low morale or a reluctance to tell the truth.”

Iraq, notably, is not on Hayden’s warning list.

“I took Iraq off the list of things for the incoming guys to fret about for the next 12 months,” Hayden said, referencing security and political gains made there.

Hayden also worries that al-Qaida may take cues from the low-tech, lethal attacks in Mumbai, India, and embrace that approach instead.

The list also notes that violence in Mexico is reaching a level that may force the Mexican government to look to the United States for help. Hayden also said Panetta should keep a close eye on Europe, where traditional allies do not always share the U.S. view on the threat posed by terrorism and American methods to combat it.

Hayden said the fluctuating price of oil may pose some opportunities in the next year. If the cost hovers around $40 a barrel, it could have a destabilizing effect on Iran’s government by worsening the impact of the economic penalties and inflaming domestic political discontent.

“It removes a buffer that will cause the natural stressors in Iranian society to become more pronounced,” he said.

Venezuela, a vocal U.S. critic, also will suffer if oil prices are unstable. Russia, on the other hand, can weather fluctuations more easily, Hayden said.

Egyptian Complicity Exposes Deep Fear of Iran

‘People of the Arab world have longed for a leader to fight for their cause.’

The death toll in the Gaza massacre has surpassed 500. Israel has rejected an EU cease-fire and is showing no sign of halting its operations, despite growing global opposition. But for the Arab world, the strongest repercussions to this conflict will be felt in Egypt.

The Egyptian leadership has taken a hiding from the Arab street for its inaction over Israel’s assault on the Palestinians. Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran have removed all gloves by publicly accusing Egypt’s leadership of complicity in Israel’s war on Gaza.

Not that the Arab street needed reminding of who supports who in the vicious Middle Eastern cycle of conflict. The Arabs are aware, albeit repressed, of the political landscape in the region. It is common knowledge that Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia (the Arab trio) form a pro-American axis of oppressive dictators whose primary interest is containing Iran’s growing presence in the region.

Iran, on the other hand, has enlisted the support of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, and enjoys vast public support from the Sunni Arab world because its primary concern is much aligned with the sentiments of the Arab street … upholding the Palestinian cause and combating American presence in the region.

The ability of Hezbollah to draw tens of thousands of demonstrators to the streets of Arab capitals, including Cairo, speaks more of Egypt’s misconstrued fears than Hezbollah’s popularity. The fear of Iran is partly motivated by sectarianism, but mostly by political survival. The US and Israel have succeeded in the past eight years in creating an atmosphere of paranoia in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, portraying Iran as an evil existential threat akin to the red Russian bear.

Indeed, Iran’s Shia proselytising has triggered a sense of urgency among Sunni Arab leaders, particularly in Saudi Arabia where strict Sunni doctrine (Wahhabism) is the norm and a strong self-belief as the custodian of the Islamic faith exists. The Sunni Arab leaders would have you believe that Iran’s rise poses a threat to 1400 years of Sunni domination in the Islamic world, and therefore demands greater attention than the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Such rhetoric is designed for public consumption, whilst concealing the real fear held in the three Arab capitals. Iran is not simply the ‘Vatican for Shi’ites’, but has actively sought to hijack the Palestinian cause from the Arab world. After decades of squabbling, rivalry and inaction among Arab states, the Iranians have barged through the gates, swept all aside, and have boldly declared the Palestinian cause under new management.

The Arab street – equally frustrated at watching Israel and the US strangle their world whilst their governments play to the tune – were impressed. Finally, after a long sense of helplessness, someone was coming to the aid of the Arabs. Iran didn’t simply engage in empty rhetoric, as most Arab states did, but poured its energy into a deep conviction to combat Israeli reign in the Middle East.

It built the successful Hezbollah whilst Lebanon was on its knees in the 1980s. It offered Syria support when the US was bent on toppling the Assad regime. It threw its weight in Iraq to thwart American rule. And, most crucially given recent days, it gave to the Palestinians unconditionally, and supported Hamas when the Arab world abandoned it.

Perhaps for the conventional Western reader, such actions would have qualified Iran’s inclusion into the “axis of evil”. But the opinions of the Western public is not what concerns the pro-American Arab axis. Support for Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria’s beleagured regime and opposition to the US occupation in Iraq echoes the core sentiments of the Arab street, and inflames its anger towards the passive Arab dictators who offer empty statements of condemnation from their American-funded villas and palaces. Such popular sentiments can be easily transformed into a mobilised opposition that could overthrow current regimes.

Iran has actively fought on behalf – whether directly or indirectly – of millions of Arabs who regard Israel and wider American/British ‘imperialism’ of their region as the main cause for their woes. The pro-American Arab governments, US and Israel have each failed to stoke Sunni-Shi’ite tension to divert the attention of the Arab street from Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine to Iran’s rising power.

The division in the Arab world and fear of Iran has been present since the Iranian revolution 30 years ago. However, little attention to Tehran was needed as Saddam Hussein played the important role of Arab gatekeeper and contained Iranian expansion. The removal of Saddam gave way to Iran’s desire to become the leader of the Arab/Islamic world, and quickly drew the immediate focus of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Efforts to thwart Iran’s advance became frantic and ill-conceived.

Plan A – Iraq

The US occupation of Iraq failed, the country dived into civil conflict, and Iranian-backed Shi’ites gained power. Eventually, too many hands became involved in the single pie. The Saudis backed Sunni radicals in order to counter the Shi’ite rise. Unfortunately, the Sunni radicals caused further complication for the US occupation as Al-Qaida-inspired groups were just as determined to inflict harm on the US.

The other dilemma was that Syria also held considerable influence over certain fragments of the Sunni community, mainly due to the tribal and family connections that transcend the Syrian-Iraqi frontier. Therefore, any attempt by Saudi Arabia to ferment total anti-Iranian/Shia resistance amongst Sunnis was severely limited.

Plan B – Syria

The Israel/US/Arab axis then turned its attention to Syria and Lebanon. Syria has long been viewed as Iran’s right hand in the Arab world, giving Tehran a direct role in Arab affairs. Limiting Syria’s power, the Arab trio believed, would ultimately constrain Iran.

Rafik al-Hariri, former Lebanese Prime Minister, was conveniently assassinated in 2005, prompting Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon and Syria’s isolation from the international community. The Arab trio, along with Israel and the US, kept the heat on Damascus for subsequent years, with Assad only recently coming out of the frost courtesy of France.

The original aim was to topple the Alawite regime in Syria (a Shia offshoot sect) and replace it with a Saudi-backed Sunni leadership. Contacts were made with the arch enemy of Syria’s Ba’ath rulers, the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria (not to be confused with the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt). The idea was to spark a Sunni revolt in Syria led by the Muslim Brotherhood, with the defective Abdel Halim Khaddam at its helm.

It failed. Syria’s security tightened, its opposition groups were silenced, the Assad regime persevered, and Damascus came out of isolation whilst maintaining its anti-Israel stance.

Plan C – Lebanon

Lebanon had been delivered to Syria on a silver platter by the Americans after Damascus agreed to join the US-led coalition against Iraq in the first Gulf War. What ensued was 15 years of cohesive Syrian-Saudi rule over Lebanon, which brought the infamous Hariri family to power. Saudi money, via the late entrepreneur Rafik al-Hariri, would rebuild Lebanon using 1 million Syrian labourers. The Syrian-Saudi relationship brought relative calm to Lebanon, which appeased the Clinton administration who wanted Lebanon’s squabbling silenced whilst he shifted the focus towards the Israeli/Palestinian front.

The only problem with this equation was Hezbollah, the only faction of Lebanon that was out of reach for the Saudis and Americans alike. Hezbollah, at the behest of Iran and Syria, maintained a threatening arsenal, and continued its campaign against Israel until South Lebanon was finally liberated in 2000.

Hezbollah was a real threat put on Israel’s northern borders and exploited by Iran and Syria each time they felt a need to poke Israel or the US. Chopping off this arm would severely limit Iran’s influence in the region and remove a key player that gave Syria a certain degree of flexibility in its engagements with Israel.

The Arab trio along with the United States backed an Israeli offensive that aimed to destroy Hezbollah in 2006, or at least weaken it enough to give firm control of Lebanon to America’s proxies in the country.

It backfired. Hezbollah came out stronger, inflicted a significant blow to Israel’s self-perception of military invincibility, strangled the pro-American Lebanese government by imposing a year-long political deadlock, and gave Syria and Iran a new-found confidence.

More importantly, Hezbollah won the praise of the Arab street, and for the first time, exposed the complicity of the Arab trio. The pro-American dictators in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan found themselves isolated in the face of overwhelming public popularity for their adversaries in Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

Plan D (1) – Palestine

Riding on popularity and confidence after the Hezbollah victory in 2006, the Iranians/Syrians decided to make the next move. After a similar political impasse had paralysed the Palestinian territories, Hamas swept the Gaza Strip in 2007, removing Fatah from power and took absolute control of the tiny territory of 1.5 million Palestinians.

Israel was now confronted with the nightmare reality of having a Hezbollah to its north and south. For Egypt, its long-held fear that Iran’s growing populism would reach the streets of Cairo was moving closer to reality. The Gaza Strip is on Egypt’s doorstep, and its Hamas rulers retains deep ties to the party it evolved from … the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. Mubarak famously remarked after Hamas’ revolt in Gaza that his country now “shares a border with Iran”.

The Muslim Brotherhood forms the largest opposition in Egypt, and the Mubarak leadership has struggled to keep the lid on the Brotherhood’s popularity, often resorting to oppression. Just as Hezbollah swept Beirut in May 2008 to force the pro-American government to yield, and Hamas forcefully evicted Fatah from Gaza, Mubarak feared an Iranian-backed scenario would soon be played on the streets of Cairo.

Hamas in the Gaza Strip is intolerable for Egypt and Israel, yet vulnerable. Iraq borders Syria and Iran. Lebanon borders Syria. Material support could sufficiently reach Hezbollah and the Iraqis, but Hamas in Gaza is isolated. Encircled by Egypt and Israel, both countries saw an opportunity to inflict maximum damage on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Israelis and Egyptians attempted to starve the Gaza Strip by imposing a stiff blockade that has all but effectively destroyed Gaza’s economy and created a humanitarian disaster.

Their aim was to create enough dissent at the living conditions in the dense territory that Gazans would revolt against Hamas without the Israelis or Egyptians lifting a finger. After two years of the blockade, the revolt never came.

Plan D (2) – Gaza Today

Two days prior to Israel’s 2008 Christmas War on Gaza, Tzipi Livni and Hosni Mubarak met in Cairo, which many see as an Egyptian green light to the attacks.

The timing of Israel’s war also took into consideration the internal politics of key states. Israel’s elections are a month away, and Livni’s Kadima party trailed behind the Likud hawk, Benjamin Netanyahu. Kadima is gambling on the military offensive boosting Livni’s polling.

It is also neatly timed during the US presidential transition to avoid any concrete intervention from Washington. Barack Obama, whilst maintaining the US’ bias towards Israel, has hinted at placing peace as a priority and negotiating with Iran. Whilst he has assured Israel that its security is high on his agenda, Obama has also shown a willingness to diverge from the Likudnik view of what is required to ensure such a security.

Obama wants to shift American focus away from the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent and resolve the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is aware that in order to accomplish such a foreign policy shift, the Middle East tension needs to be defused. He wants to negotiate with Iran and Syria to ensure a smooth, trouble-free withdrawal of his forces from Iraq. He wants to allay fears of a military confrontation with Iran, which he hopes will eventually lead the Iranians to restrain Hezbollah and Hamas, bringing sustained calm and security to Israel.

The Likudniks don’t share a similar approach on securing Israel. The hawks believe the display of brutal power will eventually bring them security, despite the fact that 60 years of this policy has only brought Israel greater insecurity.

The war is also partly aimed at complicating any plan Obama had to restore an atmosphere of calm and dialogue in the Middle East. The Israeli war has effectively re-ignited inter-Arab tension, ended Syria-Israeli talks, emboldened groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and given Iran greater determination to pursue a hardline policy (Iranian elections are also scheduled for mid-2009). This serves the Likudniks’ purpose of maintaining an atmosphere of tension and resentment, which assists them in pursuing a militaristic approach to the region.

Egypt’s aim, along with Saudi Arabia, is currently in line with the Likudniks and hawks in Washington. They view Iran as an existential threat that needs to be contained at any cost. Both countries are adamant in preventing a Hezbollah-like situation in Gaza, and aim to dislodge Hamas from power whilst it is still weak.

The Reality

Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s blind obsession with Iran has only created greater resentment and determination among the Arab street to have such leaderships removed. The open and direct accusation of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that Egypt is an accomplice in Israel’s war is indeed new territory in inter-Arab rivalry.

Despite existing tension, Arabs have tended not to publicly shame each other, and maintain their disputes behind closed doors. However, Hezbollah’s public condemnation of Egypt is as much transparent as Mubarak’s open complicity in attempting to destroy Hamas.

Whilst Arab satellite networks broadcast strewn Palestinian bodies and wailing mothers for their lost children, Egypt sends its troops to the Gaza border to prevent the Palestinians from breaking through the Rafah crossing, the only border crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit continues to blame Hamas for the fighting, publicly repeating the words of the Israeli press office that the Islamic militants must end its rocket attacks for a cease-fire to work. And in revealing the real reason behind Egypt’s position, Aboul Gheit throughout the course of the conflicted has directed his criticism at Iran.

Egypt has brought its complicity in Israel’s attacks out in the open, and Hezbollah has responded in kind.

The only obvious impression one gets from this conflict is the widening gap between the policies of the Arab trio and the mood of its people. Cairo and Riyadh will stop at no cost to contain Iran, even if it involves a deal with the devil.

However, it’s their deal with the devil that is only endangering the stability of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and strengthening Iran. The further Cairo and Riyadh move in their quest to weaken Iran, the further away they’re moving from their people. The Arab world, with the exception from Lebanon and Iraq, has not bought the Sunni-Shia sectarian propaganda. This has been reinforced by the call of Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, Muhammed Mahdi Akef, that he has no problem with Iran spreading Shi’ite Islam in the Arab world.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are driven by their fear that Iran’s populism in its role in the Arab/Israeli conflict, coupled by its fervent Shi’ite Islam and historic rivalries between Persia and Arabia, will ultimately instigate revolts that will topple Mubarak and the Saud family.

The Arab trio have a right to such a fear, it is indeed incredibly plausible. However, the power-corrupt dictators of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have failed to understand Iran’s power in the Arab world. Iran is rising to its heights because it is winning the support of the Arab people. This year, Iranian elections will not only be played out on its own territory, but indeed in elections in Iraq and Lebanon (both also scheduled for this year). The role of Iran will play key factors in both elections, testing Iran’s popularity among the Arab public. The pro-Iranian camps in Lebanon and Iraq may have just received a polls boost courtesy of Egypt and Saudi conspicuous silence on Israel’s war on Gaza.

The people of the Arab world have longed for a leader to fight for their cause, and Iran has stepped up to the challenge. Moving closer to the US and aligning with Israel’s war on the Palestinians is not the path that will secure the dictators of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Instead, reverting to the popular sentiments of the Arab world, and embracing the leadership role on Arab affairs in Palestine and Iraq is what is required to combat Iran and its proxies.

In the view of many Sunni Arabs, it’s the Shi’ites that’s leading the charge to Palestine, not the Sunni Arab states. By dealing with the devil, the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia have only succeeded in increasing opposition to their rule, and endangered their seats on the throne.

- Antoun Issa is a Lebanese-Australian journalist. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit his blog: http://lebanesechess.blogspot.com.