Left-wing politics from the US to Nepal, via Zimbabwe, South America and Palestine.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Talking to Hamas - The Ha'aretz Position

Ha'aretz has come out very strongly in the last couple of days in favor of beginning dialog with Hamas. This opinion relies on the Prisoners' Declaration, which offers a plan for Palestinian unity and a basis for a Palestinian goverment of national unity's negotiation positions. These are negotiating positions, and thus are open to discussion. They are not final declarations.

Israel's demand that Hamas give up its entire platform (resistance to occupation, non-recognition of Israel, release of prisoners, right of return and so on) is absurd. As Gideon Samet says in an op-ed today:
"As if there ever was an organization that when fighting for independence volunteered up front, before any negotiations, to give up all its principles."
This op-ed, by the way, is very much worth reading. It does an excellent and very coherent job of pointing out the absurdity of Olmert's position.

While we're on the subject, the Ha'aretz editorial today points out that it is extremely hypocritical of Israel to refuse to talk to Hamas after allowing it to run in the elections. Yes, by the way, Israel did allow Hamas to run. It could very well have not allowed the elections to go ahead with Hamas's participation.

The particular method Ha'aretz chose to illustrate this point is the recent decision by the Minister of the Interior to expel to the West Bank Hamas members of parliament from East Jerusalem. This, again, makes no sense: Israel could have (and probably did) anticipate these MP's being elected. As the editorial points out:
"Those who approved Hamas' participation could have foreseen that a Hamas candidate from East Jerusalem might be elected. The four candidates for expulsion (three of whom are PA ministers) acted in accordance with the rules laid down by Israel and the international community, which supervised the elections. They are not accused of personal involvement in terror. They did not hide their affiliation with Hamas, which was a legitimate party in these elections. Thousands of East Jerusalem residents voted for them and view them as their elected representatives. It is possible to argue that "democratic elections" in which a terrorist organization participates are by definition not democratic, but such an argument cannot be raised after the fact."
I applaud this stance by Ha'aretz. Eventually, Israel will negotiate with Hamas. I don't doubt that. Ha'aretz is the first newspaper to understand this. Furthermore, it is taking a bold stance by supporting it early in the game.

An aside: the cartoon in Ha'aretz today shows Amir Peretz (Minister of Defence and head of the Labor party) in a tank

The two people standing next to the tank are two other Labor ministers. They are saying 'I thought you said the person, not the tank, was in the center'. He replies: 'I meant that the person is in the center of the tank'.

The cartoon refers to Peretz having said that the core of his agenda, even as Minister of Defence, is a social one. Since being appointed, he has acted far to the (political/military) right of his stated position. Many Labor voters are already disillusioned with his hypocracy. To their surprise, he argued strongly against cutting the defence budget in favor of social programs. So much for the economic 'left'. What a surprise....


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Israeli Army Destroys Many Toilets

The Israeli army has demolished a large number of outhouses in the South Hebron Hills region.

I spent quite a bit of time in this area last year when working with the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank. It is probably the poorest area of the West Bank, with many dwellers living in caves rather than homes. The residents are subject to daily attacks by settlers (see ISM reports from the Hebron regions here and Christian Peacemaker Teams reports here).

I suppose outhouses are dangerous, and prevent potential suicide bombers from having sex.


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Suicide bombers just don't get enough sex!

According to Madeleine Bunting, suicide bombers are motivated primarily by sexual repression.

In other news, home demolitions and collective punishment are motivated primarily by micro-penises.


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Updates from Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government looks likely to pass a law, called the Interception of Communications Bill, that will allow it to "monitor cyber and telephony activities of individuals “suspected of threatening national security”". This is a much more powerful law than the recent scandal regarding the Bush administration's spying on phone calls, etc. I wonder if the NY Times will have a 3000-word article on this...somehow I doubt it.

Anyway, coverage of opposition to the law over at:
Also in Zimbabwe:
Much of this information comes from the wonderful archive of The Bearded Man, a British/Zimbabwean/British person currently living in Derbyshire in the UK.


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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Women, Men and Sexism in Zimbabwe

Wonderful post over at Acoustic Motorcycle. Reproduced here for your reading pleasure...

Punchbag Chandelier

There are some days I am so angry, I think I could punch someone’s teeth in. Like today, standing in the queue to buy some bread, the man in front of me was busy on his cell phone. Tall and slim, dressed in a suit, I recognised his face from the papers as a Zanu PF Member of Parliament. He was so busy on his phone he couldn’t greet the teller. When his items were rung up, he thrust a wad of $50,000 notes into the tellers hand, and waved dismissively, as if to say “You count it. I’m far too busy with more important things.” His more “important things” included a call to a woman to organise where he was going to see her tonight. And confirming that yes he wanted a double cab. On the weekend, The Standard newspaper announced that the government has agreed to spend ZWD 600 billion on new 4 x 4 twin cabs for Members of Parliament. Never mind the poverty, the inflation, the recent shortage of birth control tablets, massive hikes in school fees, water rationing power cuts, and all the rest.

Walking home from the shops, I passed him standing by his other double cab, finishing off his sausage roll, and on yet another call. I fantasised about a leap in the air that would impress even Jackie Chan, kicking in his windscreen, stomping on the bonnet of his bakkie, and pissing on the radiator.

I wonder some times where all this anger comes from. And what to do with it. I recently finished Reviving Ophelia, Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. As the Teen Ink review of it states:

"'Ophelia' represents a universal teenage girl who tries desperately to fight against society's status quo that, 'A woman's success is determined by her beauty, whereas a man's success is determined by his capability.' Her struggle to reject this popular theory is found in over 50 real-life stories of the young female patients Pipher treats. These are stories of young woman who range in ages from 11 to 21 and cover topics from drug abuse to violence, sex, sexual abuse, divorce, rape, depression and the plague of eating disorders."

One of the young women featured has a punching bag installed in her basement to help her deal with her anger after she is sexually assaulted at a party with her fellow secondary school students. I don’t have a basement in my flat. But maybe I could replace the lights in the lounge with a punching bag. And invite other women around for punching parties. It needs to be something that immediate. Something to capture and channel the rage before it dissolves into depression or despair. And something satisfying. No matter how unfeminine or unwomanly it seems. My colleague recently said she was reluctant to write something that sounded vaguely violent in an article, because she thinks that non-violent action is seen as so much more acceptable, and she didn’t want to be rejected by her peers. And I agree, in my more Zen moments, that violence merely perpetuates the problem. I know that expressing my outrage at violence, abuse, injustice, cruelty, prejudice and sexism through violent means doesn’t solve anything. But I don’t want to lose that edge. I don’t want to temper the anger with softness or hold my tongue and pretend it doesn’t exist. Because somewhere at the core of that outrage is the power to resist the daily injustices, and transform them into something completely different.

When I got home, I found a text message from the one woman who really knows me, reminding me of the last lines of Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams: “In keeping still we hear more. In choosing less we are given more. In trusting more we trust ourselves. I know where my greatest treasures lie. They are within me.”


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Monday, May 29, 2006

The Myth of Arab Equality in Israel

Zionists constantly claim that Arabs are given equal rights and opportunities in Israel, just as Republicans (and many Democrats) claim that African-Americans are given equal rights and equal opportunities in the US. In practice, of course, this is not so. When various faults with this argument are pointed out, both groups resort to 'well, Arabs/African-Americans live better in Israel/US than in other Arab countries/Africa'...

True, in some ways, but completely irrelevant: better conditions do not justify racism.

Anyway, here's an op-ed that appeared in Yediot Ahronot recently, which claims to prove such inequalities.


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Nuaman - A Disappearing Village

From the Washington Post: In the Village of Nowhere, a Fate Soon Sealed


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Great oped in Ha'aretz

Between prisoners and captives - Haaretz - Israel News


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Academic Boycott of Israel

The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education voted today to recommend a boycott of certain Israeli academics and institutions. Here is a summary of press coverage, in Israel and beyond. I'll update this post as more comes in.
  • Arutz Sheva (Settler-funded):
    1. Article
  • Mail and Guardian (South Africa)
    1. Briefing

Here is a picture of the protest by Jewish students. Good to see there are so many...


Ma'ariv article:
The British are Boycotting us Again
By Gil'ad Grossman and Ha'im Isrovitch

The British Lecturers' Organization voted in favor of the boycott of academic institutions in Israel because of 'Apartheid policies'.

A year after the British academic boycott on Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities, the British lecturers' organization once again voted for the imposition of an academic boycott against Israeli institutions, due to what they call 'the Zionist Apartheid policies'.

The British organization, that has around 60,000 members, gathered over the weekend for its annual conference. One of the topics raised was the imposition of an academic boycott on all Israeli academic institutions.

In the proposal, it was written: "conference notes the continuation of Israel's Apartheid policies, including the construction of the separation wall and educational discrimination." The organization also condemned the position of the British government against Hamas, despite its democratic election, and attacked the demand that the Hamas government recognize Israel and condemn terror. All this was due to the 'continuation of Israeli violence and building of the fence'.

Around a year ago, the Union of university lecturers in Britain decided to impose an academic boycott on Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities. The boycott of Bar-Ilan was justified by the fact that it gives course in the Judea and Samaria college in Ariel and thus supposedly proves its 'involvement in the occupation of Palestinian territory contrary to UN decisions."

The boycott of Haifa university came out of the pressure that it supposedly put on the post-Zionist historian, Dr. Ilan Pappe. Pappe claimed that the university is hostile towards him because he defended academic work by the student Teddy Katz dealing with the supposed massacre of Tantura Arabs in 1948, despite the fact that the High Court found severe errors in it.

Following protests by lecturers' union members who were appalled by the imposition of the boycott, and following international pressure, the head of the organization came together in a special session and held a vote that overturned the boycott.

Ma'ariv Opinions:
"The Academic Boycott Deserves Revulsion"
By Gil'ad Grossman and Ha'im Isrovitch

Minister of Education Tamir is furious at the decision of the British lecturers' organization to boycott Israeli institutions

"Whoever imposes an academic boycott damages the independence of the academy and turns it into a tool in the hands of political forces" - so said the minister of Education Yuli Tamir furiously in response to the the decision of the British lecturers' organization to impose an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

"This move deserves condemnation and revulsion", emphasized Tamir when she spoke with the British Education Minister and requested that his government take a position on the subject. Additionally, she invited him to visit Israel, to express his protest against the boycott.

"The academy is built on autonomy, and when it is turned into a political factor, the entire academy loses out", said Tamir to NRG Ma'ariv. "They are deviating from the guiding principles of academic life", she added.

The chairman of the Knesset's Science and Technology committee, MK Zvulun Orlev (National Religious Party) turned today to his colleagues in Western Parliaments, demanding they condemn the academic boycott. "This is a test of the free world," he said to them. "We expect you to condemn the anti-Semitic and racist decision, and also to encourage academic institutions in your countries to enhance their cooperation with institutes of science, technology and higher education in Israel."

The lecturers' organization's intent to announce the boycott brought angry responses from other places as well. "This attempt is literally McCarthyism," said the British lawyer Anthony Julius, who donated his time to the struggle against the British lecturers' association.

Dr. Amir Gilat from Haifa University said that the idea is absurd. "They are asking to boycott every Israeli lecturer who does not come out openly against the policies of the government," he said. "They are asking us to be politicians and no just academics," he added.

The chairman of Tel Aviv university's student union, Bo'az Toforovski, added that "freedom of expression is especially important in the academic world. What they are doing to us today expresses the same racism that the Apartheid government showed to blacks in South Africa, and not vice-versa as they claim about us."

The British lecturer's organization today announced that it would impose an academic boycott against Israeli institutions, due to what it calls "Zionist Apartheid policies". The organizations' announcement comes a year after the British academic boycott imposed on Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities.

The British organization, consisting of 60,000 lecturers from various academic institutions in Britain, gathered over the weekend for its annual conference. One of the topics raised was the imposition of a boycott of all Israeli academic institutions.

In the proposal, it was written: "conference notes the continuation of Israel's Apartheid policies, including the construction of the separation wall and educational discrimination." The organization also condemned the position of the British government against Hamas, despite its democratic election, and attacked the demand that the Hamas government recognize Israel and condemn terror. All this was due to the 'continuation of Israeli violence and building of the fence'.

Ma'ariv Interview with Stephen Rose:
Behind the Academic Boycott: A Jewish Professor
by Ya'el Arava

Stephen Rose, a professor from Jewish origin, is one of the leaders of the lecturers' boycott against the Israeli academy. In an interview with NRG [Ma'ariv] he says that he is not a self-hating Jew and that in South Africa the boycott was effective.

He is a 68 year old Jew, third generation to a family of immigrants who grew up in an Orthodox and Zionist home in London - this is professor Stephen Rose, one of the leaders of the British lecturers' boycott against the Israeli academy. In a special interview with NRG Ma'ariv he wants to clarify that "the boycott is not anti-Semitic. I myself have fought against anti-Semitism and racism my entire life, and I'm also not a 'self-hating Jew'.

Two days ago, the British lecturers' organization (NAFTHE), that consists of 67,000 lecturers from various academic institutions around Britain, to recommend to its members to consider boycotting Israeli academic institutions and academicians who do not distance themselves in public of "Israel's Apartheid policies in the Occupied Territories".

One of the leading activsts in favor of the boycott is Professor Stephen Rose, dean of the Biology faculty in the Open University of Britain. Rose began his activism against Israeli policies four years ago, when he a letter to the Guardian newspaper, together with his wife Hillary Rose, in which they called for the imposition of a boycott on Israeli institutions because of Israeli policies.

Professor Rose claims that a boycott is one of many elements of non-violent political expression that exist in a civilized society, but that it must be used selectively and only after careful consideration. "The boycott in South Africa proved itself as effective against the Apartheid policies there and it seems like the imposition of an academic boycott on Israeli institutions could prove to be a powerful element in speeding up a possible change" he explains.

Professor Rose also desires to explain that the academicians are not merely focussing on Israel. "Many of us who are active in organizing the boycott are often asked 'why Israel?'. [Those who ask such questions] are ignoring our efforts to protest and to act non-violently to oppose illegal wars, for example that of our [British] government and of the US in Iraq" he says.

Rose is considered to be a world-renowned scientiest, who defines the course of his life as "a struggle to understand the world and also to change it". He was born in London and many of his family members were killed in the Holocaust. "I grew up in North-Western London in an Orthodox and Zionist home," he tells. "My fatehr was an activist in an anti-fascist organization. Most of my relatives died in the death camps in Europe. Some of them came to England after the war, with Holocaust numbers tatooed on their arms. Some emmigrated to Israel after 1948". According to Rose, the fact that he grew up in a Jewish-Zionist home and knew the Holocaust influenced him, even if he is completely secular.

Rose has taught and conducted research at Oxford University. He is also a Doctor of Neurobiology, and founder of his research group "brain behaviour". His curiosity towards the understanding of behaviour, and in particular the mechanism for learning and for memory lead hims to complete a doctorate in Psychiatry as well.

His research is world-wide and is the author of hundreds of scientific articles that have made him the recipient of prestigious international prizes, as well as a medal from the British Biochemical Institute for his excellece in presenting science in the media.

According to Rose, the conflict with the Palestinians is not just a Jewish issue. "The repression of the Palestianian nation is a shame to the entire world community, a daily tragedy for Palestinians, and one of the bitterest ironies of history - the Jews, who suffered so much opression in Europe, are now the oppressors".

Rose would like the Israeli public to recognize the fact that without justice, peace will not be able to exist, and according to him justice demands that Israelis recognize the tragedy of the Nakba. "Coexistence with the people who were the owners of the land and who worked it in their ways for generations before the waves of Jewish immigration arrived, took the land to turned it to their own, will only be possible when there is recognition of this fact. This is the only way forward." he says, and adds "the Palestinians are not an 'inferior race' (as the Germans called the Jews)."

Rose also reckons that Palestinians should not be punished [for voting] Hamas into power. "According to international law, and with no connection to Hamas, Israel is responsible for the health and education of those living under [its] Occupation. It [Israel] refuses to recognize its responsibility towards them [Palestinians] and the European Union must send them aid. Collective punishment of Palestinians who dared to vote for Hamas is a strange way of promoting democracy."

Aside from supporters the boycott who see it as a legitimate action, there are also those who consider it as an expression of the 'new anti-Semitism' and have raised the question of whether there is room for academic involvement in politics and whether an academic boycott should be imposed. The British scientist [Rose] is convinced that academicians should be involved in political questions. "As citizens they have the right and also the duty to be involved in politics," he says and asks "when did a protest arise from the Israeli academy against the negation of academic freedom that occurs daily to their Palestinian collegues?"

According to him, he does not with a situation where the academy was silent, as it was in the days of Nazi Germany. "Should British academics have kept silent and continued to co-operate as if everything was in order in Nazi Germany, when their Jewish colleagues, among them some of my teachers, were expelled from universities?" he asks, but hurries to clarify that "I am not accusing the Israeli academy of being Nazi. I am talking about the silence of the British academy, with the exceptiono of a few brave [souls], in the 30's".

One of the issues raised was that this boycott is led by a handful of people who set the agenda in the name of the majority. Rose says that the decision passed with a majority of votes "despite the intensive pressures of the Israeli lobby and the scare tactic campaign that was held against [the boycott]."

With all this, the boycott is expected to be cancelled after the merging of NAFTHE with the AUT [Association of University Teachers], that cancelled a similar boycott against Israeli instituions a year ago. Earlier agreements between the two unions stated that until the merger neither organization should pass fundamental decisions, and thus the [new] union will not be bound by this week's boycott decision after the merger.

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Iraqi MP's get new cars

Iraqi MP's have voted to give themselves two new cars each, at a minimum cost of $27.5 million. They've agreed on nothing else...how nice.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

And now for something completely different...

Thanks to Hali over at Living Out of Boxes, I found this awesome post at Pharyngula. I'm surprised no one has thought of this before. HTML is a hierarchical language, and therefore any web page is suitable to conversion to a tree. Color different tags and tag-sets in different colors and you get something visually meaningful. Coolness embodied :)

Anyway, here is the graph of this blog (prior to this post). Click on the picture for a larger version:
The branch on the bottom right-hand side is the sidebar, while each of the other clusters is a single post.


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Israeli (former) politicians - Get the facts straight, then go blind

Here's another translation. Original here. This time I'll comment at the end of it as well.
What is the Alternative?

Pini Midan-Sheni warns against the haste to make the Hamas government collapse. It might be to their benefit.

The job of Prime Minister in the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a relatively new one, that was born at the behest of the European Union and with the support of the Quartet. It was designed to provide an 'Arafat bypass road'. None other than Abu Mazen was the first appointed to the job. Now that it seems that 'the dummy has risen against its maker', we are looking for a 'Hamas bypass road', that will give the authority back to the President.

Recently we have been witness to a violent struggle for control in the PA between [Fatah and Hamas]. Abu Mazen has been quoted as saying that within three months, the Hamas government will collapse if its leaders will not be wise enough to substantially change their positions.

Will another round of elections return doves and moderates to power? In what circumstances will the Palestinians voter return his confidence to Fatah or to another independent body? Is there a political body that could both win elections and rule, with the assumption that the Hamas will continue to command the support of around 40% of parliament?

In order to answer these questions we must make a number of basic assumptions. Hamas's victory over Fatah with 44% vs 41% of the vote was made possible after Fatah failed in the building of a governatorial system that would have supplied civilian needs, and left the bulk of education, health and social services in the hands of Hamas. The corruption in the PA is not significantly different from that in other democracies in our region. The central difference is that the Palestinian leadership did not manage to translate its force into the establishment of a stable system.

The Palestinian population wanted to punish its leaders for their powerlessness, the slump in economic conditions, the loss of feeling of security and the failure to implement political vision. The method of elections, by which half the members of parliament were elected from local lists and half in national lists, also made it easier for Hamas. Additionally, the factionalism and internal struggle in Fatah, due to the split between the younger and older generation, prevent it [Fatah] from presenting a unified list and thus played into the hands of Hamas.

Hamas, that is seen as clean-handed in the socio-economic sphere, managed to convert the feelings of desperation regarding the struggle for national dignity and religious values. Due to this, if the Hamas government collapses, the Palestinian voter will consider changing his vote only if he is convinced that a substantial change in the status quo occurred.

That is, the Palestinian voter must be convinced that the Hamas government failed and that it is not suitable to lead the state. He must believe that this failure is the result of a mistaken direction, that has brought to the cutting of foreign aid, and that Hamas itself is the motivation for Israel's drive to complete the separation fence and its expressed desire to take unilateral steps, whose end-result is the shrinking of a future Palestinian state.

But even if he is convinced of these things, there still needs to be a serious alternative that loyally represent the national and personal interests of Palestinians. An early collapse of the Hamas government, without the formation of an alternative political force, could result in its re-election, which will solidify a base for many years of its rule.

Convincing the voter that a political compromise is not a concession of national dignity, and that it is not a surrender to the political and cultural values of the West, requires much time and a clear and lengthy policy of 'carrot and stick'. When the voter is convinced that the rule of Hamas puts him a generation backwards, and especially that there is a leader whom he can trust will lead towards the goals with determination, then the voter will change his position.

Until then, we should calculate our moves carefully, avoid the illusions of quick changes and solution and persist in the struggle, on the side of those who will in the future be the alternative.

The writer was previously a foreign-policy adviser to Prime Minister Barak.
OK, now to comment...

How much more colonialist can you get?!?! The writer of this piece first talks about how Fatah failed (passively, of course), then about what Israeli policy vis-a-vis the new government should be in order to bring about desired results. It is as if Israel had no hand in the collapse of Fatah!

Economic isolation of the Occupied Territories is nothing new, it is just exacerbated now. Israel has been the prime agent of economic collapse, far before the election of Hamas. The policy of closure brought to economic and intra-cultural isolation, destroying the socio-economic fabric of Palestinian society. Additionally, closures brought the rise of domestic (and other) violence and of fundamentalist leanings.

An explanation is warranted: one of the major effects of closure was the massive rise in unemployment in the Occupied Territories. As a result, men (the primary workers in Palestinian society) were forced to stay at home. Thus the lack of employment, added to the constant violence from the Israeli army, brought to frustration among a large section of the male population, which led to the classical 'easy ways out' - religion and violence. This gave fundamentalist-tending groups like Hamas more sway. The economic and political isolation of Arafat (and thus of the entire PA) left "the bulk of education, health and social services in the hands of Hamas", who were well-funded by outside sources, including Iran. The coming of Hamas to power was therefore not unexpected, although Western media made it seem a huge surprise.

Since the election of Hamas, economic isolation has been made more severe by Israel and American sanctions. The one and only effect this can have (and is having) is the further radicalization of many sections of Palestinian society. Israel seems to have the idea that it can force the collapse of Hamas by further economic and military pressure. Since there is no viable alternative to Hamas and the Fatah 'old-guard', the result of such a governmental collapse would not be the election of such an alternative, but rather a civil war.

If Israel was interested in an alternative, it would promptly release Marwan Barghouti, the de-facto leader of the Fatah 'young-guard'. Barghouti has recently been active in an attempt to unify the various factions, as he has attempted to do previously. He enjoys much respect and support throughout the West Bank and Gaza and is probably the only viable alternative to Hamas and to Abu-Mazen.

The Palestinian voter is unlikely to blame the Hamas government for the cutting of foreign aid and for the accelerated completion of the Apartheid barrier. The reason for this is simple: Israel and the US never gave Hamas a chance before jumping to cut aid and further isolate the PA. It is clear not just to Palestinians, but to any objective outside observer that the fault lies with Israel, not with Hamas.

It is also clear to any outside observer that Israel is attempting to bring about the collapse of the Hamas government. This is seen not only in the economic sanctions Israel has been pushing, but also in the increased military activity, the increase in the number of checkpoints and closures and so on.

Israeli policy makers are not stupid. They know full-well that a collapse of the PA will bring to civil war or to something very much resembling it. It's difficult not to conclude that Israel is interested in such a result.

What would be the point of fermenting violence? Well, Israel has been pushing further unilateral moves. During Olmert's recent trip to the US, he received very qualified support for his unilateral 'Convergence' plan. In the mind of Israeli policy-makers, the goal is to demonstrate once again to the US (and the larger international community) that 'there is no partner' for negotiations and thus that unilateral moves are the only way out. There is no partner for negotiations if that partner is constantly busy trying to prevent the entire fabric of Palestinian society from collapsing in on itself. Thus the fermentation of violence will allow Israel to get stronger US support for its plan to keep the larger settlement blocks in the West Bank, very much against international law.

Israel is and always has been a military state. The perceived solutions to problems are thus military and violent. In this case, the reasoning behind Israeli policy is simple: present to the world a picture of Palestinian non-viability and internal instability and if that does not exist, create it.


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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Torture in Nepal

"Then I felt a powerful electric shock. I became rigid and noises came from my mouth. I collapsed. Then they lowered me again into the water. The next thing I remember was waking up in the Hall, with all of my clothes on except for my underwear. I could not move. Another detainee lying next to me was patting me on my back. There was a tube in my arm and a bag of saline hanging on a stand. At about 7 in the morning, this was removed by a medical assistant. My hands were again cuffed in front. I could barely walk, but I managed to make it somehow to the toilet. Inside, I lifted my blindfold and saw that my thighs were black and blue and covered in blisters. A guard later said to me when he saw wounds from the electric shock, “you must have stolen a mango and got bitten by an ant.” I found out later that the guards urinated in the water container. "

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Refusal - A Human Duty

A phenomenal piece by Joseph Al'Ghazi in Ha'aretz magazine this weekend. This is hella long, so I'm pretty happy it appeared in English as well as Hebrew...
"In the letters, I described something of our experiences, always careful not to give away "military secrets." After I finished reading Chaplin's book, I allowed myself to quote from it, in free translation, a few lines from the famous speech in "The Great Dictator": "Soldiers! Do not give in to these thugs, to these people who despise and subjugate you ... Who dictate your deeds, your thoughts and your feelings! ... Who treat you like a herd of animals and use you as cannon fodder! You are not machines! You are people! Your heart is brimming with love for humanity! Do not hate!""

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Why Barak's Minority Opinion Doesn't Matter

Human rights for security - Haaretz - Israel News

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Translation of oped by Hamas MP Abu-Tir

Original here. Compare this article to remarks made by Ehud Olmert today:
"Jerusalem will be our's forever, singular and undivided [...] There is no and never has been any other home [...] Between us and Jerusalem there is a binding pact, that will never be violated."
My Jerusalem
For Hamas man Abu Tir Jerusalem Day [1] represents only the Occupation

Jerusalem is everything to me: it's the Holy Land, it's the Al-Aqsa mosque, it's the first Kibla (the direction of prayer). We are permanently tied to Jerusalem. My grandfather was born here, as was his grandfather. We have been here hundreds and thousands of years, and now we fell like strangers in our homeland because of the Israeli Occupation of Jerusalem, that you call 'liberation'.

Despite the fact that you supposedly 'liberated' Jerusalem, the Occupation is present in the city on a daily basis. If you have such a history in this city, why do you need to use force to coerce it? Why is there security guarding the home of each settler? That is proof that there is an occupation by force in this city. We are not against Jews nor against Judaism as a religion. I myself, for example, am forbidden from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque for two weeks. I myself, for example, would not prevent Jews from entering a synagogue.

Each of us feels the exploitation and the Occupation, that began in '67. Everything that the Hebrew state has done so far in Jerusalem has been contrary to international decisions. Israel's strategy aims to Judaize Jerusalem and to uproot Arabs from it. The Israeli right-wing behaves like a mafia and continues to act according to the theories of Rehav'am Ze'evi: no wish to live with Arabs, and attempts to sow seperation and rifts between Mizrachi [Eastern/Arab] Jews and Arabs. In the end, right-wingers are digging their own graves.

He who says the Jerusalem is his eternal capital is not interested in peace and wants to ignite the entire region. We propose the following to you: give us those parts of Jerusalem you conquered in '67, give us the West Bank and release the political prisoners and you will get a hudna [ceasefire] for 20 or even 30 years. All the nations of the region want peace. If the Occupation disappears, this entire region will be able to live in peace and quiet.

Muhammed Abu-Tir is a member of the Palestinian Parliament from Hamas and a resident of East Jerusalem.

[1] Jerusalem Day is the anniversary of the day Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. See here for the official Israeli view.


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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

On the 6th Anniversary of the Withdrawal from Lebanon - Two Articles

Six years ago today, Israeli forces withdrew from Southern Lebanon, closing an 18-year period marked by thousands of deaths and countless injuries. Two op-eds appeared in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv today about the subject, one by the right-wing Efi Eitam and one by the center-left Yossi Beilin. Below are translations of both. Eitam's article in Hebrew is here, and Beilin's is here.

Leaving with a Bowed Head

Efi Eitam reckons that the army's exit from Lebanon has helped the victory of Islamic terror.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the army's flight from the security belt [1] in Lebanon. I was the last commander of the Lebanon sector before the flight, and I sent, like many before me, hundreds of young soldiers to these missions, mission that many of them did not return from.

But before we deal with the analysis of the results of this move, I would like to pay attention to the negative and false atmosphere that is present in Israel regarding that war these days. To the talk of a useless war and the mistake that that war was, to the atmosphere that has turned, in large measure, the sacrifices of soldiers to meaninglessness. Today I want to say to you, dear warriors and dear families, that was a war of unparalleled importance and that as the years pass, it will become clear that this front was the cornerstone of the struggle against the entirety of Islamic terror.

Like so often in history, the treason of politicians has made the efforts, the sacrifices and the determination of warriors in the field meaningless. The treason of the politicians in the name of some momentary and temporary calm in the difficulties of war has almost become a fixed method since the flight from Lebanon. I salute from here today all those many, who were sent by myself and by others, to the mission of protecting the northern border and did not return.

And now, to observation of the consequences of the move itself. Actually, the flight from Lebanon was the great-grandfather of unilateral moves. An apparently brilliant trick that with one sword thrust cut the Gordian knot that we built between us and Lebanon and left them, supposedly, to their own business. But realistically, it was the first strategic victory of an extremist Islamic terror organization (Hizb'Allah) over the Israeli army and over the stamina of Israeli society. Thus, the move turned into a military and political imitation model, a model that has been endorsed by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda.

Six years after this flight, indeed no more soldiers are dying on the Northern border. However, terror organizations are actively completing a siege around the state of Israel whilst thousands of Israeli civilians' lives are being lost. On the Southern border Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to completely implement the Hiza'Allah model and after they chased the Israeli army out of Gush Katif [the former Israeli settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip] and caused the state of Israel to uproot its citizens and its settlements from there, Hamas has become the chosen leadership of the Palestinian people.

The talk of 'Convergence' signal to those same terror organizations that Israel is about to run away from Judea and Samaria as well. With this, Palestinian terror will achieve another strategic victory over Israel by pushing it to its '67 borders. Without an agreement and while the entire evacuated area becomes a terrorist state dependent on Iranian aid. A state that aims to create territorial continuity from Iran to the greater Tel Aviv area while endangering the future of Jordan.

True, the collapse of great walls begins from the removal of one brick. As stated, our stubborn position in the 'security belt' in Lebanon took a heavy toll in lives of soldiers and warriors but it was the same stubborn rock that broadcast the political and military determination to not surrender to terror. With our miserable flight we opened the gate to the victory of Islamic terror in the entire region. There is no doubt that Israel will have to renew treatment of Islamic terror in the north, as well as the Southern threat, that has turned the South of the state of Israel to a target for Katyusha and Qasam rockets [2].

One of the difficult and painful things is that statesmen in their foolishness are not required to give the verdict. Ehud Barak, in his short and failing term as prime minister, designed the model of defeat. Ariel Sharon after him, strengthened it, and it looks like the current Prime Minister, with an inexperienced security team, is with remarkable persistence doing everything so that the siege of terror and its victory will indeed be completed. This is not the way to build security. This is the way to destroy a wall.

[1] In 1995, Israel withdrew its forces from central Lebanon, but left what it called a 'security belt' in the South. In practice, Israel continued the occupation of southern Lebanon, partially through its proxy militia, the South Lebanese Army. See Yossi Beilin's article below.

[2] Exactly one Katyusha rocket has been launched from Gaza. That was just a couple of months ago. There is no 'rain' of Katyushas as was the case during the Lebanon war.
The Dangerous Consensus

MK Yossi Beilin presents the mental fixation that prevented bringing forward the retreat [from Lebanon].

From the moment we entered Lebanon, that useless and pretentious war, I believed we had to get out of there, and every time it became more difficult and was more likely to be seen as running away. In January 1985 I was delighted when I announced to the public, as government secretary, the army's exit from Lebanon, but I found the "security belt" that turned in a death trap for so many soldiers, difficult to swallow. For some reason, the matter did not turn into a public debate like the future of the Occupied Territories: the baseless belief, according to which the army's soldiers in the security belt were the only barrier to the Katyusha rockets being launched on Northern towns became common opinion, and also became a slogan in the Northern military posts.

In the summer of 1995, after one of the incidents in Lebanon in which a few army soldiers were killed, I asked Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister and Security Minister, if he really believes that we are saving lives by remaining in the 'security belt'. He replied that this is not the time to discuss the matter. We all knew that when soldiers were not being killed in Lebanon, no one will discuss the matter since it just isn't on the agenda.

But when I traveled to Lebanon and met the commander of the Northern sector and the commander of liaison with Lebanon, I understood that the position opposing the exit from Lebanon was far from representative of all of senior army people. To my surprise, my chats with Rabin revealed that the Prime Minister was not convinced of the need to stay in Lebanon, but he put forward some conditions to the army's retreat in order to prove 'Lebanon's seriousness', and these conditions were non-realistic.

In 1996, operation 'Grapes of Wrath' took place. We were dragged into it after a wave of Hizb'Allah Katyusha rockets on Northern towns. I suggested to Shim'on Peres, then Prime Minister, that with the end of the operation we declare the evacuation of the 'Security Belt'. This was after the army accidentally fired artillery that hit more than one hundred Lebanese in Qan'a village. Peres thought that such a retreat would be a signal of weakness towards the arena of world public opinion.

Immediately following this elections were held. With our passage to the opposition benches, I held talks with many members of Knesset and was surprised to learn that many of them supported an exit from Lebanon, with no regard to the official position of their parties: Gideon Ezra and Miki Eitan from Likud, Haim Ramon, Yael Dayan and Yona Yahav from Labor, Yitzhak Cohen from Shas, Naomi Chazan from Meretz, Yehuda Har'el from the 'Third Way', and others. In the meeting that took place in my office, we created a forum for support of unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon. Shortly afterwards, we held a larger meeting in the home of Gideon Ezra in Kochav Yair.

The media gave widespread coverage to the event, because it took place only a few days after the helicopter disaster [3], and there were those who accused us of taking advantage of the disaster for political gain. A few days after the meeting I received a letter from a group of women in Kibbutz Gadot that wanted to work as partners with us. I traveled to meet them and we decided to cooperate. Later they were called 'Four Mothers' [4].

A combination of a multi-party parliamentary lobby that held widespread parliamentary activity, with an authentic public protest movement, many joint demonstration and media appearances raised the public support for an exit from Lebanon from 18% at the beginning of the work, to 72%. From there and until the promise to exit Lebanon became Barak's election slogan, the path was short (despite him [Barak] being one of the strongest opponents when I created the lobby).

Barak stood by his word. On the 24th of May 2000, he made the most important political move of his career by taking the army out of Lebanon. The relative calm in the north, the blossoming of tourism, the calm in Northern towns, all these prove how dangerous the old consensus was.

One should not believe that 'up there' they know so much more. If people are convinced of the righteousness of their ways, it is better that they struggle for their beliefs. The chance of convincing others and of breaking the consensus is not negligible. And then, it becomes clear that the supposed fort is nothing but a tower of cards.

[3] Feb 1997 - IDF helicopter disaster. 73 IDF soldiers died in helicopter collision in northern Israel on way to Lebanon.
[4] See here.


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Free Speech and Censorship in Iran and the US

During the insane row over the anti-Muslim Danish cartoons, an Iranian newspaper held a competition to find the best anti-Semitic cartoon and an Israeli group responsed with holding their own anti-Semitic cartoon contest. At the time Iran claimed, just like the right-wing Danish paper that published the original cartoons, that it was 'testing the limits of freedom of speech'. All fine and good, no problems so far (apart from a few embassies burned and people killed...actually, most of the protests were peaceful, but no one really reported on those).

So imagine my surprise when I saw yesterday that Iran was shutting down a newspaper for printing anti-Azeri cartoons. The cartoons seem to have provoked riots in Azeri areas (Azeris make up about 25% of the Iranian population). What happened to that good old freedom of speech?

Having said all that, a comparison is necessary. Anyone remember the Bush administration censoring photographs of dead soldiers and of coffins from the Iraq war? Here's something to jog your memory. Free speech seems fine only when its consequences aren't damaging to whatever government or ruling body...

On yet another front, the American Civil Liberties Union is considering a proposal that will limit criticism of its policies by board members. The biggest organization committed to defending free speech in the the US is self-censoring.

Forgive me while I go bash my head against a brick wall.


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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Two Evil Bastards

Man, does Olmert look like someone whacked him over the head with a baseball bat and then painted the bump black with a sharpie or what?


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Far Right polling 22% in France!

The margins of politics, both on the left (street-wise anyway) and the right seem to be gaining in the France. Scary bastard Jean-Marie Le Pen is polling at 22%!

I won't be the first to point out that Monsieur Le Pen is also a pro-Israeli anti-semite...


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Some Justice for Prisoners in New Orleans

This guy, Judge Arthur L. Hunter Jr. is granting New Orleans prisoners who cannot afford lawyers their freedom. The aim is to attack the Louisiana public defender system, which according to the NY Times "forces poor people to pay for the system".



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Some interesting statistics from Iraq

In the middle of a rather silly ultra-humanist article in the NY Times today, Sabrina Tavernise points out some interesting stats about life in Iraq right now:
"The number of acutely malnourished children has more than doubled, to 9 percent in 2005 from 4 percent in 2002, according to a report based on figures from the Planning Ministry that was released this month.

Homelessness has spread since 2003 and accelerated with the rise of sectarian violence, with Iraqis even squatting in an old movie theater in central Baghdad, Ms. Khafaji said. The Ministry of Migration estimates that 1.1 million Iraqis have been displaced since 2003"

It's always good to find the less-reported figures from the war. Internal displacement is so often overlooked. Since there are very few external refugees from Iraq, this figure is very significant.


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Monday, May 22, 2006

Expulsion is not Always a Dirty Word

Another translated article from Ma'ariv. The original is here.

Expulsion is not a Dirty Word - By Moshe Zimmerman

Moshe Zimmerman explains why the 'kindly souls' [1] on the left didn't object to the evacuation [of Gaza], and also puts forth a solution that will enable coexistence.

Forty years too late, the Israeli government came to the conclusion that indeed it should not uncompromisingly stick to the belief in the 'whole land of Israel' [2], belonging entirely to the Jewish people. It is necessary to evacuate parts of the occupied lands and hand them over to the forthcoming Palestinian state.

Indeed, humanitarian or international law concerns are not anchored in the thoughts of the initiator of change, Ariel Sharon, nor in those of his successor, Ehud Olmert. The reasoning is constructed more upon pragmatic arguments. What is termed the 'demographic threat' and what is termed 'international pressure'.

But from what was not, we arrived at what is: from the day that Ariel Sharon called the child by its proper name, 'occupation', even the Israeli right must consider the logic of holding on to territories conquered in 1967.

This question is examined, among other ways, using the concept of 'expulsion'. Over and over, members of the right-wing call the return of Jewish settlers from the Occupied Territories to the the land inside the 1949 borders 'expulsion'. They then wonder why the 'kindly souls' on the left are so sensitive to the current and past expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from their land, and less sensitive to the expulsion of settlers, as occurred in Gaza six month ago.

Here one must say that the word 'expulsion' is not necessarily negative. It is desirable to expel someone from the place that they invaded. Here the word 'expulsion' is synonymous with 'evacuation' or with 'pushing back' of the enemy. This is in fact the basis on which international treaties regarding occupied territories stand, and the post-1967 Israeli experience does not constitute a precedent.

One can express this as follows: if someone invades my house and I expel him, I do not harm justice. In fact, I execute justice. Herein lies the difference between expulsion of Palestinians and expulsion (or evacuation) of settlers.

The settlers that were evacuated from Gaza and those that will be evacuated from the West Bank reckon that their rights to that land was born from the strength of the divine promise to the land of Israel, or from the the strength of the governmental decision that they interpreted as granting legitimization. But not only the international community, but also a significant part of the those living in Israel reckon that the promise made in the book of Genesis is not justification for present-day politics.

This majority also reckons that the settlers cannot wash their hands [of responsibility] and say: 'we didn't think we had no right to settle, since Israeli governments have supported us up until now.' Even if we call this naiveté, this is not the basis upon which justice is built, and therefore the evacuation of settlers from the Occupied Territories becomes legitimate.

From this results a principled dilemma regarding the question of compensation: the settlers reckon that those who were evacuated after being sent to settle by the state or under the sponsorship of its governments deserve material compensation from the state. On the opposite side, there are those who that it is sufficient for us as citizens that we invested the best of our tax money in practical support of settlements and that there is no reason for us to pay again for the sins committed by the settlers and their senders.

But it is possible to think of another solution from the dilemma of justice and expulsion. There is something wrong with a policy that demands to invalidate the lives of Jews in Israelite lands that do not belong to the state. 'Judenrein' [3] is not the only answer. The correct theoretical solution is that of Jewish citizens of a Palestinian state, living there with the full agreement of the Palestinian population.

A Jew who loves the land of Israel would be able to live in the land of Israel outside the borders of the state of Israel. Jewish sovereignty is not a biblical commandment. If we had been seeking this solution from the beginning, out of agreement with the Palestinians, instead of forcing settlements upon from by the power of the Occupation, it is possible that this solution would have even become accepted.

A Jewish minority in Palestine is as reasonable as a Palestinian-Arab minority in the Jewish state. Indeed, the origin of the mistake was not in 1967 but much earlier, and a fundamental change is needed within Palestinian society, but that is not to say we shouldn't give this idea a chance.

They will say: 'not realistic'. But what is more realistic: to hold back the settlers who are savaging Palestinians in the name of the Occupation or to educate the non-violent majority on both sides to accept a minority within?

[1]: 'Kindly souls' (yefey nefesh) is a derogatory term used by the right in Israel to describe leftists.
[2]: The 'whole land of Israel' (eretz yisrael ha'shlema) is a term used by the right to describe the Jewish divine right to the land. Usage of the term varies from the current state of Israel, including the Occupied Territories (by the moderate right), to all the land from Iraq to Libya (by right-wing extremists).
[3]: 'Judenrein' is a German word meaning 'cleansed of Jews'. It was principally used by the Nazi regime in Germany.

||||||||Israel Press||

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NOLA Elections - Not just about race

An interesting article appeared in the NYTimes today about Nagin's election victory. a lot of people assume that NOLA voting is determined almost purely on racial lines. A little paragraph from the article appears to contradict this:
"Voting along racial lines may be a tradition here, but it is not how Mr. Nagin was elected the first time. In 2002, his first step into politics, he was supported by New Orleans businesses and won more than 80 percent of the white vote but only about 40 percent of the black vote. This time around, the trials of Hurricane Katrina, and the criticism heaped upon him by outsiders, garnered sympathy among blacks."
Another little fact that many people don't seem to know is that Nagin is in fact not black, but rather Creole. While this may seem irrelevant to outsiders, the people of NOLA don't quite see race in black and white terms...


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More torture in Zimababwe

"One of those seriously injured was Zimbabwe National Students Union Secretary General Beloved Chiweshe. He said, “The treatment was quite bad. We were beaten thoroughly with clenched fists, baton sticks, wooden sticks. We were asked to roll on the ground and imitate intimate acts. Even our female comrades were asked to lie on the ground and they were assaulted on their backs with baton sticks and I am touched and I am saddened by the treatment we received from the police at Bindura Police Station. But I know the good Lord will judge them harshly.”

Asked what he meant by being made to imitate intimate acts Chiweshe said, “We were asked to lie on the ground naked. We were stripped stark naked and pretend as if you had the companion of a woman and pretend you were being intimate with her while the rest of the officers watched and laughed and mocked you as you were in such an act.”"


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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mr Occupation Saw the Light - a translation

This appeared in Hebrew here. I thought it would be interesting to translate the article:

Mr. Occupation Saw the Light

With his own hands and orders Brigadier General Ilan Paz deepened the suffering in the Occupied Territories. Surprisingly, the political realization and moral insight broke through moments after he returned his equipment. And he's not the first...

"Nothing good can come out of the humiliation of a neighboring people...the Convergence Plan won't be implement even in another twenty years...if we do not transfer the land to the element that has a common interest with us to get to a two-state solution in the '67 border, the situation will spiral out of control...the time has arrived to examine the saying that Abu Mazen is a weak leader and therefore isn't a partner. We had a major part in creating this image...in Hebron there are terrible instances of violece against Palestinians, but also against the security forces. An entire settlement has taken the law into its own hands. I believe that there is no alternative but to remove the settlers from there...tems of settlements sit on private land that was stolen from Palestians and that contiunes to be developed under the sponsorship of the government."

Who stands behind this range of quotations? Uri Avnery? Shulamit Alony? Perhaps a field activist from Ta'ayush? No. These logical statements were quoted in Ha'aretz from the mouth of Brigadier General (ret.) Ilan Paz, the head of the District Coordinating Office (DCO) until just a few months ago, when he left the army. The army received his equipment and we receieved a well-justified and harsh series of statements against the Occupation and the disaster of settlements. Paz got released, saw the light and hurried to tell all of us that the Occuapation is bad.

We are talking about a syndrome, that could be called 'Denied Moral Failure'. A senior officer strips off his uniform and exactly then, not a minute before, his mind awakens to the fact that he dedicated his last few years in the army to the entrechment of a policy of occupation and violence that takes its toll in useless human sacrifices and undermines existential Israeli interests. Before Paz, there was Brigadier-General Giyora Inbar, the former commander of the Lebanese liason unit. Even before the small of gun oil left his clothing, the newly-made civilian hurried to give retirement interviews in which he stated that the Israeli presence in Lebanon was useless, creates pointless human sacrifices, and that we must get out of there immeadiately. Here too, surprisingly, the political realization and moral insight broke through not a moment before he returned his equipment.

Or maybe it was all previous? Is it possible that Ilan Paz and Gyora Inbar understood the size of the mistake and the depth of destruction while they were still in uniform? Which is worse: an IDF Brigadier-General whose uniform takes away his abililty to be logical and judge morally and independently, or maybe a Brigadier-General who knows full-well good from evil, and is aware of the disaster that he creates with his own hands and his orders, and despite this continues in the same path, because 'an order is an order'?

Ilan Paz, like Gyora Inbar before him, cannot hide behind the duty to obey orders. We are not talking about some minor office here, but rather about the commander of the DCO himself. A man whose signature decorates thousands of orders and regulations, that themselves have turned the occupation into the curse that he now condemns with such vigor: checkpoints, theft of land, building roads on Palestinian lands, the impostion of a Kafka-esque regime of personal and trade permits, and reunification of families, and separation of familes and anything that happens to pop up in the military mind. In other words, during his three years in the job, Ilan Paz was Mr. Occupation himself, second only to the head of the army. Now he tells us 'Na, I was just kidding. I actually hate the occupation and want to return to the '67 borders." Ilan Paze participated personally in the 2002 capture of Marwan Baghouti. Now he rebukes the state of Israel as one that with its own hands contributed the situation of 'there is no partner'.

And Ilan Paz is not apologetic. He doesn't even dream of apologizing (Gyora Inbar also skipped over that embarrassing matter). From his point of view, thare is no contradiction between his activities as an army officer and his statements as a civilian. Privately, he brags about this cognitive separation wall: in battle you shoot, at home you talk. He did not refuse his commanders, he did not leave his job slamming the door behind him: a nine-month leave padded his retirement. Mabrook (congratulation, Arabic). This is what will be done to an officer that fulfills his duty, gets a bit disgusted, and shuts up.

It's a pity that Brigadier-General Paz broke his silence upon his release. It's a pity that he didn't spare us the insights that burned in his bones. Now he feels brave, and we feel cheated. And it's not all this will move the machine of occupation from its path, not even by a millimeter. This machine is built on thousands of such Ilan Paz's, they are its cogs and screws; good, moral people who only do terrible things out of necessity. Indeed, few are in as strong a position as Paz, a position that could have enabled them to really rock the boat, with a brave act of refusal. But together they call continue to carry the burden; they all promise that the machine will never stop. Is it too much to ask that at least their futile remarks stop?


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More incompetence in Iraq

NYTimes article today on the Iraqi police force:
"One result was a police captain from North Carolina having 40 Americans to train 20,000 Iraqi police across four provinces in southern Iraq."
(In case anyone doesn't know this yet, you can get a login to NYTimes (as well as many other sites) at http://www.bugmenot.com)


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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Freedom of Speech - Killing Bush?

A wonderful article in Harper's June edition. It's not up on their website yet, but here's an image pdf of it. Drop me a note if you want a text pdf.

A quote from it:
"Am I allowed to write that I would like to hunt down George W. Bush, the president of the United States, and kill him with my bare hands?"
Check it out...


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NRA Katrina Campaign

Check this out.

Before I moved to the US, I used to be entirely anti-gun. Since learning more about the self-defense movement here, I've become slightly less so. It seems unlikely to me that civil rights would have been achieved here without the Black Panthers being armed and willing to defend themselves against the brutality of the authorities.

Personally, I have no desire whatsoever to own a gun. I have never touched one and I'm not planning on it. However, if police and army are armed and they use extreme violence to enforce the often fascist dictates of the state, I believe people have the right to defend themselves.

The order to 'shoot to kill' looters after the storm was an example of such fascist behaviour, especially given the perception of black people as 'looters' and whites as 'finders'.

Comments more than welcome. I've also started a thread about this on the Common Ground forums here.


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Monday, May 15, 2006


The Israeli Supreme Court approved a law yesterday denying West Bank and Gaza Palestinians married to Israeli Palestinians residence or citizenship in Israel. As the linked Ha'aretz editorial states, this is a disgrace. Moreover, this is yet another grounding of Apartheid by the Israeli 'justice' system.
"... not one single Western country discriminates against some of its citizens by passing laws that apply only to them, and that impose limits only on their choice of a partner with whom they can live in their homeland."
Yes, five out of the eleven judges voted against the law. Yes, those included both the current president of the court and his replacement. Yes, this law has been contested over and over again and the legal system allowed it to be.

But no, that does not make a damn difference. As of now, Israeli Palestinians who just happen to fall in love with someone from the West Bank or Gaza cannot do a damn thing about it.

I guess it's just one more element to add to the list:
  • Seperate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank (and Gaza pre-disengagement) - see Road Networks in the legend here.
  • Different ID cards, giving different priveleges (see here).
  • Massive discrimination on access to water (see here).
  • Israeli Palestinian districts inside Israel get far less funding for schools, health and other services than Jewish areas (see here).
  • Israelis can move around...see here.
And so on and so forth...

The country I was born in is a racial pseudo-democracy. That makes me sad and extremely angry. So many of the comments on the Ha'aretz article linked above are sickeningly racist:
"Arabs commit horrible acts of terror and behave like animals, and they expect equal rights?!?"
You see? They are animals, they are terrorists. All of them. Just like the Jews all control the media, Hollywood and practically everything else in the world. Sound familiar?

Therein lies the essence of racism: generalization. This law is fundamentally racist in that in it punishes enormous numbers of innocents for the actions of the very very few.

Israel is an Apartheid state. That Apartheid will not end until the entire Zionist system collapses in a heap of its own stinking shit.



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