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

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

One more day in Palestine

Yesterday I attended a demonstration in Ramallah against Condoleeza Rice's visit in the region. While the various political and armed factions seemed pretty united, the Palestinian Authority police and security forces attacked the crowd with huge (baseball bat sized!) batons and a number of people were injured. The factions did not come armed.

The angry crowd was pushed back and surged back forward a number of times, with many people accusing the PA police of collaborating with the US. While this was going on, a small number of women managed to get to the gates of the Muqata (the PA headquarters in which the Abbas-Rice meeting was taking place). They vocally expressed their desire to get into the compound, but we stopped by (once again) PA police, joined by US Secret Service agents.

Later on, a couple of Islamic Jihad militants in facemasks burned an Israeli flag. It took them 20 minutes to light the damn thing. They seem to not have heard of lighter fuel around here.

Anyway, here are some pictures:
ISM Activists carried signs with this message in a few different languages (English, German, Swedish, Gaelic)

More 'new Middle East' stuff. Dead kids, etc. The top center image is an Israeli denial of entry stamp.

The guys above were beating the crap out of people like the guy below:

I think this guy is from Al Aqsa martyrs brigade, who were on the side of the PA police this time, despite having shootouts with them only a few weeks ago.

PA guy trying to explain to this woman why she can't go to the compound and tell Condi about her sons who are in Israeli jail.

Islamic Jihad militant burning an Israeli flag.

Young girl at the women's protest near the Muqata.

More later. Last night we went to witness an Israeli special forces attack on a building here in Ramallah. Pictures and info to come...


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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A quick post from Ramallah

So, I'm in Ramallah, hanging out in the ISM media office. It's really good to be here :)

We are all going to a huge anti-Condi demo in a couple of hours. The demo has been called by all Palestinian armed and political factions to protest her visit in the region. The entirety of Ramallah seems to be on strike, so this will be huge...

I'm sort of terrified, actually. The Palestinian Authority police will be out in big force and tensions will be high. Hopefully, no one will be shot...

Various Israeli media are reporting that the helicopter that crashed yesterday may have been hit by an Israeli missile. Neta seems to think that the army is covering up Hizb'Allah attacks. I disagree. I think they're just an incompetent bunch of morons.

People here are awesome. I love ISM.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

As promised (at least in part)

So I'm in the relative safety of Tel Aviv, far from the craziness of the North and the South. Everything here is as normal. Coffee shops, malls, street life all continue. The only disruption was a wonderful demonstration against this pointless and murderous war the other day. I expected 200 people to come and was delighted to see around 1,000. It's not that much, but at least we can show that there is no consensus for this craziness.

So anyway, a bunch of generals decided they're fed up with not using lots of big bombs and now have an excuse to use them. Ilan Pappe points this out well:
Imagine a group of high ranking generals who simulated for years Third World War scenarios in which they can move huge armies around, employ the most sophisticated weapons in their disposal and enjoy the immunity of a computerized headquarters from which they can direct their war games. Now imagine that they are informed that in fact there is no Third World War and their expertise is needed to calm down some of the nearby slums or deal with soaring crime in deprived townships and impoverished neighborhoods. And then imagine - in the final episode in my chimerical crisis - what happens when they find out how irrelevant have their plans been and how useless are their weapons in the struggle against the street violence produced by social inequality, poverty and years of discrimination in their society. They can either admit failure or decide none the less to use the massive and destructive arsenal at their disposal. We are witnessing today the havoc wreaked by Israeli generals who opted for latter course of action.
Check out the article. He makes quite a bit of sense, though I'm not sure about his claims re the military's mode of action. The Israeli army has in recent years used leftist theory (Derrida. Seriously.) in planning urban warfare and has developed techniques far beyond Pappe's "[sending] Israel’s best and fiercest to run after boys and girls in the alleys of Nablus or Hebron".

In the end, these analyses are silly. There are bombs falling all over Lebanon, the entire Israeli air force is being used in pure aggression, for the first time since 1973 ('82 wasn't quite full force, IIRC). Over 100 warplanes in Lebanese territory at any given time. Lest we forget (though CNN won't let us), there are also people dying in Israel. If a chemical factory in Haifa gets hit, a lot of people will die rather horribly.

This is the essence of much of world opinion: one side forgets Arab deaths, the other Israeli. All sides forget that the numbers don't matter. Israel has killed lots more Lebanese, and the use of force is totally disproportionate, but to be honest, I don't care. I don't give a shit about 'asymmetrical warfare' or 'disproportionate use of force'. People are dying, and those still alive are suffering, everywhere. This is useless and will not bring to anything positive.

I have a political analysis on the motives of both sides. I'll post some of those ideas later, but for now: forget the numbers, forget the

Arab/Israeli/Jewish/Muslim/Katyushas/F16s/Multiple Launch Rocket Systems/Fajars/Iran/Lebanon/Syria/G8/International Forces/Prisoners/Hostages/Captives/Left/Right

Remember: It makes no difference. Small people with ideas too big for them. Enough.


In the desert of hate
In the land of the dying
We've been walking together

I've been crying for me
You've been crying for you
And the desert just smiled and drank all our tears

In the desert of hate
In the land of the dying
We keep killing the children

As you keep crying for you
And I keep all my tears just for me

(From a comment on Angry Arab)

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Friday, July 14, 2006


So, I'm in Israel after a week in Holland/Belgium/Hungary, lots of beer and vague attempts at ignoring the war that seems to be starting here.

So once I get some sleep, and can think clearly about this lunatic country (which I maintain is far, far crazier than the US under Bush) I'll post some thoughts, and will start translating Israeli press again. I think it's crucial to understand the thinking (or lack thereof) behind the current events, especially if this idiotic crusade spreads any further (watch out Syria...)

So that's it for now, and I'll be back and posting in a few hours, or by tomorrow at the latest. On the other hand, I may go get myself teargassed tomorrow. It's been a while...

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