Thursday, February 26, 2009

Israel launches campaign against UN nuke watchdog chief

Israel wants UN inspections of Iran and Syria nuclear power sites, but refuses UN inspections of their own sites.
They are not signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and so they don't have to, they say.

Because Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei won't say and do what Israel wants him to so they can attack and destroy Iran and Syria, they have decided to try to get rid of him. They simply can't have a rational, thoughtful person in his position.
Israel's Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) recently intensified its attacks on the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei. The AEC, one of the most classified bodies in Israel that is also, among other things, responsible for operating the Dimona nuclear reactor, does not often issue public statements, and usually plays down its activities. But in recent months, given the IAEA director's actions relating to all aspects of Syria and Iran's nuclear programs, the committee decided, with the consent of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to stop tiptoeing around the issue.

The AEC now hurries to respond to ElBaradei's interviews, in which they feel he speaks of Israeli in critical tones. The latest expression of this new policy is a letter to be published this week in the latest issue of the American weekly magazine, Newsweek, written by the AEC spokeswoman Nili Lifshitz. Lifshitz is leaving her post at the end of the week after years on the job to assume a different position in human resources at the Nuclear Research Center (NRC, the Nahal Sorek nuclear reactor, which the AEC also oversees). But she does not hesitate to criticize the IAEA director sharply.

According to her, ElBaradei, "failed in his attempts to persuade Syria to allow visits by IAEA inspectors to three sites in Syria with suspected links to Syria's confidential nuclear program." She charges: "Even the IAEA director's attempt to arrange for a true investigation into Syria's efforts to obfuscate and cover up the evidence at the site bombed in September 2007 failed". She says: "Syria hustled the building rubble and dirt from the site so that it would not be possible to uncover what was built there and what was going on".

The AEC spokeswoman stressed in her letter that the suspicion is that Syria set up a North Korean-made nuclear reactor at the site, an action that is contrary to its agreements with the IAEA. She said (without providing examples) instead of focusing on these issues, ElBaradei has deemed it appropriate to denounce and criticize the State of Israel. "Unfortunately, this has become typical behavior on the part of the IAEA director," Lifshitz wrote, "as part of his efforts to divert attention away from his failed attempts to arrange for a fitting and appropriate investigation given the accumulated information and proof that Middle Eastern states are clearly violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty."

Soft on Iran Israel's pointed criticism takes on a special significance against the backdrop of the most recent IAEA report and a briefing on Syria and Iran for reporters presented by a senior agency official. The report and the briefing presented additional evidence that the bombed site in Syria was built as a nuclear reactor resembling one in North Korea. The IAEA report also rejected Damascus' claims that the uranium traces found at the site were from the missiles that destroyed the structure, i.e., that they are part of the Israeli Air Force's armaments.

The letter to Newsweek follows a previous letter also sent by the Israeli AEC to The Wall Street Journal in response to another ElBaradei interview. In that interview, he also claimed that Israel, like Iran, is not cooperating with his organization, and in so doing attempted to draw a parallel between the two countries.

ElBaradei, an Egyptian legalist and veteran diplomat who has been affiliated with the United Nations in general for over 35 years, has been considered for many years to be a "red flag" by the AEC. He is perceived by senior AEC officials, which is responsible for contacts with the IAEA, as someone not known for his pro-Israel views, to put it mildly. According to diplomatic and defense officials in Israel, ElBaradei was negligent in handling all matters relating to the Iranian nuclear crisis. In reports he wrote, which were written in soft, evasive and conciliatory language, he allowed Iran to evade over the course of six years its commitments according to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and its agreements with the IAEA. The United States was also not overly pleased with the IAEA director.

About four years ago, the Bush administration tried to bar his reelection to the post, but failed due to the tremendous support for ElBaradei from the bloc of Third World countries, with the backing of Russia and China. As a result, for years, Israel, even though it was not satisfied with ElBaradei's handling of the job, had to act diplomatically. Israel was hesitant about openly airing its reservations and tried to maintain favorable ties with him, and keep up a professional working relationship.

ElBaradei visited Israel more than four years ago, met with the leaders of the AEC, visited the Nuclear Research Center, but was not permitted to visit Dimona, because Israel (unlike, for example, Iran and Syria) is not a signatory to the NPT and therefore is not obligated to allow international oversight of the Dimona reactor. Nevertheless, in recent months, as noted, the policy has shifted prompted by the AEC director, Dr. Shaul Horev, and with the approval of the prime minister. Presumably, the attacks are coming due to the report that ElBaradei will leave his position at the end of the year and be replaced by a new director, with representatives from South Africa and Japan vying for the spot.

Hollywood Supports War Industry with Few Exceptions

Here is an inside look at how a handul of men make sure you feel the way they want you to feel about war.

The Deep Politics of Hollywood In the Parents` Best Interests
By Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham

URL of this article:

Global Research, February 26, 2009

Tom Cruise – “the world's most powerful celebrity” according to Forbes Magazine – was unceremoniously sacked in 2006. His dismissal was particularly shocking for the fact that it was carried out not by his immediate employer, Paramount Studios, but rather by Paramount's parent company, Viacom. Viacom's notoriously irascible CEO Sumner Redstone – who owns a long list of media companies including CBS, Nickelodeon, MTV, and VH1 – said that Cruise had committed “creative suicide” following a spate of manic public activity. It was a sacking worthy of an episode of The Apprentice.[i]
The Cruise case points to the overlooked notion that the internal mechanisms of Hollywood are not determined entirely by audience desires, as one might expect, nor are they geared to respond solely to the decisions of studio creatives, or even those of the studio heads themselves.

In 2000, The Hollywood Reporter released a top 100 list of the most powerful figures in the industry over the past 70 years. Rupert Murdoch, chief of News Corporation, which owns Twentieth Century Fox, was the most powerful living figure. With the exception of director Steven Spielberg (no. 3), no artists appeared in the top 10.

Each of the dominant Hollywood studios (“the majors”) is now a subsidiary of a much larger corporation, and therefore is not so much a separate or independent business, but rather just one of a great many sources of revenue in its parent company's wider financial empire. The majors and their parents are: Twentieth Century Fox (News Corp), Paramount Pictures (Viacom), Universal (General Electric/Vivendi), Disney (The Walt Disney Company), Columbia TriStar (Sony), and Warner Brothers (Time Warner). These parent companies are amongst the largest and most powerful in the world, typically run by lawyers and investment bankers.[ii] Their economic interests are also sometimes closely tied to politicised areas such as the armaments industry, and they are frequently inclined to cozy-up to the government of the day because it decides on financial regulation.

As Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Professor Ben Bagdikian puts it, whereas once the men and women who owned the media could fit in a “modest hotel ballroom,” the same owners (all male) could now fit into a “generous phone booth.” He could have added that, whilst a phone box may not exactly be the chosen venue for the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone, these individuals do indeed meet at plush venues such as Idaho's Sun Valley to identify and forge their collective interests.

Of course, the content of a studio's films is not, as a rule, determined entirely by the political and economic interests of its parent company. Studio CEOs typically have considerable leeway to make the pictures they want to make without direct interference from their ultimate masters. At the very least, however, the content of Hollywood studios broadly reflects their wider corporate interests, and, at times, the parent companies behind the studios take a conscious and deliberate interest in certain movies. There is a battle between “top down” and “bottom up” forces, but mainstream media and academia have traditionally focused on the latter, rather than the former.

Consider last year's blockbuster Australia, the epic from Baz Luhrmann. Two of the film's most salient aspects were that, firstly, it glossed-over the history of Aboriginal people, and, secondly, it made Australia look like a fantastic place to go on holiday. This should come as no surprise – Twentieth Century Fox's parent company (Rupert Murdoch's News Corp) – worked hand-in-hand with the Australian government throughout the film's production for mutual interests. The government benefited from Luhrmann's huge tourist campaign, which included not just the feature film itself but also a series of extravagant tie-in advertisements (all in apparent support of its ham-fisted Aborigine “reconciliation” programme). In turn, the government gave its favourite son tens of millions of dollars in tax rebates. The West Australian newspaper even alleged that Murdoch had his "journalistic foot soldiers" ensure that every aspect of his media empire awarded Australia glowing reviews, an assessment nicely illustrated by The Sun, which enjoyed the “rare piece of good old fashioned entertainment" so much that its reviewer was "tempted to nip down to the travel agent."

There are historical precedents for such interference. In 1969 Haskell Wexler –cinematographer on One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest – had considerable trouble releasing his classic Medium Cool, which riffed on the anti-war protests at the Democrat Convention the previous year. Wexler claims he has Freedom of Information documents revealing that on the eve of the film's release, Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley and high sources in the Democratic Party let it be known to Gulf and Western (then the parent company of Paramount) that if Medium Cool was released, certain tax benefits and other perks in Gulf and Western's favor wouldn't happen. “A stiff prick has no conscience,” Wexler told us angrily, referring to Hollywood's business leaders, “and they have no conscience.”
Wexler explained how this corporate plot was enacted so as to minimize attention: “Paramount called me and said I needed releases from all the [protestors] in the park, which was impossible to provide. They said if people went to see that movie and left the theatre and did a violent act, then the offices of Paramount could be prosecuted.” Although Paramount was obliged to release the film they successfully pushed for an X rating, advertised it feebly, and forbade Wexler from taking it to film festivals. Hardly the way to make a profit on a movie, but certainly an effective way to protect the broader interests of the parent.

Then there's the more famous case of Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), the Michael Moore blockbuster which the Walt Disney Company tried to scupper despite it “testing through the roof” with sample audiences. Disney's subsidiary Miramax insisted that its parent had no right to block it from releasing the film since its budget was well below the level requiring Disney's approval. Disney representatives retorted that they could veto any Miramax film if it appeared that its distribution would be counterproductive to their interests. Moore's agent Ari Emanuel alleged that Disney's boss Michael Eisner had told him he wanted to back out of the deal due to concerns about political fallout from conservative politicians, especially regarding tax breaks given to Disney properties in Florida like Walt Disney World (where the governor was the then US President's brother, Jeb Bush). Disney also had ties to the Saudi Royal family, which was unfavourably represented in the film: a powerful member of the family, Al-Walid bin Talal, owns a major stake in Eurodisney and had been instrumental in bailing out the financially troubled amusement park. Disney denied any such high political ball game, explaining they were worried about being "dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle," which it said would alienate customers.
Disney has consistently spread pro-establishment messages in its films, particularly under subsidiary banners such as Hollywood Pictures and Touchstone Pictures (although Oliver Stone's 1995 Nixon biopic is a notable exception). Several received generous assistance from the US government: the Pentagon-backed In the Army Now (1994), Crimson Tide (1995), and Armageddon (1998), as well as the CIA-vetted Bad Company (2002) and The Recruit (2003). In 2006, Disney released the TV movie The Path to 9/11, which was heavily skewed to exonerate the Bush administration and blame the Clinton administration for the terrorist attacks, provoking outraged letters of complaint from former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.
The nature of Disney's output makes sense when we consider the interests of the higher echelons of the corporation. Historically, Disney has had close ties with the US defense department, and Walt himself was a virulent anti-communist (though reports about him being a secret FBI informant or even a fascist are rather more speculative). In the 1950s, corporate and government sponsors helped Disney make films promoting President Eisenhower's “Atoms for Peace” policy as well as the infamous Duck and Cover documentary that suggested to schoolchildren that they could survive an atomic attack by hiding under their desks. Even now, a longtime Directors Board member of Disney is John E. Bryson who is also a director of The Boeing Company, one of the world's largest aerospace and defence contractors. Boeing received $16.6bn in Pentagon contracts in the ­aftermath of the US invasion of Afghanistan[iii]. This would have been no small incentive for Disney to avoid commissioning films critical of Bush's foreign policy, such as Fahrenheit 9/11.
It is hardly surprising that when Disney released Pearl Harbor (2001) – a simplistic mega-budget movie made with full cooperation from the Pentagon, and which celebrated the American nationalist resurgence following that “day of infamy”– it was widely received with cynicism. Yet, despite lamentable reviews, Disney unexpectedly decided in August 2001 to extend the film's nationwide release window from the standard two-to-four months to a staggering seven months, meaning that this ‘summer' blockbuster would now be screening until December. In addition, Disney expanded the number of theatres in which the film was showing, from 116 to 1,036. For the corporations due to profit from the aftermath of 9/11, Pearl Harbor provided grimly convenient mood music.

But whilst movies like Australia and Pearl Harbor receive preferential treatment, challenging and incendiary films are frequently cast into the cinematic memory hole. Oliver Stone's Salvador (1986) was a graphic expose of the Salvadorian civil war; its narrative was broadly sympathetic towards the left wing peasant revolutionaries and explicitly critical of U.S. foreign policy, condemning the United States' support of Salvador's right wing military and infamous death squads. Stone's film was turned down by every major Hollywood studio – with one describing it as a “hateful piece of work” – though it received excellent reviews from many critics. The film was eventually financed by British and Mexican investors and achieved limited distribution.

More recently controversial documentaries such as Loose Change (2006/2007), which argued that 9/11 was an "inside job," and Zeitgeist (2007), which presents a frightening picture of global economics, have been viewed by millions through the Internet when corporate media wouldn't touch them.[iv]
Universal studios' contemporary output has been less rigidly supportive of US power, as films like Children of Men (2006), Jarhead (2005), and The Good Shepherd (2006) indicate. Still, with movies like U-571 (2000) and Charlie Wilson's War (2007), it makes sense that Universal's parent company is General Electric, whose most lucrative interests relate to weapons manufacturing and producing crucial components for high-tech war planes, advanced surveillance technology, and essential hardware for the global oil and gas industries, notably in post Saddam Iraq. GE's board of directors has strong ties to large liberal organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation. Whilst ‘liberal' may sound like a positive term after the unpopularity of Bush's brand of conservatism, liberal organizations are cemented firmly in the bedrock of US elites and have frequently been architects of American interventionist foreign policy, including against Vietnam. They are prepared to ally themselves with conservatives over certain issues, particularly national security, so it should come as no shock to find that GE was close to the Bush Administration through both its former and current CEOs. Jack Welch (CEO from 1981-2001) openly declares disdain for “protocol, diplomacy and regulators” and was even accused by California Congressman Henry Waxman of pressuring his NBC network to declare Bush the winner prematurely in the 2000 “stolen election” when he turned up unannounced in the newsroom during the poll count. Welch's successor, the current GE CEO Jeff Immelt, is a neoconservative and was a generous financial contributor to the Bush re-election campaign.

Perhaps GE/Universal's most eyebrow-raising release was United 93 (2006), billed as the “true account” of how heroic passengers on 9/11 “foiled the terrorist plot” by forcing the plane to crash prematurely in rural Pennsylvania. Although the film made a return on its relatively low investment, it was greeted with a good deal of public apathy and hostility prior to its nation-wide release. At the time, Bush's official 9/11 story was being seriously interrogated by America's independent news media: according to the results of a 2004 Zogby poll, half of New Yorkers believed “US leaders had foreknowledge of impending 9/11 attacks and ‘consciously failed' to act,” and, just one month prior to the release of United 93, 83% of CNN viewers recorded their belief “that the US government covered up the real events of the 9/11 attacks.”

With the official narrative under heavy fire, the Bush Administration welcomed the release of United 93 with open arms: the film was a faithful audio-visual translation of the 9/11 Commission Report, with “special thanks” to the Pentagon's Hollywood liaison Phil Strub tucked away discreetly in the end credits. Soon after the film's nationwide release date, in what might be interpreted as a cynical PR move and as gesture of official approval, President Bush sat down with some of the victims' family members for a private screening at the White House. [v]

GE/Universal's Munich (2005) – Steven Spielberg's exploration of Israeli vengeance following the Palestinian terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympics – raises similar suspicions. Although the Zionist Organisation of American called for a boycott of the film because they felt it equated Israel with terrorists, such a reading is less than convincing. Indeed, by the time Munich's credits begin to roll its overriding messages have been stamped indelibly into the brain by the film's Israeli Special Forces characters: “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values,” “We kill for our future, we kill for peace,” and “Don't f*ck with the Jews.” Predictably, Israel is one of GE's most loyal customers, buying Hellfire II laser missiles as well as propulsion systems for the F-16 Falcon fighter, the F-4 Phantom fighter, the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, and the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. In Munich's 167 minute running time the voice of the Palestinian cause is restricted to two and a half minutes of simplistic dialogue. Rather than being an “evenhanded cry for peace,” as the Los Angeles Times hailed it, General Electric's Munich is more easily interpreted as a subtle corporate endorsement of the policies of a loyal customer.

On the most liberal end of the spectrum for movies in recent years has been Warner Bros. – JFK (1991), The Iron Giant (1999), South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999), Good Night and Good Luck (2005), V for Vendetta (2005), A Scanner Darkly (2006), Rendition (2007), and In the Valley of Elah (2007). It is indicative that following complaints about racial stereotyping in Warner Bros.' Pentagon-sponsored action adventure, Executive Decision (1996), the studio took the unusual step of hiring the services of Jack Shaheen, an on-set adviser on racial politics, resulting in what was critically received as one of the best films of its genre in a generation, Three Kings (1999).[vi] It may be no coincidence that Warner Brothers' parent company, Time Warner, is less intimately tied to the arms industry or the neoconservative clique.

But to have an idea of what happens to movies when you remove multinational interests from the industry, consider the independent distributor Lions Gate Films, which is still very much a part of the capitalist system (formed in Canada by an investment banker) but not beholden to a multibillion dollar parent corporation with multifarious interests. Although Lions Gate has generated a good deal of politically vague and blood ‘n' guts products, it has also been behind some of the most daring and original popular political cinema of the past ten years, criticizing corporatism in American Psycho (2000), US foreign policy in Hotel Rwanda (2004), the arms trade in Lord of War (2005), the U.S. healthcare system in Michael Moore's Sicko (2007), and the U.S. establishment in general in The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006).

It hardly needs re-stating that Hollywood is driven by the desire for dollars rather than artistic integrity. As such, cinema is open to product placement in a variety of forms, from toys, to cars, to cigarettes, and even state-of-the art weaponry (hence the “special thanks” to Boeing in the credits of Iron Man (2008)). Less obvious though – and less well investigated – is how the interests of the studios' parent companies themselves impact on cinema – at both systemic and individual levels. We hope to see critical attention shifted onto the ultimate producers of these films to help explain their deradicalised content, and ultimately to assist audiences in making informed decisions about what they consume. As we peer up from our popcorn it is as well to remember that behind the magic of the movies are the wizards of corporate PR.

Matthew Alford is author of the forthcoming book “Projecting Power: American Foreign Policy and the Hollywood Propaganda System.” Robbie Graham is Associate Lecturer in Film at Stafford College. References available on request.

[i] Most memorably, Cruise declared his love for Katie Holmes whilst bouncing up and down on Oprah (the chat show, not the woman).
[ii] The 2008 Fortune Global 500 list placed General Electric at no. 12 with revenue of $176bn. Sony was at 75, Time Warner at no. 150, The Walt Disney Company at no. 207, and News Corp at no. 280. By way of comparison, Coca Cola is at no. 403.
[iii] Interestingly, Disney's CEO Michael Eisner was personally involved when it pulled Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect show after the host committed the cardinal sin of saying that the US use of cruise missiles was more cowardly than the 9/11 attacks, with Eisner “summoning Maher into his office for a hiding” according to Mark Crispin Miller in the Nation.
[iv] A less convincing but nevertheless intriguing case can be made for high political/economic influence over the distribution of John Carpenter's satirical sci-fi They Live (1988), which depicted the world as being run by an invading force of evil space aliens, allied with the US establishment. The film was well received by critics (with the notable exceptions of the NYT and Washington Post) and opened at number one in the box office. It easily made its $4m investment back over the weekend, and although by the second weekend it had dropped to fourth place, it still made $2.7m. The distributing studio, Universal Pictures, published an advertisement during its run that showed a skeletal alien standing behind a podium in suit and tie, with a mop of hair similar to that of Dan Quayle, the new US Vice-President-elect. The Presidential election had been just a few days previous, on November 8th. Co-star Keith David observed: “Not that anybody's being paranoid but suddenly you couldn't see it [They Live] anywhere – it was, like, snatched”.
[v] We stated elsewhere that representatives from Universal attended the screening. This was erroneous.
[vi] Shaheen also later assisted on Warner Bros.' Syriana (2005).
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jindal Commmands Satan to Leave in Exorcism

It is kind of old news, but as Bobby Jindal is presumed a Republican front runner for President in 2012, I guess it is important to bring up his odd obsession with demons and exorcisms.
"Jindal pursued his Catholic faith with unbridled zeal. Jindal became emotionally involved with a classmate named Susan who had overcome skin cancer and struggled to cope with the suicide of a close friend. Jindal reflected in an article for a Catholic magazine (called “Beating a Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare”) that “sulfuric” scents hovered over Susan everywhere she went. In the middle of a prayer meeting, Jindal claimed that Susan collapsed and began convulsing on the floor. His prayer partners gathered together on the floor, holding hands and shouting, “Satan, I command you to leave this woman!”

"...I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe… I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back;..."

For crying out loud!
Are we forever going to have to put up with these cave dwellers???

You know, I watched a very frightening documentary a couple years ago. "Jesus Camp".
It showed the horrifying mind control, indoctrination and coersion techniques of the Religious Right. One particular scene shows the "Camp Warden" of a summer bible/Jesus Camp, standing over a beautiful 8 - 12 year old girl and browbeating her into "seeing" Jesus. The little girl is shown in a state of hysteria, tearing streaming down her face, and her little voice pleading with God.
Child abuse is what I saw. Crazy nuts abusing children.
Thankfully, the "Warden" of the camp, has shut it down after an avalanch of criticsm...but I'm betting it will spring up under another name. And as the saying goes: "For every rat you see, there are ten you don't", I bet there are many camps just like this one still in operation, still abusing the minds of young children.

Anyway, this is what I thought of when I read this Jindal article. If someone with crazy views like this can be considered mainstream and a candidate for President, then we will be running cavemen for President for a long time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama Names A Jew to Negotiate With Iran

Dennis Ross, Chairman of the Israeli government funded, Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, has been named Special U.S. Envoy to Iran.

Say you were trying to calm tensions in your neighborhood between a Jewish family and an Iranian one. Would you send a Jew to mediate the conflict?
Ross has a long history of involvement in middle east peace politics, but precious little success.
His team was known as "Israel's Lawyer".
He tried in the past to negotiate an Israel/Palestinian peace deal, but was criticized by both sides...especially by the Palestinians who felt a Jew could not be unbiased in the capacity of mediator between the two parties. Duh!

Basically, Ross starts his new job with a threat to Iran:
"Ross outlined what he said was a "sticks-then-carrots" approach to engaging Iran: Rallying the international community to tighten sanctions and then offering incentives to have the Islamic Republic stand down from its suspected nuclear weapons program."

What he will do:
Ross, a noted supporter of the George Bush's Iraq War, "will provide to the Secretary and senior State Department officials strategic advice and perspective on the region; offer assessments and also act to ensure effective policy integration throughout the region; coordinate with senior officials in the development and formulation of new policy approaches; and participate, at the request of the secretary, in inter-agency activities related to the region."

Forecast: If Obama were to also appoint as a Special Envoy, an Iranian, to be part of the peace team, then the effort might bear some fruit.
As it is, this is a pointless exercise. Pointless for it's stated intentions...but probably Nuts Dead On target for the unstated one.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Pointless Little Peace Exercise

See who in the world you look like.
I know it is a mostly meaningless exercise, but I'm so depressed focusing on all the bad news, I thought I'd throw in something frivilous and fun.

Of course I'm hoping while you look at the people you look like, you will think of yourself as a part of a Global Family.
I hope as you look into the eyes of people from cultures other than yours, it might stir a bit of compassion and awareness in you that will stay with you for awhile...maybe even influence your actions.

It's not a perfect exercise, since you will be seeing what celebrity you look like instead of what bombed Palestinian, spyed on Iranian or demonized freedom fighter, or ignored American Indian, look like, but you'll get my point.

Here is the link. All you do is upload a photo of yourself and Bam! You get to see if you look like Ghandi or Paris Hilton...among others.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Obama Okay's Hamas/Fatah Government

The Obama administration has given the Palestinian Authority a "green light" to talk to Hamas about forming a Palestinian unity government, a PA official in Ramallah said over the weekend.
The official said that Washington had also given Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the go-ahead to resume his efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

"The new administration has a different policy than that of [former US president] George W. Bush," the official told The Jerusalem Post. "The administration of President Barack Obama believes that a Hamas-Fatah government is good for stability."

Cairo has issued invitations to representatives of Hamas, Fatah and several other Palestinian groups to attend reconciliation talks that are due to begin in Cairo on Wednesday.
Fatah and Hamas officials confirmed that the Egyptians had invited them to the talks.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said that for the talks to succeed, the PA must first release all "political prisoners" from its West Bank jails.
The talks were originally set for Sunday, but the Egyptians announced last week that they were postponing them following the failure of negotiations with Hamas and Israel over a new Gaza cease-fire agreement.
An attempt by the Egyptians to hold a similar conference in November failed because of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's refusal to free hundreds of Hamas detainees ahead of the talks.
Abbas, who visited Cairo last week, reportedly told Mubarak that he's prepared to patch up his differences with Hamas.
According one of his aides, Abbas urged the Egyptian president to set a new date for convening the Palestinian "national reconciliation" talks in Cairo.

At the conference, Hamas and Fatah are expected to form five joint committees to discuss ways of resolving their differences over issues such as control over the border crossings into the Gaza Strip, reconstructing the PA security forces and forming a new unity government.
Ahead of the planned parley, Hamas and Fatah representatives met in Cairo and Ramallah over the past two weeks in an attempt to agree on an agenda.
Fatah legislator Azam al-Ahmed, who has been participating in the talks with Hamas, said the results of the recent Israeli election, which saw the rise of right-wing parties, required the Palestinians to unite "in the face of the new challenges."
He also expressed optimism regarding the prospects of ending the Hamas-Fatah power struggle.
Another Fatah official, Ibrahim Abu al-Naja, said the fact that Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu has been tasked with forming the next government "proves that Israeli public opinion favors war and destruction."
In the wake of the "dangerous developments in Israel, the Palestinians must unite their ranks by forming a unity government," Naja said.

Meanwhile, Hamas leaders said over the weekend that Democratic Sen. John Kerry's visit to the Gaza Strip last Thursday signaled a change in US policy toward their movement.
"The visit is a move in the right direction," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said. "We consider the visit as an indirect step aimed at ending the boycott of Hamas by the Americans and the international community."
Welcoming the apparent shift in US policy, the Hamas spokesman expressed hope that the Obama administration would "repair" the damage and injustice done to Hamas after it won the January 2006 election, when the Bush administration decided to boycott and impose sanctions on it.
However, he voiced disappointment over the fact that Kerry did not meet during his tour of the Gaza Strip with "representatives of the democratically elected government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Obama Continues to Disappoint - BIGTIME -

I'm seeing less and less daylight between Bush and Obama all the time.

No Prisoner Rights:
I awoke to the news this morning that Obama is not going to give prisoners picked up on the battlefield, access to attorneys or courts.
Well, on the surface this sounds okay. That has been the rule in conflict forever.
The difference here though is, the War on Terror has been defined by all as a War Without End.
This effectively means the military can hold a prisoner forever...without access to attorneys or courts.

But, I thought Obama had promised something different:
Does anyone else remember him saying we were going to have one standard of human rights for all people?

Bushama behavior:
Renditions. You know, the practice of picking up people on the battlefield and taking them to another country and asking that countries security services to question them for us?
Why do we do that? So harsh interrogation methods and treatment can be used to try to get info from these suspects.
I guess we are going to keep doing that.

More Bushama Behavior:
Remember the British court case where a British citizen claims he was flown all over the place and tortured? Well, Obama has decided not to open files that allow this man to continue his case.
They say it is a state secret how they fly people around to be interrogated and tortured. Obama says he is not going to fly them to places they are at risk of being tortured, but can't help this British citizen pursue his case even if he was tortured.

More disappointment and broken Campaign Promises?
It looks like Health Care is out the window. A sure sign is the trial balloon floated late Friday that Obama has changed his mind and will not created a Health Czar position in his cabinet.
Seems like a sure signal that American will continue to have 40 million without access to meaningful health care.

I have already talked about Obama's staffing choices for various foriegn policy posts that heavily favor the Israeli point of view.
So we know we will have the same middle east policies, but under a different color of wrapping paper. Picture this political cartoon: Obama's head up Netanyahu's ass, and Obama saying: "I appreciate a fair an open discussion on both sides of the issue".

I could go on and on, it seems. There just seems to be an avalanche of broken promises rolling over the hopeful American's who put him in office.

Can you tell, I'm really depressed this morning?
I think I'm going to go to the Go-Kart track and run some people off the road.

- Terry Allen -

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Nightmare of Netanyahu as Prime Minister

This is a man calling for the violent re-occupation of Gaza to "liquidate" its elected government.

Today, Netanyahu routinely compares dealing with the Palestinians to dealing with Nazis.

This is a man who says he will "naturally grow" the West Bank settlements. This is a man who says he will "never" negotiate over Jerusalem, or the Golan Heights, or control of the West Bank water supply. This is a man who says establishing a Palestinian state would leave Israel with "an existential threat and a public relations nightmare reminiscent of 1938 Czechoslovakia." This is a man who Yitzhak Rabin's widow says helped to incite his murder.

The political beneficiaries of Operation Cast Lead have been Israel's hard-right. The opinion poll numbers have surged for Netanyahu's Likud and for the even more extreme
Avigdor Lieberman, a Russian immigrant was openly advocates the ethnic cleansing of Arabs. They say the only problem with the 23-day bombing of Gaza -- killing 410 children, and hugely strengthening Hamas -- is that it didn't go far enough.

The world needs to urgently look at these individuals and ask how this came to pass.Everybody agrees that the key to understanding Netanyahu lies with his father, Benzion. He is a distinguished scholar of medieval history who believes the world is eternally and ineradicably riddled with genocidal anti-Semitism. When he arrived in British Mandate Palestine, he declared that the majority of Jews there were naïve and idealistic. They had to immediately seize the entire Biblical land of Israel -- taking all of the West Bank and stretching right into present-day Jordan. There could be no compromise, ever, with the Arabs, who only understand force. The man he calls his mentor, Abba Ahimeir, described himself proudly as "a fascist."Today, Benzion's son routinely compares dealing with the Palestinians to dealing with Nazis. He can only understand their anger as a resurfacing of Europe's irrational, genocidal hate. He insists they have no right to a share of the land because they "stole" it -- in the year 636 AD. He writes: "It was not the Jews who usurped the land from the Arabs, but the Arabs who usurped the land from the Jews... twelve hundred years ago."Accordingly, Netanyahu rubbishes every peace initiative offered by Israel. His reaction to Yitzhak Rabin's decision to sign the mild and moderate Oslo accords with Yassir Arafat reveals the depth of his opposition to compromise. He warmly addressed crowds which chanted "Rabin is a Nazi" and "through blood and fire, Rabin shall expire." He called the Prime Minister "a traitor", shortly before Rabin was murdered by a Jewish fundamentalist who agreed.

In order to justify his opposition to all compromise to the Obama administration, Netanyahu has adopted a neat distraction-idea. He says he wants "economic peace" with the Palestinians, developing their economy, rather the political process. But how can anything develop amidst the rubble, blockade and roadblocks he has in mind? This is a piece of spin to sugar-coat the on-going occupation.

Avigdor Liberman with 20% of the vote and a likely coalition partner, is a Russian ex-nightclub bouncer who was once arrested for attacking a boy who he suspected of insulting his son. Lieberman grew up in the Soviet system -- and he retains a Soviet mindset. His party, Yisrael Beytenu (Israel, Our Home) has campaigned claiming that Israel's two million Arab citizens are "a danger to the country", to be dispensed with, in part, by ethnic cleansing. Lieberman wanted to bus thousands of released Palestinian prisoners to the Dead Sea and drown them.Today, he has moderated his stance and merely wants to "transfer" many hundreds of thousands of Israeli Arabs -- inevitably by force -- to the scraps of remaining land that will be labeled Palestine after Israel has annexed the major illegal settlement blocks. If your name's not on the list, you're not staying in. At times, he says his model for how to deal with the Palestinians is Cyprus in the 1970s, where the mixed Turkish and Greek populations were separated out at gunpoint. "The final result was better," he sighs. "Minorities are the biggest problem in the world."

He would like to begin these racist expulsions with a simple, swift move: executing Israeli Arab members of the Knesset. Since they have spoken to the democratically elected Palestinian leadership, they are "traitors", Lieberman argues. They should be dealt with "like Hamas."At other times, Lieberman shifts analogy, and says the correct model for dealing with Gaza and the West Bank should be to copy Vladimir Putin's approach to Chechnya in the 1990s. One third of the civilian population died.Perhaps even more depressing than the rise of these political thugs is the flat and flat-lining response from the other parties. Both Kadima and Labour militantly defend the blockade and bombing of Gaza, not least because their leaders -- Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak -- led the charge in cabinet. Even Barak has picked up the comparison to Putin and started approvingly quoting the new Russia Tsar. The brave pro-peace parties like Meeretz are shunted far to the margins of the debate.How did this happen?

It is essential to remember that Israelis didn't end up in the Middle East out of a wicked desire to colonise and kill, as some people now gleefully claim. They are there because they were fleeing genocidal Jew-hatred. That doesn't justify a single crime against a single Palestinian -- but if we forget this, and the unimaginably vast trauma that lies behind it, we cannot understand what is happening now.Over the past few months, I keep returning to an extraordinary essay written by the great Israel novellist Amos Oz in 1982. The Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin had compared the Palestinian leadership to Adolf Hitler, so Oz wrote: "You display an urge to resurrect Hitler from the dead so you may kill him over and over again each day... Like many Jews, I feel sorry I feel sorry I didn't kill Hitler with my bare hands. But there is not, and there never will be, any healing for the open wound. Tens of thousands of dead Arabs will not heal that wound. Because, Mr Begin, Adolf Hitler is dead. He is not hiding in Nabatiyah, in Sidon, or in Beirut. He is dead and burned to ashes."Israeli society consists, Oz says, of "a bunch of half-hysterical refugees and survivors". The two thousand year trauma of the blood libel, the Inquisition, the pogroms, Auschwitz and Chelmno and the Gulag Archipelago, have produced a distorted vision, where every shriek of pain directed at Israel can sound like the rumble beginning in the massed crowds at Nuremberg.

This means that Israel is missing opportunities for peace. Even much of Hamas -- an Islamist party I passionately oppose -- is amenable to a long-term ceasefire along the 1967 borders. That isn't my opinion; it is the view of Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet. He told the Israeli cabinet before the bombing of Gaza that Hamas would restore the ceasefire if Israel would only end the blockade of the Strip and declare a ceasefire on the West Bank. Instead, they bombed, and the offer died.The former head of Mossad, Ephraim Halevy, says that Hamas "will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals" if only Israel will begin the path of compromise. This would drain support for the really implacable rejectionists like Osama Bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejadh, and make it easier to build the international coalitions needed to hold them back.Instead, too many Israelis -- imprisoned by their history -- seem determined to choose the opposite path: of Netanyahu and Lieberman and ramming an endless alienating boot onto the throat of the Palestinians. It doesn't have to be like this. We can only say to them with Amos Oz, as urgently as we can: Adolf Hitler is not hiding in Gaza City, or Beit Hanoun, or Hebron. Adolf Hitler is dead.

Thanks to: Johann Hari at:

I took a few liberties in making this article a bit more current as far as election result are concerned. It was written on February 5th before the elections.
- ObamasEar -

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Israeli Forces Abduct Four International Human Rights Activists

Four international Human Rights Activists from the USA, Sweden and Germany are currently being held.

Israeli forces have launched a large-scale military invasion of the village following a series of demonstrations by the village against the Israel’s annexation wall.
We went to the school just after the Israeli forces had left. Around 90 residents had been taken there, mostly young men. A few were released, but most have been taken somewhere else, no one knows where.
Thomas Patterson - International Solidarity Movement

The school was severely damaged. The front gate had been smashed open and all the doors taken off their hinges. There were mass interrogations there. Israel is clearly attempting to crush through force any form of popular resistance to the illegal Apartheid Wall.
Ulrika Lundquist – International Solidarity Movement

Israeli forces invaded the village in the early hours of this morning (18th February), conducting house-to house raids and arresting dozens of residents, including the son of the mayor of Jayyous.

At least 70 residents of Jayyous have now been abducted by Israeli forces from the village after being rounded up in one of the village schools. The village has been blockaded by Israeli forces, with the two main entrances blocked with earth mounds.
Israeli soldiers have occupied many houses within the village, ransacking many and causing large amounts of damage. Many residents have been beaten by Israeli soldiers, including an elderly female who attempted to prevent the soldiers from entering her home. Israeli flags were flown from peoples’ homes, adding insult to the situation.

This large-scale military action appears to be an act of collective punishment for the series of demonstrations that have been staged by the village against the further confiscation and destruction of village land caused by the re-routing of the annexation wall. 277 dunums of land will be razed for the new path of the Wall, with a further 5,585 dumums to be permanently confiscated when the Wall is completed.According to Stop The Wall, the settlement of Zufim is planned to expand onto much of the confiscated land.

The construction of infrastructure for the new part of the Israeli settlement known as “North Zufim” has already begun, with the construction of an electricity network that will allow for the creation of housing units.
The settlement of Zufim is being built by the company Leader which is owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who has been the object of an international boycott for his settlement construction.

Thanks to:

Traitor or Tortured?

I don't care much for Ethan Bronner's reporting. He gives the appearance of impartiality, but you don't have to read too carefully to see where his loyalties lie. I suspect much of what he writes is at the secret bidding of the Israeli government.
Whatever the case, this is an interesting story:

MARAJ, Lebanon — For 25 years, Ali al-Jarrah managed to live on both sides of the bitterest divide running through this region. To friends and neighbors, he was an earnest supporter of the Palestinian cause, an affable, white-haired family man who worked as an administrator at a nearby school.

Ali al-Jarrah
To Israel, he appears to have been a valued spy, sending reports and taking clandestine photographs of Palestinian groups and Hezbollah since 1983.
Now he sits in a Lebanese prison cell, accused by the authorities of betraying his country to an enemy state. Months after his arrest, his friends and former colleagues are still in shock over the extent of his deceptions: the carefully disguised trips abroad, the unexplained cash, the secret second wife.

Lebanese investigators say he has confessed to a career of espionage spectacular in its scope and longevity, a real-life John le Carré novel. Many intelligence agents are said to operate in the civil chaos of Lebanon, but Mr. Jarrah’s arrest has shed a rare light onto a world of spying and subversion that usually persists in secret.
Mr. Jarrah’s first wife maintains that he was tortured, and is innocent; requests to interview him were denied.

From his home in this Bekaa Valley village, Mr. Jarrah, 50, traveled often to Syria and to south Lebanon, where he photographed roads and convoys that might have been used to transport weapons to Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group, investigators say. He spoke with his handlers by satellite phone, receiving “dead drops” of money, cameras and listening devices. Occasionally, on the pretext of a business trip, he traveled to Belgium and Italy, received an Israeli passport, and flew to Israel, where he was debriefed at length, investigators say.
At the start of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Israeli officials called Mr. Jarrah to reassure him that his village would be spared and that he should stay at home, investigators said.

He was finally arrested last July by Hezbollah, which now has perhaps the most powerful intelligence apparatus in this country. It handed him to the Lebanese military — along with his brother Yusuf, who is accused of helping him spy — and he awaits trial by a military court.
Several current and former military officials agreed to provide details about his case on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss it before the trial began. Their accounts tallied with details provided by Mr. Jarrah’s relatives and former colleagues.
It is not the family’s first brush with notoriety. One of Mr. Jarrah’s cousins, Ziad al-Jarrah, was among the 19 hijackers who carried out the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, though the men were 20 years apart in age and do not appear to have known each other well.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, declined to discuss Mr. Jarrah’s situation, saying, “It is not our practice to publicly talk about any such allegations in this case or in any case.”

Villagers here seemed incredulous that a man they knew all their lives could have taken money to spy for a country that they regard with unmixed hatred and disgust.
Many maintained his innocence. But Raja Mosleh, the Palestinian doctor who was his partner for years in a school and health clinic near here, did not.
“I never suspected him before,” Dr. Mosleh said. “But now, after linking all the incidents together, I feel he’s 100 percent guilty.”
“He used to talk about the Palestinian cause all the time, how he supported the cause, he supported the people, he liked everybody — this son of a dog,” Dr. Mosleh added, his voice thick with contempt.

Mr. Jarrah would often borrow money to buy cigarettes, apparently posing as a man of limited means. Investigators say he received more than $300,000 for his work from Israel.
Only recently did he begin to spend in ways that raised questions. About six years ago, neighbors said, he built a three-story villa with a terra-cotta roof that is by far the grandest house in this modest village of low concrete dwellings. Outside is a small roofed archway and a heavy iron gate, and on a recent day a German shepherd stood guard.
Dr. Mosleh asked him where he got the money, and Mr. Jarrah said he got help from a daughter living in Brazil. It is a natural excuse in Lebanon, where a large portion of the population receives remittances from relatives abroad.

Mr. Jarrah also had a secret second wife, according to investigators and his former colleagues. Unlike his first wife, Maryam Shmouri al-Jarrah, who lived in relative grandeur with their five children in Maraj, the second wife lived in a cheap apartment in the town of Masnaa, near the Syrian border. This apparently allowed Mr. Jarrah to travel near the border in the unremarkable guise of a local working-class man.

Mr. Jarrah has said he was recruited in 1983 — a year after Israel began a major invasion of Lebanon — by Israeli officers who had imprisoned him, according to investigators. He was offered regular payments in exchange for information about Palestinian militants and Syrian troop movements, they said.
After Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, thousands of Lebanese from the occupied zone in the south were tried and sentenced — mostly to light prison terms — for collaborating with Israel.
Far from the border, a different class of collaborators, rooted in their communities, persisted. A few have been caught and sentenced.

Mr. Jarrah’s motives remain a mystery. He said he tried to stop, but the Israelis would not let him, investigators said.
It all came to an end last summer. He went on a trip to Syria in July, and when he returned he said he had been briefly detained by the Syrian police, his first wife said. He seemed very uneasy, not his usual self, she said.
He left the house that night, saying he was going to Beirut, and never returned, Mrs. Jarrah said. Only three months later did she get a call from the Lebanese Army saying it had taken custody of him.
A few weeks ago, Mrs. Jarrah said, she was allowed to see him. He looked terrible, exhausted, she said.

Lebanese security forces released a photograph of Mr. Jarrah, taken before his arrest. In it, he appears against a blue and white backdrop, dressed in a formal dark shirt, wearing an enigmatic smile.

Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon, and Ethan Bronner from Jerusalem.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

USA Funds 30 New Israeli Weapons Projects

Since Israel’s bombing of the buildings housing scientific laboratories at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) on 28 December, the rubble that remains debunks Israeli claims that those labs were used to manufacture weapons.
Of course such allegations are preposterous; indeed it would be quite foolish for IUG to even entertain the notion of producing weapons given the way in which Palestinian universities have been under constant Israeli attack since the founding of Birzeit University in the West Bank in 1975.

Rather, it is Israeli universities that contain the laboratories where the weaponry used to destroy Palestinian lives in Gaza and elsewhere is developed. In the 14 June 2007 issue of The Nation, US journalist Naomi Klein makes it clear that the relationship between the State of Israel, its academic institutions and its military are intertwined.

“Thirty homeland security companies were launched in Israel in the past six months alone, thanks in large part to lavish government subsidies that have transformed the Israeli army and the country’s universities into incubators for security and weapons start-ups (something to keep in mind in the debates about the academic boycott).”
The way that Israel binds together its universities (all of which are state-run and funded) and its military can be gleaned from any number of Israeli universities and their laboratories, which serve as incubators of destruction while the Palestinian people inevitably become its guinea pigs. In a recent article in the Tel Aviv University Review (Winter 2008-2009) entitled “Lifting the Veil of Secrecy,” Gil Zohar lays out the collaboration between Israeli universities and Israel’s colonial military project quite clearly:
“… Tel Aviv University [TAU] is at the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge. While much of that research remains classified, several facts illuminate the role of the university. MAFAT, a Hebrew acronym meaning the [Research and Development] Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense, is currently funding 55 projects at TAU. Nine projects are being funded by DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense.”

What is significant is that the US government and its military are complicit in the research leading to the destruction and devastation of Palestinian lives through their funding of these research projects, projects that inevitably lead to acts of aggression such as the bombing of IUG.
IUG is an institution of higher education open not only to its 20,000 students, but also to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza who visit its libraries and attend its lectures. USAID, the US government’s foreign aid agency, claims that it funded more than $900,000 of projects, which went into building IUG’s campus (see “Audit finds US funded university linked to terrorism,” The Chicago Tribune, 12 December 2007). In March 2007 The Washington Times published a propagandistic article, “School Linked to Hamas Gets US Cash,” charging that USAID did not follow US federal laws when financially assisting IUG, as well as Al-Quds University (famous for its normalizing relations with Israeli academia, although it recently promised to cease such joint projects). USAID conducted an audit in response to The Washington Times article that questioned $140,000 of USAID money awarded to the university and to 49 students who received scholarships. The article and the audit argued that funding a so-called “Hamas-controlled” university violates US federal law. As a result of this audit faculty and students at IUG have been prohibited from receiving US State Department funds — whether USAID-related funds for building, scholarships or the Palestinian Faculty Development Program. This is yet another method of destroying educational opportunities for Palestinians in Gaza over the course of the past few years.

It is difficult to assess at present how much of the damage sustained by IUG was built with USAID funds. Likewise, it is difficult to ascertain a direct link between military research projects at Tel Aviv University funded by Israel and the US and the destruction of IUG. But what is clear is that past educational opportunities, for individual faculty members and students as well as for expanding scientific studies in the form of building laboratories, coming from the US are no longer available to Palestinians affiliated with IUG. Moreover, the primary “living” testimony which verily refutes Israeli claims about IUG as a place for hiding or manufacturing weapons can be found in the rubble of its destroyed buildings, which were decimated with knowledge produced by American research projects at Israeli universities. The mountains of rubble call out to any investigation team to come, to dig, to excavate in order to prove that Israeli allegations are merely a pretext employed to destroy a prestigious academic institution in Palestine. The debris of the science lab buildings shows that beneath it were 74 laboratories serving the science and engineering students at IUG. These labs were places for diligent research and scientific experiments. They were a fountain of hope for impoverished students, many of whom were about to graduate.
The science and engineering lab buildings were not the only premises that were pounded by the Israelis with their American-made weapons. Many other university buildings housing sophisticated computer labs, classrooms, workshops and seminar rooms were also bombed. In spite of the tremendous damage inflicted on IUG, it will be rebuilt with the spirit of resiliency that we see in the young minds of our students. This role however cannot be sustained without the help of our colleagues from around the world. That academics have taken the decision to boycott Israel and support Palestinians given Israeli academia’s role in its continuous military aggression, offers a glimmer of hope for IUG.

IUG needs financial support to help it rebuild and re-equip its labs. But it does not just need charity. IUG faculty and students also require solidarity from their academic colleagues at institutions around the world to start partnerships in order to rehabilitate the rest of its premises. Projects such as collaborative video-conference courses, faculty and student exchange programs and scholarships for faculty and students are all important ways of lending solidarity to IUG. Equally important for our American colleagues is to remove the false label that IUG is a “Hamas-controlled” institution. Just as Palestinians in Gaza belong to a variety of political parties, IUG’s students, board, faculty and staff represent that reality. IUG is a university like any other in Palestine that reflects the diversity of its population. As with Israel’s propagandistic claims that it engaged in a “war with Hamas,” when they besiege all Palestinians living in Gaza, this classification of IUG hurts all Palestinians pursuing higher education. We call on our colleagues to work to rebuild IUG through their solidarity through which it can remain an edifice of light, love and learning.

This article is by: Akram Habeeb and Marcy Newman.
Akram Habeeb, teaches literature at the Islamic University of Gaza and Marcy Newman teaches literature at An Najah National University.

For more information about IUG reconstruction please visit

For more information about how you can help please email Marcy at or Akram at

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gaza Tunnel Update: Impending Disaster?

"No matter what the Israelis do, we're steadfast," one tunnel owner, who identifies himself as Abu Ahmed, says as he sits in an outdoor courtyard within sight of the border. "But this? This could slaughter our country and our economy."

Under pressure from the United States and Israel, Egypt is imposing stronger checkpoints throughout the Sinai peninsula to prevent merchandise from reaching the tunnel zone.

The tunnel owners deny that they smuggle weapons, saying rockets pass through secret Hamas-run tunnels that are deeper and more fortified and extend much farther across the border.

"Think about it. The weapons tunnels aren't these guys out in the open here," an owner named Abu Baraa says, pointing to the diggers around him. "I bring through potato chips, Cadbury bars and Pampers."

Looks more and more like starving the prisoners of Gaza into submission.
Isn't starving people to death, Genocide? Isn't starving all Gazan's in order to get at Hamas called "collective punishment" and against the Geneva Conventions?

The whole story:,0,2242169.story

Thanks to:

Israel Boycott Progress

The Boycott of Israel continues to grow. While it may be unfortunate that athletes or other seemingly unrelated persons are being singled out, I can understand the value in doing so. Those boycotted will assail the government of Israel and change their behavior.

Chocolate Boycott:
"Palestine solidarity activists in Sydney have launched a campaign targeting Max Brenner Chocolates, a 100% Israeli-owned company belonging to the Strauss Group, as part of the growing international boycott Israel movement."

Hampshire College becomes first college in U.S. to divest from Israeli Occupation!
Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Church Warns Companies:
The Presbyterian Church on Friday warned four US companies to stop providing military equipment and technology to Israel for use in the occupation of the Palestinian territories, or else face a vote by the Church to divest its stock in them.

Here is a nice, long list of Israeli-related companies.
Hopefully, you will join in the boycott of these companies and it will help to end Israeli Apartheid and Israeli Genocide.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Your Own Personal Trip into the Gaza Tunnels.

We have heard about these tunnels. All we hear is that masses of weapons are smuggled through them. As usual, we only hear one side of the story from the world wide main stream media which seems to have been completely brainwashed by Israeli interests.

The tunnels are an amazing sign of resiliency and act of resistance given the never-ending blockade and siege on gaza. Mohammed Omer reports:

Tunnel owners earn $300 for each 100 pounds of goods smuggled in. (Smuggling animals for Gaza’s zoo can net up to $3,000 each!) With this revenue Abu Khaled supports 20 workers: diggers who do the dirty work, and runners who transport the goods.
As he separates bags of smuggled goods for distribution throughout the Strip, Abu Khaled points to his jeans. “These jeans I am wearing cost Egyptian pounds ($11), including the [Egyptian] merchant’s profit,” he explains, “but now I can sell them for 120 Israeli shekels ($34).”
Not only jeans, but shoes and underwear are brought through the tunnels and resold at high mark-ups. In addition, Abu Khaled notes, “We get medicine, gasoline, food, dried milk and monocycles” through the tunnels—which also serve as the conduit for sending money to merchants in Egypt to pay for the goods smuggled back into Gaza.

Islam frowns upon alcohol and drug use, although pharmaceuticals—even Viagra—continue to be smuggled in. According to Abu Khaled, Hamas police “control what we get in. Weapons and drugs are prohibited.” Rafah municipal officials confirm that they regulate tunnel operations, which they classify as an “investment project.”
In a society where the average family lives on $2 a day or less, tunnel work is a way out of poverty and a means to feed one’s family. Nader, a 20-year-old tunnel digger, admits he can make between $80 and $110 a day. “It depends on how many feet I dig in the ground,” the young man explains, adding that he usually spends 12 hours a day digging underground, in poorly ventilated conditions.

With the border crossing at Rafah now sealed again, people who want kathy kelly imagines what would happen if americans had to send its weapons of mass destruction to the zionist entity through a tunnel:
With the border crossing at Rafah now sealed again, people who want to obtain food, fuel, water, construction supplies and goods needed for everyday life will have to increasingly rely on the damaged tunnel industry to import these items from the Egyptian side of the border. Israel’s government says that Hamas could use the tunnels to import weapons, and weapons could kill innocent civilians, so the Israeli military has no choice but to bomb the neighborhood built up along the border, as they have been doing.

Suppose that the US weapon makers had to use a tunnel to deliver weapons to Israel.
The US would have to build a mighty big tunnel to accommodate the weapons that Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Caterpillar have supplied to Israel. The size of such a tunnel would be an eighth wonder of the world, a Grand Canyon of a tunnel, an engineering feat of the ages.
Think of what would have to come through.
Imagine Boeing’s shipments to Israel traveling through an enormous underground tunnel, large enough to accommodate the wingspans of planes, sturdy enough to allow passage of trucks laden with missiles. According to the UK’s Indymedia Corporate Watch, 2009, Boeing has sent Israel 18 AH-64D Apache Longbow fighter helicopters, 63 Boeing F-15 Eagle fighter planes, 102 Boeing F-16 fighter planes, 42 Boeing AH-64 Apache fighter helicopters, F-16 Peace Marble II and III Aircraft, four Boeing 777s, and Arrow II interceptors, plus Israel Aircraft Industries-developed Arrow missiles, and Boeing AGM-114 D Longbow Hellfire missiles.

In September of last year, the US government approved the sale of 1,000 Boeing GBU-9 small diameter bombs to Israel, in a deal valued at up to $77 million.
Now that Israel has dropped so many of those bombs on Gaza, Boeing shareholders can count on more sales, more profits, if Israel buys new bombs from them. Perhaps there are more massacres in store. It would be important to maintain the tunnel carefully.

Raytheon, one of the largest US arms manufacturers, with annual revenues of around $20 billion, is one of Israel’s main suppliers of weapons. In September last year, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency approved the sale of Raytheon kits to upgrade Israel’s Patriot missile system at a cost of $164 million. Raytheon would also use the tunnel to bring in Bunker Buster bombs as well as Tomahawk and Patriot missiles.

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest defense contractor by revenue, with reported sales in 2008 of $42.7 billion. Lockheed Martin’s products include the Hellfire precision-guided missile system, which has reportedly been used in the recent Gaza attacks. Israel also possesses 350 F-16 jets, some purchased from Lockheed Martin. Think of them coming through the largest tunnel in the world.

Maybe Caterpillar Inc. could help build such a tunnel. Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of construction (and destruction) equipment, with more than $30 billion in assets, holds Israel’s sole contract for the production of the D9 military bulldozer, specifically designed for use in invasions of built-up areas. The US government buys Caterpillar bulldozers and sends them to the Israeli army as part of its annual foreign military assistance package. Such sales are governed by the US Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of US military aid to “internal security” and “legitimate self defense” and prohibits its use against civilians.

Israel topples family houses with these bulldozers to make room for settlements. All too often, they topple them on the families inside. American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death standing between one of these bulldozers and a Palestinian doctor’s house in 2003.
yes, caterpillar. that company that barack obama–that president of change for koolaid drinkers out there–visited last week:

Over the objections of church groups, peace organizations and human rights activists, President Barack Obama decided to return to Illinois to visit the headquarters of the Caterpillar company, which for many years has violated international law, U.S. law and its own code of conduct in selling its D9 and D10 bulldozers to Israel.
In his speech on Thursday, Obama praised Caterpillar, saying “Your machines plow the farms that feed our families; build the towers that shape our skylines; lay the roads that connect our communities; power the trucks that deliver our goods.” He failed to mention that Caterpillar machines have been used to level homes, uproot olive orchards, build the illegal separation wall and, in some cases, kill innocent civilians, including a 23-year old American peace activist.

Thanks to Marcy Newman at:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Once in a Lifetime You May Read Something This Rare and Beautiful

A stunningly honest and beautiful love and war poem by Natalie Abou Shakra. She is a 21 year old woman who writes from the rubble of Gaza.

"The Struggle Within Me".

It is a curve, a curvy path. From the very top, till the very bottom. You can trace it with a light touch, from the inclined neck, down to the sensitive nape, around the curve of a yearning breast, around the erecting nipple. The waist moves for your hands to tighten their grip and motion you closer. The line of the hip seduces your tongue to taste its prolonged solitude, in dire need of the warm, damp of the salivary liquid you leave as you go further below. The thighs expand their distance, awaiting a touch, in between a distant cave, that had once existed, now forgotten- Bomb! We all fall down to the ground… a reverie of a longing sensuality broken. Your body does not belong to you any longer. Your sex has suddenly disappeared. You no longer are man, or woman; you are an object subliming in fright, rigidity, terror, trauma, disgust, and anxiety. Love under the bombs? What an alluring, distant broken dream…

Twenty two days, and the coming ones hold more savagery to your body than ever before. The body of Gaza has been barbarically violated, raped. To the images of slaughtering and torn human flesh you awake, you arise, and to the anxiety that you are next, you dwell. Your body, your sex, your self, you lose in the oblivion of an existence you once lived.

I open the tap for warm water, and nothing pours down. I smell of sweat, and a week of non-cleaned flesh, but the yearning for a touch, is left intact despite it all. My hair, too oily to be stroked gently, tangled and shaggy. I am clad in an attire of loose cloths, the only ones I could find, untouched by any other dirt, than that on my body. It removes any form, or curve my figure reveals. I tie the long hair around in several trials to the back. Its length no longer shows. Despite the continuous vibrations of the shelling, shaking the building I am, I struggle to place my kohl. I resist with all my might, "the day shall not rise without the kohl," I jokingly tell myself. "I placed nail polish on," the lady I live with tells me. "I want my spirits uplifted. I cannot take it anymore," she confides in me. She remained home during the twenty two days of death and terror that have not ended yet, now that trauma and shock have replaced them. She is married and has a seven year old boy dependent on her life and wellbeing. I am an activist dedicated to a cause and struggle. I do not stay home. I shall not die home.

The house, without tap water, is a haven of unwashed dishes, smelly bathrooms, and dirty laundry. Nevertheless, it is a roof atop our heads, despite all the broken windows of our house. My host family consists of three individuals, the child and his parents, and now myself. We shared a vacant room, of which we placed a mattress that can support us against the cold of the floor, of which to sleep on during the sleepless nights. There is no privacy to the self, no moment to live to touch yourself, to feel that there is still a body that yearns within you, that sends shocks of vibrations, other than those of the shelling, that cause you to smile, to feel, to climax.

Outside, every man becomes a potential prospect to your loneliness; a companion that can soothe the hunger; the hunger for a loving touch, and the thirst; the thirst for sentimental unity, and the flowing of emotions. 'Do I still look like a woman?' I ask myself in the empty streets as I walk alone, in a ghost town, with no lights, no electricity to lift the shadow of darkness that has fallen against a million and a half bodies of a land. 'Can I break a taboo or two? Do I have a right to against these circumstances?' I question the desperate, yearning soul in the human being of me.

Eyes lock with the pedestrians as I move towards my destination. It is still a long walk towards where I am supposed to be. The shelling continues, and the darkness is broken from the White Phosphorous the Israeli Occupation Forces light our skies with. During the day, darkness dwells reflecting the sun rays, as a result of the constant bombings and dark smoke that arises. Our days become nights, and nights turn to day. I fear for my health, as we all do, against the chemicals used. Can we be future cancer victims? How will my body respond to this present in case it has a future to live?

I struggle with myself to resist an occupation and all its influences. I struggle with a body, with no weapon. I struggle to smile, to laugh, to sing, to dance… to live my days as if there is no grander might that can remove my physical self from this being. I struggle to defy death, the killing machine, the loneliness, the fatigue of emotions and sentiments, the extinction of entertainment, the sadness of tales, of unjust facades of an absurd reality. I struggle for a rose, in a black field of death. I struggle for a crimson reality other than that of blood. I struggle for unity against division. I struggle to defy insecurity and its all resulting fragmentations. I struggle to listen to a tune, to touch a man. I struggle and struggle with all that I can, to live the last moments, as if they were the only ones in my life, to allow myself the non-existent pleasures of an already shortened life span.

Gaza the spark of burning coal onto the ears of forgetfulness; Gaza, now the liberating torch against all the evils of occupation, oppression, repression, colonialism and silence; Gaza, the struggle of the politics of identity and the right to self-determination, of a people, of a body, of every child, man and woman.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Silent Peace Plan

In a novel approach to Peace Diplomacy, Obama's special mid-east envoy decides not to talk to one of the main parties.

"Yet Mitchell did not attempt to talk to Hamas or even visit the Gaza Strip during the visit. Like many others in the West and in the Arab world, he appears to believe it is possible to rebuild Gaza yet ignore its Hamas-led government. His itinerary took him to Ramallah, Cairo, Amman and Riyadh - but not to Damascus. He cancelled a visit to Turkey after a high-level Israeli-Turkish clash at the Davos World Economic Forum - as if this somehow rendered Ankara's own Middle East mediation efforts, past and future, less relevant."
Thanks to:

Is this really a surprise?
A man with a life history of pro-Israel employment and views decides not to talk to Israel's bitter enemy?
Surprise, surprise.

Are you listening, Mr. President?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Israeli Terrorists Hide Munitions in Synagogue?

Hiding in civilian settings: "Weapons from Israel's pre-independence era were discovered Thursday in a large synagogue in Hod Hasharon, in central Israel.

WoW! What if Palestinians did that?

"Weapons from Israel's pre-independence era were discovered Thursday in a large synagogue in Hod Hasharon, in central Israel.

The location, which synagogue elders say served as a meeting place for members of the Haganah in the 40s, believe that the arms have not been touched since Israel's War of Independence.
They said that the dozens of worshippers who frequent the synagogue, located near the area's business center, were most likely unaware of the existence of the armaments.

The cache was discovered when caretakers of the building decided to clean out an adjoining supply room on the second story of the synagogue. The weapons – three stun grenades, a Sten rifle, magazines and a steel helmet - were stored in a wooden trunk in the room.
At this point, it is unclear whether the arms cache belonged to the organization or whether it was merely a private stash belonging to one of the members. "
Thanks to:

Might be interesting to go back over the history of the founding of "Israel".

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Israel Refuses to Cooperate in Nuremburg/Gaza War Crimes Investigation

How do you win in a game where the cards have been stacked against you?

"Officially" a stateless people with almost no voice or representation, Palestinians must rely on uncertain legal ground to prove Israel Defense/Occupation Forces and the civilian leadership of Israel, conspired to commit war crimes against the entire Gaza Strip killing almost 400 children and another 500 civilian women and men, plus close to 5000 wounded and the total destruction of large swaths of the country. Including hospitals, schools, libraries, police stations, UN buildings, farms and water, sewer and electric utilities.

The UN takes a stand.
The Palestinian Authority has accepted the authority of the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes by both Hamas and Israel.
This is a necessary step, but one on shaky legal ground as Palestine is not "officially" a state, and the UN charter says a "state" must request/agree to an investigation.

Israel denies everything.
Not surprisingly, Israel has denied any crimes, yet has buttoned up their shop so tight only official spokesmen are allowed by law, to talk to the press or anyone else. They have also said Israel will pay for the legal defense of any accused Israeli soldiers or government officials.
To further hamper both the investigation and a popular uprising against Israeli war crimes among their own populace, they have banned the publishing or circulation of names and photos of suspected Israeli war criminals. See the wanted poster here:

New legal precedent?
Since most nations are very shy about publicly criticizing Israel for fear of being the object of the formidable Israeli Lobby PR Army, they might prefer to quietly support the UN in their efforts at correcting Israel's increasingly rouge state behavior.

Israel's next legal move.
Since Palestine is not an "official state, Israel will no doubt challenge the UN's right to investigate on Palestines behalf.
Additionally, Israel may start their own investigation in an effort to shut down the UN the UN charter says a state may do their own and that would preclude the UN action.

Likely outcome.
I don't have a crystal ball and have read of no one else who has one, but based on past performance, I think we can expect a long investigation, a long legal battle and a finding of blame and excuses on both sides. But, with Israel again winning the PR war in the heavily Israeli influenced world press. With almost every nation on the UN Security Council having acted as Israel is now acting...ignoring international is doubtful the axe will come down too hard on Israel, especially since Israel seems to have been the birth place for so many of these tactics...or was it in Germany in WWII?

- Terry Allen -

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Did Hillary say "Islamist" like it was a dirty word?

Hillary Clinton has just repeated the same old, tired, thoughtless, non-starter conditions which have been repeated for generations.

"The United States wants to work with all parties to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the Islamist group Hamas must renounce violence, recognize Israel and respect past peace agreements", U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.
Did she just say "Islamist" like it was some sort of dirty word?

Moving on:
What did she have to say about what she requires from Israel in her peace efforts?
Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch!
I guess Israel just shows up, receives gifts from the Palestinians and gives nothing in return.

Not a word from Hillary about Israel renouncing violence...not even unlawful not bombing schools, hospitals, medics, UN installations, civilians, food production, snipers shooting farmers, and indiscriminate attacks using non-directional-specific weapons, etc.

Not a word from Hillary about Israel respecting past peace violating cease fires, opening borders, facilitating economic growth, returning confiscated property, conducting meaningful investigations into Israeli abuse, etc.

Not a word from Hillary about Israel formally recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to exist.
Can anyone with fair and honest intentions fail to highlight the rights of the indigenous population?
For a detailed list of Israel's violations of law:

Commonsense must be employed in understanding Obama Administration intent.

First, Obama gave his famous Al Arabiya interview to a friendly paper that never criticizes the status quo. The paper speaks for the repressive Arab governments. Obama never mentioned listening to the voice of the Palestinian people, only the voice of the Palestinian government that the USA and Israel replaced the freely elected Hamas government with.

Second, elected USA officials receive a lot of money from Israel lobbying organizations, but none from any Arab organizations that are not "approved" by the USA. This means, puppet Arab governments and organizations set up by the USA are welcome to lobby, but not any other Arab voices. Result: Israel tells both sides of the story. Nice scam.

Third, Who are the Middle East Advisors, to Obama, Clinton, Mitchell, etc?
The majority have a solid pro-Israel past.
So far, I have seen not a single Arab advisor appointed to any senior position in either Obama's, Clinton's or Mitchell's staffs.
Not one!

More Commonsense:
How can anyone "think" the conditions for Palestinians will materially change for the better when Israel is not criticized, let alone condemned?
How can anyone "think" ignoring the voice and the will of the people affected, is going to bear fruit?
How can anyone "think" President Obama will be receptive to Palestinian points of view, when he has no Arab advisors, let alone Palestinian ones?

I put "think" in quotes because it would seem...if the Obama administration were of good intent...they would recognize this deficiency in the incompleteness of the information they have and will receive. Without it, how can they make a they make a fair peace initiative?

But at best, it appears there is no thinking involved. It all seems like the same, decades old "reaction" again.
A reaction to the propaganda FOR the Israel position and a reaction to the propaganda AGAINST the Palestinian position.

But, these are all smart people. Clinton, Mitchell, Obama.
They know the deck is stacked.

What can we expect?
Hillary will cobble together a bunch of puppets and call it the new Palestinian government.
They will help train and arm the new government, which will try to silence the voice of the people...any voice that is not in tune with the puppet choir.
And the struggle will go on, because, the Peace Charlatans will have again treated the symptoms rather than the cause.

Late Update:
Brooklyn Man Jailed for Distributing Lebanese TV Channel
In other media news, a Pakistani American who owns a satellite TV company in Brooklyn has pleaded guilty to providing material aid to a terrorist organization. Javed Iqbal was accused of providing the aid by letting customers receive broadcasts from a Lebanese TV station tied to Hezbollah. Prosecutors said Iqbal used satellite dishes on his Staten Island home to distribute television broadcasts of Al Manar. Iqbal faces up to six-and-a-half years in prison. He has lived in the United States for twenty years and is the father of five children.

See what I said? Silence all but the state approved news. Don't give the oppressed a voice.
- Terry Allen -

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Short Course in International Humanitarian Law

Here you go, Mr. President.
Read this short, clear and concise article and get a good grounding in International Humanitarian Law...and a better understanding of how Israel behaves and will behave again in the future if we do not all join together to reject it.

International Law
Israeli conduct in its offensive against Gaza has been widely condemned. The president of the United Nations General Assembly has accused Israel of violating international law with its war on Gaza in which over 1300 Palestinians have been killed in three weeks, more than half of them civilians. Israel stands accused of war crimes and the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force. Even prior to this conflict, the Israeli blockade of Gaza violated international law.
The violations of international law inherent in the Gaza assault have been well documented and include collective punishment, disproportionate military force [and] attacks on civilian targets, including homes, mosques, universities, schools.

Overview of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)
International humanitarian law is a system of legal safeguards that cover the way wars may be fought and the protection of individuals. It protects persons and property that are, or may be, affected by an armed conflict and limits the rights of the warring parties to use methods and means of warfare of their choice. IHL only concerns actions taken during armed conflict and does not deal with whether or not the war itself is just.

International Humanitarian Law exists in both treaty and customary form. The main IHL treaties are the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, which contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war. They protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (wounded, the sick, prisoners of war).

In addition, customary law consists of those rules of war that are recognized as binding by states even when the state is not required by treaty to observe them. For example, many of the rules in the first Additional Protocol, including those about the targeting of civilians, indiscriminate attack, and humane treatment of all prisoners, are agreed to be part of customary law. This means that they are binding on nations even if they have not signed Additional Protocol I.International Law is very clear about the rules of engagement during warfare and Israel has most definitely violated these rules before and during these attacks.

The Laws Governing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israel’s Legal Obligations

As an Occupier: The Fourth Geneva Convention, which protects civilians in time of war or occupation, applies to Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories. In addition, Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocol II of 1977 is also applicable to internal armed conflict.

Israel disputes the notion that the Gaza Strip remains occupied since it unilaterally withdrew its military forces and settlers in 2005 after decades of occupation. As such, Israel claims it no longer has responsibility over the welfare of the Gazan population. However, rights groups and international legal experts state that Israel retains the position of an occupying power as it exercises “effective” and total control over Gaza’s air and sea space, land borders, its electricity, sewage, and water networks, and frequently carries out armed incursions into the coastal strip. The absence of a full military administration in Gaza does not diminish its responsibility.

The Right to Self-Defense
Israel's attacks on Gaza from Dec 27, 2008 to Jan 17, 2009, have been argued by the Israeli government, and justified by President Bush and his administration to be a war of self defense as permitted by article 51 of UN charter.

This is not self-defense, it is a war of aggression.

First, Israel is an occupying power under international law and cannot in principle invoke the right to self-defense against an armed attack coming from the territory it occupies. The International Court of Justice's advisory opinion on the Wall states that "unless an attack is directed from outside territory under the control of the defending State, the question of self-defense in the sense of Article 51 does not normally arise."

Second, self -defense is an act of last resort and in any case is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity. According to international law, an Occupying Power could, at best, justify reasonable, proportional targeted attacks against Hamas military objects, commensurate with the Qassam rocket attacks. However, the scale and manner of its operations in the Strip reveal it to be a war of aggression, in contravention of international law.

Third, Israel broke the ceasefire by assassinating six Gazans on 4 November 2008, provoking Hamas to fire rockets into Israel in response. Moreover, these rocket attacks by Hamas in terms of scale and effect do not amount to an armed attack that warrants the right to self-defense. Such an armed attack must be characterized by serious violations of the peace.
It is critical to understand that these attacks were not, as Israel claims, in self defense. One must be very careful about contextualizing the recent events. Where the clock starts is crucial to interpreting and understanding the current conflict. For more information on the context preceeding these attacks, please go to 'Setting the Context' the below link.
I suggest you put the above website link in your favorites. It is top notch.

Thanks to:

Dear readers, please forward this helpful post to your concerned friends. It is hard to sort out the facts on this issue unless you make it your lifes work...and who has the time? This article should be very helpful to all who care.

- Terry Allen -