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July 04, 2007

Alan Johnston finally freed!

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,2118035,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=11

johnston20b.jpgI think we can all say alhamdulilah and celebrate the release of Alan Johnston. Hamas delivered on its promise and it'd be nice if the British Prime Minister or at least the FO would deliver a thank-you to Hamas. I don't think Fatah could have reached the same conclusion.

The Guardian: Speaking to BBC News 24 after his release, Mr Johnston said: "It's the most fantastic thing to be free."

He described his 16 weeks of captivity as "appalling".

"It became almost hard to imagine normal life again," he said. "Now it really is over and it is indescribably good to be out."

If you remember Alan Johnston from previous photos/videos, he was never what you'd call fat but he had a well-built appearence. If you look at his release photos he's clearly lost a lot of weight. It will be interesting to hear about what he went through.

"We have been able to close this chapter which has harmed the image of our people greatly. The efforts by Hamas have produced the freedom of Alan Johnston," Mr Meshaal told the Reuters agency by telephone from Syria.

Hamas is rightly claiming this event a diplomatic/security victory for itself. And I'm absolutely delighted that Mr. Johnston is still alive. I'd love to hear how he feels about Hamas' role in the affair.


June 05, 2007

Why pick on Israel? Because its actions are wrong.

Writing about web page http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article2611732.ece

Boycott IsraelIn yesterday's Independent the comments section had a neat little article entitled: "Why pick on Israel? Because its actions are wrong" by Steven Rose.  It essentially responds to three issues currently dominating discourse on the proposed academic boycott of Israeli universities:

1) How can you boycott academia? What about Academic freedom?

2) Why pick on Israel? Why don't push for action over Darfur, Tibet or Iran?

3) It is antisemitic. 

Anyone familiar with Dershowitz will have heard these arguments time and again in debates. If you choose to criticise or take action against Israel you must be anti-semitic. Why? Because you're highlighting the Jewish state instead of a number of other states at least as bad as Israel! It's mind-numbing.


Anyway, here's his article. Anything in bold is my emphasis. 



The University and College Union annual congress last week voted by a two-thirds majority to organise a campus tour for Palestinian academic trade unionists to explain why they had called for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, and to encourage UCU members to consider the moral implications of links with Israeli universities. Not surprisingly, this overwhelming vote met with a roar of hostility from what we have learned to call the Israel lobby.

Our government, long accustomed to sitting on its hands when any serious attempt to censure Israel is made, predictably joined the chorus. More surprisingly, the Independent's editorialist and its columnist Joan Smith followed along. The boycott, we are told, damages academic freedom, picks on Israel, and encourages anti-Semitism on British campuses.

Entirely suppressed in this harrumphing has been any thought about why Palestinian university teachers and their union, as well as all the NGOs in the Occupied Territories, have called for a boycott. Academic freedom, it appears, applies to Israelis but not Palestinians, whose universities have been arbitrarily closed, Bir Zeit for a full four years. Students and teachers have been killed or imprisoned. Attendance at university is made hazardous or impossible by the everyday imposition of checkpoints. Research is blocked by Israeli refusal to allow books or equipment to be imported.

Even within Israel itself, some universities sit on illegally expropriated land, Arab student unions are not recognised and there are increasing covert restrictions on Arab-Israelis (20 per cent of the population) entering university at all. No Israeli academic trade union or professional association has expressed solidarity with their Palestinian colleagues a few kilometres away across the wall, though the boycott call may finally encourage them to do so.

When challenged, Israelis cite examples of collaboration with Palestinians: bridges, not borders. Fine, but because Palestinian academics from Gaza or the West bank are not permitted to enter pre-1967 Israel, how real can such collaborations be? If academic freedom means anything, it must be indivisible. And what are Palestinians to make of the uncensured insistence by senior Israeli academics that their family size constitutes a demographic threat to the Jewish state?

But why should academics, culture workers, architects and doctors in the UK, who have all in recent months called for forms of boycott of Israel, take such action? Why pick on Israel, we are asked. After all, as Joan Smith points out, there are lots of ugly regimes around. How about boycotting the UK until troops are removed from Iraq? But boycott is merely a specific tactic, a non-violent weapon available to individual members of civil society. It is only one form of protest: many boycott supporters are at least as actively involved in the various campaigns against the UK's illegal war in Iraq as in any boycott of Israel.

No one asks those campaigning against China's occupation of Tibet why not Israel or Darfur? If opponents of our boycott call want to make a case for boycotting Cuba (one boycott that Israel, following its American paymaster at the UN, habitually supports) they are free to do so. The issue is not "Why Israel?" but "Why not Israel?" Yet the secular western press, so willing to express discomfort with states that describe themselves as "Islamic Republics" is seemingly untroubled by the ethnic assumptions underlying the claims of a Jewish republic.

Further, it is precisely because Israel prides itself on its academic prowess (just as South Africa did of its sporting prowess) that the idea of an academic boycott is so painful. Israel has uniquely strong academic links with Europe, and despite its Middle-East location and constant breaches of European legislation on human rights, receives considerable financial research support from the EU. That's why the Israeli cabinet felt it necessary to set up an anti-boycott committee under that well-known campaigner for a greater Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, and why teams of Israeli academics toured the UK before the UCU vote to try to block the boycott call.

Lurking behind the thinking of even well-meaning opponents of the boycott is that it is in some way anti-Semitic. This ignores the fact that the boycott is of Israeli institutions, not individuals (so it would affect the tiny number of Palestinian academics in Israeli institutions, but not a Jewish Israeli working in the UK or US). Second, it ignores the fact that the British Jewish community is itself intensely divided over Israel, between those who will defend Israel at all costs, and the increasingly vocal critics who insist "not in our name". Even a cursory look at the signatories of the various boycott calls will show the large number of prominent Jewish figures among them. It really isn't good enough to attack the messenger as anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew rather than deal with the message itself, that Israel's conduct is unacceptable.

What could be a more democratic way of bringing debate on to university campuses than the instruction to the UCU to organise a campus tour for Palestinian academic trade unionists to engage in discussion before UCU members decide whether to support their call for a boycott? Those who cherish the idea of the university as the house of reason will surely welcome the opportunity for calm discussion of a controversial issue.

The writer is secretary of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine

                              Steven Rose, The Independent, 04/06/2007


April 13, 2007

Quotation of the Week

          

ghandi

"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and in-human to impose the Jews on the Arabs."


February 05, 2007

Jokers

Writing about web page http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,250281,00.html

I can't tell if this is Fox playing a joke, or if the Iranians are actually doing it, but whatever the cause, it's one of those how-can-it-be-true kind of moments.

Report: Iran Set to Unveil Herbal AIDS Cure

ahamdinejad.jpgIran was set to make fantastic claims on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, including finding an herbal cure for AIDS, an Israeli news agency reported Sunday.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was set to speak of his nation's "great achievements" on Feb. 11, Ynetnews.com reported Sunday, citing the Iranian news agency Fars as its source.

"The Iranian nation will celebrate stabilization and establishment of its nuclear rights during the Ten-Day Dawn [the anniversary of the revolution]," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.

That's got to be Fox taking the piss.


January 03, 2007

Fox News (Cavuto) on Muslims…

A friend’s just sent me a copy of an interview between the Cavuto programme on FoxNews recently with Rabbi Weiss.

Now to put some context on things, Rabbi Weiss is an Orthodox Rabbi who is also a member of Neturei Karta. For those who are unfamiliar with the group, Neturei Karta is a religious, anti-Zionist group of Jews who believe that, as stated within the Torah and as has been elaborated on by various Rabbis throughout Jewish history, Jews should not return to Palestine until, essentially, Judgement day. Ie until the Messiah returns (I think the Hebrew is Messiach, Arabic is Messih).

The group, including the featured Rabbi attended the rcent Iranian conference on the Holocaust.

Now I don’t wish to get into a debate on the Holocaust or the Holocaust conference. The conference was more-or-less pointless. The Holocaust has been substantially documented and the only empirical disagreements come over the numbers actually killed. What I do wish to get into is one of the presenter’s (many) throwaway comments:


C*avuto: OK. Israel ceases to exist as a Jewish state. You really have trust that Muslims wouldn’t *butcher you?
*R*abbi *W*eiss: Yes.
C: In revenge for what’s happened in the last 60/70 years?
RW: What happened in South Africa? The people were afraid that they would butcher all the white people [Cavuto interrupts]
C: South African blacks are not Muslims.

So not only would the Palestinians butcher all Jews should there be a binational state within Israel/Palestine, but they would do so purely because they are Muslims.

Meanwhile the Iranians have apparently “butchered Christians in Iran for 20 years”.


December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein Executed

Follow-up to Saddam Hussein to be executed tomorrow? from The Story of Hamid-o

Wonderful. As predicted, it’s quite the media circus. We’ve got images on Fox, CNN etc. Frontpages plastered with images of Saddam with a noose around his head. There are step-by-step pictures and videos available of the placing of the noose, the body hanging limply and the corpse on the floor. Fantastic.

Meanwhile, I’m hearing of videos apparently showing various Shi’a executioners dancing around the room.

If he needed to be executed, then fine. But execution on Eid? How wonderful! It’s Like executing a Christian on Christmas day. You don’t bloody execute people on Eid, no matter how vile they may be. And it’s December 30th. How beautifully convenient! Well done Bush! Another mission accomplished!

It’s great to see the “Sovereign” Iraqi courts marching to America’s drumbeat. Naturally the Americans haven’t considered (or have they?) the impact of his show trial and execution on the Sunnis of Iraq. Let’s see how long it takes before Sovereign Iraq divides into three different nations.


December 29, 2006

Saddam Hussein to be executed tomorrow?

Writing about web page http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/12/29/hussein/index.html

So it looks like the Iraqi kangaroo court has heard the appeal and decided that the execution should proceed and it’s looking increasingly likely that it will happen either later today or tomorrow. Tomorrow is, coincidentally 30/12/2006 , just one day short of the New Year.

So it looks like Bush will have some propaganda victory as his party staggers into 2007 under the weight of the Iraq war, Foley(gate), the losses incurred in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Now he can claim that justice has been served, another mission accomplished and an evil dictator has been “wiped off the map” (wahay!). He can gloat that justice has been served whilst at the same time shy away from completely condoning it.

“We salute the Iraqi people and their quest for freedom and democracy against al-qayder and terrism, and we hope that today will mark the end of an era. An era of rape rooms and soldiers seizing babies from incubators. But you know, being the civilised civilisation that we white…. I mean Americans are, we don’t condone the death penalty. Except in Texas (and other states). Where we execute the mentally-handicapped. And heck, you know them there on death row have several chances to appeal. It can take a long time to execute someone. But when it comes to a former head of state who’s become a political nuisance… well ‘Justice’ is always best served quickly and efficiently!

At least he got the vague semblence of justice instead of a “9mm Labotomy” – or a “window in the back of his head” or whatever charming phrase jingoistic, gun-toting Americans are using today – in his cell. So let’s see how this pans out.

As an aside, the media circus is increasingly stomach-turning. I was just watching CNN and my skin crawled as the announcement came. It reminded me of that satirical scene in Starship Troopers concerning the criminal due to be excecuted “Execution live at 9.00, all channels”. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s live coverage of the execution.

So, whatever you might think of Saddam, there are two things I remember him for, back from my youth:

1) An interview with Trevor Macdonald (I think it was just before the Gulf War whilst America was gathering UN support for “ejecting Iraq from Kuwait”) in which Saddam Hussein was speaking Arabic through a translator. The translator mistranslated something – Saddam paused, looked at his translator and told him to translate it properly. Was quite surprising and an insight into the dictator. As shitty a commander as he was, he had some cunning.

2) Another quotation. I can’t remember when it was said (or to whom it was said) but I remember my father quoting it to me sometime after the Gulf War. I’m paraphrasing but it was essentially:

Reporter: Mr. President, what do you think about the threats coming from Qatar and Bahrain these days?
...
Saddam Hussein : Qatar? Bahrain? Ha! I’ll tell you what I think of Qatar and Bahrain. I took Kuwait in a week. I’ll take Qatar in a day. And I’ll take Bahrain by fax.

For some reason, that still cracks me up. Sadist with a sense of humour perhaps?


December 15, 2006

Palestine: Attempt on Ismail Haniyeh

Follow-up to Palestine: Civil War Ahead? from The Story of Hamid-o

Haaretz

Hamas officials said the 24-year-old guard was shot in the head during intense gunfire from Fatah forces. “The bodyguard to Ismail Haniyeh was killed during an assassination attempt,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
/> [Haniyeh] added, “we know the party that shot directly at our cars, injuring some of the people with me… and we also know how to deal with this.”
/> About 50 gunmen greeted Haniyeh at his home in a refugee camp next to Gaza City, firing in the air and throwing candies. [What the hell?]
/> More than two dozen people, including the Haniyeh’s son, Abed, 27, were wounded in the fighting, deepening factional violence that has pushed the rival Hamas and Fatah parties closer to civil war. An official said that the son was not badly hurt.

Reading through the article, it’s not clear exactly how things started, but the end result is Haniyeh with a dead bodyguard, a half-dead son and a clear threat in the shape of “And we also know how to deal with this.”

This piles onto other recent events indicating the spiral down into a civil war, at least within Ghaza.

As with nearly any Israeli/American-written article on Palestine/Lebanone/The World these days, the evil Iranian boogeyman crops up:

The security establishment has voiced its concern over the emergence of closer ties between Hamas and Iran, as Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran this week is viewed by Israel as a possible step by them towards establish a strategic pact.

In my view the Palestinians could do a lot worse than looking to Iran for backing. The Arabs have failed them. The Europeans have been pic’ ‘n’ mix friends. The Americans have since the ‘60s been firmly aiding Israel.

The Iranians are promising ideological support (ie firm support for the creation of a Palestinian state or some bi-national state – I’m going to be deleting any comments saying Ahmadenijad wants Israel “wiped off the map”), economic support and logistical support. The Palestinians are already under severe economic sanctions and the occupation has been continuing in its brutality no matter what the Palestinians do. If the Palestinian factions stop failing the Palestinian people and embrace Iran, it is quite possible they will be able to more-effectively wage guerrilla warfare against the occupying power.


December 05, 2006

Palestine: Civil War Ahead?

The Palestinians have more-or-less managed to avoid civil war. over the past 40 years. There were always various rivalries between competing Palestinian factions, but the Palestinians have been able to stop that from fomenting into anything more than rivalry because of the united national goal and the united will of the Palestinian people (to see an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip).

Now it’s looking increasingly as though there is set to be some form of civil war between Fatah (and which ever splinter groups or allies choose to aid it) and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

This isn’t worrying just because of the potential violence and death that may ensue, it is also worrying because it reduces the Palestinian leadership(s) to mere monkeys dancing to an Israeli accordian.

Fatah has proven, since 1993, to be willing to comply to Israeli demands in order to gain or retain power. Hamas has proven to be equally pliant but in a different way. Time and again Hamas has predictably reacted to Israeli provocation in precisely the manner the Israeli authorities desired (for example, when Hamas would orchestrate a hudna, the Israelis would make an assassination. And if no reaction, another assassination. And then another until Hamas responded by making a strike against Israeli civilians which the Israelis would use as an excuse to escalate their violence).

And now these two monkeys are hearing the Israeli tune and dancing more ferociously than ever. They can’t see the wood for the trees? Would Palestinian Civil War be beneficial to Israel? Of course it would. Why? Well:

1) If the major Palestinian militant groups are fighting amongst themselves, they’re not going to be fighting with Israel.

2) If the Palestinians are engaged in civil war, Israel can continue to pursue its policy of the last 10 years and create de facto borders which will ultimately result in a semi-autonomous Palestinian region within an Israeli state. The Israelis won’t have to negotiate if the Palestinians can’t decide on their leadership. Negotiations completely go out the window. Palestinians destroy themselves while Israel reaps the benefits. To quote the Chinese Idiom: ”坐山观虎斗“ – Sit on a mountain and watch two tigers fight.

3) It frees the Israelis up to pursue other actions. Notably Lebanon. Israel is already making hints towards a future invasion (as though the hints at the end of the last war weren’t obvious enough) and it’s looking increasingly likely that an invasion or “intervention” will take place. .

Here’s hoping that neither Fatah nor Hamas will take the bait and launch a civil war. It would mean the ruin of hopes for a sovereign Palestine.


November 24, 2006

Jewish Professor Suing Canadian University for Defamation…

Writing about web page http://www.thestar.com/

The Toronto Star

History professor David Noble is suing York University’s fundraising foundation and several Jewish organizations for defamation, claiming they suggested he is anti-Semitic to try to gag criticism of their activities.
Noble, 61, who is Jewish, has brought a $25 million lawsuit against the York University Foundation, including outgoing York president Lorna Marsden, as well as the Canadian Jewish Congress’ Ontario region, Hillel of Greater Toronto and the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto for their criticism of flyers he distributed.

[...]

He said he criticized York figures for their political views on Israel, not their ethnicity or religion.
The university later issued a news release condemning what Marsden called “this highly offensive material, which singles out certain members of the York community on the basis of their ethnicity and political views.”
While it did not name Noble, it quoted a Jewish student leader who was concerned about “such inflammatory material,” and said “it is unacceptable for any students to be exposed to this type of bigotry.”

Should be interesting to see how this pans out, particularly following the recent decision awarded by an Israeli court against Plaut for libeling Israeli academic, Neve Gordon.

While we’re on the topic, it’s worth checking out this rather horrific website: CampusWatch.org . It’s a symptom of the organisation of Hasbarah elements within academia attempting to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel on campuses within the US and, indeed, any particular University.


February 12, 2006

Seems that Sharon's finally about to pop his clogs…

Writing about web page http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,184553,00.html

Not as undignified a death as I would have hoped, but a war criminal being kept alive while bits of him die off and get removed? That'll do, that'll do.

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