All 8 entries tagged Palestine

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July 04, 2007

Alan Johnston finally freed!

Writing about web page,,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

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



"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."

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”.

660 Palestinians killed in 2006

Writing about web page

On 28/12/2006 B’tselem published a press release tallying the number of people killed in the I/P conflict during 2006. The total figure was 683 of whom 660 were Palestinians. Of the 660 Palestinians, 141 were minors. 23 Israelis, including one minor, were killed in the same period of time.

I wonder how the Hasbarah-spouters will be spinning the fact that the Israelis killed 141 Palestinian minors, whereas one Israeli minor was killed. 141:1 doesn’t make for good propaganda.

Some suggestions include:

*Palestinians picked up their children and threw them underneath tank tracks.
*Palestinians killed their own children, then pretended Israel did it.
*Palestinians duct-taped children to themselves then charged checkpoints.

December 15, 2006

Palestine: Attempt on Ismail Haniyeh

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


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.

February 13, 2006

The primary reason Arabs are misunderstood… (part 1)

is that hardly anyone outside the Arab world knows our food! Sure, everyone's had a kebab and quite a few of you will know what homous or filafil are…

Argh – I have to go on a little aside/rant here. Everyone thinks they've had a kebab and quite a few think they know what homous and filiafil are but they are mostly wrong! What those random Turkish Takeaways sell (ie the meat Mac Donald's wasn't prepared to use, stuffed to the brim with thick chillie sauce) are not proper kebabs! If you want to try real Arabic kebabs pop over to Edgeware Road in London. Go into any of the great restaurants there (al-Dar and Maroush spring to mind!) and you will get to taste real (scruptious) kebabs. Yum-yum. And Homous isn't Greek.

OK now that that's over, let's get onto what real Arabic cuisine is all about:

Zait wa Za'atar

Zait is oil in Arabic. Here it's Zait Zaitoon (Olive Oil). You put this zait in a bowl and fill another bowl with Za'atar. Za'atar is a mix of various herbs in different measures (so you have different types of Za'atar) but the primary ingredient is Thyme (but you'll also have Summac, toasted Sesame etc.). This is a basic of any Arabic breakfast and it's good for you. You dip bread into the olive oil and then dip it into the za'atar which will then stick to the bread. Absolutely delicious!

Halloumi Cheese

Now I'm not going to get into whether this is originally Arabic or Greek (but the Arabs cook it better :P) but this is also typically found in breakfasts or as an accompaniment to various meals. It's either fried in a little bit of oil, grilled or served raw. My personal preference is to heat up a pan, pour about half a teaspoon of olive oil into the pan and let it sit in the centre. To test when the pan is ready, cut a little bit of the cheese and drop it in. If it's sizzling, the pan will be ready. Cut fairly thin slices of cheese and place them on the outer edges of the pan. Using a wooden spatula, quickly push each slice into the centre and pull it back so it stays on the fringe. Wait about 40–50 seconds , checking one of the slices to see how brown/dark it is and, when ready, turn over and do the same with the other side.

Within two minutes you'll have perfectly cooked Halloumi cheese. It'll be crispy on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside. I'll post some pics when I next cook it :D.


The first REAL dish I'm going to mention (i.e. a complete meal as opposed to side dishes). This is my favourite Arabic dish and I can't properly describe to you how wonderful it is. It's composed of:

Stone Yoghurt (condensed and dried goat's milk)
Rice (with one of the yellowing spices)
Snobre (pine kernals)
Lamb (mmmm)
Shiraq (a kind of large, flat Arabic bread)
Semneh Beladi (a bit like Pakistani Ghi)

You powderise the yoghurt rocks and then blend with water. Meanwhile, you put your lamb meat in a large pot (pressure cooker!) and slowly fry it in just a touch of oil. you don't want the meat to burn or to cook too much, you just want to take out the redness of the meat. When it's ready you pour on the Stone Yoghurt (which is now liquid) and start slow-boiling it.

You prepare the rice as usual. To serve the meal you take a large tray and break up the bread to use as a kind of base. You pour a bit of the stone yoghurt over the bread so it absorbs the yoghurt and then you place the rice on top of the bread. You have to fry the snobre quickly in a bit of oil, being careful not to burn them but only to brown them (they cook very quickly) and sprinkle ontop of the rice. You then take some of the meat from the pot and place ontop of the rice and serve the yoghurt + meat in bowls for you/your guests to add as they wish to the rice.

Mmmmm-mmmmm. Delicious.


More dishes to be descirbed + possible photos in part 2!


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