Thursday, March 31, 2005
"Scores of women have been forced to give birth at checkpoints by the roadside and several have lost their babies because Israeli soldiers denied them passage," it said.
It cited the case of Rula Ashtiya who was refused passage on 26 August 2003, by Israeli soldiers at the Bait Furik checkpoint on the way to hospital in Nablus to give birth.
"I was lying on the ground in the dust and I crawled behind a concrete block by the checkpoint to have some privacy and gave birth there, in the dust, like an animal," she said.
"I held the baby in my arms and she moved a little but after a few minutes she died in my arms."
The report also mentions increases in "honor" killings over the past four and a half years. I'm sure that some of my "sisters" will jump on this one.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Stupid Caption Award
Israeli soldiers block a small protest march by international and Palestinian demonstrators who turned out to mark Land Day, the annual day when Palestinians traditionally have vented anger[do you think? not that six people were killed peacefully protesting the theft of five thousand acres of land by the Israelis twenty-nine years ago or maybe they're VENTING because of the theft that's been ongoing for almost sixty years now] against Israel, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Wednesday, March 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Today, March 30, marks the twenty-ninth anniversary of Yom-el-Ard, Land Day. This day marks the "first act of mass resistance inside Israel." Six people were killed, hundreds wounded and hundreds jailed protesting Israel's theft of five thousand acres of Galilee land, declaring them "closed military zones." These people are protesting the Apartheid Wall in Bil'in, near Ramallah. Picture by AP Photographer, Muhammed Muheisen
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Palestine? Pakistan? Do "Liberal" Bloggers Know the Difference?
Members of The National Press Club,
We, the undersigned bloggers, are very concerned about how liberal political bloggers are being systematically under-represented and belittled in the mainstream media, academic settings and media forums. [not because we cover Israel-Palestine] By being intentionally excluded away from these venues, we are effectively pushed out of the discourse of opinion-leaders. The result is that the conventional wisdom about blogging, politics and journalism, as it concerns liberal blogs, becomes a feedback loop framed by the Conservatives and their media allies.[while you may differ with conservatives and their media allies on social security, Terry Schiavo, and the war, there's not any difference between you and them on the coverage of the Palestine-Israel conflict].
The letter continues in a very self-satisfied tone. It is signed by twenty-three bloggers and one news gathering service. I checked them all out today--went through the entire March archives for the twenty-three blogs and threw in Atrios, which posted nothing in March on Palestine/Israel, and which gets over one hundred thousand hits a day.
These blogs, which like to think of themselves as somehow providing a service that the mainstream media doesn't, don't even measure up to the mainstream media when it comes to providing pro-Palestinian coverage. At least in the mainstream one can find a favorable op-ed once in a great while.
At dailykos, which receives half a million hits a day, there were no posts in March on Israel-Palestine, but there was one link to the New York Times about the suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv Club. These were the remarks of one Armando who posted the story: "Shattering the hopeful ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a crowded Tel Aviv Club." Most of the story was then posted and Armando's incisive comments continued:"How significant is this? In human terms, obviously, as significant as life and death. But in terms of Israeli-Palestinian relations?"
From the other signatories there was scant coverage. annatopia.com had one item, but not in March. I found "A Letter from Ramallah," dating from April 2, 2002. That blog has a search engine and I found nothing since then. seetheforest had a reference to Golda Meir, to wit, "Golda Meir had it." What did she have? She was "macho," according to the blogger. crooksandliars, with an average 16,788 hits a day had a link today to the angry arab. That's hopeful even though crooksandliars didn't discover As'ad Abu Khalil until today. One of the stories to which he linked was in Arabic (a lot of good that will do) but the other story to which he linked was in English. It was about Israel's continued colonization of Palestinian lands.
Agonist had a story on Israeli terrorist impersonators, and another story that Syria ordered Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders out of the country. Agonist also has a little bar on the left, which I missed on my first visit. One may choose Israel-Palestine. There were a number of straight news stories from the mainstream press. One notable exception to the standard fare was an interview conducted via cell phone by one of Agonist's reporters, who annoyingly calls the Apartheid Wall, the security fence (see what I mean), with Mordchai Vanunu.
Out of the twenty-three liberal bloggers who are so upset that not one of them has been invited to participate in a National Press Club sponsored forum on journalism and blogging only two posted a story this month about the expansion of the Maale Adumim colony. The protest in which five thousand Palestinians engaged against the apartheid wall when Kofi Annan was in Ramallah, or the attempt on Palm Sunday of internationals and Palestinians to go through a checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem wasn't covered nor was the visit to Congress by an Israeli refusenik covered. (It WAS covered by semitism.net and picked up by antiwar.com's blog).
This is what concerns "liberal" bloggers: Two of them, one of whom is a Zionist, are outraged that Jewish fundamentalists and Christian evangelicals are opposed to the International Gay Pride event scheduled in Jerusalem. The Zionist blogger, to commemorate International Women's Day, published every source MEMRI could provide on discussions of wife beating in Arab countries. One would think that MEMRI, which chooses the most denigrating stories about Arabs from the Arabic press to translate and circulate among westerners, was an affiliate of the National Organization of Women, and not a tool of the most reactionary elements of Israeli society. I am quite certain that the motivation of the educatedeclectic in printing this piece was not to further the rights of Arabic women. Check out the damnation of Hezbollah she provides on the same archived page linked to above. In addition, she cites Rana Husseini, a writer for the Jordan Times. Rana's story naturally concerns a sixteen year old Arabic girl raped and impregnated by one brother and murdered by another brother.
The "liberal" bloggers, many of whom reach thousands of readers a day are upset that the conservative writer cum male-prostitute Jeff Gannon has been invited by the National Press Club to participate in the conference and that none from their ranks has been invited. It's unfortunate that the "liberal" bloggers don't concern themselves about more pressing concerns.
postscript: These are the blogs that I checked out (I don't mean to come off like Campus Watch). More blogs have signed on to the letter in the meantime. I'll save them for tomorrow.
Sean-Paul Kelley, http://www.agonist.org
Ezra Klein, http://ezraklein.typepad.com
Echidne of the snakes, http://www.echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com
Amanda Marcotte, http://www.pandagon.net
Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher, http://www.BuzzFlash.com
Matt Stoller, http://bopnews.com
Democratic Underground http://www.democraticunderground.com/
Lindsay Beyerstein http://majikthise.typepad.com
Shakespeare's Sister, http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com and http://www.bigbrassblog.comBob Brigham, http://www.SwingStateProject.com
Dave Johnson, http://www.Seeingtheforest.comMatt Singer, http://www.leftinthewest.com
Kari Chisholm, http://www.blueoregon.com
Steve Gilliard, http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/
Crooks and Liars, http://www.crooksandliars.com/
Brian Balta, http://balta.blogspot.com
That Colored Fella, http://www.ThatColoredFellasweblog.bloghorn.com
Anna Brosovic http://annatopia.com/blog.html
skippy the bush kangaroo
David Neiwert Orcinus http://www.dneiwert.blogspot.com
Julien 's List http://www.educatedeclectic.blogspot.com
Monday, March 28, 2005
Pro Zionist Think Tank Advocates Policy of "Constructive Instability for Lebanon, Syria"
The West Bank Fence: A Vital Component in Israel's Stragtegy of Defense and
A Defensible Fence: Fighting terror and Enabling a Two-State Solution.
They have big plans for Lebanon and Syria. Below is an excerpt. Complete stories here, here, and here. Thanks very much, Raja. An excerpt:
Lebanon and Syria are places where the administration’s policy of “constructive instability” is being put to an early test. Before this policy has run its course, America and its local allies are sure to suffer tactical defeats and nightmarish moments. But if the administration is able to maintain a dogged, incremental persistence—neither overplaying its hand nor recoiling at the first sign of setback—then the prospects for continued positive change remain strong.
'We Will Return . . . to Sharon's Project of Cantons'
an interview with Khalil Tufakji
Khalil Tufakji looks at the "facts on the ground" and comes up with a sobering assessment regarding any future Palestinian state.
This week Palestine Report Online interviews Orient House Mapping and Survey director Khalil Tufakji on the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
PR: The Maaleh Adumim settlement bloc is the largest in the West Bank. What does the recent Israeli government decision to expand this bloc by 3,500 housing units mean for the Palestinians?
Tufakji: What is happening now in Maaleh Adumim is part of the plan recently proposed by a href="http://www.pmo.gov.il/english/">Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, when he announced that settlement activity would be consolidated inside the West Bank after the disengagement plan [from the Gaza Strip]. Also, not long ago, he said the major settlement blocs would be annexed to Israel in the final stage.
The expansion of Maaleh Adumim is part of this plan, which is to create facts on the ground, to annex the settlement blocs to Israel and finally to alter the demographic reality to Israel’s advantage in terms of Jerusalem and basically impose a twofold reality on the Palestinians: the first is the geographical aspect and the second, the demographic aspect.
In addition, when Israel establishes 3,500 housing units in Maaleh Adumim in addition to thousands of housing units to the entire bloc, which is comprised of eight settlements – the biggest of which is Maaleh Adumim – this means there is an Israeli plan to sever the northern West Bank from the south.
PR: Whose lands will be confiscated in order for this expansion to occur?
Tufakji: The lands where expansion will occur were already confiscated in the 1970s and the 1980s and were declared “state lands” under Israeli law. When Palestinians from Al Tour and Anata appealed to the Israel High Court, their appeals were rejected.
PR: Do you agree with the idea that the disengagement plan is basically a means of consolidating West Bank settlements?
Tufakji: Definitely, especially after what Sharon announced last month about consolidating West Bank settlements. And now, what is happening on the ground and the declaration of the Israeli defense ministry about intensifying settlement activity in the West Bank proves this. On the ground, approximately 4,000 housing units were built last year alone. This is in addition to the increase in the number of settlers who moved to the West Bank, from 105,000 in 1992 to 236,000 at present.
In other words, any withdrawal from Gaza will be followed by an intensification of settlements in the West Bank. This is also a kind of bribe for the settlers: basically Israel is saying, “We will withdraw from the Gaza Strip but we will consolidate our settlements in the West Bank.”
PR: How is the fact that Maaleh Adumim effectively severs the West Bank into two parts going to affect any talk of an independent Palestinian state in the future?
Tufakji: First, let us be clear that this refers to the Maaleh Adumim bloc, which consists of eight large settlements. The area of this bloc is about 70 square kilometers with a population of over 30,000.
This settlement bloc is built to achieve three major goals: the first is to realize the Israeli concept of Greater Jerusalem, with an area exceeding 10 percent of the West Bank. The second is to make the city of Jerusalem the heart of the Jewish state. Third, it will create a narrow passageway that extends from the Tel Aviv coastline to the Jordan Valley. This passageway will become a buffer zone between the southern and northern West Bank. Therefore, any talk of a Palestinian state with geographic contiguity is nonsensical unless a road is built to join the two areas, but such a road will still be under Israeli control.
PR: How much does the separation wall hinder the establishment of this state?
Tufakji: First, no Palestinian state will be established. Sharon’s plan is as clear as day, indeed it dates back to 1983 when he was defense minister.
It stipulates the construction of the separation wall from the west along an eastern course, which includes the Elon Route 90 as well as Route 80, roads that were ratified in 1983 by military order. In other words, Sharon’s plan is to establish two parallel routes [of the wall]: one that extend from the north to the south and one that extends to the east. To the east of this route is the Jordan Valley, which will all be under Israeli control, and in the west is where all the settlement blocs are built with extensions reaching far into the West Bank, which will also be under Israeli control. In other words, the Ariel “extension” will be spread over 25 kilometers into the West Bank, severing the northern West Bank from the center.
Therefore, the establishment of a Palestinian state in terms of geographic contiguity can never happen. He used to say: two parallel lines and five vertical and any connection between them must be under Israeli control.
PR: So, on what basis can the Palestinian Authority negotiate with Israel?
Tufakji: Israel is creating facts on the ground where it comes to the settlements, Jerusalem and borders. As for what we should negotiate over? I think the Palestinian side is still weak in this regard – it is not even taking advantage of UN resolutions, statements by the EU, the American administration or the Quartet Committee in order to pressure Israel into halting these measures. Therefore, if we enter into negotiations over final status and these things have already been created on the ground, I think no Palestinian state will be established. We will return once again to Sharon’s project of cantons. -Published March 24, 2005©Palestine Report
Daniel Day Lewis Story From Gaza Stirs Controversy
The Black Iris.
Professors Contest Charges of Anti-Semitism
Friday, March 25, 2005
Anti-Israel=Anti-Semitism Lessons Slated for German Schools
The powerpoint is telling and provides insight into the nature of this undertaking. ISQ aims to dispell, according to them, certain misconceptions that Germans have about Israel. One is that Germans believe that Israel is at fault for the Middle East conflict. The group also intends to dispell what they perceive as "one-sided reporting" in the German media: reports that "Israel violates human rights"; Israel is building an apartheid wall; Israel violates international law, and that Israel is destroying Palestinian civilization.
ISQ maintains that anti-Israel views develop into anti-Semitism and that anti-Israelismus (anti-Israelism?) and anti-Semitism are growing. The intend to "combat prejudice through explanation.(enlightenment?)" According to ISQ "ignorance spreads false impressions."
For those of you who believe that the way to attain peace in Palestine is through justice and not through dissemination of propaganda please write President Suessmuth:
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.mult. Rita Süssmuth
Präsidentin des Deutschen Bundestages a. D
Platz der Republik 1
(030) 227 – 77 99 8
(030) 227 – 76 99 8
Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth· Bundeshaus Platz der Republik 1 11011 Berlin
Archimandrite Hanna: Death Threats Won't Change My Stance
Written by George Rishmawi-IMEMC & Agencies, Thursday, 24 March 2005
Archimandrite Atallah Hanna, spokesperson of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem stated on Wednesday that he does not pay a lot of attention to the death threats he has been receiving saying this won't force him to change his stance concerning the Greek Patriarch Irineos the first.
The Archimandrite received death threats by unknown people asking him to cease his criticism to the deal.
Some unconfirmed reports stated that he has been under surveillance by intelligence of a foreign country; however he refused to file a complaint at the Israeli police station on this issue.
Archimandrite Hanna called on the Patriarch to resign following the alleged sales deal of some Palestinian sections and areas in the old city of Jerusalem to Jewish investors.
The Greek Patriarch is accused of selling a wide area in the old city of Jerusalem to Jewish investors. The patriarch, speaking through a translator, told a news conference Thursday that only the church's synod had the authority to sell property.
Irineos said he was not involved in any sale and had no knowledge of such a transaction. "Nobody came and claimed property ownership, and even if somebody claims he bought it ... it needs the approval of the Holy Synod," he said. "Even the patriarch himself cannot sell it."
The sale was reportedly made by Nikos Papadimas, a financial officer of the church who disappeared three months ago. Patriarch Irineos said Papadimas had the authority to lease, but not to sell land, however he did not indicate whether Papadimas had authority to sign long-term leases.
However, Archimandrite Hanna held the Patriarch Irineos the first responsible for selling Palestinian church property.
Hanna stressed that the Patriarch should be subjected to investigation and questioning for "his shameful deed" remarking that he is not against the Greek people, but he said, "Those who illegally sell church property should be questioned."
On the other hand, Archimandrite Hanna praised the stance of the Palestinian Legislative Council to rescind their recognition of the Patriarch and to reinforce the Arab nature of the Orthodox Church in Palestine.
The PLC regarded the deal as illegal and demanded the government of Greece to work on canceling the deal.
The Orthodox Church has been long controlled by the Greek Authorities. Arab priests are not allowed to occupy high positions in the church by forcing them to get married in as a pre-requisite to become a priest. The Orthodox Church's law prohibits married priests to occupy high ranks in chuch.
Beyond All Limits
March 24, 2005
Beyond all limits
By: Dr. Mustafa Barghouti*
It is all well and good for Palestinian factions to meet, talk things over and agree on a united stand. The need for calm on the frontline is all too obvious. Calm is useful, but it is not our only aim. The Cairo Declaration has generally boosted the cause of Palestinian unity, but it has left a few things out. For instance, the factions meeting in Cairo did not do much to regain the initiative from Sharon. The Israeli prime minister ridiculed the call for calm even before it was made. So far, political exchanges have been taking place in the context of bilateral negotiations, and it is Sharon who defines what is acceptable and what is not in those negotiations.
Why haven't the Cairo conferees abandoned the search for partial and interim solutions and called for an international peace conference on the basis of international resolutions and laws? Why do we continue to work as if Sharon's disengagement plan has superseded all international resolutions and plans, including the roadmap?
Now that military action has been shelved, why not wage a peace offensive? Why not play up the ruling of the International Court of Justice regarding the appalling prison wall built to entrap Palestinians? We need to stop Israel from completing the wall and more settlements. Why haven't all settlement activities been stopped? This is the condition we should make. Isn't it the one, even, that the Israeli government itself agreed to? It is not enough to say that settlement activities are detrimental to peace. The halt of all settlement activities is not a preposterous demand. It is not an unrealistic condition. The roadmap unequivocally demands of the Israeli government that it halt all settlement expansion. It is not selective in its language: it is as clear as the division between night and day. And it wasn't placed at the end, as a final status issue: it was a measure to be taken by Israel in the first phase.
We are all aware of the slippery road we've taken from the Madrid Conference to the Oslo Accords. Our mistake was that we agreed to negotiate with Israel while the latter went on building more settlements. Israel continued to change the status quo as if it had complete licence, and impose an altered reality upon us. Yet everyone kept paying lip service to peace and the restoration of calm. Do the powers that be believe that Palestinians are impervious to being cheated? This approach cost us a second Intifada. It cost us thousands of dead and wounded. It has also led to the creation of dozens of settlements and hundreds of bypass roads that shred the West Bank into pieces. If settlement building is ignored Israel will end up Judaising and annexing the entire Jerusalem area and more than half of the West Bank. This would destroy any basis for the creation of an independent Palestinian state -- it makes negotiations nonsense. It would undermine everything we've been working for, and makes a mockery of justice.
Admittedly, the current domestic, regional, and international circumstances are hard. But we have the sympathy of the vast majority of the peoples who make up the real international community; sympathy consolidated by the steadfastness of our people and their recent display of democratic commitment. It is still possible to make our conditions clear: all settlement activities, including the building of the wall, must be stopped. This is the condition that we should rally behind, and now, instead of talking in general terms about Israeli aggression and the need to go back to how things were on 28 September 2000.
* The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative.
© 2004 Arabic Media Internet Network - Internews Middle East
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Elie Wiesel - A Fraud
From Daniel A. McGowan
Director - Deir Yassin Remembered
A Program Service of the Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society, Inc.
February 26, 2005
Pastor James Gerling
32 North Brook Street
Geneva, NY 14456
Dear Pastor Gerling :
In the March issue of The Geneva Presbyterian it was stated that the adult Sunday school class will be shown a film narrated by Elie Wiesel, a "great humanitarian."
Might I caution your readers not to be fooled by the mystical charm of Elie Wiesel, who is the icon of what Norman Finkelstein (in his book by the same title) calls The Holocaust Industry. Far from being a great humanitarian, Wiesel, as Noam Chomsky contends, is simply "a terrible fraud."
Wiesel is often quoted as saying that "the opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference." He has devoted his life to carefully crafting articles and speeches about oppression, genocide, and man's inhumanity to man. Yet when asked about the oppression and dehumanization of Palestinians by Israel, he "abstains" and dismisses the subject claiming "I cannot say bad things about Jews," or "Such comparisons are unworthy."
His eloquent, unwavering support of Zionism has caused him to condemn Palestinians, who are the victims of the colonial expansionism epitomized by the illegal settlement of over 420,000 Jews in the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He degrades Palestinians with racist remarks, such as claiming they use their children as shields for adults throwing stones and worse.
In a 2001 editorial Wiesel dehumanized Palestinians and Muslims far more than his usual "indifference." He argued that only Jews should have sovereignty in Jerusalem because the name Jerusalem appears more than 600 times in the Bible while it does not appear at all in the Koran. If this is not convincing enough, Wiesel will tell you that Jerusalem is the most holy city for Jews while it is only the third holiest city for Muslims, and therefore Israel should exclusively control it as an eternal part of the Jewish state. Of course, as a loyal Zionist, Wiesel is never troubled by the fact that over half of the people within the borders controlled by Israel are not Jews, so that it is impossible to have "the Jewish state" and a democracy at the same time.
But it is the quest by Palestinians for their "right of return" that causes Wiesel to move from "indifference" to outright lies. In the same editorial he wrote, "In 1948 David Ben-Gurion reached out to what was to be the Palestinian state," but the Arabs rejected peace and invaded Israel. Wiesel knows that this is patently false. He knows that widespread ethnic cleansing of Arabs took place before the declaration of the state of Israel and the opposition by Arab armies.
He knows from personal experience that on April 9, 1948 Arab civilians, including women and children, were murdered in cold blood in the village of Deir Yassin on the west side of Jerusalem by Jewish terrorists known as the Irgun and the Stern Gang. Wiesel worked for the Irgun, not as a fighter, but as a journalist and knows the details of this infamous (but not the only nor the largest) massacre of Arabs by Jews. And while he piously demands public apologies for atrocities committed against Jews (for example in 1946 at Kielce, Poland), he has never been able to apologize for the atrocities committed by his own employer.
Wiesel pontificates that Auschwitz "represents a grave theological challenge to Christianity." The implication is that Christians created the Holocaust and should apologize to Jews repeatedly and never criticize Israel. That is the essence of his ecumenical deal: we Jews may some day forgive what you Christians did to us (and only to us) in the Holocaust (spelled with a capital H) if you promise to ignore what we have been and continue to do to the Palestinians in our Zionist quest to build a Jewish state. Questioning any aspect of the Holocaust discourse is to be considered "Holocaust denial" and therefore evil. So is mentioning the concentration camps built by Israel to incarcerate Palestinians (e.g., Ketziot in the Negev Desert); so is mentioning the relentless persecution, dispossession, and murder of Palestinians in the name of Zionism for over 100 years.
Wiesel supports "the right of return" for Jews, but only for Jews. An American Jew, who can trace his ancestors back to the Revolutionary War, has the right to return to Israel, obtain dual citizenship, obtain subsidized housing on land expropriated from Palestinians, and drive to settlements on roads "for Jews only." Palestinians who can trace their ancestors to the same land for centuries and who have a title and key to property from which they were driven in 1948 have no right to return. Why not? Because, Wiesel explains, it is "unthinkable; young Palestinians faces are twisted with hate; it would be suicide for the Jewish state." This is incredible hypocrisy especially from a professor of humanities and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
Perhaps it is not feasible for all Palestinians to return to their homes lost in 1948. But Wiesel cannot even bring himself to tell the truth about what caused their diaspora. He continues to spread one of the most insidious myths in Zionist discourse saying, "Incited by their leaders, 600,000 Palestinians left the country convinced that, once Israel was vanquished, they would be able to return home."
Wiesel knows Arab leaders did not tell their people to leave; that lie was thoroughly disproved by historians years ago. Second, he knows that the best estimates are that 750,000 Palestinians fled in 1948. (Note the outrage by Wiesel and others whenever anyone dares to question the number of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.) And third, these original Palestinian refugees did not just leave; they were driven out, often by the very terrorists for whom Wiesel proudly worked. The massacre at Deir Yassin was emblematic of this.
For years Wiesel has remained silent regarding the suffering and injustices committed against the Palestinian people by Zionists, including Christian Zionists like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Franklin Graham. Many students and scholars found his silence to be hypocritical, especially after his trilogy entitled Against Silence wherein he passionately and piously encouraged readers to fight oppression in all of its forms. But it is this very indifference towards the Palestinians that takes away any "moral high ground" that might otherwise be attributed to him.
Even when Wiesel goes to Jerusalem and stays at the King David Hotel, he cannot help but see Palestinian faces. (One wonders what he thinks when he is alone in the famous hotel that was bombed by his employer, The Irgun, killing scores of Englishmen and 15 innocent Jews.) He can go to the Jewish quarter of the Old City and pray at the Wailing Wall. But on top of that wall are those same goyim praying to his God whom they call Allah. And when he goes to the most famous Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem one wonders if he is refreshed to be in "Jewish Jerusalem" or is he haunted by the thought that the museum is built on the Arab lands of Ein Karem. When he walks through the new tunnel at Yad Vashem to emerge in the sunlight and face the Jewish settlement of Har Nof, is he at all troubled by the fact that he is also looking at the homes of Deir Yassin? Can he see the Palestinian faces of those who were piled up and burned in the quarry on the hill directly across from the museum? And when he goes to the settlement called Gilo, does he speak with Moshe Ben Eitan who ordered the wounded Arab women and children at Deir Yassin to be shot so they would not tell what his and Wiesel's employer did there?
The answer to these questions is "No, no, and no again." And the answer to the question, "Is Elie Wiesel a great humanitarian?" is also a resounding "No."
Daniel A. McGowan
Deir Yassin Remembered
A Program Service of the Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society, Inc.
4078 Scandling Center
Geneva, New York 14456
Email: McGowan @ hws.edu
Colman McCarthy's Readings in Non Violence
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
See Hannah's blog http://www.womenspeacepalestine.org/en/articles/article.php?id=675 for more excellent phots and a good eyewitness account of Palm Sunday's Bethlehem to Jerusalem march.
Colonists Celebrate Purim in 'Style'
Little colonist from an illegal colony dresses up like a suicide bomber for Purim as co-celebrants recently embarked from New Jersey gaze approvingly.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Inspiring and Sobering Words From Bethlehem
Monday, March 21, 2005
I am a Palestinian. Let history recount my people's culture and heritage, we are no terrorists nor are we savages. We are a wonderful people, who seek no more than what others possess, freedom and independence. We do not deserve to live inside a prison for dreaming and, by God, we shall not. A sun of hope dawns on Bethlehem every morning when I see a city flourishing with a people giving out a clear message to the world: "No wall will block our
visions and dreams. Nor will it weaken our everlasting will to build our country with our bare hands. Nor will it make us depart our beloved land and abandon our dear home. It will only feed our hunger to exist and strengthen our unity as a people."
Sunday, March 20, 2005
'Great Success' For Palm Sunday Pilgrimage
Cheering from Birmingham
A Chat with Sis Levin
At 10:30 am on Palm Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama, news of the action in Bethlehem has barely begun to appear in media reports, but Sis Levin has read one email account from an American participant, and she is feeling good about what happened.
“We had a message forwarded by John Stoner. It was a great success” says Sis Levin over the phone from Birmingham, Alabama. Stoner is the Pennsylvania peacemaker who helped to organize American participation in the event under the umbrella of his fledgling organization, Every Church a Peace Church (ECAPC). In an AP photo of the Bethlehem action, a bright yellow sign announces that ECAPC is there. “There were 300 participants, and it sounded great,” says Levin, “just what the world needed to see, a wonderful statement.”
And with the pride of a teacher, Levin declares, “It was my children’s idea!” Levin is the “volunteer” that organizers talk about when they recount the history of the idea for the Palm Sunday action. Today she is at home recovering from a scheduled surgery.
“It was about two years ago at Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour, and I was just beginning to work on a peacebuilding education from Kindergarten through University,” explains Levin. Shepherd’s Field is one of two locations where Christian tradition says that angels brought news to shepherds that Jesus had just been born. Today a chapel stands at the site.
“We were working with four-year-olds on an old Quaker exercise about two donkeys tied together and two piles of hay. At first the donkeys pull toward different piles and of course neither one gets anything to eat. Then they figure out if they go together they get one pile and then another. It’s a classic exercise, and while teachers and students were talking about it I said, well you know Jesus rode a donkey to Jerusalem. And there was a great sadness in the room as the children said, “We can’t go to Jerusalem.” From the statement of sadness came a question of hope, “Why can’t we go to Jerusalem?” and the idea for the Palm Sunday action was born.
When Sis returned to the USA from Bethlehem, she had a speaking tour lined up in California, and she told the story everywhere she went. Sis and her husband Jerry have been activists and lecturers in Middle Eastern affairs since Jerry, a former CNN bureau chief, was held hostage by Hezbollah in the mid-1980s. Sis became an activist in order to get Jerry out of captivity, and Jerry came out with a conversion to nonviolence.
At first, the idea was a “what if.” What if the children rode donkeys to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, confronting Irsaeli checkpoints along the way. Sis talked about it in imaginary terms, because it seemed too dangerous. But at some point she was told that even if the action had danger in it, if the children wanted to make a nonviolent statement, she should let them. Which was a profound suggestion to make to an activist from Birmingham. After all, without the children of Birmingham joining in and going to jail, the great campaign for downtown de-segregation might not have been victorious. So Levin broached the idea with Stoner, and international support for the children of Bethlehem was mobilized.
'Keep Hands Off Property of Palestinian Christians'
"At the moment, Archimandrite Dr. Theodosios Attalla Hanna is one of the only few highly educated clergy within the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem whom is of Palestinian origin; The Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre consists of 200 Greek Orthodox monks, all of which are of Greek descent. Very few Orthodox Christians whom are of Palestinian descent are part of the mainstream patriarchate administration."
For years, I've heard stories from Palestinian Orthodox, my father included, about the corrupt nature of the Greek clergy that was sent to Palestine to lord it over the Palestinian Orthodox. Much of the details concerning the Greeks propensity for selling and leasing its land holdings to Israelis are no longer relegated to low circulation Antiochian Church publications. Some of their other dirty dealings are receiving widespread scrutiny. We learn now in the mainstream media that Archbishop Christodoulos sent Apostolos Vavilis, a convicted drugs smuggler, to Jerusalem to ensure Patriarch Eirinaios election in Jerusalem. Of course, that is not what is behind the recent call on the part of the Palestinian clergy for the Patriarch's resignation. Their biggest concern now is that the Greeks have sold significant amounts of Palestinian Orthodox land holdings to Israelis.
"'We can no longer remain silent vis-à-vis the recurrent scandals and corruption on the part of patriarch Erionos and his assistants,' they charged.
"Chairman of the monastery cited the patriarch’s selling of Church lands and appointing suspicious persons in sensitive posts such as the financial official, who swindled millions of dollars then ran away, and the media official, who was involved in drug trafficking, as evidence of such serious conditions.
"He also charged the patriarch of collaborating with the Israeli Mossad (intelligence apparatus), and added that the Mossad was the one running the Church affairs while Erionos was used as the claw to strike national figures within the Church and to weaken its position regarding the Palestine question."
'We Cannot Move Between Our Cities'
Palm Sunday Pilgrims Turned Away At Checkpoint
Bethlehem to Jerusalem Palm Sunday Protest
16:05 Mar 20, '05 / 9 Adar 5765
(IsraelNN.com) Hundreds of Arabs in Bethlehem are demonstrating against IDF checkpoints and the building of the security fence. No violence has been reported. The fence is being built between most Gush Etzion communities, south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Foreign left wing activists helped organize the protest, Students from nearby schools, and residents riding mules have joined the protest.
Palm Sunday Pilgrimage From Bethlehem to Jerusalem
Friday, March 18, 2005
Suicide in Palestine: Narratives of Despair
28 February 2005
Here is my translation of a book review written in German about Nadia Dabbagh's Suicide in Palestine, Narratives of Despair.
A question of honor: Suicide bombers in Palestine are heroes, suicide for personal reasons remains a taboo. Nadja Hahn interviewed the book's author Nadia Dabbagh.
Aisha was twenty-eight, when she took an overdose of pills. She had been raped by her brother for years and had already two broken marriages behind her. Her first husband had cheated on her and the second beat her. She decided to attack an Israeli female soldier with a razor blade. The blade was dull because Aisha didn't seriously want to hurt the woman. But the single sanctuary from her every day hell appeared to be prison. "I was immediately arrested and spent one year and eight months in prison. At the beginning it was difficult, but I could rest. It was better than outside. I would prefer to go back," said Aisha after her suicide attempt.
Israeli soldiers beat Abid so much when he was a teenager that epileptic fits were brought on. This made him unemployable. Without income there was no chance for marriage and children. "A man without work when he is still young takes money from his brother and doesn't have his own house; therefore can't live with a wife. That is no small thing. I am tired," said the twenty-four year old after he attempted suicide by overdose. His greatest wish, "If they would only arrest me and I could spend my life in prison, like my brother. That would be more honorable for me than to sit in the house."
Nadia Dabbagh tells stories like this in her first book published in London, Suicide in Palestine: Narratives of Despair. The daughter of a Palestinian refugee and a British citizen spent two years in Ramallah and Jenin during the course of her study of medicine at University College London, in an undertaking to tell about the effects of almost forty years of conflict with Israel on the mental health of the Palestinians. The book, on which her doctoral dissertation is based, is the first academic study of suicide in the Arabic world.
The author is not interested in the Intifada's many suicide bombers who resist the Israeli occupation; they gave their lives to attract the attention of the media, but in the people like Aisha and Abid, who want to take their lives for entirely private reasons.
"The stories of the women and men, whose suicide attempts that I looked into, tell about the stark reality of life in the occupied territories," says the young woman. "Their fate gives us a view in the possible seeds of the motivation in the heads of many suicides."
In detail she explains the difference between suicide and martyrdom in the interpretation of the important holy scriptures of Islam, the Koran and the Hadith. Anchored in modern Islamic thought: Who for the Holy War and the goal of the community dies, will attain Martyr status in Paradise. But who commits suicide because of the despairs of daily life, commits a great sin in Islam and brings shame to the entire family.
About three million Palestinians live in a narrow space; their freedom of movement is restricted. According to the Worldbank in 2004 half of the people live below the poverty level and a quarter are unemployed. In the past four years the average income sunk by one-third. Society provides no ear for those who succumb to the emotional stress that exists in such an extreme situation. In Ramallah, a city of 280,000 at the time of Dabbagh's inquiry were only two Psychiatrists.
Dabbagh was in the occupied territories between 1997 and 1999. After the Oslo Accords ended the 1991 Intifada, many Palestinians were employed by Yassir Arafat to administer the Palestine National Authority. These poeple, who returned to Palestine after Oslo, did not experience the Intifada, yet received the best jobs and enriched themselves through corruption. Because of that the hopes of improving their lives sank, say Dabbagh's patients.
As soon as they came to speak about the Intifada, several patients' eyes lit up, remembers the author. Many had fought during the intifada and spent some time in jail. In resistance they felt united through a common goal. When one travelled through the occupied territories one had the impression one was meeting many heros. "In hard times the people direct themselves to their hard side. If one finds oneself in war, one is not allowed to despair, one must fight."
Dabbagh's conversations with the 31 women and men that she interviewed after their suicide attempts, give a glimpse into the value system of Palestinian society. "Men can not fulfill their roles as men in society. As fighters and martyrs they receive recognition," concludes Dabbagh.
The meticculous academic records and Dabbagh's efforts to acquire suicide statistics form the slowest part of the book. More engrossing are the numbers, that she concludes describe the insufficient circumstance of public institutions in the Palestinian territories. Surprisingly entertaining are the adventures that she experienced to get information on the taboo subject of suicide--in hospitals, from practicing doctors, police stations and district medical officers.
Today, Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas have signed a new ceasefire agreement, which will possibly end the four year intifada. The challenge is now to use Dabbagh's investigative information to build Palestinian society again.
"One has to think about, where the next jobs will come and how the public institutions can be built rapidly. It is important, to educate social workers, nurses and doctors in psychology." This will help to give peace a realistic chance.
Palestinians on Donkeys Make Pilgrimage to Jerusalem
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Amnesty International Calls For Investigation
March 16, 2005
The Killing of Rachel Corrie
Rice Urged to Support Independent Investigation
(Washington, DC) -- Observing the two-year anniversary of the killing of Rachel Corrie on March 16, 2003, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today called on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support an independent investigation of her death. Corrie, a US citizen, was apparently trying to stop the demolition of a Palestinian building in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip when an Israeli army bulldozer ran her over, crushing her to death.
Amnesty International believes that investigations into Corrie's death, conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), failed to resolve contradictions between the official IDF position and eyewitness testimonies. Although this year's Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel agreed, stating bluntly that "U.S. officials who have seen the IDF report found inconsistencies among the statements of the people involved in the accident and other witnesses," there is no indication that the US has sought further investigation of these inconsistencies. While the US government has assisted in the investigations into cases of US citizens killed by Palestinian armed groups, it has failed to do so in Corrie's case, raising the appearance of a double standard.
"An American citizen was killed two years ago and the US government notes the inconsistencies in the reports to date, yet it has failed to insist on a thorough, fair and impartial investigation," said Marty Rosenbluth, AIUSA's Country Specialist for Israel, the Occupied Territories and the Palestinian Authority. "Secretary Rice should demonstrate a willingness to act on her Department's conclusions by promptly supporting a new inquiry with the assistance of US law enforcement agencies."
Amnesty International continues to call for an investigation into the wounding of Brian Avery, a US citizen who was shot in Jenin on April 5, 2003. Avery was seriously wounded when Israeli troops opened fire on him, despite the fact that he reportedly had his hands up and was wearing a vest that identified him as an international worker. Avery recently brought his case to the Israeli Supreme Court seeking to force an investigation after previous attempts to get the Israeli government to investigate failed.
Amnesty International has consistently condemned violations by all parties in the tragic cycle of violence that has killed and injured thousands of civilians.
The organization recognizes that the Israeli government not only has the right but the obligation to ensure the safety of its civilians, but reiterates that the use of force be conducted in accordance with international laws and norms. The failure to fully investigate deaths and prosecute those responsible is contributing to a culture of impunity and perpetuating the cycle of violence in the region.
Lebanon Guided By Nasrullah Factor
February 26, 2005
Any person who was in Beirut on May 24, 2000, the day Hezbollah liberated South Lebanon, understands how immensely popular the enigmatic Hasan Nasrullah is in the country's Muslim, and particularly Shi'ite, community. Any person watching his speech five years later, this month, after the US started to press for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, and the disarming of Hezbollah, of which Nasrullah is the head, knows how easy it might be for the United States to get Syria to leave Lebanon, but how difficult, if not impossible, it would be to disarm or weaken the Shi'ites.
Syria said on Thursday that it was ready to work with the United Nations to implement a Security Council resolution requiring its approximately 17,000 troops to quit Lebanon, but that speeding up the pullout would require stronger Lebanese security forces. International pressure on Syria to pull out its troops and relinquish its political grip on its tiny neighbor intensified after the February 14 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. Many Lebanese blame Syria for his killing in a huge blast in Beirut.
The long road to power
Napoleon Bonaparte once said: "I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up." Disarming Hezbollah, and writing them off the political scene in Lebanon, would be like asking the Iraqi Shi'ites, who have now tasted power after decades of oppression under Saddam Hussein, to leave office willingly, abandon their new-found rights, and return to the wretched state they were in during the previous 100 years.
They would not do that without putting up a bloody war - bloodier even than the Anglo-American war of 2003. The Shi'ites, after all, are a majority in Lebanon, estimated at 1.37 million (40%) of the nation's total population of 3,777,218. So much has been said over the past two weeks about the disarming of Hezbollah and the implementation of UN Resolution 1559 in Lebanon for the withdrawal of its troops. Can that be done with minimal damage to Lebanon, Syria and the Middle East as a whole? Have all parties seriously considered the Nasrullah factor?
The Shi'ites of Lebanon, like the Shi'ites of Iraq, are a majority who have long suffered from Sunni domination, especially during the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire in what is present-day Lebanon. Located in the eastern Bekka Valley, they survived during the early years of the 20th century through trade with Palestine, which was cut off completely by the creation of Israel in 1948. Preoccupied with domestic issues, consecutive Lebanese regimes paid little attention to the plight of the Shi'ites, and they were forgotten, politically and economically, during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
While government funds poured into the modernization of Beirut, making it the "Switzerland of the East" during the 1960s, the Shi'ite districts were neglected, receiving 0.7% of the state budget in 1974, although they made up 20% of the population at the time. Their representatives in parliament were all absentee feudal landlords who paid little attention to their plight, making the Shi'ites an economic under-class during the booming years of Beirut.
An Iranian-born cleric named Musa al-Sadr emerged as leader of the Shi'ite community in the 1960s, creating the Movement of the Dispossessed in 1974 for emancipation of the Shi'ites. When the civil war broke out in 1975, he founded a military branch for his party, called Amal (Hope). It was trained by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) of Yasser Arafat and flourished in a poor neighborhood of Beirut, known as al-Dahiyeh, where the majority of the Shi'ites lived and worked.
Sadr's movement demanded more government funds for the Shi'ite community, better infrastructure, increased representation in politics, and more access to government jobs. All of this was only achieved many years later, under the leadership of Nasrullah in the 1990s. Amal fought with the Palestinians and Druze militias of Kamal Jumblatt against Syria and its Christian allies. They soon switched sides to the Syrians, fighting with them against the Christians.
Sadr disappeared, under mysterious circumstances, while on a visit to Libya in 1978, and he was replaced by the less popular Husayn al-Husayni, a man with no charisma or strong power base in the Shi'ite community. Many shed doubt on the ability of Amal to continue in the absence of Sadr, but then came the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, inspiring new fervor among the Shi'ites of Lebanon, who were supported wholeheartedly in their war for emancipation by the new mullahs of Tehran.
In 1980, Husayni was replaced by Nabih Berri, a secular Shi'ite lawyer who had excellent relations with Syrian president Hafez al-Assad. During the heyday of Syria's war with Arafat, Amal waged a bloody war against the Palestinians, blaming them for the reprisal attacks carried out by Israel against Arafat's forces in South Lebanon. Amal called it a "war of the camps" against Arafat's PLO. The ones to suffer most from Israeli attacks were the Shi'ites, Berri argued, since 80% of the South was Shi'ite. Radical elements of Amal broke away in 1984, with money from Iranian hardliners, wanting initially to establish an Iran-like theocracy in Lebanon. This group announced its official existence in a press release, naming itself Hezbollah (Party of God).
Amal began to lose popular support among ordinary Shi'ites in the late 1970s for its backing of the Maronite president Elias Sarkis and the secularism of its leader, Nabih Berri. The reputation of Berri suffered a blow when, in 1984, he became minister of state for rebuilding South Lebanon, under president Amin Gemayel, forcing him to concentrate on political matters rather than the military campaigns of Amal.
Husayn al-Husayni also lost credit when he became Speaker of parliament in 1985-92 and diverted his attention from Shi'ite grievances at the grassroots level. In June 1985, Hezbollah highjacked TWA Flight 847, forcing it to land at Beirut airport and taking hostages, who were only released after Israel released 700 Lebanese prisoners. The TWA highjacking increased the popularity of Hezbollah, at the expense of Berri, and its members began to clash openly with both Berri and Dawoud Dawoud, the leader of Amal in South Lebanon.
In February 1988, Hezbollah attracted more supporters by kidnapping Lieutenant-Colonel William Higgens, an American working with UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFL). Dawoud led an offensive against them in South Lebanon, and in September 1988 was ambushed and killed. Some pointed fingers at Hezbollah, others at Berri, accusing him of eliminating Dawoud to clear the stage for his unchallenged leadership of Amal. Berri's rise to pan-Shi'ite leadership was challenged, however, with the rise of radical leaders in Hezbollah who captured the minds and hearts of the Shiite masses from the mid-1980s onwards. It was during this time that Hasan Nasrullah, a young charismatic leader of Hezbollah who was 22 years Berri's junior, began to make headlines as one of the impassioned military commanders of the new Shi'ite militia.
The rise of Nasrullah
Hasan Nasrullah was born on August 31, 1960, in Beirut. His father was a vegetable vendor, originally from Bassouriyeh village in South Lebanon. He once said in an interview with the Cairo-based al-Ahram, "No one from my family had been a cleric before. I am one of those few who have no family claim to this profession."
When the civil war began in 1975, his family moved back to South Lebanon, where he was exposed to Amal, and the charismatic leadership of Musa al-Sadr. Nasrullah became a devoted Shi'ite Muslim, frequenting mosques in his neighborhood and capturing the attention of a cleric named Mohammad al-Ghrawi, who advised him to continue his theology studies in Najaf, Iraq, at the hawza (Islamic seminary) there.
Ghrawi gave him a letter of recommendation to give to ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, who welcomed him and placed him under the guidance of another Lebanese Shi'ite named Abbas al-Musawi, the future secretary general of Hezbollah who was assassinated in 1992. Musawi, in turn, was a disciple of Sheikh Mohammad Husayn Fadlallah, the current supreme Shi'ite cleric in Lebanon, who had returned from his studies in Najaf in 1966.
Until the present, Nasrullah's relations with Fadlallah remained perfect. After the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979, Saddam Hussein began persecuting Shi'ite activity in Iraq, accusing the Shi'ites in Najaf of being agents for ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, working to topple the secular Ba'athist regime with a theocracy.
Nasrullah returned to Lebanon to study and teach at an Islamic institute founded by Musawi in Baalbak. His young age and charisma attracted a large following of Shi'ite men, who began looking up to him for guidance and leadership. Nasrullah was expelled from Amal in 1982 for criticizing its leadership's weakness in light of the Israeli invasion of Beirut, and in 1985 joined the newly founded Hezbollah, bringing along a large number of his students and followers.
He became involved in military activity, and in 1987 succeeded in driving Amal militias out of districts in Beirut. Realizing that he was en route to becoming a Shi'ite leader in his own right, Nasrullah cut short his military career to complete his religious studies in Qom, Iran. Religious credentials are a must for any ambitious Shi'ite leader in the Arab world. He returned to Lebanon in 1989 to lead his commandos against Amal militias in Iqlim al-Tuffah, South Lebanon, and was wounded in battle. He became a member of Hezbollah's central military committee at the age of 29.
Capturing the party
In October 1989, the leaders of Hezbollah supported the Taif Accord, a peace formula orchestrated by Syria and Saudi Arabia to bring an end to the civil war in Lebanon. Hezbollah agreed to release Western hostages it had captured during the war, to back Syria's policies in Lebanon, which included the ousting of the anti-Syrian army commander Michel Aoun, but refused to disarm as all the militias did, claiming that it was needed in South Lebanon to liberate the region from Israeli occupation.
Hezbollah's decision was dictated directly by Iranian president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, and backed by Assad, against the will of hardline clerics in Iran who wanted to establish a theocracy in Lebanon, such as Ali Akbar Mohtashemi.
Nasrullah, by now emerging as one of Iran's favorites in Lebanon, went to Tehran in September 1989 to receive the blessing of Rafsanjani, and worked briefly as Hezbollah "ambassador" to Iran. In 1991, his mentor Musawi became secretary general of Hezbollah, but was ambushed and killed in February 1992 by Israeli helicopters. The Iranians, most notably Rafsanjani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, backed Nasrullah's claims to leadership of Hezbollah, since he had been Musawi's right-hand man, although the party's hierarchy showed that the post should go to Sheikh Naiim Qasim, the deputy secretary general. The blessing of Tehran secured the post for Nasrullah, however, and Qasim remained deputy, a post he still holds today, 13 years later.
The ascent of the young Nasrullah was surprising to a majority of veteran leaders in the Shi'ite community, notably Nabih Berri (by now Speaker of the Lebanese parliament). Only 31 years old, Nasrullah was many years younger than most clerics, regarded politically and religiously inexperienced (he had spent only two years studying theology in Najaf, while Musawi had spent nine).
The same claims were made in April 2004 against Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq, who in his late 20s emerged to lead the Mehdi Army and challenge more established Shi'ite leaders, such as the veteran Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. He, too, attracted a wide audience because he was challenging conventional leadership, motivating the masses with his patriotic speeches, and using force, rather than diplomacy, to combat the enemy.
The young leader in Lebanon started his new career by promising to avenge Musawi's blood. On March 17, 1992, a car bomb went off at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people. Nasrullah had sent off a clear message to the world: Hezbollah was a key player in Lebanon that could not be dismissed or eliminated that easily, and would strike at its enemies with force if they dared to confront it.
In May 1994, Israeli commandos penetrated into Lebanon and captured Mustapha al-Dirani, a pro-Hezbollah member of Amal. An infuriated Hezbollah responded in July 1994 with a suicide bomber blowing himself up at the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people. Hezbollah denied involvement, to avoid international pressure to limit its casualties to the battlefield, but everybody knew that Hezbollah was behind the bombing, in retaliation for the capturing of Dirani.
For the next 10 years, Nasrullah would mention Dirani, and other senior Hezbollah prisoners, in every single one of his speeches, promising to release them from Israel. He eventually succeeded when conducting a massive prisoner exchange with Israel in January 2004. In July 1993, Israel carried out a seven-day offensive against Hezbollah, and Nasrullah responded by showering Israel with 142 Katyusha rockets.
In April 1996, war broke out again, for 16 days, and Hezbollah responded with 489 Katyusha rockets. In September 1997, Nasrullah's 18-year-old son Hadi was killed in combat, and Nasrullah received news of his death with stunningly calm composure. An article in al-Ahram described Hadi's funeral, saying:
Sayed Hassan Nasrullah entered the hall in solemn dignity accompanied by Jawad, his teenage son. He stopped before each coffin and offered the Fatiha [the Muslim equivalent of the Lord's Prayer] until he reached the one marked 13. He beckoned an aide and spoke to him in a whisper. The aide summoned two workers of the Islamic Health Association, a Hezbollah outfit. They opened the coffin, exposing a body wrapped in a white shroud. Sheikh Nasrullah's eyes closed, his lips trembled as he offered the Fatiha. Slowly, he bent over and tenderly stroked the head of Hadi Nasrullah, his eldest son, who was 18 years old when he died in battle on September 13 . Jawad, the younger son, stood still and pale next to his father. A deep silence fell on the room while his right hand rested on his son's chest. It was broken by the clicking of a reporter's camera, but promptly returned when Sheikh Nasrullah looked up in cold surprise.
Over the next decade, Katyusha rocket attacks on Israel became common combat methods for Hezbollah, usually in response to Israeli attacks, but they rarely caused real physical or military damage inside Israel. The psychological damage on Israeli citizens, however, was paramount and the Israeli media would portray them as "terror attacks". After every attack, an inflammatory speech by Nasrullah would follow, and hundreds of Hezbollah followers would roam the streets of Beirut, shouting: "Ya Nasrullah Ya Habib, Damer, Damer Tal Abib!" (Oh Nasrullah, our Beloved. Destroy, destroy Israel!"
The popularity that Hezbollah accumulated in the 1990s was due to two things: its massive media machine, and the countrywide educational and social network of schools, charities, hospitals and mosques that they operated, often under Nasrullah's direct supervision. Hezbollah put a lot of money into rebuilding poverty stricken neighborhoods of the Shi'ite community, and subsidizing housing in South Lebanon, after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000.
Much of the money initially came from Iran, but after gaining nationwide popularity in 2000, Hezbollah began to raise a lot of money on its own. On every road leading into Beirut, and on every route to the Shi'ite neighborhoods, Hezbollah youth would create friendly roadblocks, adorned with pictures of Nasrullah, the yellow flag of Hezbollah, booming nationalist songs, and a charity box. These petty donations added up and pretty soon larger donations came in from the emigrant Shi'ite community in the US, Latin America and Africa.
Needy families in the Shi'ite community received sealed envelopes from the secretary general of Hezbollah at the start of every month, with a decent stipend. This endeared him to the lower class of the Shi'ite community, which 30 years earlier Musa al-Sadr had described as the "wretched of the Earth".
Part of Nasrullah's success was that while always appealing to the Shi'ites, he never mentioned pan-Shi'ite loyalties, and always claimed to be speaking for Lebanon. This was not the case with Musa al-Sadr, who rose to power in the 1960s and 1970s through emphasis on Shi'ite nationalism as part of the greater Lebanese nationalism.
This different approach gave Nasrullah a fairly large following among the Sunnis of Lebanon as well. Like Sadr, however, he fully understood the multitude of Lebanon's confessional system, never once calling for an Islamic state in Lebanon, and always proclaiming to be a firm believer in the right of all Lebanese, regardless of religion, to live in harmony. Sadr, on the other hand, had referred to the Shi'ites as "disinherited", criticizing Maronite arrogance toward the Shi'ite community and the disproportionate representation of Shi'ites in senior political posts. While Sadr was highly critical of the Lebanese army for failing to protect the South from Israeli attacks in the 1970s, Nasrullah requested the protection of no one, claiming that Hezbollah can do well in South Lebanon without assistance from the Lebanese army. This was partly in order to maintain his hold over the South, and mainly to have a free hand in launching sporadic cross-border attacks against Israel.
Nasrullah liberates South Lebanon
Nasrullah's attacks on Israel usually resulted in retaliatory attacks on South Lebanon. In 1999, however, Israel's new prime minister Ehud Barak responded by bombing Beirut, causing much discontent among non-Shi'ite civilians who did not want to pay the price for Nasrullah's war. They quickly silenced their grumbling when one year later on May 24, 2000, Nasrullah liberated South Lebanon from the Israeli occupation it had been under since 1978. He was hailed throughout the Arab and Muslim world as a great leader, the only Arab to fight a war and emerge victorious against Israel since 1948.
Many speculated that he would now lay down his arms, and transform Hezbollah into a political party, but Nasrullah had other plans. He refused to disarm, just as he is doing today with regard to Resolution 1559, claiming that Israel still occupies Sheba Farms in South Lebanon.
President Emile Lahhoud could do little to stop him, since by that point Hasan Nasrullah was literarily the strongest man in Lebanon, supported wholeheartedly in his war against Israel by both Syria and Iran. The death of Syria's president Hafez al-Assad in June 2000 left the activities of Hezbollah unchecked inside Lebanon, since only Asad had the influence to dictate policy on the Shi'ite guerillas.
They maintained a strong relationship with Syria's new leader, Assad, based on common objectives in the Middle East, but no longer received orders from Syria. They informed the Syrian government of their plans, received guidance, supported Assad, and often relied on the Syrians for advice, but apart from that, this is where Syrian influence ended.
Nasrullah's team entered the political arena, running for parliament and winning 12 seats in 2000. In 1992, they had won eight seats in the 128-seat parliament. Hezbollah refused to assume government office, however, because according to Nasrullah, this would make the party bear responsibilities for mistakes done by any regime, whereas in the resistance it remains purified from political corruption and blundering.
After liberation of the South, Nasrullah was received as a guest of honor at the Presidential Palace by Lahhoud, and in 2000 met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan during his visit to Lebanon. In reviewing the situation in Lebanon, Annan had to meet with all decision-makers, and it was impossible for him to sidestep Nasrullah.
To increase its power base outside Lebanon, Hezbollah began to transmit its al-Manar TV by satellite in 2000. Hezbollah propaganda and Nasrullah's inflammatory speeches could now be viewed by Arabs and Muslims all over the world, much to the displeasure of the US and Israel. In 2004, it was estimated that 10 million people watched al-Manar.
Not once on al-Manar were the Arabs portrayed as defeated. Every single piece of propaganda showed a victorious guerrilla warrior, either during battle striking at Israeli targets, or returning from combat in triumph. Military operations were often filmed in detail, and so was training of Hezbollah commandos. Nasrullah would meet with every single bomber before he/she carried out an operation against Israel. To raise their morale, he would stress that they are going to heaven, because religious war (jihad) was an obligation in Islam, and tell them: "Give my regards to the Prophet Mohammed."
Al-Manar drummed up a lot of support against the US war on Afghanistan in 2001, and Iraq in 2003. After September 11, 2001, US President George W Bush wanted to name Hezbollah as one of the "terrorist organizations" in the world, but was prevented from doing so by Lebanese premier Hariri, who warned that this would undermine support for the US war on Afghanistan throughout the Arab World. Syria, at the time cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track down al-Qaeda members in Europe, also lobbied on Hezbollah's behalf in Washington.
Nasrullah increased his cooperation with Syria in late 2000, after the Maronites mobilized behind their patriarch, Mar Nasrullah Boutros Sfeir, demanding that the Syrian army withdraw from Lebanon. This threatened to increase Maronite influence in Lebanon, at the expense of the Shi'ites, and return the community to the plight of the pre-1975 era.
Nasrullah was loud and clear in refusing Sfeir's demands, claiming that the Syrian army in Lebanon was needed so long as the Israelis remained in the Sheba Farms. In March 2001, Sfeir returned from a visit to the US aimed at lobbying international support against the Syrians in Lebanon. He had applied for a meeting with Bush, but had been turned down by the White House.
He was greeted, nevertheless, by thousands of Christian supporters opposed to Syria. Nasrullah responded by staging a public rally in April 2001, where about 300,000 Hezbollah supporters gathered to listen to their inflammatory leader defend Syria. The presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon, Nasrullah argued, "was a regional and internal necessity for Lebanon" and a "national obligation for Syria".
Matters worsened for Hezbollah when Syria fell from Washington's grace after the US war on Iraq in March 2003. As US pressure on Syria increased, so did accusations against Hezbollah, whom Bush described as a "terrorist group" with "global outreach".
At the US Institute of Peace, then deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage said that Hezbollah was an "A-team" of "terrorists" with a "blood debt" to the US, in reference to the bombing of a US Marine Corps base at Beirut airport in 1983, widely believed to be the doing of the Amal militias that became Hezbollah in 1985. Armitage threatened that Hezbollah's time would come, and meanwhile, think-tanks, US media and neo-conservatives described the Shi'ite militias as the next al-Qaeda.
Yet nobody made any move against Hezbollah, because the Shi'ites of Iraq would not hear of it. By 2004, the US was involved in an all-out war with militant Shi'ites in Iraq, headed by Muqtada, arousing much anger among the community, which comprises 60% of the Iraqi population.
The US could not afford another Shi'ite war in the Middle East, which would turn all the Shi'ites of Iraq, and not only Muqtada's Mehdi Army, into enemies of the United States. Nasrullah can, with ease, call them into combat and unleash hell for the Americans in Iraq, especially since some media reports are saying that he has already set up cells for Hezbollah in Iraqi cities like Basra and Safwan, a fact that he denies.
Instead of taking action against him, Washington tried to isolate the Shi'ite guerrillas of Lebanon by getting Canada to label them a "terrorist organization" in 2002, followed by Australia in mid-2003. The European Union, however, declined to follow suit, yet al-Manar was forbidden from broadcasting in France in 2004.
Then came the assassination of Hariri this month. Hariri was believed to have been behind the passing of UN Resolution 1559 in 2004 calling for Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon and the disarming of Hezbollah. The Lebanese opposition, along with the US, pointed accusations for the murder against Syria, claiming that it had failed to protect Hariri, or even ordered his elimination since he had joined the opposition in late 2004 to oppose renewing the presidential mandate of Lahhoud, Syria's No 1 man in Lebanon, until 2007.
While the Druze rallied around their leader Jumblatt, a onetime puppet of Damascus, in calling on the Syrians to leave Lebanon, the Maronites rallied around their leaders, and so did most of Hariri's Sunnis, who were accusing Syria of having failed to protect their leader. Standing alone in the fight for Syria were Hezbollah and the Shi'ites of Lebanon. Nasrullah responded to the massive demonstrations that took over Beirut after Hariri's death by calling for a public rally on the Shi'ite ceremony of Ashura, attracting thousands of Hezbollah followers.
The Ashura event, usually broadcast exclusively by al-Manar, was aired on all Arabic and Lebanese satellite stations, reportedly at Nasrullah's request. Particular emphasis was placed on the number and power of Shi'ite militias in Lebanon, who roared while clad in black: "Death to Israel!" Nasrullah stressed that contrary to what many were saying, he did not have cells for Hezbollah in Iraq.
Iraqi Interior Minister Falah Hasan al-Naqib had said earlier that his government had arrested 16 members of Hezbollah in Iraq. "Let Iraq utter the full name of one of them," Nasrullah replied. He refused the internationalization of the Syrian-Lebanese crisis, demanding that all conflicting parties sort out their differences among themselves.
"Today, our responsibility and commitment for a nation make it obligatory for all parties to avoid further deterioration. God forbid, if the roof collapses, it collapses on all of us." He added, "We must not repeat mistakes of the past," in reference to the civil war that led to the killing of 250,000 people, 15% of the population of Lebanon. "Let us discuss, calmly and rationally, the implementation of Resolution 1559 and the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon," he added.
Hezbollah described the Ashura march this year as "a massive rally in defense of the resistance". "We gather today to express the people's will to protect the resistance movement against all attempts that aim at eliminating its presence and ending its role," Nasrullah said.
And that is exactly what Nasrullah will do: work for the protection of his interests, those of Syria, and the Shi'ites of Lebanon, against all external meddling by the US.
Dr Sami Moubayed is a Syrian political analyst.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
By Yasmine Fahim
January 31, 2005
I have written and deleted, rewritten and re-deleted, many times over my own responses to mails which expressed either disappointment at the Arab communities for refusing to attend the Holocaust remembrance, or outright obfuscation at the boycott. I have not been able until today to put down my thoughts without sounding, in Western terms, "racist, prejudiced, or anti-Semitic." But today, I no longer can refrain from writing down my honest thoughts: in no way can we, Arabs, in all honesty and sense of integrity, take part in the remembrance of a shameful historical event which has given Israel, and its supporters, too many excuses to treat Palestinians, and Arabs as well, in just as horrifying ways.
We are saturated with movies and books and conferences and speeches and debates which keep portraying all Jewish communities as innocent lambs who continue to suffer prejudice while the plight of Palestinians, at the hands of Israelis who are Jewish, remains neglected. Not only this, the Western communities in general insist on accusing the Palestinian of behaving in such ways as to merit this kind of treatment. After all, how dare they hold on to their lands, their identities, their homes, their dignities? How dare they resist?
Moreover, are the Jewish people the only ones to have suffered massive massacres? How about the Russians whom Stalin massacred? How about the Arabs across the Middle East who fell victims to the invasions and occupations of Western countries? How about Sabra and Shatilah? How about the horrors and infuriating abuse of innocent Iraqis? How about the French who ended up in concentration camps along with the Jewish prisoners? How about Hiroshima and Vietnam? How about the people of Argentina? And Africa?
So it goes that Arabs are mostly juvenile, or despicable, or barbarians who hate Israel and want to throw Jews into the sea. But we never really hear the truth about Israel and the blindness of those who support its tactics and criminal acts against Palestinians, as well as its arrogance regarding its neighbouring countries.
Because of the Holocaust, we must forgive Israel and love it blindly and allow it to continue its illegal activities. Because of the Holocaust, we must forgive all the slander, the injustice, the humiliation, the transgressions, the bias, the double-standard, the insults, the accusations, the arrogance, the crimes, the abuse, the tortures, the disdain, the lies, the charade and then take part in the hypocrisy. Because of the Holocaust, we Arabs, and Muslims in particular, must pay the price for the racism perpetrated on Jews by Europe. Because of it, we must endure it all and pretend that Israel truly wants peace with us, that it has no intention of pushing its borders farther into our lands.
To those who haven't gotten the point, to those who persist in finding faults with us, I would like to say this: "Live among us. Live our history. Live our frustrations and helplessness. Experience our fears, our memories, our heritage, our refugee camps, our disasters, our vulnerabilities in the face of two great imperialistic nations: USA and Israel. Experience the horrors of those whom the occupations have victimized and discarded as non-important obstacles. Then judge.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Five Thousand Protest Apartheid Wall
Five thousand Palestinians protested against the Apartheid Wall while Kofi Annan met with Abu Mazen in Ramallah. Annan turned down invitations to visit refugee camps, nor did he visit any cities or villages affected by the apartheid wall.
What Lesson, Kofi Annan?
"The Holocaust was not just a Jewish experience. It is an experience of great importance to the whole world," said Annan.
What lessons has Mr. Annan drawn? Stopthewall reports "Deep hostility has been created by Annan's refusal to visit any areas of the Apartheid Wall, or any of the refugee camps which had invited him."
And the words from the Arab killer,Sharon:
"When you leave this museum, you see the sky of Jerusalem. I know how a Jew feels when he emerges from these depths and breathes the air of Jerusalem. He feels at home. He feels protected. He feels the terrible difference between living in one's own country, in one's homeland, in a country which can provide protection, and standing alone, utterly defenseless, confronting a beast in human form."
Mr. Sharon then added the real message of Yad Vashem: "He knows Israel is the only place in the world where Jews have the right to defend themselves, and that proves the Jewish people will never know another Holocaust."
Yad Vashem is a stone's throw from Deir Yassein. I hope that one day Ariel Sharon and Kofi Annon will learn their lessons.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Professed Bomber's Father Dies Before Interrogation
The Other Revolution in Lebanon
The Other Revolution In Lebanon (from Raja) "It's great to see technology empowering folks, rather than dehumanizing them." (great cutline from Pat)
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Letter Re French/Israel Hypocrisy
"The Place of Children in the Space of Conflict"
Letter, Dr. Rita Giacaman and Dr. Iyad Sarraj, 5 March 2005
French translation follows English.
M. Philippe Douste-Blazy
Minister of Health
Ministry of Health and Social Protection
We have just come to know that the French Ministry of Health, the French State Secretariat for Victims and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs are co-sponsoring an international congress entitled 'The Place of Children in the Space of Conflict', to be held in Toulouse, France on the 21-23 of March 2005.
We were shocked and greatly concerned that the French Government would actively support and engage in holding such a conference in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a time when the Israeli Government is being accused of major human rights violations against Palestinians, young and old, including fundamental violations of the Geneva Conventions.
As the Congress agenda demonstrates, it seems that the primary purpose of the conference is to draw attention to the suffering of Israeli children, to the exclusion of serious and needed attention to other children living in war and conflict, the context within which these children suffer, and the reason for their suffering. Under the guise of science, this Congress in fact constitutes nothing more than propaganda on behalf of the very perpetrators of violence against children, their families and communities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The French Government is thus hosting a Congress characterized by an unjust and biased agenda that fails to recognize who is the occupier and who is the occupied, and may well give the impression that it is the Palestinians who are the occupiers of Israeli land and thus the main cause of violence in the area! It omits taking into account the root cause of death, injury, disability and the misery of life of children on both sides of the conflict, although not equally: Israeli military rule of Palestinian land.
Accordingly, we would like to register our strong protest and call on you to immediately cancel this Congress in the name of justice, reason as well as scientific ethical considerations.
Dr. Iyad Sarraj
Gaza Community Mental Health Program
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Dr. Rita Giacaman
Associate Professor and
Research and Program Coordinator
Institute of Community and Public Health
Occupied Palestinian Territory
M. Philippe DOUSTE-BLAZY
Ministre de la sante
8, Avenue de Segur
Monsieur Le Ministre,
Nous venons d'apprendre que le Ministere de la Sante francaise, le Secretariat d'Etat aux Victimes et le Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres d'Israel organisent a Toulouse du 21 au 23 mars un congres international au sujet de "La place de l'enfant dans l'espace du conflit".
Nous sommes aussi bien choques qu'inquiets que le gouvernement francais soutiendrait un tel congres avec le Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres d'Israel lorsque ce meme gouvernement est accuse de graves atteintes aux droits de l'homme des palestiniens, jeunes et adultes, ainsi que de multiples violations des articles des Conventions de Geneve.
Le programme du congres revele que le but du congres est de mettre en relief la souffrance des enfants israeliens, en passant sous silence tous les enfants souffrants des effets de la guerre et de conflit, ainsi que le contexte et les raisons de leur souffrance. Au nom de la science et la medecine, le congres ne represente qu'une exercise de propagande en soutien de ceux qui infligent une violence quotidienne aux enfants, leurs familles, et leurs communautes dans les territoires occupees palestiniennes. Ainsi le gouvernement franÃ§ais et la mairie de Toulouse apportent une caution a un congres dit medico-scientifique qui est en effet structure de faÃ§on injuste et biase sans mention de qui est l'occupant et l'occupe. Ceci est vrai a un tel point que ce congres pourrait laisser comprendre que les palestiniens occupent la terre d'Israel et forment ainsi la cause majeure de la violence dans la region. Ce congres exclut de toute mention la source fondementale de la mort, des blessures, et de la souffrance des enfants des deux bords du conflit, neanmoins une souffrance inegale, c'est-a-dire, l'occupation militaire israelienne des terres palestiniennes.
Ceci etant, nous vous communiquons notre refus d'une telle manipulation de la souffrance des victimes. Au nom de la justice, de la raison et de l'ethique de la science, nous vous prions d'annuler ce congres.
Dr. Iyad Sarraj,
Programme de sante mentale de la communaute de Gaza
Territoires occupees palestiniennes
Dr. Rita Giacaman
Professeur et Coodinateur du Programme de Recherche
Institut de Sante publique et sociale
Universite de Birzeit
Territoires occupees palestiniennes
Saturday, March 12, 2005
ACLU FOIA Torture Documents
Christ In Palestine
"The Land Across the Valley"
You always told me to remember stories
About our village, and to remember
The songs that carry the legends of our land;
And to remember the faces of old women
For in them is our history.
Isn't that so?
My father heard my words and turned away
To look across the valley where our land is.
"Teach the night to forget to bring
dreams showing me my village,"
he said and then was quiet again.
His silence fell on us as the sun burned
The stones we sat on. I tried to taste
The breeze coming up from the valley.
"And teach the wind to forget to carry to me
the aroma of apricots in my fields."
We looked to the other side of the valley,
At the olive trees and red poppies
Scattering the hillsides.
"There is no God but Allah,"
sang a distant muezzin.
"And teach the sky, too, to forget to rain."
My father closed his eyes.
"Only then, may I forget my country."
"Jaffa, Land of Oranges"
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Rachel Corrie, American Hero
"Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I'm witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I'm really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop.
"Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world. This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me. This is not what I meant when I looked at Capital Lake and said: 'This is the wide world and I'm coming to it.' I did not mean that I was coming into a world where I could live a comfortable life and possibly, with no effort at all, exist in complete unawareness of my participation in genocide.
"When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I've ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible."