January 31, 2008

Winograd washes whiter

The Winograd Commission has produced a "deeply flawed" report on Israel's "2nd Lebanon War". That's the word from Amnesty International under the headline, Israel: Winograd Commission disregards Israeli war crimes. The report on the Amnesty site sets out what the Winograd Commission chose to focus on and effectively accuses the Commission of dishonesty.
it essentially brushed aside available evidence of serious violations of international law, claiming that interpretations of international humanitarian law are controversial, that it did not have the capacity to deal with the volume of data, that the alleged violations were already being investigated by other bodies, and that such allegations are used as propaganda against Israel -- whereas it did scrutinize military strategies and the conduct of certain operations in detail, including in cases which were already being investigated separately.
The report then sets out what the Commission didn't say:
Based on its on-the-ground research and analysis of the conduct of hostilities in 2006, Amnesty International concluded that it was the Lebanese civilian population - not Hizbullah combatants -- who paid the heaviest price of the Israeli army's attacks. Of some 1,190 people killed, the vast majority were civilians not involved in the hostilities, among them hundreds of children. The overwhelming majority of homes, properties and infrastructure targeted in air strikes and artillery attacks were likewise civilian.

Other international human rights and humanitarian organisations and United Nations (UN) bodies that examined the situation reached the same conclusion. In its report of 10 November 2006 the UN Commission of Inquiry concluded that: '... a significant pattern of excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] against Lebanese civilians and civilian objects, failing to distinguish civilians from combatants and civilian objects from military targets'. A separate investigation by four UN independent experts also reported in October 2006 that 'Available information strongly indicates that, in many instances, Israel violated its legal obligations to distinguish between military and civilian objectives; to fully apply the principle of proportionality'.

In addition, the launching of hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs, containing an estimated four million cluster sub-munitions (bomblets), in the last few days of the war left a deadly legacy. This is continuing to cause casualties among the civilian population, humanitarian workers, and mine-clearance personnel who put their lives on the line to clear unexploded ordnance.
Can it get worse? Of course it can. This is Israel we're talking about.
The Israeli government's persistent refusal to hand over the cluster bombs strike data and the exact coordinates of the areas into which its forces fired the cluster bombs has made this already painstaking mine-clearance task more deadly and time consuming. To date, 40 people (27 civilians and 13 de-mining personnel) have been killed and 243 have been injured (200 civilians and 34 de-mining personnel) by unexploded ordnance. The United Nation Mine Action Coordination Centre (UN-MACC) has identified more then 900 sites contaminated by unexploded but still lethal remnants of cluster bombs and other ordnance launched by Israeli forces into South Lebanon.
Well after all that it's only right and proper to issue a call to the racist war criminals of Israel and alert the world to their crimes against humanity.
Amnesty International calls on the Israeli government to:
-Provide to the UN-MACC the cluster bombs strike data and the exact coordinates of the areas into which its forces fired cluster bombs.
-Establish an independent and impartial investigation into evidence indicating that its forces committed serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the conflict, including war crimes, and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
-Revise its interpretation of the rules and principles relating to the concepts of military objective, military advantage and proportionality, to ensure that its interpretation is fully consistent with international humanitarian law, and that the Israeli military complies fully with the duty to take precautionary measures when carrying out attacks, as well as in defence, and does not carry out attacks as a form of collective punishment.
-Announce a moratorium on the use of all cluster weapons and, in any event, ensure that such weapons are never again used in civilian areas under any circumstances.
To dream the impossible dream. But what's all this about Hizbullah?
The organisation also calls on Hizbullah, whose forces also committed war crimes during the 2006 conflict, to:
-Renounce its unlawful policy of reprisal rocket attacks against the civilian population of Israel and ensure that its fighters comply fully with the need to take precautionary measures in attacks and in defence, including the need to distinguish themselves from non-combatants to the maximum extent possible.
-Ensure that Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah fighters on 12 July 2006, are treated humanely at all times and are allowed immediate access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Or, put another way, Amnesty gets a lot of donations from America. Keep'em coming folks!

January 30, 2008

Barack not black, he says

I can't find the report now so I'm going by memory from a few days ago. It goes like this. Apparently there's been quite a campaign on the internet to suggest that Barack Hussein Obama is black, or maybe, like the singer Michael Jackson, he was black once upon a time. This kind of thing could play badly for him among supporters of segregation in the USA's deep middle east. It's bizarre, isn't it? How can a person deny that they're black? And why would they want the segregationist vote anyway?

I said I'm going from memory. I must try harder to find the article.

Eureka! I've found it in New York's The Jewish Week. Now let's have a see.

(Editors Note: In a telephone conference call with Jewish reporters on Monday, Sen. Barack Obama addressed a rumor campaign against him described in the story below.

Obama attacked a "constant and virulent smear campaign via the internet that I know has been particularly targeted at the Jewish community, which is interesting. Using the Internet as a tool, it states that I am a Muslim, that I was sworn into my Senate office with my hand on a Koran, that I don't pledge allegiance."

Obama said that he wouldn't normally respond to such "falsehoods" but that "reports that we've received in the press indicate it has gotten traction in some portions of the Jewish community."

Such rumors, he said, "are absolutely false. I have never practiced Islam; I was raised by my secular mother. I have been a member of the Christian religion and have been an activeChristian. I was sworn in with my hand on my family Bible, and have been pledging allegiance since I was three years old."

Obama also suggested progress in Israel-Palestinian peace talks is not possible until "there is confidence the Palestinians are able to provide the security apparatus that can prevent constant attacks against Israel from taking place."

Read more about the Obama interview and his views on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and the Iranian nuclear threat in this week's Jewish Week)

Ok, I was just a little bit wrong. Barack Hussein Obama is denying that he was ever a Muslim because he was in danger of losing Jewish votes (and maybe money) if the allegation that he is or was a Muslim stuck to him. So he issued a denial and wrote to the UN to defend the racist war criminals of the State of Israel.

Was I so wrong? How is the suggestion that someone is a Muslim "virulent" or a "smear"? Who does it say more about? This Barack Hussein Obama guy or what passes for the Jewish community in America these days?

January 28, 2008

Habash was right

George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine died late on Saturday just gone. There are obituaries all over the net now but I just found one by David Hirst dated Sunday 27/1 on the Guardian website. I'm guessing that the news was too late for the Observer (the Guardian's Sunday turnout) so maybe it's in today's Guardian. Here's the whole thing:
In his later years, George Habash, who has died of a heart attack, at an age believed to be 82, was often known as "the conscience of the Palestine revolution". He had been one of the very earliest founding fathers of that movement, which pioneered armed struggle and revolutionary violence as the sole means of liberating Palestine. Since it first emerged, in the 1960s as a potent new force on the Middle East stage, the movement suffered all manner of vicissitudes, and its ambitions were eventually reduced, almost out of recognition, to an endless series of surrenders to the exigencies of Pax Americana.
But, out of sincerity, rather than the opportunism which has tainted other, lesser radicals of his kind, "Al Hakim"(the doctor or wise man), remained faithful to his original conviction that by force - and force alone - could the Palestinians recover their rights. In 1967 he had been the founder, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). and he was to be faithful to his conviction that the rights he was fighting for included the recovery of the whole of original, pre-1948 Palestine, not just the additional territories which the Israelis conquered in 1967.

Born in Lydda, coastal Palestine, now part of Israel's second city Tel Aviv, to a family of Greek Orthodox grain merchants, Habash became a supreme example of that disposition, always latent in the Christian minority in those days, to display a greater militancy than the Moslem majority. There was already an idealistic strain in his choice of careers: like many others, he was a doctor before he was a politician. It was his personal experience of the 1948 disaster which, more than anything else, fired in him a determination to devote himself to the politics of struggle.

In 1948, as a 22-year-old undergraduate in medicine at the American University of Beirut he rushed back to Lydda to serve as a medical orderly as the Zionists advanced on the town and drove out its inhabitants. Within three years he and fellow-students from various parts of the Arab world founded the Arab Nationalist Movement, which believed that the Arabs should find the strength-through-unity to throw off western domination: that, in turn, would be the key to the liberation of Palestine. He graduated from university in 1951, first in class.

In the first of many a different place of exile, he settled in Amman, where he opened a "people's clinic" and a school for refugees. Accused of involvement in an attempt to overthrow King Hussein, and driven underground with a 33-year prison sentence on his head, he then fled to Syria, where, by a very natural transition, he became an ardent supporter of Egypt's President Gamal Nasser, the great pan-Arab hero of the times.

But if the price of sincerity can be a certain dogmatism, it was this which - so typically of his subsequent career - brought him into collision with mainstream sentiment in the still clandestine "revolution". Tiring of Arab inaction, Yasser Arafat and his Fatah guerrilla organisation had already embarked on their "popular liberation war".

Ironically, Habash at first opposed them, believing that Nasser should be permitted to make conventional war against Israel at a time of his own choosing. In a sense, the shattering defeat of the armies of Egypt. Jordan, Syria and Iraq in the six day war of 1967 proved him right.

But then, converted to armed struggle himself, he characteristically took it those extremes which have marked him, ever since, as one of the great patrons of "international terrorism" - though he was never to take on the demoniacal stature of the Venezuelan, Carlos the Jackal (Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez), or his fellow-Palestinian, Abu Nidal. For a brief, heady span, Habash and his newly formedPFLP held the world in thrall.

A series of hijackings included the events around Dawson's Field in September 1970. Two airliners, from Trans-World Airways and Swissair were hijacked to that former RAF base at Zerqa in the Jordanian desert, while an abortive takeover of an El Al airliner by the Nicaraguan Patrick Arguello, and the Palestinian Leila Khaled ended with Arguello dead and Khaled held at Ealing police station. A Pan Am jumbo jet was then hijacked to Cairo, via Beirut, and a British Overseas Airways Corporation VC10 to Dawson's Field to make the British free Khaled. This outrage helped precipitate Black September, King Hussein's assault on the guerrilla state-within-his-state, which ended with the King's victory, the first great strategic reverse in the fortunes of the Palestine "revolution". An exchange deal at the end of the month followed, freeing the remaining hostages, Khaled, and three other PFLP members.

Moving to Beirut, along with the rest of the PLO, Habash persisted in some of the more spectacular, publicity-seeking acts of violence - with the 1972 massacre of tourists at Lod (once Lydda and now Ben Gurion) airport by Japanese Red Army terrorists as perhaps the most successful, if ignoble, of them - but to less and less effect. The whole guerrilla movement was moving away from random terrorism of that kind, and, at the same time, looking more and more to diplomacy, first as a supplement to, then as substitute for, military action.

Habash, the radical, made it his business to resist every new stage of this growing moderation. But when, at the Palestine National Council (PNC) meeting in 1988, Arafat made his historic offer of a two-state solution to the Palestine problem, Habash did not walk out of the PLO altogether. Nor did he, three years later, when the PNC agreed to go to the 1991 Middle East peace conference in Madrid. He said he would respect the will of the majority, however fiercely he opposed it. That loyalty to Palestinian national unity, along with his personal modesty and simplicity, made him perhaps the most liked of the small, still surviving band of the revolution's original chiefs.

He stood down as PFLP leader in 2000, four years before the death of Yasser Arafat, and six years before the Islamicists of Hamas won their victory in the Palestinian election. Pax Americana meanwhile continues to make paltry progress in its regional diplomacy, and many of those who now so grudgingly support it may well in due course conclude that the "conscience of the revolution" had always been right in opposing it - and the whole concept of Palestinian moderation.

In 1961, he married his wife Hilda, and they had two daughters, Mesa, a doctor and Lama, an engineer.

· George Habash, born 1926; died January 26 2008
Check out the BBC obit now for Abbas's kind words.

January 26, 2008

State of the Jews and state of denial

I've had this lengthy essay on the Lawrence of Cyberia blog drawn to my attention. It starts on Israel's state of denial of what it has done to the Palestinians and then runs through some of the implications of Israel being a Jewish state. It even quotes Amos Oz (yuk!) at one point. Here's the opening:

Years ago I read some words of Edward Said that seemed at the time rather innocuous but which I think, in retrospect, really lie at the heart of the I/P conflict and help to explain why it has remained unresolved so long: "Until the time comes when Israel assumes moral responsibility for what it has done to the Palestinian people, there can be no end to the conflict".


I think the reason I have come to appreciate the importance of what Said was saying is that throughout the peace process, Israel's policies - and the tortured justifications it uses to defend them - have repeatedly seemed to have less to do with hammering out a peace agreement than with evading having to really come to terms with why there is no peace in the first place. The Israeli historian, Tom Segev, remarked on this Israeli preference for avoidance - and the negative effect this has on resolving the conflict - when he wrote just last month:

Most Israelis still find it hard to acknowledge that they
bear historical responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. The Zionist vision is based, among other things, on the assumption that its fulfillment need not cause injustice to anyone: If only the Arabs would relinquish their nationalist yearnings and agree to the fulfillment of our dream, it would be good for everyone, including them.

This historical fiction is very harmful because as long as we convince ourselves that we have no part in the responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian tragedy, we have no real reason to try to correct the injustice. This is the importance of acknowledging our responsibility.
This really goes to the heart of the cultural unpleasantness of Israel and of a great many Jews today, particularly those in the public eye. Leaving aside that the state of denial serves notice that the zionists don't intend that any of their wrongs be righted, a culture of deceipt pervades Israeli Jewish society and dominates organised Jewish communal life.

So much for that. Now the Jewishness of Israel and the problems that causes for democratic life and for peace:
Amos Oz has written that the concept is absurd, for "A state cannot be Jewish, just as a chair or a bus cannot be Jewish". Avrum Burg, former Speaker of the Knesset, describes the definition as inflammatory and suicidal, saying: "To define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end. A Jewish state is explosive. It's dynamite". Israel's former Minister of Education, Shulamit Aloni, does not accept that Israel is a "Jewish state", as the term makes second-class citizens of Israelis who are not Jews. Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman finds it "nonsensical" that non-Jews should be expected to acknowledge the multi-ethnic state of Israel as existing for only one of its peoples. The late Israel Shahak, formerly Professor of Chemistry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, wrote that declaring a "Jewish state" is not only discriminatory against Israel's non-Jewish citizens, but also incompatible with the democratic rights of its Jewish ones:

The principle of Israel as 'a Jewish state' was supremely important to Israeli politicians from the inception of the state and was inculcated into the Jewish population by all conceivable ways. When, in the early 1980s, a tiny minority of Israeli Jews emerged which opposed this concept, a Constitutional Law (that is, a law overriding provisions of other laws, which cannot be revoked except by a special procedure) was passed in 1985 by an enormous majority of the Knesset.

By this law no party whose programme openly opposes the principle of 'a Jewish state' or proposes to change it by democratic means, is allowed to participate in the elections to the Knesset. I myself strongly oppose this constitutional principle. The legal consequence for me is that I cannot belong, in the state of which I am a citizen, to a party having principles with which I would agree and which is allowed to participate in Knesset elections. Even this example shows that the State of Israel is not a democracy due to the application of a Jewish ideology directed against all non-Jews and those Jews who oppose this ideology.

The article looks at all those little rhetorical tricks that zionists like to play to dodge and close down debate. Here's a good and informative one:
If you can just reduce every unsympathetic comment about Israel to "anti-semitism", then Israel and Zionism can never be criticized. For example, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said that the occupation regime over Jerusalem would disappear from the pages of time. He's not a Zionist. He doesn't think the pre-existing people and culture of Arab Palestine should be destroyed to make way for a Zionist state populated by an overwhelmingly immigrant population of Jewish people from all over the world. To him, the creation of a minority, sectarian regime in the Muslim-dominated land of Palestine raises all sorts of questions, like: What is the justification for it, and how do you expect the disenfranchised majority population will react to it? Why should Jewish people anywhere in the world have greater rights to Palestine than native Palestinian Christians and Muslims? Is a regime like that sustainable, or will it go the same way as the Soviet regime in the USSR, the rule of the Shah in Iran, and Saddam's regime in Iraq? But once you translate his original words as "wiping Israel off the map", and hammer it into people's heads that he was threatening to nuke Israel and "kill the Jews", you don't have to answer any of those questions. Once you have successfully framed the debate in terms of "Ahmedinejad wants to wipe out the Jews, just like Hitler; you surely don't support Hitler, do you?", you have closed down the possibility of debate.

I think there's a similar dynamic at work among at least some of the people who profess outrage over the PLO's rejection of Israel as a "Jewish state". The PLO has legitimate misgivings over recognizing Israel specifically as a "Jewish state". If you really don't want those misgivings to be aired, because they raise questions that are difficult for you to answer, you can simply pretend that in rejecting a "Jewish state" the PLO is actually rejecting "a state populated by Jews". Once you have managed to misrepresent the Palestinian position as simply wanting to "drive the Jews into the sea", a position which has no legitimate defenses, then you have again preempted the danger of rational debate.
And closed down the possibility of peace and maintained a culture of deceipt.

January 25, 2008

Jailbreak!

Gazans have broken out of Gaza into Egypt. The Guardian editorial from yesterday says it all really:
If you bottle up 1.5 million people in a territory 25 miles long and six miles wide, and turn off the lights, as Israel has done in Gaza, the bottle will burst. This is what happened yesterday when tens of thousands of Gazans poured into Egypt to buy food, fuel and supplies after militants destroyed two-thirds of the wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt. It was the biggest jail break in history.

But it was also a reply to the argument that the only way to stop Qassam rockets falling on the Israeli town of Sderot and the western Negev is to turn the screw still further. One side of the vessel has now shattered. So much for the strategy of trying to contain Gazans. Jordan and Egypt, two Arab states with formal peace treaties with Israel, are furious - not least the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak who is under pressure to sever ties with Israel. While the 30th anniversary of Anwar Sadat's journey to Jerusalem was celebrated in Israel, it was all but ignored by the official media in Cairo.

Nor has Israel's policy of escalation in response to provocation done anything to bolster its Palestinian partners, President Mahmoud Abbas and the prime minister, Salam Fayyad. Mr Fayyad proposed at the donor nation's conference in Paris a month ago that Palestinian forces not affiliated with rival Hamas and Fatah factions take over operations at the crossing points. The break-out has allowed Mr Fayyad's rival Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas in Damascus and its leading hawk, to say that the militant group is prepared to work with its brothers in Egypt and in Ramallah (the Palestinian Authority) to lift the siege of Gaza. If there are any permanent changes to the crossing with Egypt, Hamas not Fatah will get the credit.

Cutting off electricity to Gaza will not stop the Qassams, 400 of which have fallen in and around Sderot since the start of the month. Israel claims the number of Qassams has declined, although 20 were fired on Monday alone. Nor will military campaigns work. One waged in 2006 killed 400 Palestinians in Gaza, half of them civilian. Entering into or encouraging some form of political dialogue with Hamas would stop the Qassams, but Israel has set its face against this while Hamas refuses to recognise Israel's existence.

Once again, a limited conflict over border crossings in Gaza has exploded into a major one, at the time when Israeli and Palestinian leaders are supposed to be sitting down for the first time in seven years to discuss the big issues. Once again Arab pressure on Hamas to stop the Qassams is in danger of dissipating. Once again the strategic goal of a two-state solution is obscured by the fog of war.
Ok, they went and spoiled it with their ludicrous ending, equating the occupier and the resistance.

But you get the picture of hell in Gaza. So, as Latuff asks, what next, gas chambers?

January 23, 2008

US Presidential race: Obama has to crawl before he can run

I don't know. Perhaps it's a hoax but let's assume it isn't. Presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, has written a particularly assertive email to the UN Security Council regarding the Gaza blockade. See this on Rosner's blog in Ha'aretz:
Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,

I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order.

I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condenm the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel...

All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this... Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians.

The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks... If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator
This is so outrageous it looks like a hoax to me. It doesn't get much of an intro in Ha'aretz and I can't find it anywhere else on google. Maybe it is a hoax but then this Rosner chap has this little nugget from two days ago on the same page:
Barack Obama keeps having troubles with the pro Israel crowed.

Yesterday, speaking on the occasion of Martin Luther King's day to the African American community, Obama was saying that "If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community."

But condemning anti Semitism does not help him score enough points with the Jewish establishment. Yesterday, the Jewish Forward revealed an American Jewish Committee memo that's raising questions about his stance regarding Israel:

"The Senator's interpretation of the NIE raises questions," wrote Debra Feuer, a counsel for the American Jewish Committee, one day after the Illinois Democrat surged to victory in the Iowa caucus.
Referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she added that Obama "appears to believe the Israelis bear the burden of taking the risky steps for peace, and that the violence Israel has received in return does not shift that burden."

I wrote a couple of paragraphs about Obama and Israel Saturday night. One of them says this: "The American Jewish establishment feels much more comfortable with a Clinton candidacy than it is with an Obama candidacy".

And this is not likely to change.
Now see that last line. Does Obama think that crawling to the "pro-Israel crowd" is going to change that? And did you see that stuff about antisemitism and homophobia in the black community? Has a senator ever chosen a special Jewish commemoration to lecture against racism and homophobia in the Jewish community? That's got to be worth a £10 challenge and I haven't had one of those for ages.

Obama should be careful with this crawling. What does he gain among ordinary voters who must surely be getting sick of Israel by now. If he starts acting like Hilary Clinton, or even Bush, his core support will surely drift away. This happens to Democrats all the time lately. They try to out-right the right and the right still wins. Of course the right wins when the Democrats put it in a win-win situation. But what if the crawling works and the zionist vote or funding or both is decisive and he wins? If he wins on a right wing platform he will have to stand by that platform, indeed he may want to. My own view is that, by so obviously grovelling to the establishment on the question of Palestine, he can only harm his candidacy.

January 20, 2008

Gaza: has the genocide begun?

No. It began sixty years ago. Google Gaza, see what happens. Any mention of a humanitarian disaster? Not today. Maybe clicking on that link months or years from now it will indeed say "humanitarian disaster" in the headlines. But how many have to die preventable deaths between now and then? Anyway there have been many email alerts flying around about the humanitarian disaster that is Gaza right now.



A look at the mainstream headlines suggests that there is an urgent situation in Gaza. Yes, they hedge their reports on the crisis befalling Gaza right now and you have to cut through a lot of non sequiturs about "rockets" and Sderot to understand that between Egypt and Israel, the Palestinian people of Gaza are being starved while western governments and media look on.

I don't know anything about this Free Gaza site but it is worth reading this.

January 19, 2008

Israel and America stop torture thanks to Canadian pressure

This is amazing. Only two days ago Reuters reported that Canada had placed Israel and the USA on its list of countries that use torture. Well now Canada has taken both countries off the list. Israel and America must have stopped the torture. They must have done. Otherwise they'd be on the list of countries that use torture. I can't think of any other explanation.

I know what to do. Let's see what actually happened here. First up, on 17th January 2008 Reuters reported that Canada places U.S., Israel on torture watch list. Now I must point out that when I first googled the headline that I was emailed by somebody, the list of articles with the headline contained several links that when I followed them had already changed the article to Canada takes U.S., Israel off torture watchlist. The original story is disappearing fast. So here it is in full:
By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's foreign ministry has put the United States and Israel on a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured and also classifies some U.S. interrogation techniques as torture, according to a document obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

The revelation is likely to embarrass the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel. Both nations denied they allowed torture in their jails.

The document -- part of a training course on torture awareness given to diplomats -- mentions the U.S. jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where a Canadian man is being held.

The man, Omar Khadr, is the only Canadian in Guantanamo. His defenders said the document made a mockery of Ottawa's claims that Khadr was not being mistreated.

Under "definition of torture" the document lists U.S. interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners.

"The United States does not permit, tolerate, or condone torture under any circumstances," said a spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Ottawa.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier tried to distance Ottawa from the document.

"The training manual is not a policy document and does not reflect the views or policies of this government," he said.

The government mistakenly provided the document to Amnesty International Canada as part of a court case the rights organization has launched against Ottawa over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan.

Amnesty Secretary-General Alex Neve told Reuters his group had very clear evidence of abuse in U.S. and Israeli jails.

"It's therefore reassuring and refreshing to see that ... both of those countries have been listed and that foreign policy considerations didn't trump the human rights concern and keep them off the list," he said.

Khadr has been in Guantanamo Bay for five years. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier during a clash in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.

Rights groups say Khadr should be repatriated to Canada, an idea that Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejects on the grounds that the man faces serious charges.

"At some point in the course of Omar Khadr's detention the Canadian government developed the suspicion he was being tortured," said William Kuebler, Khadr's U.S. lawyer.

"Yet it has not acted to obtain his release from Guantanamo Bay and protect his rights, unlike every other Western country that has had its nationals detained in Guantanamo Bay," he told CTV television.

Other countries on the watch list include Syria, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

"If Israel is included in the list in question, the ambassador of Israel would expect its removal," said Israeli embassy spokesman Michael Mendel.

The awareness course started after Ottawa was criticized for the way it handled the case of Canadian Maher Arar, who was deported from the United States to Syria in 2002.

Arar says he was tortured repeatedly during the year he spent in Damascus prisons. An inquiry into the case revealed that Canadian diplomats had not received any formal training into detecting whether detainees had been abused.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)
Hmm, interesting article but where was I? Oh yes, I remember. The article is being overwritten by this:
By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Canada's foreign ministry, responding to pressure from close allies, said on Saturday it would remove the United States and Israel from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured.

Both nations expressed unhappiness after it emerged that they had been listed in a document that formed part of a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats.

Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, which also classified some U.S. interrogation techniques as torture.

"It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten," Bernier said in a statement.

"The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions."

The document -- made available to Reuters and other media outlets -- embarrassed the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel.

U.S. ambassador David Wilkins said the listing was absurd while the Israeli envoy said he wanted his country removed.

Asked why the two countries had been put on the list, a spokesman for Bernier said: "The training manual purposely raised public issues to stimulate discussion and debate in the classroom."

The government mistakenly gave the document to Amnesty International Canada as part of a court case the rights organization has launched against Ottawa over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan.

No one from Amnesty was immediately available for comment.

Under "definition of torture" the document lists U.S. interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners.

It also mentions the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where a Canadian man is being held.

The man, Omar Khadr, has been in Guantanamo Bay for five years. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier during a clash in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.

Other countries on the watch list include Syria, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

The foreign ministry launched the torture awareness course after Ottawa was rapped for the way it handled the case of Canadian engineer Maher Arar, who was deported from the United States to Syria in 2002.

Arar says he was tortured repeatedly during the year he spent in Damascus prisons. An official inquiry into the affair showed Canadian diplomats had not been trained to detect whether detainees might have been abused.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)
See the overlaps in the articles that were both written by the same chap? Not edited by the same chap though.

There's plenty in both to make you laugh or cry or do both at the same time. I particularly like the one where America and Israel are claimed not to torture people. Funny huh?

But I got it wrong in my headline. I assumed that because two days ago Canada had put Israel and America on its torture watchlist and then two days later, removed them, that meant that two days of Canadian pressure had persuaded Israel and America to stop the torture. How wrong I was. It turns out that the great and little satans persuaded Canada to stop telling the truth about the gruesome practices of their closest allies against adult and child prisoners alike.

So that's ok then, back business as usual.

January 15, 2008

Obama? Osama? Oshmama?

'Ere we go. There's a nasty chain email doing the rounds, according to Ynet. It portrays US presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, of being an al-Qaeda asset. Why shouldn't he be? George W.Bush must be their best find ever. Here's a chunk of the article:
Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has been targeted in a recent smear campaign which claims that he is a fundamentalist Muslim working for al-Qaeda in an effort to topple the US government.

An inflammatory mass e-mail that is circulating in the United States and Israel lays out the anonymous author's version of Obama's background.

One of the target audiences in the campaign is clearly the American Jewish community because the e-mail has also been sent out in Hebrew.

The writer attempts to portray Obama as an al-Qaeda stooge rhetorically asking: "So who is Barack Obama?"

He answers that, Obama's stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, introduced him to Islam by registering him at a Wahhabi Muslim school or madrassa in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The writer goes on to say that "Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that that he is not a radical...since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when seeking major public office in the United States. Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background."

The e-mail accuses Obama of trying to getting elected to the presidency in order to be able to destroy the US "from the inside out."

This is not the first attempt to sully the US presidential candidate's name. When he began his presidential campaign, some accused him of trying to conceal his background and the fact his middle name is Hussein.
I wonder what makes people think his first name is so acceptable.

January 13, 2008

Bi'lin/Leviev update

Just in from the International Solidarity Movement:


On Friday, January 11th, villagers of Bil’in were joined by around 70 Israeli, international, and other Palestinian Human Rights activists in a protest against the Annexation Wall. In Bil’in, the wall is stealing more than 60% of village land, and even the Israeli Supreme Court said in a recent decision that the route of the wall was not planned for military reasons, but for land.

In that September 4th Supreme Court decision, the Wall was ordered to be taken down and the route redrawn. This was a court victory for the joint non-violent struggle, but has yet to be reflected with facts on the ground. The wall is still standing, and in fact recently settlers attempted to place new caravans on village land.

The demonstration began as a march towards the gate in the Wall, where soldiers were standing with guns drawn. At the front of the march was the banner, “LEVIEV TURNS THESE ROCKS OF APARTHEID INTO DIAMONDS” in reference to the diamond mogul Lev Leviev, protesting his extensive involvement in the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Soldiers let off a barrage of flash bombs when people got close. Flash bombs are similar to sound bombs, but they explode much sooner and are made of metal instead of plastic, so they weigh a lot more. They are generally used to injure people, where as normal sounds bombs mostly disorient people. A few demonstrators were hit by the flying metal objects, but none seriously injured.

After about an hour people began to move back towards the village, the soldiers used this chance to shoot off cannister after cannister of tear gas. One man was taken away on a stretcher from his exposure to the gas. Activists stood on the opposite hill and regrouped while soldiers continued to shoot gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Twice the army drove up the street to try and grab people but were stopped by makeshift stone roadblocks people built.

Near the end of the demonstration, army snipers shot Bil’in Popular Committee member Abdullah Abu Rahme in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet. Abdullah was also one of the activists hospitalized a week ago when settlers attacked a group of Palestinians who were non-violently protesting the placement of more caravans on their land. After the soldier shot Abdullah, he dances a bit and cheers, telling his comrades-in-arms that he “got one in the head!”

January 12, 2008

Is comparing Jews to nazis antisemitic?

Of course it's not. But there are some who say that it is antisemitic so that they can insulate Israel from this comparative form of political criticism. Zionists have even succeeded at having the EU suggest in a working definition of antisemitism that it is antisemitic to compare Israel to the nazis.

So what's this post about? It's those great academics at Engage again. Apparently, to try and make up for the disgrace of the cancellation of Norman Finkelstein's withdrawn invite to the Oxford Union last year, the Union is now hosting a debate with the clunky and just plain wrong title "Israel has a right to exist".

The Engage site now claims to be a resource against antisemitism but it began life as a defence of what it calls academic freedom. It was actually established to counter boycott calls against the racist institutions of the State of Israel, in particular, the academic boycott. Since it's establishment its become quite a shrill and hysterical campaign against most criticism of Israel, even suggesting that accusing Israel, truthfully, of killing children is antisemitic.

Well now they're likening some Jews to nazis. Go see. This debate at the OU is to be addressed by two Jewish academics, Norman Finkelstein, for the motion, and Ilan Pappe, against. And what is David Hirsh's response? He is likening the event to the Oxford Unions hosting of neo-nazis, Nick Griffin and David Irving. Very clever. And what exactly is Dr Hirsh's beef with these people debating whether or not Israel has a right to exist? Let's see:
Gallantly defending Israel's right to exist is Norman Finkelstein. Finkelstein proudly hosts Brazillian 'cartoonist' Latuff and his antisemitic cartoons on his website. That is the same Latuff who won second prize in President Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial art competition. Here are a couple of Latuff's blood libel images. If you don't understand why they are blood libel images, see Anthony Julius.

This is what the generous defender of Israel's right to exist had to say during the war between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006:
“Right now, and I say it publicly, right now we are all Hezbollah. All of us. You can have differences, disagreements with their ideology, with their values, with their organization. But right now at this moment that is totally and utterly irrelevant... Every victory for Hezbollah over Israel is ... a victory for liberty and a victory for freedom...”
Anything there that suggest that Israel doesn't have the right to exist? I can't see it myself. And here are those offending pics by Latuff:



And this:



Nothing antisemitic there, just hard-hitting exposure of Israel's crimes while the world looks on. I think Latuff's contribution to the holocaust cartoons turnout actually highlighted that the holocaust did happen. I'd have to check that one though. But please check Anthony Julius if you don't trust Hirsh. Sure, that'll help. He has written some stuff about how Jews used to be falsely accused of killing children for religious ritual purposes. Er yeah? That did happen. But now Israel kills children frequently and deliberately and to liken that to the blood libel is to suggest that the latter is true though the intention is to suggest that the former (Israel's killing of children) is false. Hirsh himself came up with the wonderful idea that Israel's child-killing policies are "a myth based on truth". That is to say that we can take it as read that Israel kills children because Israel does kill children. I mean, what is a myth? Isn't it a narrative that is believed without proof? It doesn't necessarily mean that it's not true, just that it is believed without evidence. If Israel's child-killing is passing into myth then it's because there is so much evidence of Israel killing children, we don't need any further evidence. But read Anthony Julius anyway. It's yet another of those zionist works that can be reasonably described as "beyond chutzpah".

Anyway, what Hirsh is saying here is that if you criticise Israel you cannot believe that Israel has a right to exist. The funny thing is that he might be right to say that Finkelstein doesn't believe that Israel has a right to exist but since Finkelstein is only on record supporting the two state solution there is no basis for saying that he would be an inappropriate defender of that "right". What Hirsh wants of course is a hasbara parrot. An Israel apologist. And I'm sure his time will come if he can lower himself to appearing at a venue that has hosted neo-nazis.

Ted Honderich too gets the Hirsh treatment but since he's not Jewish, he can safely be likened to nazis with no problem. It's only Jews that mustn't be compared to nazis. So let's turn to the opponents of the motion. That is those who say that Israel has no right to exist. They are Ghada Karmi and Ilan Pappe. Like Honderich, Karmi isn't Jewish so into the nazi camp she goes. No problem. Pappe though should be immune from the comparison on the same grounds that zionists use to insulate Israel from criticism, but no, Dr Hirsh knows better. Here's how he concludes the article:
Finkelstein, Honderich, Karmi and Pappe want to boycott Israel. But they don't mind accepting invitations from the Oxford Union two months after they host Jew-hating neo-Nazis.
What's the reasoning here? They want to boycott Israel because of the occupation (possibly because of Israel's essentially racist character) so they shouldn't speak at a forum that has hosted neo-nazis. I don't get it. Is he saying that if, like him, you don't support a boycott of Israel, then it's ok to speak at the same forum. I just don't see the connection and I don't recall Engage criticising the people who eventually did participate in the debate on whether there should be a one or two state solution. I should say that me not recalling doesn't mean it didn't happen. Hirsh may have had a rare bout of consistency. But there is no connection between who has appeared at a venue and who else appears at the same place. Dr Hirsh's "reasoning" is simply imbecilic, he's just shouting at critics of Israel and calling on like-minded others to do the same.

Ok, now let's have a quick look at the comments. The first is a fairly standard "singling Israel out" kind of comment.
Which other country ever has its "right to exist" questioned? The Oxford Union could start closer to home, and debate whether the UK has a right to exist. Or England, for that matter. This is not a debate, this is a campaign of delegitimisation.

You really have to wonder about the Oxford Union -- first David Irving, now this.
Ok, last things first. First Irving, a racist, and now Finkelstein, Honderich, Karmi and Pappe, four anti-racists. This is terrible. But the "singling Israel out" thing is just ludicrous. I cannot believe that the Oxford Union hasn't had debates on the abolition of the United Kingdom by abolishing the monarchy or by the secession of Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales or by being subsumed by the EU or even the US. I might even bet that they have had more debates on the continued existence or not of the United Kingdom than they have on the continued existence of a state, Israel, whose right to exist is far more obviously questionable.

A comment that resembles my post here in many ways is from a "Seth". It's long but bear with me (yuk! I said "bear with me"!).
I think the title of the earlier debate was much better than this revised one, but in either case Finkelstein is an excellent person to speak in favor of a two-state solution. He has been a consistent supporter of a two-state solution, and he can make the case without linking it to the usual Dershowitz-style falsifications about Israel's outstretched hand for peace etc.

Magnes Zionist has a short quote from Finkelstein over what he would have said had he been at the first debate:
http://themagneszionist.blogspot.com/search/label/finkelstein

It is also the case that Finkelstein has written about how in his view there is a contradiction between basic democratic principles and Israel not being a state of all its citizens. Which is still consistent with his support for a two-state solution as being the internatinal consensus which should be supported.

Regarding Hirsh's sarcastic comment about Finkelstein's comments about Hizbollah and him being "a generous defender of Israel's right to exist", I don't see how Hirsh's comment makes much sense. Finkelstein has said, and says, favorable things about Hezbollah. Instead of taking small soundbites, it is probably better to refer to a more extended description of his reasons:

http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=4&ar=15

or during a Q&A about it here:
http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=11&ar=600
(which also has some more comments about why he favor a two-state solution- "if there's even a 5% possibility of a two-State settlement and ending the Israeli occupation within our lifetime, then that's the position we should be fighting for.")

Whatever one thinks of this however, there is no contradiction between "publicly honoring the heroic resistance of Hezbollah to foreign occupation", as Finkelstein sees it, and supporting Israel's "right to exist" within its borders. In Finkelstein's view, Israel has caused great damage to Lebanon, and he admires Hezbollah's fighting against that. That has nothing to do with Israel's right to exist within its borders. Similarly, "Israel has every right to build a wall, as any sovereign state has the right to build a wall. It has a right to build a wall on its property but it doesn't have the right to build the wall on another people's property."


Regarding the Finkelstein->Latuff->Holocaust Denial, wouldn't it be better to quote Finkelstein's actual words on the topic? He did in fact write a letter to the Tehran Times on this topic, which Mark Elf posted on his site:

http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2005/02/finkelstein-and-times.html
[...]
Inasmuch as most of my family perished in gas chambers at Treblinka, it would not make sense for me to deny the existence of gas chambers. I do NOT deny that the Nazis exterminated 5-6 million Jews during World War II. Rather, I argue that that Israel and American Jews have exploited the colossal suffering of Jews during World War II to justify criminal policies against Palestinians and other Arabs.
[...]

Surely this is clear enough. He's only made this point about
100,000 times.

Hirsh responds at first to a different comment that i can't be bothered to read. But check out this great academics logic:
The point about 'generosity' is that Israel exists - it is absurd to discuss whether it has the right to exist.

About Finkelstein's support for Hezbollah - he is very clear, and I quoted a sound-bite and linked to the original so that people could hear for themselves. At the moment when Hezbollah, an organization which is antisemitic and genocidal, was slamming Iranian-supplied missiles into Haifa, Finkelstein didn't only say he supported Hezbollah, he said "We are all Hezbollah".

I'm assuming, Seth, that you're somebody who thinks of himself as being in some sense on the left - the idea that you should, at any moment in history, offer unconditional and uncritical support to an organization like Hezbollah is mind-boggling: It is racist; it believes in Islamist rule and it opposes the democratic government of Lebanon by force; it is in a close alliance with the current Iranian regime; it is starkly against any kind of gender or sexual liberation. Seth, can you not remember what happened to the Iranian left, some of which was bamboozled by the anti-imperialist rhetoric of the Ayatollah? Is your memory so short? "publicly honoring the heroic resistance of Hezbollah to foreign occupation", you say? Yuuchchchch. Israel, unlike Syria, had been out of Lebanon for years.

Sure, Finkelstein opposes the kind of Holocaust denial which is the speciality of his predecessor at the Oxford Union, David Irving - I never said anything different. But isn't it interesting that he hosts Latuff's antisemitic cartoons. And isn't it interesting that he still hosts Latuff's antisemitic cartoons even after Latuff has taken part in Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial fest?
So Hirsh was being sarcastic when he spoke of "generosity" in granting that Israel has a right to exist on the grounds that Israel does exist. If the Palestinians as a whole accept that Israel has a right to exist as a state for Jews on 78% or even on one square mile of Palestine then that is more generous than any native national liberation movement has ever been towards its oppressors and displacers.

But look at his criticism of Seth's short memory. Hizbullah is racist and genocidal? Israel exists on the elimination of a people from the area we now know as Israel. It hasn't killed most of them, but it did remove most of them from the land they had inhabited for generations and for decades Israel denied, not simply their right to exist but the fact of their existence. Even now a welcome guest at Engage, Alan Dershowitz, whilst claiming to be "pro-Palestinian" says that the Palestinians were late incomers to Palestine following the zionist colonisation that he doesn't call colonisation.

But Israel is genocidal. It is actively seeking the destruction of a people and it has been largely successful. And it is thanks to the cover provided by zionists in western governments, media and academia that Israel has been so successful. Yes, the tide is turning against Israel now but much damage had been done. And yes, Israel exists now, but so did the Soviet Union, the German Democratic Republic, Upper Volta, Zaire, Czechoslovakia and many other states whose right to exist was taken for granted, then questioned then revoked. As the United Kingdom's right to exist will one day be revoked. And as Israel's surely will be one day too.

Goodness, look at the length of this post. I didn't mean it to be. I thought it would be a little thing about zionists' propensity for projection. That is accusing your opponents of your own faults or wrong-doing. It was a zionist occasional guest at Engage and the even more dishonest Harry's Place who drew my attention to the EU's ludicrous working "definition" of antisemitism as including comparing Israel to the nazis, presumably because Israel is Jewish. Well Finkelstein and Pappe are both Jewish. It's not antisemitic to liken them to nazis as Hirsh has done. It is wrong though, indeed it's intellectually dishonest since it accuses them of something other than principled anti-racist opposition to racist rule. And then there's this mobilisation of zionists to try to stifle criticism and debate. Let's just remind ourselves that whilst they are simply another zionist outfit defending Israel from legitimate criticism, they came into existence specifically to fight a proposed academic boycott of Israel and this in the name of academic freedom!

PS - I've just had my inconsistent spelling of Hizbullah pointed out to me, together with two typos. I prefer to spell Hizbullah, Hizbullah but lots of people prefer Hezbollah. I prefer to say Hizbollah, but Hizbullah seems to make more sense when written because Hizb is how most people spell the word for group or party and ullah mst closely approximates to Allah and the way I hear people say Hizbullah. Clear? No. Ok, sorry.

Surely some Mstake?

The feminist publication, Ms. Magazine, has rejected an advert from the zionist American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the AJC isn't happy at all. The advert was taken out to show that Jewish women can climb to the top of the greasy pole of Israeli politics. It's basically a hasbara "isn't Israel wonderful?" ad.

Here's what the AJC says about the magazine:
Ms. Magazine has long been in the forefront of the fight for equal rights and equal opportunities for women. Apparently that is not the case if the women happen to be Israeli.

The magazine has turned down an AJCongress advertisement that did nothing more controversial than call attention to the fact that women currently occupy three of the most significant positions of power in Israeli public life. The proposed ad (The Ad Ms. Didn't Want You To See) included a text that merely said, “This is Israel,” under photographs of President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinish, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.
But equal opportunities for Jewish women doesn't say all there is to say when we say "this is Israel". We could, and perhaps should, show a picture of a murdered Palestinian child and say "this is Israel". This would show people the price paid by non-Jews for Israel's equality for Jewish women. This is without getting into the problems such a militaristic society can pose for women even if they can get into, and get on in, Israeli politics.

Ms Magazine hasn't reported on the controversy but the AJC report does shed more light on their stand.
AJCongress President Gordon concluded, “Ms. has the right to turn down our ad. But in exercising that right, it has spoken loudly about itself and its readership, and their lingering hostility to Israel.”
Any group concerning itself with equalities issues should be hostile to Israel. It doesn't get worse than ethnic cleansing and Israel's existence is predicated on ethnic cleansing.

I don't know enough about this Ms Magazine to know whether this is in the Mearsheimer and Walt or Jimmy Carter or Desmond Tutu league for yet another blow against Israel's declining prestige in America but it is certainly good news. The most grotesquely racist state on earth shouldn't be allowed to tout its equality for Jews credentials without mention of who pays. And Ms Magazine deserves praise for the stand it has taken.

January 10, 2008

US presidential hopefuls and where they stand on Israel

I'm not sure why I have got several hits from Lenin's Tomb this morning but he's got an interesting post on the presidential candidates in the USA. In it there is a link to Ha'aretz's ranking of candidates on the basis of how pro-Israel they are. It's worth a look at, particularly the comments underneath the pictures and scores. Here's a description of the scoring system:

This is what we did: First, we sent the panel the table from our first survey, almost 15 months ago (and here is the analysis for this survey). Then we asked questions about this table, and about the race, as it enters a new phase. These are the two tables, followed by some analysis.

I'm not posting the tables here but by all means check them out. The most notable thing, I think, is that Obama scores the lowest out all the candidates still in the running. Out of those no longer in the running, the Republican, Chuck Hagel, scored the lowest, 3.5. See the note beneath his picture:
The Senator for Nebraska believes that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is central to bringing about Middle East peace. FINAL SCORE: 3.5
And for stating the obvious he scores the lowest on the "Israel Factor" score card. But what don't zionists like about Barack Hussein Obama?

Hillary Clinton "straight from the pro-Israel playbook"

I just got this from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Apparently Hillary Clinton is the favoured Democrat candidate for the non-existent Israel lobby:
Clinton took a hit this fall from her party's base when she voted in favor of a nonbinding amendment that recommended sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Bush eventually ordered the sanctions, favored by the pro-Israel lobby as a means of pressing Iran to give up its suspected nuclear weapons program.

That drew sharp criticism from her competitors, who said the vote would embolden the Bush administration into waging war against Iran. She stood her ground.

"Iran is seeking nuclear weapons," she said in an Oct. 30 MSNBC-sponsored debate. "And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in the forefront of that, as they are in the sponsorship of terrorism."

She added: "I prefer vigorous diplomacy, and I happen to think economic sanctions are part of vigorous diplomacy."

It was straight from the pro-Israel playbook, and it illustrates what has attracted not only Jewish voter support but, perhaps even more substantively, Jewish fund-raiser support.
What's their problem with Barack Hussein Obama? I wonder.

January 05, 2008

Israel breaks promise, shock!

It's not really a shock, is it? What is a surprise is that Israel has admitted failing to honour its commitments. Here's al Jazeera with Olmert's refreshing openness:
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, called continued Israeli construction in West Bank settlements a breach of Israel's obligations under a peace plan revived in the US city of Annapolis last year.

Olmert's remarks, which appeared in an interview with the Jerusalem Post newspaper on Friday, came days before George Bush, the US president, arrives in the region.

Olmert acknowledged that Israel was not honouring its commitments.

He said: "There is a certain contradiction in this between what we are actually seeing and what we ourselves promised."

"Obligations are not only to be demanded of others, but they must also be honored by ourselves. So there is a certain problem here."
Are the settlements building themselves?

January 01, 2008

Same aim different year

I just wanted to do a post on new year's day for the sake of it really so I googled Israel to see what would come up and whadya know? Al Qaida wants to liberate Palestine and this time they're serious. Honestly, it's true. Look, here's the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
Israel is taking seriously a renewed threat by Osama bin Laden to attack it.

After Al-Qaida issued a recorded message this week vowing to "liberate Palestine" - a reference to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip - Israel stepped up its scrutiny of Palestinian terrorist groups.

"Al-Qaida has many admirers within Israel's borders, mainly in Judea and Samaria and Gaza," Tzahi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told Israel Radio on Monday.
Al-Qaida has admirers among Palestinians? Now why on (or off) earth might that be?