Tag Archives: Palestine

More chickens coming home to roost…

Truth Dig’s Barry Lando about the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and what I might call the next round of chickens coming home to roost.

With Friends like these, who needs Democracy?

The US are in a bit of a jam with facing the radical consequences of some of their best allies’ oppressive domestic policies. On the one hand the US relies on dodgy partners to keep a foot in the various strategically interesting regions of the world, not only to fight islamist terrorism and maintain a network of military bases around the world, but also to keep the doors open for US multinationals to earn themselves silly.

On the other hand, those same partners could hardly have more disregard for democratic principles, thus fostering local radical groups who–you guessed it–for lack of political alternatives, may end up joining religious fanatics as the only remaining opposition force in those countries.

Why does the current Tunisian people’s uprising against its dictator remind me of Algeria in the early 90s? Or the first free democratic elections in Gaza in 2006? I guess we’ll have to see if there will be new elections and if so, who gets all the votes and who of the international powers-that-be decide to accept the result of the elections, as they like to pretend they do. It is democracy at work, right?…

Granted, not all elections end up bringing peace-loving, harmony-seeking factions to power, but that is precisely the conondrum the western powers face: they’ve been scratching the backs and rocking the balls of dictators for too long to not be an accessory to creating the very radical atmosphere where such extreme groups evolve from. In short, they’ve been keeping the lids on those pots sealed a bit too tightly. And now that the chef’s gone and the lids on those pressure cookers are gradually popping off themselves,  they’re bound to end up making a mess in the kitchen… But even while the crap hits the ceiling, the US foreign and domestic policy is far from learning from its mistakes and from addressing lopsided power balances in the Middle East, for instance, or at home, to prevent the next outbreak of violence.

Assuming the Tunisian military actually agrees to hold free elections (not at all a sure thing), will the generals really throw open the doors to all political groups? Nationalists? Islamists? Marxists? Anti-militarists? What forces will roil to the surface after decades of political repression? Will they throw in their lot with America’s war against terror, or join the ranks of those in the Middle East who increasingly see what’s going on as America’s war against Islam? […]

There is no way, for instance, that Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 30 years, will permit a democratic opening. Thanks to his ironclad dictatorship, only one group has been able to organize politically, the Islamic radicals. More secular-minded opponents have been co-opted, imprisoned or cowed. The influence of the religious extremists has grown throughout the country. It’s only the military that stands between Mubarak and chaos.

Like a deer frozen in oncoming headlights, Washington seems immobilized. On the one hand, there’s the corrupt, despotic and failing Mubarak. But he’s a friend. On the other hand, free and fair elections would almost certainly bring leaders to power much more virulently anti-Israel and opposed to U.S. policies. Perhaps Washington is hoping for the Egyptian military to step in again to save itself and its privileges—and the U.S.

Elsewhere throughout the region, from Saudi Arabia to Jordan to Yemen to Ethiopia to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the picture seems markedly similar: U.S. allies are invariably corrupt dictators, maintained in power by lavish patronage and the military.

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Filed under CIA, Demokratie, ignance in power, Law and Ordure, [andbehold]

Israeli soldiers breaking the silence

It is an open secret that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank mocks the notion of Israel being a democracy. Well, unless you are a majority member of the Knesset, of course, or you’re on AIPAC’s payroll, then that would be outrageous news to you.

Criticism of the occupation can be heard from all sorts of people around the world, civilian and official, more notably from the International Court of Justice in The Hague to the World Bank and the UN General Assembly. The generic answer to the allegations usually take the “well, you don’t know what it’s like to be threatened by the Arab world” or the “we won’t let THAT happen to us again” approach, alluding to the Shoa, aka the Holocaust. In summary, people who protest against the occupation of Palestinian lands are labelled outsiders talking from a high horse, or as even outright hating Jews in general.

So it’s particularly refreshing to hear detailed, vivid reports of first-hand experience from people who should really know best: Israeli soldiers occupying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from 2000-2010. They are young kids doing their military service in order to grant Jewish settlers their boundless freedoms inside and around the settlements, which apparently means humiliating and brutalizing the Palestinian population for little or no reason at all, just to make sure they don’t start to feel at home on their land… or make it past the age of 40. So much most of us know already. But what that looks like in your everyday routine as a soldier of the “Israel Defense Force” comes to life in verbatim interviews with soldiers looking back at their service. If you’re going to believe anyone, it’s probably the people who committed the murders took part in the operations and pulled the triggers, beat the snot out of elderly villagers and just simply made regular, harmless people’s lives miserable. Because it would be too boring a day without. Take their word for it.

The NY Review of Books article is here.

An advance version of the book of interviews can be found here (pdf).

Read a (relatively harmless) excerpt now…

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Filed under but seriously..., Demokratie, ignance in power, Law and Ordure, lying bull, nadshots, Schöner Wohnen, [andbehold]

Palestinian Hip-Hop

Pretty good look around rappers on the eastern Mediterranean, from Israel to the Palestinian Occupied Territories, Syria, Lebanon, etc. With a few videos which feature captions in English.

Rapping in Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic by Robert Mackey in the NY Times.

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Filed under poetry, Schöner Wohnen, sing along, [andbehold]

People, not places

This month has finally seen the release of Invincible’s long-awaited video for her song “People Not Places”, which is a personal favourite of mine.

Ilana Weaver aka Invincible grew up in Israel until the age of about 8. Now representing Michigan, and Detroit in particular, she has evolved into an outspoken rapper, an activist and entrepreneuse who lends her voice to the downtrodden of this earth, besides making flatout ingenious music. In this song, Invincible reveals what Palestinians and those who care to find out have known for decades, but which is still ignored in large parts of Israeli society: the mechanism of appropriating land and extinguishing Arab names, people and culture to make the old Arab land new Israeli land.

Bottom line: while Ilana’s mother can afford to just miss “people, not places”, Palestinians whose land was stolen and whose families dispersed do not have that luxury. Without the land, the people have nothing to cultivate their roots in.

A great track that features Abeer Alzinaty on the hook and Suhell Nafar of DAM on a bonus verse. Both are some of the highest-ranking representatives of the budding Arab-Israeli hip-hop scene and they have been featured in the prize-winning and highly recommended documentary Slingshot Hip-Hop.

Click to watch the video...

Click to watch the video...

Read more on her own website.

Read the lyrics after this…

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Filed under but seriously..., ignance in power, Law and Ordure, lying bull, Schöner Wohnen, Schmiergeld, sing along, [andbehold]

Bibi says…

“If Israelis can’t build homes in the West Bank
then Palestinians shouldn’t be allowed to either.”

– Benjamin Netanyahu

The EU wants to improve relations with Israel on condition that the latter take concrete steps toward facilitating a Palestinian state. Which, by nature, means that Israelis would eventually need to haul ass out of the occupied territory which is the West Bank. But Topolanek, the Czech PM and this half-year’s president of the EU, has announced he won’t let that happen… Talking about window seats in history class. My suspicion is Topolanek made it through school on a sports scholarship…

Actually, Topolanek isn’t even the real Czeck PM anymore. He’s bout to get thrown out of his office after losing a vote of no confidence, but still in power as a “caretaker prime minister” until the new one moves in. Even the Czech don’t want him anymore. In terms of foreign policies, what Topolanek should do at this point is keep his mouth shut and get packing.

And Bibi’s ignorance and fanatism really starts to show through now (not that we’re surprised)…

He told the Czech leader he has no intention of halting the expansion of existing settlements. “I have no plans to build new settlements, but if someone wants to build a new home [in an existing one], I don’t think there’s a problem.” He characterized the West Bank as “disputed territory” over which negotiations must be held.

From Haaretz

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Mister Amnesia

There’s a terrible disease out there which is predominantly found in politicians and other public figures. I’m not a doctor, but my diagnosis is that it’s a dangerously widespread case of instant nostalgia favoured by selective memory loss and a deep wish to be loved after all with which passing statesmen look back onto their careers and manage to not only directly contradict everything they’ve ever done while they still had the power to get things sorted out,  but also have the nerve to build themselves an instant monument in the hope of being remembered as one of the well-meaners, and not as the cheap, lying cowards and corrupted bastards they really were.

Exhibit A: Ehud Olmert. (The list is long. Let’s start out small.)

Former mayor of Jerusalem, now about to end his short-cut career as interim Prime Minister of Israel. He was put in charge after Ariel Sharon fell into a coma in 2006 (speaking of whom, here’s a way of dodging criticism…) Recurring allegations of corruption have made Olmert choose to call for new elections a bit earlier. (Not that the next batch of old faces is any better, mind you.)

First, from the NY Review of Books:

Olmert, who served as deputy prime minister in the Kadima-led government, assumed the premiership in 2006 when Sharon suffered a stroke. He announced his intention to resign this July amid a growing corruption scandal and a dismal public approval rating that never recovered from his failed 2006 war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

[…]

Olmert: “I said it five years ago, in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, and I’ll say it to you today: we have a window of opportunity—a short amount of time before we enter an extremely dangerous situation—in which to take a historic step in our relations with the Palestinians and a historic step in our relations with the Syrians. In both instances, the decision we have to make is the decision we’ve spent forty years refusing to look at with our eyes open.

We must make these decisions, and yet we are not prepared to say to ourselves, “Yes, this is what we must do.” We must reach an agreement with the Palestinians, meaning a withdrawal from nearly all, if not all, of the [occupied] territories. Some percentage of these territories would remain in our hands, but we must give the Palestinians the same percentage [of territory elsewhere]—without this, there will be no peace.”

Despite this case of unblinking revisionism and blatant repositioning at a time when he just missed the opportunity to maybe NOT build the odd settlement for a change, and he’s had a lot of settlements built and extended, each new house being another “no way dude” in the face of Israeli withdrawal,  Time Magazine ends up buying his crocodile tears and makes Olmert’s look back a “swan song of historical importance.” As if the Palestinians needed yet another instance of teary-eyed lip services.

The realism behind Olmert’s change of heart is of tremendous import, summed up by one sentence: “The international community is starting to view Israel as a future binational state.” In other words, forget about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats to wipe Israel off the map. Echoing views he initially expressed in 2003, Olmert reasons that without an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, the Jewish state faces the self-inflicted, mortal danger of being destroyed by demographics, overwhelmed by Muslim and Christian Arabs demanding political representation. Olmert fears that the international community could ultimately favor a one-state solution, thus spelling the death of the two-state partition that has been at the core of an acceptable Israeli-Palestinian solution for decades. “Time is not on Israel’s side,” Olmert says. “I used to believe that everything from the Jordan River bank to the Mediterranean Sea was ours … But eventually, after great internal conflict, I’ve realized we have to share this land with the people who dwell here — that is, if we don’t want to be a binational state.”

How cute to realize that time is not on Israel’s side. I bet waiting for better times is 100 times easier to take while you’re floating in your swimming pool in your state-subsidised settlement home, surrounded by green lawns and palmtrees and the army watching your ass than standing outside on the road, enduring the umpteenth cavity search so you can go see your aunt on the other side of town.

But there’s hope that not everybody’s buying Olmert’s sob story. In fact, it seems that everybody in Israel and the Territories has his own reason for exclaiming “good riddance.” Four views on bitterlemons.org.

Or to just quote from Ghassan Khatib’s farewell:

Ehud Olmert, who was elected three years ago as prime minister of Israel, will be remembered here as someone with an unprecedented and unique ability to combine peaceful and positive rhetoric with hostile and aggressive action vis-a-vis the Palestinians and Arabs in general.

A veteran supporter of the “greater Israel” ideology, Olmert nevertheless declared his intention to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and allow for the emergence of a Palestinian state after he was elected prime minister. In practical terms, however, he proved to be among those who did the most on the ground to prevent the possibility of two states ever emerging.

[…]

Olmert probably got away with the many contradictions between his rhetoric and actions because of the presence of an extremely biased American president. President Bush managed to confuse the terrorist organizations responsible for the September 11 attacks on the US–who were roundly condemned by everyone, including in the Arab and Muslim world–with the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people to end the illegal and belligerent military occupation of their homeland. As a result he was exploited fully by the Israeli leaders present during his term in office, Sharon and Olmert.

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