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Thursday, January 27, 2005

on so-called "torture" in detention centers

scott horton writes:

"This so-called ill treatment and torture in detention centers, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners who were freed ... were not, as some assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual prison guards, their deputies, and men who laid violent hands on the detainees."

Most people who hear this quote today assume it was uttered by a senior officer of the Bush administration. Instead, it comes from one of history's greatest mass murderers, Rudolf Hoess, the SS commandant at Auschwitz. Such a confusion demonstrates the depth of the United States' moral dilemma in its treatment of detainees in the war on terror.

full article here.

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lest we forget...

today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of auschwitz-birkenau concentration/death camp, where three of my grandparents spent time in their youth. i'm suppressing my anger that mass murderers like dick cheney are scoring political points by pretending to pay their pretended respects, in the interests of the more important thing, which is remembering.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

photos from palestine

check 'em out.

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web resource: IHL in the occupied palestinian territory

lots of documents about international humanitarian law. free registration required.

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a fraud fit for... a prime minister?

a few days ago i blogged about the martin luther king hoax - the fabricated letter in which dr. king denounces anti-zionism as anti-semitism. today, in his disgraceful speech at the knesset's commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of auschwitz, prime minister ariel sharon cited the fake letter.

"Many of the manifestations of anti-Semitism in the past years are no longer aimed just at Jews as individuals. Rather, they are aimed at the embodiment of all Jews - the State of Israel, the Jewish state. As early as 1967, in A Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend, Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that anti-Zionism is no less than disguised anti-Semitism.

I quote, "The times have made it unpopular in the West, to proclaim openly a hatred of the Jews. This being the case, the anti-Semite must constantly seek new forms and forums for his poison. He does not hate the Jews, he is just anti-Zionist! My friend, when people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews - make no mistake about it.""


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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

the stock market speaks

i wrote up a post in prose, but as i went to save the draft, blogger fucked it up and i lost it. i don't have time or energy to do it again (i'm lying in bed on tuesday morning) , so i'll write it up in point form.

- israel has been assassinating palestinian political and military leaders
- this is criminal activity - it clearly violates the 4th geneva convention, but this post is about the pragmatics of it
- israel: these assassinations are justified on the grounds that they increase security
- sensible people: they undermine israeli security by inviting retaliation
- israeli stock market (new study): they undermine israeli security.
- the facts: the israeli stock market dips immediately after israel assassinates palestinians political leaders, suggesting that the ruling class anticipates a worsened security situation.
- confirming this explanation for the drop is the differential between different sorts of companies. while retail companies are reduced in value, companies producing perimeter defense products soar. in fact, their response to assassination of palestinian political leaders is twice as strong as their response to palestinian attacks - a 5.6% rise as opposed to a 2.7% rise. unfortunately the article doesn't go into details on these differences
- the palestinian stock market dips after attacks on israeli civilians, suggesting the same conclusions.
- the israeli market - and perimeter defense products - improve after assassinations of military, as opposed to political figures, suggesting that the israeli rulers believe that these actually improve the security situation.



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Saturday, January 22, 2005

let america be america again

a poem by gay (probably) black american,  langston "what happens to a

dream deferred?" hughes, published in 1936.

it was read at various protests against bush's inauguration.
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

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old apartheid law used in massive land grab

thought race-based thievery by states was a thing of the past? then you're not giving israeli enough credit for its audacity.

a correpondent for ha'aretz reports that last july, israel quietly applied the absentee property law to palestinians living in east jerusalem - a fact that only emerged in the last few days. this "law" had been used following the conquest of israel in 1948 to transfer the land, which had mostly been owned by individual palestinians, to the state of israel. this was one of the key race-based "laws" that facilitated the conversion of a palestinian country into a jewish one. (i use scare quotes around words like "law" because it's questionable whether such apartheid policies are legal, even when enacted by states.)

the haaretz article misleads by leaving out the racial character of the "law". it's bad enough that it lets the state steal people's land, but what makes it worse is that it applies to palestinians but not to jews. in this way it is a key plank of the apartheid system, as described by uri davis in two books: israel: an apartheid state, and apartheid israel: possibilities for the struggle within.

one ironic bit of this is that the "law", as its name suggests, was originally promulgated to strip property away from actual absentees - people who, due to being expelled, were not able to be on their land. some of the "absentees" were eventually able to return to israel in one way or another, but were still classified as absentees in order to deprive them of their property - in fact, they are classified with the oxymoron "present absentees". with the application of the "law" to east jerusalem, all of the "absentees" are actually present, and in fact had no idea that it had been stolen from them until the state routed the apartheid wall between their homes and their erstwhile fields. when they went to complain, they were informed that the fields were no longer theirs, as they are "absentees".

the best part of the haaretz article is the candidness of an israeli official, nailing the reality of the israeli "legal" system:

"It's not fair that a man becomes an absentee because his tie to his land has been cut without his doing. But morality is one thing, and what is written in our laws another."


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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

avigail abarbanel on what "peace" really means to israelis

avigail abarbanel, a psychotherapist by trade, applies her skills to the analysis of the psychological aspects of the israel/palestine conflict. here's part of a text that i lifted from thecutter's weblog.

In family therapy there is an accepted principle that unless serious injustices are addressed, there cannot be real peace. Families that protect dark secrets always pay a heavy price. I watched Israeli intellectuals on TV engage in genuine discussion trying to analyse and understand why things are so bad in Israel. They raised every possible reason for the situation other than the most obvious one – Israel’s history. It was excruciating to watch but also familiar. I have never seen a society so steeped in denial as Israeli society.

The entire spectrum of Israeli politics is in denial about Israel’s history and this is why I do not have much faith in the Israeli Left. The handful that are not in denial like Dr Ilan Pappe who visited Australia last year, or Dr Uri Davis exist outside this spectrum. Their research into the events of 1948 and the circumstances surrounding the birth of the state of Israel is not discussed on public television and is not in Israeli history books. The average Israeli does not even know who they are. Although published by reputable publishers like Cambridge University Press, Dr Pappe’s books have so far been refused publication in Hebrew. The reason offered is that they lack academic merit... The way most Israelis perceive their own history is as if they have always been the weak victim. The question of whether or not it was morally right or even wise to create a state at the expense of another people is never raised.

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the destruction of gaza

peter hansen, the (reportedly) outgoing commissioner-general of UNRWA, the united nations relief and works agency, spoke recently about the horrendous situation in gaza.

“If you wanted to go into Gaza today you wouldn’t be able to because there are tanks along all along the main road to Gaza. All along the road you will see houses that have been bulldozed. As you move down through Gaza the situation gets even worse,” Hansen stated. “As you approach the southern end of Gaza - where Kann Yunis and Rafah have seen continued destruction, where the numbers of people who have been made homeless by bulldozers exceeds 25,000 - we have managed to re-house 8,000 of them but we are fighting a losing battle. We can not build as fast as the destruction takes place. So, Gaza is in a very, very poor state. Everybody there hopes that this conflict can end so not only their suffering can end but the deprivation of a dignified human life after decades.”
full article here.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

games conquerers play

angry white kid and lisa have blogged about kate raphael bender, who was arrested in palestine and brought before an israeli judge (this is a criminal offense on israel's part, i believe) who ordered her deported. the judge refused to hear an appeal because while she was in jail awaiting her trial, kate's visa expired. in her words:

To lock up a non-violent human rights activist until the day her visa has expired, deny her request to move the hearing so she would have time left on her visa, and then say she has no right to appeal because her visa has lapsed is conduct we would expect from a totalitarian regime, not a country which wants to be called a democracy.
apparently kate's appeal focused on the illegality of the arrest, conducted as they were in areas that israel agreed during oslo would be sovereign palestinian areas by now. no doubt the judge would have found a reason to dismiss the argument. but by behaving in a totalitarian fashion, he or she avoided even hearing it.

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an american refusenik

my cyber-friend carl may be imprisoned for deserting the US military. a veteran of many years, his three-year term of service in the texas army national guard was extended against his will under bush's stop-loss program. a conscientious objector who sees the war against iraq as imperialist, he did not report for duty. instead, he is looking into possible legal action against the united states government.

check out carl's blog here.

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the insanity continues

sy hersh's article on the bush administration's foreign policy strategy for the next four years.

the introduction:

George W. Bush’s re-election was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control—against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism—during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as “facilitators” of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way.

Despite the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Bush Administration has not reconsidered its basic long-range policy goal in the Middle East: the establishment of democracy throughout the region. Bush’s reëlection is regarded within the Administration as evidence of America’s support for his decision to go to war. It has reaffirmed the position of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership who advocated the invasion, including Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Douglas Feith, the Under-secretary for Policy. According to a former high-level intelligence official, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly after the election and told them, in essence, that the naysayers had been heard and the American people did not accept their message. Rumsfeld added that America was committed to staying in Iraq and that there would be no second-guessing.

“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”

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Monday, January 17, 2005

a fraud fit for a king

i take the title of this entry from an article by tim wise, who exposed "letter to an anti-zionist friend", an attack on anti-zionism that was supposedly written by martin luther king jr., as a hoax.

another article, by fadi kiblawi and will youmans, casts doubt on claims by seymour lipset and earl lewis that MLK once reprimanded a questioner who criticized zionism and told him it he was "talking anti-semitism". the authors find no evidence that dr. king spoke in boston or cambridge before his death in 1968, which are the place and year given for the alleged remark.

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the MLK you don't get to see

critical montages reminds us of the side of rev. martin luther king that the corporate outlets ignore: the one who before his death was a class warrior, organizing a multiracial coalition of poor people to march on washington and demand an economic bill of rights, and who was bitterly critical of US imperialism, both in its military form, as expressed in the war against vietnam, and its economic form.

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dehumanization of israelis

in intense ethnic conflicts, usually a lot of dehumanization goes on, and the israel/palestine conflict is no exception. arabs are dehumanized in israeli media and public discourse, israelis are demonized in palestinian media and public discourse. one asymmetry between oppressor and oppressed is that in order to be the oppressor, israelis must also dehumanize themselves. those who watch the israeli army know that the kids who serve in the occupied territories often have to drive themselves out of their own minds in order to do the things they do. as with american GIs in vietnam, many soldiers abuse drugs while on active duty. it's well-known that those who can afford it will often follow up their army stint with either a series of visits to their psychiatrist, or on the beaches of goa in a drug-induced haze. i don't know if this is backed up empirically, but anecdotes have it that physical abuse of spouses spikes in post-military situations.

in a a recent interview in the israeli daily maariv, soldiers speak out about their mental state while in "service":

"It takes time to understand that for three years we weren't normal people", says K., a first-sergeant who served in the Engineering Corps' Yael reconnaissance unit. "We were like zombies. We didn't make decisions independently. We did things without prior thought. If I'd been told - and I was told - to hit some old woman in the stomach with my rifle-butt, to get her to shut up, I would have done it without thinking at all. No problems".
whatever one thinks of the ethics of the palestinians' attacks on civilians, it seems that this sort of self-dehumanization doesn't take place. i'm finally getting around to reading fanon's the wretched of the earth, where he argues that the colonized person in fact humanizes herself through violence. my mind's not made up on this, and i understand that hannah arendt takes a very different view from fanon - i'll be reading her book on violence once i'm through with fanon.



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Saturday, January 15, 2005

new comments facility

i was asked to switch to the haloscan comments facility, which apparently has some advantages that i didn't bother to try to understand.

to prevent there being two separate comments facilities, i suppressed the blogger comments. that means that previously posted comments are now invisible. if you find this terribly distressing, e-mail me and i'll see what i can do.

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

israelis will vote in iraqi elections

thanks to the angry arab news service for bringing this to my attention.

according to an article in ha'aretz, all people who can prove they or their fathers were born in iraq will be eligible to vote in the upcoming elections. this will include hundreds of thousands of israelis.

i applaud this broadening of democracy, and urge the adoption of this principle in other countries. for example, the millions of palestinian refugees who were born in israel or whose fathers were born in israel should be allowed to vote in israeli elections.

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the hunt is over

the search for the weapons of mass destruction - bush's main excuse for the conquest of iraq - has ended. the search for the holy grail continues.

in some alternate world, the bush administration took responsibility for its actions, the democrats took responsibility for their inaction, and the US media took responsibility for helping the government deceive the public. unfortunately this alternate world remains distant from ours.

see satire here.

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israeli interference in the palestinian election

graham usher reports in al-ahram about some of the ways in which israel interfered with elections in the occupied territories. these include:

- allowing freedom of movement for their candidate, mahmoud abbas, but not other candidates.

- not allowing some gazans to vote

- not allowing prisoners to vote

- forcing most east jerusalem voters to travel to the west bank to vote

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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

found art

found on oz shelach's website oznik. originally found on a bathroom wall on an israeli military base. works much better in hebrew.

Take away this uniform
That ruined my life
Take away this beret

That got me locked away
Take my Army ID
I don't want it anymore
Let me just see a Mental Health Officer
That'll get me outa here.
i've added the refuser watch counter provided by oznik. it also works better in hebrew. instead of "courage to refuse" it reads "justice will be victorious".

the poem transliterated:

kxu li tamadim
sheharsu li taxayim
kxu li takumta
shebiglala ani bata
kxu li taxoger
lo rotse oto yoter
tnu li rak lirot kaban
sheyotsi oti mikan

transliteration note: "x" represents a velar fricative, as in "bach"

prosodic notes:
- primary stress is always on the last syllable of the word, but the word "li" is never stressed.
- feet are iambic, constructed from right-to-left. i.e. last syllable of every line is stressed; third last syllable of every line is stressed, etc.
- exception: in the three lines beginning with "she", there is no stress before the last syllable of the first word.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

why rebels must be middle class (and white)

thanks to mark elf i've become aware of the case of tali fahima, an israeli woman put in administrative detention for being in contact with the leader of a militant palestinian group. daphna baram asks why fahima, and not the many other israelis who talk to palestinian militants, was punished, and suggests a plausible answer: israeli dissidents must be white and middle class, while ms fahima is mizrahi and grew up poor. as she doesn't fit the standard profile of the questioning middle class academic, she sets a particularly bad example. baram lists a couple of other mizrahi dissidents who were singled out for harsh punishments: rami hasson and mordechai vanunu.

for an introductory text on europeans and mizrahim in israel, see here. for more in-depth material, read ella shohat, who challenges the mutual exclusiveness of "arab" and "jew", identifying herself as an "arab jew".

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Monday, January 10, 2005

as the election distracts, the annexation proceeds

friday's haaretz contains a story by aluf benn describing the booming construction in the settlement bloc of gush etzion, where i used to live. settlement expansion has been constant throughout the "peace process" while never receiving the appropriate level of attention in the press and in public pronouncements. as the world is distracted by the election spectacle that has failed to excite palestinians and by the gaza "disengagement", israel is quietly expanding its west bank settlements with the tacit support of american leaders, although the construction is in violation of promises sharon made to george bush (and less importantly, a war crime). the facts that are beginning to be established on the ground are: (1) the west bank will be split into two by a corridor of jewish settlements, and (2) the annexation wall will form the new border between israel and the palestinian territories. the article also introduces a term that i hadn't heard before, "the blue line":


"At the Defense Ministry they have completed the demarcation of the "Blue Line," which will establish the boundaries of Jewish settlement in the West Bank."

as informed people know, israel never intended to accept a palestinian state with the border on the green line, which is the line determined by the armistice agreements following the 1948 war, and which world opinion has traditionally favored as the border for the two state solution. when israel agrees to return to negotiations, we can expect that the presuppositions will include everything between the green line and the annexation wall as belonging to israel, and everything within the blue line as "disputed" area that the palestinians must compromise over if they're serious about peace.

article highlights:

"The official level is advancing the declaration of state lands in the A-1 plan to link Jerusalem to Ma'aleh Adumim, which is perceived on the left as a deathblow to the final status agreement because it will cut the northern West Bank off from the southern part and prevent the Palestinian state from having essential territorial contiguity."

"According to Peace Now, the main building effort in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank is now focused on the area between the Green Line and the separation fence, and it is aimed at turning the fence into Israel's permanent border. There are many signs of this on the ground. The huge gate that has been set up in the fence near Alfei Menashe, on the road that goes up to Karnei Shomron and Kedumim, looks like a border crossing point and not like a temporary barrier, even though the smiling female soldiers there make do with hearing the drivers speak Hebrew and don't ask for identification."

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Friday, January 07, 2005

donating to tsunami relief efforts?

i just made my donation through via campesina, an alliance of peasant, fisher and landless peasants organizations. from their website:

The relief philosophy of Via Campesina is that these communities should participate actively and be the key actors in the re-construction process, and that their fisherfolk and peasant organizations should play a key mobilizing and supporting role. Via Campesina wants to give these communities and their organizations the political support they need in this process, and to help get them the funds they need for reconstruction. The funds raised in this campaign will be used to strengthen local communities as the key actors in this process. The success of local, self-organized, civil society disaster relief efforts in previous disasters in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, contrasted with government inefficiency and top-down, demobilizing programs, has often marked a key stage in the empowerment and growth of large, popular, grassroots, civil society social movements by which previously marginalized people take control of their own lives. Let us work together to help those in need at this time, and let us do so in ways that help build self-sufficiency, grassroots organization, and peoples power for the future.

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

once upon a time in the middle east

by Adel Darwish

A scorpion pleads with a hesitant water buffalo to give him a ride across a deep river. Assuming the common interest of crossing the water will ensure his safety, the buffalo agrees. Mid-stream he feels the pain of the scorpion's sting. "Why did you sting me, you idiot? You have killed us both !" were the dying buffalo's last words. The drowning scorpion shrugged his shoulders as he replied: "I don't know! This is the Middle East."

(pertinent to my last post - jazzman)

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abu mazen vs barghouti

haithem el-zabri compares the two frontrunners for leader of the palestinian authority, calling abbas israel's man and barghouti a breath of fresh air for the palestinians. however, arjan el-fassed reports that like abbas, barghouti has failed to excite the palestinian public and is stalled at 20% in the polls. a "man on the street" that he interviews describes the election as a choice between america's man and europe's man.

to be perfectly frank, the choice seems very clear to me, and i can't fathom why palestinians would opt for a collaborator over a dedicated humanitarian and champion of resistance. but then, middle east politics is full of such mysteries.

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barghouti campaign: israel murders campaign volunteer

(anyone see media coverage of this? not me - jazzman)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Release No. 10
1 January 2005

Young Volunteer Shot Dead by Israeli Army while Campaigning for Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi

On the morning of Thursday, 30 December 2004, Riziq Ziad Musleh, a 17-year-old Palestinian high school student, left his home in the Tel al-Sultan Refugee Camp near the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. He was placing posters on a wall near his home for Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi's presidential campaign when, without any warning or incident, he was shot in his right side from the direction of the Rafah Yam* Israeli settlement. An observation tower manned by Israeli soldiers is located in the settlement, about 500 yards from where Riziq was standing.

The bullet lodged in Riziq's heart. He was taken to the Abu Yusef al-Najjar hospital in Rafah, where he was pronounced dead at 11:00 p.m. that night.

A formal complaint about this tragic event and other serious harassment faced by Palestinian presidential campaigners, volunteers, and candidates has been lodged with the EU Election Observation Mission.

We call for immediate intervention by the international community to stop all assaults on presidential candidates, volunteers, and campaigners by Israeli forces. We call once again on the international community to make sure that the Israeli government lives up to its promise of allowing free and fair elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in the best interests of peace, justice, and democracy for all peoples in the region.

We also call for serious and sustained pressure by the international community on the Israeli government to end policies at the highest levels that foster the atmosphere of immunity that allows and encourages such egregious assaults on the most basic rights and freedoms of Palestinian people.
________________________
* The Rafah Yam settlement was established in 1984 on expropriated Tel al-Sultan land, and in 2001 it was occupied by 134 Israeli settlers. Source: Peace Now Settlement Watch, 31-12-2001

To contact Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, call: +972 (0)59 674 411

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imperialism and colonialism

michael brenner wrote the following in the comments section of the post on dershowitz:

"But Israel as colonial, imperialist state? Why, because Israel relies on big countries? What country in the Middle East doesn't? The Arabs relied on the Soviet Union during the Cold War and owe their statehoods to European colonial powers. What's the crime of Israelis except being too white for you? And what about the Israelis who hail from Arab countries, from which many were forced out? Also colonialist/imperialists?"

i think it's a fair question. rather than post a long comment, i'll post my thoughts as a blog entry.

there's more to the "colonialist/imperialist" analysis than reliance on big countries. i would really recommend the two books which i mentioned - "the question of palestine" and "the fateful triangle" - but i'll summarize my thoughts very briefly here.

first, the analysis is not about individual israelis. i wouldn't say that the jews forced out from arab countries are colonialists/imperialists, but then i wouldn't say it of the european jews either - most of them didn't go to israel because they shared the zionist vision - they went because they were forced out of europe. my grandparents, for example, moved to israel from czechoslovakia after WWII, and were virtually refugees. nobody physically forced them out, but it was impossible after returning from the camps to go on with life as usual, and the whole jewish community was leaving. i understand that the same sort of situation is mostly what caused most jews from iraq, tunisia and other arab countries to leave in the late 40's and early '50's. i imagine the same would tend to be true of colonizing people in general - they're the people who are most motivated to leave the home country, often because they're persecuted there. my point is that the analysis of israel as colonialist/imperialist is an analysis of the israeli state and its relationship to the world's main imperial power, the united states.

second, i wouldn't consider the arab states on the whole to be imperialist or colonial states (i'd say iraq is, but that's a different story). israel is a colonial state because it was set up by a group of invading foreigners with an agenda of getting rid of the natives, and because it's a european jewish state in a land that has been predominantly non-jewish and non-european up until very
recently. the arab states *used* to be colonial states when the foreigners still ruled them, either by being in direct control, or from behind an "arab facade" like the british in india. the arab states currently, despite their many flaws, are not racially exclusive states ruled by a foreign ethnic group. that's why israel is a colonial state and the arab states are not. the fact that their borders and much of their form were set by the conquerers is not that significant a fact in this context, i don't think.

as for the imperialism part, i would argue that that the relationship between israel and the US is qualitatively different from the relationship between egypt and the US or saudi arabia and the US. egypt and saudi arabia get money to keep quiet, repress their populations, and keep the oil flowing. israel (and turkey, and iran before the revolution, and iraq before the invasion of kuwait) were local projections of US military power, hence much more directly tools of imperialism.

but even further, israel is a mini-imperial power on its own in the middle east. it has at some point or other violated the territory of each of its neighbors (palestine, egypt, jordan, syria, lebanon) and has occupied, long-term, the territories of four of those five nations (west bank, gaza strip, sinai, golan heights, southern lebanon). so while it serves US imperial interests, it also uses military conquest to further its own ambitious territorial agenda.

it's possible that back in the day, the relationship between say, the USSR and egypt, was similar to the modern-day relationship between the US and israel. if so, then arguably egypt was imperialist at the time. i don't know so much about that relationship, but in my understanding the USSR's posture in the middle east was rather defensive, since the oil states "belonged" to the US.

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Yesh Gvul
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