Bill Maher asks Michael Oren whether ‘being an Occupier has changed the Jewish people,’ but Mar 22, 2011 09:04 pm | Susie Kneedler
lets slide Israeli Ambassador Oren's promise that "we want Palestinians to have their own state," if they "recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people." In this segment last week, Maher, oblivious to the rights of Palestinian citizens, as well as to Palestinian refugees' Right of Return under International Law, shows that a supposed free-thinker unfettered by facts can make a propagandist look good inventing them.
Maher doesn't know enough to name the falsehoods, but plays the smart-aleck. He cuddles Oren as chummily as any neo-con could. Rather than challenge Oren to explain Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's support for tyranny over democracy in Arab countries, Maher allows Oren to enthuse that "We've been proud to be the only democracy and we'd be prouder still to be one of many." Even Maher's terms are regressive: "two Semitic peoples"; "Arabs" not "Palestinians." Maher smears Palestinian peacemakers by likening Israel "freezing settlements" to "a Palestinian ceasefire, which is another way of 're-loading.'"
Maher jokes about what he and Oren have in common: New Jersey childhoods, Jewish mothers and the consequent possibility of a Jewish identity. Meanwhile Maher tries to prove his neutrality with a crack about "a Jew betting his own money." But Maher refuses to ask what entitles an American like Oren to confiscate others' land, merely because one view of Judaism decrees it's "his" homeland. Maher does cite the Palestine Papers, but lets Oren weasel out of whether Israel is the side "missing the opportunity." Oren simply lies: Israel froze its "settlements," but Palestinians wouldn't "come to the negotiating table."
Maher ignores Oren's many contradictions, that: "settlements aren't the issue" but Israelis realize that there's "no alternative but to share" the land; that Oren grew up "American," but "I do come from Jerusalem"; that "first you've got to move there" [Israel], but it's the country that pushes out Palestinians every day; that Israelis view Palestine as "sacred land, our tribal land," but "Israel's not a theocracy"--because a "transsexual singer" represents Israel at Eurovision; that Israel believes that "there's no alternative to direct negotiations," but ignores the demands of International Law.
When Maher asks how "an American kid" wound up as Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Oren waxes nostalgic about being 15 and hearing Yitzhak Rabin speak. Maher never inquires into why a foreign country and its ambassador so moved young Oren.
Maher betrays all who care about human rights by cheering on Oren's mask as pursuer of peace. Maher donates applause lines to Oren, deceiving an audience that does in fact crave peace. Lastly he panders, thanking Oren "for puttin' up with me."
Saddest was Maher describing how--while filming the last scene of "Religulous"--he and his crew ate at a Palestinian shop in Megiddo. There, Maher (though he didn't know it) experienced the famous hospitality of the Palestinian people to all comers. But Maher expresses no gratitude for Palestinian generosity. Instead he quips that "Our security people were very nervous," "we were all very nervous..." [off camera, Oren exclaims, "Reeally?," though Israeli propaganda continually seeks to scare Americans about a Palestinian menace] "...[But] they were thrilled to have us as customers and we were thrilled to eat their food," and "they didn't seem to hate us."
Yet Bill Maher doesn't leap out of prejudice to human feeling. He's so busy proving his skepticism that he overplays religion, advancing Oren's agenda. Maher avers, "These are two Semitic peoples, who, if it wasn't for these silly, ancient texts from ancient desert-dwellers, have a lot more in common and really wouldn't hate each other." "Desert-dwellers"? Trying to prove his iconoclasm, Maher shows his prejudice, projecting the Zionist hatred of Palestinian people onto its victims. Palestinians aren't the ones using old dogma to defend their rights. The government of Israel, Michael Oren and PM Netanyahu--not the indigenous people--claim the turf of Palestine based on "the last 3000 years" of belief. The Palestinians don't need to. Palestine is their actual home, their true land--not their mythical "homeland."
Maher laughingly offers Oren his peaceful solution: "What about a 'time share': it works beautifully in Miami--you have it six months of the year, the Palestinians have it six months of the year?...No?" Complete with inside-levity, Maher's mockery shows him refusing to imagine beyond "separation"--"Apartheid"--to obvious justice: equal rights for all.
The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance. Both groups extol the virtues of democracy, both groups believe that U.S. power -- and especially its military power -- can be a highly effective tool of statecraft. Both groups are deeply alarmed at the prospect that WMD might be in the hands of anybody but the United States and its closest allies, and both groups think it is America's right and responsibility to fix lots of problems all over the world. Both groups consistently over-estimate how easy it will be to do this, however, which is why each has a propensity to get us involved in conflicts where our vital interests are not engaged and that end up costing a lot more than they initially expect.
So if you're baffled by how Mr. "Change You Can Believe In" morphed into Mr. "More of the Same," you shouldn't really be surprised. George Bush left in disgrace and Barack Obama took his place, but he brought with him a group of foreign policy advisors whose basic world views were not that different from the people they were replacing. I'm not saying their attitudes were identical, but the similarities are probably more important than the areas of disagreement. Most of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has become addicted to empire, it seems, and it doesn't really matter which party happens to be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue.
So where does this leave us? For starters, Barack Obama now owns not one but two wars. He inherited a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, and he chose to escalate instead of withdrawing. Instead of being George Bush's mismanaged blunder, Afghanistan became "Obama's War." And now he's taken on a second, potentially open-ended military commitment, after no public debate, scant consultation with Congress, without a clear articulation of national interest, and in the face of great public skepticism. Talk about going with a gut instinct.
When the Security Council passed Resolution 1973 last week and it was clear we were going to war, I credited the administration with letting Europe and the Arab League take the lead in the operation. My fear back then, however, was that the Europeans and Arab states would not be up to the job and that Uncle Sucker would end up holding the bag. But even there I gave them too much credit, insofar as U.S. forces have been extensively involved from the very start, and the Arab League has already gone wobbly on us. Can anyone really doubt that this affair will be perceived by people around the world as a United States-led operation, no matter what we say about it?...
But the real lesson is what it tells us about America's inability to resist the temptation to meddle with military power. Because the United States seems so much stronger than a country like Libya, well-intentioned liberal hawks can easily convince themselves that they can use the mailed fist at low cost and without onerous unintended consequences. When you have a big hammer the whole world looks like a nail; when you have thousand of cruise missiles and smart bombs and lots of B-2s and F-18s, the whole world looks like a target set. The United States doesn't get involved everywhere that despots crack down on rebels (as our limp reaction to the crackdowns in Yemen and Bahrain demonstrate), but lately we always seems to doing this sort of thing somewhere. Even a smart guy like Barack Obama couldn't keep himself from going abroad in search of a monster to destroy.
Five family members killed on soccer field as Gaza fire escalates Mar 22, 2011 02:59 pm | Kate
and other news from Today in Palestine:
5 dead, others injured as Israel shells Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 17:43 -- A child, teenager and three adults were killed and others injured by Israeli artillery fire which hit a home east of Gaza City on Tuesday afternoon, the second shelling and third hit of the day ... Adham Abu Salmiya, spokesman of the higher committee of ambulance and emergency services, said members of the Al-Hilu family were playing football outside of their home when the shell hit. Eyewitnesses said ambulances took the injured to Ash-Shifa hospital in Gaza city. Medics identified the dead as: Muhammad Jihad Al-Hilu, 11; Yasser Ahed Al-Hilu, 16; Muhammad Saber Harara, 20; Yasser Hamer Al-Hilu, 50. A fifth remains unidentified. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=371286
Israeli artillery, strike injure 2 east of Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 15:09 -- Israeli artillery fire and a drone strike injured two Palestinians Tuesday in separate incidents east of Gaza City, after a night of heavy shelling on the Strip that injured 18. Shortly before 10 a.m. artillery fire injured one man in the Ash-Shuja‘iyya neighborhood, just after witnesses reported Israeli vehicles penetrating the Gaza Strip in the area ... In a second incident that took place before noon, a man was critically injured by a drone strike in the same area. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=371085
Jets strike Gaza after Hamas offers truce
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 01:59 -- Israeli warplanes targeted sites across the Gaza Strip late Monday injuring at least 17 people including seven children, witnesses and medics said ... An airstrike in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City caused considerable damage but no injuries, residents said, and at least two other nearby areas came under fire, a Ma‘an correspondent said ... Among the targets were a police post and a training facility of Hamas' military wing, said the Al-Qassam Brigades which earlier offered to stop cross-border fire into Israel if the Israelis halted attacks on Gaza. The Al-Qassam Brigades, which lobbed about 50 mortar rounds into Israel on Saturday, made the offer in a statement released after Israeli aircraft raided the enclave earlier on Monday evening. It said Saturday's barrage had been in response to an Israeli strike last week which killed two of its members, but that it was ready to call an end to the tit-for-tat violence if Israel also did so. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=371003
Gaza: Militant group calls for coordinated response to strikes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar -- Spokesman for the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine's armed wing condemned Tuesday the recent string of Israeli air strikes targeting the Gaza Strip. Abu Khaled, speaking on behalf of the National Resistance Brigades, accused Israel of using the strikes as an attempt to block the progress of Palestinian reconciliation. "Military units should coordinate, and determine together how to respond to such attacks," the official said in a statement. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=371014
Person of the Book / Bernard Avishai
21 Mar -- Munther M. Fahmi, better known as Munzer to every visitor to the American Colony Hotel's bookshop, is a Jerusalem institution ... Munzer was born in Jerusalem in 1954. When Israelis conquered Jerusalem in 1967, he was given (like the rest of the Arab population in East Jerusalem) an Israeli resident ID card -- not citizenship, but the right to live in the city of his birth. In 1975, Munzer left Jerusalem to continue his university education in the US, where he graduated, started a business, married, and fathered a child. In the mid-nineties, "intoxicated with prospects of peace after the signing of the Oslo agreement," Munzer flew home and was told at the airport in Tel-Aviv that his Jerusalem ID had been revoked ... [The Interior Ministry] invoked a law that strips any "resident of Jerusalem" who holds a foreign passport and has left for seven years of the right of residency. Note well: this law applies only to native born Arabs ... If the Interior Ministry rejects [his appeal], which it almost certainly will, Munzer will be deported on April 3rd. If Israel were halfway serious about peace, the government would be inviting a thousand people like Munzer to build businesses, not deporting them. http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/21/person_of_the_book/
Israel conducts maneuvers inside Shebaa Farms
DS 22 Mar -- BEIRUT: Israel conducted intensive military drills in the region of the occupied Sheb‘aa Farms Monday, according to reports from the south. Elnashra news website reported that a series of explosions could be heard emanating from the area, as Israeli helicopters hovered overhead. Security sources told the site that the blasts were the result of military maneuvers, which also stretched over the occupied Golan Heights. The drills were the latest in a string of heightened activities from northern Israeli military positions. Sunday saw Israeli patrols erecting 200 meters of barbed wire fencing along the perimeter of occupied Ghajar village, plus three observation posts fitted with imaging systems and machine guns. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=126307#axzz1HFOAg8zC
'Religious troops must refuse evacuation'
Ynet 22 Mar -- A majority of the national-religious public believes that religious Israel Defense Forces soldiers must not obey an order to evacuate Jewish communities in the West Bank, according to a survey conducted ahead of the Jerusalem Conference held in the capital last week. Nonetheless, less than one-fifth of this public says the Land of Israel and settlement issue should be the top priority of a united Zionist-religious party. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4045606,00.html
Incursions / Curfews
Israeli forces re-enter Awarta
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 17:05 -- Israeli forces re-entered the northern West Bank village of Awarta at sunrise Tuesday, announcing via loudspeaker that the community was under curfew for a second time this month ... A military spokeswoman confirmed that there was a curfew in place, but said she could not disclose how long it would remain on the village. She said the search was in relation on the ongoing investigation into the Itamar murders, and that troops were trying not to disrupt normal life in the village ... Villagers were told they were prohibited to leave their homes and enter the streets ... The last closure of the village prevented patients in need of medical treatment from getting to hospital. Villagers reported that at least two children suffered bites from sniffer dogs. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=371021
Siege / Restriction of movement Jerusalem: Orthodox [Christians] demand halt of oppressive measures during Easter
JERUSALEM, 21 Mar (WAFA) ...The petition demanded lifting restrictions and closures of the entrances to the Old City and around the Church of Resurrection during Easter holidays, especially on the celebration of the Holy Saturday on April 23. A number of the Orthodox parishioners took that step before heading to the Israeli High Court to confirm their right to freedom of access to holy places and practice their religious rituals without any harassment or closure. In the recent years, the Israeli police have been impeding the celebrations of the Easter Holiday and the practice of religious rites. http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=15577
Gaza's cherry tomatoes selling in Europe
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Mar -- Cherry tomatoes grown by farmers in Gaza can now compete with settlement produce on European supermarket shelves ... An-Naja told Ma‘an that 10 farmers took the risk this year of growing flowers and vegetables on around 25 dunums in the Gaza Strip, in the hope that Israel would allow them to export the harvest. Much of the produce rotted as farmers waited for permits from Israeli authorities to transport the goods across the border and into Europe ... Yousef Sha‘ath, from the Agricultural Relief Society in Gaza, said Israel has allowed two or three truckloads of cherry tomatoes to be exported to Europe this year. The 2005 Movement and Access agreement, signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, set a target of 400 truckloads of exports to leave the Gaza Strip every day. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=370799
VIDEO: UNICEF helps make safe reliable water possible in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
(UNICEF) RAFAH, Gaza Strip, 21 Mar -- For the first time in her life, Nagham, 7, no longer fears drinking contaminated water. "Now I enjoy drinking water," she says. "It does not have strange tastes." Nagham, who lives with her grandparents in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, eagerly drinks from UNICEF’s newly-established water filling points ... In the Gaza Strip, an estimated 97 per cent of people are connected to water networks. But the supply of water is often intermittent. It is estimated that 90 to 95 per cent of water sources in Gaza is not fit for human consumption due to high chloride and nitrate levels. This puts children at risk of water-borne diseases and forces households to purchase drinking water. Families here pay an average of more than $7 for a cubic meter of tankered water ... Just 40 km away in the West Bank, children also face water problems, but of a different nature. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/oPt_57960.html
Detention / International kidnapping Israeli court extends Gazan engineer's remand
Ynet 22 Mar -- Dirar Abu Sisi, who was seized by Israeli security forces in Ukraine, will be detained for two more days despite defense's claim that he is in poor health ... According to the defense attorneys, Abu Sisi (42) is a civil engineer who has been working as the deputy manager of the only power plant in the Gaza Strip since 2000. They claim he does not have any direct ties with Hamas, which rose to power in Gaza in 2006.The attorneys said Abu Sisi was abducted while he was applying for citizenship in Ukraine. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4046199,00.html
Israeli forces detain journalist in Awarta
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 Mar 17:04 -- Sources at Voice of Palestine Radio told Ma'an that the station's director of programming was detained by Israeli forces in the village of Awarta, after the village was locked down under a military curfew. Kamal Sharab's home was searched during a raid, and soldiers detained him and two of his sons - Fadi, 17, and Ra’fat, 16 ... The Palestinian Journalist Syndicate condemned the detention of journalists and called for his immediate release. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=371241
EU: Time for refugees to return home
WALAJA, Bethlehem (Ma‘an) – The EU Representative to the Palestinian territories said Monday he hoped for "all the refugees to go home" as soon as possible, during a visit to West Bank village Al-Walaja ... Representative Christian Berger announced a €40 million European Union contribution to the organization. The donation to UNRWA’s core activities will help reduce threats to refugees' livelihoods and loss of land, he explained, stressing that these vulnerabilities "require the help of the international community." "We want UNRWA to go away as soon as possible," Berger said ... Established as a temporary body [in1948], as the lack of resolution to the situation of Palestinian refugees continues, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=370887
Gaza protests stretch into a seventh day
RAMALLAH, West Bank 21 Mar -- Inspired by the "Arab Spring" revolutions across the Arab World, Palestinians protested for a seventh straight day Monday in both the West Bank and Gaza in an effort to force their divided leaders into reconciling with one another ... It's still unclear what a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation would mean to the billions in aid money that European and U.S. aid organizations now give the Palestinian Authority government each year. Such aid might be reconsidered should Hamas be incorporated into the Palestinian Authority. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/03/21/110803/gaza-protests-stretch-into-a-seventh.html
Gaza Strip residents seek to join the 'Arab spring' / Jon Donnison
BBC 22 Mar -- Gazans will often tell you they are a rare breed. Tough and resilient are two qualities sometimes attributed. A friend of mine's cat recently leapt from the tenth floor of a tower block in Gaza City, yet emerged with just a few grazes and a bit of a limp. It was a Gazan cat, I was told. On Saturday afternoon, I witnessed toughness and resilience shown by two young Gazan women who had been trying to demonstrate in one of the main squares in Gaza city ... As they were surrounded by Hamas security officers wielding thick wooden batons and hurling abuse, the two slight young women remained firm, refusing to move. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12810786
Hamas protests UN plans to teach Gazans about the Holocaust
Recognizing the Holocaust is often seen by some Palestinians as tantamount to acknowledging Jewish land claims. (AP) 22 Mar -- The United Nations has launched a new plan to teach the Holocaust in Gaza schools, drawing fierce condemnation from Gaza's militant Hamas rulers, school teachers - and even the body tasked with peace negotiations with Israel. If implemented, it would be the first time most Palestinian children learn about Jewish suffering. But the outcry underscores how sensitive the issue is to Palestinians ... the need to find a sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors contributed to Israel's creation after World War II. In Israel's 1948 War of Independence, more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes. The Palestinians call this dispersal their Nakba, or catastrophe, and many see the events linked. [and when will Israel start teaching Jewish students about the Nakba?] http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/hamas-protests-un-plans-to-teach-gazans-about-the-holocaust-1.351119
Golan Druze believe Assad will hang on
Ynet 21 Mar -- Members of Israel's Druze community are following the anti-government protests in the southern Syrian city of Der‘aa with concern, but most of them do not believe President Bashar Assad will be ousted. Some 500 Druze women gathered in the northern Golan Heights village of Majdal Shams on Monday to greet their children who are studying in Syria. The students traveled to Israel for Mother's Day. [this is surprising - cf. the film The Syrian Bride] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4045668,00.html
Rebuilding Gaza in Haiti
UNRWA March -- At 33 years old Huda has seen and done more than many in Gaza can dream of, despite the immense challenges she faces both as a woman and as a refugee. As an ambitious and talented young engineer, Huda has worked relentlessly to forge her own future and has refused to be dissuaded by the barriers she has encountered along the way. Some time back, Huda applied to be a field engineer in a United Nations peacekeeping mission ... With UNRWA's support, in September 2010, Huda traveled from Gaza to Haiti ... Huda has since returned to Gaza and is playing an important role in UNRWA's reconstruction efforts there. Back in Gaza, memories of her time in Haiti - working alongside men and women of all nationalities to reconstruct a country in need - continue to inspire her each day. http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=927
Jon Stewart strikes again Mar 22, 2011 02:00 pm | Pamela Olson
Once again, Jon Stewart leads the way in pointing out America’s exquisite hypocrisy in the Middle East. John Oliver joins Stewart in an info-mercial-like skit advertising America’s special "Freedom Packages," designed for each country in the Middle East based on its levels of resources and America’s friendliness with its dictator.
The surprising part comes at the end, when Stewart once again dares to point out the elephant in the room with a fine-print disclaimer that parodies those of designer drugs: “Freedom packages may cause America to experiences unintended consequences including but not limited to: Inflammation of local or ethnic tensions. Strengthening of one or more of America’s traditional enemies. Current allies becoming future enemies who one day use American-supplied rocket launchers against us. Jobless, unmarried 19-year-old men with dynamite underwear may wish to take out frustrations on freedom package suppliers. If you experience an insurrection lasting over four months, seek diplomatic attention immediately. Offer not valid in West Bank or Gaza.”
Jon Stewart is not perfect by any means. But he’s further ahead and less fearful than any other well-known pundit I know of. And he’s arguably the most influential source of news in the country among people with brains, decency, and a sense of humor. This can only be a good thing.
Pamela Olson’s book Fast Times in Palestine, a non-fiction novel of life in the Holy Land, will be published next month.
Preliminary remarks in support of the Libyan intervention Mar 22, 2011 01:56 pm | Issa Khalaf
We know that Washington’s motivation for intervention in any guise is self-interest framed and justified, away from the public eye, within a larger geo-political and strategic context that drives the imperial paradigm. We also know that when moral and humanitarian motives, or “American values,” are voiced, these are pretexts—unless there is a neat coincidence of self-interest and values. Iraq was about the Israel lobby, oil, Central Asia. Israel-Palestine is about the lobby. Failing to stand up for democratic values in Bahrain is about the Persian Gulf, bases, and Iran; failing to do so in Yemen is about al-Qaida in the peninsula. Hence the US search for that middle point between autocracy and reform and publicly cautioning against violent government response. Why the difference in response between Libya and Bahrain/Yemen? The rebellion against the regime in Libya has gone too far for anything short of full support of the Libyan people. For the sake of future relations, which of course always includes Israel, better to work with the Libyan people, and perhaps have some influence, however slight and remote, over a democratic Libyan government, than equivocate as in Bahrain/Yemen.
If anything defines the international system, it’s the chronic politicization of global issues and international law, such as war, human rights, international humanitarian law, occupation, environment, and inequality. The US has been a premier practitioner of the double standard, selectively choosing what it will respect and to what measure it will abide. All states do this, but the most powerful ones can violate international law, even nuclear treaties, with little consequence, while weaker states, should they cross a powerful patron or, in the US case, reject its bidding, are coerced into compliance, violently or otherwise. There is no moral or legal consistency, and those who loudly interject themselves as the champions of international organization and international law, actually undermine and paralyze these institutions and ultimately contribute to the international system’s instability.
Now, the arguments put forward by those who oppose intervention in solidarity with Libya leaves me unconvinced, certainly unsure, doubtful. It’s not Libya’s oil that’s a big deal here—its output is small, including its impact on world markets, though this doesn’t exclude the commodity traders’ hoarding and driving up the price—it’s primarily US fear of al-Qaida Africa setting up shop in a large, empty, and in some measure tribal country that, if fragmented by protracted insurgency could lead to a trans-national terrorist presence. Presenting itself as a still relevant player and leader may well be an additional reason. Europe has similar concerns, but its primary one is the fear that a state without a single, central government fully in control of its territory, opens the way for floods of migrants from Africa, Muslim and otherwise, who use Libya as a transit camp.
True, this is actually Europe’s problem, not ours. Except that Washington and the national security planners cannot countenance the thought that they are not in control of events such as this. The Europeans aren’t twisting our arms. (I would have preferred, for the good of the American people, that the US stayed out.) Still, my sense is that the last thing the US wants is a protracted, costly intervention—another war to get involved with. Its domestically, economically, and politically unaffordable, untenable, and unsustainable. If nothing else, we're virtually bankrupt. I also think that both the US and its Western allies would like to see a short campaign in which the rebels win and they can leave. This inherent hesitance may explain the confusion and apparent contradiction of Obama administration statements regarding the purpose and parameters of the mission.
I for one don’t see much US advantage in intervening, especially in light of our grave economic troubles and involvement in two wars. So no, I doubt there’s a “bad” hidden reason for US action, nor do I think it’s motivated by either regime change or dictating a post-Qadhafi government and order. I don’t see a convincing argument for this thesis. Nor do I see the will or capability for it. After all, my primary criterion for great power intervention in the affairs of weak states is whether, in fact, it’s on the side of the people or the state (though I am mindful that, even when this, rarely, happens it produces a horrible mess and a bigger humanitarian crisis). Also, we all know the lies and deception that got us into Iraq and the consequences of this on not only Iraq but also Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have been destabilized and their peoples made to suffer mightily in the single-minded pursuit of fighting “terrorism” and “fundamentalism.” Libya doesn't present the conditions or motives for the cynical self-interest intervention thesis.
Yes, intervention has multiple unanticipated and uncontrollable military, political, and moral consequences. Asli U. Bali and Ziad Abu-Rish advance an articulate argument (“Solidarity and Intervention in Libya”)—written before UNSC resolution 1973 authorizing a no-fly zone for protection of civilians—against intervention. In their list of problems, they cite the reality that intervention may not tip the balance of power against the regime, that it causes lots of civilian casualties, that a no-fly zone is essentially about regime change and not humanitarian intervention, and that it usually benefits the interveners’ strategic and economic interests rather than the people. Their main concern is that a no-fly zone that would necessarily require attacks on runways, radar, command and control centers, and artillery installations will kill innocent civilians. After all, they say, Qadhafi possesses mainly helicopter gunships, armor, and artillery. And the fact that the Libyan opposition is not clearly known and whether they represent the wider demands of the Libyan people, makes intervention that much more problematic. Under the strict principle of “do no harm” they conclude that only two things can be done: provide medical supplies, food, and clean water and open up a corridor for civilian refugees to flee to Europe.
Ideally, it would be great if the supine and hypocritical Arab League is composed of democratic states that have on the ready a rapid deployment force for just such an occasion. In Libya, the country could very well end up divided between Tripoli and surroundings under Qadhafi and company and the remainder under a new government. But what to do, if not even the minimum of arming the rebels? The thing is, it seems, and one logically and intuitively adduces, that the vast majority of Libyans are for intervention, whether or not their Benghazi-located transitional leadership purporting to speak on Libyans’ behalf, is clearly differentiated or well known.
The Arab League’s complaint, after the bombings, that they were supposed to protect not harm civilians seems rather disingenuous, especially coming from member states the vast majority of whom are great violators of the rights of their people. Did not Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa know that a no-fly zone requires bombing preparations to clear the skies of hostile aircraft? It’s either this or actual military intervention on the ground. Should the coalition leave Qadhafi’s armor and artillery free to march on and mercilessly pound Benghazi? In any case, why approve intervention via a no-fly zone if you already know that Qadhafi’s “air force” is not the problem for the insurgents?
Hypothetically, I’d welcome a no fly-zone (or some military intervention) imposed on Israel to prevent its savagery in Gaza even though I know this may entail civilian Palestinian (and Israeli) casualties. It’s either this or the indiscriminate mass casualties that is Israel’s specialty, as it is Qadhafi’s. Yes, military intervention may prove more inimical to the people it’s supposedly trying to rescue, and yes, the history and motives of Western intervention is morally wretched, usually in the service of maintaining autocratic clients and pushing back “people power.” And no, the US will not consistently (actually, hardly) support democratic movements even though this is the key to its prestige and influence in the Middle East and elsewhere. But there is something different in this Libyan context. The Libyans’ need for help tips the balance towards a moral case or if not this, a utilitarian one, regardless of the motives of those intervening.
It isn’t obvious or inevitable that intervention will prevent the Libyan people from determining their future or that it will undermine the unfolding Arab democratic movements or cause anti-Western sentiment. (Nor that intervention may have prolonged Qadhafi’s stay because it precluded a negotiated exit.) The Arab democrats, including Libyans, are sophisticated enough to parse the nuances and know when enough is enough and the Western powers are keen on not being seen as imperialist aggressors of old.
Israel lobby figure opposes ‘two-state solution’ in Libya Mar 22, 2011 12:51 pm | Philip Weiss
It appears that everyone is against partition in Libya.
Michael Singh, who works for the Israel lobby group the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), was on cable television two days ago (I believe MSNBC) and said directly that "the two-state solution" was not a good plan for Libya. Last night on CNN, General Barry McCaffrey echoed the point. He said that "fragmentation" of Libya was in no one's interest, and would foster extremism in the portion controlled by Qaddafy.
Let's talk about Israel and Palestine, where world government called for Partition 64 years ago. While I am sympathetic to the idea of Partition in Israel and Palestine, as a means of separating brutalized peoples, it must be emphasized that: 1, Partition has already demonstrably failed there (only one side got a state or sovereignty, despite the promises; and the powerful side continues to devour and occupy what fragments the other side still holds). 2, The Partition has seemed to foster extremism on both sides, including the "irredentism" that J Street bewails-- Palestinian claims on stolen land, and who can blame em.
Yes Israel/Palestine is an intractable situation. Unlike Libya, which is a walk in the park. But if WINEP is for democracy in tribally-divided Libya, why not in Israel and Palestine too?
I was born in Jerusalem in 1954 and therefore when the Israelis had conquered Jerusalem in 1967, I was given, as the rest of the Arab population in East Jerusalem, an Israeli ID resident card. In 1975 I left Jerusalem to continue my university education in the USA. Graduation, starting a business, marriage, having a child years later in 1994-95 and intoxicated with prospects of peace after the signing of the Oslo agreement, I flew home and was told at the airport in Tel-Aviv that my Jerusalem ID was revoked and the only way I could enter then was as a tourist on my US passport..which I reluctantly did and continued to do as I thought there was no other way to reinstate my residency.
The Israelis started giving me a hard time entering and leaving the country as a tourist 2 years ago, and especially last month, when I was told that the next time I will be allowed to reenter the country, after this current tourist visa expires on April 3rd, is next year in April for 3 months only during that entire year. I then started legal proceedings to re-capture my ID card back. A lawyer later told me that I was lied to in 1995 when I arrived-- my Israeli blue ID card was valid till it was finally revoked in 2002 while I was going and coming as a tourist!!
So, a year ago we took the Interior Ministry to court to reinstate my residency status and I lost because they invoked a racist law they have on the books which strips any resident of Jerusalem (all residents of Jerusalem who holds ID cards are Arabs, Jews in Jerusalem and everywhere in Israel are citizens) who left Jerusalem for 7 years or more and holds a foreign passport of his or her blue Israeli residency ID card and right to live there.
So, I appealed to the Supreme Court and after 4 postponement of the court date in the last year, in which I needed to leave and come back to renew my tourist visa several times, be at the mercy of the passport control people every time wondering if I will be allowed to enter and if allowed to enter wondering for how long they will allow me to stay, the Supreme Court date was set for Feb 17 this year.
On that day, my request was rejected in the first minute of the session! To add insult to injury, I was told to consider myself lucky that I was allowed to come and go as a tourist that long and even dare to start a business while I am a tourist, and then finally saying that "if this happens in YOUR country the USA, you would be deported on the first plane" . Unfortunately, the session was in Hebrew and I was not privy to this remark by the judge until the end of the session. I would have loved to remind the judges that people born in the USA don’t have to go to the Supreme Court to ask it to intervene with the Immigration authorities to let them live in their country of birth!
The last insult was that I should write a letter within 30 days from Feb 17 2011 "begging" the Interior Ministry (the one I am suing!) to please reinstate my residency!
Anyway, my lawyer sent the letter on March 17 and if the interior ministry rejects it, which we are almost certain of, I will be deported when I exceed my tourist visa on April 3rd.
Libyan rebel city says dozens killed and wounded
ALGIERS, March 22 (Reuters) - Doctors in Libya's rebel-held city of Misrata are operating on people with bullet and shrapnel wounds in hospital corridors after attacks by government forces killed dozens and wounded many more, residents said on Tuesday.
Criticism of Gaddafi grows bolder in Libyan capital
TRIPOLI, March 22 (Reuters) - After days of Western air strikes, some people in the Libyan capital felt bold enough on Tuesday to drop their customary praise of leader Muammar Gaddafi for a few moments and say instead they want him gone. Residents who spoke to Reuters reporters in Tripoli were still too wary to give their names, and switched back to extolling Gaddafi when officials came within earshot.
International Intervention U.S. fighter jet crashes in rebel-held Libya
LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - A U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter jet crashed in Libya overnight after a mechanical failure but its crew was safe, a spokesman for the U.S. military Africa Command said on Tuesday.
Italy says need NATO or will resume control of bases
BRUSSELS, March 21 (Reuters) - Italy will resume control of airbases it has authorised for use by allies in operations over Libya unless a NATO coordination structure is agreed for the mission, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Monday. "If there were a multiplication of commands, which would be mistaken in itself, we would have to find a means for Italy to resume control of its own command structures," Frattini told reporters at a meeting in Brussels. He added that "we would have to look for an operational solution which would ensure than someone else's action did not rebound on us." http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/italy-says-need-nato-or-will-resume-control-of-bases
Africa leaders attack Libya raids
The leaders of Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa condemn the air strikes on Libya, saying the West is employing double-standards.
Rules of engagement are murky in Libya air war
The head of U.S. Africa Command, charged with running the operation in Libya, said that the international coalition in Libya will not help the rebels' military units, only civilians targeted by Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's forces -- assuming they can tell the difference between the two. "We do not provide close air support for the opposition forces. We protect civilians," Gen. Carter Ham, the top military official in charge of the operation, told reporters in a conference call on Monday. The problem is, there is no official communication with the rebel forces on the ground and there is no good way to distinguish the rebel fighters engaged against the government forces from civilians fighting to protect themselves, he said. http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/21/rules_of_engagement_are_murky_in_libya_air_war
Gaddafi's brutality has united Libya
My colleagues and I defected from the Libyan mission to the UN to draw attention to Gaddafi's attacks on unarmed protesters
No-fly Zone Enacted as U.S. and Allied Forces Launch Air Strikes on Libya Amid Growing Concerns for Civilian Safety
U.S. and allied forces have launched a second wave of air strikes on Libya to enforce a no-fly zone. Targets have included Libya’s air defenses, forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi, and Gaddafi’s fortified compound. The attacks on Libya began on Saturday, the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The Arab League had supported the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, but Arab League Chief Amr Moussa criticized the U.S.-led air strikes. For analysis, we speak to Phyllis Bennis with the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. "The U.S. government is going to great lengths to convince the U.S. public and the world that we are not leading. But right now, at this military beginning stage, there’s no question that the U.S. is in command," Bennis says. [includes rush transcript] http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/21/no_fly_zone_enacted_as_us
Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003, Juan Cole
Here are the differences between George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the current United Nations action in Libya.
“The No-Fly Zone Has Always Been a Recipe for Disaster”: Jeremy Scahill Says Libyan Strategy Has No Endgame
The U.S. and allied air strikes on Libya have entered their fourth day as part of an international effort to enforce a no-fly zone. While the United States is denying it is attempting to assassinate Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi, allied forces bombed his compound for the second night in a row. “In Iraq, [the no-fly zone] resulted in the strengthening of Saddam Hussein’s regime... I think it could end up backfiring in a tremendous way and keeping Gaddafi in power even longer,” said Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now! correspondent and independent journalist Jeremy Scahill.
Libya: the information gap | Alex Warren
A shortage of reliable information makes it impossible for the west to assess the complex situation in fractured Libya. The west has not run out of patience in Libya; it has run out of options. As of last week, France and the UK had nothing more to lose. They had already severed their political and commercial ties with Gaddafi, meaning that a survival of his regime would have meant a significant strategic loss in the region. The US revealed this realisation slightly later, by waiting until Tuesday to throw its weight behind the UN resolution, but it amounts to the same thing: the only way of ensuring any western leverage over a future Libya would be to protect the opposition headquartered in Benghazi and ideally help them to govern some or all of the country. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/21/libya-information-gap
Libya Dispatch: Rebel Twinkies fuel the struggle
Napoleon famously said an army marches on its stomach, and in the case of Libya's rebel forces, that would be tuna sandwiches, fava beans and a lot of junk food. As Western air strikes are restarting once thoroughly defeated rebel advance, the once weirdly successful aspect of their rag tag forces should be gearing up again -- their food supply lines. Like everything else about the uprising in eastern Libya seeking to challenge Moammar Gadhafi's four decade hammerlock on power, the fighters' food supply was an ad hoc affair of entreprising individuals and local charities with official sanction that somehow seemed to work -- even when nothing else really did.
'Yemeni pres. seeks Saudi asylum'
Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has reportedly requested asylum from Saudi Arabia after announcing he will step down by the end of the year.
Yemeni president warns of coup
Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh says there could be a civil war in the country because of attempts to stage a coup against his rule.
Yemen's Saleh to step down by Jan 2012 after polls
SANAA, March 22 (Reuters) - Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh will leave office after organising parliamentary elections by January 2012, refusing to hand over power without knowing who would succeed him, an aide said on Tuesday. "President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he will hand over power through (parliamentary) elections and the formation of democratic institutions at the end of 2011 or January 2012," Saleh's media secretary Ahmed al-Sufi told Reuters. "Ali Abdullah Saleh does not seek power. Ali Abdullah Saleh will not leave without knowing who he is handing over to."
UK "extremely disturbed" by events in Yemen-Cameron
LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) - Britain is "extremely disturbed" by events in Yemen, which has been torn by protests and violence, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday. "We're obviously extremely disturbed by what is happening in Yemen, particularly the recent events, and we've urged every country in that region to respond to the aspirations of its people with reform and not with repression," Cameron told parliament. Snipers killed 52 anti-government protesters on Friday, prompting President Ali Abdullah Saleh to sack his cabinet and declare a state of emergency for 30 days. http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/uk-extremely-disturbed-by-events-in-yemen-cameron
It is obvious. The US is not letting `Ali `Abdullah Salih leave office: this is the judgment of Saudi Arabia as well. Remember, that Saudi Arabia was and is opposed to Mubarak abandoning power altogether. I really think that Salih wants to leave office but that the US and Saudi Arabia are insisting that he stays. And did not notice how Western governments and media totally ignored the massacre that was perpetrated in Yemen last week. http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/03/yemeni-president.html
Jeremy Scahill: As Mass Uprising Threatens the Regime, A Look at the Covert U.S. War in Yemen
The crisis in Yemen is growing following high-level defections from the regime of U.S.-backed President Ali Abudullah Saleh. On Monday, a dozen top military leaders announced their pledge to protect the protest movement after 45 people were killed and some 350 were wounded when Yemeni forces opened fire on demonstrators in the capital of Sana’a on Friday—after two months of nationwide demonstrations. In recent years, the United States has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in military and security aid to Yemen. “The Obama administration has really escalated the covert war inside of Yemen and has dramatically increased the funding to Yemen’s military, particularly its elite counter-terrorism unit, which is trained by U.S. special operations forces," says Democracy Now! correspondent and independent journalist Jeremy Scahill. "It could get much worse if President Saleh decides to release the U.S. trained counter-terrorism units on his own."
Bahrain Rights groups condemn Bahrain violence
Human rights activists have condemned military aggression towards anti-government protesters demanding political change in the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain. Al Jazeera has spoken to the family of a father who was killed after driving past an unofficial checkpoint in the country. Al Jazeera's correspondent, who we are not naming for his safety, has this report.
Bahraini woman dies of gunshot wound -opposition
MANAMA, March 22 (Reuters) - A Bahraini woman has died after suffering gunshot wounds to the head and disappearing the day security forces launched a crackdown against protesters, the main Shi'ite Muslim opposition group Wefaq said on Tuesday.
Bahrain authorities round up dissidents in continuing clampdown
Bahrain's unrest halts UAE from sending planes to Libya
UAE’s former commander of the Air Force said on Tuesday that his country is not sending military forces to Libya due to the disagreements with the West over Bahrain.
1,000 Pakistanis recruited for Bahrain forces
ISLAMABAD, March 20: More than 1,000 Pakistanis have been recruited to serve in the Bahrain National Guards, learnt on Sunday. The recruitment has been made through the military-run Bahria Foundation and Fauji Foundation, which train the selected personnel before sending them to Bahrain. Sources said that although the recruitment process had started much before the eruption of the current unrest in Bahrain, authorities have been continuing the process. The two organisations have been asked to complete the training process as early as possible. http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/21/1000-pakistanis-recruited-for-bahrain-forces.html
King of Bahrain
Apparently, we were wrong all along. He not only thwarted a conspiracy against Bahrain: he now claims that he has thwarted a 30-year old conspiracy against the GCC. He said that conspiracy has been coordinated between Iran and hostile alien forces in Mars. Aljazeera supported the claims and pledged to provide live coverage from Mars. http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/03/king-of-bahrain.html
Obama administration explains why Bahrain is not a tyranny
"Administration officials say the U.S. in intervening in Libya and not Bahrain or Yemen because the scale of the repression is vastly different. "Bahrain has been a longtime ally of the United States of America and a longtime partner," National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said Sunday in response to a question about that country's crackdown on protesters. He added that Bahrain was attempting to work with the opposition..."
Amnesty International Independent investigation urged into Syria protest deaths
At least six anti-government protesters have died after security forces opened fire on demonstrators during continuing unrest in the southern city of Dera'a. Amnesty International has called on the Syrian authorities to launch an independent investigation into the deaths of at least six anti-government protesters during continuing unrest in the southern city of Dera'a.
The Syrian Revolution :Day No.4 “Graphic”
For the fourth day the city Daraa in Syria is heading what it seems to be a revolution against the Al Assad regime. The protests did not stop , contrary it seems that it is spreading steadily. There was a protest today in Banyas where people chanted for Syrian unity between sects. There were protests today in Al Qamishli and Duma when I checked in the Facebook.The protests continued in Daraa today following a funeral for another young man killed in the protests in the weekend. According to AFP a 11 years old boy was killed today in Daraa and by experience this will escalate things more and more. Daraa is under heavy siege from the security forces. Again it seems that there are some difficulties in communication. Yesterday there was news that the protesters destroyed the statue of Hafez Al Assad and torched the Baath HQ and other official buildings. There is contradicting news concerning the Baath HQ and official buildings though as people saying who torched the court building were actually police officers and soldiers. Here is a video compilation for the protests in the previous 3 days in Daraa. http://egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com/2011/03/syrian-revolution-day-no4-graphic.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EgyptianChronicles+%28Egyptian+chronicles%29
There are two weaknesses for the Syrian opposition that one should bear in mind. 1) Despite all the rhetoric in Israel and the US, both countries prefer the Asad regime to any alternative because they really appreciate the tight control it exercises over the borders. Israel worries about the consequences of chaos scenario like Iraq in Syria and the impact it would have on Israel; 2) that the Syrian opposition rarely act in unison in Syrian cities and towns. I was once making a presentation about my paper on the Syrian opposition under Hafidh Al-Asad in a class on Syrian politics and society at Georgetown University taught by the great, Hanna Batatu. After I finished and in response to a point I made, Batatu looked at me and said: when in the contemporary politics of Syria did Aleppo, Hama, Hums, and Damascus move together? I did not have an intelligent answer, I remember. http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/03/syrian-opposition.html
Syrians have broken the fear barrier | Ammar Abdulhamid
February's 'day of anger' fizzled out, but protests in Deraa show Syria's revolutionary spirit is now gathering pace. What a difference six weeks make. Back in early February I was asked whether Syria would be next on the growing list of countries to witness a popular revolution. My answer, which came in the form of an article published on Comment is free, was, in essence, "not yet".
Arab spring: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests
Ever since a man in Tunisia burnt himself to death in December 2010 in protest at his treatment by police, pro-democracy rebellions have erupted across the Arab world. Our interactive timeline traces key events
Here is Ayman. And here is his horse Mar 22, 2011 10:35 am | Philip Weiss
The other day Kate picked up a story published at Jordan Valley Solidarity about Ayman and his horse-- an 11-year-old Palestinian boy who watched as three settlers who have seized his village's water killed his horse, who was drinking some of that water, by tying a cable around its neck. Well, here is Ayman:
And here is his horse:
Americans, please tell me, how much more do you need to know?
Imagining an ‘alternative spatial future’ in Israel/Palestine Mar 22, 2011 10:30 am | Adam Horowitz
Access, 2011: (left to right): Israeli ID, West Bank ID, Gaza ID, stateless Palestinian refugee.
The above image shows how freedom of movement in Israel/Palestine is determined by the form of identification a person holds (or doesn't hold). It was produced by a new website called Arena of Speculation. This is from a press release announcing the project:
The recent release of the ‘Palestine Papers’ (the leaked cache of PLO negotiations documents) laid bare the structural failings of the ‘peace process’, underlining the need for a transformative discourse. In parallel, we are witnessing an overwhelming wave of political change across the Arab World, driven by a renewed belief in the power of individual and collective action. Can we read these regional developments as a prelude to new ways of challenging entrenched territorial realities in Israel-Palestine?
arenaofspeculation.org was established by an international group of architects, planners and spatial thinkers as a collective platform for exposing, confronting and subverting the dominant structures of spatial power in Israel-Palestine. Already, a growing movement of civil society organisations, academic institutions and activist groups are engaged in such ‘spatial resistance’ through practices ranging from concrete acts of construction to academic research and political advocacy work.
arenaofspeculation.org seeks to build on this sphere of agency, sharing critically aware perspectives in the form of original publications, field reports, interviews, mappings and other related projects. The website also supports and publicises key events and actions both on the ground and internationally.
Co-founder Ahmad Barclay explains, “By deliberately juxtaposing speculation with activism, we hope to provoke collective engagement towards an alternative spatial future.”