Friday, September 29, 2006

Why Did Israel Blow Up Gaza's Power Station?
Bad Faith and the Destruction of PalestineBy JONATHAN COOK

September 29, 2006

A mistake too often made by those examining Israel's behaviour in the occupied territories -- or when analysing its treatment of Arabs in general, or interpreting its view of Iran -- is to assume that Israel is acting in good faith. Even its most trenchant critics can fall into this trap.

Such a reluctance to attribute bad faith was demonstrated this week by Israel's foremost human rights group, B'Tselem, when it published a report into the bombing by the Israeli air force of Gaza's power plant in late June. The horrifying consequences of this act of collective punishment -- a war crime, as B'Tselem rightly notes -- are clearly laid out in the report.

The group warns that electricity is available to most of Gaza's 1.4 million inhabitants for a few hours a day, and running water for a similar period. The sewerage system has all but collapsed, with the resulting risk of the spread of dangerous infectious disease.

In their daily lives, Gazans can no longer rely on the basic features of modern existence. Their fridges are as good as useless, threatening outbreaks of food poisoning. The elderly and infirm living in apartments can no longer leave their homes because elevators don't work, or are unpredictable. Hospitals and doctors' clinics struggle to offer essential medical services. Small businesses, most of which rely on the power and water supplies, from food shops and laundry services to factories and workshops, are being forced to close.

Rapidly approaching, says B'Tselem, is the moment when Gaza's economy -- already under an internationally backed siege to penalise the Palestinians for democratically electing a Hamas government -- will simply expire under the strain.

Unfortunately, however, B'Tselem loses the plot when it comes to explaining why Israel would choose to inflict such terrible punishment on the people of Gaza. Apparently, it was out of a thirst for revenge: the group's report is even entitled "Act of Vengeance". Israel, it seems, wanted revenge for the capture a few days earlier of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, from a border tank position used to fire artillery into Gaza.

The problem with the "revenge" theory is that, however much a rebuke it is, it presupposes a degree of good faith on the part of the vengeance-seeker. You steal my toy in the playground, and I lash out and hit you. I have acted badly -- even disproportionately to use a vogue word B'Tselem also adopts -- but no one would deny that my emotions were honest. There was no subterfuge or deception in my anger. I incur blame only because I failed to control my impulses. There is even the implication that, though my action was unwarranted, my fury was justified.

But why should we think Israel is acting in good faith, even if in bad temper, in destroying Gaza's power station? Why should we assume it was a hot-headed over-reaction rather than a coldly calculated deed?

In other words, why believe Israel is simply lashing out when it commits a war crime rather than committing it after careful advance planning? Is it not possible that such war crimes, rather than being spontaneous and random, are actually all pushing in the same direction?

More especially, why should we give Israel the benefit of the doubt when its war crimes contribute, as the bombing of the power station in Gaza surely does, to easily deciphered objectives? Why not think of the bombing instead as one instalment in a long-running and slowly unfolding plan?

The occupation of Gaza did not begin this year, after Hamas was elected, nor did it end with the disengagement a year ago. The occupation is four decades old and still going strong in both the West Bank and Gaza. In that time Israel has followed a consistent policy of subjugating the Palestinian population, imprisoning it inside ever-shrinking ghettos, sealing it off from contact with the outside world, and destroying its chances of ever developing an independent economy.

Since the outbreak six years ago of the second intifada -- the Palestinians' uprising against the occupation -- Israel has tightened its system of controls. It has sought to do so through two parallel, reinforcing approaches.

First, it has imposed forms of collective punishment to weaken Palestinian resolve to resist the occupation, and encourage factionalism and civil war. Second, it has "domesticated" suffering inside the ghettos, ensuring each Palestinian finds himself isolated from his neighbours, his concerns reduced to the domestic level: how to receive a house permit, or get past the wall to school or university, or visit a relative illegally imprisoned in Israel, or stop yet more family land being stolen, or reach his olive groves.

The goals of both sets of policies, however, are the same: the erosion of Palestinian society's cohesiveness, the disruption of efforts at solidarity and resistance, and ultimately the slow drift of Palestinians away from vulnerable rural areas into the relative safety of urban centres -- and eventually, as the pressure continues to mount, on into neighbouring Arab states, such as Jordan and Egypt.

Seen in this light, the bombing of the Gaza power station fits neatly into Israel's long-standing plans for the Palestinians. Vengeance has nothing to do with it.

Another recent, more predictable, example was an email exchange published on the Media Lens forum website involving the BBC's Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen. Bowen was questioned about why the BBC had failed to report on an important peace initiative begun this summer jointly by a small group of Israeli rabbis and Hamas politicians. A public meeting where the two sides would have unveiled their initiative was foiled when Israel's Shin Bet secret service, presumably with the approval of the Israeli government, blocked the Hamas MPs from entering Jerusalem.

Bowen, though implicitly critical of Israel's behaviour, believes the initiative was of only marginal significance. He doubts that the Shin Bet or the government were overly worried by the meeting -- in his words, it was seen as no more than a "minor irritant" -- because the Israeli peace camp has shown a great reluctance to get involved with the Palestinians since the outbreak of the intifada in 2000. The Israeli government would not want Hamas looking "more respectable", he admits, but adds that that is because "they believe that it is a terrorist organisation out to kill Jews and to destroy their country".

In short, the Israeli government cracked down on the initiative because they believed Hamas was not a genuine partner for peace. Again, at least apparently in Bowen's view, Israel was acting in good faith: when it warns that it cannot talk with Hamas because it is a terrorist organisation, it means what it says.

But what if, for a second, we abandon the assumption of good faith?

Hamas comprises a militant wing, a political wing and a network of welfare charities. Israel chooses to characterise all these activities as terrorist in nature, refusing to discriminate between the group's different wings. It denies that Hamas could have multiple identities in the same way the Irish Republican Army, which included a political wing called Sinn Fein, clearly did.

Some of Israel's recent actions might fit with such a simplistic view of Hamas. Israel tried to prevent Hamas from standing in the Palestinian elections, only backing down after the Americans insisted on the group's participation. Israel now appears to be destroying the Palestinians' governing institutions, claiming that once in Hamas' hands they will be used to promote terror.

The Israeli government, it could be argued, acts in these ways because it is genuinely persuaded that even the political wing of Hamas is cover for terrorist activity.

But most other measures suggest that in reality Israel has a different agenda. Since the Palestinian elections six months ago, Israel's policies towards Hamas have succeeded in achieving one end: the weakening of the group's moderates, especially the newly elected politicians, and the strengthening of the militants. In the debate inside Hamas about whether to move towards politics, diplomacy and dialogue, or concentrate on military resistance, we can have guess which side is currently winning.

The moderates not the militants have been damaged by the isolation of the elected Hamas government, imposed by the international community at Israel's instigation. The moderates not the militants have been weakened by Israel rounding up and imprisoning the group's MPs. The moderates not the militants have been harmed by the failure, encouraged by Israel, of Fatah and Hamas politicians to create a national unity government. And the approach of the moderates not the militants has been discredited by Israel's success in blocking the summer peace initiative between Hamas MPs and the rabbis.

In other words, Israeli policies are encouraging the extremist and militant elements inside Hamas rather the political and moderate ones. So why not assume that is their aim?

Why not assume that rather than wanting a dialogue, a real peace process and an eventual agreement with the Palestinians that might lead to Palestinian statehood, Israel wants an excuse to carry on with its four-decade occupation -- even if it has to reinvent it through sleights of hand like the disengagement and convergence plans?

Why not assume that Israel blocked the meeting between the rabbis and the Hamas MPs because it fears that such a dialogue might suggest to Israeli voters and the world that there are strong voices in Hamas prepared to consider an agreement with Israel, and that given a chance their strength and influence might grow?

Why not assume that the Israeli government wanted to disrupt the contacts between Hamas and the rabbis for exactly the same reasons that it has repeatedly used violence to break up joint demonstrations in Palestinian villages like Bilin staged by Israeli and Palestinian peace actvists opposed to the wall that is annexing Palestinian farm land to Israel?

And why, unlike Bowen, not take seriously opinion polls like the one published this week that show 67 per cent of Israelis support negotiations with a Palestinian national unity government (that is, one including Hamas), and that 56 per cent favour talks with a Palestinian government whoever is leading it? Could it be that faced with these kinds of statistics Israel's leaders are terrified that, if Hamas were given the chance to engage in a peace process, Israeli voters might start putting more pressure on their own government to make meaningful concessions?

In other words, why not consider for a moment that Israel's stated view of Hamas may be a self-serving charade, that the Israeli government has invested its energies in discrediting Hamas, and before it secular Palestinian leaders, because it has no interest in peace and never has done? Its goal is the maintenance of the occupation on the best terms it can find for itself.

On much the same grounds, we should treat equally sceptically another recent Israeli policy: the refusal by the Israeli Interior Ministry to renew the tourist visas of Palestinians with foreign passports, thereby forcing them to leave their homes and families inside the occupied territories. Many of these Palestinians, who were originally stripped by Israel of their residency rights in violation of international law, often when they left to work or study abroad, have been living on renewable three-month visas for years, even decades.

Amazingly, this compounding of the original violation of these Palestinian families' rights has received almost no media coverage and so far provoked not a peep of outrage from the big international human rights organisations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

I can hazard a guess why. Unusually Israel has made no serious attempt to justify this measure. Furthermore, unlike the two examples cited above, it is difficult to put forward even a superficially plausible reason why Israel needs to pursue this policy, except for the obvious motive: that Israel believes it has found another bureaucratic wheeze to deny a few more thousand Palestinians their birthright. It is another small measure designed to ethnically cleanse these Palestinians from what might have been their state, were Israel interested in peace.

Unlike the other two examples, it is impossible to assume any good faith on Israel's part in this story: the measure has no security value, not even of the improbable variety, nor can it be sold as an over-reaction, vengeance, to a provocation by the group affected.

Palestinians with foreign passports are among the richest, best educated and possibly among the most willing to engage in dialogue with Israel. Many have large business investments in the occupied territories they wish to protect from further military confrontation, and most speak fluently the language of the international community -- English. In other words, they might have been a bridgehead to a peace process were Israel genuinely interested in one.

But as we have seen, Israel isn't. If only our media and human rights organisations could bring themselves to admit as much. But because they can't, the transparently bad faith underpinning Israel's administrative attempt at ethnic cleansing may be allowed to pass without any censure at all.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the author of the forthcoming "Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State" published by Pluto Press, and available in the United States from the University of Michigan Press. His website is

Monday, September 25, 2006

By Drew Christiansen, S. J.
America Magazine
September 2006 Issue
I have been anguishing over the fate of the Middle East Christians. Only three months ago we published a dire survey by Michael Hirst of problems facing Christians across the Middle East and South Asia (Am, 6/19-26). Last week two news items deepened my fears. The first reported that since the U. S. invasion in 2003 half of Iraq's 1.2 million Christians had emigrated. "What we are hearing now," lamented Bishop Andreos Abouna of Baghdad, "is the alarm bell for Christianity in Iraq" (Am 8/28-9/4).

The second story concerned a just-completed World Council of Churches mission to Lebanon and Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post (8/17), Jean-Arnold de Clermont, a Reformed pastor and president of the Conference of European Churches, returning from the WCC solidarity mission, declared, "We came back from Lebanon sharing the impression that this destruction was planned." The Reverend Clermont went on to explain, "Israel would not want the existence of a democratic Lebanon where Jews, Christians and Muslims were peacefully living side by side, because it does not want to see its neighbor state succeeding . . ."

Diplomatic Deafness

I don't agree with Clermont's reading of Israeli motives, but the effect of the Israel's damaging assault on Lebanon has certainly been to put stress on that country's unique experiment in interreligious "conviviality," the co-existence of Christians, Muslims and Druze. Israeli policymakers are notoriously unsentimental. While Labor and its allies possessed sensitivity to more cosmopolitan values, the heirs of Vladimir Jabotinsky in the Likud and Kadima-led governments look only at short-term political and strategic gains. Religion does not interest them.

Insensitivity to the place of religion in world affairs, however, is not restricted to Israeli public officials. It is shared by American diplomats, especially when it comes to Lebanon. Until the Cedar Revolution last year, U. S. foreign service personnel and intelligence officers could be positively allergic to any mention of Lebanon. They acquiesced for decades in a situation where Syria and Israel each could have its way with the country, with Syria occupying Lebanon and Israel bombing its neighbor at will.

Behind U. S. diplomatic indifference lay some bitter memories: the bombings of the Marine barracks and the U.S. embassy in Beirut (1983), and the kidnaping and killing of CIA bureau chief William Buckley (1984). Moreover, with Lebanon religiously divided and all the parties seeking their own advantage, distrust was an all too natural response. Finally, as in the Balkans, the growing power of Islamic militants and the belligerency of some of their Christian antagonists fed the attitude that religion be damned, all that really matters is strategic interests. Add to this the bellicose ideology of neocon political appointees, and it is no surprise that the U. S. was blind to the effects of its policies in Iraq on the Christian population or of Israel's war on Lebanon on that country's unique religious experiment in religiously pluralistic democracy.

A Sanctuary of Interreligious Harmony

The tragedy is that since the end of its civil war (1974-1989), Lebanon had been making progress. Last year an alliance of Christians, Sunni and Druze with the help of the international community had forced Syria to withdraw its troops from the country and arranged for all the militias but Hezbollah to disarm. The re-development of the country begun by the assassinated ex-premier Rafik Hariri had continued apace. The government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora had created real hope that Lebanon might still be a sanctuary of interreligious harmony in an ever more radicalized Middle East. Then came the Hezbollah-Israeli war.

Hezbollah, which once aimed at making Lebanon an Islamic state, is riding high, and
Lebanon's model of interreligious cooperation is once more in question. As a result of Hezbollah's growing standing in the Arab street, militant Islam possesses a strength it has not known since the end of the Lebanese civil war 15 years ago. If one outcome of Hezbollah's "victory" turns out to be a Shia-Sunni rapprochement, then Lebanon's Christians will find themselves marginalized once again. At the very least, the cost of rebuilding and uncertainty about what the future holds may bring on new waves of emigration, accelerating the depletion of the Christian population.

It is the eleventh hour for the ancient churches of the Middle East, Threatened both by militant Islam and the great-power games in the region. Can anything be done to save them?

A Six Point Plan

First, we must remember Middle Eastern Christians are a resilient people who have endured the coming and going of empires for two millennia. Given a chance, they will rebound. That is especially true of Lebanon's Maronites who have survived 1200 years of threats and oppression.

In a very real sense, the survival of Christianity, especially the oriental Catholic
churches, depends on what happens in Lebanon. It is the home to a number of eastern
patriarchates and to the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East. The Lebanese, and especially the Maronites, exhibited the vitality of their church in 1999 when they hosted the first Congress of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of the East, drawing together hundreds of bishops from seven rites around the region and from the diaspora. The meeting, hosted by the Maronite patriarch, Nasrallah Pierre Cardinal Sfeir, would not have succeeded without the energy, organization, material resources and intellectual drive of the Lebanese church.

Cardinal Sfeir was also the leading critic of Syrian domination of Lebanon and the
country's most outspoken advocate for full Lebanese independence. Even before the Cedar Revolution, his prophetic witness made possible the Christian, Sunni, Druze alliance. Recovery may demand patient effort over many years, but Lebanon's Christians should not be counted out.Second, the most important thing outsiders can help provide, especially for Lebanon and Palestine, is peace. No partial settlement will do. It is time to return to the kind of comprehensive settlement between Israel and the Arabs attempted at Madrid in 1991 and endorsed by the foreign ministers meeting in London last month. When I consulted experts on reconciliation and religion and diplomacy, one thing on which they all could agree is
that peace-in Lebanon, in Israel and Palestine-is the sine qua non of any program to save
Christianity in the Middle East. There is also a growing consensus among international
affairs specialists within and outside the region, and even in Israel, that this is the
time for a comprehensive, regional settlement between Israel and all its Arab neighbors.
In the other major conflict in Iraq, however, I fear finding a path to peace will prove
even more difficult. There other ways must be found.

Third, in Iraq, as difficult as it may seem, efforts at sectarian reconciliation among
Muslim (Sunni and Shia) leaders should be tried. Arab and Muslim foundations should
encourage reconciliation processes with the help of experienced civil society groups,
like Religions for Peace, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, the U. S.
Institute for Peace, and the Center for Strategic Studies. Catholic peacemaking groups
like Focolari, the Community of Sant'Egidio, Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for
International Peace Studies and the Catholic Peacebuilding Network could also support
this effort. At first leaders may have to come together outside the country, but then
meetings might be convened in more secure areas of Iraq, and in time at the grassroots.
Military and police work alone will not pacify Iraq. Deeper groundwork must be laid for

Fourth, together the churches must enter into dialogue with both Muslim and Jewish
leaders and with the region's political establishment about common concerns as well as
the impact of particular policies and trends on Middle East Christians. Pope John Paul II
had significant success in persuading Muslims that the invasion of Iraq was not a western
Crusade against Islam. Events have overtaken the good feelings he created. Time has come
for a new initiative.

During the fighting in Lebanon Pope Benedict showed real leadership in combining
religious and diplomatic initiatives. He has demonstrated the clarity of mind and
firmness of purpose required to undertake a new venture in dialogue, but it ought to be
done in collaboration with the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew of Constantinople, and
the heads of the autocephalous oriental churches. (Incidentally, the Vatican also needs
to overcome the anti-Islamic spin being given modest corrections in its Islamic policy by
George Weigel, Michele Pera, John Allen and others.)

Fifth, U. S. church groups, like the USCCB, the National Council of Churches, and
Churches for Middle East Peace, in a campaign of public education, should push for
Congressional hearings and provide briefings for public officials on the impact of the
war on terror and U. S. Middle East policy on the ancient churches of the East. In
addition, the U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has attended to
the issue of the condition of Christians in the Islamic world but some years ago, at the
instigation of then-chairman Elliott Abrams, buried a previously approved report on
Israel, ought to examine the multiple factors leading to the decline of Christians in the
region: Miltant Islam, of course, but the war on terror, U. S. Mideast policy and
Israel's treatment of Christians as well.

Finally, the Holy See, the USCCB and others already engaged in the education of U. S.
diplomats under the U. S. International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)ought to engage the
State Department in as many fora as possible on the unanticipated consequences of U. S.
policy and of diplomatic antipathy to religion on the Christians of the Middle East.
These sessions should include explorations of steps that can be taken to correct the
current adverse state of affairs.

How Shrewd the Children of Light?

"The children of this world," says Luke's gospel, "are more astute in dealing with their
own kind than the children of light." So it has been in the Middle East these last years,
where the violent once more have their way. Warning against passivity and complacency on
the part of Christians in the waning days of the Second World War, Reinhold Niebuhr urged
believers to take up the tools of politics, though without the malice of the children of
darkness. The hour is late to preserve Christianity in the lands that were once its
cradle. Every tool of engagement, dialogue and persuasion is needed in its defense. These
recommendations may seem unrealistic or untimely, but look where realism and conventional
thinking have taken the world. What is clear is that nothing short of an all out campaign
by the Christian world to protect the Christians of the Orient has a chance of saving
them. And with such an effort, perhaps a smoother path may be paved for Muslims and Jews,
as well as Christians, on the way to peace.

The impetus for these proposals came from the widespread insensitivity to the Christian
stake in today's Middle East and the utter lack of ideas I found among experts on
peacemaking for addressing the problem. If you agree with these points, please pass them
along to your political leaders, experts in international affairs and NGO leaders . If
you have proposals of your own, please share them with us at
We'll publish a selection of the best of them in a future issue.

Drew Christiansen, S. J. is editor in chief of America. His earlier thoughts on the
impact of the war on terror on Middle Eastern Christians appeared in the March 5, 2005
edition of La Civilta Catolica, the bi-monthly Italian Jesuit journal. His two-part
survey of the situation of Middle Eastern Christians appeared in the March 4 and March
11, 2005 issues of the National Catholic Reporter.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Christian and Jewish Fundalmentalism Compared
A fascinating email received today from a friend of mine:
Please read this amazing blog by Brad Rubin, the US Refusenik coordinator who compares right wing Christian televangelists with pro-Israeli mainstream Jews. Its long, but well worth it, I promise you!!! Also read below Kay Halpern's response to this article. Kay is a member of the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace and a member at Adat Shalom synagogue in Potomac, Maryland.



Read your postings. I couldn't agree with you more. I think your points are extremely important and very well put. I have always deeply appreciated the substance of your emails on the AS listserve, even if they were sometimes a little stream-of-consciousness and therefore a bit repetitive and sometimes hard to follow. In these postings you obviously took time to organize your thoughts and craft your words, so the substance of your ideas comes through beautifully. I, too, bemoan the similarities between what I think of as a "born again" mentality in the (mainstream) Jewish community and the simplistic views expressed by some fundamentalist Christians and the current administration.

I once went to an Israel Project luncheon (I didn't realize what it was until I got there) in the heart of Jewish Establishment power in the ADL building on K Street to hear a Palestinian/Egyptian woman talk about how she thought Israel and Jews were setting a good example and how she was raised on Arab hate. Her speech was very one-sided and gave no acknowledgement of Palestinian suffering under ongoing and newly developing (e.g., the wall) Israeli policies. At the end, she received a standing ovation from all present. The event struck me as the mirror image of some pro-Palestinian events I have read about, where everyone bashes Israel and "Zionism" is synonomous with "evil."

What appears to be happening is that the old knee-jerk fear response is kicking in: when push comes to shove (the Walt - Mearsheimer paper, Lebanon...), circle the wagons. As you pointed out, even the old liberal standard, the Forward, toes the party line. (I used to work for the Workmen's Circle and the Forward back in 1982 - after which I worked for the National Conference on Soviet Jewry - but that's a story for another day.) The American Jewish establishment organizations and the powers that be in Israel, together with the Bush administration and its fundamentalist Christian supporters, appear to be in the grip of what, in physiological terms is the fight or flight response - backs to the wall, fists clenched, when what's really needed is something more akin to the relaxation response, which opens the heart and mind.

You posted your pieces on a progressive blog. But how does one get through to more "mainstream" groups? Are you thinking of sharing your posting with the AS listserve? I know some will turn away from them, but others won't. Maybe you can send it to key people like Rabbi Fred, Rabbi Sid & Haya Laufer.

Speaking of the complexity of the situation in Israel, Mark Braverman and several others recently returned from a trip to Israel & the West Bank. I saved their 7-day trip report as a Word doc and am attaching it here. I think you will find it very moving, insightful and provocative.

Keep doing what you're doing,


Peace, Shalom and Salam


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lebanese Fields Sown with Israeli Cluster Bombs
Deadly Harvest


Nabatiyeh, Lebanon.

The war in Lebanon has not ended. Every day, some of the million bomblets which were fired by Israeli artillery during the last three days of the conflict kill four people in southern Lebanon and wound many more.

The casualty figures will rise sharply in the next month as villagers begin the harvest, picking olives from trees whose leaves and branches hide bombs that explode at the smallest movement. Lebanon's farmers are caught in a deadly dilemma: to risk the harvest, or to leave the produce on which they depend to rot in the fields.

In a coma in a hospital bed in Nabatiyeh lies Hussein Ali Ahmad, a 70-year-old man from the village of Yohmor. He was pruning an orange tree outside his house last week when he dislodged a bomblet; it exploded, sending pieces of shrapnel into his brain, lungs and kidneys. "I know he can hear me because he squeezes my hand when I talk to him," said his daughter, Suwad, as she sat beside her father's bed in the hospital.

At least 83 people have been killed by cluster munitions since the ceasefire, according to independent monitors.

Some Israeli officers are protesting at the use of cluster bombs, each containing 644 small but lethal bomblets, against civilian targets in Lebanon. A commander in the MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems) unit told the Israeli daily Haaretz that the army had fired 1,800 cluster rockets, spraying 1.2 million bomblets over houses and fields. "In Lebanon, we covered entire villages with cluster bombs," he said. "What we did there was crazy and monstrous." What makes the cluster bombs so dangerous is that 30 per cent of the bomblets do not detonate on impact. They can lie for years - often difficult to see because of their small size, on roofs, in gardens, in trees, beside roads or in rubbish - waiting to explode when disturbed.

In Nabatiyeh, the modern 100-bed government hospital has received 19 victims of cluster bombs since the end of the war. As we arrived, a new patient, Ahmad Sabah, a laboratory technician at the hospital, was being rushed into the emergency room. A burly man of 45, he was unconscious on a stretcher. Earlier in the morning, he had gone up to the flat roof of his house to check the water tank. While there, he must have touched a pile of logs he was keeping for winter fires. Unknown to him, a bomblet had fallen into the woodpile a month earlier. The logs shielded him from the full force of the blast, but when we saw him, doctors were still trying to find out the extent of his injuries.

"For us, the war is still going on, though there was a cease-fire on 14 August," said Dr Hassan Wazni, the director of the hospital. "If the cluster bombs had all exploded at the time they landed, it would not be so bad, but they are still killing and maiming people."

The bomblets may be small, but they explode with devastating force. On the morning of the ceasefire, Hadi Hatab, an 11-year old boy, was brought dying to the hospital. "He must have been holding the bomb close to him," Dr Wazni said. "It took off his hands and legs and the lower part of his body."

We went to Yohmor to find where Hussein Ali Ahmad had received his terrible wounds while pruning his orange tree. The village is at the end of a broken road, six miles south of Nabatiyeh, and is overlooked by the ruins of Beaufort Castle, a crusader fortress on a ridge above the deep valley along which the Litani river runs.

Israeli bombs and shells have turned about a third of the houses in Yohmor into concrete sandwiches, one floor falling on top of another under the impact of explosions. Some families camp in the ruins. Villagers said that they were most worried by the cluster bombs still infesting their gardens, roofs and fruit trees. In the village street, were the white vehicles of the Manchester-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG), whose teams are trying to clear the bomblets.

It is not an easy job. Whenever members of one of the MAG teams finds and removes a bomblet, they put a stick, painted red on top and then yellow, in the ground. There are so many of these sticks that it looks as if some sinister plant had taken root and is flourishing in the village.

"The cluster bombs all landed in the last days of the war," said Nuhar Hejazi, a surprisingly cheerful 65-year-old woman. "There were 35 on the roof of our house and 200 in our garden so we can't visit our olive trees." People in Yohmor depend on their olive trees and the harvest should begin now before the rains, but the trees are still full of bomblets. "My husband and I make 20 cans of oil a year which we need to sell," Mrs Hejazi says. "Now we don't know what to do." The sheer number of the bomblets makes it almost impossible to remove them all.

Frederic Gras, a de-mining expert formerly in the French navy, who is leading the MAG teams in Yohmor, says: "In the area north of the Litani river, you have three or four people being killed every day by cluster bombs. The Israeli army knows that 30 per cent of them do not explode at the time they are fired so they become anti-personnel mines."

Why did the Israeli army do it? The number of cluster bombs fired must have been greater than 1.2 million because, in addition to those fired in rockets, many more were fired in 155mm artillery shells. One Israeli gunner said he had been told to "flood" the area at which they were firing but was given no specific targets. M. Gras, who personally defuses 160 to 180 bomblets a day, says this is the first time he seen cluster bombs used against heavily populated villages.

An editorial in Haaretz said that the mass use of this weapon by the Israeli Defence Forces was a desperate last-minute attempt to stop Hizbollah's rocket fire into northern Israel. Whatever the reason for the bombardment, the villagers in south Lebanon will suffer death and injury from cluster bombs as they pick their olives and oranges for years to come.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of 'The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq', to be published by Verso in October.

We cannot afford to maintain these ancient prejudices against Islam
The Pope's remarks were dangerous, and will convince many more Muslims that the west is incurably Islamophobic
Karen Armstrong
Monday September 18, 2006
The Guardian

In the 12th century, Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny, initiated a dialogue with the Islamic world. "I approach you not with arms, but with words," he wrote to the Muslims whom he imagined reading his book, "not with force, but with reason, not with hatred, but with love." Yet his treatise was entitled Summary of the Whole Heresy of the Diabolical Sect of the Saracens and segued repeatedly into spluttering intransigence. Words failed Peter when he contemplated the "bestial cruelty" of Islam, which, he claimed, had established itself by the sword. Was Muhammad a true prophet? "I shall be worse than a donkey if I agree," he expostulated, "worse than cattle if I assent!"

Peter was writing at the time of the Crusades. Even when Christians were trying to be fair, their entrenched loathing of Islam made it impossible for them to approach it objectively. For Peter, Islam was so self-evidently evil that it did not seem to occur to him that the Muslims he approached with such "love" might be offended by his remarks. This medieval cast of mind is still alive and well.

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI quoted, without qualification and with apparent approval, the words of the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." The Vatican seemed bemused by the Muslim outrage occasioned by the Pope's words, claiming that the Holy Father had simply intended "to cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue toward the other religions and cultures, and obviously also towards Islam".

But the Pope's good intentions seem far from obvious. Hatred of Islam is so ubiquitous and so deeply rooted in western culture that it brings together people who are usually at daggers drawn. Neither the Danish cartoonists, who published the offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad last February, nor the Christian fundamentalists who have called him a paedophile and a terrorist, would ordinarily make common cause with the Pope; yet on the subject of Islam they are in full agreement.

Our Islamophobia dates back to the time of the Crusades, and is entwined with our chronic anti-semitism. Some of the first Crusaders began their journey to the Holy Land by massacring the Jewish communities along the Rhine valley; the Crusaders ended their campaign in 1099 by slaughtering some 30,000 Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem . It is always difficult to forgive people we know we have wronged. Thenceforth Jews and Muslims became the shadow-self of Christendom, the mirror image of everything that we hoped we were not - or feared that we were.

The fearful fantasies created by Europeans at this time endured for centuries and reveal a buried anxiety about Christian identity and behaviour. When the popes called for a Crusade to the Holy Land, Christians often persecuted the local Jewish communities: why march 3,000 miles to Palestine to liberate the tomb of Christ, and leave unscathed the people who had - or so the Crusaders mistakenly assumed - actually killed Jesus. Jews were believed to kill little children and mix their blood with the leavened bread of Passover: this "blood libel" regularly inspired pogroms in Europe , and the image of the Jew as the child slayer laid bare an almost Oedipal terror of the parent faith.

Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them. It was when the Christians of Europe were fighting brutal holy wars against Muslims in the Middle East that Islam first became known in the west as the religion of the sword. At this time, when the popes were trying to impose celibacy on the reluctant clergy, Muhammad was portrayed by the scholar monks of Europe as a lecher, and Islam condemned - with ill-concealed envy - as a faith that encouraged Muslims to indulge their basest sexual instincts. At a time when European social order was deeply hierarchical, despite the egalitarian message of the gospel, Islam was condemned for giving too much respect to women and other menials.

In a state of unhealthy denial, Christians were projecting subterranean disquiet about their activities on to the victims of the Crusades, creating fantastic enemies in their own image and likeness. This habit has persisted. The Muslims who have objected so vociferously to the Pope's denigration of Islam have accused him of "hypocrisy", pointing out that the Catholic church is ill-placed to condemn violent jihad when it has itself been guilty of unholy violence in crusades, persecutions and inquisitions and, under Pope Pius XII, tacitly condoned the Nazi Holocaust.

Pope Benedict delivered his controversial speech in Germany the day after the fifth anniversary of September 11. It is difficult to believe that his reference to an inherently violent strain in Islam was entirely accidental. He has, most unfortunately, withdrawn from the interfaith initiatives inaugurated by his predecessor, John Paul II, at a time when they are more desperately needed than ever. Coming on the heels of the Danish cartoon crisis, his remarks were extremely dangerous. They will convince more Muslims that the west is incurably Islamophobic and engaged in a new crusade.

We simply cannot afford this type of bigotry. The trouble is that too many people in the western world unconsciously share this prejudice, convinced that Islam and the Qur'an are addicted to violence. The 9/11 terrorists, who in fact violated essential Islamic principles, have confirmed this deep-rooted western perception and are seen as typical Muslims instead of the deviants they really were.

With disturbing regularity, this medieval conviction surfaces every time there is trouble in the Middle East . Yet until the 20th century, Islam was a far more tolerant and peaceful faith than Christianity. The Qur'an strictly forbids any coercion in religion and regards all rightly guided religion as coming from God; and despite the western belief to the contrary, Muslims did not impose their faith by the sword.

The early conquests in Persia and Byzantium after the Prophet's death were inspired by political rather than religious aspirations. Until the middle of the eighth century, Jews and Christians in the Muslim empire were actively discouraged from conversion to Islam, as, according to Qur'anic teaching, they had received authentic revelations of their own. The extremism and intolerance that have surfaced in the Muslim world in our own day are a response to intractable political problems - oil, Palestine , the occupation of Muslim lands, the prevelance of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East , and the west's perceived "double standards" - and not to an ingrained religious imperative.

But the old myth of Islam as a chronically violent faith persists, and surfaces at the most inappropriate moments. As one of the received ideas of the west, it seems well-nigh impossible to eradicate. Indeed, we may even be strengthening it by falling back into our old habits of projection. As we see the violence - in Iraq , Palestine , Lebanon - for which we bear a measure of responsibility, there is a temptation, perhaps, to blame it all on "Islam". But if we are feeding our prejudice in this way, we do so at our peril.

· Karen Armstrong is the author of Islam: A Short History

Monday, September 18, 2006

By Greg Myre
New York Times
September 18, 2006

Ramallah, West Bank — Sam Bahour, an American citizen of Palestinian descent, would seem
to be the kind of neighbor Israel would welcome.

Mr. Bahour, 41, has a master’s degree in business from Tel Aviv University and runs a
successful consulting firm. He developed a gleaming $10 million shopping center in
Ramallah, where he has lived for 13 years with his Palestinian wife, Abeer, and their two

Yet in all that time, Israel has never approved Mr. Bahour’s application for a
Palestinian identity document, which would allow him to live permanently in the West Bank
with his family. He has had to rely instead on repeated renewals of a three-month tourist
visa since he moved from Ohio to Ramallah in 1993. And now Israel says he cannot renew it
anymore. “I’m facing a tough choice,” Mr. Bahour said. “If I leave, I may not be able to
come back here, which is where my life is. If I stay, I will be here illegally.” Mr.
Bahour is one of thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands, of people ensnared by an
Israeli policy that has effectively frozen immigration to the Palestinian areas of the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the current Palestinian uprising began in 2000. This
spring, after the radical Islamic group Hamas came to power, Israel severed most contacts
with the Palestinian Authority and moved to close the last loophole in its immigration
policy — the renewable tourist visa.

Over the past six years, more than 70,000 people, a vast majority of them of Palestinian
descent, have applied without success to immigrate to the West Bank or Gaza to join
relatives, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group that tracks the issue.
Many who followed Mr. Bahour’s route and worked around the ban with tourist visas now
have no legal way to remain. “These people are not really tourists — they are living and
working without legal permits,” said Shlomo Dror, the spokesman for the Israeli
government agency that handles Palestinian affairs. “I know these people have a difficult
life living this way, and I feel sorry for them,” he said. “I think we can solve this
when we renew relations with the Palestinian Authority, but right now, we are not talking
to them.” Mr. Bahour acknowledges that he has options that others in the same situation
may lack. His daughters, ages 12 and 6, are also American citizens, and his wife has a
green card that would allow her to live and work in the United States. He and his wife
own a second home in Youngstown, Ohio, where Mr. Bahour was born and raised, and his
profession as a business consultant is portable.

But the family is committed to building a future here, he said. “People ask why I don’t
just leave,” Mr. Bahour said. “I tell them it’s because I want to make a contribution
here.” More common are families in which one spouse has only a Palestinian identity
document while the other has a foreign passport, making it difficult or impractical for
them to live elsewhere.

Many Palestinians say Israel is pursuing a systematic policy of limiting the population
in the Palestinian areas, even if it means separating family members. “Most every
Palestinian knows someone with this kind of problem,” said Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman
for B’Tselem.

In her view, the Israeli policy has several purposes: to apply political pressure on the
Palestinians, to create a bargaining chip that could be used in future negotiations and
to be a tool in a battle of demographics.

The largest single category of people affected by the Israeli policy is Jordanian women
of Palestinian descent who have married Palestinian men and want to move to the West Bank
to live with their husbands, Ms. Michaeli said.

Many of those women come to the West Bank on tourist visas and stay on after their visas
expire. Complications arise when the women eventually want to travel or visit relatives
in Jordan. If they leave the West Bank or Gaza, they face the risk that Israeli
authorities will not allow them to return.

Palestinians also say the Israel policy will keep out well-educated, middle-class and
politically moderate members of the Palestinian diaspora who could play an important role
in developing Palestinian society.

Ali Aggad, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin, has been working in the West Bank
since 1999. He is now the general manager at the Unipal General Trading Company, which
distributes consumer products for international companies like Procter & Gamble.

For seven years, Israel has routinely granted him a tourist visa that has allowed him to
spend weekdays working in the West Bank and weekends in Amman, Jordan, with his wife and
two sons. Without warning, Israeli authorities denied him entry to the West Bank twice
recently, he said.

Procter & Gamble’s office in Tel Aviv is trying to resolve his case with the Israeli
authorities, Mr. Aggad said, adding, “All I can do now is wait and hope it works out.” In
the past few months, about 50 United States citizens have notified American diplomatic
offices that Israel has prevented them from entering the West Bank, said Micaela
Schweitzer-Bluhm, a spokeswoman at the United States Consulate in Jerusalem. “This is an
issue we’ve been monitoring for several months, and it has been raised with the Israeli
authorities,” she said.

Many people of Palestinian origin sought to return to the Palestinian areas of the West
Bank and Gaza after Israel and the Palestinians signed an interim peace agreement in

Under a 1995 accord, Israel initially agreed to allow 3,000 immigrants to the Palestinian
areas each year, as part of a family reunification process, said Mr. Dror, the Israeli

Demand proved to be so great, he said, that Israel later increased the number to as many
as 20,000 a year. Even so, there was a backlog of some 50,000 applications when Israel
froze the process in 2000. Israel resumed allowing immigration last year, but soon froze
it again when Hamas won power.

One of the applications stuck in the pile is Mr. Bahour’s. He said he applied for
permanent residency in 1994 and had not received a reply.

Meanwhile, his current tourist visa expires Oct. 1, and Israeli authorities have written
“last permit” in his United States passport. “I still don’t know what I’m going to do,”
he said. But he will not leave if he can help it. “If I walked

Sunday, September 17, 2006

<“Lebanese Security” Is the Pretext for the Naval Babel around Lebanon ’s Shores

DEBKAfile Exclusive Military Report

September 4, 2006, 11:37 AM (GMT+02:00)

The extraordinary buildup of European naval and military strength in and around Lebanon ’s shores is way out of proportion for the task the European contingents of expanded UNIFIL have undertaken: to create a buffer between Israel and Hizballah.

Close investigation by DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources discloses that “Lebanese security” and peacemaking is not the object of the exercise. It is linked to the general anticipation of a military clash between the United States and Israel , on one side, and Iran and possibly Syria on the other, some time from now until November

This expectation has brought together the greatest sea and air armada Europe has ever assembled at any point on earth since World War II: two carriers with 75 fighter-bombers, spy planes and helicopters on their decks; 15 warships of various types – 7 French, 5 Italian, 2-3 Green, 3-5 German, and five American; thousands of Marines – French, Italian and German, as well as 1,800 US Marines.

It is improbably billed as support for a mere 7,000 European soldiers who are deployed in Lebanon to prevent the dwindling Israeli force of 4-5,000 soldiers and some 15-16,000 Hizballah militiamen from coming to blows as well as for humanitarian odd jobs.

A Western military expert remarked to DEBKAfile that the European naval forces cruising off Lebanese shores are roughly ten times as much as the UNIFIL contingents require as cover, especially when UNIFIL’s duties are strictly non-combat. After all, none of the UN contingents will be engaged in disarming Hizballah or blocking the flow of weapons incoming from Syria and Iran .

So, if not for Lebanon , what is this fine array of naval power really there for?

First, according to our military sources, the European participants feel the need of a strong naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean to prevent a possible Iranian-US-Israeli war igniting an Iranian long-range Shahab missile attack on Europe; second, as a deterrent to dissuade Syria and Hizballah from opening a second front against American and Israel from their eastern Mediterranean coasts.

Numbers alone do not do justice to the immense operational capabilities and firepower amassed opposite Lebanon . Take first the three fleet flagships.

From France’s nuclear-powered 38,000-ton Charles De Gaulle carrier (see insignia), 40 Rafale M fighter craft whose range is 3,340 km can take off at intervals of 30 seconds. The ship also carries three E-2C Hawkeye surveillance craft. The combat control center of the French carrier can handle 2,000 simultaneous targets. The carrier leads a task fore of 7 warships carrying 2,800 French Marines.

Charles De Gaulle s also a floating logistics center operating water desalination plants for 15,000 men and enough food to feed an army for 90 days.

The USS Mount Whitney has the most sophisticated command and control suite in the world. Like the French Charles De Gaulle , it exercises command over a task force of 1,800 sailors, Marines, Air force medical and other personnel serving aboard the USS Barry, the USS Trenton , HSV Swift and USNS Kanawha .

Available to the fleet commander, US Vice Admiral J. “Boomer” Stufflebeem, formally titled commander of Joint Task Force Lebanon , is the uniquely advanced C41 command and intelligence system through which he can flash intelligence data to every American commander at any point between the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf and Iran . USS Mount Whitney communications are described as unsurpassed for the the secure transmission of data from any point to any other point in the world through HF, UHF,VHF, SHF and EHF.

The third carrier joining the other two is the Italian aircraft-helicopter carrier Garibaldi , which has launch pads for vertical takeoff by 16 AV-8B Harrier fighter-bombers or 18 Sikorsky SH-3D Seak King sea-choppers (or Italian Agusta Bell AB212 helicopters), designed to attack submarines and missile ships.

Military experts estimate that the Garibaldi currently carries 10 fighter planes and 6 helicopters.

The new European naval concentration tops up the forces which permanently crowd the eastern Mediterranean : the Italian-based American Sixth Fleet, some 15 small Israeli missile ships and half a dozen submarines and the NATO fleet of Canadian, British, Dutch, German, Spanish, Greek and Turkish warships. They are on patrol against al Qaeda (which is estimated to deploy 45 small freighters in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean ). The British have permanent air and sea bases in Cyprus .

This vast force’s main weakness, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, is that it lacks a single unified command. A sudden flare-up in Lebanon , Syria or Iran could throw the entire force into confusion.

On paper, it has three commanders:

1. French General Alain Pellegrini is the commander of the expanded UNIFIL ground, naval and air force in Lebanon . In February 2007, he hands over to an Italian general who leads the largest of the European contingents of 3,000 men. It is hard to see France agreeing to place its prestigious Charles De Gaulle flagship under non-French command.

2. The American forces opposite Lebanese shores are under direct US command. Since the October 1993 debacle of an American peace force under the UN flag in Somalia , Washington has never again placed its military under UN command. (There is no American contingent in the UNIFIL ground force either.)

In other words, USS Mount Whitney , while serving the European fleets as their operational and intelligence nerve center will stay under the sole command of Vice Admiral Stufflebeem in all possible contingencies.

3. Similarly, the NATO fleet will remain under NATO command, and Israel ’s air and naval units will take their orders from Israeli Navy Headquarters in Haifa and the General Staff in Tel Aviv.

The naval Babel piling up in the eastern Mediterranean may therefore find itself at cross purposes when action is needed in an armed conflict. Iran , Syria and Hizballah could be counting on this weakness as a tactical asset in their favor.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Global popular power
The struggle for justice and prosperity in the Arab world and everywhere depends upon popular resistance to US imperialism and its local clients, writes George Galloway*

"Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" reads the eponymous statue's inscription in Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem Ozymandias. But it is the boastful tyrant's monument, not the self-confidence of his enemies, that lies splintered in the sands.

Five years on from the atrocities of 11 September 2001, George W Bush and the neo- conservatives have managed to turn much of Afghanistan and Iraq into desolation, full of now lifeless things.

Amid this carnage lies another, unlamented casualty -- the colossal wreck of US and British foreign policy. The authors of that wreckage cannot conceivably claim they were not warned of the calamities they would unleash.

Millions of us told them what would happen if they seized on the events of five years ago to launch what the Pentagon now calls the "long war". Four days after the attacks in New York and Washington I spoke in a sitting of the recalled British parliament. I warned that if the US and its allies mishandled the response, they would create a thousand, ten thousand Bin Ladens. Five years on, is that not what's hapened?

Many tens of thousands of people -- mostly women and children -- have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do the ultimate perpetrators of the killings, as they sit behind their mahogany desks in the White House and Downing Street, imagine that the rest of us have not noticed how they do not deem those Arab and Muslim dead worthy of the same grief as attends their own?

Do they think we have not noticed how they refuse even to count the number killed in Iraq? Did they believe that the pornographic images of Abu Ghraib would be discounted? Did George Bush and Tony Blair delude themselves into thinking they could whet the knife that Israel plunged into Lebanon without being seen as accomplices to war crimes?

Blair certainly gave every appearance of having lost all contact with reality when he flew to Tel Aviv last weekend. With his own MPs plotting to oust him for damaging their re-election prospects, he went to occupied Jerusalem and threw his arms around Ehud Olmert, whose war in Lebanon the vast majority of people in Britain opposed.

As for Bush, he has always struggled even to give the impression of having a connection with reality. Nevertheless, the reality of the last five years stubbornly remains. The world is not a safer place; it is more violent, more dangerous.

There are more, not fewer, jihadists of the Bin Laden stripe. The bitterness in the Arab and Muslim world is deeper, broader and more incendiary.

In Afghanistan, Blair, oblivious to his nation's history of military catastrophe in that proud country, has hurled his soldiers into the most unforgiving terrain, against a ferocious and growing military resistance, in a part of the world that even Alexander the Great could not occupy.

In Iraq, the occupiers have spilt enough blood to turn the two great rivers red. In order to cling on they foment sectarian and confessional strife which, and this may be their parting gift, threatens tragically to trisect the country. Can they with a straight face claim Iraq is better off now than it was before the invasion?

Remember what they said their war would achieve: freedom and democracy, respect for women, prosperity and dignity.

In truth, it was the freedom of US corporate culture, the democracy of the dollar and an Arab world ruled by corrupt kings and puppet presidents just as pliant but a little less gauche, able to rig an election as the Bush's do in Florida rather than tactlessly incarcerating the opposition.

Even these, their own selfish ambitions, have not been achieved. That increasingly stands out as the most salient feature of the reality they have created over the last half- decade. Nowhere symbolises it more than Lebanon.

In March of last year the US State Department and British Foreign Office were incongruously playing the role of revolutionary pamphleteer. The "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon was, we were assured, about to usher an irresistible movement for a "New Middle East".

Fifteen months later and we know what that looks like: the Israeli army pledging to bomb Lebanon back two decades and embarking on an invasion whose success was predicated on reigniting the flames of civil war which the people of Lebanon have done so much to douse.

The war this summer was not merely another episode in the bloody history of Israel lashing out at bordering states. It was a battle in Washington's wider war on terror. It was a front that opened up, ironically, precisely because the US is mired and losing on the Iraq front. The assault on Lebanon was meant to pave the way to further aggression against Syria and Iran.

That makes the reaction of those Arab leaders who denounced the Lebanese resistance all the more emetic. Their spurious claims that this was merely a Shia issue or that threats to bomb Iran are a Persian problem should be met with nothing but contempt.

In backing Israel against Hizbullah and the Lebanese resistance, they sided with the enemy who is garrotting the Palestinians in Gaza. While these leaders humiliated themselves before Washington and Tel Aviv, the name Sheikh Sayed Hassan Nasrallah was on the lips of millions from Rabat to Riyadh.

Israel's defeat at the hands of Hizbullah and the resistance in Lebanon is a defeat also for Washington and London. It has opened up a new prospect for ending the nightmare of the last five years.

It is not only in the Arab and Muslim world that confidence is surging forward that there is an alternative to domination by the US, global corporations and their local junior partners. The same is happening in Latin America where President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela personifies a new radical generation, one that met its counterparts in the Middle East and the older generation of the great Fidel Castro at the Non-Aligned Summit this week.

This, I believe, is going to be the lasting legacy of the last five years: a renewed global movement in direct opposition to the Pentagon and the multinationals on whose behalf it acts as enforcer. The stakes are extraordinarily high. Just as the impasse in Iraq drove the US to support the Israeli adventure in Lebanon, so that defeat may in turn accelerate preparations for an assault on Iran.

That would be one of the most costly miscalculations in history. They stand warned. But they stood warned over their crazed reaction to 11 September, so no one should underestimate their capacity to wade deeper into the river of blood.

The US is not going to tip toe away, despite its losses. To do so would mean the American establishment accepting that its power and prestige had been thrown back to before 1989, when it faced a rival power.

It is going to take the power of the popular resistance from Caracas to Cairo to throw back that behemoth and settle accounts with all the quislings who it depends upon but who crucially also depend on it.

* The writer is a respected member of British Parliament for the London constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow.

© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved

Al-Ahram Weekly Online : Located at:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Moral Bankruptcy of Israel's Founding IdeaThe Coming Collapse of Zionism
Former CIA Analyst

Is it only observers outside the conventional mainstream who have noticed that by its murderous assault on Lebanon and simultaneously on Gaza, Israel finally exposed, for even the most deluded to see, the total bankruptcy of its very founding idea?

Can it be that the deluded are still deluded? Can it truly still be that Israel's bankruptcy is evident only to those who already knew it, those who already recognized Zionism as illegitimate for the racist principle that underlies it?

Can it be therefore that only the already converted can see coming the ultimate collapse of Zionism and, with it, of Israel itself as the exclusivist state of Jews?

Racism has always been the lifeblood of Israel. Zionism rests on the fundamental belief that Jews have superior national, human, and natural rights in the land, an inherently racist foundation that excludes any possibility of true democracy or equality of peoples. Israel's destructive rampage in Lebanon and Gaza is merely the natural next step in the evolution of such a founding ideology. Precisely because that ideology posits the exclusivity and superiority of one people's rights, it can accept no legal or moral restraints on its behavior and no territorial limits, for it needs an ever-expanding geography to accommodate those unlimited rights.

Zionism cannot abide encroachment or even the slightest challenge to its total domination over its own space -- not merely of the space within Israel's 1967 borders, but of the surrounding space as well, extending outward to geographical limits that Zionism has not yet seen fit to set for itself. Total domination means no physical threat and no demographic threat: Jews reign, Jews are totally secure, Jews always outnumber, Jews hold all military power, Jews control all natural resources, all neighbors are powerless and totally subservient. This was the message Israel tried to send with its attack on Lebanon: that neither Hizbullah nor anything in Lebanon that nurtures Hizbullah should continue to exist, for the sole reason that Hizbullah challenges Israel's supreme authority in the region and Israel cannot abide this effrontery. Zionism cannot coexist with any other ideology or ethnicity except in the preeminent position, for everyone and every ideology that is not Zionist is a potential threat.

In Lebanon, Israel attempted by its wildly reckless violence to destroy the nation, to make of it a killing zone where only Zionism would reign, where non-Jews would die or flee or prostrate themselves, as they had during the nearly quarter-century of Israel's last occupation, from 1978 to 2000. Observing the war in Beirut after the first week of bombing, describing the murder in an Israeli bombing raid of four Lebanese army logistics techs who had been mending power and water lines "to keep Beirut alive," British correspondent Robert Fisk wrote that it dawned on him that what Israel intended was that "Beirut is to die . . . . No one is to be allowed to keep Beirut alive." Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz (the man who four years ago when he headed the Israeli Air Force said he felt no psychological discomfort after one of his F-16s had dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in Gaza in the middle of the night, killing 14 civilians, mostly children) pledged at the start of the Lebanon assault to take Lebanon back 20 years; 20 years ago Lebanon was not alive, its southern third occupied by Israel, the remainder a decade into a hopelessly destructive civil war.

The cluster bombs are a certain sign of Israel's intent to remake Lebanon, at least southern Lebanon, into a region cleansed of its Arab population and unable to function except at Israel's mercy. Cluster bombs, of which Israel's U.S. provider is the world's leading manufacturer (and user, in places like Yugoslavia and Iraq), explode in mid-flight and scatter hundreds of small bombs over a several-acre area. Up to one-quarter of the bomblets fail to explode on impact and are left to be found by unsuspecting civilians returning to their homes. UN surveyors estimate that there are as many as 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets strewn around in 400 bomb-strike sites in southern Lebanon. Scores of Lebanese children and adults have been killed and injured by this unexploded ordnance since the cease-fire last month.

Laying anti-personnel munitions in heavily populated civilian areas is not the surgical targeting of a military force in pursuit of military objectives; it is ethnic cleansing. Fully 90 percent of Israel's cluster-bomb strikes were conducted, according to UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Egelund, in the last 72 hours before the cease-fire took effect, when it was apparent that a UN cease-fire resolution was in the works. This can only have been a further effort, no doubt intended to be more or less a coup de grace, to depopulate the area. Added to the preceding month of bombing attacks that destroyed as much as 50 or in some cases 80 percent of the homes in many villages, that did vast damage to the nation's entire civilian infrastructure, that crippled a coastal power plant that continues to spill tons of oil and benzene-laden toxins along the Lebanese and part of the Syrian coastlines, and that killed over 1,000 civilians in residential apartment blocks, being transported in ambulances, and fleeing in cars flying white flags, Israel's war can only be interpreted as a massiv act of ethnic cleansing, to keep the region safe for Jewish dominion.

In fact, approximately 250,000 people, by UN estimate, are unable to return to their homes because either the homes have been leveled or unexploded cluster bomblets and other ordnance have not yet been cleared by demining teams. This was not a war against Hizbullah, except incidentally. It was not a war against terror, as Israel and its U.S. acolytes would have us believe (indeed, Hizbullah was not conducting terrorist acts, but had been engaged in a sporadic series of military exchanges with Israeli forces along the border, usually initiated by Israel). This was a war for Israeli breathing space, for the absolute certainty that Israel would dominate the neighborhood. It was a war against a population that was not totally subservient, that had the audacity to harbor a force like Hizbullah that does not bow to Israel's will. It was a war on people and their way of thinking, people who are not Jewish and who do not act to promote Zionism and Jewish hegemony.

Israel has been doing this to its neighbors in one form or another since its creation. Palestinians have obviously been Zionism's longest suffering victims, and its most persistent opponents. The Zionists thought they had rid themselves of their most immediate problem, the problem at the very core of Zionism, in 1948 when they forced the flight of nearly two-thirds of the Palestinian population that stood in the way of a establishing Israel as an exclusive Jewish-majority state. You can't have a Jewish state if most of your population is not Jewish. Nineteen years later, when Israel began to expand its borders with the capture of the West Bank and Gaza, those Palestinians who it thought had disappeared turned out to be still around after all, threatening the Zionists' Jewish hegemony.

In the nearly 40 years since then, Israeli policy has been largely directed -- with periodic time-outs for attacks on Lebanon -- toward making the Palestinians disappear for certain. The methods of ethnic cleansing are myriad: land theft, destruction of agricultural land and resources, economic strangulation, crippling restrictions on commerce, home demolition, residency permit revocation, outright deportation, arrest, assassination, family separation, movement restriction, destruction of census and land ownership records, theft of tax monies, starvation. Israel wants all of the land of Palestine, including all of the West Bank and Gaza, but it cannot have a majority Jewish state in all of this land as long as the Palestinians are there. Hence the slow strangulation. In Gaza, where almost a million and a half people are crammed into an area less than one-tenth the size of Rhode Island, Israel is doing on a continuing basis what it did in Lebanon in a month's time -- killing civilians, destroying civilian infrastructure, making the place uninhabitable. Palestinians in Gaza are being murdered at the rate of eight a day. Maimings come at a higher rate. Such is the value of non-Jewish life in the Zionist scheme of things.

Israeli scholar Ilan Pappe calls it a slow genocide (ElectronicIntifada, September 2, 2006). Since 1948, every Palestinian act of resistance to Israeli oppression has been a further excuse for Israel to implement an ethnic cleansing policy, a phenomenon so inevitable and accepted in Israel that Pappe says "the daily business of slaying Palestinians, mainly children, is now reported in the internal pages of the local press, quite often in microscopic fonts." His prediction is that continued killing at this level either will produce a mass eviction or, if the Palestinians remain steadfast and continue to resist, as is far more likely, will result in an increasing level of killing. Pappe recalls that the world absolved Israel of responsibility and any accountability for its 1948 act of ethnic cleansing, allowing Israel to turn this policy "into a legitimate tool for its national security agenda." If the world remains silent again in response to the current round of ethnic cleansing, the policy will only escalate, "even more drastically."

And here is the crux of the situation today. Will anyone notice this horror? Has Israel, as proposed at the beginning, truly exposed by its wild summer campaign of ethnic cleansing in Lebanon and Gaza the total bankruptcy of its very founding idea, the essential illegitimacy of the Zionist principle of Jewish exclusivity? Can even the most deluded see this, or will they continue to be deluded and the world continue to turn away, excusing atrocity because it is committed by Israel in the name of keeping the neighborhood safe for Jews?

Since Israel's crazed run through Lebanon began, numerous clear-eyed observers in the alternative and the European and Arab media have noted the new moral nudity of Israel, and of its U.S. backer, with an unusual degree of bluntness. Also on many tongues is a new awareness of growing Arab and Muslim resistance to the staggering viciousness of Israeli-U.S. actions. Palestinian-British scholar Karma Nabulsi, writing in the Guardian in early August, laments the "indiscriminate wrath of an enemy driven by an existential mania that cannot be assuaged, only stopped." American scholar Virginia Tilley (Counterpunch, August 5, 2006) observes that any kind of normal, peaceful existence is anathema to Israel, for it "must see and treat its neighbors as an existential threat in order to justify . . . its ethnic/racial character." Even before the Lebanon war, but after Gaza had begun to be starved, political economist Edward Herman (Z Magazine, March 2006)condemned Israel's "long-term ethnic cleansing and institutionalized racism" and the hypocritical way in which the West and the western media accept and underwrite these policies "in violation of all purported enlightenment values."

Racism underlies the Israeli-U.S. neocon axis that is currently running amok in the Middle East. The inherent racism of Zionism has found a natural ally in the racist imperial philosophy espoused by the neoconservatives of the Bush administration. The ultimate logic of the Israeli-U.S. global war, writes Israeli activist Michel Warschawski of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem (July 30, 2006) is the "full ethnicization" of all conflicts, "in which one is not fighting a policy, a government or specific targets, but a 'threat' identified with a community" -- or, in Israel's case, with all non-Jewish communities.

The basically racist notion of a clash of civilizations, being promoted both by the Bush administration and by Israel, provides the rationale for the assaults on Palestine and Lebanon. As Azmi Bishara, a leading Palestinian member of Israel's Knesset, has observed (al-Ahram, August 10-16, 2006), if the Israeli-U.S. argument that the world is divided into two distinct and incompatible cultures, us vs. them, is accurate, then the notion that "we" operate by a double standard loses all moral opprobrium, for it becomes the natural order of things. This has always been Israel's natural order of things: in Israel's world and that of its U.S. supporters, the idea that Jews and the Jewish culture are superior to and incompatible with surrounding peoples and cultures is the very basis of the state.

In the wake of Israel's failure in Lebanon, Arabs and Muslims have a sense, for the first time since Israel's implantation in the heart of the Arab Middle East almost 60 years ago, that Israel in its arrogance has badly overreached and that its power and its reach can be limited. The "ethnicization" of the global conflict that Michel Warschawski speaks of -- the arrogant colonial approach of old, now in a new high-tech guise backed by F-16s and nuclear weapons, that assumes Western and Israeli superiority and posits a kind of apocalyptic clash between the "civilized" West and a backward, enraged East -- has been seen for what it is because of Israel's mad assault on Lebanon. What it is is a crude racist assertion of power by a Zionist regime pursuing absolute, unchallenged regional hegemony and a neoconservative regime in the United States pursuing absolute, unchallenged global hegemony. As Palestinian commentator Rami Khouri observed in an interview with Charlie Rose a week into the Lebanon war, Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, having both grown out of earlier Israeli wars of hegemony, are the political response of populations "that have been degraded and occupied and bombed and killed and humiliated repeatedly by the Israelis, and often with the direct or indirect acquiescence, or, as we see now, the direct support of the United States."

Those oppressed populations are now fighting back. No matter how much Arab leaders in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia may bow to the U.S. and Israel, the Arab people now recognize the fundamental weakness of Israel's race-based culture and polity and have a growing confidence that they can ultimately defeat it. The Palestinians in particular have been at this for 60 years, never disappearing despite Israel's best designs, never failing to remind Israel and the world of their existence. They will not succumb now, and the rest of the Arab world is taking heart from their endurance and Hizbullah's.

Something in the way Israel operates, and in the way the United States supports Israel's method of operating, must change. More and more commentators, inside the Arab world and outside, have begun to notice this, and a striking number are audacious enough to predict some sort of end to Zionism in the racist, exclusivist form in which it now exists and functions. This does not mean throwing the Jews into the sea. Israel will not be defeated militarily. But it can be defeated psychologically, which means putting limits on its hegemony, stopping its marauding advance through its neighborhood, ending Jewish racial/religious domination over other peoples.

Rami Khouri contends that the much greater public support throughout the Arab world for Hizbullah and Hamas is "a catastrophe" both for Israel and for the United States because it means resistance to their imperial designs. Khouri does not go further in his predictions, but others do, seeing at least in vague outline the vision of a future in which Israel no longer enjoys ultimate dominion. Gilad Atzmon, an ex-Israeli living in Britain, a jazz musician and thinker, sees Hizbullah's victory in Lebanon as signaling the defeat of what he calls global Zionism, by which he means the Israeli/U.S. neocon axis. It is the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghani, and Iranian people, he says, who are "at the vanguard of the war for humanity and humanism," while Israel and the U.S. spread destruction and death, and more and more Europeans and Americans, recognizing this, are falling off the Zionist/neocon bandwagon. Atzmon talks about Israel as, ultimately, "an historic event" and a "dead entity."

Many others see similar visions. Commentators increasingly discuss the possibility of Israel, its myth of invincibility having been deflated, going through a South Africa-like epiphany, in which its leadership somehow recognizes the error of its racist ways and in a surge of humanitarian feeling renounces Zionism's inequities and agrees that Jews and Palestinians should live in equality in a unitary state. British MP George Galloway (Guardian, August 31, 2006) foresees the possibility of "an FW de Klerk moment" emerging in Israel and among its international backers when, as occurred in South Africa, a "critical mass of opposition" overwhelms the position of the previously invincible minority and the leadership is able to justify transferring power on the basis that doing so later under duress will be far less favorable. Short of such peaceful transition, along with a move to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Galloway ­ along with many others -- sees only "war, war and more war, until one day it is Tel Aviv which is on fire and the Israeli leaders' intransigence brings the whole state down on their heads."

This increasingly appears to be the shape of the future: either Israel and its neocon supporters in the United States can dismantle Zionism's most egregious aspects by agreeing to establish a unitary state in Palestine inhabited by the Palestinians and Jews whose land this is, or the world will face a conflagration of a scale not fully imaginable now.

Just as Hizbullah is an integral part of Lebanon, not to be destroyed by the bombing of bridges and power plants, the Palestinians before their expulsion in 1948 were Palestine and still are Palestine. By hitting the Palestinians where they lived, in the literal and the colloquial sense, Israel left them with only a goal and a vision. That vision is justice and redress in some form, whether redress means ultimately defeating Zionism and taking back Palestine, or reconciling with Israel on the condition that it act like a decent neighbor and not a conqueror, or finally joining with Israeli Jews to form a single state in which no people has superior rights . In Lebanon, Israel again seemed bent on imposing its will, its dominion, its culture and ethnicity on another Arab country. It never worked in Palestine, it has not worked in Lebanon, and it will not work anywhere in the Arab world.

We have reached a moral crossroads. In the "new Middle East" defined by Israel, Bush, and the neocons, only Israel and the U.S. may dominate, only they may be strong, only they may be secure. But in the just world that lies on the other side of that crossroads, this is unacceptable. Justice can ultimately prevail.

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I returned to the US in May planning to tie up loose ends, have some much needed surgery and then retire to my little house in a village on the West Bank. Since the Israeli government has refused to let American citizens return to the West Bank. Following is an excellent article on the subject.
The Second Expulsion From Palestine

By Conn Hallinan
Foreign Policy In Focus
August 30, 2006 Issue

The Middle East has always been a place where illusion paves the road to
disaster. In 1095, Pope Urban's religious mania launched the Crusades, the
reverberations of which still echo through the region. In 1915, Winston
Churchill's arrogance led to the World War I bloodbath at Gallipoli. In 2003,
George Bush's hubris ignited a spiral of chaos and civil war in Iraq.

Illusions once again threaten to plunge the Middle East into catastrophe. The
central hallucination this time is that the war in Lebanon was a “proxy war”
with the mullahs in Tehran, what one senior Israeli commander has called
“Iran's western front.” Behind this hallucination is yet another. According to
William O. Beeman, a professor of anthropology and Middle East studies at Brown
University, there is “a longstanding U.S. foreign policy myth that believes
terrorism cannot exist without state support.” In short, if Hezbollah exists,
it is solely because of Iran. This particular illusion, according to a number
of journalists, is behind the carte blanche the White House handed the Israelis
during the war in Lebanon (see Stephen Zunes, How Washington Goaded Israel).

Israeli Fallout

As a result of the Lebanon debacle, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima
Party is almost certainly dead. A Dahaf Institute poll found that 63% of
Israelis want the Prime Minister out, and 74% want to oust Defense Minister and
Labor Party leader Amir Peretz. The latter is busy trying to shift the blame to
Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. General Dan Halutz (54% want him to resign) for
claiming that Hezbollah could be destroyed from the air.

The army is whispering that the politicians held them back, and the politicians
are grumbling that the army mishandled its budget. Olmert is stonewalling a
formal inquiry on the war, which almost 70% of the population is demanding, and
the reservists are up in arms. After 34 days of war, Hezbollah is intact, and
the two soldiers whose capture kicked the whole thing off are still in its
hands. Last but not least, the war knocked 1% off Israel's GNP.

The war's outcome is giving some Israelis pause, and there are some interesting
straws in the wind. Amir Peretz, for instance, has called for negotiations with
the Palestinians. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says she is willing to “explore”
the idea of talks with Syria. Public Security Minister Avi Dichter has gone
even further and says Israel should give up the Golan Heights.

It is not clear where these discussions are going. If nothing else, however,
the war has energized an Israeli peace movement, one rather more inclusive than
such movements in the past.


For the Bush administration and its neoconservative allies, the ceasefire is
just a break between rounds in the president's war on “Islamofascism.” Former
House Speaker Newt Gingrich says the United States is “in an emerging third
world war.” William Kristol calls the Lebanon war an “act of Iranian
aggression” and urges the United States to attack Iranian nuclear sites.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, neocon heavy Max Boot calls for a U.S. attack
on Syria.

According to journalist Sidney Blumenthal in Salon, the neocons in the
administration, specifically Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security
Agency Middle East Director Elliott Abrams, have been funneling U.S.
intelligence intercepts to the Israelis as part of a plan to target Syria and
Iran (see Tom Barry, Hunting Monsters with Elliott Abrams).

Those intercepts were behind the recent House Intelligence Committee report
blasting U.S. spy agencies for their reluctance to say that Hezbollah is
nothing more than an extension of Iran, that Tehran is on the verge of
acquiring nuclear weapons, and that Iran poses a clear and present danger to
the United States.

The author of the House report, Frederick Fleitz, was a former special
assistant to current UN Ambassador John Bolton. Bolton was a key figure in
gathering the now-discredited intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass

According to Blumenthal, Cheney and his Middle East aide David Wurmser have
dusted off a 1996 document called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing
the Realm.” The study was authored by Wurmser, ex-Pentagon official Douglas
Feith, and Richard Perle, disgraced former head of the Defense Policy Board.

The “Break”—originally written for then-Likud prime minister Benjamin
Netanyahu—advocates that the Israelis, with support from the United States,
dump the 1992 Oslo Agreement with the Palestinians, target Syria and Iraq, and
redesign the Middle East.

A key ingredient in the document, and one central to current administration
thinking, is that since terrorism is state-supported, the war on terrorism can
be won by changing regimes. Hence, to defeat Hezbollah, you have to overthrow
Syria and Iran.

Iran's Non-Role

Brown University's Beeman argues that Iran has no direct control over
Hezbollah. While Iran does provide the organization some $200 million a year,
that money “makes up a fraction of Hezbollah's operating budget.” The major
source of the group's funding is the “sakat,” or the tithe required of all

Georgetown University professor Daniel Byman, writing in Foreign Affairs, says
that Iran “lacks the means to force significant change in the [Hezbollah]
movement and its goals. It [Iran] has no real presence on the ground in Lebanon
and a call to disarm or cease resistance would likely cause Hezbollah's
leadership, or at least its most militant elements, to simply sever ties with
Tehran's leadership.” If a wider war is to be avoided, argues Christopher Layne
of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University,
the United States “will have to engage in direct diplomacy with Syria and
Iran—both of which have important stakes in the outcome of security issues in
the Middle East, including those involving Israel's relations with the
Palestinians and with Hezbollah in Lebanon.” Recently a group of 21 former
generals, admirals, ambassadors, and high ranking security advisers proposed
exactly that, calling on the Bush administration to “engage immediately in
direct talks with the government of Iran without preconditions.” The group
warned that “an attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences for security
in the region and U.S. forces in Iraq. It would inflame hatred and violence in
the Middle East and among Muslims everywhere.” Just as Middle East illusions
have done for almost a millennium.
An email worth reading from my son.

War Is Not a Solution for Terrorism By Howard Zinn
The Boston Globe

Saturday 02 September 2006

There is something important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.

I remember John Hersey's novel, "The War Lover," in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.

The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations - the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan - and were forced to withdraw.

Even the "victories" of great military powers turn out to be elusive. Presumably, after attacking and invading Afghanistan, the president was able to declare that the Taliban were defeated. But more than four years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country.

The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence - the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America.

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a "war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are.

The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a "suspected terrorist" is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is "inevitable."

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in "accidental" events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism.

For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by "accident." Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll.

If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.

Howard Zinn is a professor emeritus at Boston University and the author of A People's History of the United States.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Correspondence with my classmate who is or was Chair of the New York Democratic party.

>>To: "Bronwin Peel"
>Subject: RE: Letters from Palestine
>Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2006 10:18:58 -0700
>Thanks so much, Bronwin. I did not receive your first reply so you certainly did not offend me quoting your father. In any event, I agree with you that the experience of growing up in Warren is being highly idealized by our peers, probably a common occurence. Actually, I got out of there as soon as I could! But I must say that I truly enjoyed the reunion and found our old classmates extremely kind and gracious (for the most part). Thanks so much for the tip about Rashid's news service. I will also send him the email of a friend of mine who has worked and lived in Saudi Arabia for many years, as well as in other middle eastern countries. He is exceedingly distressed about the vilfication of the entire Muslim and Arab world populations. Where are you living now, by the way?
>Great to hear from you ....
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Bronwin Peel []
>Sent: Sat 8/19/2006 4:51 AM
>To: Judith Hope
>Subject: RE: Letters from Palestine
>Hi Judy,
>I rediscovered your email on my computer and decided to write. I've been
>concerned since I first answered this that I may have offended you by words
>I sent quoting my father. I forget that people who didn't know him didn't
>ignore his words as his family did. Also, emails often lead to
>misunderstanding as they contain no facial expressions or voice inflections.
>While I don't share the Mayberry, Happy Days memories of our hometown that my
>classmates seem to, I don't think it was the fault of the residents, more
>an effect of my family life. As far our class, I believe we were by and
>large a talented group. For example, Jake Turner, Larry Larance, and aren't
>you or weren't you chairman of the Democratic party of New York. Having
>lived in New York state for a number of years I realize that was one
>tremendous achievement even though you grew up in a political family.
>My son is on the staff of the Washington Report on Middle East
>Affairs. He has access to many fine articles on the Middle East that do not
>make it into the mainsteam media. He's started a news service that's
>entirely free. If you send him an email at xxxxxxxxx, tell
>him you're an old classmate of mine, he'll be happy to add you to his list.
>Best wishes,
> > >Subject: Letters from Palestine
> >Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2006 07:37:08 -0400
> >
> >I am very moved by your blog site. You learned this in our little southern hometown. I don't think so. What happened?
> >JH aka Judy Hollensworth many moons ago
> >