Sharon and Abbas bask in Mubarak's support
Friday, December 3, 2004, 04:22
It’s been quite some time since it came out, but most people – even those who tend to favor the Israeli point of view – still haven’t really swallowed George Bush’s depiction of Ariel Sharon as a “man of peace.” No matter how much time passes, it still sounds as outrageous as when it was first said.

Hosni Mubarak has gone even further now: he has just declared that
Sharon is the Palestinians’ best hope to achieve peace and that they should curb violence. In his own words, “Israel’s prime minister said he was ready to do what the Palestinians want, to facilitate the elections, and help in removing the checkpoints. He asks only for one thing: the end to the explosions, so they can work together on a solid basis.” Indeed.

One can’t speak for the entire Egyptian population, but the Egyptians I do know, not to mention Palestinians and many others around the world, will surely be appalled by Mubarak's strange assessment of Sharon's "peaceful nature."

But Mubarak didn’t stop there; after all, if one is peddling an American-Israeli agenda, one might as well go all the way. Therefore, Mubarak has now officially endorsed Mahmoud Abbas for the Palestinian presidency and predicted his victory. As if that weren’t enough, he criticized Marwan Barghouti’s candidacy, saying “we urge the Palestinians to have one voice, and there is no need for differences at a time when we want to avoid differences.”

Then again, Mubarak, like every other Arab “president,” does not quite believe in the concept of multiple candidates for elections, obviously preferring the referendums that give them nearly 100% of “votes.” This is apparently the only type of democracy that the US is willing to bestow upon Arab people, lest they actually vote for someone who will really have their best interests at heart.

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The Violinist, the Medic and others: incitement or reporting?
Friday, December 3, 2004, 02:54
In one of his first decisions since the death of Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas has very thoughtfully agreed with Sharon that Palestinian media is the real cause of Palestinian violence (and thus of the conflict?) and that the media (and not the actions of the Israeli army) is guilty of incitement against Israel.

Therefore, a few days ago, after Sharon made it clear that anti-Israeli propaganda in Palestinian media and schools was as dangerous as Palestinian weapons, Abbas has obligingly ordered Palestinian media to stop “incitement” against Israel.

Nobody should think of reporting killings, house demolitions or any humiliations done by the Israelis. Palestinian national songs are also off limits, as they might give Palestinians the idea that they actually have a right to their own state.

Under this new directive, does the following photo of Samir Hijazi’s funeral in Gaza count as reporting or incitement? This young doctor was killed by an Israeli tank shell after he had been playing cards with his friends in the Rafah refugee camp. Do Palestinians (and others) have the right to follow these news? Or would that be troubling Sharon too much?

What about this photograph of a Palestinian musician who was forced to play his violin at an Israeli roadblock near Nablus, in the West Bank, before Israeli soldiers would let him pass, as hundreds of other Palestinians waited behind him? It outraged an Israeli rights group activist, who thought of the infamous Nazi abuse of pianists, and who took the photo and sent it to the media. Is that incitement, or should we all be told about such incidents?

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Doing justice to the legacy of a violent racist
Monday, November 29, 2004, 23:30
"When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle."

Since the man who infamously said these words died last week, Israeli journalists and politicians have been competing to give the most flowery obituary and the most moving homage to him. But Rafael Eitan, a former Defense Minister and the chief of staff of the most criminal war in Israel’s history should have been remembered by the above quote, and by his sizeable contributions to the dehumanization of Arabs. It’s one thing to speak well of the dead, and quite another to distort the legacy of a public figure, and Gideon Levy dares to correct the record in Haaretz.

Levy reminds us that Eitan suggested bombing a packed stadium in Beirut, and recalls the Kahan Commission’s ruling on his responsibility (with Ariel Sharon) for the massacre of Sabra and Chatila, which should have been his disgrace.

“This person, who in word and deed educated to racism and hatred of Arabs, is now being described as an educational paragon. As in the case of Rehavam Ze'evi, the assassinated tourism minister, here, too, memory is being refurbished, to the point where the portrait of the man becomes a blur. Only Asaf Harel, the host of a late-night talk show on Channel 10, dared: "There are hundreds of soldiers who wanted to attend Raful's funeral," he said, "but they were stuck at Kiryat Shaul" (a military cemetery).”

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The same old song, the same old performers
Tuesday, November 23, 2004, 01:52
A Palestinian-American and an Israeli-American join forces to pour scorn on the pretense of George Bush and Tony Blair, who didn’t even try to disguise their joviality on the death of Arafat as they preached again about “peace” in the Middle East. In fact, “the substance of the Bush-Blair statement on Nov. 12 was nothing more than a feeble attempt to fool the Palestinians yet again.”

The authors also remind us of the following facts:

“In an exchange of letters connected with a visit to America in April 2004, Sharon wrote to Bush that "Israel has accepted the road map," adding the trick phrase, "as adopted by our government" - which was essentially a rejection of the entire initiative.

In reply, Bush confirmed beyond any doubt that the United States was no longer a passive supporter of Israel's actions, but rather a full-fledged partner in Sharon's plan.

"It seems clear," Bush wrote, "that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel." He continued: "It is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

Bush thus declared for the first time a formal U.S. position that prejudices a just solution and attempts to strip Palestinians of their rights.”

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Iraqi children: “liberated” but malnourished
Monday, November 22, 2004, 23:57
A new survey, conducted by Fafo (the respected Norwegian Institute for Applied Social Science), along with UNDP and Iraq’s Central Office for Statistics, has found that since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, malnutrition has nearly doubled among children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.

First it was the fault of Saddam, who was depriving his people from the benefits of the UN oil-for-food program. Who is to blame now?

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When will they start missing the status quo?
Monday, November 22, 2004, 23:39
It would be nice to see such honest pieces in American media every now and then, but in the meantime, Israeli media occasionally obliges. Akiva Eldar spells out in Haaretz, in a very pertinent op-ed, how Israel is really the one that will miss “Mr. There’s-no-partner.”

When they’ve instated “a cleanly shaved doctor in a suit and a tie,” what will be their excuse to ignore the Palestinians, wonders Eldar? “Where will they find a new "there's-no-partner," to whom Sharon refuses to talk? Who will rescue Bush from his road map peace plan, which promised that "a settlement negotiated between the parties" will result in a final status agreement that "will end the occupation that began in 1967"?”

Eldar also summarizes the new buzz word, democratization (which deserves a blog entry on its own):

“It's hard to think of a stranger combination than democratization and occupation - than a colonial power that demands that the country under occupation will not only hold fire, but hold its tongue as well. And all this, in return for a string of glass beads in the guise of a promise of "painful concessions" and an acceleration of the theft of lands, the destruction of houses and the pilfering of olives.”

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Israeli group claims Palestinian boy’s death is fiction
Sunday, November 21, 2004, 03:27
On September 30, 2000, a small Palestinian boy was killed in front of television cameras. Millions of people around the globe watched Mohamed Al Durra’s last moments of absolute terror, as a bullet (assumed – even by most Israelis - to be an Israeli bullet) finished his misery and he slumped to his death in his father’s arms, who fainted from the pain of his own wounds.

(While Israel never officially admitted responsibilty, Israeli General Moshe Yaalon recognized on October 2, 2000 that his men could have been responsible. Of course, the IDF quickly and conveniently destroyed the evidence, razing the wall where father and son had sought shelter, and where bullets had been incrusted.)

Not so, says Israel-based Metula News Agency, which had the nerve to claim that the whole incident was a staged production of French television channel France 2, and of its respected Middle East correspondent Charles Enderlin. Metula, in collaboration with French journalist Luc Rosenzweig, cast doubt on every aspect of this tragedy, even questioning whether Mohamed is really the child who was buried, and implying that his father, Jamal, was a dealer who could have been wounded before.

These vile accusations should not have been dignified with a response, but France 2 has been defending itself. During a press conference, Anne Chabot, director of information, even broadcast the footage of the incident made by Reuters, which was shot from a different angle but showed the exact same tragedy. France 2 even sent a cameraman a month ago to film Jalal Al Durra, who showed his wounds on camera as he showed his ID. It even showed a comparison between the photos of Mohamed taken at the morgue, and shots of Mohamed before he died.

It is to these levels that pro-Israeli groups and individuals have stooped. In fact, at the time of these events, members of France’s Jewish community had accused France 2 of broadcasting “Palestinian propaganda.”

For those who understand French, Le Monde has the full story with many other details.

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The Likud has gone crazy, and Israel with it
Sunday, November 21, 2004, 02:09
The Middle East, and the rest of the world for that matter, is no stranger to corruption in politics, or to thugs as rulers.

But according to Gideon Samet in Haaretz, “there has never been a ruling party that survived after people associated with organized crime had penetrated its central bodies.”

And that’s Likud, Israel’s ruling party, which receives a majority in the surveys but opposes the opinion of the majority which is ready for concessions in return for peace. Likud is furthermore “the first ruling party whose members demand legislation that stipulates – like the Roman emperor Caligula, who appointed a horse to the Senate – that people who are clearly unsuitable be allowed to join public directorates.”

How could Israel come to this? And how could the leader of the party have come to this? It’s because it is he himself “who for years accustomed the party to undermine its leader” … “and in his lifetime, bequeathed to it the values of settlement on every hilltop in Greater Israel.”

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From fundamentalism to narco-economics
Friday, November 19, 2004, 00:50
Is Afghanistan now free or just liberal? “This year, Afghanistan has established a double record – the highest drug cultivation in the country’s history, and the largest in the world.” This is from the news briefing given by the director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Opium, from which heroin is made, is being grown in every one of Afghanistan’s 32 provinces, employing 10% of its population, and accounting for more than 60% of its economy – and 87% of the world’s heroin production.

But maybe the UN worries too much; after all, Hamid Karzai has vowed to eradicate it, and we all know how much of Afghanistan he really controls.

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Sharon planned coup in Israel
Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 18:46
George Bush’s man of peace is apparently not averse to military coups, as The Daily Telegraph reports today. In 1967, Ariel Sharon admitted he couldn’t wait to attack Egypt, and considered staging a coup d’état had Levi Eshkol’s government not been aggressive enough. This was an option Yitzhak Rabin did not rule out either.

When Eshkol obliged and declared war on Egypt and Syria on June 5 1967, and Israel illegally invaded the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem (all of which are still under Israeli occupation, apart from Sinai), Sharon was satisfied.

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Think of Bush and Blair when you fill up the tank
Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 18:36
OPEC’s current output is over 30 millions barrels a day, the highest since the late seventies, a level which implies that oil supply exceeds anticipated consumption. Therefore, current oil supply would logically be more than enough to drive oil prices down, right?

But oil prices are high, and according to this article in the International Herald Tribune, “if you want to pick a culprit, blame the occupation of Iraq.”

The authors explain how “the confrontational US position vis-à-vis Iran and the carte blanche given by George W. Bush to Ariel Sharon have further heightened Mideast tensions and bolstered a fear of new attacks against energy-related targets throughout the region and beyond.” These factors, more than other transitory causes, are directly or indirectly sustaining high oil prices.

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Media agenda or misleading the public?
Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 03:43
This is without any doubt one of the sloppiest, most infuriating and most misleading pieces of journalism I have seen for a while, not even fit for an opinion page.

“Reporting” from Baghdad about reactions to the NBC footage the whole world is talking about, Associated Press writer Robert H. Reid had the following to say: “The fatal shooting of a wounded and apparently unarmed man in a Fallujah mosque by a U.S. Marine angered Sunni Muslims in Iraq.”

Sunni Muslims? What about others? This is what Reid reports: “It was unclear to what extent other Iraqis, particularly the majority Shiite Muslims, cared about the shooting.”

Unbelievable! Did he do a survey? One would have thought anyone would have been shocked and pained beyond description by these pictures, in Iraq and elsewhere.

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Felber for President
Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 00:05
"I concede that I overstimated the intelligence of the American people."

So begins Adam Felber's hilarious concession speech, which he imagines making after losing to Bush. A fantastic blog entry to be read for a good time - if you're from one of the blue states, that is. Red states might want to abstain!

(Thanks for the tip Muki!)

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Like father, like son in Libya
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 20:36
Did you know that “if the sun lost its gravity, its gasses would explode and its unity would no longer exist?” And did you know that “it is an undisputed fact that both man and woman are human beings,” but that “as man does not get pregnant, he is not liable to the conditions which women, being female, suffer?”

If you never really understood the point of Muammar Qadhafi’s pearls of wisdom or anything else in his Green Book, you will probably not understand what his son is saying either. But if, like the US and the UK, you believe that the “government” he leads will flourish into a wonderful, free, humane and logical institution after having turned its back (officially) on terrorism and WMDs (which, in Libya’s case, are weapons of minor distraction), then you are urged to read the interview his son, Saif Al Islam Qadhafi, gave to the BBC, of which here are a few examples:

On leadership: “The leader you cannot change. You can change everything except the leader because he is a leader.”

On democracy: “I can't survive with a direct democracy. You cannot have a direct democracy and a military regime at the same time. They are against each other.”

On Libya: “The new Libya is black, because we are African now and we are Mediterranean at the same time.”

George Bush and Tony Blair must be so proud of their newly-found protégé, and of the brilliant example he provides for other democratically-challenged countries.

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How widespread are executions of unarmed Iraqis?
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 19:39
An NBC news crew captured on camera a marine shooting an unarmed, wounded Iraqi in Fallujah. This was a close-range execution of a wounded prisoner left in a destroyed mosque after Americans ravaged the city. The marine shouted “he's fucking faking he's dead” before killing his victim.

The incident played and replayed on all channels since yesterday is even more alarming than one would imagine when taken at face value. This is what we should ask ourselves: if this is how marines act when journalists are around (embedded ones at that), what exactly are they doing when the media cannot record their actions?

And how exactly does that make the Anglo-American occupation forces any different from the terrorists - including those who have apparently murdered British aid worker Margaret Hassan - they claim to be eradicating?

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Israel approves Rice nomination to State
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 19:13
What a ringing endorsement. As far as Israel is concerned, no news in American attitude towards the Middle East is good news. Of course it is. In fact, the strategic ties between Israel and the United States have never been stronger.

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Who are the Americans really fighting in Fallujah?
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 18:59
The truth comes out in little bits, but American officials have been saying it: the vast majority of insurgents are Iraqi.

“Despite an intense focus on the network of Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab Zarqawi by U.S. and Iraqi officials, who have insisted that most Iraqis support the country's interim government, American commanders said their best estimates of the proportion of foreigners among their enemies is about 5%.”

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Neocon purge at the White House
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 18:56
Those who expressed pessimism and even despair at the election of George Bush for a second term, fearing its impact on the international arena, were told that Bush would now be conciliatory and reach out to the world. We tried hard not to snicker in polite company.

Today, it’s about just as bad as anyone could have foreseen: “average” republicans out, extreme neocons in. Powell out, Burns out, Abraham and others out. Rice in, Pletka in, Abrams and others in, consolidating the jolly gang of Wolfowitz, Bolton, Feith and company who remain glued to their chairs before further promotions.

Bush might as well have appointed a Likud member to the top diplomacy posts in the US. But then again, maybe he already has. I’ve already mentioned Pletka’s neocon credentials; Elliot Abrams (assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, involved in the notorious policies in Latin America and the Iran Contra affair) certainly takes no second place to other Likudniks.

Robert Scheer tells it like it is in the LA Times today, in a piece entitled
The Peter Principle and the Neocon Coup:

“Meanwhile, incompetence begat by ideological blindness has been rewarded. The neoconservatives who created the ongoing Iraq mess have more than survived the failure of their impossibly rosy scenarios for a peaceful and democratic Iraq under U.S. rule. In fact, despite calls for their resignations — from the former head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Anthony Zinni, among others — the neocon gang is thriving. They have not been held responsible for the "16 words" about yellowcake, the rise and fall of Ahmad Chalabi, the Abu Ghraib scandal, the post-invasion looting of Iraq's munitions stores and the disastrous elimination of the Iraqi armed forces.”

The Washington Post quotes other reactions to this rollercoaster of appointments and calls it The Triumph of the Hawks.

Read’ em and weep.

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The world according to Blair
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 17:24
In 2002, Robert Cooper – a Blair aide - published a pamphlet calling for "a new kind of imperialism" which would allow Britain to intervene abroad, stressing that “the need for colonization is as great as it ever was in the 19th century.”

But Tony Blair would rather do this with the blessing of the United Nations, and is now calling on Kofi Annan to oblige, by including in the reforms which the latter will unveil in a few weeks “a greater role of leadership for the UN on the responsibility of states to protect, not injure, their own citizens.”

Blair also saw it fit, during the Lord Mayor’s banquet, to act as George Bush’s personal PR agent, asking domestic and foreign critics alike not to ridicule America’s arguments or parody Bush! As an afterthought, he also advised the US to become less unilateralist – which it wouldn’t need to be, of course, if the UN was reshaped to legally acquiesce its needs.

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State Department going from bad to outright neocon
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 04:11
Only hours after Colin Powell’s resignation, and my assumption (earlier in the blog) that Condi Rice would succeed him at the State Department, even scarier rumours seem to be spreading like wild-fire. So how about a nomination that would make Richard Perle proud?

“Neo-conservatives are currently promoting Perle protégée Danielle Pletka, a vice-president of American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and outspoken and unapologetic supporter of the Likud-led government in Israel, for the post of assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs to replace career diplomat William Burns when he moves on early next year.”

All one can hope for is that the Bush administration refrains, henceforth, from referring to its peaceful designs for the Middle East, and for a “viable Palestinian state.” They should just come out and say out loud what they are thinking and planning – at least nobody would then blame them for not trying hard enough.

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Sistani silent on Fallujah, as he had at first been on Najaf
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 03:49
During the last heavy American assault on Najaf last August, Muslim clerics of both denominations raised hell and issued warnings and declarations to demand the immediate cessation of hostilities. At the time, as luck would have it, the most prominent Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, had gone to London (of all places) for what his aides said was heart surgery. He only intervened when it was practically all over, after previously only issued a mild statement hoping for restraint from all sides.

It is common knowledge that Muqtada Sadr is far from being a Sistani favorite; the old man finds the young cleric irritating, to say the least. In fact, many analysts, myself included, saw in this eleventh-hour Najaf intervention an attempt to save not Sadr, but to save Sistani himself – after he had begun to hear the voices of criticism, and to fear the increased popularity of Sadr and his followers.

I had been wondering whether Sistani would finally speak up about the violent assault on Fallujah, but waited in vain. Only by googling the issue did I discover that others are also wondering about his silence.

For the moment, Muqtada Sadr has threatened to boycott the elections (something the Americans and Allawi would surely love) as a result of the Fallujah attack, and a number of other clerics, including a high ranking Sunni one, have begun to openly criticize Sistani’s circle for its silence.

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Blair's Vietnam?
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 03:11
Like most Britons, Max Hastings is not impressed with Tony Blair’s soppy appearance in Liverpool this weekend to participate in a memorial for Ken Bigley, the Briton murdered in Iraq recently.

In The Guardian today, Hastings explains that public dismay and anger is growing in Britain and spreading across all parties:

“Retired colonels and home counties matrons, usually counted on to stand foursquare behind our boys on the battlefield, regard what is happening as Bush's private folly. They admire our boys as much as ever, but they are as disgusted by the British national role, harnessed haplessly to Washington's chariot wheels, as any Labour backbencher.”

I do not believe Blair fears losing the elections, if only because the alternative is so much more depressing. However, his party majority can take a hit if enough people make a point of it.

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New term, new team, same old
Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 02:50
How significant that George Bush and Tony Blair should have been meeting on the day when the Middle East they have tampered with so unwisely was exploding – Palestine, with emotion, grief and uncertainty; Iraq with bombs and gun shots.

The press conference both gave on Friday was frustrating to no end, and Bush even seemed to be laughing when he said he was the first American president to have mentioned a Palestinian state. After all the media hype about the “opportunities” after Yasser Arafat’s demise, neither Bush nor Blair were able to promise anything significant; no conference, no special envoy. Of course, none are needed, as the recipe for peace already exists in UN resolutions.

More gloomingly, Colin Powell’s resignation should probably prepare us for a secretary of state who has closer relations with the neocon elements in the Bush administration; then again, Powell was neither really a dove, nor an influential official, so no big loss there. But if it really is Condi Rice, then at least we know what we’re in for.

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Brief history lesson on Iraq
Monday, November 15, 2004, 22:18
As always, Rashid Khalidi has great things to say about the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, and the reasons why it has gone terribly wrong – as predicted by so many. A very interesting read, especially for those who have little background knowledge about the region, or who still think this is all about democracy. For instance, " The United States claims to be acting in favor of democracy, yet embraces Qaddhafi! People in the Middle East notice this gap between word and deed—even if Americans don’t notice the things being done in our name."

Khalidi summarizes how people of the region might object to foreign occupation: "By invading, occupying and imposing a new regime on Iraq, the United States may be following, intentionally or not, in the footsteps of the old Western colonial powers—and doing so in a region that within living memory ended a lengthy struggle to expel colonial occupations. They fought from 1830 to 1962 to kick out the French from Algeria. From 1882 to 1956 they fought to get the British out of Egypt. That’s within the lifetime of every person over 45 in the Middle East. Foreign troops on their soil against their will is deeply familiar."

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Palestinian grief and Israeli glee
Friday, November 12, 2004, 03:34
It may seem strange that a critic of Arafat like myself (but certainly not for the reasons marketed by Israel and the US) should be irritated by the reactions to his death, but I have taken issue with many of the questions asked, since Arafat’s life was known to be in danger, and today in a number of interviews I have given, and in questions asked of other commentators. For the most part, they were superficial and paid lip service to the Israeli and American position, whether or not intentionally.

Bush and Sharon have been as blunt and as insulting as they could be, not even giving Palestinians the basic courtesy of respecting their loss. Now that Arafat is dead, peace can be pursued, goes the duo’s refrain, thus pretending he was the impediment to peace, and that Israel is a victim.

As if Arafat were to blame for the violent military Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, the creeping annexation of land with the wall built beyond the 1967 borders, the encroached settlements, and the categorical Israeli refusal that millions of Palestinians exercise their right of return – a right granted by international law, and specifically under UN Security Council resolution 194.

As if the “missed opportunity” of 2000, which Clinton and Barak tried so hard to push on Arafat, could have been accepted by any Palestinian, as it imposed the surrender of most human and national rights, and imposed the acceptance of a mini-state that was neither contiguous, sovereign, or even truly a state.

As if the former militant (vilified as a terrorist by the same terrorists who established the state of Israel with far more brutal methods against the British and the indigenous Palestinian population) could become a head of state without having a state to begin with. As if those who (rightly) accused him of spreading corruption were not even more corrupt themselves, beginning with Sharon, his sons, and his clique.

And as if Israel would renounce its continuous, blatant violations of international law the minute Arafat was out of the way. Let’s see what excuse it will come up with now.

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“Watching tragedy engulf my city”
Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 14:58
A journalist in Fallujah briefly describes the devastation in his city, comparing it to Kabul. He cannot assess the number of casualties, but says that “many Iraqis from other cities have been joining the local men against the Americans.” He goes on:

“A medical dispensary in the city centre was bombed earlier. I don't know what has happened to the doctors and patients who were there. It was last place you could get medical attention because the big hospital on the outskirts of Falluja was captured by the Americans on Monday.

For the first time in Falluja, a city of 150 mosques, I did not hear a single call to prayer this morning. I broke my Ramadan fast yesterday with the last of our food - two potatoes and two tomatoes. The tomatoes were rotten because we have no electricity to run the fridge.”

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Duck, run, and don’t blame the US
Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 14:28
Even though he predicts that there aren’t going to be large numbers of civilians killed there, Donald Rumsfeld has still made it crystal clear that he will not take responsibility for any who do get killed, in small or large numbers. After all, they’ve been warned, as Rumsfeld informed is at the Pentagon: “Innocent civilians in that city have all the guidance they need as to how they can avoid getting into trouble.”

Of course. They can duck, hide underground, and pray for the best. Or they can leave Fallujah, that is if they have the financial and physical capacity to do so. But in case something does happen to them, rest assured that it’s not his fault, and Bush will proclaim him the best defense secretary ever … again.

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Explaining – if need be – Fallujah’s defiance
Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 12:43
Those who still think violence came to Fallujah out of the blue moon should read Sami Ramadani’s op-ed in The Guardian today, which gives a good summary of Fallujah’s recent history, and points out that Bush and Blair, fearing elections, would “accept nothing short than the legitimization of an Allawi-style puppet regime.”

More importantly, Ramadani explains Fallujah’s history of resistance to Saddam Hussein, and its dissociation from terrorists:

“Without a shred of evidence, Bush, Blair and Ayad Allawi's quisling regime shamelessly declare that they are only pursuing the Jordanian kidnapper Zarqawi and other "foreign terrorists". The people of Falluja, their leaders, negotiators and resistance fighters have always denounced Zarqawi and argued that such gangs have been encouraged to undermine the resistance.”

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Fateful night of destiny in Iraq
Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 04:31
For Muslims, the "night of destiny" is a blessed and highly significant date, as they believe that Archangel Gabriel began to reveal the Koran to Prophet Muhammad on that night, assumed to fall between the 26th and the 27th of the holy month of Ramadan. This year, it falls between November 9 and 10.

For many Muslims around the world, this particular night will have been remembered as a night when fellow Muslims were under attack, and when Iraqis were bearing the brunt of a violent assault on the city of Fallujah.

This is certainly not the first Ramadan during which wars have been waged; in 2001, the bombing of Afghanistan continued during Ramadan, for instance, Rumsfeld having argued with his usual eloquence and erudition that Muslims had fought during that month before. Naturally, Israel has also never shied from its usual assaults and bombings on such occasions.

This is not to say that the US government does not understand the significance of these actions. In December 1998, a few days before the beginning of Ramadan (and “coincidentally” on the eve of his impeachment vote), President Clinton had launched Operation Desert Fox, which sent 650 air sorties and 400 cruise missile strikes over Iraq, resulting in numerous casualties. However, Clinton justified the timing of the strikes by saying it would have been “offensive to the Muslim world to initiate military action during Ramadan.”

Clearly, the current American and British governments have no such qualms, and don’t even bother with the pretense of being politically - or religiously - correct. By launching a full-scale assault on Fallujah during the last few days of Ramadan, they have ensured what Bill Clinton thought he could avoid. Being illegally invaded, occupied, and attacked is unacceptable under any circumstance, of course, but Bush and Blair – as the self-proclaimed liberators of Iraq - should have known better than to resort to such violence during a holy period.

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“US shooting horses to scare flies in Iraq”
Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 03:33
The American and British governments may have gotten a number of other governments to support their invasion and occupation of Iraq, but it is apparent that more and more people around the world are not on the same wavelength with their respective leaders. For instance, a Japanese writer has compared the assault on Fallujah to the allied bombing of Japan during the Second World War (when his country had been the initial aggressor):

“I understand that 500-pound bombs have been dropped on Fallujah. The news reminded me of the 500 pounders dropped from B-29s in the Pacific War. One major difference between Americans and Japanese is the latter know what it is like to be on the receiving end of an air attack.”

Not to mention a couple of atomic bombs!

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