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Archives: June 2003

Wed Jun 25, 2003

EU-Israel pact fails to silence dissent

Academics should take individual action to frustrate the renewal of Israel's membership of the European Union's biggest research programme, the professor at the centre of last summer's boycott row said this week.

The European Commission confirmed this week that it had renewed its agreement on scientific and technological cooperation with the Middle Eastern state.

Israel will contribute €192 million (£136 million) to the five-year Sixth Framework Programme, worth a total of €16 billion.
More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 25, 03 | 8:19 am

Tue Jun 24, 2003

THE NEW THOUGHT POLICE: The campaign to criminalize criticism of Israel

Last week, after Israel targeted Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi – and, instead, got a woman passer-by and a three year-old child, while 27 others were injured. – George W. Bush came out with some very mild criticism of Israel:

"I am troubled by the recent Israeli helicopter gunship attacks. I regret the loss of innocent life. I also don't believe that the attacks help Israeli security."

From the hysterical reaction, one might have thought that he had uttered a blood libel, or suddenly taken to wearing a kaffiyeh. Such a commotion! House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), reportedly strode into the Oval Office and threatened to push a resolution through Congress offering unconditional support to Sharon and implicitly rebuking the President.
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 24, 03 | 10:37 pm

The Meaning of Rachel Corrie: Of Dignity and Solidarity

In early May, I was in Seattle lecturing for a few days. While there, I had dinner one night with Rachel Corrie's parents and sister, who were still reeling from the shock of their daughter's murder on March 16 in Gaza by an Israeli bulldozer. Mr. Corrie told me that he had himself driven bulldozers, although the one that killed his daughter deliberately because she was trying valiantly to protect a Palestinian home in Rafah from demolition was a 60 ton behemoth especially designed by Caterpillar for house demolitions, a far bigger machine than anything he had ever seen or driven. Two things struck me about my brief visit with the Corries. One was the story they told about their return to the US with their daughter's body. They had immediately sought out their US Senators, Patty Murray and Mary Cantwell, both Democrats, told them their story and received the expected expressions of shock, outrage, anger and promises of investigations. After both women returned to Washington, the Corries never heard from them again, and the promised investigation simply didn't materialize. As expected, the Israeli lobby had explained the realities to them, and both women simply begged off. An American citizen willfully murdered by the soldiers of a client state of the US without so much as an official peep or even the de rigeur investigation that had been promised her family.
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 24, 03 | 10:30 pm

Palestinian prisoner’s condition worsens after 25 days of hunger strike

A Palestinian prisoner entering his 26th day of a hunger strike in Ramle prison has been transferred to the prison hospital due to his deteriorating condition. Twenty seven year old Ahmad Talab Barghouthi began his hunger strike on May 31, in protest at the conditions of his incarceration.

According to Talab, his father, Ahmad took the decision to refuse food because the prison administration continued to ignore his protests of the conditions in which he is kept; isolated in solitary confinement for the past five months in a prison cell full of cockroaches and mice. “When he first complained about the conditions the administration didn’t care” his father said, “and then gradually his situation has been worsening. He told the guards that he was refusing food and they came into his cell and removed everything that was his, as a punishment for speaking out. I have not seen him since he was arrested, and he has not been permitted to see his lawyer since he began this hunger strike.”
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 24, 03 | 10:10 pm

Officials: Hundreds of Iraqis Killed By Faulty Grenades

Washington -- Hundreds and possibly thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed or maimed by outdated, defective U.S. cluster weapons that lack a safety feature other countries have added, according to observers, news reports and officials.

U.S. cluster weapons fired during the war in March and April dispersed thousands of small grenades on battlefields and in civilian neighborhoods to destroy Iraqi troops and weapons systems.
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 24, 03 | 10:01 pm

Anne Gwynne reports from Nablus for Flashpoints host Dennis Bernstein

"As I report this in the late afternoon sun of a beautiful day in Nablus, a day which started out as a normal shopping Sunday, I stand in pools of blood being hosed from the ambulance floor. Its stretchers, lockers and footwells are surrounded by young volunteers in blood-soaked clothing on the road strewn with discarded surgical gloves, dyed red by the endless blood they have handled. I notice that someone has drawn a circle in blood around a new bullet hole in the near side of the ambulance.

Standing beside the ambulance, very quiet and traumatised, is Feras al Bakri - surely the bravest and the best of Nablus's ambulance drivers - holding his heavily bandaged left hand which took a bullet from an Israeli gunman as he went peacefully about his life-saving work.

However much water is hosed over the interior, the next time I look blood has seeped from everywhere again. Later, when we take some of the volunteers home, the floor is still stained. So much blood."

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Posted by: Charles MacKinnon on Jun 24, 03 | 7:01 pm

The Dog Ate My WMDs

After several years teaching high school, I've heard all the excuses. I didn't get my homework done because my computer crashed, because my project partner didn't do their part, because I feel sick, because I left it on the bus, because I had a dance recital, because I was abducted by aliens and viciously probed. Houdini doesn't have as many tricks. No one on earth is more inventive than a high school sophomore backed into a corner and faced with a zero on an assignment.

No one, perhaps, except Bush administration officials forced now to account for their astounding claims made since September 2002 regarding Iraq's alleged weapons program. More...

Posted by: Ed Howard on Jun 24, 03 | 12:06 am

Mon Jun 23, 2003

Ghazal

The only language of loss left in the world is Arabic.
These words were said to me in a language not Arabic.

Ancestors--you've left me a plot in the family graveyard--
Why must I look, in your eyes, for prayers in Arabic?
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Posted by: Charles MacKinnon on Jun 23, 03 | 4:14 am

Sun Jun 22, 2003

Fury as MPs compare Palestinians' treatment to Nazi ghettos

Two MPS caused outrage yesterday by comparing the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazi segregation of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto.

Oona King, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, and Jenny Tonge, Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, who visited Gaza last week with the charity Christian Aid, said the situation was getting worse as the area in which the Palestinians live gets smaller.

Ms King, whose mother is Jewish, said: "No government should be behaving like that - least of all a Jewish government. It's the same in nature but not extent. Palestinians are not being rounded up and put in gas chambers.
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Posted by: peace/justice on Jun 22, 03 | 9:30 am

Sat Jun 21, 2003

Mid-Eastern Terms

Commenting on the Aqaba Summit, in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation, a senior member of Israel's ruling junta said it all. Major General Amos Gilad – the Government Coordinator in the [Occupied] Territories – told Yedioth Achronoth (5.6.03): "In Mid-Eastern terms, we have not inflicted any suffering on the Palestinians".

Yes: Merely 2.500 Palestinians killed in two and a half years, only tens of thousands injured, just 12.000 made homeless by house demolitions, nothing but economic plight on the verge of starvation, continuous siege, regular orderly humiliation and countless "exceptional" abuses (from theft to murder) – and no suffering whatsoever. "In Mid-Eastern terms", that is. All the colonialist arrogance, malicious gloating and bestial savageness of the Israeli junta in a single phrase.

How about the 700 Israelis killed by Palestinians in the same period? What are they "in Mid-Eastern terms"? A petty trifle? A token of love? Imagine a Palestinian official saying that at a peace conference.
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 21, 03 | 5:51 pm

Newspaper apologises to Galloway over 'Saddam millions' forgeries

Suspended Labour MP George Galloway today attacked a newspaper which has apologised for claiming the anti–war campaigner had taken millions of pounds from Saddam Hussein.

Mr Galloway insisted that he always knew the allegations were based on "malice, fabrication and forgery" and would "soon fall apart".

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Posted by: sameh fekry on Jun 21, 03 | 9:30 am

Wed Jun 18, 2003

Who in Israel knows or cares?

Two days before the attempt on the life of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, three Palestinian gunmen killed four Israeli soldiers at a military outpost in the Erez industrial zone of the Gaza Strip. During the gun battle, the three armed Palestinians were also killed, while responsibility for the operation was claimed by three organizations - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah.
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 18, 03 | 2:15 pm

Illuminating Thomas Friedman

A webpage on Thomas Friedman, maintained by Farrar, Straux & Giroux, declares that as the foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, he is in a “unique position to interpret the world for American readers. Twice a week, Friedman’s commentary provides the most trenchant, pithy, and illuminating perspective in journalism.” More...

Posted by: Shahid Alam on Jun 18, 03 | 3:35 am

Tue Jun 17, 2003

Set in Stone

While the world waits for the Middle East's road map to unfold, Ariel Sharon is busy creating his own solution to the West Bank problem - 360km of 8m-high concrete and electrified barbed wire. The Israelis call it 'a separation fence', to the Palestinians it's just the latest cynical attempt to prise them from their homelands. Geraldine Bedell meets the farmers and settlers who now live with their backs to the wall. More...

Posted by: Sami on Jun 17, 03 | 6:09 pm

Mon Jun 16, 2003

Children of Death

Uri Avnery on militarism in Israel

A week after the ship of peace was solemnly launched on its perilous voyage from Aqaba harbor, it was hit by a torpedo. It is not yet clear whether it is wrecked or can continue on its way in spite of the damage.

The story of its voyage so far: An Israeli helicopter gunship tried to kill Abd-al-Aziz al-Rantisi, one of the leaders of the political wing of Hamas. He miraculously survived. Immediately afterwards the gunships killed other Hamas leaders. Clearly, this was the beginning of a campaign to kill the leaders of all the wings of Hamas - military, political, social, educational and religious.

Such a campaign is, of course, the outcome of long preparations, which take weeks and months. It was evidently planned even before the Aqaba summit conference convened, but postponed by Sharon in order to afford President Bush his moments of photographic glory on the shore of the Red Sea. Immediately after the President and his entourage went home, radiant with success, the machinery of death went into action.
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 16, 03 | 4:19 pm

Sun Jun 15, 2003

ISRAEL CAN HALT THIS NOW

Oona King - “I have sadly come to the conclusion that, given the scale of the atrocities and collective punishment waged by the Israelis against the Palestinians, I have no choice but to boycott Israeli products. On reflection, whether Jewish or not, you might decide to do the same.”


The no man's land separating Israel from the Gaza Strip gives way to what can only be described as desecrated land. Razor wire and crushed buildings line the route. Torn slabs of concrete look like tattered cardboard on a rubbish heap. In front of us two Israeli tanks block our path. Behind us, the border will shortly be sealed to prevent Palestinian reprisals for the helicopter attack launched hours earlier against the extremist Hamas leader, Abdul-Aziz al-Rantissi - who is still alive. A Palestinian woman and her young child, on their way to hospital, are dead, and 35 are injured. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 15, 03 | 9:06 pm

URGENT ALERT: Stop Attacks on the Village of Deir Ghassaneh

Friday 13th June, 2003

Palestine Medical Relief and Palestine Monitor have just received an urgent call for help from the villagers of Deir Ghassaneh, near Ramallah in the West Bank. At 3am this morning, the Israeli occupying army surrounded and blocked the village, declaring a curfew. At 12pm some of the villagers heard cries for help. They discovered that the army was burying alive three of the villagers who were seeking safety in a cave. The soldiers shut off the entrance to the cave. The villagers attempted to rescue them but were shot at by the army. It is not known whether they have survived the attacks.

At around 5pm, the Israeli occupying army blew open the door of the Palestine Medical Relief clinic and invaded it. They also attacked several houses. In other parts of the village, the Israeli occupying army is shooting and arresting villagers. As of yet, it is not known how many have been killed and injured. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 15, 03 | 8:56 pm

Wed Jun 11, 2003

The Day of the Jackals

[A powerful indictment of the war on Iraq by one of India's foremost writers.]

Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates. How many children, in how many classrooms, over how many centuries, have hang-glided through the past, transported on the wings of these words? And now the bombs have fallen, incinerating and humiliating that ancient civilization. On the steel torsos of their missiles, adolescent American soldiers scrawled colorful messages in childish handwriting: For Saddam, from the Fat Boy Posse.
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 11, 03 | 10:13 pm

Tue Jun 10, 2003

From The Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow

Press Release - 29 May 2003

The Exclusion of Mizrahi and Palestinian Anthropologists from the Faculty Club:

Protest the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Israeli Anthropological Association


The Mizrahi (Oriental, Arab-Jewish, Heb.) Democratic Rainbow is an NGO advocating a new discourse and action for a democratic, multi-cultural Israel. One of our goals is to expose the mechanisms preserving the socio-economic structure responsible for the continual oppression of disenfranchised groups. Israeli universities in general, and their anthropology departments in particular, are part and parcel of this exclusionary power structure.

The Mizrahim and Palestinian citizens of Israel have long been the main object of research by Israeli anthropologists, who made world class careers on their backs. Our dispossession has always been the raw material leading to the proliferation of scientific texts that result in anthropological academic job hires, and the subsequent university merits and promotions. Moreover, the monthly paycheck of most Israeli anthropologists has depended on Mizrahi and Palestinian informant cooperation with these anthropologists. Paradoxically, such anthropology has always been careful to muffle our political and cultural plight. We are yet to share either prestige or monetary gains with those who get their monthly paychecks out of anthropologizing us.

For us, the gates of Israeli anthropology departments are locked. Israeli anthropology departments are still almost purely Ashkenazi (European Jewish) and upper class. Among Israeli tenured anthropologists there is only one Mizrahi. To even contemplate a tenured Palestinian-Israeli anthropologist is beyond the pale.

As the Israeli Anthropological Association convenes for its annual meeting, we would like to demonstrate today against the almost total lack of Mizrahi and Palestinian anthropologists from the tenured body of university professors. Also protested is the total lack of tenured Mizrahi and Palestinian women faculty from each and every discipline in Israeli universities. Devoid of either jobs or prestige while still being the object of the ethnographic academic industry, we also rally against the lack of any ethics code for ethnographic research and publication that would protect our copyrights to our own cultures.
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 10, 03 | 9:04 pm

Bush likes Dahlan, believes Abbas, and has `a problem with Sharon'

A researcher looking at the roots of the change that took place in the spring of 2003 in the Israel-Palestine-U.S. power balance will no doubt give pause to examine the interview with former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit in Yedioth Ahronoth in the winter of 2001. He promised, "If we get rid of Arafat there won't be anyone who will fill his shoes as a door-opener to the leaders of the world, and the Palestinian issue will drop off the international agenda." Shavit, a friend of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, "revealed" that the shoes of the door-opener are closed to the moderate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) "because of his Bahai background," with the former top intelligence boss of Israel explaining, "The chances a Bahai will be leader of the Palestinians are about the same that a Samaritan will be president of Israel." More...

Posted by: Sami on Jun 10, 03 | 7:28 pm

Sat Jun 07, 2003

Democracy's Oasis - a mirage

Israel's image as a democratic state took a further heavy battering last week as two separate reports were issued, the first by Amnesty International into Israeli military policies in the occupied territories, and the second by a United Nations watchdog monitoring Israel's commitment to human rights. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on Jun 07, 03 | 9:12 pm

Thu Jun 05, 2003

Occupiers propose Iraqi media "code of conduct"

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Faced with a freewheeling Iraqi media, the U.S.-led occupation authority is devising a code of conduct for the press, drawing protests from Iraqi journalists who endured censorship under Saddam Hussein and worry for their newfound freedom. More...

Posted by: Ed Howard on Jun 05, 03 | 2:24 am

How Their Big Lie Came to Be

Leave it to a Marine to be blunt. When Lt. Gen. James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, was asked Friday why his Marines failed to encounter or uncover any of the weapons of mass destruction that U.S. intelligence had warned them about, his honesty put the White House to shame. More...

Posted by: Ed Howard on Jun 05, 03 | 2:12 am

Mon Jun 02, 2003

Lights, camera, rescue

Contentious at its inception, confusing in its execution and devastating in its effect, the invasion of Iraq reeked of impending disaster. Iraqis resisted, sandstorms slowed the advance, "smart" weapons hit markets and residences and U.S. soldiers were taken prisoner. An impending humanitarian crisis loomed, as Basra and later Baghdad were deprived of water and electricity.

Then the miracle occurred. The damsel-in-distress was rescued (Pvt. Jessica Lynch) and the evil tyrant was pulled down and beheaded while joyous Iraqis celebrated (Saddam Hussein's statue at Baghdad's Firdos Square). It was a feel-good ending to an otherwise disturbing script.
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Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 02, 03 | 4:30 pm

Israel's blank cheque

Skillful manipulation by Israel of allegations of anti-Semitism has resulted in a culture of silence and intellectual intimidation with regard to Israel, writes Ghada Karmi* More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jun 02, 03 | 4:27 pm

Kilroy's Still Here

In early October of 2002 -- when the radio sputtered and whined with accusations by the Bush Administration declaring a direct link between the terrorist activity of Al Qaeda and the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein; I was sitting beside my 11-year old daughter in a car. It continued, with charges that Hussein's Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in violation of U.N. resolutions. More...

Posted by: Ed Howard on Jun 02, 03 | 12:36 pm