Archives: October 2003

Fri Oct 31, 2003

Top Israeli Officer Says Tactics Are Backfiring

JERUSALEM, Oct. 30 -- Israel's senior military commander told columnists for three leading newspapers this week that Israel's military tactics against the Palestinian population were too repressive and were fomenting explosive levels of "hatred and terrorism" that might become impossible to control. More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 31, 03 | 8:31 pm

George Galloway Historic Speech

George Galloway's historic speech, which could change the face of British politics for ever, is given in its entirety below.

It is a misunderstanding created by circumstances that I am interested only in Middle Eastern affairs - notably, the struggle for self determination of the Palestinian people and against the horrific effects of sanctions and war on the Iraqi people during Saddam's vile dictatorship. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Oct 31, 03 | 3:02 am

Noam Chomsky: “Bush Needs Fear For Reelection”

Thu October 30, 2003: (Reuters) HAVANA - U.S. linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky said on Wednesday that President Bush will have to "manufacture" another threat to American security to win reelection in 2004 after U.S failure in occupying Iraq.


Posted by: nachoua on Oct 31, 03 | 2:50 am

Thu Oct 30, 2003

Rebel Galloway launches political party

Rebel MP George Galloway has announced the launch of a new political movement which could change the face of British politics for ever.

The British anti-war movement will turn into a political force to take on Tony Blair’s New Labour in the European elections in June 2004. More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 30, 03 | 9:14 pm

Too Much Secrecy

It is a sad thing, but the Bush administration is the most deceptive (or, if you wish to be generous, the most misinformed and manipulated) crew that has occupied the White House in the past few decades. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Oct 30, 03 | 12:29 pm

The Geography of Occupation: Education in Conflict

To understand the current hardships of Al Quds University and other Palestinian educational institutions, it is necessary to explore the geography of Israeli occupation. This geography shows the real colour of the degradation to which people are subjected and the effects of long-standing colonizing policies. One would have thought a simple, self-evident right to education should be guaranteed.

The eight universities in Gaza and the West Bank, other educational institutions and hundreds of schools are all subjected to severe restrictions in the delivery of knowledge, as a result of Israeli measures. Normal education has continued to be disrupted over the past 35 years of occupation, especially during and after the first Intifada started in1987 . Birzeit University was particularly singled out for harassment during this period because of its perceived role in intellectual leadership. Faculty and students were arbitrarily detained, the university president exiled, and the campus closed for extended periods. The measures resulted in a movement of ‘underground’ education, when faculty met students in private homes and other unofficial ‘campuses’.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 30, 03 | 9:01 am

Wed Oct 29, 2003

Professor Andrew Wilkie (Nuffield Professor of Pathology)

A University spokesperson said: "The Vice-Chancellor has accepted the recommendation of the Visitatorial Board that Professor Wilkie should be suspended from his academic duties within the University, without pay, for two months. Suspension is the most serious penalty that the University can impose, short of dismissal or removal from office. The decision follows an investigation by the Board of matters surrounding an email which Professor Wilkie sent in response to an enquiry from an Israeli student regarding the possibility of graduate study in his research group.


Posted by: admin on Oct 29, 03 | 2:51 pm

Oxford Don Suspended over Rejection of Ex-Israeli Soldier

Oxford University today suspended a professor who rejected an Israeli student’s application because of the country’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians. More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 29, 03 | 2:44 pm

Oxford Univ. suspends academic who rejected an Israeli's job application

LONDON - An Oxford University professor who refused to hire an Israeli grad student because of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians has been suspended without pay for two months, the university said Monday.

Posted by: admin on Oct 29, 03 | 2:36 pm

Tue Oct 28, 2003

The Perils of Empire

The Perils of Empire
A Statement of Principles by the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy

Against the backdrop of an ever-bloodier conflict in Iraq, American foreign policy is moving in a dangerous direction toward empire.

Worrisome imperial trends are apparent in the Bush administration's National Security Strategy. That document pledges to maintain America's military dominance in the world, and it does so in a way that encourages other nations to form countervailing coalitions and alliances. We can expect, and are seeing now, multiple balances of power forming against us. People resent and resist domination, no matter how benign. More...

Posted by: Ed Howard on Oct 28, 03 | 1:19 pm

Mon Oct 27, 2003

Hanan Ashrawi and the Price of Dissent

Hanan Ashrawi is currently finding herself in similar straits in Australia. The Sydney Peace Foundation, associated with the University of Sydney, recently decided to award Dr Ashrawi its annual peace prize. Previous winners have included the East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao in 2000 and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1999. What originally appeared to be an uncontroversial choice has developed into a full-blown battle between the Peace Foundation, elements of the Jewish lobby, the New South Wales premier, Bob Carr and the Jewish press. The issue in my opinion, however, is not simply the prize, but a more fundamental debate around Palestinian identity in Australia. I believe it is nothing less than an attempt by the Jewish community to delegitimize the Palestinian cause. This kind of behaviour is becoming a regrettably common Zionist ploy in the Western world for increasingly transparent reasons. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Oct 27, 03 | 11:41 am

My Country Is At War With Palestine

Most US citizens, if asked, would be surprised to learn that their country is at war with the country of Palestine. They wouldn't be aware that Palestine is a country. They've heard of the West Bank and Gaza, not as parts of Palestine, but as territories where Palestinians live, which Israel occupies. They assume the territories were never part of any country and that it is natural for Israel to occupy them.


Posted by: peace/justice on Oct 27, 03 | 8:27 am

Sun Oct 26, 2003

Against the hurtling herd

The uprising by the pilots who signed the famous letter draws its strength and authority from the classic distinction between an order that is legal but illegitimate, and an order that is both legal and legitimate. Nobody questions the authority of the Israeli government to drop a one-ton bomb on a residential building, but that fact is not enough to make the act legitimate and to remove the fear that a crime was committed on behalf of the state. More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 26, 03 | 5:10 pm

Israeli soldiers raid Palestinian hospitals

Israel has said it will continue commando-style raids of Palestinian hospitals to snatch suspected resistance fighters who may be injured or hiding.

Masked Israeli troops raided two Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank on Saturday, arresting two suspected resistance fighters – one of them in critical condition. More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 26, 03 | 5:02 pm

The IDF's chorus of incitement

Who told the director of Military Intelligence, Major General Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) to declare, "Better Palestinian mothers should cry and not Jewish mothers"? Is the head of army intelligence now also to be in charge of setting Israel's moral priorities? And what prompted the commander of the Ground Forces, Major General Yiftah Ron-Tal, to decide that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has to be liquidated? It's not hard to guess what would happen if Mohammed Dahlan, the former security chief of the Palestinian Authority, were to call for the assassination of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - or, for that matter, what the consequences would be if Major General Ron-Tal were to urge Israel to launch negotiations with Arafat: His days on the General Staff would be numbered. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 26, 03 | 4:40 pm

Sat Oct 25, 2003

Findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli Attack on the Uss Liberty, the Recall of Military Rescue Support Aircraft while the Ship was Under Attack, and the Subsequent Cover-up by the United States Government

OCTOBER 22, 2003


We, the undersigned, having undertaken an independent investigation of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty, including eyewitness testimony from surviving crewmembers, a review of naval and other official records, an examination of official statements by the Israeli and American governments, a study of the conclusions of all previous official inquiries, and a consideration of important new evidence and recent statements from individuals having direct knowledge of the attack or the cover up, hereby find the following: ** More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 25, 03 | 11:00 pm

The One-State Solution

Is Zionism a failed ideology? This question will strike many people as absurd on its face. Israel, after all, is a nation with an advanced standard of living, a high-tech economy and one of the most formidable militaries on earth. In a little over half a century, it has taken in millions of people from far-flung corners of the globe, taught them a new language and incorporated them into a political culture that is nothing if not vigorous. If this is failure, there are a lot of countries wishing for their share of it. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 25, 03 | 8:01 pm

The return of Arabophobia

First, they tried to dismiss Iraqi resistance as the work of "Saddam loyalists". Then they sought to blame "outside forces". Now, as it becomes clear that Iraqis of all sects oppose the occupation, a third explanation has arisen. Terrorism, anarchy and criminality are prevalent in Iraq because ... er ... terrorism, anarchy and criminality are what Iraqis do.

Arabophobia has been part of western culture since the Crusades, with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden only the latest in a long line of Arab bogeymen. For centuries the Arab has played the role of villain, seducer of our women, hustler and thief - the barbarian lurking at the gates of civilisation. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 25, 03 | 7:55 pm

Death Threats in Berkeley : "Close Your Organization or Die"

October 18 / 19, 2003

Left on our office voicemail at 2 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2003:

"Hi. I heard your speech today in UC Berkeley; the debate. I'm telling you this right now. On Monday, at 2 PM, you better not be in your office. Because me and my buddies, who were trained in the Israeli Army, will come and kill every single one of you son-of-a-bitches for what you are doing to destroy Israel. So watch out. This is not a joke. On Monday you better watch out. Don't come to work.

And close your organization or you're going to die."

Dear Israel and your frenzied defenders,

No. We're not going to die.

I know you're used to killing people who are in your way. Old people, young people, leaders, followers, mothers, fathers, teachers, doctors, factory workers, farmers.

It hasn't seemed difficult for you. Human beings are immensely vulnerable. When people have no armor, no defending army, no power, all it takes is a few bullets. Skulls are easily penetrable by tempered steel. Rib cages are shattered with ease.

All it requires, really, is sufficient ruthlessness.

From the beginning of your nation you've made it clear that you possess this in abundance. In 1948 you ethnically cleansed the once-multicultural land on which you chose to impose your uni-cultural nation, of hundreds of thousands of human beings who did not fit your national vision of purity.

You call this your nation's "War of Independence."

Please explain this to me. Independence from whom?

From the farmers whose ancestors had tilled that land for centuries?

From the fishermen whose ancestors had fished in the Sea of Galilee and been turned, it is said, into fishers of men?

From the maintainers and harvesters of olive groves planted a millennium ago, orchards now daily uprooted by your cruelly efficient military bulldozers?

Independence from humanity? From morality? From normality? From everyone else in the world?

And then you killed some more.

You called farmers trying to return to their farms "infiltrators" and killed them. You called the nations who had reluctantly but ineluctably sheltered them "harborers of terrorists" and killed their citizens. You invaded neighbor after neighbor after neighbor. Not a single one escaped your ferocity. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon.


Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 25, 03 | 7:42 pm

Fri Oct 24, 2003

Dignity, Solidarity and the Penal Colony [An Excerpt from The Politics of Anti-Semitism, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair]

Aside from the obvious physical discomforts, being ill for a long period of time fills the spirit with a terrible feeling of helplessness, but also with periods of analytic lucidity, which, of course, must be treasured. For the past three months now I have been in and out of the hospital, with days marked by lengthy and painful treatments, blood transfusions, endless tests, hours and hours of unproductive time spent staring at the ceiling, draining fatigue and infection, inability to do normal work, and thinking, thinking, thinking More...

Posted by: peace/justice on Oct 24, 03 | 5:51 pm

Thu Oct 23, 2003

Expulsion, little by little

The fears and suspicions, as usual, came true - and very quickly. Hiding behind security rationales and the seemingly neutral bureaucratic language of military orders is the gateway for expulsion. Not massive expulsion, heaven forbid, not on trucks, and not far. Drop by drop, unseen, not so many that it would be noticed internationally and shock public opinion; with the proper measure so the Israelis can continue saying it's justified for security reasons, with the appropriate modesty in the media so the information doesn't reach the consciousness of even those who are dealing with the details of a permanent agreement, with their love of peace, while a wave of anti-Semitism sweeps the world. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Oct 23, 03 | 8:19 pm

Sun Oct 19, 2003

Forget reds under the bed, there's Arabs in the attic

Fear of terrorism is fuelling a campaign of hate against Arabs in the US. Columbia University professor Hamid Dabashi describes his personal experience

Late in June 2002, I came back to New York from a fortnight's trip to Japan to find my voicemail flooded with racist, obscene and threatening messages.

"Hey, Mr Dabashi," bellowed an angry voice, "I read about you in today's New York Post. You stinking, terrorist Muslim pig. I hope the CIA is studying you so we can kick you out of this country back to some filthy Arab country where you belong. You terrorist bastard."

I subsequently discovered that on June 25, a certain Daniel Pipes had written an article in a New York tabloid attacking me and a number of other academics, identifying us as anti-American, anti-Israeli and pro-terrorist.


Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 19, 03 | 8:34 pm

Thu Oct 16, 2003

What happened in my neighbourhood

Yesterday at 12:00 o'clock midnight, my bell rang continuously. I am not sure how many seconds or minutes it took me to realize that it was not a nightmare that I was having, nor was it a silly visitor coming to me during my siesta. That was because the rings started being accompanied with hard knocking on the door. Before heading to the door of my apartment, I looked at my mother who was sleeping like a baby in the other room. She had just arrived back from Jordan after she spent two months there. You can imagine what she went through, i.e., the regulations for crossing the bridge from waiting to investigations. Then she jogged her way through several Israeli checkpoints with her suitcase. I looked through the secret eye in the apartment's door. I saw my neighbour, who is around 50 years old, and his 18 years old son, standing and facing the wall. Four soldiers were standing in front of my door directly, but there were some other soldiers who were busy with I did not know what. At that moment, the knocks on the door really were strong that I thought they were about to break in. More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 16, 03 | 9:23 pm

Of Occupation and Apartheid. Do I Divest?

The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure-- in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 16, 03 | 10:53 am

US soldiers bulldoze farmers' crops

Americans accused of brutal 'punishment' tactics against villagers, while British are condemned as too soft

[Editor's note: this is exactly the same tactic used by Israeli occupation forces in Palestine]

US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 16, 03 | 9:37 am

Wed Oct 15, 2003


The Israeli Army has issued a military order, signed and effective as of October 2, 2003, declaring all Occupied West Bank land between the "security" wall and Israel's pre-occupation 1967 border as "closed" (the "Closed Zone"). The Order states that "No person will enter the [Closed Zone] and no one will remain there." (Section 3a) Free access to the Closed Zone will only be granted to "Israelis" (defined as Israeli citizens, Israeli residents and anyone allowed to immigrate to Israel (i.e., anyone who is Jewish)). The Order requires Palestinian residents of the Closed Zone to obtain permits to live in their houses, farm their land, and to travel. Palestinians not residing in the Closed Zone but whose agricultural lands are within the Closed Zone will also be required to apply for a permit to farm their land. The Order effectively grants any Jew in the world the right to freely travel throughout the Closed Zone while denying the same rights to the Christians and Muslims who live on, farm and own the land.

Nothing in the Order guarantees that permits will be granted or even respected if indeed granted. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 15, 03 | 7:38 pm

Tue Oct 14, 2003

This war on terrorism is bogus

Massive attention has now been given - and rightly so - to the reasons why Britain went to war against Iraq. But far too little attention has focused on why the US went to war, and that throws light on British motives too. The conventional explanation is that after the Twin Towers were hit, retaliation against al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan was a natural first step in launching a global war against terrorism. Then, because Saddam Hussein was alleged by the US and UK governments to retain weapons of mass destruction, the war could be extended to Iraq as well. However this theory does not fit all the facts. The truth may be a great deal murkier.

We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush's younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences, was written in September 2000 by the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC). More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 14, 03 | 10:59 pm

Bad news from Israel: media coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict

If you don't understand the Middle East crisis it might be because you are watching it on TV news. This scores high on images of fighting, violence and drama but is low on explanation. The Glasgow University Media Group interviewed twelve small audience groups (a total of eighty five people) with a cross-section of ages and backgrounds. They were asked a series of questions about the conflict and what they had understood from TV news. The same questions were then put to 300 young people (aged between 17 and22) who filled in a questionnaire. We asked what came to their mind when they heard the words 'Israeli/Palestinian conflict' and then what was the source of whatever it was. Most(82%) listed TV news as their source and these replies showed that they had absorbed the 'main' message of the news, of conflict, violence and tragedy, but that many people had little understanding of the reasons for the conflict and its origins. More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 14, 03 | 10:32 pm

Alternative 'peace deal' for Mid-East

Israeli opposition politicians and Palestinian representatives have drawn up a draft peace agreement which they regard as a viable alternative to the international plan known as the roadmap.

The unofficial plan - known as the Geneva Accord - was finalised over the weekend during a meeting in Jordan. More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 14, 03 | 1:10 am

IDF Rafah operation leaves 2,000 homeless

The Israel Defense Forces yesterday completed the first stage of its operation to uncover arms-smuggling tunnels in Rafah, at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, and pulled its troops out of the refugee camp, redeploying along the Egyptian border. International aid organizations and UNRWA officials were then able to make an initial assessment of the damage: some 100 houses were destroyed, leaving about 2,000 people homeless. Eight Palestinians, including two children, were killed earlier during the 72-hour operation that began early Friday morning. More...

Posted by: admin on Oct 14, 03 | 1:01 am

Mon Oct 13, 2003

Israeli incursion leaves 1,240 Palestinians homeless, UN agency finds

13 October – The Israeli demolition of refugee shelters in Rafah camp on the southern Gaza Strip last week has left 1,240 people homeless, United Nations relief workers said today.

Teams working for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said in a statement that Israeli forces demolished 114 refugee shelters and six non-refugee homes during their incursion from 9 to 11 October. Another 117 buildings were damaged, but liveable, the agency said. More...

Posted by: Sami on Oct 13, 03 | 6:40 pm

Sun Oct 12, 2003

Israeli invasion of Gaza refugee camps leave 7 dead and 65 injured meanwhile strict lock down of Palestinian territories continues

On Friday October 10th, the 6th consecutive day that Gaza has been held under complete closure, Israeli occupying forces invaded the refugee camps of Yibna and al Shouot south of Rafah. Seven Palestinians have been killed and more than 60 injured. During the invasion, Israeli military bulldozers continued the land-razing operation, started on Monday. Approximately 400 dunums of Palestinian agricultural land between Morag settlement and Sofa Crossing has been razed and many homes and buildings destroyed. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 12, 03 | 3:53 pm

Alert: Palestinian life totally on hold once again whilst Israel feasts

In an unprecedented announcement the Israeli GOC Central Command Major General Moshe Kaplinski issued an order on Wednesday prohibiting all Palestinian vehicular traffic in the North West Bank. The order was meant to be enforced in those parts designated Area C (full Israeli control) for the next four days.

Being the first time such an order has ever been issued the reaction was one of outrage and disbelief particularly coming at a time when Ahmad Qurei has consistently and publicly called for a return to the negotiating table. Today however, Thursday 9, October, Palestinians are facing a complete shut down of the entire West Bank. Not only are Palestinians being prohibited from entering Israel but all West Bank cities, towns and villages have been subjected to a full closure. The entire West Bank is at a standstill. Not only are all existing checkpoints denying any movement but multiple additional road blocks and “flying checkpoints” are being enforced with Israeli jeeps sporadically dispersed on all roads throughout the region.


Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 12, 03 | 3:41 pm


It is costing the United States approximately $4 billion every month to occupy Iraq.

On top of that, President George W. Bush has proposed a $20.3 billion budget for Iraqi reconstruction. And he wants an additional $87 billion from Congress for military operations.

When I look at these numbers, one thing occurs to me: the people who supported this war should pay for it.

That group does not include me. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 12, 03 | 3:37 pm

Sat Oct 11, 2003


The principal diplomatic correspondents for the New York Times, from Cyrus Sulzberger through Flora Lewis, James Reston, and Leslie Gelb to Thomas Friedman, have always and necessarily been apologists for U.S. foreign policy. The NYT is a self-acknowledged establishment paper, and hardly makes any bones about its close connections with policy- makers. James Reston was greatly honored for his intimacy with high officials, and even co-wrote one of his NYT opinion columns with Henry Kissinger. Another Friedman predecessor, Leslie Gelb, had stints in the State Department and Pentagon interspersed with his position as diplomatic correspondent. That these relationships were countenanced shows that bias and de facto spokesmanship for the imperial state on the part of these reporters is entirely acceptable. An establishment newspaper by definition supports the establishment—what its country’s leaders do is good and is done with the best of intentions (although subject to occasional error and misjudgment) ; their allies and clients deserve support and constructive engagement; their enemies and targets are bad and deserve harsh, often violent words and destructive engagement. More...

Posted by: Ed Howard on Oct 11, 03 | 10:35 pm

The mirror of fire and tears

9 October 2003 -- Thus Yom Kippur (October 6th), the most holy day on the Jewish calendar, the day of atonement in which we are supposed to cease every form of work in order to pray and request forgiveness from God, the Israeli army began construction on a new permanent checkpoint in the Gaza Strip, another slice.

Tanks cut off the main road between Rafah and Khan Younis (the city just north of Rafah) by driving ten tanks right in front of the European Gaza Hospital, the only decent hospital south of Gaza City, and the road has been closed for days. Nothing can get to Rafah, many things in Rafah are simply not available right now, things like medicine, the ability to cash checks, basic supplies.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 11, 03 | 10:28 pm

Israel accused of starving West Bank

A United Nations report which blames Israel for causing starvation in Gaza and the West Bank has prompted a furious diplomatic row with the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon.

The leaked report by Jean Ziegler, a Swiss sociologist and UN special envoy, blames Israel's security policies for "collective punishment" of the Palestinians. Ziegler spent 10 days in the occupied territories in July and was due to present his report to the UN General Assembly in New York on November 18.

Furious Israeli officials, however, have denounced the report as "highly political", saying that Ziegler had gone beyond his mandate. With support from American diplomats at the UN, Israel has called for the report to be rejected before it reaches the floor of the Assembly, and asked the UN Human Rights Commission, for whom Ziegler was working as a food rights specialist, to discipline him.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 11, 03 | 9:38 am

Fri Oct 10, 2003

SA academic Dugard slams Israel

A former Human Rights advocate at Wits University Professor John Dugard in his capacity as Special Rapporteur of the UN’s Commission of Human Rights, has severely attacked Israel. During his tenure as law professor in SA, Dugard was threatened with contempt of court for criticizing Apartheid South Africa’s failure to defend human rights. Consistent with his concern for HR violations Dugard has accused the Jewish State for its disregard of various international laws and conventions.

In his new capacity as Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, Dugard visited the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Israel at the end of June, meeting a number of government and non-governmental organizations on both sides. His brief was to assess Israeli operations in relation to international human rights laws and international humanitarian law. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 10, 03 | 8:46 pm

Edward Said's journey to Ithaka

There is a place for us. Joseph Massad* ponders the life and work of a beloved friend and a great man.

"Joseph, are you still sleeping, it's 8am already?" These are the first words I would hear upon picking up the phone three, four times a week. Edward's powerful teasing voice on the other side goading me to emulate his work regimen: "I have been up since 5:30." I would scramble the words to justify that I had just woken up half an hour earlier and was having my morning coffee. "I am not so sure about that. You sound like you're still in bed!" More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 10, 03 | 8:32 pm

Thu Oct 09, 2003

Defamation, Revisionist Style

Given the approach of the final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians it seems worthwhile to record here the lengths to which the Israeli right-wing (Jabotinsky and Netanhayu's Revisionists) will go to further its claims on all of Palestine against those of the country's native Palestinian inhabitants who were dispossessed as an entire nation in 1948. To this very end, an article has appeared in the September issue of Commentary, a small conservative Jewish monthly, which attacks my life and story as a Palestinian by pretending to show that I am neither really Palestinian, nor ever lived in Palestine, nor that my family was evicted from Palestine in 1948. It should be remarked that this is the third such attack on me by Commentary in twenty years: the first being an enormously long critique in 1981 of my book The Question of Palestine, the second a reckless article in l988 or l989 entitled "The Professor of Terror," the third being this one, written by one Justus Weiner, an American Israeli who works for an obscure Israeli self-proclaimed "neoconservative" research center in Jerusalem. Before that he was paid by the Israeli Ministry of Justice to defend against Amnesty International. Weiner's argument is buttressed by his boast that he spent three years on his study of my life, spoke to 85 witnesses, travelled to several continents, and found many inconsistencies in what he says is "my story," which he distorts more or less at will. It seems astonishing that he obtained funding for this project, although he tactfully doesn't say why, how much, and from whom, given that it was from Michael Milken (the junk bond felon and his foundation). More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 09, 03 | 10:37 pm

News Alert: Israeli Occupation Forces Close Ramallah-Birzeit Road

On Wednesday, October 8, 2003, Israeli occupation forces closed off the Ramallah-Birzeit road, prohibiting even pedestrians from crossing the kilometer-long checkpoint situated near the village of Surda. Since the majority of staff and students live in Ramallah, they were denied access to the University. The University was forced to cancel classes and all other activities. At the same time, the Israeli army placed a curfew on Birzeit town from the early hours of the morning until the afternoon, prohibiting all residents of the town from leaving their homes. In the early hours of the morning, Israeli soldiers entered several buildings which house students and faculty in the town of Birzeit and forced them to leave their apartments and stand in the streets while the Israeli forces searched the buildings.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 09, 03 | 10:28 pm

Tue Oct 07, 2003

Israel's attack is a lethal step towards war in Middle East

Robert Fisk
Independent, 7 October 2003

Beirut. Israel received the Green Light. It came from what is called the Syria Accountability Act, moving through the United States Congress with the help of Israel's supporters, that will impose sanctions on Damascus for its supposed enthusiasm for "terrorism" and occupation of Lebanon.

Speaker after speaker in the past week has been warning that Syria is the new - or old, or non-existent - threat previously represented by Iraq: that it has weapons of mass destruction, that it has biological warheads, that it received Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction just before we began our illegal invasion of Iraq in March.

The Israeli lie about "thousands" of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon has been uncloaked yet again. In reality, there hasn't been an Iranian militant in Lebanon for 20 years. But who cares? The dictatorial Syrian regime - and dictatorial it most decidedly is - has to be struck after a Jenin woman lawyer, who has probably never visited Damascus in her life, blows herself and 19 innocent Israelis up in Haifa.

And why not? If America can strike Afghanistan for the international crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001, when 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and if America can invade Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with 11 September, why shouldn't Israel strike Syria?

Yes, Syria does support Hamas and Islamic Jihad. But in Iraq is based the Mujahideen Khalq, which bombs Iran, and the Americans have not bombed them. In Jerusalem exists a government that openly threatens the life of Yasser Arafat but no one suggests action should be taken against the Israeli administration.

In Jerusalem lives a prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who was adjudicated to be "personally responsible" by Israel's own Kahane commission of enquiry for the massacre of up to 1,700 Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982. But he is not going on trial for war crimes.

Of course, Syria is going to take the air strikes on the 'training base" of Islamic Jihad to the United Nations. Much good will it do Damascus. When the United States cannot bring itself to support a resolution condemning Israel's threat to murder Arafat, when it will not stop the Israelis building 600 more houses - for Jews and Jews only - on Palestinian land, air raids on Syria simply don't matter.

Perhaps Lebanon will benefit. Perhaps Lebanon can now be spared Israel's retaliation for Palestinian violence - unless, of course, Israel decides to strike a Palestinian "training base" in Lebanon.

No one asks what these "training bases" are. Do Palestinian suicide bombers really need to practice suicide bombing? Does turning a switch need that much training? Surely the death of a brother or a cousin by the Israeli army is all the practice that is needed.

But no. Yesterday, we took another little lethal step along the road to Middle East war, establishing facts on the ground, proving that it's permissible to bomb the territory of Syria in the "war against terror", which President Bush has himself declared now includes Gaza.

And the precedents are there if we need them. Back in 1983, when President Reagan thought he was fighting a "war on terror" in the Middle East, he ordered his air force to bomb the Syrian army in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, losing a pilot and allowing the Syrians to capture his co-pilot, who was only returned after a prolonged and politically embarrassing negotiation by Jesse Jackson. In an era when America is ready to threaten the invasion of Syria and Iran - part of that infamous "axis of evil" - this may seem small beer. But Syria itself has seen what has happened to America's army in Iraq, and is emboldened by its humiliation to avenge the attacks of Israel or America, whatever the cost.

If America cannot control Iraq, why should Syria fear Israel?

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 07, 03 | 8:50 pm

Sat Oct 04, 2003

The war on al-Jazeera: The US is determined to suppress the independent Arab media

When my husband decided to go to Baghdad, he knew that I would protest. He told me that I was exaggerating the risks; that there was nothing to be afraid of because he was a reporter, an objective witness, neither on this nor that side, and because of that was protected by world protocol. He bid us farewell, apologising for having been so busy. He promised to make it up to me and our daughter, Fatimah, when he returned.

Tareq left for al-Jazeera's Baghdad office on April 5. He called me when he arrived - the journey was hellish, he said. He sounded exhausted, because he was sleeping only three hours a day, between shifts. Back home in Jordan, our life wasn't any better; we could hardly sleep and sat mesmerised in front of the TV waiting for Tareq to appear in a live report so we'd know he was OK. More...

Posted by: Ed Howard on Oct 04, 03 | 12:27 pm

Fri Oct 03, 2003

Safe haven for all students?

Polly Curtis visits Manchester, scene of Israel-Palestine rows last year

In the Reynold Building at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, freshers' fair is thronging. The music is ear-bleedingly loud, the salsa society is in full swing and the Tai Kwon Do group is out in force. The Jewish students' body and the Islamic society, among the biggest groups in the university, are two stalls apart.
"The first thing I did at freshers' fair is look for anything anti-Israel," says Leah Kutner, president of Manchester Jewish Students, which spans the soon-to-merge Umist and Manchester University. "I shouldn't have to be on the lookout for anything that's anti-me."

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 03, 03 | 6:04 pm

El Al pilots condemn signatories of letter of refusal

A group of El Al pilots on Friday condemned their
colleagues who have signed a letter refusing to carry out targeted killings in the territories, but said that they would not take any steps to punish them.

"We condemn the pilots who signed the letter, not because of their opinions, but because their declaration represents incitement to refuse orders," said a letter distributed Friday among El Al pilots and signed by the chairman of the pilot's union, Captain Itay Regev.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 03, 03 | 6:00 pm

Online 'blacklists' of anti-US faculty win in Washington

Websites that monitor university faculty for evidence of alleged bias against the US and Israel have made inroads in government despite their detractors labelling them little more than blacklists that "chill" free discourse.
The sites' efforts have resulted in a congressional panel seeking increased oversight of federally funded international studies programmes - which website Campus Watch and its director, Daniel Pipes, say promote an anti-Israel and an anti-US bias.

Also, Mr Pipes has been appointed by President George W. Bush to a government-funded foreign-policy institute.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 03, 03 | 5:56 pm


Yet, we wake up to another day full of slaughter and pain
And you are not here to give us solace
You have left us alone in the madhouse of the world
Belly-up and bleeding with tears and emotions

Yet, I seek you, Oh God, in this darkness of the world
And sometimes I feel you are nowhere to be found.
I seek to lift the veil between you and me
And I end up being suffocated by more veils.

I belong to a defeated generation, a shy generation;
A generation exposed to too much wind, disease, and change
And we beseech you, Oh God, to understand our plight.
Sometimes we feel you are not there to solace us.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 03, 03 | 5:37 pm

Dialectics of Terror

“If you kill one person, it is murder. If you kill a hundred thousand, it is foreign policy.” Anonymous

I doubt if I have come across a more pithy statement exposing the hypocrisy of America’s war against terrorism; but this is what I read, well before September 11, 2001, on a car-sticker in the commuter parking lot in Attleboro, Massachusetts, USA.

States are founded on a monopoly over violence, which has nearly always included the right to kill. In fact, that is the very essence of the state. States seek to enforce this monopoly by amassing instruments of violence; but that is scarcely enough. They also use religion, ideology and laws to deligitimize and root out violence stemming from non-state agents.

This monopoly over violence creates its own problem. Unchallenged, the state can turn the instruments of violence against its own population. This leads to state tyranny. The state can also wage wars to enrich one or more sectional interests. This defines the dual challenge before all organized societies: restraining state tyranny and limiting its war-making powers.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 03, 03 | 10:38 am

Response to Hitchens’ Weasel Words

When I first discovered Edward Said’s Orientalism I was overwhelmed but also overjoyed: though I knew I lacked sufficient erudition to read the book as it deserved, I also knew that I had found a source which could challenge and direct my study and gradually allow me to fill in the blanks, especially about the Arab world. It was the most brilliant book I had ever read.

Later in a bookstore in Amman, where I found myself in a queue clutching a new copy of the book for a friend, a well-dressed professorial-looking bystander commented on my purchase. “Orientalism,” he said frowning knowingly. “I find it somewhat overwritten.” Unusually for me--I usually think of the proper response much too late--I managed to contain my indignation. “Oh good, then,” I said deliberately. “Since you know how the book should have been written, I trust you will now write the book as it should be.” Later I reflected on how sad it was that an obviously educated Arab could not just acknowledge and take pride in the fact that another Arab--or another human being for that matter--had achieved such an impressive, learned, and original piece of work. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 03, 03 | 10:31 am

Thu Oct 02, 2003

The Occupation of Iraq – An American Dilemma

There have been numerous reasons put forward by the American and British administration to argue the case for embarking on a war on Iraq. These reasons have variously included the following:

1. That Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
2. That Iraq was an immediate threat to the security of the United States and Britain.
3. That Iraq was importing uranium from Niger and was in the process of developing nuclear weapons.
4. That Iraq was connected to and/or cooperating with al-Qaida.
5. That a war on Iraq was part of America’s war on terror.
6. That a war on Iraq would reduce the incidence of terrorist threats around the world.
7. That a war on Iraq would enhance the social and economic well being of the Iraqi people.
8. That a war on Iraq was morally justifiable in order to rid the world of a ruthless dictator.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 02, 03 | 11:13 pm

Israel and the Empire

Jon Elmer, FromOccupiedPalestine.org: You use the term 'matrix of control' to describe the Israeli occupation. Can you explain exactly what that is and how it functions?

Jeff Halper: The Israel-Palestine conflict is often framed in terms of territory: ending the occupation, a viable Palestinian state, and what that means in terms of territory. But two states and a complete end of the occupation, even in the best scenario, is not really the best solution. The whole Palestinian state would be on only 22% of the country, divided between the West Bank and Gaza. The State of Israel today, within the 1967 borders, represents 78% percent of the country. So even in the ideal situation, if the entire occupation ended and Israel pushed back to 1967 borders, the Palestinian state would be in only 22% of the country. Israel can't compromise on any more than that - even that is a question mark.

But Israel does want a Palestinian state because it needs to get rid of the three and a half million Palestinians currently living in the Occupied Territories. If it can't send them out of the country, it at least wants to enclose them in a little Bantustan-type state. And so, the issue is framed in terms of territory, and what gets lost is the issue of control.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 02, 03 | 10:52 pm

Final Report, from Jenin

I'm writing from the ISM office/sleeping quarters in the Balata refugee camp near/in Nablus, which is a much larger ciy than Jenin (around 180,000 people, I've been told). When I finish this message, I'll be heading for Amman, and my flight home to New York city. With one exception, Nablus is really just a stopping-off point for me, so I'm going to write a bit about the end of my stay in Jenin, and then share some thoughts and conclusions from my trip.

Sunday afternoon, several members of our team had a chance for a long and fascinating discussion with a leader from the local community. The gentleman we spoke with has a legal education, teaches classes on democracy and electoral management to residents of the city, and coordinates a political / educational exchange of some sort between residents of Jenin and Belfast, Ireland. Describing some of the less obvious costs of the occupation, this teacher described a period of 40 days during which he was unable to leave Jenin and, therefore, could not visit, or care for, his 70 year old mother, who lives in a nearby village. His obligations to his own wife and children prevent him from simply moving to the village, and his mother remains in an extremely vulnerable situation. We also spent a great deal of time discussing the current political scene, as well as political and Zionist theory, which I don't have time to address here. It's unfortunate; our new acquaintance's insights were well worth repeating.


Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 02, 03 | 10:42 pm

Florida Woman Bucks US Fines for Visiting Iraq to Oppose War

Published on Monday, August 11, 2003 by the Associated Press

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A retired schoolteacher who went to Iraq to serve as a "human shield" against the U.S. invasion is facing thousands of dollars in U.S. government fines, which she is refusing to pay.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury said in a March letter to Faith Fippinger that she broke the law by crossing the Iraqi border before the war. Her travel to Iraq violated U.S. sanctions that prohibited American citizens from engaging in "virtually all direct or indirect commercial, financial or trade transactions with Iraq."

She and others from 30 countries spread out through Iraq to prevent the war. She spent about three months there. Only about 20 of nearly 300 "human shields" were Americans, she said.

Fippinger, who returned home May 4, is being fined at least $10,000, but she has refused to pay. She could face up to 12 years in prison.

In her response to the charges, she wrote the government that "if it comes to fines or imprisonment, "please be aware that I will not contribute money to the United States government to continue the buildup of its arsenal of weapons." Since she won't pay, she said, "perhaps the alternative should be considered."

The government also has asked Fippinger, 62, to detail her travels to Iraq and any financial transactions she made. In her response, Fippinger wrote that the only money she spent was on food and emergency supplies.

If Fippinger does not pay, the fine may increase, and the money will be drawn from her retirement paycheck, her Social Security check or any of her assets, officials said.

"She was (in Iraq) in violation of U.S. sanctions," said Taylor Griffin, a Treasury Department spokesman. "That's what happens."

Shortly before the U.S. invasion in March, Fippinger was one of several dozen human shields scattered around a refinery in Baghdad.

"We are planning to stay here in the refinery if war breaks out," Fippinger said at the time. "We are staying here because we think this war is unjust."

© 2003 Copyright The Associated Press


Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 02, 03 | 8:56 am

A one-state solution

A unitary Arab-Jewish homeland could bring lasting peace to the Middle East

Something is stirring in Israel these days. After a long hiatus, the country's left is gearing up for a new ideological offensive. Major figures, including the writer David Grossman and former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, have recently spoken out against the right-wing policies of Ariel Sharon. Their impassioned pleas for a radical alternative cannot but impress all those who genuinely seek a way out of the deadly cycle of Palestinian-Israeli violence.


Posted by: Mona Baker on Oct 02, 03 | 8:47 am