Archives: January 2004

Fri Jan 30, 2004

Iraq war, chips and chocolate laxatives

Is western political correctness in danger of turning human rights into yet another instrument of power? It's time to stand up for what we believe, argues Slavoj Žižek.

Critiques of the notion of universal human rights usually revolve around the subject of whose interests they protect, such as the question of whether human rights are biased by class or culture. The role of culture has received much attention in recent times: the idea that while human rights pretend to be universal, they secretly privilege a western set of values so that their global imposition promotes western cultural imperialism. For instance, in India recently, Hindus protested against McDonald's after it became known that the company's chips were fried in beef fat before being frozen. After McDonald's agreed to fry chips sold in India in vegetable oil, Hindus were happy. Far from undermining globalisation, the conflict signalled the integration of Hindus into the diversified global order, even if close analysis shows that the protest was metaphorically about discontent over western cultural imperialism rather than chip fat.

The "respect" shown to Indians here is unremittingly patronising, like our attitude towards children: we do not take them seriously, but we "respect" their innocuous customs so as not to shatter their illusory world. But what about such practices as the burning of wives after their husband's death, another Hindu tradition? Should we tolerant western multiculturalists also respect that practice? Or should we just adopt the normal practice of resorting to a Eurocentrist distinction that is foreign to Hinduism: tolerating the Other with regard to customs that hurt no one, but ditching that tolerance the moment we touch some (for us) traumatic dimension. That is, we tolerate the Other in so far as the Other is not an "intolerant fundamentalist" - which simply means in so far as it is not the real Other.

Posted by: Hazem on Jan 30, 04 | 2:37 pm

Thu Jan 29, 2004


The Hutton report’s criticisms of Andrew Gilligan and the BBC are “unfounded”, the NUJ said today.

The union’s General Secretary Jeremy Dear said that blaming the BBC and its reporter for the trouble his broadcasting caused the government was “a threat to independent journalism.” More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 29, 04 | 9:44 am

So PM and No 10 did nothing wrong?

THE real Lord Hutton has secretly been tied up in a Belfast cupboard since October and replaced by a disguised No10 operative who wrote the report over Christmas. Thus ran just one of the jokes made by delighted Labour MPs yesterday.

They carried a serious theme - yesterday’s report, which unequivocally exonerated Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell and denounced the BBC, flew in the face of everything we had come to expect from Lord Hutton.

Posted by: Hazem on Jan 29, 04 | 1:35 am

Controversial Palestinian-Israeli love story crosses new borders

BEIRUT: A Palestinian. An Israeli. A love story. A controversy. Ostensibly, the sequence of events is straightforward, yet a twist renders the situation even more complicated, at least for a Middle Eastern audience.

That is, if the political and social climate of the Arab world will ever be receptive enough to the staging of Salam Shalom ­ A Tale Of Passion ­ the award-winning play by a Palestinian-American playwright known professionally as Saleem. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Jan 29, 04 | 12:09 am

Why the BBC Ducks the Palestinian Story


Watching a peculiarly crass, inaccurate and condescending programme about the endangered historical sites of “Israel” – that is to say, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories – on BBC2 in early June 2003,(1) I determined to try to work out, as a former BBC Middle East correspondent, why the Corporation has in the past two and a half years been failing to report fairly the most central and lasting reason for the troubles of the region: the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom.

Posted by: nachoua on Jan 29, 04 | 12:02 am

Wed Jan 28, 2004

Diagnozing Benny Morris: the mind of a European settler

(YellowTimes.org) – Israeli historian Benny Morris crossed a new line of shame when he put his academic credentials and respectability in the service of outlining the "moral" justification for a future genocide against Palestinians. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Jan 28, 04 | 11:44 pm

For Whom The Death Tolls: Deliberate undercounting of “coalition” fatalities

There is evidence of a concerted effort afoot to obfuscate the number of casualties in the recent crop of US-led wars. May 1 st was the day the president Bush landed on an aircraft carrier and declared the end to the war and the start of the occupation of Iraq [ 1 ] . Since then many casualty numbers have been publicized, most of them disingenuous fudges of the real death toll. There are many reasons why the casualty toll is understated, and these are dissected here.

The Bush regime is doing its best to hide the human cost of its recent wars. Publicity of the soldiers' deaths is bad during an election year, and would be bad for the continued justification for the American occupation of Iraq . If they are intent on hiding the casualty figures, then it behooves us to uncover and amplify them. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 28, 04 | 10:07 pm

Anne Gwynne writes from Nablus, Occupied Palestine on Hamas’ 16th anniversary - Part I

“We will never give up, and we will never leave”: Interviews with a Kata'ab al Qassam Leader – 'Number-One-Wanted’ by the illegal occupying forces of Israel

Whenever I light a cigarette I think of B and the many companionable cigarettes and cups of strong, sweet coffee we took together in Nablus. I smoked my last one in the beautiful, moonlit city with him, very late, on the night before I left for the USA for a summer visit. To meet was a huge risk for him but he wanted to say “until we meet again”. I hadn’t made it to an earlier rendez-vous, and was sad that I had missed him – he knew, so he came back at a very dangerous time when the soldiers were in the city! To my profound sorrow some four months later he has finally been trapped and captured in Raffidiya during a Zionist undercover operation in which his brother was also dragged in shackles from his bed. More...

Posted by: Charles MacKinnon on Jan 28, 04 | 9:25 pm

Tue Jan 27, 2004

The New American Century

This article was adapted from Arundhati Roy's January 16 speech to the opening plenary of the World Social Forum in Mumbai.

In January 2003 thousands of us from across the world gathered in Porto Alegre in Brazil and declared--reiterated--that "Another World Is Possible." A few thousand miles north, in Washington, George W. Bush and his aides were thinking the same thing. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Jan 27, 04 | 1:01 pm

Sun Jan 25, 2004

It's Just Wrong What We're Doing

'Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why."

With those words, written nine years ago, Robert McNamara began an extraordinary final phase of his career -- devoted to chronicling the errors, delusions and false assumptions that turned him into the chief architect and most prominent promoter of the Vietnam war.

Posted by: nachoua on Jan 25, 04 | 9:53 pm

Sat Jan 24, 2004

Iraq Arms Inspector Resigns, Casts Doubt on Prewar Data

WASHINGTON — The leader of the U.S. search for banned weapons in Iraq resigned Friday and said he thought that Iraq was not engaged in large-scale production of chemical or biological weapons in the 1990s and that it did not have stocks of banned munitions before the U.S.-led invasion last year.

Special CIA advisor David Kay's decision to step down was a blow to the White House, which based its case for the war in Iraq largely on claims that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed large quantities of chemical and biological weapons and had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 24, 04 | 6:46 pm

Fri Jan 23, 2004

A debate in our movement - Palestine and the antiwar movement

SHOULD THE antiwar movement take up the question of Palestine? Or, to put the question another way, can the movement oppose one element of U.S. domination of the Middle East, the occupation of Iraq, while ignoring the other--the increasingly savage Israeli occupation of Palestine that’s funded, armed and politically supported by Washington?

Founded by mainly European Jewish settlers, known as Zionists, in British-controlled Palestine in 1948, Israel was based on the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians through killing and terror, including massacres of entire villages. Jews, who owned 6 percent of the land in 1947, established their state on land that was 94 percent owned, farmed and used by Palestinians.

Israeli historian Benny Morris, whose research has uncovered a series of Israeli massacres in 1948, recently declared that "from my point of view, the need to establish this state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them...Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians." More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 23, 04 | 10:14 pm

Time to remember

Whatever the discursive niceties it is important to realise that Israel is Zionist, and that Zionism displaces and kills, writes Ghada Karmi*

For those who have forgotten or never understood what Zionism is about two recently published pieces will make salutary reading. The first is an interview with the Israeli historian, Benny Morris, published in the Israeli daily Haaretz on 4 January. The second is an article by Morris in the 14 January edition of The Guardian. In both Morris explains, with breathtaking candour, what the Zionist project has entailed. Few Zionists outside the ranks of the extreme right have been prepared to be so brutally honest. Morris not only claims a leftist position but, more significantly, was the first to expose the circumstances of Israel's creation. Using Israel state archives for his groundbreaking 1987 book on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, he was hailed as a courageous revisionist historian. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 23, 04 | 7:56 pm

Mon Jan 19, 2004

Substitute ‘Arab’ for ‘Jew’ if you still think Kilroy wasn’t racist

There is truth in some of the presenter’s criticisms, says Yasir Suleiman, but freedom of speech carries the responsibility not to promote lies, bigotry and violence

IN his apocalyptic view of the post-cold war world, Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash Of Civilisations and The Remaking Of World Order, argues that the most dangerous conflicts will not be between social classes, such as rich and poor, but “between peoples belonging to different cultural entities”. Like all grand generalisations, this contains some truth but also much that is wrong, even in this traumatised, post-September 11 world. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 19, 04 | 10:57 pm

Hate mail

Jewish activists opposing the Israeli government's policies face intimidation and harassment via email and on the internet. Brian Whitaker reports

Deborah Fink is a singer and music teacher living in London. She is also Jewish. Last month, out of the blue, she received a deluge of hateful emails - more than 150 in the space of a week.

One came from a rabbi in New York, informing her: "Your soul, my dear, is petrified and lost." Another said, menacingly: "Hitler killed the wrong Jews."

Yet another - ostensibly from a Jewish doctor of medicine in the US - elaborated on the Holocaust theme. "Too bad Hitler didn't get your family," it said. "With six million Jews dieing [sic] 60 year [sic] ago it's a shame scum like you somehow managed to survive." More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 19, 04 | 10:32 pm

Tel Aviv Conference on Child Protection

----- Original Message -----
From: DCI/PS
To: dcipal@palnet.com
Cc: jihad@shabaka.net ; pngonet@p-ol.com ; ayed@dci-pal.org
Sent: Thursday, October 17, 2002 1:58 PM
Subject: Re: Tel Aviv Conference on Child Protection

17 October 2002

Dear all,

We are writing on behalf of the Palestinian Child Rights Coalition (PCRC) to urge you to strongly reconsider your participation in the upcoming conference "Protection of Child-Civilians in Times of Conflict." PCRC, a network of 15 Palestinian NGOs working on issues concerning Palestinian children, will publicly boycott this conference.

We have serious reservations about this conference and urge you to reconsider your participation for a number of reasons:

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 19, 04 | 10:03 am

Sun Jan 18, 2004

Is 'Lord of the Rings' the U.S. vs Iraq, Etc.?

What's the real meaning of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"? The filmmakers' intent may not be clear, but the film's reception is clear enough: Audiences love it. Which is a clue that the outward expansion of U.S. power, like the film itself, has yet to run its course.


Posted by: Hazem on Jan 18, 04 | 8:42 pm

Two peoples and a single land

The only solution for 36 years has been for Israel to end the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank

Once again, Israel has reached a critical juncture in its tragic conflict with the Palestinians. In last week's Observer, Alex Brummer, a prominent member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, wrote an article on the demise of the Greater Israel vision. The article shed some useful light on the great debate that is going on within the Likud ruling party about the future of the Jewish state. Unfortunately, Mr Brummer's analysis of where Israel is heading is based on little more than wishful thinking. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 18, 04 | 10:28 am

Sat Jan 17, 2004

The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century by Paul Krugman (Review)

Paul Krugman was once a mild-mannered economics professor at Princeton with a reputation for brilliance, an impressive track record (his economic predictions had a tendency to prove accurate) and, many said, a shot at the Nobel Prize in Economics. Then, the New York Times hired him to write a twice-weekly column about economic issues for the op-ed page, and his days of professorial tranquility were over. These days, he receives death threats.

Though the Times hired Krugman at the height of the Internet bubble with the expectation that he would explain to an eager public issues pertinent to the new economy, it didn't turn out that way. Shortly after he took the job, the Internet bubble burst -- and George W. Bush was elected...er, became president. Krugman did turn out to be a lively writer with a jaunty wit and a knack for making complicated issues understandable. What the paper didn't count on was that Krugman, who is also uncommonly plainspoken, would become the Bush Administration's most feared critic.

Unfettered by traditional codes of journalistic reserve, Krugman was among the first to use the "L" word in an article about the Bush administration.

Posted by: Hazem on Jan 17, 04 | 9:07 pm

Fri Jan 16, 2004

“One man, one vote…and then what will we do?”!

Anne Gwynne writes to The Guardian in response to Jonathan Spyer’s article (14/01/04)

In an article entitled “Israel’s Demographic Time Bomb” by Jonathan Spyer, formerly Adviser to the Government of Ariel Sharon, The Guardian (14/01/04) ran this heading, ‘Jews risk becoming a minority in their own land’ (well, their stolen land – they have no real history here – the Golden Age of Jews lasted only, at most fifty years, under David, from 975 to 925 BC).

The Guardian is one of the two most widely respected English-language newspapers in the world today. That such an article should appear, unchallenged, in Comment and Analysis (p26) was, to say the least, a surprise. An article written by an adviser to a government headed by a war criminal.

What does it tell the reader? That Likud has always rejected any territorial compromise in the remaining tiny part of historical Palestine. You bet it has. Any day one or more of the 50,000 IOF soldiers manning the 850 road blocks in a country half the size of Wales will tell you the truth. ‘This is Israel’ they say ‘and Jordan is Israel too, and so is Lebanon and part of Iraq, Egypt and Syria – it’s ours and we will take it’. ‘It is on our flag, which [they say] is the Nile and the Euphrates [top and bottom] bordering all the land between which is Israel’. With this end in mind it is unsurprising that Likud considers this remaining tiny piece of historical Palestine strategically crucial!

Posted by: Charles MacKinnon on Jan 16, 04 | 10:44 pm

Why the BBC Ducks the Palestinian Story

Watching a peculiarly crass, inaccurate and condescending programme about the endangered historical sites of “Israel” — that is to say, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories — on BBC2 in early June 2003, (1) I determined to try to work out, as a former BBC Middle East correspondent, why the Corporation has in the past two and a half years been failing to report fairly the most central and lasting reason for the troubles of the region: the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 16, 04 | 10:05 pm

Genocide Hides Behind Expulsion

Comment in Circular from Gush Shalom (15 January 2004): "Genocide Hides Behind Expulsion" - a response by Philosophy Professor Adi Ophir (Hebrew & English). Ophir offered it to Ha'aretz. It includes a remark against Ha'aretz allowing Morris' cynicism on its pages. It was refused.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 16, 04 | 8:10 pm

Right of reply / The judgment of history

Last week's interview with historian Benny Morris ("Survival of the fittest" by Ari Shavit, Haaretz Magazine, January 9, 2004) has generated a deluge of readers' responses. Here are some selected comments. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 16, 04 | 8:05 pm

Israel Presses White House To Reword Rights Report

WASHINGTON — Israel is pressuring the Bush administration to omit references to the West Bank security fence from the State Department's annual human rights report.

American diplomats in Tel Aviv recently told Israeli officials that the administration planned to refer to the fence in the report's chapter that scrutinizes Israeli violations of Palestinians' human rights. But, sources said, the administration has not yet made a final decision on the issue. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 16, 04 | 7:33 pm

Israel's demographic timebomb

Israeli right-of-centre politics is today turned in on itself. The reason for this derives from the prominence in recent weeks given to proposals for unilateral disengagement by Israel from the Gaza Strip and the greater part of the West Bank, in the event of the continuation of the current deadlock between the sides.

The Likud party's raison d'ętre, since its formation in 1973, has been the rejection of any territorial compromise in the West Bank, an area it considered crucial strategically, and which is saturated with sites and symbols of Jewish historical, cultural and religious importance. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 16, 04 | 12:49 am

For the record

In 1948, thousands of Palestinians fled their homes in what is now Israel, and became refugees. Both sides have blamed each other ever since. But new documents show neither is entirely innocent, argues Benny Morris

First, there were the faces, the old Palestinian women huddled around a smoking, outdoor stone oven among the ruins of the Rashidiye refugee camp near Tyre in June 1982, days after the Israeli army had scythed through southern Lebanon. Their menfolk had fled northward to the PLO bastion in Beirut, or had been killed or captured and were undergoing interrogation in Israeli detention camps. The women told me that they originated in the village of Al Bassa, in northern Galilee. They had fled Palestine in 1948. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 16, 04 | 12:44 am

Thu Jan 15, 2004

The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism

IN 1879 the German journalist Wilhelm Marr, a former socialist and anarchist, founded an organization that was novel in two ways. It was the first political party based on a platform of hostility to Jews. And it introduced the world to a new word: "anti-Semite."

Marr was an atheist, and the Antisemiten-Liga (League of Anti-Semites) was hostile to Jews on the secular grounds that they are an alien "race." However, his account of "Semitism" was not essentially different from the demonic conception of the Jew that had existed in Christian Europe for centuries. It boiled down to this: Jews are a people apart from the rest of humanity. They are the enemy. Wherever they go, they form a state within a state. Conspiring in secret, they work together to promote their own collective advantage at the expense of the nations or societies in whose midst they dwell and on whom they prey. Cunning and manipulative, they possess uncanny powers that enable them, despite their small numbers, to achieve their ends. The term "antiSemitism" has come to refer to this discourse, or variations on the themes it contains, because the same rhetoric persists whether Jewish identity is seen as religious, racial, national or ethnic. Sometimes this discourse is explicit; at other times it is the subtext of attacks on Jews. Anti-Semitism, thus defined, is not new.


Posted by: Hazem on Jan 15, 04 | 11:19 pm

What Price a Life? The Israeli Army Shot My Son, and the Toll Continues to Rise

The Israeli army shot my son, and the toll continues to rise

Jocelyn Hurndall
Saturday January 10, 2004 Saturday January 10, 2004 The Guardian

In the pensive hours of the night, I am struck by the varying values that mankind chooses to allot to life - as was my son Tom.

Earlier this month, I read with mixed feelings the news that local Palestinian militia had dynamited an Israeli defence force watchtower in the town of Rafah, in the Gaza Strip. It was from this watchtower, which has been responsible for untold misery to many innocent families in Rafah, that Tom was shot in the head last April. At the time he was trying to help Palestinian children to safety. He now lies in a vegetative state in a hospital in London with no hope of recovery. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 15, 04 | 10:30 pm

Genocide Hides Behind Expulsion

Response to an interview with Benny Morris in the Ha’aretz supplement, Jan. 9, 2004

At some point in the interview, when the reader might think that Benny Morris has already said the most terrible things, he brings up, in passing, the extermination of the Native Americans. Morris contends that their annihilation was unavoidable. “The great American democracy could not have been achieved without the extermination of the Indians. There are cases in which the general and final good justifies difficult and cruel deeds that are carried out in the course of history.” Morris seems to know what the general and final good is: the good of the Americans, of course. He knows that this good justifies partial evil.

In other words, under specific conditions, specific circumstances, Morris believes that it is possible to justify genocide. In the case of the Indians, it is the existence of the American nation. In the case of the Palestinians, it is the existence of the Jewish state. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 15, 04 | 5:03 pm

Wed Jan 14, 2004

Thrice Upon a Time

The current leaders of the United States of America believe that they possess power. But having real power and the ability to use it, requires the ability to control events. In many places now, including Iraq, our continued failures have proven that the USA does not possess real power. We possess a lot of weapons, and a lot of arrogance - but we have no idea of what real power is - or how to use it. . .

This is the third year of the surreal obscenity that is being called the Bush administration. A brief review of those three years, coupled with the actions that have come from this illegal and poisonous dictatorship - yields some very unusual "new directions" - for the nation and the world.

Posted by: nachoua on Jan 14, 04 | 10:47 pm

Middle East Studies Under Scrutiny in US: Watchdog Groups Allege Left-Wing Bias

When Rashid Khalidi took over the newly established Edward Said Chair of Middle East Studies at Columbia University last fall, the appointment was generally viewed as an academic coup for the school, which had succeeded in wooing away a prominent Middle East expert from the University of Chicago, a longtime rival.

But Khalidi soon became the target of an Internet campaign that questioned his patriotism. Conservative critics zeroed in on his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq and his public expressions of sympathy for the Palestinian cause. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 14, 04 | 5:09 pm

Overnight, a Towering Divide Rises in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, Jan. 11 — With a towering concrete slab lowered almost tenderly into a ragged street, Israel began drawing a hard line around Jerusalem on Sunday, walling it off from Abu Dis, an Arab village joined to the city for generations.

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians can look like the stalest of stalemates, a furious standoff that defies measurement and maybe even change. But in this crowded neighborhood of east Jerusalem, the city's Arab section, there was something monumental, even defining, about the 30-foot slab descending from the twilight, just after a muezzin called the sunset prayer over the crane's roar. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 14, 04 | 5:02 pm

So What If the Goyim Are Looking? A Jewish Newspaper Lets It All Hang Out

In his August 29 editorial, J.J. Goldberg, editor of the Forward, warned his readers not to be “startled” by that week’s front-page op-ed. He knew he was playing jump rope with raw nerves. After all, American Jews, the paper’s prime audience, could never have expected such heresy in a mainstream Jewish publication: “Israel, having ceased to care about the children of Palestinians, should not be surprised when they come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in the centers of Israeli escapism.” More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 14, 04 | 4:54 pm

Protecting the Mountain Aquifer: A missed opportunity

Open Letter to Friends of the Earth, Middle East (FoEME)

The increasing pollution of the shared Israeli-Palestinian Mountain Aquifer, the biggest and best quality water resource for both people is a very serious issue. Therefore, it was a very welcome initiative to organize a high-ranking symposium of experts and players in the management of this precious resource to discuss – practically and scientifically – the reasons for the pollution processes and a strategy to face these threats.

The organizers of the symposium that took place in Tel Aviv University on Dec. 17, 2003, the Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Porter School of Environmental Studies are to be congratulated for their efforts. Many interesting papers on the issue were presented. Some papers were very detailed and do greatly advance the issue. It shall also be noted that the high level of the representatives from the Israeli political and academic sphere, as well as from the international donors in the water sector was a very promising sign for this symposium. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 14, 04 | 4:42 pm

Lessons from the Israeli School: How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Islamic World

OK, now it's official. The United States is taking lessons from Israel on appropriate ways to deal with the Arab and Islamic world.

This is clear in Seymour Hersh's story on Israeli-trained American death squads in the latest New Yorker, and Chalmers Johnson's December 3 article on the same subject on the Common Dreams website. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 14, 04 | 4:32 pm

Tue Jan 13, 2004

Lilly White Feminism and Academic Apartheid in Israel

On December 26, 2001, Ariyeh Caspi exhorted in Israel’s highbrow Ha’aretz Weekly that only 8.8% of those holding full professor’s rank in Israeli universities were women. In his article “Search for the Woman,” the journalist nonetheless neglected to mention that all these women pro- fessors are members of Israel’s Ashkenazi (US-European) wealthy elite. Most had embarked on their graduate studies and academic careers only after strategically marrying older, wealthier Ashkenazi husbands. Jointly with their moneyed parents, the husbands happily fi- nanced the first 20 years of their careers. If one is to add up Mizrahim (Jews of Asian and North- African origins) with Palestinian citizens of Israel, the majority of Israeli citizens are of Arab descent. If so, why does Israeli academe bestow the professorial privilege only to a handful of Ashkenzi ladies? More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 13, 04 | 8:21 pm

Survival of the Fittest

Benny Morris says he was always a Zionist. People were mistaken when they labeled him a post-Zionist, when they thought that his historical study on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem was intended to undercut the Zionist enterprise. Nonsense, Morris says, that's completely unfounded. Some readers simply misread the book. They didn't read it with the same detachment, the same moral neutrality, with which it was written. So they came to the mistaken conclusion that when Morris describes the cruelest deeds that the Zionist movement perpetrated in 1948 he is actually being condemnatory, that when he describes the large-scale expulsion operations he is being denunciatory. They did not conceive that the great documenter of the sins of Zionism in fact identifies with those sins. That he thinks some of them, at least, were unavoidable. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 13, 04 | 1:51 pm

Cry, our beloved country

Perhaps, after all, the world will save Israel from itself. Perhaps Israel's real friends will increase the pressure on the government. Perhaps they will understand that, even in Israel, external pressure is not always bad, because it may be the last chance to bring Israel back on the straight and narrow and make it a more just state. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 13, 04 | 1:33 pm

Sun Jan 11, 2004

We Aren’t the World

Already-strapped institutions of higher learning are facing an ideologically driven effort to limit funding for the study of cultures outside the United States.

For nearly four decades, American universities have benefited from the U.S. Department of Education programs funded under Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Title VI provides grants to nurture area and international studies centers and aims to create national resources for teaching foreign language and supporting research and training in international studies and world affairs. But these programs are under threat as neoconservatives seek to place conditions on continued funding. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 11, 04 | 12:54 pm

Sat Jan 10, 2004

A short history of apartheid

Land is at the heart of the drama unfolding in Palestine. But it is not the only thing, argues Azmi Beshara

Rhetoric about demography so dominates Israel's political discourse that one might be tempted to assume that Israel has abandoned its preferred designation as the Jewish democratic state in favour of the Jewish demographic state. The condition has reached the stage where it might be diagnosed as an advanced case of demographomania. The mania, of course, is rooted in Zionist principles, in the need to maintain a Jewish majority capable of implementing a democracy that will absorb the Diaspora, accommodate pioneer settlement and the assumption of a common history, and that allows for the fetishisation of military service. For without any of the above Israel would have to practice government by the minority, which inevitably leads to apartheid or racial segregation, to government by a national minority that sees the state as the embodiment of its legitimacy. Such practices demand dual sets of legality. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 10, 04 | 8:30 pm

A diaspora divided

Shock waves from the continuing carnage in the Middle East are increasingly dividing the Jewish diaspora, and the rifts are becoming ugly.

Aljazeera.net has uncovered evidence of an anti-Semitic hate mail campaign against Jewish peace activists in London, which involves rabbis and at least one respected Israeli literary figure.

Diaspora Jewish communities have traditionally rallied round Israel in times of crisis. But faced with an occupation that seems to have no end, and a perceived increase in anti-Semitism accompanying it, discontent among British Jewry is rife. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 10, 04 | 8:20 pm

Wed Jan 07, 2004

George Bush & Adolf Hitler

The Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is outraged that MoveOn.org's anti-Bush video contest yielded two thirty-second ads that compared George Bush to Adolf Hitler. He refers to them as "the worst and most vile form of political hate speech." However, Gillespie fails to mention that the offending videos were weeded out during the selection process. He also fails to mention, as noted in today's Washington Post, that Grover Norquist, an influential Republican activist, recently compared the estate tax to the Holocaust. It appears that Mr. Gillespie's outrage is simply political maneuvering, his tears the crocodile sort.

But the Simon Wiesenthal Center is also upset about moveon's videos (we have yet to hear from them on the more outrageous Norquist flap) which justifies a closer look at the comparison of Bush to Hitler.

The internet is littered with pictures of George Bush with a swastika on his chest, a drawn-on mustache, and his arm raised in the Nazi salute. It is therefore no surprise that someone would choose this theme for their video. But why? Has George Bush done anything to justify the comparison? Consider these points:


Posted by: Hazem on Jan 07, 04 | 3:50 pm

Mon Jan 05, 2004

Chutzpah: an avoidance strategy

From the soap opera trial of O J Simpson to Herzliya: Azmi Bishara traces the death of the liberal Jew

When a liberal Harvard University law professor defended Orenthal James Simpson, commonly known as "OJ", on the grounds of "reasonable doubt," it must have reminded many of the line from Shakespeare's Henry VI (Part 2, IV, ii): "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

This liberal law professor built his reputation on defending citizens against all forms of discrimination, for upholding the freedoms of the individual, for safeguarding a defendant's right to "reasonable doubt" when on trial for murder. He is the intellectual who strives to be unpredictable by going against the consensus of his social milieu, which condemns the simultaneously celebrated and hated wealthy star, the professor who defends the person who people like to hate, as sometimes happens with celebrities. He is the lawyer who likes to play the enfant terrible, bent on provoking his peers in a battle that appears to revolve around the defendant who is innocent until proven guilty and whom he proves cannot be found guilty even if he cannot prove his innocence, thereby infuriating his peers even more while at the same time increasing their admiration of his courtroom finesse. And, from the real blood of the victim with a well-known name, family and friends who became the authors of memoirs and talk show guests, and from the human flesh beneath the victim's fingernails, liberals and conservatives -- whether they loved or hated the defendant -- squeezed a cheap melodrama on the antics of the rich, on their ethics of betrayal and the bloodiness of their ethics, and on a culture the values of which are as volatile as deodorant spray. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 05, 04 | 11:14 am

'The other Israel'

A new NGO attempts to build a case against Israeli racism. Omayma Abdel-Latif talked to the founders.

Where in the Middle East did a school principal get away with burning the New Testament in front of students? And in which country did a religious man say that a man's life is more important than a woman's? Was it Iran? Saudi Arabia?

The right answer is Israel, where teachers at religious schools, it turns out, urge their students to write to soldiers to encourage them to "kill as many Arabs as possible", and where an IDF officer at a checkpoint may use glass shards to carve a Star of David on a Palestinian's arm. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 05, 04 | 11:05 am

Racism repackaged

The Geneva Accord was long ago scripted by Israeli Military Intelligence, writes Salman Abu Sitta*

The orchestrated media blitz, replete with approving noises made by those European and Arab politicians eager to be rid of Palestinian refugees, conveniently ignored the fact that the understanding reached between some Palestinians and Israelis on the shores of the Dead Sea, later dignified with the name Geneva Accord, is in essence no more than the blueprint produced by the Israeli intelligence service to "solve" the issue of Palestinian refugees. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 05, 04 | 10:59 am

A cursed blessing in disguise

That old, little remembered question - what would Yeshayahu Leibowitz have said had he seen this - came up this week when Golani infantry soldiers appeared to have crossed into the twilight zone of war crimes. Leibowitz, the first commentator to speak aloud about the unavoidable corrupting tendency of the occupation was in his day considered an overwrought prophet of doom. In his unsparing prose, he cited quotes by a German author who spoke about the transition from humanism to nationalism, and then to barbarism. Many loathed him and refused to forgive him for daring to warn about the degeneration of IDF conduct, and about its becoming one of the lowliest of armies. Today, would it really be so easy to point to the error of his words? More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 05, 04 | 9:57 am

Sun Jan 04, 2004

We are all soldiers at checkpoints

The terminology used to be routine and clear: Whenever a unit of the Israel Defense Forces completed a mission - be it the aerial bombing of refugee camps in Lebanon, shelling terrorist headquarters in Syria or attacking missile sites in Egypt - the media would report that "our forces returned safely to their bases."

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 04, 04 | 8:55 pm

Sat Jan 03, 2004

''Seeing no evil doesn't mean there is no evil''

In recent weeks, I have been writing more profusely about the Iraq situation. I have been in touch with various Iraqi groups and individuals, human rights groups, non-governmental agencies, and other independent journalists who have visited Iraq since the capture of Baghdad. The news from all is absolutely dismal; Iraq has disintegrated into a ruthless avenue of rogue militias serving one cleric or another, various business interests of some foreign-based Iraqi corporations competing against other Arab enterprises, or a spectacular venue for revenge killing. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 03, 04 | 3:30 pm

Israeli soldier arrested over 'sniper' shooting of unarmed British peace protester

An Israeli soldier has been arrested in connection with shooting the unarmed British peace protester Thomas Hurndall in the head, the Israeli army said yesterday.

The incident in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, last April, left Mr Hurndall clinically dead. The 22-year-old, who is being kept alive in a London hospital, was trying to help Palestinian children who were trapped under fire to safety when he was shot, witnesses said.


Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 03, 04 | 11:01 am

Fri Jan 02, 2004

Brazil judge orders fingerprinting of US citizens

RIO DE JANEIRO : A federal judge has ordered the fingerprinting of all US citizens entering Brazil , which matches the treatment Brazilians get when the enter the US . But police said they were not ready to begin the programme.

On Monday, Julier Sebastiao da Silva, a federal judge in Mato Grosso state, ordered the move in response to new regulations requiring citizens from 27 countries - including Brazil - to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entering the US as an anti-terrorism measure. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 02, 04 | 7:41 pm

The Many Faces of Guantanamo

Guantánamo has many faces. For some it conjures the "Guantanamera" guajira (peasant woman), sung to the verses of the leader of the Cuban war of independence of 1895, the lawyer and poet Jose Martí. To others it is the tropical sugar-mill town of some 200,000 inhabitants in the easternmost province of Cuba. To most Americans "Gtmo" only means the Bay and the naval base on it, the oldest outside of the United States, which was occupied by the US during the Spanish-American war of 1898 and subsequently leased by the US from Cuba pursuant to a 1903 lease agreement. One of Cuba’s best ports, Gtmo occupies an area of 117.6 square kilometres (larger than Manhattan Island) for which the United States used to pay an annuity of $2,000 (increased to $4,085 in 1934). Cuba, however, does not cash the annuity checks and instead has repeatedly asked the United States since 1959 to dismantle the base and leave, since the lease had been imposed by force, and such arrangements are deemed invalid under modern international law. For Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Guantánamo means the "legal black hole" for 660 internees from 42 nations, some of them Taliban fighters, suspected terrorists and other persons captured in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia and other countries and flown to Cuba, thousands of miles away, for internment in Camp X (now Camp Delta) nearly two years ago. For the British senior Justice Lord Johan Steyn, Guantanamo entails "a monstrous failure of justice." More...

Posted by: nachoua on Jan 02, 04 | 2:40 pm

New Willie Nelson Song Condemns War in Iraq

DALLAS (Reuters) - Country music icon Willie Nelson has written a Christmas song with an edge -- a protest against the war in Iraq that he hopes will stir passions in those who hear it.

Nelson, 70, told Reuters on Wednesday he wrote "Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth" after watching the news on Christmas Day and will play it in Austin, Texas on Saturday at a concert to benefit Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. More...

Posted by: admin on Jan 02, 04 | 8:52 am


DALLAS -- With all due respect to two great institutions, the U.S. military and Time magazine, the latter got it wrong when it picked the former as its "Person of the Year" for 2003. President George W. Bush was the person of the year, perhaps of the decade and more. More...

Posted by: Hazem on Jan 02, 04 | 12:08 am

Thu Jan 01, 2004

Iraq through the American looking glass

Insurgents are civilians. Tanks that crush civilians are traffic accidents. And civilians should endure heavy doses of fear and violence

Something very unpleasant is being let loose in Iraq. Just this week, a company commander in the US 1st Infantry Division in the north of the country admitted that, in order to elicit information about the guerrillas who are killing American troops, it was necessary to "instill fear" in the local villagers. An Iraqi interpreter working for the Americans had just taken an old lady from her home to frighten her daughters and grand-daughters into believing that she was being arrested. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 01, 04 | 6:46 pm