Archives: March 2004

Wed Mar 31, 2004

Short Cuts

Recently, at Harvard University where I am based, a Jewish student, using an assumed (gentile) name, began posting anti-semitic statements on the weblog of the Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice, an anti-war, pro-Palestinian group on campus. The student, it turned out, is the secretary of Harvard Students for Israel - which dissociated itself from the incident - and had previously accused the HIPJ of being too tolerant of anti-semitism. He now went undercover as part of a self-appointed effort to monitor anti-semitism on campus. In one posting, for example, he referred to Israel as the 'AshkeNAZI state'. Incidents of this kind, which are becoming commonplace on American campuses, reflect a wider determination to monitor, report, defame and punish those individuals and institutions within academia whose views the right finds objectionable. The campaign is directed at area studies generally but the most virulent attacks are reserved for those of us in Middle Eastern studies whose ideas are considered anti-Israel, anti-semitic or anti-American. More...

Posted by: adminr on Mar 31, 04 | 7:43 pm

Tue Mar 30, 2004

Israel, Suicide Nation

A nation which enslaves another forges its own chains.
--Karl Marx

Politics, being the art of deception, must certainly recognize Israel as its Da Vinci. Its smug self-portrait as a 'civilized democracy', rendered with brushes dipped deeply in the oil paint of antipathy for Arabs, has won much admiration among impressionable Americans. Galvanizing and amplifying latent Western hatred of Muslim Arabs in order to rally the West under the banner of 'Judeo-Christian civilization', and intimidating doubters by abusing the memory of the Holocaust to claim special 'unique victim' status, Israel intones, 'Stand with us because we are white and bomb towel-heads in F-16s just as you do, and don't dare stand against us because you once persecuted our forefathers and should atone for your sins - by abetting ours.' More...

Posted by: adminr on Mar 30, 04 | 8:11 pm

Mon Mar 29, 2004

U.S. Officials Fashion Legal Basis to Keep Force in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 25 — With fewer than 100 days to go before Iraq resumes its sovereignty, American officials say they believe they have found a legal basis for American troops to continue their military control over the security situation in Iraq.

After months of concern about the legal status of the 110,000 American troops who are expected to remain here after the occupation formally ends on June 30, the officials say they believe an existing United Nations resolution approving the presence of a multinational force in Iraq, approved by the Security Council in October, gives American commanders the authority needed to maintain control after sovereignty is handed back.


Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 29, 04 | 7:06 am

Sun Mar 28, 2004


In the last two years I have made three trips to Israel and Occupied Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). Each trip represents a journey into an approximation of the literary nightmares of George Orwell and Franz Kafka. To a certain extent we are all subject to the Orwellian version of these nightmares. It was Orwell’s conviction that “political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectful.” Here in the United States we ought to recognize the truth of this maxim for we have once again been drawn into deadly foreign adventures based on lies and exaggeration. However, in Israel the influence of “political language” has reached a unique level of intensity. Increasingly, many Israelis live in a “closed information environment” wherein an insidious Orwellian “newspeak” (a language of propaganda aimed at creating ideologically determined boundaries for thought), shapes thinking and perception relative to the Palestinians. This is just not true of your average citizen manipulated by mendacious politicians and a censured press. In Israel, as in Orwell’s novel 1984, society’s leaders are as shaped by the prevailing “political language” as those they rule. Thus, descriptions of Palestinians by Israeli leaders range from “there are no such thing as Palestinians” (Prime Minister Golda Maier, June 15, 1969), to “beasts walking on two legs” (Prime Minister Menahim Begin, June 25, 1982), to “drugged cockroaches in a bottle” (Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff, April 14, 1983), to “people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy (Israeli President Moshe Katsav, May 10, 2001). For a man like Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, “peace” for Israel comes through dominating and controlling “the enemies of humanity” (January 5, 2004). Oppression and war making becomes peace making in the land of Zion. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 28, 04 | 10:52 am

Words are not enough

The British people were promised a new, peaceful Middle East, with a viable Palestinian state as a quid pro quo for partnering George Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq. Instead, Israel's war crimes have escalated to unheard-of levels (We'll wipe out entire Hamas leadership, says Israel, March 24). Already they are embarking on the destruction of Khan Younis.

The Israeli government undertook the assassination of Sheikh Yassin in the full knowledge that it would provoke further violence. The responsibility for the deaths that will follow lies squarely at their door. Jack Straw's words of condemnation are not enough.

The continuing carnage in Gaza clearly shows that Israel thinks it can act with impunity. Our government has a historic responsibility towards the Palestinians. We demand immediate economic sanctions and an end to all arms sales to Israel, and call for urgent international action, initially in the form of an observer force, to protect the Palestinians from their out-of-control occupiers.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 28, 04 | 10:15 am

The Haifa Initiative - Report from Ilan Pappe

From: pappe@poli.haifa.ac.il [mailto:pappe@poli.haifa.ac.il]
Sent: 28 March 2004 09:28
To: lawrence davidson
Cc: [various]
Subject: Re: the haifa initiative

In the weekend, 26-28 March, 2004 the first Right of Return conference in Israel attracted more than 300 people for two days of extensive discussions, lively debates and a series of recommendations for future activity. The participants learned about the history of the Nakbah, the international and moral legal basis of the Right of Return and of possible way of implementing it.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 28, 04 | 9:16 am

Sat Mar 27, 2004


A myth equal to the fable of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is gaining strength on both sides of the Atlantic. It is that John Kerry offers a world-view different from that of George W Bush. Watch this big lie grow as Kerry is crowned the Democratic candidate and the "anyone but Bush" movement becomes a liberal cause celebre. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 27, 04 | 6:05 pm

In Defense of Sanctions Against Israel

The recent proposals to impose sanctions on the Israeli academy have caused a great deal of controversy in the US, in Europe to some extent, and of course within Israel itself. Some have argued that collective boycotts are often the first sign of fascist and anti-liberal tendencies; at least one American academic has insinuated that it is tantamount to an anti-Jewish campaign. I am not addressing myself principally to these arguments, since I view them as attempts to intimidate and stifle debate. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 27, 04 | 10:44 am

Fri Mar 26, 2004

Medical ethics, the Israeli Medical Association, and the state of the World Medical Association

Open letter to the BMA

EDITOR—Persistent concerns have been raised about the role of the World Medical Association (WMA), the international watch-dog on medical ethics, in respect of their approach to the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) in particular.1 Matters have now come to a head with the news that Yoram Blachar, longstanding IMA president, has been elected as chairman of the WMA council.

The WMA must know the well founded criticism over many years of the medical ethical track record of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA). In 1996 Amnesty International concluded that Israeli doctors working with the security services "form part of a system in which detainees are tortured, ill treated, and humiliated in ways that place prison medical practice in conflict with medical ethics."2 Other major human rights organisations, such as Physicians for Human Rights (USA) and Human Rights Watch, published similarly. The IMA did nothing, although when challenged tended to dismiss criticism as "political" and point to their membership of the WMA as evidence of their probity. Moreover Blachar is on record in the Lancet as defending "moderate physical pressure" during the interrogation of Palestinian detainees: it is not often that the president of a national medical association uses a medical journal to defend what the rest of the world, and the UN Committee Against Torture, regarded as torture.3 Thus the IMA have been in violation of the WMA's Declaration of Tokyo, which forbids the involvement or collusion of doctors with torture or other cruel, inhuman, and degrading procedures. The WMA has consistently chosen to ignore the mass of documentation pointing this way.


Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 26, 04 | 3:06 pm

Thu Mar 25, 2004

Silent Genocide

03/25/04 "Tribune Media Services" -- "After the Americans destroyed our village and killed many of us, we also lost our houses and have nothing to eat. However, we would have endured these miseries and even accepted them, if the Americans had not sentenced us all to death."

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 25, 04 | 11:51 pm

Academic boycott of Israel gathers momentum

Leading advocates of an academic boycott of Israel have stepped up their campaign calling for an "outing" of Israeli universities which support their government's policy on the occupied territories.

Nearly 300 academics from around the world have published an open letter calling for leaders of Israeli universities to lay their political cards on the table and reveal whether they support the government's policies on the border conflict. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 25, 04 | 7:59 pm

Engineering consent: The New York Times role in promoting war in Iraq

This is the first 'Engineering consent' column by Antony Loewenstein, to focus on the inside workings of big media.

“One of the most entrenched and disturbing features of American journalism [is] its pack mentality. Editors and journalists don’t like to diverge too sharply from what everyone else is writing.” Michael Massing, The New York Review of Books, February 26, 2004 More...

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 25, 04 | 2:26 pm

The forgotten victims of the war in Iraq

LAST WEEK at the White House, President Bush marked the first anniversary of the Iraq invasion by saying: "The murders in Madrid are a reminder that the civilized world is at war. And in this new kind of war, civilians find themselves suddenly on the front lines." More...

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 25, 04 | 2:05 pm

My Palestinian Wife

Every now and then, the rumor arises that I have a Palestinian wife. Some of my kin were highly amused by a debate on that subject that was being conducted by letters to the editor in their local paper recently. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 25, 04 | 12:34 am

Wed Mar 24, 2004

World's Greatest Country: Do the Facts Lie

Prophet Muhammad said, "He is not one of us who proclaims the cause of tribal partisanship" When asked, what is "tribal partisanship," he answered, "[It means] your helping your own people in an unjust cause." [1]

"I choose to live in what I think is the greatest country in the world, which is committing horrendous terrorist acts and should stop." Noam Chomsky [2]

Interviewer to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And--you know, is the price worth it?" Secretary Albright answered: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it." [3] More...

Posted by: adminr on Mar 24, 04 | 9:39 am

Tue Mar 23, 2004

Murdered at Daybreak

03/22/04: "ICH" -- Israel Air Force helicopters fired missiles at the car carrying the wheelchair-bound head of the Islamic group as he left a mosque near his house in Gaza City. It also appears Ariel Sharon was in direct command of the assassination operation, not entirely surprising considering his bloody history.

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 23, 04 | 3:53 pm

Report: Shooting of Cameraman Tragic But Justified

LONDON (Reuters) - An American soldier who killed Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana in Iraq was justified in opening fire, a U.S. army report said on Monday.

The report, made public seven months after Dana died, found that the soldier's "decision to fire at Mr. Dana, though tragic and regrettable, was justified based on the information available to him at the time." More...

Posted by: adminr on Mar 23, 04 | 9:35 am

Mon Mar 22, 2004

Sharon's New Plan

Getting out of the Gaza Strip is an old dream of the majority in Israeli society. Even before the Oslo agreements in 1993, the call to get out of there was heard after every terror attack. Today, according to the polls, it has the support of 60-70% of the Israelis. But governments come and fall, and still, this majority has not found the political power to realize its will. More...

Posted by: adminr on Mar 22, 04 | 10:59 pm

Bravo, Amigos !

A Prime Minister is waging war. The great majority of the people oppose the war. The majority vote for the Prime Minister.

Absurd? Well, that was the situation in Spain. It also applies, more or less, in Israel. But here the similarity ends. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 22, 04 | 5:24 pm

Sun Mar 21, 2004

Movement controls stunt Palestinian lives - and democracy

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK – President Bush says some great things about wanting democracy to spread to the peoples of the Middle East. But in the West Bank and Gaza, 3.5 million Palestinians are deeply skeptical of the sincerity of these declarations.

One of the main reasons for their skepticism - Yasser Arafat, the longtime leader of the Palestinian nationalist movement - sits in an upstairs room in the ruins of his compound here. In January 1996 elections sponsored and supported by the US government, he was elected rais (president) of the Palestinian Authority by a huge majority of Palestinian voters.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 21, 04 | 9:14 pm

Voices on Iraq

There's a lot of focus on the American death toll but personally I think that's partly propaganda exaggeration. Polls have demonstrated time and time again that Americans are willing to accept a high death toll - although they don't like it, they're willing to accept it - if they think it's a just cause. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 21, 04 | 8:44 pm

The Unmentionable Source Of Terrorism

The current threat of attacks in countries whose governments have close alliances with Washington is the latest stage in a long struggle against the empires of the west, their rapacious crusades and domination. The motivation of those who plant bombs in railway carriages derives directly from this truth. What is different today is that the weak have learned how to attack the strong, and the western crusaders' most recent colonial terrorism (as many as 55,000 Iraqis killed) exposes "us" to retaliation. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 21, 04 | 7:23 pm

Taken for a Ride

Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." So George Bush declared on Sept. 20, 2001. But what was he saying? Surely he didn't mean that everyone was obliged to support all of his policies, that if you opposed him on anything you were aiding terrorists.

Now we know that he meant just that. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 21, 04 | 5:31 pm

Sat Mar 20, 2004

Fears Impacted U.S. Reporting on Iraq

BERKELEY, Calif. - Competitive pressures and a fear of appearing unpatriotic discouraged journalists from doing more critical reporting during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, according to reporters and others at a conference on media coverage of the war.

The journalists on the panels at the University of California at Berkeley this week blamed the Bush administration for leaking faulty information, but said the media also has itself to blame for not being more skeptical about the case for war. More...

Posted by: adminr on Mar 20, 04 | 9:05 am

By any Means Necessary

Israel's deputy defence minister, Ze'ev Boim, recently wondered whether there was a genetic defect that made Arabs terrorists. "What is it with Islam in general and the Palestinians in particular?" he asked on Israel army radio. "Is it some sort of cultural deficiency? Is it a genetic defect?" More...

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 20, 04 | 12:38 am

If Palestinians were Killed by Suicide Bombers?

"Is that the problem? Palestinians are not being killed by suicide bombings and therefore their deaths are not going to warrant reactions of horror? .."


I just finished reading a report about the Israeli killing of 32 Palestinians the week of March 7, 2004.

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 20, 04 | 12:26 am

On Terror in Palestine

Monday 19th March 2004 (New Statesman) -- The current threat of attacks in countries whose governments have close alliances with Washington is the latest stage in a long struggle against the empires of the west, their rapacious crusades and domination. The motivation of those who plant bombs in railway carriages derives directly from this truth. What is different today is that the weak have learned how to attack the strong, and the western crusaders' most recent colonial terrorism (as many as 55,000 Iraqis killed) exposes "us" to retaliation.

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 20, 04 | 12:23 am

The Problem is with Product, not Packaging

AMMAN, 19 March 2004 — The United States government persists in its disrespect for Arabs. Its frequent attempts to win their “hearts and minds”, through wars, state-of-the-art radio and TV stations and “reform” initiatives often lead to new follies, further insults. More...

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 20, 04 | 12:18 am

The Crime Committed in our Name

March 20, 2004 (The Age) -- The invasion of Iraq, which began one year ago today, was "organised with lies", says the new Spanish Prime Minister. Does anyone doubt this any more? 

Posted by: nachoua on Mar 20, 04 | 12:14 am

Fri Mar 19, 2004

Israeli Lobby Slips Anti-Free Speech Bill Through House of Representatives

The Israeli lobby has launched an all-out drive to ensure congressional passage of a bill (approved by the House and now before a Senate committee) that would set up a virtual federal tribunal to investigate and monitor criticism of Israel on American college campuses.

Ten months ago the New York-based Jewish Week newspaper claimed that the report by American Free Press that Republican members of the Senate were planning to crack down on college and university professors who were critical of Israel was "a dangerous urban legend at best, deliberate disinformation at worst." In short, they were saying AFP lied. More...

Posted by: Ed Howard on Mar 19, 04 | 11:12 pm

Journalists protest deaths of colleagues

A group of Arab journalists outraged after US soldiers shot dead two colleagues walked out of a press conference held by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in protest.

A representative of the Iraqi media read out a statement on Friday at the start of the news conference, condemning Thursday's killing of the two journalists from the Dubai-based al-Arabiya television channel, as Powell and Iraq's US occupying adminstrator Paul Bremer looked on. More...

Posted by: Ed Howard on Mar 19, 04 | 2:09 pm

Sat Mar 13, 2004

You Will Not Live on This Land for Long

On the southern tip of the West Bank, situated on the slope of a mountain, there is a small village of Palestinian cave-dwellers. Its name is Jinba, and it is home to roughly three hundred inhabitants. A visitor might see the sheep grazing on a nearby hill and a tractor plowing the fields. An idyllic scene, especially following the rainy season, when the desert has turned green.


Posted by: nachoua on Mar 13, 04 | 1:26 pm

Fri Mar 12, 2004

University bans staff websites after anti-semitism row

Academics at Birmingham University have condemned moves by the university authorities to ban 300 of their personal websites.

The university's decision to stop hosting staff websites on university computers follows a series of controversies over links to allegedly anti-semitic content. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 12, 04 | 10:47 pm

Thu Mar 11, 2004

Anti-Semitism at the World Social Forum?

It is my first morning at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India and I am at a workshop on Palestinian women and the occupation. In the audience is a woman who I first think might be Israeli — she could easily be one of my friends and I feel an immediate kinship with her. She tells me she is 34 and has lived her whole life in Gaza except for college. I ask her if I can interview her.

She cautiously eyes my card, on which I have purposely written in thick, visible letters: Jewish Voice for Peace. “I don’t know, she says. “Do you support the occupation?” It seems such a surreal question. How could anyone support an occupation? The very word evokes domination, a kind of cruelty. No, I say, we want to end the occupation. We want a peace that is just.


Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 11, 04 | 10:12 pm

Wed Mar 10, 2004

Women under Occupation - An interview with Anne Gwynne for International Women's Day

A special interview-report with Anne Gwynne from Nablus on the plight of Palestinian women suffering under the illegal Israeli occupation. A New United Nations study just published states that Israel's repressive and illegal policies in military and colonial-occupied Palestine have had a devastating impact on the lives of Palestinian women and children. Women have been subject to increasing violence by Israeli soldiers and settlers, and they continue to bear a special and enduring burden from the occupation, the UN study states.

Posted by: Charles MacKinnon on Mar 10, 04 | 8:14 pm

Tue Mar 09, 2004

Enough is Enough: Why is Apartheid Touted as a Solution?

As I write this, Israeli occupation forces have just finished killing 14 and injuring 80 Palestinians in a five hour "sweep" in Gaza. Four of those killed and 26 of those injured were children (ages 10-16). In one week, Israeli occupation forces thus murdered 59 Palestinians (most were civilians). Little of this is reported in US mainstream media which is focusing on Martha Stewart and the explosions in Baghdad. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 09, 04 | 8:45 pm

Sun Mar 07, 2004

We Shoot Children Too, Don't We

The following is an excerpt from a poem that caused a sensation when it was read at a Tel Aviv event marking the first year of the Intifada. The poet is an Israeli professor of Hebrew literature and he is famous throughout Occupied Palestine as a lyricist and TV show host. He was commissioned by the Israeli government to write many of its military songs.

Most of these people truly desire
To harvest their olive trees
As they have for hundreds of years.
Most of these people truly desire to raise their kids
Not to throw stones
Or Molotov cocktails,
But to study in peace,
To play in peace,
And to raise a flag.
Their own flag.
And facing that flag, to cry
As we did, that night, then, excited as we were.
And we have no, have no, have no
Right in the world
To rob them of this desire.
This flag,
These tears.
These tears, which always, always
Come after all the others.

Posted by: Mona Baker on Mar 07, 04 | 11:44 am

Fri Mar 05, 2004

No Arabic at McDonald's Israel

Discrimination against Israel's Palestinian citizens has been expanding to include a total ban of the use of Arabic language by workers, reports Jonathan Cook

A photograph of Abeer Zinaty shows the 20- year-old student from the mixed Arab and Jewish city of Ramle in central Israel wearing a T- shirt branded with the logo "Excellent Worker 2003 -- McDonald's Israel". Less than a year later she is unemployed, fired by the world's most famous fast food company. Her crime, according to the branch manager, is that she was caught speaking Arabic to another Arab employee.

Zinaty's treatment at the hands of the Israeli management of McDonald's is a stark illustration of an ever-swelling tide of discrimination against Arab workers, director of Mossawa -- a political lobbying group for Israel's one million Palestinian citizens -- Jafar Ferah told Al-Ahram Weekly. More...

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