Archives: August 2004
Sat Aug 28, 2004
Striking Back Against Prison Abuse
Overview: On August 15, 2004, Palestinian political prisoners launched an open-ended hunger strike in protest of harsh conditions in prisons administered by the Israel Prison Service (IPS). By August 25, over 3,500 political prisoners in all IPS facilities were participating in the strike, making it the largest Palestinian hunger strike in decades.
Of the over 7,500 Palestinians currently imprisoned, approximately 3,800 are detained in IPS prisons – all of which are located in Israel—in violation of international law. The IPS prison population includes over 100 female detainees and over 70 minors. The remaining prisoners are detained in facilities under the authority of the Israeli Ministry of Defence. More...
Pentagon Official Suspected of Giving U.S. Secrets to Israel
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 - The F.B.I. is investigating a Pentagon official on suspicion of passing secrets to Israel, government officials said Friday.
The espionage investigation has focused on an official who works in the office of Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, officials who have been briefed about the investigation said. The F.B.I. has gathered evidence that the official passed classified policy documents to officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major pro-Israeli lobbying group, which in turn provided the information to Israeli intelligence, the officials said.
The bureau has evidence that the Pentagon official has given the Israelis a sensitive report about American policy toward Iran, along with other materials, the officials said. More...
Fri Aug 27, 2004
Prisoners of Zion
The letters are kept in a pillow on the living room sofa. With trembling hands, as if it were a religious rite, Najiba Jelamne opens the zipper of the pillow and pulls out the envelope with the handful of letters and photos. Two folded letters, as brief as memos, written by hand on an official Red Cross form - the only sign of life that has arrived from their prisoner son, who is said to be very ill, but whose parents have been unable to find out what happened to him. One letter was sent in February and arrived in June, four months en route from the prison to the Jenin refugee camp, and the second was sent in June and arrived about two weeks ago; that's how long it takes to get from the sender to the addressees. More...
Thu Aug 26, 2004
A Personal Bias
Life for journalists wanting to report from Israel has just become harder. I was detained two weeks ago by the Israeli authorities while trying to enter the country in order to complete a number of commissions for the British magazine Red Pepper. I have been held in custody at Ben Gurion airport ever since, while appealing against deportation. Yesterday, an Israeli judge ruled that the evidence against me, which has not been seen by my lawyer, is admissible, and so my appeal will be heard by the supreme court in the near future.
During my initial interrogation at the airport in Tel Aviv I was asked if I knew any violent Palestinians. Responding in the negative, I was told: "We think you do, but we can accept that you don't know that you do." More...
Sun Aug 22, 2004
The Warlords of America
On 6 May last, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution which, in effect, authorised a "pre-emptive" attack on Iran. The vote was 376-3. Undeterred by the accelerating disaster in Iraq, Republicans and Democrats, wrote one commentator, "once again joined hands to assert the responsibilities of American power." More...
A Journey into the Epicenter of the Sadr Standoff
NAJAF, IRAQ – Technically speaking, what we were about to do was more than risky. It was foolish. But we told ourselves that it was a risk for a cause.
Thursday, several journalists and I began organizing a delegation to enter the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf.
We had two goals: First, to seek what may be the final comments of the top leadership of Moqtada al-Sadr's Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army, who were taking shelter in the holy site. Second, we wanted to help two colleagues, freelance photographer Thorne Anserson and freelance reporter Philip Robertson, get out of the shrine after they had spent a harrowing three days at the epicenter of this armed showdown.
Between us and the shrine were two US military checkpoints, countless snipers, and hundreds of Mahdi Army fighters who had already committed themselves to die for their cause. More...
Sat Aug 21, 2004
Obituary: Nick Pretzlik, Fundraiser for the Palestinian cause
Click here to read obituary.
IFJ Accuses Iraq of “Unacceptable and Illogical Censorship” Over Ban on Al-Jazeera
The International Federation of Journalists has criticised the interim government of Iraq over a month-long ban on the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera, which it says is an act of “unacceptable and illogical censorship that casts a shadow over hopes for a new era of press freedom.’
The interim government ordered the Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite television network to close its Baghdad office for one month at the weekend. The Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said a commission had been monitoring Al Jazeera for the past four weeks to see whether it was inciting violence and hatred, and that the decision had been taken "to protect the people of Iraq". More...
IDF detains three BBC journalists in Nablus
Israel Defense Forces troops in the West Bank city of Nablus detained three British Broadcasting Corporation journalists and a Palestinian doctor at gunpoint for three hours Thursday before letting them go, BBC officials and the doctor said. More...
Anti-Americanism a Hit with Egyptian Audiences
CAIRO -- A ballad drifted from the movie screen. The lyrics mourned a lost love, not an unusual climax for an Egyptian film. But this lost love was a place across the sea. More...
Fri Aug 20, 2004
Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions in Arab Press
Boycotting the Israeli Academy
Calls for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions have generated a great deal of controversy in some quarters, notably among Israeli academics and their supporters in Europe and the United States. The Palestinian voice, the voice of the Palestinian academy and of Palestinian public intellectuals, has not been heard in the raging debates about the boycott. I hope to be able to address some of the frequently raised objections to the boycott, and in so doing, to clarify how we view things from our vantage point in the Palestinian academy.1
The boycott movement was not initiated by Palestinians, although it has widespread support among Palestinian academics. The initial call was made in the UK in April 2002, at the height of the Israeli assault upon Palestinian cities and towns. During this assault, Palestinian governmental and civil institutions--including schools and universities--sustained tremendous losses, ranging from the destruction of facilities and infrastructure to the severe curtailment of operations as a result of long curfews, army raids, and the system of checkpoints that continues to this day. The British initiative was not a call for a blanket boycott of the Israeli academic community, but was a restricted call for a moratorium on European research and academic collaboration with Israeli institutions.2 More...
Wed Aug 18, 2004
The (Washington) Post on WMDs: An Inside Story
The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story
Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn't Make Front Page
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 12, 2004; Page A01
Days before the Iraq war began, veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus put together a story questioning whether the Bush administration had proof that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.
But he ran into resistance from the paper's editors, and his piece ran only after assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, who was researching a book about the drive toward war, "helped sell the story," Pincus recalled. "Without him, it would have had a tough time getting into the paper." Even so, the article was relegated to Page A17. More...
Tue Aug 17, 2004
Why the "Washington Post" Inside Story on Iraq Pre-War Coverage Falls Short
NEW YORK (August 15, 2004) -- Like The New York Times with its famous editors' note in May, The Washington Post deserves credit for admitting serious mistakes in its pre-war coverage of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As with The Times, however, it is a day late and a holler short. More...
Sat Aug 14, 2004
Twilight Zone/Staying Alive
Her teddy bear is called Adnoun, a nickname for Adnan. Adnoun is placed at her head, under the hospital pillow with the Health Ministry logo on the pillowcase. She doesn't remember where she bought Adnoun, but she first met Adnan, after whom he is named, at a course in management at the Islamic University in Gaza, their city, during those far-off days two years ago when she was still a healthy student with big plans. Now her beloved Adnan is far from her, he has gone to study medicine in Jordan, specializing in orthopedics, and is afraid to return to Gaza before completing his studies, because Israel might not allow him to leave again. Young people under the age of 35 are not allowed to leave Gaza. More...
Thu Aug 12, 2004
Speak Hebrew or Shut Up
Israel's official code of ethics says troops can only use force if threatened. But at a checkpoint near Nablus, Israeli author Etgar Keret witnessed another code of behaviour in operation...
Wednesday August 11, 2004
A few days ago, the philosopher Assa Kasher, who had just finalised the Israel Defence Force's Code of Ethics, paid me a visit on the television screen in the dentist's waiting room and explained to me, in a nutshell, how it really works. The Code of Ethics, if I understood it right, says that a soldier can exert force and, under certain circumstances, can even cause suffering if he does it to protect his own safety or the safety of the citizens of Israel. An elderly woman sitting next to me, even more bored than I was, stared at the screen and said that was very good and if she wasn't mistaken, the IDF was the only army in the world to take the trouble to "commission", in her words, a code like that, and not from just any hack, but from a university professor. More...
Sat Aug 07, 2004
Christian Zionism and its impact on justice
Dr Rev. Stephen Sizer is a Vicar at Christ Church, Virginia Water and an area Tutor at the School of Theology, Westminster College Oxford. He holds several positions of a trustee and is renowned for his lectures on Christian Zionism. He besides having numerous articles published on the Palestinian issue also has a book published by Eagle Publishers, The Panorama of the Holy Land, a spiritual tour guide of important sites in Palestine.
A Definition: What is Christian Zionism?
At its simplest, Christian Zionism has been defined as 'Christian support for Zionism.' In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 3379 defining Zionism as, 'a form of racism and racial discrimination.' Contemporary Christian Zionism is in part a reaction to increasing world-wide criticism of Israel's form of apartheid.
So, for example, in 1967, following the passing of U.N. Resolution 242 condemning Israel's occupation of the West Bank when the entire international community closed their embassy's in Jerusalem, the International Christian Embassy moved to Jerusalem expressly to show solidarity with Israel.
Christian Zionists see themselves as defenders of and apologists for the Jewish people and in particular, the State of Israel. This support involves opposing those deemed to be critical of, or hostile toward Israel. Anti-Zionism is equated quite wrongly with anti-Semitism. Yet it is also rare therefore to find Christian Zionists who feel a similar compassion or solidarity with the Palestinians. Walter Riggans defines the term 'Christian Zionist' in an overtly political sense as, '...any Christian who supports the Zionist aim of the sovereign State of Israel, its army, government, education etc; but it can describe a Christian who claims to support the State of Israel for any reason.'
Christian Zionism then describes a broad coalition of agencies, some predominantly Gentile, others Jewish Christians who believe Jesus is their Messiah. There are today well over 250 Christian Zionist organisations operating in America alone.
Zionism thesis stirs up a storm
Reverend Stephen Sizer may have expected that his controversial thesis on Christianity's role in the Middle East conflict would cause a few ripples.
But the Church of England vicar could hardly have been prepared for the bitter, personal and very public row it has sparked - with allegations from both sides that religious and political beliefs have clouded academic judgements.
Geoffrey Alderman, Middlesex University's former pro vice-chancellor for quality assurance, this week accused the university of handing a doctorate to the Anglican vicar for "little more than his own religious prejudices dressed up in academic guise".
Dr Sizer, vicar of Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, and the university hit back this week. They accused Professor Alderman, an Orthodox Jew and leading historian of Judaism, of trying to undermine the credibility of the thesis because he opposes its arguments.
'Political' youth group criticised
A Jewish youth organisation has asked to be removed from the register of charities after complaints that it backed Robert Kilroy-Silk's views on Arabs.
Brit Trumpeldor of Great Britain - known as Betar - was registered 20 years ago "to educate Jewish youth in good citizenship and the values of the Jewish heritage and tradition".
But yesterday the Charity Commission reported that its activities "appeared to be in furtherance of a political purpose rather than the charitable purpose stated".
This year emails circulated in Betar's name included copies of the Sunday Express column, "We owe Arabs nothing", that cost Mr Kilroy-Silk his job as host of a BBC talkshow. The emails said his "excellent" article "spoke the truth".
Jewish peace activists have also accused Betar supporters of harassment. The charity notified its members of an "unacceptable" demonstration planned by Jews for Justice for Palestinians in Golders Green, saying, "We will be there to stop them going ANYWHERE!!!" It also circulated the phone numbers of the "sick" demo's organisers. More...
Tampa judge raises government's burden of proof in Al-Arian case
Prosecutors putting a former professor on trial on charges he raised money for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad will have to prove financial contributions to the group were used for terrorist attacks rather than charitable purposes, a federal judge has ruled.
The ruling from U.S. District Judge James Moody was applauded Thursday by defense attorneys for former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian. They said it will make the government's allegations that Al-Arian used a charity as a fund-raising front for the Islamic Jihad more difficult to prove.
Wed Aug 04, 2004
“The Killing Fields”
Dr Jess Ghannam and Dr Mona El-Farra talked with Johayna Marlow and John Young in this in-depth interview for Pacifica Radio about the current medical conditions in Gaza, and the effects of the prolonged brutality upon the mental health, especially upon the children who are exposed to an unprecedented level of trauma.
Dr. Jess Ghannam is Board Member of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of Medical Psychology at the University of California San Francisco.
Dr. Mona El-Farra is Deputy Director of the Union of Health Worker Committees who spoke from her home in Northern Gaza. More...
Tue Aug 03, 2004
"Refusal not a choice - a duty"
Refusnik Daniel Tsal was last week imprisoned for the fifth consecutive time and sent to a 28-day term in the military prison, due to his continuing refusal to enlist in an army of occupation. Before being imprisoned Tsal was summoned to a meeting with the commandant of the Army's Induction Centre at Tel Ha'shomer, who implored him to recant and join the army - and threatened that, since Tsal was "a political refuser", his continued refusal would result in "a long prison term". As he did on previous occasions, Tsal answered that he regards opposition to the occupation not as choice but as moral duty - and was sent off to Military Prison-4, following an "instant trial" lasting about five minutes. More...
Scorched earth in Gaza
The item was just another routine report: an update from the war of attrition Israel and the Palestinians are conducting in the occupied territories. Haaretz correspondent Nir Hason reported on Sunday that the IDF demolished a packing house in Beit Hanun in northern Gaza. Worse things have happened during the four year war: last week, as happens almost every week, Palestinians, including children, were killed in IDF operations. On Sunday night, Border Police killed six Palestinians in Tul Karm. Apparently, only three of them were armed. In Beit Hanun, at least, nobody was killed. More...
Can't Blair see that this country is about to Explode? Can't Bush?
01 August 2004 "The Independent" -- The war is a fraud. I’m not talking about the weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. Nor the links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa’ida which didn’t exist. Nor all the other lies upon which we went to war. I’m talking about the new lies. More...
Mon Aug 02, 2004
SOME IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MOVEMENT FOR A CULTURAL BOYCOTT AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA
The cultural boycott of South Africa became an important aspect of the anti-apartheid movement in 1961 when the British Musicians Union adopted a policy decision that its members should not perform in South Africa as long as apartheid exists.
In 1963, forty-five prominent British playwrights signed a Declaration announcing that they had instructed their agents to insert a clause in all future contracts automatically refusing performing rights in any theatre "where discrimination is made among audiences on grounds of colour." Subsequently, the Declaration received adherence from many playwrights in other countries.
The boycott in the United Kingdom was encouraged in 1964 when Marlon Brando, on a visit to London, took part in a vigil outside the South African Embassy for the release of South African political prisoners and launched an appeal to actors, producers, directors and script-writers to write a clause into all future contracts forbidding the screening of their films before segregated audiences.
Also in 1964, the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement promoted a declaration signed by 28 Irish playwrights that they would not permit their work to be performed before segregated audiences in South Africa. More...
POSITION PAPER ON THE CULTURAL AND ACADEMIC BOYCOTT Adopted by the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress
Lusaka, May 1989
1.1. The cultural and academic boycott were conceived as important aspects of the ANC's strategy for the total isolation of the racist minority regime. After intensive campaigns, conducted by our movement and people, with the support of the world's anti-apartheid forces, the UN and other international agencies, cultural, sporting, academic and other contacts between the international community and apartheid South Africa are today reduced to a bare minimum. These campaigns have already resulted in the exclusion of official South African sports teams from every world sport body; the virtual exclusion of South Africa from international entertainment circuits; the cutting off from international academic networks of South African academicians and scholars; and the stigmatisation of artists, cultural workers, sportspersons and academics who continue to foster links with apartheid South Africa.
1.2. The multi-pronged offensive of the democratic forces, inspired by the ANC, has resulted in the transfer of the initiative from the oppressor regime to the people. An important and dynamic dimension of this democratic offensive against the structures and institutions of apartheid colonialism is the sphere of culture - embracing the arts, other intellectual pursuits and sports. Cultural activity has won and already occupies an important position as an integral part of our overall strategy for national liberation and democracy.
Cultural workers, activists and artists have increasingly begun to assume their rightful role in the struggle for freedom and are actively assisting to mould, through their work, the values, ethos and mores of an emergent non-racial and democratic South Africa.
The application of the boycott has to take account of these new developments. More...
Whistle-Blowing Said to Be Factor in F.B.I. Firing
WASHINGTON, July 28 - A classified Justice Department investigation has concluded that a former F.B.I. translator at the center of a growing controversy was dismissed in part because she accused the bureau of ineptitude, and it found that the F.B.I. did not aggressively investigate her claims of espionage against a co-worker. More...
This is a TV series about Russia . But it could have been about Israel . Or about the United States . It is entitled “The Oligarchs” and is now being screened on Israeli television.
Some of its episodes are simply unbelievable – or would have been, if they had not come straight from the horses' mouths: the heroes of the story, who gleefully boast about their despicable exploits. The series was produced by Israeli immigrants from Russia .
The “oligarchs” are a tiny group of entrepreneurs who exploited the disintegration of the Soviet system to loot the treasures of the state and to amass plunder amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars. In order to safeguard the perpetuation of their business, they took control of the state. Six out of the seven are Jews.
In popular parlance they are called “oligarchs” – from the Greek word meaning “rule of the few”.
In the first years of post-Soviet Russian capitalism they were the bold and nimble ones who knew how to exploit the economic anarchy in order to acquire enormous possessions for a hundredth or a thousandth of their value: oil, natural gas, nickel and other minerals. They used every possible trick, including cheating, bribery and murder. Every one of them had a small private army. In the course of the series they are proud to tell in great detail how they did it.
But the most intriguing part of the series recounts the way they took control of the political apparatus. After a period of fighting each other, they decided that it would be more profitable for them to cooperate in order to take over the state. More...
Sun Aug 01, 2004
Former FBI Translator Sibel Edmonds Calls Current 9/11 Investigation Inadequate
INTRODUCTION: Sibel Edmonds and Behrooz Sarshar, beginning in December of 2001, began filing reports to their superiors at the FBI. These reports could lead to the collapse of a corrupt power structure that has a stranglehold on the very institutions that are obligated to control it. We cannot excuse these institutions, for while they fiddle, they pass death sentences on their own troops, and on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.
On April 30th, Sibel Edmonds was my guest for 50 minutes on WGDR radio. What follows is an edited transcript of the interview. The editing is for the sake of a more readable piece.
Sibel Edmonds is a former FBI translator. She blew the whistle on the cover-up of intelligence that names some of the culprits who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. These culprits are protected by the Justice Department, the State Department, the FBI, the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee. They are foreign nationals and Americans. Ms. Edmonds is under two gag orders that forbid her to testify in court or mention the names of the people or the countries involved. More...
Lost in Translation
Is there such a thing as 'Arab cinema'? And if so, can westerners understand it asks Ahdaf Soueif?
In the TV listings in an Egyptian newspaper, a film will often be listed simply as "foreign film", "Indian film" or "Arabic film". "Arabic film", in this context, always means Egyptian film. Egypt became involved with film ahead of her neighbours and maintains the advantage to this day. On November 5 1896 the first cinema projection in the region took place at the Cotton Exchange in Alexandria. In 1925 Misr Bank (the Bank of Egypt) entered into film production and in 1927, Aziza Amir, the first Egyptian film producer - a woman - premiered Leila to a gathering of notables, among them the poet laureate, Ahmad Shawqi, and the founder and chairman of Misr Bank, Tal'at Harb. More...