Archives: December 2004
Fri Dec 31, 2004
Iraq: Winning the Unwinnable War
Summary: By losing the trust of the Iraqi people, the Bush administration has already lost the war. Moderate Iraqis can still win it, but only if they wean themselves from Washington and get support from elsewhere. To help them, the United States should reduce and ultimately eliminate its military presence, train Iraqis to beat the insurgency on their own, and rally Iran and European allies to the cause.
James Dobbins is Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at Rand. He was a U.S. Special Envoy in Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia, and Afghanistan.
QUICKSAND OR QUAGMIRE?
The recent American presidential campaign has had the perverse effect of postponing any serious national debate on the future U.S. course in Iraq. Electoral considerations placed a premium on consistency at the expense of common sense, with both candidates insisting that even with perfect hindsight they would have acted just as they did two years ago: going to war or voting to authorize doing so. The campaign also revealed the paucity of good options now before the United States. Keeping U.S. troops in Iraq will only provoke fiercer and more widespread resistance, but withdrawing them too soon could spark a civil war. The second administration of George W. Bush seems to be left with the choice between making things worse slowly or quickly. More...
China Expands. Europe Rises. And the United States…
It's a risky business to predict the decline of the American empire. Ask Paul Kennedy, the Yale historian, who issued such a forecast in his 1987 book, "The Rise and Fall of Great Powers," only to witness an almost immediate American resurgence. More...
Thu Dec 30, 2004
Why do you build walls?
Do you build these walls so that no one can see?
No witnesses to mourn for the fallen tree?
The olive, fig, and the almond?
They were here long before you came to be More...
Wed Dec 29, 2004
Palestinians Worry About Cost Of Peace
AYYOUS, West Bank, Dec. 27 - A large, pale poster of Mahmoud Abbas, the leading candidate for the Jan. 9 Palestinian presidential election, dominates the main entrance to this Palestinian village of 3,200 people.
Mr. Abbas, the official choice of Fatah, the main Palestinian party, has foreigners excited about "windows of opportunity" and prospects for a renewed peace process. More...
Tue Dec 28, 2004
O Little Town of Bethlehem
It was December of 1991 and I was serving as Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations in Washington DC. The Israelis were stalling --not even negotiating in bad faith. And the Americans were doing nothing to get the negotiations underway. This had been going on for three weeks and Christmas was fast approaching. More...
Yes, you must pull out but also pay for the damage
The US isn't protecting or feeding Iraqis, it's stoking violence and hardship.
Colin Powell invoked it before the invasion, telling aides that if the US went into Iraq "you're going to be owning this place". John Kerry pledged his allegiance to it during the first presidential debate, saying: "Now, if you break it, you made a mistake. It's the wrong thing to do. But you own it." More...
Wed Dec 22, 2004
“Christmas has been Shot”
Interviews with Bethlehem's Mayor, Hanna Nasser, and the Anglican Bishop of the Jerusalem Diocese, the Right Reverend Riah Abu El-Assal.
“I want to call on the people of the world not only to pray for peace or to pass another Resolution on issues of peace and justice. The time is for action. If God kept saying ‘I will send my son’, and he never sent his son, there would have been no Christmas.”
- Bishop Riah of Jerusualem
While millions of people across the world will celebrate Christmas in the coming days, hardly a thought is ever given to the place where it all began - the place we sing of in those well-loved Christmas Carols - Palestine. Few of the organized Christian churches seem to pay much attention to the crimes Israel commits in the Holy Land against Christians and Muslims – and to the fact that the Israeli-Jewish stranglehold on life in Palestine means that celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem, like any other aspect of normal life, has become impossible over the past four years. More...
The writing on the Wall
Terry Boullata is head of a private school in Abu Dis and an advocacy worker.
Terry Boullata: "Bit by bit the wall became more tangible"
I am 38 years old, and I am from Jerusalem. I was born and lived all my life here, and I am proud of that. I married 14 years ago with a man from Abu Dis who carries a West Bank ID card. I am myself carrying a Jerusalem ID. I studied at Jerusalem schools and then at Birzeit University. During the first Intifada I was arrested four times; the last time, while I was working as a fieldworker for a human rights organization, I was released after intervention of the former American president Jimmy Carter and Mme Mitterand. Later on I opened my own private school in Abu Dis, thinking that I should help in the development of the community I'm living in. I started the school in 1999 with loans from agencies and banks and it's still working. Altogether I have 225 children from kindergarten up to the fifth grade elementary. But this year I lost around 77 children due to the building of Wall, which is less than 0,5 km from the school. Due to the loss of income I'm now also working as an advocacy worker for the Palestinian campaign for Freedom and Peace which was initiated with the visit this year of Dr Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. More...
Somerville Divestment Failure is Bittersweet
It is not difficult to find the silver lining in the very sad and infuriating conclusion (temporary) to the issue of divestment in Somerville, MA. After a long process and sometimes rancorous debate, the aldermen caved to pressure from powerful Jewish groups who blindly support Israel; as one woman said to me "no matter what, no matter what, "no matter what" with her eyes closed and shaking her head poetically. More...
Israel's war on the Milieu
When the Nobel Committee announced its decision to award its 2004 Peace Prize to an environmental activist best known for planting trees, more than a few observers raised their eyebrows. After all, isn't the world's most prestigious peace prize typically reserved for those who have a direct hand in resolving armed conflict? More cynically, isn't it often given to those who resolve conflicts only after spending years starting and perpetuating them? More...
Tue Dec 21, 2004
How we became Barbarians
People can get astonishingly sensitive when they discuss moral issues. More...
The mountain and the mouse. Sharon's "vision" for Israel and the Palestinians exposed
Uri Avnery deconstructs Sharon's recent speech to Israeli financial, political and academic leaders in which he painted a rosy picture of Israel's prospects. But "the most important part of the speech was the part that was not there. There was no peace offer to the Palestinians. He did not talk about peace at all."
Ariel Sharon's speech at the Herzliya Conference, an annual gathering of Israel's financial, political and academic aristocracy, proved again his wondrous ability to conjure up an imaginary world and divert attention away from the real one. Like every successful con-man, he knows that the audience desperately wants to believe good tidings and will be happy to ignore bad ones. More...
The Army had not a word of compassion for the dead man, nor for his orphaned sons
It was the insouciance, the absolute indifference of the British military press office in Basra that shocked me. More...
The children ask me
Where am I from
Or where was I born.
From where comes my curious tongue
They want to know
Where is my father?
Do I have sisters or brothers?
"Are you Spanish?" ..a most common one More...
Sun Dec 12, 2004
The Boss has gone Crazy
When the fruit sellers at the Tel Aviv market shout "the boss has gone crazy!" they mean that they are selling their merchandise at ridiculously low prices.
In the world's capitals, a similar cry is now being heard: "The boss has gone crazy!" but it is not about the price of tomatoes. It refers to the new situation, after the reelection of George W. Bush for four more years. More...
Fri Dec 10, 2004
ACADEMICS: NES department faces warring factions
Yoav di Capua sat at the head of a large table in Jones Hall, a wood-paneled room in the building home to the University's Department of Near Eastern Studies. A portrait of Phillip Hitti, the man who founded the University's Program in Near Eastern studies in the 1920s, hung over a group of professors and graduate students.
Given di Capua's slim, unassuming figure and soft voice, he didn't seem to be a man who would cause much trouble.
On that day in May 2004, di Capua, an Israeli graduate student, was taking one of his final steps toward a Princeton Ph.D.: the oral defense of his dissertation. It is a historiographical analysis of native accounts of modern Egyptian history — an atypical approach for the Princeton NES department. More...
'Genocide' big word at London anti-Israel academic conference
An international conference entitled "Resisting Israeli Apartheid," held at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London on Sunday, was predictably nothing more than a "one-sided rant against Israel," Gavin Gross, chairman of the SOAS Jewish Society told The Jerusalem Post.
The conference was organized by the university's Palestine Society and was attended by Palestinian and Jewish intellectuals from various countries, all of whom spoke on the conflict in the Middle East. More...
Semites and anti-Semites, that is the question
Today the real victims of Western anti-Semitism are Arabs and Muslims, argues Joseph Massad*
There is much misunderstanding about the term "anti-Semitism" among Jews, Arabs, and European Christians. The term is bandied about as a description of attitudes deemed anti-Jewish, and on occasion anti-Arab, but much of its use is anachronistic and ahistorical. While Zionists and their supporters have been using the charge of anti-Semitism against any and all who oppose Israel and its policies, especially, although not exclusively, in the Arab World, Arabs have taken offense countering that they are "Semites" and therefore by definition cannot be "anti-Semitic". What are the merits of such arguments? More...
Thu Dec 09, 2004
Blair rejects call for count of Iraqi deaths
Scale of killing obscured by refusal to collect data
General Tommy Franks, the US commander in the Iraq war last year, spelled it out before the invasion began.
"We don't do body counts," he said, referring to the Iraqis that might be killed in the forthcoming conflict.
His deputies were left to explain why a careful toll of American dead was kept but Iraqi deaths went unrecorded.
"It just is not worth trying to characterise by numbers," Brigadier General Vince Brooks, the deputy director of operations at US central command, said just days before the fall of Baghdad. More...
On Palestine's Dead : Israel's Chilling Concept of “Good News”
Today's Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper brought good news to those disturbed by the relentless death toll resulting from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; a headline that stated "IDF: 29 Palestinian civilians killed in W. Bank in 2004". More...
The Carnivores and the Ivy League Apologist: The Voices of Sharon's Little Helpers
Ariel Sharon is surrounded by a coterie of "advisors" who step in to develop, perfect and sell plans for the continued and inexorable dispossession of the Palestinians. What is surprising is that these advisors, the intellectual progenitors of continuing mass crimes, are an outspoken bunch; they don't shy away from revealing their latest fiendish plans or their true intent. There is no need for conspiracy theories; their intent and plans are out in the open.
Despite lame denials by the Israeli government or their media surrogates, the public pronouncements of these latter day Dr. Strangeloves reveal the plans they have in store for the Palestinians, Iraqis, and for that matter, the United States. It is therefore instructive to analyze their latest statements. More...
From churches, a challenge to Israeli policies
A vote by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to use economic sanctions against certain companies doing business with Israel - namely those that profit from the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza - has set off a quiet firestorm within the American religious community.
The Presbyterians' decision to consider divesting such businesses from its $8 billion portfolio, coupled with the prospect that the Episcopal Church and other churches might do the same, is adding to tensions that have risen over recent years between mainline Protestant churches and the American Jewish community over their differing views of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. More...
Israeli soldiers beat election candidate
Palestinian presidential candidate Mustafa al-Barghuthi has accused Israeli soldiers of molesting him and trying to disrupt the upcoming election.
"I was coming back from an election meeting in the Jenin area when we were stopped by Israeli soldiers near Sanur village," he told reporters on Wednesday.
"The soldiers hit my two bodyguards in the stomach and the head, and when I tried to intervene by saying who I was they struck me in the neck with a rifle butt," he said. More...
Students Speak Up to Defend MEALAC
Press Conference Yesterday Offered First Highly Visible Student Response to Attacks in Columbia Unbecoming
One month after the controversial release of Columbia Unbecoming, pro-Israel students aren’t the only ones claiming they are being harassed and intimidated.
A group of approximately 50 students, faculty, community members, and alumni held a press conference yesterday in Earl Hall to protest what they called the stifling of voices critical of Israel. The group, which called itself the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Academic Freedom at Columbia, accused the University of failing to protect freedom of speech and attacked the Columbia Unbecoming film and its supporters for misrepresenting facts. More...
Wed Dec 08, 2004
Just Part of Bush's Upside Down World
To understand just how upside-down Bush has taken America, consider these simple facts: More...
Tue Dec 07, 2004
The Wrath of the Jews
I'm in the living room of a family friend. The subject changes from yoga to Israel-Palestine, and I tell her that I think Americans need to change their foreign policy towards Israel. She says, "in what way, so that the Arabs will throw the Jews into the sea?" It takes four minutes of back and forth for the conversation to degenerate. She finally says, "Look, what I have to say isn't pretty, but I'm not afraid. I'm going to say it anyways. The Palestinians are nothing but vermin. They make trouble in every country they live in. Even the other Arab countries don't want them." I take a deep breath. Then I realize, I've heard that sentence, only with "Jews" instead of "Palestinians." "Jews are vermin. They make trouble in every country they live in." I've heard that before. And it's breaking my heart that it's coming out of her mouth. More...
Card wins Legal Action against Pipes
Daniel Pipes and Jonathan Schanzer settled a libel suit out of court with University of Oregon instructor Douglas Card. They had accused Card of being anti-semitic (i.e. a racist) and of being a leftwing extremist.
Pipes has a history of levelling wild charges against academics, and of being unreliable (he said in 2002 that Saddam was 2-5 years away from having an atomic bomb). He appears to have become concerned that Card had an excellent case and would win a big settlement, so he backed off and withdrew the charges, settling with Card. More...
Mon Dec 06, 2004
Israel's new road plans condemned as 'apartheid'
The message has been consistent: Israel believes the US-backed road-map is the way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It has been repeated by Ariel Sharon and by ministers, yet now government papers suggest that Israel intends to bypass the peace plan, creating a Palestinian state of enclaves, surrounded by walls and linked by tunnels and special roads.
Israel has released plans for the upgrade of roads and construction of 16 tunnels which would create an 'apartheid' road network for Palestinians in the West Bank.
Existing roads would be reserved for Jews, linking their settlements to each other and to Israel. The plans came to light when Giora Eiland, Israel's director of national security, requested international funding for the project. At a meeting with World Bank officials, he told them the roads would maximise freedom of movement for Palestinians without compromising security for Jewish settlers. More...
Sat Dec 04, 2004
You asked for my evidence Mr. Ambassador. Here it is
In Iraq, the US does eliminate those who dare to count the dead
Saturday December 4, 2004
David T Johnson,
US Embassy, London
Dear Mr Johnson, On November 26, your press counsellor sent a letter to the Guardian taking strong exception to a sentence in my column of the same day. The sentence read: "In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies." Of particular concern was the word "eliminating".
Alarm at bid to revive boycott
A row has broken out over moves to revive the academic boycott of Israel with a major international conference this weekend at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies.
Pro-Israel groups and individual campaigners have called for the conference, on Sunday, to be called off and warned that it could break laws against the incitement of racial hatred.
The Union of Jewish Students was due to meet Colin Bundy, the director of Soas, as The Times Higher went to press, to raise concerns that the event might fuel racial tensions on campus and put students at risk.
But Hillary Rose, one of the event's key speakers and co-founder of the academic boycott of Israel, hit back this week.
"It is an old, old game to say that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. It is offensive, it will not wash and no serious academic should be engaged by that," she said. More...
Israel boycott row hits college
University attacked for 'anti-Israel' conference
London University School of Oriental and African Studies has come under fire for agreeing to host a conference tomorrow at which academics begin a campaign to break links with Israeli universities, significantly increasing an academic boycott of Israel.
Jewish groups accuse the organisers, the school's Palestinian Society, of inciting hatred by calling the conference Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Strategies and Principles.
The Jewish Society has also lodged a complaint with the school about its decision to allow the poet and academic Tom Paulin to deliver a keynote address.
Paulin was criticised in 2002 when he was quoted in the Arab newspaper Al-Ahram Weekly as saying that Jewish settlers "should be shot dead". He later claimed that he had been misquoted.
The speakers at the conference include Professors Steven and Hilary Rose, who began the call for an academic boycott of Israel more than two years ago in a letter to the Guardian, and the linguist Mona Baker, who was the subject of an official inquiry by the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology after she sacked two Israeli members of a journal she edited. More...
What is...'proactive translatology?'
ALL SCHOLARLY disciplines have jargon. Specialist terms are mocked by populists, but they can be a useful shorthand. They are not a target of this series on buzzwords.
Deliberate obscurity cultivated for the appearance of profundity is another matter. The attractions of obscurity are beautifully depicted in Malcolm Bradbury’s comic novel The History Man. Annie Callendar, lecturer in English literature, explains to the radical sociologist Howard Kirk how she approaches her subject.
“I read books and talk to people about them,” she says. “Without a method?” asks Howard. “That’s right,” she says. “It doesn’t sound very convincing,” says Howard.
I thought of this exchange when considering an international symposium to be held next April at the University of Montreal under the felicitous title For a Proactive Translatology. More...
Fri Dec 03, 2004
U.S. troops are secretly using outlawed napalm gas to wipe out remaining insurgents in and around Fallujah.
News that President George W. Bush has sanctioned the use of napalm, a deadly cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel banned by the United Nations in 1980, will stun governments around the world.
And last night Tony Blair was dragged into the row as furious Labour MPs demanded he face the Commons over it. Reports claim that innocent civilians have died in napalm attacks, which turn victims into human fireballs as the gel bonds flames to flesh. More...