Archives: January 2005
Sat Jan 29, 2005
Understanding the Attacks on Pro-Palestinian Professors at Columbia
As the new year begins, the attacks by the right-wing media and mainstream politicians against professors at Columbia University who are critical of Israel and the United States have continued unabated. The current round of assaults began in November of last year following the release of a movie, Columbia Unbecoming, produced by a Boston-based Zionist organization, The David Project. Columbia Unbecoming features interviews with a small number of Zionist activists at Columbia who claim that they have faced intimidation at the hands of pro-Palestinian students and professors, especially in the Middle Eastern and Asian Languages And Cultures (MEALAC) Department. More...
Eid Al-Adha in Nablus: A Night of Terror and Destruction (photos included)
As the BBC and other major media organizations patronizingly ‘congratulate’ Abu Mazen on deploying 3,000 lightly-armed Palestinian troops to protect the ‘security’ of illegal Jewish colonists in Gaza, they report that ‘it is quiet on the ground’ in Palestine. In doing so, they are regurgitating the Israeli propaganda without any reference to Palestinian information sources or to the truth.
It is far from ‘quiet’ here. While the legitimate Palestinian Resistance has not retaliated, the overwhelming military might of the illegal occupation forces, the world’s fourth ranking, continues to wreak havoc in the suffering, historic city of Nablus, where their nocturnal terrorism against its peaceful inhabitants never ceases. Over the 5 nights of the precious festival of ‘Eid Al-Adha up to 800 Israeli ‘soldiers’ at a time have attacked families and neighbourhoods with particular ferocity, annihilating one area each night with imploding, ‘negative energy’ bombs and explosives, missiles from ground and air, and saturation gun-fire – all from the very latest weaponry that the USA can supply.
The reason for all this? ‘Why?’, people ask – ‘there must be a reason?’ There isn’t one: there is no ‘why?’ The pretext is ‘security’ – Israel’s of course. More...
Thu Jan 27, 2005
After Israeli boycott, Columbia U. cancels meet on Mideast
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger informed Israel's consul general in New York, Arie Meckel, on Wednesday that a university-sponsored conference, "Revisiting the Middle East Peace Process," scheduled to have taken place on Thursday, was postponed indefinitely.
The conference was postponed due to heavy pressure by Jewish groups, who claim the motives for hosting the conference were questionable. The groups said the university decided to hold the conference a month ahead of the publication of a report on a wave of recent complaints targeting Arab faculty members and their attitude toward Jewish students. "Holding the conference while a committee is still investigating complaints against the university is an obvious ploy to divert attention from the severity of the allegations," the head of a Jewish organization in New York said. More...
Wed Jan 26, 2005
Poetic and Psychotic: Iraq as Disneyland
I've just had an email from a friend in the Green Zone. He has not set foot outside the compound since he's been there, and probably never will. Helicopter to and from the airport only. Welcome to free Iraq, and especially to liberated Falluja. More...
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 21 - Earlier this month, according to Iraqi officials, $300 million in American bills was taken out of Iraq's Central Bank, put into boxes and quietly put on a charter jet bound for Lebanon.
The money was to be used to buy tanks and other weapons from international arms dealers, the officials say, as part of an accelerated effort to assemble an armored division for the fledgling Iraqi Army. But exactly where the money went, and to whom, and for precisely what, remains a mystery, at least to Iraqis who say they have been trying to find out.
The $300 million deal appears to have been arranged outside the American-designed financial controls intended to help Iraq - which defaulted on its external debt in the 1990's - legally import goods. By most accounts here, there was no public bidding for the arms contracts, nor was the deal approved by the entire 33-member Iraqi cabinet. More...
Rebutting a "Misguided Political Project"
As one of the faculty members of MILACA who has been recently slandered in a film that was screened behind closed doors, I feel a statement rebutting those slanderous charges is in order.
After receiving the transcript of the film through the courtesy of The New York Sun, I read the statements of a Ms. Lindsay Shrier, in which she refers to a 45-minute conversation she claims I had with her outside of class, on College Walk, a few years back. Since I must have talked to hundreds of students since then, I can assure you that I have no memory of the student in question nor of the conversation that she claims took place. More...
Campos: A dangerous argument
Daniel Pipes, the well-known neoconservative intellectual and director of the Middle East Forum, has just published an opinion piece in which he implies that the wholesale relocation of American citizens of the Muslim faith to internment camps might be a good idea.
Pipes doesn't actually come right out and support internment camps for American Muslims, but his article (published originally in The New York Sun and reprinted in various other papers) casts a nostalgic glance back at the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and hints that we ought to consider similar steps in the context of the war on terrorism. More...
”Controlling the oil in Iraq puts America in a strong position to exert influence on the world”
Given the impossibly high praise lavished upon him - "One of the finest minds of the twentieth century" (The New Yorker); "Arguably the most important intellectual alive" (The New York Times) - it is hard to know what to expect when Noam Chomsky enters the room, a beam of pure white light perhaps, or at least the regal swish of academic royalty. Or the whiff of sulphur. He has also been called a man with a "deep contempt for the truth" (The Anti-Chomsky Reader) and an appeaser of Islamic fascism (Christopher Hitchens), among some of the milder criticism. More...
The Coronation Viewed from Israel: King George
When King George V died, we got a day off from school as a sign of mourning. Palestine was then a part of the British Empire, which ruled the country under a League of Nations mandate. To this very day, a central street in Tel-Aviv, not far from my home, bears the name of King George.
George V was followed (after a brief interlude) by George VI, who was until recently the last George in our life. Now we have a new King George, not British but American. More...
Mon Jan 24, 2005
Months of war that ruined centuries of history
Iraqi authorities will today take back responsibility for the site of Babylon in a formal handover from the coalition forces. But what they will inherit, say experts, is a catalogue of disasters. According to the report of the British Museum's John Curtis, the site has been severely contaminated and parts have been irreparably damaged.
The report details: More...
Babylon wrecked by war
US-led forces leave a trail of destruction and contamination in architectural site of world importance
Troops from the US-led force in Iraq have caused widespread damage and severe contamination to the remains of the ancient city of Babylon, according to a damning report released today by the British Museum.
John Curtis, keeper of the museum's Ancient Near East department and an authority on Iraq's many archaeological sites, found "substantial damage" on an investigative visit to Babylon last month.
The ancient city has been used by US and Polish forces as a military depot for the past two years, despite objections from archaeologists.
"This is tantamount to establishing a military camp around the Great Pyramid in Egypt or around Stonehenge in Britain," says the report, which has been seen by the Guardian. More...
The damage wrought by the construction of an American military base in the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon must rank as one of the most reckless acts of cultural vandalism in recent memory. And all the more so because it was unnecessary and avoidable.
The camp did not have to be established in the city - where the Hanging Gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world, once stood - but given that it was, the US authorities were very aware of the warnings of archaeologists of the historic importance of the site. Yet, as a report by Dr John Curtis of the British Museum makes clear, they seem to have ignored the warnings. More...
Fri Jan 21, 2005
Mideast Tensions Are Getting Personal on Campus at Columbia
As students resume classes at Columbia University today after their winter break, they will face the telltale summonses of college life: Go to class, surf the Internet, sleep, pursue romance, sleep.
And a new one: Testify about the alleged misconduct of their professors.
Every Monday and Friday until its work is done, a novel faculty panel will make itself available to hear narratives from students and faculty members in the hope of sorting out a virulent dispute that has rattled the university for months. If anything is clear in this very unclear quarrel, ostensibly over supposed intimidation of Jewish students by pro-Palestinian professors in the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department, it is that it has already produced some unbecoming fallout. More...
How a Flying Carpet Took Me Back in Time - Until I Landed in Baghdad
The brush fires are already being lit but fear not, Bush and Blair will tell us they knew things would get violent on polling day.
I tried out the new Beirut-Baghdad air service this week. It's a sleek little 20-seater with two propellers, a Lebanese-Canadian pilot and a name to take you aback. It's called "Flying Carpet Airlines". As Commander Queeg said in The Caine Mutiny, "I kid thee not." It says "Flying Carpet" on the little blue boarding cards, below the captain's cabin and on the passenger headrest covers where the aircraft can be seen gliding through the sky on a high-pile carpet.
And it's an odd little flight, too. You arrive at Beirut's swish new glass and steel airport where you are told to meet your check-in desk handler in front of the post office in the arrivals lounge. There are a group of disconsolate Americans - "contractors" who've been passing the weekend in the fleshpots - and fearful Lebanese businessmen and, well, you've guessed it, The Independent's equally fearful correspondent. More...
THE COMING WARS: What the Pentagon can now do in secret
George W. Bush's reëlection was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities' strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control-against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism-during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as "facilitators" of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way. More...
Columbia’s Own Middle East War
A new documentary accusing Arab professors of intimidating Jewish students has touched off a fierce war—of words—on the Upper West Side. Where does free speech end and bullying begin?
Of all the political documentaries that have ignited controversy in the past year, Columbia Unbecoming is by far the shortest, sparest, and lowest-budget. Still, it quickly attracted an illustrious audience. It was first screened in March to a handful of university alumni. Then it was shown to a trustee, then to a high-level administrator, and then eventually to the university provost, Alan Brinkley. By October, Natan Sharansky, Israel’s minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, had seen it, as had the Columbia University president, Lee Bollinger; Judith Shapiro, the president of Barnard College, had seen it too, and she mentioned the film in a speech one day at a national women’s conference. That was when the press demanded to see it. It did. A bonfire of ugly headlines about anti-Semitism ensued. The university’s public-affairs department spent the final month of the fall semester at the university gates, braced with a fire hose. More...
Thu Jan 13, 2005
No Peace in Palestine
There will be no peace in Palestine. Don't be fooled by statements of politicians and by the press's careful avoidance of reporting the real facts of the situation. More...
Tue Jan 11, 2005
City of Ghosts
On November 8, the American army launched its biggest ever assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja, considered a stronghold for rebel fighters. The US said the raid had been a huge success, killing 1,200 insurgents. Most of the city's 300,000 residents, meanwhile, had fled for their lives. What really happened in the siege of Falluja? In a joint investigation for the Guardian and Channel 4 News, Iraqi doctor Ali Fadhil compiled the first independent reports from the devastated city, where he found scores of unburied corpses, rabid dogs - and a dangerously embittered population
Tuesday January 11, 2005
December 22 2004
It all started at my house in Baghdad. I packed my equipment, the camera and the tripod. Tariq, my friend, told me not to take it with us. "The fighters might search the car and think that we are spies." Tariq was frightened about our trip, even though he is from Falluja and we had permission from one group of fighters to enter under their protection. But Tariq, more than anyone, understands that the fighters are no longer just one group. He is quite a character, Tariq: 32 and an engineer with a masters degree in embryo implantation, he works now at a human rights institute called the Democratic Studies Institute for Human Rights and Democracy in Baghdad. He is also deeply into animal rights. More...
Tue Jan 04, 2005
London Conference, a Prelude to Academic Boycott of Israel
On Dec. 5, some 270 academics from around the world convened in London to discuss the implementation of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and the severing of cultural links with Israel. The aim of the conference was to refine the arguments, clarify the rationale, and determine how to act next. Participants considered it an important step toward convincing large numbers of academics to heed a call for an academic boycott. More...
Boycotting Israeli institutions and boycotting Israeli individuals
response to Mona
The conference on Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Strategies and Principles at SOAS on December 5th showed that there is quite strong support for a ‘comprehensive’ boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In commenting on part of the discussion I want to make clear that I regard the question sanctions against Israel as a question of strategy and tactics, of what would best further the aim of ending the occupation and bringing justice to Palestinians, not one of principle, still less an issue of how far Israel does, or does not, resemble apartheid South Africa. I am fully in support of the aim of the new organization, British Committee for Palestinian Universities BRICUP to support Palestinian Universities, and was disappointed that there was relatively little consideration at the conference of how Palestinian students and academics could be directly supported. More...
London University Conference Stresses Call for Boycott to Fight Israeli Apartheid
On Sunday, December 5, 2004, a large audience packed the lecture theatre of the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies for “Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Strategies and Principles.” The all-day conference offered strategies for countering the Israeli occupation and Israeli Apartheid policies.
The speakers were largely academics from the U.K., the U.S., South Africa, Israel, and Australia, with two featured speakers from Palestine. While the main focus was on the need for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, the issues of economic boycott and divestment were also raised. The speakers stressed the extreme urgency of the situation facing Palestine. More...
Sun Jan 02, 2005
Under the Tuscan sun
Once he was Israel's preeminent journalist, the chief chronicler of the Israeli story. Now he is known throughout the world but has become nearly anonymous here. After seven decades, Amos Elon is packing up his Jerusalem apartment for a permanent move to Tuscany.
The young people at the news desk weren't quite sure who he was. The name sounded familiar but they weren't sure from where. A few had heard about one of his books. A few had once used another book as a textbook. But many people don't really know who Amos Elon is. The man who was once the preeminent journalist in Israel has been totally erased from the memory. The man who was the chief chronicler of the Israeli story has ceased to register in the Israeli consciousness. He is much better known to readers of the New York Review of Books than to readers of Haaretz. More...
Politics of Middle East play out in class fracas
NEW YORK -- The Upper West Side of Manhattan may be half a world away from the Middle East, but a bitter war of words has turned the narrow campus of Columbia University into a miniature Gaza Strip, riven by divisions between supporters of the Israeli and Palestinian sides.