No, it was not just ‘another Middle East peace conference,’ as a columnist in Israeli ‘Jerusalem Post’ attempted to depict the Paris Peace Conference held on January 15, with top official representations from 70 countries attending. If it was, indeed, just ‘another peace conference’, representatives from the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority (PA) would have attended as well.
Instead, it was a defining moment that we are likely to remember: as the one that has officially ended the peace process charade after 25 years. Continue reading
“The United States has the power to decree the death of nations,” wrote Stephen Kinzer in the Boston Globe.
Kinzer’s article was entitled: “The media are misleading the public on Syria.” In his piece, the scholar at a Brown University Institute contested that his country’s media misinformation on Syria is leading to the kind of ignorance which is enabling the American government to pursue any policy, however imprudent, in the war-torn Arab country.
The US government can ‘decree the death of nations’ with “popular support because many Americans — and many journalists — are content with the official story,” he wrote. Continue reading
Shimon Peres, A Brand without Substance
Former Israeli Prime Minister and President, Shimon Peres, was a very successful brand. He was presented to the world as stately, wise, a relentless advocate of peace, and a sane voice amidst a conflict deemed senseless and unending.
Now that he is dead at 93, international media are rife with touching tributes and heartwarming eulogies of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, one of Israel’s most sagacious ‘founding fathers’, who was also seen as a ‘giant among men’.
These attributes were mostly based on sentiment rather than fact, however, full knowledge of the man’s legacy certainly lingers among many Palestinians, Lebanese and advocates of peace and justice in the Middle East. Continue reading
Although intended to inspire his Fatah Party followers, a televised speech by Mahmoud Abbas on the 51st Anniversary of the group’s launch highlighted, instead, the unprecedented crisis that continues to wreak havoc on the Palestinian people. Not only did Abbas sound defensive and lacking in any serious or new initiatives, but his ultimate intention appeared as if it was about his political survival, and nothing else.
In his speech on December 31, he tossed in many of the old clichés, chastising Israel at times, although in carefully-worded language, and insisted that any vital decisions concerned with “the future of the land, people and national rights” would be “subject to general elections and (voted on by the Palestine) National Council (PNC), because our people made heavy sacrifices and they are the source of all authorities.” Continue reading
Writing in the New York Times in an article entitled, “Myanmar Generals Set the State for Their Own Exit“, Thomas Fuller expressed his and the media’s failure to recognize the total fraud that is Burmese democracy.
“The official results are still being tabulated,” he wrote, “but all signs, so far, point to that rarest of things: an authoritarian government peacefully giving up power after what outside election monitors have deemed a credible vote.”
Fuller, who said nothing about the persecuted Rohingya minority and little about the other millions of Burmese who were denied the chance to vote, only managed to contribute to the seemingly baffling media euphoria about the country’s alleged democracy. Continue reading
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is often perceived as one of the ‘good ones’ – the less hawkish of top American officials, who does not simply promote and defend his country’s military adventurism but reaches out to others, beyond polarizing rhetoric.
His unremitting efforts culminated partly in the Iran nuclear framework agreement in April, followed by a final deal, a few months later. Now, he is reportedly hard at work again to find some sort of consensus on a way out of the Syria war, a multi-party conflict that has killed over 300,000 people. His admirers see him as the diplomatic executor of a malleable and friendly US foreign policy agenda under President Obama. Continue reading
On April 26, 2011, a meeting that can only be described as sinister took place between the then Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. The most pressing issue discussed at the meeting in Rome was how to deal with African immigrants.
Sarkozy, who was under pressure from his right-wing and far-right constituencies to halt immigration originating from North Africa (resulting from the Tunisian uprising), desired to strike a deal with the opportunistic Italian leader. In exchange for an Italian agreement to join a French initiative aimed at tightening border control (Italy being accused of allowing immigrants to cross through its borders to the rest of Europe), France, in turn, would resolve major disputes involving a series of takeovers, involving French and Italian companies. Moreover, Italy would then secure French support for a bid by Italian Economist and Banker, Mario Draghi, to become the Head of the European Central Bank. Continue reading
It is still not about Islam, even if the media and militants attacking western targets say so. Actually, it never was. But it was important for many to conflate politics with religion; partly because it is convenient and self-validating.
First, let’s be clear on some points. Islam has set in motion a system to abolish slavery over 1,200 years before the slave trade reached its peak in the western world.
Freeing the slaves, who were owned by pagan Arab tribes, was a recurring theme in the Koran, always linked to the most basic signs of piety and virtue: Continue reading
When news reports alleged that the two cousins behind the Jerusalem synagogue attack on 18 November were affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a level of confusion reigned. Why the PFLP? Why now?
The attack killed five Israelis and wounded others. It was, to a degree, an expected addition to a violent episode caused by police-sanctioned right-wing violence and abuse targeting the Palestinian population of the illegally occupied East Jerusalem. Much of the violence targeting Palestinians is systematic, involving severe restrictions on Palestinian movement, targeting houses of worship, and nightly attacks by Jewish mobs assailing Arabs, or anyone who may be suspected of being one. It also included the hanging, lynching and burning alive of Jerusalem Arab residents. Continue reading
In the rush to analyze the outcome of Israel’s 51-day war in Gaza, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, some may have neglected an important factor: this was not a war by traditional definitions of warfare, thus the conventional analyses of victory and defeat is simply not applicable.
That being the case, how can we explain Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s triumphant statement on 28 August, and the massive celebrations on the streets of Gaza regarding the resistance ‘victory’ over Israel? To be truly fathomed, they must be understood in context. Continue reading
Ask any Arab ruler, and they will tell you of the great sacrifices their countries have made for Palestine and the Palestinians. However, both history and present reality are testaments, not only to Arab failure to live up to the role expected of them and stand in solidarity with their own oppressed brethren, but also to the official Arab betrayal of the Palestinian cause. The current war on Gaza, and the dubious role played by Egypt in the ceasefire talks between Hamas and Israel are cases in point.
Read this comment by Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington to appreciate the depth of the unmistakable Arab betrayal. “I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas,” Miller told the New York Times. “The silence is deafening.” Continue reading
Things Cannot Stay the Same after Israeli Genocide in Gaza
After every bloody episode of violence perpetrated by Israel, media spin doctors are often deployed with one grand mission: to absolve Israel of any responsibility in their acts of carnage.
Not only do these apologists demonize Palestinians, but anyone who dares to take a stand on their behalf. The main staple of this Israeli strategy has been blaming the victim. Such a tactic is nothing new in the way the so-called “Arab-Israeli conflict” has been presented in Western media, whose narrative has been much closer to that of Israeli official and media discourses than that of Palestinians. This continued despite the decades-long military occupation, successive wars, and countless massacres. Continue reading
“Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? In Israeli prison, of course!,” was the title of an article by Jo Ehrlich published in Modoweiss.net on Dec 21, 2009. That was almost exactly one year after Israel’s concluded a major war against Gaza. The so-called Operation Cast Lead (December 27, 2008 – January 18, 2009) was, till then, the deadliest Israeli attack against the impoverished strip for many years.
Ehrlich was not in the least being belittling by raising the question about the ‘Palestinian Gandhi’ but responding to the patronization of others. Right from the onset, he remarked: “Not that I’m in any way playing into the Palestinian Gandhi dialogue, I think it’s actually pretty diversionary/racist. But sometimes you have to laugh in order not to cry..” Continue reading
To some, US secretary of state John Kerry may have appeared to be a genuine peacemaker as he floated around ideas during a Cairo visit on 25 July about a ceasefire between Israel and resisting Palestinian fighters in Gaza. But behind his measured diplomatic language, there is a truth not even America’s top diplomat can easily hide. His country is very much involved in fighting this dirty war on Gaza that has killed over 1,050, injured thousands more, and destroyed much of an already poor, dilapidated space that is barely inhabitable to begin with.
US economic and military aid to Israel is measured annually in the billions, and the US government continues to be Israel’s strongest and most ardent ally and political benefactor. In fact, the US-Israel “special relationship” is getting more “special” by the day even though Israel is sinking further into the abyss of a well-deserved isolation. Continue reading
When I was a child, I obsessed with socialism. It was not only because my father was a self-proclaimed socialist who read every book that a good socialist should read, but also because we lived in a refugee camp in Gaza under the harshest of conditions. Tanks roamed the dusty streets and every aspect of our lives was governed by a most intricate Israeli ‘civil administration’ system – a less distressing phrase for describing military occupation.
Socialism was then an escape to a utopian world where people were treated fairly; where children were not shot and killed on a daily basis; where cheap laborers were no longer despairing men fighting for meager daily wages at some Israeli factory or farm; and where equality was not an abstract notion. But since Gaza had little in terms of ‘means of production’, our socialism was tailored to accommodate every lacking aspect of our lives. Freedom, justice and ending the occupation was our ‘revolutionary socialism’ around which we teenagers in the camp secretly organized and declared strikes on the walls of the camp in red graffiti, and quoted (or misquoted) Marx as we pleased, often times out of context. Continue reading
Irrespective of how one feels about the direction taken by various Arab revolutions in the last three years, a few facts remain incontestable. Arab revolts began in the streets of poor, despairing Arab cities, and Arabs had every right to rebel considering the dismal state of affairs in which they live.
Few disagree with these two notions. However, the quarrel, in part, is concerned with the cost-benefit analysis of some of these revolutions, Syria being the prime example. Is it worth destroying a country, several times over and victimizing millions to achieve an uncertain democratic future?
The cost for Egypt was high as well, although not as high in comparison to Syria. The conundrum that Egyptians have been forced to contend with is that of ‘stability’ – based on the same old paradigm of powerful elites and a majority fighting for crumbs to survive on – vs. ‘instability’ within a relatively democratic system. Continue reading
The Bloody War that Doesn’t Exist
“In Yemen today, the US embassy is closed to the public. Officials telling CNN there is credible information of a threat against Western interests there,” a CNN news anchor read the news bulletin on May 08.
This is CNN’s Yemen. It is a Yemen that seems to exist for one single purpose, and nothing else: maintain Western, and by extension, US interests in that part of the world. When these interests are threatened, only then does Yemen matter.
Yemen of ‘Western Interests’
Every reference in that specifically-tailored discourse serves a purpose. It is as if al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) exists to justify US military intervention and unending drone war. Last April, 63 Yemenis were reportedly killed in US drone strikes allegedly targeting al-Qaeda. No credible verification of that claim is available, and none of the victims have been identified. “Signature” drone strikes don’t require identification, we are told. It could take months, if not years, before rights groups shed light on the April killings, which are a continuation of a protracted drone war. Continue reading
For years, Palestinian factions have striven for unity, and for years unity has evaded them. But is it possible that following several failed attempts, Fatah and Hamas have finally found that elusive middle ground? And if they have done so, why, to what end, and at what cost?
On April 23, top Fatah and Hamas officials hammered out the final details of the Beach Refugee Camp agreement without any Arab mediation. All major grievances have purportedly been smoothed over, differences have been abridged, and other sensitive issues have been referred to a specialized committee. One of these committees will be entrusted to incorporate Hamas and the Islamic Jihad into the fold of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Continue reading
Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Ze’ev Elkin, is a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and his predominantly rightwing cabinet. In a recent interview with The Economist, Elkin used the familiar tone of being conceited and oblivious to such notions as international or human rights, and reaffirmed his rejection of a Palestinian state.
Instead, Elkin wants Israel to annex a chunk of the West Bank. There is nothing new here, as such language is now official Israeli discourse. But one statement stood out, one that many Palestinians would find bewildering and exasperating.
These days, said Elkin with a chuckle, the West Bank is “the most stable part of the Middle East”. Continue reading
US Secretary of State John Kerry couldn’t hide his frustration anymore as the US-sponsored peace process continued to falter. After 8 months of wrangling to push talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority forward, he admitted while in a visit to Morocco on April 04 that the latest setback had served as a ‘reality check’ for the peace process. But confining that reality check to the peace process is hardly representative of the painful reality through which the United States has been forced to subsist in during the last few years.
The state of US foreign policy in the Middle East, but also around the world, cannot be described with any buoyant language. In some instances, as in Syria, Libya, Egypt, the Ukraine, and most recently in Palestine and Israel, too many calamitous scenarios have exposed the fault lines of US foreign policy. The succession of crises is not allowing the US to cut its losses in the Middle East and stage a calculated ‘pivot’ to Asia following its disastrous Iraq war.
US foreign policy is almost entirely crippled. Continue reading