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February 2009

Waltz with Bashir

bandannie : at long last a critic with whom I agree about this film090219-bashir-review

Waltz with Bashir, an animated documentary film charting the director’s quest to recover his lost memories of the 1982 massacres at the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila in Beirut, Lebanon, has been released to international acclaim.

The film presents itself, and has largely been received, as a soul-searching and honest account of a journey to face up to guilt and responsibility. More than a quarter of a century after the atrocities in Sabra and Shatila, during which approximately 2,000 civilians were brutally murdered, we are witnessing a perverse moment: an apparently “anti-war” Israeli film wins several Israeli and international film awards in a context not only of Israel’s ongoing brutal occupation, violations of international law, racism and denial of refugee rights, but also while fresh atrocities are committed by Israeli forces in Gaza.


What’s 25,000 flowers when 40 million rot and farmers continue to be shot at?

February 17, 2009, 10:40 pm

*Abu Alaa, bringing food for his donkeys and camels

“I worked on farms in Israel for 15 years,” Abu Alaa, the owner of the land said. “We had a good relationship, and the Israeli farmers loved my bread, Palestinian bread, and our baclawa (”baklava”) sweets. I had to stop working there when Israel closed our borders, stopped giving permits to Palestinians to work in Israel.”

Abu Alaa lives in Khan Younis and owns land in the newly-extended “Buffer Zone”, the strip of land along the Green Line which, from North to South, cuts into Palestinian land by a full 1 km now. When the Buffer Zone was ‘only’ 300m, it was already 300 m too much land absorbed by the Israeli military occupation forces.


Disproportionate Force: Israel’s Concept of Response in Light of the Second Lebanon War

October 2, 2008
by Siboni, Gabriel


Not long ago Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was quoted as saying, “the Zionists will think ten thousand times before attacking Lebanon.” Nasrallah’s remark appears to have been in reference to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s declaration, made while visiting the IDF Home Front Command, that the IDF would face fewer limitations in future confrontations. Indeed, the pressure on Nasrallah seems to be taking its toll. The Hizbollah leader is beginning to internalize what he understands as a fundamental change in Israel’s approach in responding to a threat emanating from Lebanon.

Indeed, an updated Israeli security concept regarding Israel’s response to rocket and missile threats from Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip is gradually evolving. Now, more than two years after the Second Lebanon War, it appears that Israel’s immediate response after the July 2006 kidnapping attack significantly boosted its ability to deter Hizbollah and Syria from operating against Israel.


To Gaza : From Dream to Reality

Look also here : for videos

by Yvonne Ridley

FIVE weeks ago Viva Palestina was a pipe dream and now it is a reality as more than 100 vehicles and 300 volunteers snake their way through France heading for Gaza.

Last night the show-stopping convoy rolled off a freight ferry in Ostend to embark on a historic mission of mercy to help the Palestinian people.

I spent the ferry crossing getting to know my fellow passengers and discovered they come from all walks of life from students to pensioners, estate agents to accountants, engineers, mechanics, housewives and doctors.

This morning I expect many of us are bleary eyed as the convoy heads for Bordeaux – I know I am, after a sleepless night trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in a car seat.
My eyes feel like sandpaper every time I blink.

You see this 5000 mile trip from London to Gaza isn’t a jolly or five star vacation for any of us, although some are more organised than others with regards to finding a comfortable nook or cranny in which to sleep.

Press TV is very much part of the convoy and the only TV station to be there from start to finish. Regular reports will be filed from our SNG vehicle along the route, and there’s already been some dramas and hitches.

A group who were carrying aid from communities in Blackburn were stopped by police shortly after they set off from their homes in the North of England but despite hysterical headlines in the tabloid media most have now been released and we’re told there are efforts by Manchester police to reunite the group with the convoy.

The news was relayed on board the freight ferry bound for Ostend last night by one of the organisers Kevin Ovenden amid great cheers by those who had set off from Hyde Park in London after a rousing reception. Sporting a green Viva Palestina t-shirt he gave the opening introduction before the assembled travellers.

There were more cheers in store when we learned our convoy of 100 plus vehicles would double in size by the time we reach Libya next week – news has just come through that 100 large lorries are waiting to follow us into Egypt carrying even more aid.

Meanwhile, back in the UK charities like Islamic Help and the Al Khair Foundation are continuing with TV appeals and fund raisers to swell the coffers of Viva Palestina which will buy even more aid in Egypt before entering war-torn Gaza.

The convoy carrying in excess of £1m aid is already a record-breaker and will be the largest British land convoy to cross North Africa since the Second World War. Led by a bright red fire engine, the convoy has more than a dozen ambulances, countless vans and trucks plus a whacking great big generator brought along by the Bolton Massive (my nickname for the men from the Lancashire town). The generator will have enough power to supply a small hospital or school, so I’m told.
When you consider Viva Palestina was nothing more than a pipe dream five weeks ago, the achievement of pulling together the convoy has been nothing short of staggering.

The brainchild and initiative of Britain’s best known politician RESPECT MP George Galloway, Viva Palestina has already motored its way into the record books and it is set to get even bigger. Not a man usually lost for words, the Bethnal Green and Bow MP looked overcome with emotion as he greeted and then waved off every single vehicle.

Much of the last few weeks have been spent travelling the length and breadth of Britain appealing for funds, support and volunteers by Galloway.

From the tears and anger of communities outraged by the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, thousands rallied to his call for aid and help in whatever way they could, and the efforts were open for the world to see on Saturday in central London.

Well George, I also counted the vehicles out of Hyde Park and counted them all in again at Ostend. But from my pit stop on France’s Autoroute A10, I must sign off now and try and catch up with my fellow travellers. They shouldn’t be too difficult to spot, that’s for sure.

* Yvonne Ridley will be giving regular updates from the convoy for the duration of the trip. Her website is

A Free Gaza video

Mahmoud Darwish’s mother, immortalized in poetry, dies at 96

Date: 14 / 02 / 2009 Time: 09:55
Huriyya Darwish at her son’s funeral

Bethlehem – Ma’an – The mother of late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish died on Friday, six months after burying her son.

The funeral procesion will begin Saturday after the noon prayer from her home at Jadeidi, five kilometers north east of Acre.

Darwish’s mother was a central figure in his poetry, immortalized as a symbol for the earth of his homeland in his famous poem, “For my mother” turned into a song by Lebanese singer Marcel Khalifah.

أمي …
أحنُّ إلى خبز أُمي
وقهوة أمي
ولمسة أُمي ..
وتكبُر في الطفولةُ
يوماً على صدر يومِ
وأعشَقُ عمرِي لأني
إذا مُتُّ,
أخجل من دمع أُمي !
خذينيِ إذا عدتُ يوماً
وشاحاً لهُدْبِكْ
وغطّي عظامي بعشب
تعمّد من طهر كعبك
وشُدي وثاقي ..
بخصلة شَعر..
بخيطٍ يلوِّح في ذيل ثوبك ..
عساني أصير ُإلهاً
إلهاً أصير..
إذا ما لمستُ قرارة قلبك !
ضعيني , إذا ما رجعتُ
وقوداً بتنور ناركْ ..
وحبل غسيل على سطح دارك
لأني فقدتُ الوقوفَ
بدون صلاة نهارك
هَرِمْتُ فردّي نجوم الطفولة
حتى أُشارك صغار العصافير
درب الرجوع .. لعُش انتظارِك!!
(من ديوان “عاشق من فلسطين” 1966)

I long for my mother’s bread
my mother’s coffee
my mother’s touch…
and childhood grows in me
one day on another day’s chest
I must be worth my life
at the hour of my death
worth the tears of my mother

Take me, if I return one day,
as a veil for your lashes
and cover my bones with grass
baptized by your footsteps
bind us together
with a lock of your hair,
with a thread waving from the hem of your dress,
I might become immortal
a god, I might…
if I touch the deep floor of your heart

Place me, if I return,
like wood for your brick oven…
and hang me on the roof like your laundry line
because I can no longer stand
without the prayer of your days…

I have aged, mother, so bring back the childhood stars
so that I
along with the swallows
can chart the path
back to your waiting nest

Darwish’s mother, Huriyya Darwish, attended her son’s funeral in Ramallah on 9 August 2008. She died at the age of ninety-six.


Norman Finkelstein at Leuven


LVSV Leuven, the Catholic University of Leuven & UNESCO Maria-Theresiacollege (MTC), Grote Aula, Sint-Michielsstraat 6, Leuven 3000

Tuesday the 24th of February 2009


The guest speaker will be Professor Norman G. Finkelstein, who will address the
audience on the theme:

“The Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can
learn from Gandhi”

Norman Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton
University. For many years he has taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He is
currently an independent scholar.

He is the author of five books which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions:

Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history;
The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering;
Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict;
Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen thesis and historical truth;
The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A personal
account of the intifada years

He has just completed a new book entitled A Farewell to Israel: The
coming break-up of American Zionism
, to be published in 2009.

“A person who can speak with more authority and insight on these topics [Israel and anti-Semitism]
than anyone I can think of.” –Noam Chomsky, father of modern linguistics

“It takes an enormous amount of academic courage to speak the truth when no one else is out there
to support him … His place in the whole history of writing history is assured, and that those who in
the end are proven right triumph, and he will be among those who will have triumphed, albeit, it so
seems, at great cost.” –Raul Hilberg, world’s leading authority on the Nazi Holocaust

This event is free and open to the public.

For more info:

Maria-Theresiacollege (MTC), Grote Aula

Sint-Michielsstraat 6
3000 Leuven

Contact person:
Denis Van den Weghe

The official website of Norman G. Finkelstein

Speak of an acquired taste

A substitute for the boycotted Coca Cola ?

They call it Mellow Yellow?
Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:48am EST

By Matthias Williams

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A hardline Hindu organization, known for its opposition to “corrupting” Western food imports, is planning to launch a new soft drink made from cow’s urine, often seen as sacred in parts of India.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or National Volunteer Corps, said the bovine beverage is undergoing laboratory tests for the next 2 to 3 months but did not give a specific date for its commercial release.

The flavor is not yet known, but the RSS said the liquid produced by Hinduism’s revered holy cows is being mixed with products such as aloe vera and gooseberry to fight diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Many Hindus consider cow urine to have medicinal properties and it is often drunk in religious festivals.

The organization, which aims to transform India’s secular society and establish the supremacy of a Hindu majority, said it had not decided on a name or a price for the drink.

“Cow urine offers a cure for around 70 to 80 incurable diseases like diabetes. All are curable by cow urine,” Om Prakash, the head of the RSS Cow Protection Department, told Reuters by phone.

Prakash, who is based in Hardwar, one of four holy Hindu cities on the river Ganges where the world’s largest religious gathering takes place, said the product will be sold nationwide but did not rule out international success.

“It is useful for the whole country and the world as well. It will be done through shops and through corporates,” he said.

The Hindu group has campaigned against foreign imports such as Pepsi and Coca Cola in the past, which it sees as a corrupting influence and a tool of Western imperialism.

The RSS was temporarily banned after a Hindu mob tore down a mosque in 1992 which lead to bloody religious riots.

The Shiv Sena, a hardline Hindu political party also known for attacking what it sees as threats to Indian culture such as Valentine’s Day, started a similar initiative last year to appeal to its powerbase in Mumbai.

To promote the food of the native Marathi culture, the Shiv Sena said it was “making a chain like McDonalds” to sell a popular local fried snack.


Food writer’s online guide to building an H-bomb…the ‘evidence’ that put this man in Guantanamo

By Jason Lewis


A British ‘resident’ held at Guantanamo Bay was identified as a terrorist after confessing he had visited a ‘joke’ website on how to build a nuclear weapon, it was revealed last night.

Binyam Mohamed, a former UK asylum seeker, admitted to having read the ‘instructions’ after allegedly being beaten, hung up by his wrists for a week and having a gun held to his head in a Pakistani jail.

It was this confession that apparently convinced the CIA that they were holding a top
Al Qaeda terrorist.


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