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March 2009

A Beit Safafa Demolition

Ben Nitay aka Bibi Netanyahu, 1978, featuring Fouad Ajami

Bibi vs. Ajami, back in the days

Update: VIDEO FOUND OK, a little Googling enabled me to find a copy of the Netanyahu tape on the Israeli site MahNishMah!?, since the original YouTube version was removed and its account shut down.

It turns out that the tape has made quite a stir in Israel, as Netanyahu is about to become PM for the second time. Right-wingers saw in Young Bibi (who then called himself Ben Nitay) a better version of his current self, seen as too accommodating (!) to Obama.

In the video, Bibi says he is 28-years-old and describes himself as an “economic consultant” — indeed according to Wikipedia he worked at Boston Consulting Group immediately after graduating from Harvard at that time. He was as smarmy then as he is now.

But actually if you listen carefully to what he says, he is arguing that Palestinian should not have self-determination (which would be “unfair” because there are already 21 Arab states) but instead integrate Jordan or Israel. He argues forcefully that Israel is a democracy and West Bankers and Gazans would be given the right to vote in Israel. Obviously this must predate the current Israeli concern about Palestinian demographics, although Fouad Ajami does raise this issue. So, once again, is Bibi Netanyahu advocating a one-state solution?

Here is the video on YouTube. (It will take a little while for YouTube to process the video, so it might not be immediately available.)

I will soon add a link to a MP4 format file for downloading in case YouTube removes the video again. Download in MP4 format (Quicktime, 31.6MB).

Originally found through: Angry Arab.

Gaza’s phosphorous legacy

Focus on Gaza revisited one family in the territory who have had their lives torn apart by Israel’s use of white phosphorous.

March 27, 2009

Three months have passed since the war on Gaza and for many people life is regaining some form of normality.

For others however, the fallout from the conflict continues to affect their daily lives.

Sabah Abu Halima has weekly physiotherapy sessions and regular visits to the Shiba hospital for treatment on her injuries from white phosphorous sustained during the war.

“I was burnt from head to toe, my face, my legs, my back were burnt,” she says.

“I am still in pain, I have not recovered yet, I massage my arm where they operated it on it but it’s still stiff.

“I can’t even pick up a cup of tea now, my life will never be the same.”


IRAQ: Poor sell kidneys just to survive

Abu Zahra, who washes cars for a living, is planning to sell one of his kidneys for US$10,000. Nizar Latif / The National
Abu Zahra, who washes cars for a living, is planning to sell one of his kidneys for US$10,000. Nizar Latif / The National

Nizar Latif

Abu Zahra, who washes cars for a living, is planning to sell one of his kidneys for US$10,000. Nizar Latif / The National

March 27, 2009

BAGHDAD // Abu Zahra arrived in Baghdad two years ago, coming north from the city of Amarah. He brought along his wife, three daughters, a son and his dreams of getting a job that would end their life of poverty.

He found work, washing cars, but with earnings of less than US$10 (Dh37) a day, it did nothing to make them richer. So he is planning to sell one of his kidneys.


Meet Netanyahu’s Foreign Minister

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Shame

Thanks to Binyamin Netanyahu’s overweening ambition, Israel is to be saddled with a foreign minister who is a national disgrace.

Imagine a country that appoints someone who has been found guilty of striking a 12-year-old boy to be its foreign minister. The person in question is also under investigation for money- laundering, fraud and breach of trust; in addition, he was a bona fide member of an outlawed racist party and currently leads a political party that espouses fascist ideas. On top of all this, he does not even reside in the country he has been chosen to represent.

Even though such a portrayal may appear completely outlandish, Israel’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, actually fits the above depiction to the letter.

• In 2001, following his own confession, Lieberman was found guilty of beating a 12-year- old boy. As part of a plea bargain, Lieberman was fined 17,500 shekels and had to promise never to hit young children again.

• In 2004, Lieberman’s 21-year-old daughter Michal set up a consulting firm, which received 11m shekels from anonymous overseas sources. Lieberman, according to the police, received more than a 2.1m-shekel salary from the company for two years of employment. In addition, according to an investigation by Haaretz, he allegedly received additional severance pay – amounting to hundreds of thousands of shekels – in 2006 and 2007, while he was minister of strategic affairs and deputy prime minister. According to Israeli law, this is illegal.

• Lieberman is an ex-member of Meir Kahane’s party, Kach, which was outlawed due to its blatantly racist platform. Moreover, his views towards Arabs do not appear to have changed over the years. In 2003, when reacting to a commitment made by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to give amnesty to approximately 350 Palestinian prisoners, Lieberman declared that, as minister of transport, he would be more than happy to provide buses to take the prisoners to the sea and drown them there.

• In January 2009, during Israel’s war on Gaza, Lieberman argued that Israel “must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in the second world war. Then, too, the occupation of the country was unnecessary.” He was referring to the two atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

• Lieberman does not live in Israel according to its internationally recognised borders, but rather in an illegal settlement called Nokdim. Legally speaking, this would be like US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton residing in Mexico and UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband living on the Canary Islands.

And yet, despite these egregious transgressions, newly-elected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has no qualms about appointing Lieberman to represent Israel in the international arena. Netanyahu’s lust for power has led him to choose a man who actually poses a serious threat to Israel. Both Lieberman’s message and style are not only violent, but have clear proto-fascist elements; and, as Israeli commentators have already intimated, he is extremely dangerous.

Politics being politics, most western leaders will no doubt adopt a conciliatory position towards Lieberman, and agree to meet and discuss issues relating to foreign policy with him. Such a position can certainly be justified on the basis of Lieberman’s democratic election; however much one may dislike his views, he is now the representative of the Israeli people. Those who decide to meet him can also claim that ongoing diplomacy and dialogue lead to the internalisation of international norms and thus moderate extremism.

These justifications carry weight. However, western leaders will also have to take into account that the decision to meet Lieberman will immediately be associated with the ban on Hamas, at least among people in the Middle East. In January 2006, Hamas won a landslide victory in elections that were no less democratic than the recent elections in Israel. While Hamas is, in many respects, an extremist political party that espouses violence, its politicians are representatives of the Palestinian people and are seen as struggling for liberation and self-determination.

If western leaders want to be conceived as credible, they must change their policy and meet with Hamas as well. Otherwise, their decision to meet Lieberman will be rightly perceived as hypocritical and duplicitous, and the pervasive perception in the region – that the United States and Europe are biased in Israel’s favour – will only be strengthened.

Neve Gordon is chair of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and author of Israel’s Occupation (University of California Press, 2008).


‘7 Jewish Children’ has its first reading at the New York Theatre Workshop

From Mondoweiss

For a brief moment last night, I had a sense of what it would be like to be on the other side of my issue.

The evening was coming to an end, at the New York Theatre Workshop– a reading and discussion of Caryl Churchill’s very short, Gaza-inspired play, “Seven Jewish Children”– and for the second time the play was read, this time by Andre Gregory, the aristocratic actor/director of social/religious engagement. He stood near the front of the stage pouring out anger against the ways of formation of Jewish identity.

I applauded, as did most of the other 300 people in the house, and two seats away I could see the hands of a Zionist clasped in his lap, as he grumbled to his stony-faced girlfriend. You can listen to a recording of the play here [bandannie cannot link you to it but go to the Mondoweis site to download it; after the reading there is an interesting discussion]and read it here.

For the rest of the night I could not get that picture out of my head. An important stage in New York, an elite workshop space that is contested ground: three years ago the writings of an idealistic young woman who was killed by the Israeli occupation could not even be performed here, because of the “sensitivity” of Jews, the cultural importance of Jews.

But even Rachel Corrie’s piece was not directed against the springs of Jewish identity, as Churchill’s piece is, and here it was uncensored–swaddled of course in Context, a whole evening of discussion rather than just the thing itself– but here it was, and Laura Flanders, the very appealing host of Grit TV, wearing black boots and a dark jacket, had begun the evening by invoking Corrie’s name, and the evening now ended with Andre Gregory spitting out anger, which I applauded.


Israel floods Lebanese farmlands, destroys crops

Daily Star staff
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BEIRUT: Israel deliberately flooded Lebanese farmlands with excess rainwater from an Israeli orchard, located off the southern town of Mais al-Jabal early Tuesday, ruining crops and properties, the state-run national news agency said.The Lebanese Army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) dispatched teams to look into the incident, which drew protests from the southern residents.

Tuesday’s flooding is part of a systematic practice by the Israeli authorities to turn the highly-fertile land into swamps by channeling rainwater into the fields via trenches, which were dug for that purpose. The Lebanese Army and UNIFIL have tried to block the water channels to protect the crops. Separately, UNIFIL’s media coordinator, Dhalia Farran, reiterated calls for Israel to hand over official maps detailing where the Israeli army dropped cluster bombs during the summer 2006 war. – The Daily Star

Um Al-Faham citizens clash with Israeli police escorting far-right march

[ 24/03/2009 – 10:51 AM ]


UM AL-FAHAM, (PIC)– Israeli policemen, escorting a march for far-right activists in Um Al-Faham, on Tuesday fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters and opened water cannons at Arab citizens who blocked their way into the city.

Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in 1948 Palestine, told Al-Jazeera TV that a number of citizens were injured in the process, and charged the police with blocking access to the wounded citizens.

He stressed that the Israeli oppression of Palestinians started ever since the occupation of most of Palestine in 1948, charging the Zionist fanatics with maintaining a policy of religious and racial discrimination against the Palestinians and with trying to force the Palestinians to abandon their lands.

Salah said that Arabs from various areas of Palestine occupied in 1948 came to Um Al-Faham in solidarity with this city in a reflection of a unanimous stand in defense of Arab destiny and future and in rejection of the attempts to force them out of their ancestral land.

The city’s municipality had declared general strike in protest over the far-right march at the outskirts of Um Al-Faham led by the leader of the terrorist Kach movement, Baruch Marzel, which was escorted by 2,500 Israeli policemen.

The Hebrew radio said that the Israeli police turned the city into military barracks to protect the march.

In a related issue, a report by Musawa (equality) center for Arab citizens’ rights in Israel has disclosed that racial dissemination against those citizens was on the rise.

It said that the center monitored 270 assaults on Arabs since start of 2009 compared to 166 assaults in the entire year of 2008.
Posted by uprooted Palestinian at 11:43:00 AM

Ahmed Matar and Naji al Ali

A few details about Naji al Ali here
He was assassinated in London. His drawings had created him many ennemies.
His friend, Ahmed Matar is an Iraqi poet. I shall reproduce some of his poems here. His poems have been put to music.

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