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July 2009

Tamim Barghouti

Tamim Al Barghouti is a Palestinian poet born in Cairo, Egypt in 1977. He studied politics at Cairo University, the American University in Cairo, and Boston University where he received his PhD in 2004.

Tamim has five published poetry collections and two academic books on political theory and Middle East History. These works include Fil-Quds (In Jerusalem) published in Ramallah and Cairo 2008, Maqam Iraq (the Iraqi Ode), Cairo 2005, and The Umma and the Dawla: the Nation State and the Middle East, Pluto Press, London, 2008.

Al-Barghouti has performed in almost every other Arab country, including Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates. His performances have often attracted thousands from various age groups. He writes in Standard Arabic as well as in the Egyptian and Palestinian Dialects.

Tamim is also known as a Columnist for the Lebanese Daily Star where he wrote a weekly feature on Arab culture, history and identity between 2003 and 2004.

Al-Barghouti, worked at the United Nations, the Division of Palestinian Rights, the Department of Political Affairs in New York. He was later appointed an assistant professor of political science at the American University in Cairo. In 2005-2006 he joined the United Nation Mission in Sudan, and in 2007 he became a fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study and a visiting lecturer at the Free University in Berlin.

Al Barghouti is currently a visiting Professor of Political Science at Georgetown University, Washington DC.


Using the UN to undermine Palestinian rights

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana (second from right) at a joint press conference with the Middle East Quartet (US, EU, Russia, and UN), June 2009. (Mark Garten/UN Photo)
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana (second from right) at a joint press conference with the Middle East Quartet (US, EU, Russia, and UN), June 2009. (Mark Garten/UN Photo)
Hasan Abu Nimah

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana surprised observers on 11 July when he called, during a speech in London, for the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state by a certain date even if no agreement had been reached between Israelis and Palestinians.

On its face, this proposal sounds dramatic. There must be some who still believe that a Security Council decision would result in real and drastic action. The reality, however, is that the Security Council is not the powerful executive organ it was created to be.

read full article here

Doing 55 in a 54

Matt Barganier, July 28, 2009

Kelley Vlahos has a great piece today on the Henry Gates affair and the larger problems of which it’s a symptom. One such problem is the ever increasing number of pretexts on which the authorities can interrogate, search, assault, and arrest citizens. The authority figure, equipped with endless excuses to initiate an interaction with the citizen, from an expired tag to a false burglar alarm to an alleged whiff of what might be a controlled substance, uses his or her superior knowledge of legal arcana to find some way to put the citizen behind bars. For instance, what struck me when reading the policeman’s account of the Gates incident was a small detail: the repeated use of the term “tumultuous.” It appears three times in the brief report in descriptions of Gates’ behavior. Why was the cop fixated on this SAT word?

Turns out, it appears in the Massachusetts statute defining disorderly conduct. The cop goaded the agitated Gates into stepping outside of his house (he made sure to give a reason for this in the report – poor acoustics in Gates’ kitchen!) to create the grounds for an arrest. The cop already knew the specific – though vague and debatable – adjective he should use in his report to make the charge sound incontestable to the lawnorder crowd.

The proliferation of new laws in the wake of 9/11, all full of vague and debatable terms, has given the authorities infinite points of entry into all of our lives. They truly can arrest first and read the statutes later; you’re sure to have done something wrong. Even if they eventually drop the charges or fail to convict you, don’t count on getting any compensation for your anxiety, lost time, injuries, or legal fees.

An analogous situation prevails in international affairs, where the global police churn out endless legal pretexts for subjecting whole countries to full body-cavity searches, house arrest, assault, and capital punishment, and we’re watching it play out yet again in the case of Iran. But that’s a post for another day.


Israeli right welcomes US envoys with racist rally

Watch video here

A rally was held this evening protesting the arrival of the US envoys in Israel. Members of National Union, Likud and Israel Beiteinu led the crowd, which included Kahanists wearing t-shirts saying “Kahane was right,” referring to Meir Kahane’s ideology of violence against all who stand in the way of the constant expansion of Jewish territory.

read on here

Football game or tear gas and bullets? Palestinians put racist ad to test

The row over a racist advert of Cellcom – an Israeli mobile phone operator, which shows Israel Occupation Forces soldiers playing football with Palestinians on both sides of the Apartheid Wall, continues.

In the Cellcom advert, IOF soldiers on patrol along the Wall stop their army jeep when it is hit by a soccer ball from the Palestinian side of the Wall. A game ensues, back and forth with the unseen Palestinians after a soldier dials up “reinforcements,” including two smiling women in uniform, to come and play.

The advertisement made by McCann Erickson, part of U.S. Interpublic Group, ends with the upbeat voiceover: “After all, what are we all after? Just a little fun.”

The advert has been extensively criticized for making light of the Palestinian suffering inflicted by the West Bank Apartheid Wall.

this is the Palestinian retort

full comment

The Viva Palestina Series- Breaking the Siege


We spent the days after the Peace Bridge incident finishing the “required” paper work and negotiating with the Egyptian Ministry of Internal Affairs to reach an agreement on time to be spent in Gaza, what we can take with us, and to let all members of the convoy cross into Gaza. Mr. George Galloway and Councilman Charles Baron made a great effort to come up with a good pact with the Ministry and tried to get the most out of them. At the end, we were only allowed 24 hours in Gaza and they promised that all convoy members would enter as well as all the medical aid. They denied the entry of the 47 trucks that we purchased in Alexandria and they still have them at the port.

Read on

A tribute to Basil Abu-Eid

His widow writes :

July 20 marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my beloved husband, companion in the struggle, our comrade, Basil Abu-Eid “Ghassan”.

Let’s celebrate his courage, his devotion to the Arab cause, in Palestine as in Iraq, his love for the people and their freedom, his internationalism and his commitment to the communist and anti-imperialist movement particularly within the PFLP of which he was a member. Let’s celebrate his straightforwardness the sharpness of his mind which went hand in hand with his actual commitment.

Let’s take this opportunity to show our solidarity with our imprisoned comrades so close to Basil’s heart and with the first among them, Ahmed SAADAT, PFLP’s president , locked up in the Zionist goals.

Let’s together remember the martyrs Georges Habache and Wahhid Haddad. Let them be our guides, as they were Ghassan’s, and may their commitment and their partisanship be forever an example for all of us.

Long live the peoples’ struggle !

Long live a free and Arab Palestine !

Long live PFLP !

Yemen : a love story

A Yemeni Jewish girl married an Israeli citizen after her older sister converted to Islam and got married to a Muslim without the consent of her parents, sources close to the family said Thursday.

Saeed bin Saeed al-Naeti married off his 18-year old daughter Barakha to Mousa Shaghdari, a Yemeni Jew who left Yemen for Israel in 1994. The condition of the father was that Shaghdari should leave Yemen with his bride as soon as possible, the sources said.

The couple Mousa and Barakha are expected to leave Yemen for Israel next week, the sources said.

The older daughter of Saeed, Leyah, 20, was wed on the same day,

Thursday July 16th, to a Muslim man, Abdul Rahman al-Huthaifi in Kharef, Amran province.

On June 29th, 2009, Leyah was wed from Kharef to her Jewish groom Haron Salem, one of about 66 Jews who have been living in a Tourism City compound in the capital Sana’a since they were expelled from Sa’adah by al-Houthi rebels in 2005.

About five days after the wedding, the Jewish bride escaped from her husband’s house in the compound, called “Tourist City”, to a chief of the tribesmen of Arhab in the northern outskirts of the Sana’a.

She was in love with her Muslim neighbor, but her parents did not want him to marry their daughter, a relative said.

On Wednesday July 15, the Jewish bride announced her conversion to Islam in Arhab district in front of a number tribal Sheikhs who conducted the required procedures for the new marriage and cancellation of the first marriage.

The first marriage was nullified by a court verdict after she converted to Islam.

Abdullah Nasser who attended the wedding said, “It was distinguished in terms of the number of cars accompanying the bride and the number of bullets that were fired to air.”

The rabbi Yahya Mousa, who arranged the first marriage to one of his relatives, said the new marriage violated the rules of Judaism, of Islam, Christianity and all religions.

Commenting on her conversion to Islam, the rabbi said “Her Islam is not true Islam; this is the Islam of love. True Islam is the love of the religion.”

“We were wronged, we are underdogs. But we hope President Ali Abdullah Saleh will stand with us and do what is just,” He said in a telephone call with Yemen Observer.

The father of the bride, Saeed Bin Saeed al-Naeti, said,” We are tens of Jews among millions of Muslim tribesmen. If they want even to kill us they will do that easily. No state will protect us and no one will stand with us,”

He said he does not know if his daughter was in love with al-Huthaifi, whose house is only 2 km far. But he does not agree that Jews should marry Muslims or vice versa.

The rabbi Mousa said the Jews are preparing to stage a sit-in, in front of the Presidential Palace next Sunday to demand protection for Yemen’s Jews. Only about 320 Jews are left in Yemen and live predominately in the capital Sana’a and Amran province.

This was Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite: ‘We Are Mired in Stalemate,’ Feb. 27, 1968


When I watched Walter Cronkite’s heroic commentary in early 1968, I thought the country might finally have turned around on the Vietnam War. But Cronkite was ahead of the curve on Vietnam, and the US remained there for another seven years, costing the lives of tens of thousands more Americans and millions more Southeast Asians.

After Cronkite’s broadcast, President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Several weeks later, Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

Walter Cronkite died today at the age of 92. His 1968 words should be read again:

Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we’d like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective. Who won and who lost in the great Tet offensive against the cities? I’m not sure. The Vietcong did not win by a knockout, but neither did we. The referees of history may make it a draw. Another standoff may be coming in the big battles expected south of the Demilitarized Zone. Khesanh could well fall, with a terrible loss in American lives, prestige and morale, and this is a tragedy of our stubbornness there; but the bastion no longer is a key to the rest of the northern regions, and it is doubtful that the American forces can be defeated across the breadth of the DMZ with any substantial loss of ground. Another standoff. On the political front, past performance gives no confidence that the Vietnamese government can cope with its problems, now compounded by the attack on the cities. It may not fall, it may hold on, but it probably won’t show the dynamic qualities demanded of this young nation. Another standoff.

We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. They may be right, that Hanoi’s winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that — negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer’s almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.

To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.


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