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April 6, 2012

With ‘last ink,’ Gunter Grass breaks silence on Israeli nuclear program threatening world peace

by on April 5, 2012 104

Gunter Grass Gunter Grass, by Marcus Brandt in the Guardian

The Gunter Grass poem was published in Germany. Our translation is by Norbert Jost. It is already stirring big controversy. Guardian headline: “Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass uses poem to say a nuclear-armed Israel is a threat to world peace.” Tom Segev says Grass is “pathetic” and is guilty about his Nazi past.

Why am i silent, conceal already too long a time, What is apparent and has been simulated in exercises, at the end of which we the survivors may at best be footnotes. It is the alleged entitlement for a first strike, which could extinguish the Iranian people, – subjugated by a big mouth and directed to organized jubilations- because one assumes the making of a nuclear bomb. Alas, why do i restrain myself to name the name of the other country, where since years – although kept secret – a growing nuclear potential (is) available, albeit beyond control, because inaccessible for any examination? The general silence of this fact, which my silence has subordinated itself to, i feel to be a burdensome lie and as coercion, which promises punishment, soon as it is not complied with; the verdict “antisemitism” is ready at hand. However, now, that my country, which is confronted with its very own crimes which are unique without comparison, again and again and made to answer for, is about to deliver, routinely and businesslike, even though with a nimble tongue declared as reparation, is to supply Israel another submarine, the speciality of which is to deliver all-destructive warheads to where the existence of a single nuclear bomb is unproven, only “proven” by the strength of fear, I say, what must be said. But why did i remain silent so far? Because I was of the opinion, that where i am from, which is stained with a never removable stain, forbids me, to dare confronting Israel, the country I am attached to and want to remain so, with this fact as an outright spoken truth. Why do I speak now only, aged and with the last ink: The nuclear power Israel endangers the world’s peace, ever so delicate anyhow ? Because it must be said, what already tomorrow could be too late; also because we – as Germans burdened enough – could become suppliers of a crime, which can be foreseen, and why our complicity could not be made undone by any of the usual evasions. And admitted: i do not remain silent anymore, because i am weary of the hypocrisy of the West; moreover, it is hoped, may many free themselves of the bondage of silence, demand from the originators of the discernible danger the renunciation of all violence and simultaneously insist, that an unhindered and permanent control of Israeli nuclear potential and of Iranian nuclear facilities through an international entity will be permitted by the governments of both countries. Only this way, everybody, Israelis and Palestinians, even more, all human beings, who live as enemies next to each other in this region, occupied by madness, can be helped – ultimately us, too.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

Homsenica 05Apr12

The below post is from the Revolutionary Council of Homs dated today and signed by Bayan Seif El Din from the Revolution Council. Below that I’ve posted the original Arabic.

Have we finally reached this point where a direct parallel between Srebrenica and Homs is possible?

Revolutionary Council of Homs
April 4, 2012


What is happening in Syria generally, and particularly in Homs, is ethnic cleansing that is far more atrocious than what happened in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. The Serbs forced between 50 and 80 thousand Bosnians out of Srebrenica to change the demographics of the population and replace the native Muslim population with Serbs. The Syrian regime is also carrying out an atrocious ethnic cleansing campaign in Homs by forcing more than half a million of Homs natives out of their homes and immediately replacing them with Alawites. All of this is going on while the international, Arab, and Muslim communities remain silent.

For those who do not know the demographic of the city of Homs, here is a little synopsis:
Alawites came to the city of Homs and lived on its edges starting in 1965, and initially, there were only a few families. They spread then in several areas like Nuzha, Zahraa, Akrama, and Wadi al-Thahab, near other residential areas.

What has happened in the last two months – February and March of 2012 – is that nearly half a million people who live in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods near the aforementioned Alawite neighborhoods, were forced to leave their homes. This came after the residents witnessed atrocious crimes including slaughtering women and children; burning and abusing dead bodies; group-raping women and little girls, some of whom under the age of 12; terrorizing the residents with heavy bombing and destroying their homes on top of them; cutting off water, electricity, and communications; and preventing food and medicine from reaching these neighborhoods.

After the residents left their homes, the regime immediately brought loyalist Alawite and Shia families to live in the homes that belong to mostly Sunni families. The regime’s thugs then looted the other homes that remained unoccupied and robbed their contents in an organized manner, and then they set the homes on fire. The regime had formed groups, each of which was responsible for stealing specific things. For example, a group was responsible for stealing dishes and silverware, another was responsible for stealing washer, another group was responsible for stealing propane tanks, and so forth. In this manner, it has become impossible for the displaced residents to come back to their homes.

Here are some estimates that the Revolutionary Council of Homs has obtained regarding the number of displaced residents according to neighborhoods:
Rifai: 5000
Karm al-Zeitoun and Nazeheen: 55000
Bab Sbaa, Adawiyeh, and Mrejeh: 50000
Bab Draib: 20000
Bab Tadmur: 20000
Jib al-Jandali: 25000
Ashira and Sitteen: 15000
Bayada: 40000
Khaldiyeh: 80000
Qusoor: 50000
Karabees: 15000
Baba Amr: 80000

The total estimated number of people forced to migrate exceeds half a million people, and this is the largest displacement operation known in recent history, happening right in front of the entire world and went unnoticed as if nothing had happened. Most of the displaced people have either become migrants in their own country – in nearby villages or in other cities like Damascus, Hama, and Aleppo – or refugees outside Syria.

So will there be a Homsenica or should we just forget this city?

By: Bayan Saif el-Din
Media Bureau
Revolutionary Council of Homs


A Word On The Syrian Independence Flag

Maysaloon :

Several times I have heard people who support Assad derisively label the Syrian independence flag as “that French mandate” flag. For some reason these people think that this flag is a product of Syria’s former colonial masters, and that it is fitting that a revolution that they consider to be a foreign plot against the regime would choose such a flag. This is patently untrue and demonstrates a lack of knowledge in the country’s history. If anything the Syrian independence flag represents the best of everything that is Syrian, and its history gives us some startling insight into the present.

In 1933 the French colonial authorities suspended the Syrian constitution of 1930 and tried to impose an independence treaty that would have left them in control of Syria’s coastal mountains. There was an immediate uproar and widespread demonstrations and strikes. There was also immense support throughout the Arab world, with protests in what are today Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. This period of crisis reached its climax with the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence, which was the first time that a treaty was made with a recognised representative of the Syrian people, the National Bloc, under Hashem al Atassi. al Atassi, who was the prime minister of the short lived Kingdom of Syria under King Feisal, returned to Syria and was made the first president of the Syrian Republic. This independence flag was made the national flag of all of Syria, including Syria’s coastal mountains and what might have become a separate Alawite Syrian state under the French.

The main goal of the National Bloc was to achieve independence through non-violent and diplomatic means, and they succeeded. Today the Syrian opposition would do well to remember how Syria’s freedom was initially won, and how the Syrian Republic had been born. The general strike that eventually forced the French to the negotiating table paralysed the country, and could not be quashed violently. Ironically it had its roots in an event held by the National Bloc commemorating the death of another national hero of Syria’s fight for independence, and once a prominent National Bloc leader himself, Ibrahim Hanano. Hanano had fought the French and led an armed uprising, with Ataturk’s help, centred around the Idlib and Aleppo regions. It was soon crushed when the Turk’s withdrew military assistance, but it cemented Hananu’s reputation in Syrian history, having already fought for King Feisal’s Arab Army. When the heads of the National Bloc were arrested by the French, mass protests and a strike were called. The series of events culminating in the Independence Treaty of 1936 can be traced from here, and with that, the path to the new Syrian independence flag.

Today that flag has been chosen by many of the Syrian opposition as representative of those who do not wish Assad or his family to rule the country anymore, and in it they find an authentic representation and nostalgia for a better Syria where life was not governed by fear. Cynical attempts by detractors of the Syrian revolution – in both its armed and peaceful components – ignore the enormous personal bravery and conviction required for any Syrian to dare challenge Assad’s rule and stand up against his injustice. They choose to simply see things in a black and white world of power politics and a West versus the Rest perspective. In doing so they deny the Syrian people any agency, and also deny them the right to make their own mistakes and aspire for a better future for themselves and their country.

Everything about this flag, the background of the movement that made it a symbol for Syria, and the figures that fought for it to become so, is steeped in principles rooted in a hope for a better country that is free and good for all its people. Should the Syrian people decide one day to once again make this flag Syria’s official flag, then it is not because the current flag is any less legitimate, but because the independence flag represents that hope. To describe it flippantly as a “colonial” flag is an insult.

Mabrouk, Yussef El Guindi

Last week, Egyptian-British-American playwright Yussef El Guindi took the prestigious 2012 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theater Critics Association (ATCA) New Play Award for his “Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World.

The Steinberg/ATCA recognizes the best American scripts that premiered outside New York City.

The announcement was made Saturday in Louisville, Ky, USA. The award includes a prize of $25,000, and is, El Guindi told the Seattle Times, “like being handed a bottle of water in a marathon run. It just keeps you going.”

“Pilgrims” is, according to ATCA, a “gentle romantic comedy wrapped around a serious examination of issues facing immigrants today.” The play’s wrapping is a budding relationship between an immigrant Middle Eastern cabbie and an American waitress (pictured above). El Guindi has written nine plays to date, many of them about how Arab-American characters relate to the larger US society.

El Guindi was born in Egypt, raised in London, and is now based in Seattle. He got a B.A. from the American University in Cairo and an MFA in playwriting from Carnegie-Mellon University. It would be interesting to have him back here for a collaboration, I’m sure.

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