A Political Reality


Those who support democracy must welcome the rise of political Islam

From Tunisia to Egypt, Islamists are gaining the popular vote. Far from threatening stability, this makes it a real possibility

Wadah Khanfar

Andrzej Krauze 2811

Illustration by Andrzej Krauze

Ennahda, the Islamic party in Tunisia, won 41% of the seats of the Tunisian constitutional assembly last month, causing consternation in the west. But Ennahda will not be an exception on the Arab scene. Last Friday the Islamic Justice and Development Party took the biggest share of the vote in Morocco and will lead the new coalition government for the first time in history. And tomorrow Egypt’s elections begin, with the Muslim Brotherhood predicted to become the largest party. There may be more to come. Should free and fair elections be held in Yemen, once the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh falls, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, also Islamic, will win by a significant majority. This pattern will repeat itself whenever the democratic process takes its course.

In the west, this phenomenon has led to a debate about the “problem” of the rise of political Islam. In the Arab world, too, there has been mounting tension between Islamists and secularists, who feel anxious about Islamic groups. Many voices warn that the Arab spring will lead to an Islamic winter, and that the Islamists, though claiming to support democracy, will soon turn against it. In the west, stereotypical images that took root in the aftermath of 9/11 have come to the fore again. In the Arab world, a secular anti-democracy camp has emerged in both Tunisia and Egypt whose pretext for opposing democratisation is that the Islamists are likely to be the victors.

But the uproar that has accompanied the Islamists’ gains is unhelpful; a calm and well-informed debate about the rise of political Islam is long overdue.

First, we must define our terms. “Islamist” is used in the Muslim world to describe Muslims who participate in the public sphere, using Islam as a basis. It is understood that this participation is not at odds with democracy. In the west, however, the term routinely describes those who use violence as a means and an end – thus Jihadist Salafism, exemplified by al-Qaida, is called “Islamist” in the west, despite the fact that it rejects democratic political participation (Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida, criticised Hamas when it decided to take part in the elections for the Palestinian legislative council, and has repeatedly criticised the Muslim Brotherhood for opposing the use of violence).

This disconnect in the understanding of the term in the west and in the Muslim world was often exploited by despotic Arab regimes to suppress Islamic movements with democratic political programmes. It is time we were clear.

Reform-based Islamic movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, work within the political process. They learned a bitter lesson from their armed conflict in Syria against the regime of Hafez al-Assad in 1982, which cost the lives of more than 20,000 people and led to the incarceration or banishment of many thousands more. The Syrian experience convinced mainstream Islamic movements to avoid armed struggle and to observe “strategic patience” instead.

Second, we must understand the history of the region. In western discourse Islamists are seen as newcomers to politics, gullible zealots who are motivated by a radical ideology and lack experience. In fact, they have played a major role in the Arab political scene since the 1920s. Islamic movements have often been in opposition, but since the 1940s they have participated in parliamentary elections, entered alliances with secular, nationalist and socialist groups, and participated in several governments – in Sudan, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria. They have also forged alliances with non-Islamic regimes, like the Nimeiri regime in Sudan in 1977.

A number of other events have had an impact on the collective Muslim mind, and have led to the maturation of political Islam: the much-debated Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979; the military coup in Sudan in 1989; the success of the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front in the 1991 elections and the army’s subsequent denial of its right to govern; the conquest of much of Afghan territory by the Taliban in 1996 leading to the establishment of its Islamic emirate; and the success in 2006 of Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. The Hamas win was not recognised, nor was the national unity government formed. Instead, a siege was imposed on Gaza to suffocate the movement.

Perhaps one of the most influential experiences has been that of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, which won the elections in 2002. It has been a source of inspiration for many Islamic movements. Although the AKP does not describe itself as Islamic, its 10 years of political experience have led to a model that many Islamists regard as successful. The model has three important characteristics: a general Islamic frame of reference; a multi-party democracy; and significant economic growth.

These varied political experiences have had a profound impact on political Islam’s flexibility and capacity for political action, and on its philosophy, too.

However, political Islam has also faced enormous pressures from dictatorial Arab regimes, pressures that became more intense after 9/11. Islamic institutions were suppressed. Islamic activists were imprisoned, tortured and killed. Such experiences gave rise to a profound bitterness. Given the history, it is only natural that we should hear overzealous slogans or intolerant threats from some activists. Some of those now at the forefront of election campaigns were only recently released from prison. It would not be fair to expect them to use the voice of professional diplomats.

Despite this, the Islamic political discourse has generally been balanced. The Tunisian Islamic movement has set a good example. Although Ennahda suffered under Ben Ali’s regime, its leaders developed a tolerant discourse and managed to open up to moderate secular and leftist political groups. The movement’s leaders have reassured Tunisian citizens that it will not interfere in their personal lives and that it will respect their right to choose. The movement also presented a progressive model of women’s participation, with 42 female Ennahda members in the constitutional assembly.

The Islamic movement’s approach to the west has also been balanced, despite the fact that western countries supported despotic Arab regimes. Islamists know the importance of international communication in an economically and politically interconnected world.

Now there is a unique opportunity for the west: to demonstrate that it will no longer support despotic regimes by supporting instead the democratic process in the Arab world, by refusing to intervene in favour of one party against another and by accepting the results of the democratic process, even when it is not the result they would have chosen. Democracy is the only option for bringing stability, security and tolerance to the region, and it is the dearest thing to the hearts of Arabs, who will not forgive any attempts to derail it.

The region has suffered a lot as a result of attempts to exclude Islamists and deny them a role in the public sphere. Undoubtedly, Islamists’ participation in governance will give rise to a number of challenges, both within the Islamic ranks and with regard to relations with other local and international forces. Islamists should be careful not to fall into the trap of feeling overconfident: they must accommodate other trends, even if it means making painful concessions. Our societies need political consensus, and the participation of all political groups, regardless of their electoral weight. It is this interplay between Islamists and others that will both guarantee the maturation of the Arab democratic transition and lead to an Arab political consensus and stability that has been missing for decades.

A Reminder of the GOP’s platform


Don’t think the Republican Party is the party of racists and bigots? You don’t think America still has a long way to go before it fully realizes the dream of most of the people who elected Obama, or to realize this country’s potential?  Take a look at the video below!

Why bring this up now you ask?  Sarah Palin is still commanding attention and speculation about whether she will run in 2012; Donald Trump has decided to throw his hat into the politcal ring and he began with the same time worn cliches about Obama that defeated the GOP in 2008 and he’s had a strong showing in polls of Republican voters.  The tea party was formed in response to the GOP loss in 2008 and many of its members, a few we’ve talked about here, have continued the racist rhetoric that is evident in the video below.

No doubt the GOP will present itself as the party of fiscal conservatives, responsible government, etc.. but that’s a facade.  The real face of the Republican Party is the one that pushes people to the brink of fear and panic with overt and indirect references to race, religion and offers itself as a panacea for all that ails the country.   They see nothing wrong with doing that and have enlisted the help of women, like Palin and blacks like Herman Cain, Allen West, et.al who can make the ridiculous claim that because they are saying such dastardly demagogic speech  it’s not racism or bigotry.  In reality, such people, photogenic, sophisticated looking people are nothing more than lipstick on a pig.  No matter how you dress it or who you use to spout it it’s still ugly, virulent and yes protected free speech, that is xenophobic and divisive.  What such forces of darkness are counting on is an ignorant, fearful, wanting to be led by the nose electorate who will believe anything they are told and produce the desired results at the polls.  Aren’t we better than that?   America, deal with your problem!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Florida Minister says he won’t back down-UPDATE


The minister in Florida who wants to have a burn the Quran day on September 11 says he won’t back down from doing it and I say good for him!  It is his constitutional right to burn copies of the Quran, the religious book of Muslims.  Let’s not forget we live in a country where  it is the right of any American to burn the US flag, and we all remember the turmoil  reaching that decision caused America. It is one of the “hazards” of living in a free society; protested speech against patriotic or religious symbols is not illegal. American Muslims more than any other group, should understand that,  and  should register their disagreement with the burning  of Qurans act,with thoughtful and or provocative editorials like this one ,  or planned  peaceful  protests like this,  for even though what Jones wants to do is legal it is morally reprehensible.  That’s as far as his opponents should take it, however.

It is this type of dissent  Muslims should expect from  those who oppose their building of a masjid near the site of the former WTC buildings; one may disagree with the building of the Cordoba House at Park 51, and may protest the  building going up there, however it is the right of the supporters of that project, codified by the legal authorities responsible, for the house to be built there and Cordoba House’s supporters should proceed with resolve to see it through  even during times of  intense opposition to it AND  the opponents should resign themselves to the inevitability of its completion .  What will then become a true battle of ideas a distinction between those who oppose book burning versus those who oppose a religious house of worship will be how the different groups express their opposition and accept the rule of law.  In other words, the behavior of the opposition will have more of an impact on the public debate about the presence of Islam in America than the action which spurs that opposition.   America will have to choose between those who promote racist, stereotypical, violent reaction to protected speech and religious freedom and those whose opposition is principled, respectful or thoughtful.

Given America’s past inclination to mob/racist rule the outcome is not so certain and definitely not in the near future.  One of the reasons why we must have this frank discussion about race in this country is because the racist template we’ve set for ourselves over the years  allows us to insert whatever group of the day we want to hate into  it and then hurl invective and discriminatory actions at them which we try to make into law to suppress them.  We still have not managed to steer clear of this disease because we haven’t really tried to cure it. Saddle up America, here we go again; we’re in for another  protracted campaign for the soul of this country.

UPDATE

Jones did back down and if anyone can understand the reasons why he did so, please explain them to me.  The man who claimed to have received messages from God  is unfathomable, sick, crazy in the head and one as intimately  familiar with him as his own daughter has come out and said so.  There’s even mention of  a mental disorder here as well. Why we, citizenship media as well as corporate media gave him so much of our time, bandwidth and news print is one of the mysteries of life.  A “pastor” with a minuscule congregation of about 50 managed to hold the entire world hostage with his delusions of grandeur and his fear injected venom which paralyzed a nation, diverted its attention from a more pressing national agenda than his personal dementia and left us, after his ‘never mind’ moment feeling used and abandoned from it all.  We deserve it….we put in way too much time feeding the ego of a man whose ego is as large as any other megalomaniac or larger, being called by a US Army general, the Secretary of Defense, the FBI, the NYC police chief and countless others who otherwise wouldn’t give you the time of day can be very gratifying, but what did all of that give us, the People?  It revealed for us that dark side of our collective nature that loves to be frightened and angered; it allowed the haters in our midst to feed us their daily ration of  hatred and loathing for “others” who are really “we”, “us”.  Someone wrote on their headline, ‘Florida Pastor Makes National Jackass of Himself’….and my answer would be no he didn’t.  He made jackasses out of us.

A Call Out for Citizenship Media


If ever there was a time for citizenship media, today’s 21st century America is definitely that time.  This article clearly demonstrates how dangerous corporate media easily manipulated or agenda driven can become, and that’s not to say citizenship media won’t suffer the same problems, but the increase in the number of sources to choose from opposed to the monopoly that’s slowly enveloping mainstream media offsets that risk.  There are a lot of examples of good citizenship media and one of my favorites is Consortiumnews.com an excellent blog run by Robert Parry, but there are certainly others.  We are not defenseless in the face of corportate media’s onslaught; while it has its place, main stream media has become increasingly irrelevant in covering or even defining today’s issues.  The article below is just one of the reasons why (emphasis in red mine)

Declassified files from a Senate investigation into Israeli-funded covert public relations and lobbying activity in the United States were released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on July 23rd, 2010. The subpoenaed documents reveal Israel’s clandestine programs for “cultivation of editors,” the “stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines” as well as U.S. reporting about sensitive subjects such as the Dimona nuclear weapons facility. Documents are now available for download from http://IRmep.org/ila/azc include:

Dimona (excerpt): “The nuclear reactor story inspired comment from many sources; editorial writers, columnists, science writers and cartoonists.  Most of the press seemed finally to accept the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs.” http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf

Content placement and promotion (excerpt): “The Atlantic Monthly in its October issue carried the outstanding Martha Gellhorn piece on the Arab refugees, which made quite an impact around the country.  We arranged for the distribution of 10,000 reprints to public opinion molders in all categories… Interested friends are making arrangements with the Atlantic for another reprint of the Gellhorn article to be sent to all 53,000 persons whose names appear in Who’s Who in America…Our Committee is now planning articles for the women’s magazines for the trade and business publications.” http://www.irmep.org/09101961AZC.pdf

Pressure campaigns (excerpt): “It can be said that the press of the nation…has by and large shown sympathy and understanding of Israel’s position.  There are, of course, exceptions, notably the Scripps-Howard chain where we still need to achieve a ‘break-through,’ the Pulliam chain (where some progress has been made) and some locally-owned papers.” http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf

Magazine Committee achievements (excerpt): “We cannot pinpoint all that has already been accomplished by this Committee except to say that it has been responsible for the writing and placement of articles on Israel in some of America’s leading magazines….” http://www.IRmep.org/10301962_AZC.pdf

According to Grant F. Smith, director of IRmep, “It is frightening how easily some in the American news media surrendered to a foreign public relations campaign that spent the 2010 equivalent of $36 million over two years. Time has proven most of the planted content to be misleading, if not dangerous.  These historical documents hold many important lessons for Americans who have long needed—but rarely received—straight reporting on key Middle East issues.”

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper.  It retains 1%-3% of the most important documents of business conducted by the United States Federal government.  The Israel Lobby Archive, http://IRmep.org/ila is a unit of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington.

Letter from a Birminham jail revisited


Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party is the latest person in Obama’s party to undercut the commander-in-chief by saying the supporters of Cordoba House, while they have the RIGHT to build their community center where they want, should  build it elsewhere.  Harry Reid, running for reelection in Nevada as well as Dean are more concerned about their party’s health than the health of the Nation and are the worse examples of political hacks, people who live to advance the cause of a special,narrowly defined  interest not taking into account the greater good of the citizenry of the entire country.

In the face of such flight from principle it is apparent  that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may acknowledge the legitimacy of the Constitution’s right to religious expression  but when these very same individuals begin identifying with a group other than the entire citizenry of America they tend to dilute their position with the caveat ‘but they should build elsewhere’ thereby negating completely their concession and in the process become immoral.

Such was the conclusion arrived at by Martin Luther King as he sat in a Birmingham city jail in 1963, confronted by fellow white Christians who wanted to encourage him to go slower in his quest for overthrowing segregation in racist America.  The people he addressed in his letter  who agreed with the principle of desegregation were not throwing their weight behind King’s action of non-violent protest and social agitation because they didn’t want to upset the status quo, although that is exactly what they were doing  by agreeing segregation shouldn’t exist.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

In the parallel universe between 1960s  Birmingham, Alabama and 21st century America, “freedom” becomes freedom of religion and religious expression and “segregation” becomes denial of a place to worship at the place of one’s choice.  The comparison is real, palatable, and in all the fervor caused by the controversy very few people have spoken out against the Islamophobia that has embraced the opposition  movement to build the Cordoba House at another location.  Some people have even taken to a wholly unconstitutional position of building the cultural center on land provided to the developers by the state of  New York in what would clearly be a breech of separation of religion and state.  No one has thought for a moment about the ramifications this has for other faith communities that may be considered more main stream?  What would you say to a evangelical church that has permission to build on a property while government officials insist they build elsewhere or prominent members of society insisted such abrogation of that church’s decision.  Would that be considered coercion?

For those who say it is insensitive to build such an establishment close Ground Zero, that it’s presence exacerbates emotions towards Muslims and this should be avoided King answered that concern while sitting in a Birmingham jail so many years ago

I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

If you remove the adjective “white” every time it modifies moderate and replace “Negro” with Muslim, and where you find names of obstructionists who opposed King in his day you replaced with the Republican or Democratic party you would have the essence of the argument against those who say Muslims have the right, but……

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.

Dean, Reid, Clinton and Bush (the latter two having not made any statement on this issue) have done a disservice to citizenship and betrayed the trust they have to America to represent all of its citizens.  The rights given to all of us were unconditional and that as long as the citizen was in good standing with the law they are expected, nay encouraged, to practice those rights to the utmost of their ability.  Those who say, ‘yes, but……”  are the same obstructionists faced by King during the dark days of American segregation.  It is up to Muslims and other freedom loving Americans, freedom riders/fighters to agitate for total and complete freedom of expression for which they are entitled.  Nothing less is acceptable now as it wasn’t acceptable then.

The New Face of American Emperialism


Jeffrey Goldberg has written a piece , full of all the usual shtick, to call for the US to engage in a war with Iran.    The piece contains the normal false premises and bravado used by Goldberg and other neocons in the past; how the United States should spare Israel the  pain of an attack against Iran, because of its nuclear weapons potential, by attacking Iran itself or how the American president can’t possibly understand the gravity of a situation faced by the Israelis or doesn’t have the ‘balls’ to act proactively for the commonly shared interests of the two countries, America and Israel, and so on and so on.

Two glaring items stand out concerning Goldberg’s piece.  First and foremost is why should anyone take any stock in what he has to say given his dismal record of fact based reporting and his background?!   Goldberg agitated for the Iraqi war/invasion using  information he either knew was faulty or simply didn’t care enough to confirm its veracity and we all know where that led us.  That embarrassment didn’t make him go away or remain in the background of agenda driven media reporting, rather he’s back and asking for more war and destruction based on a premise he knows to be doubtful at best or simply untrue………..again.

Meanwhile one of the reasons why he’s on this personal crusade against Iran, his intimate involvement in the Israeli government because of his service in the IDF goes unmentioned.  It’s really no secret why, in my opinion; Goldberg isn’t the only prominent American-Israeli to serve in the IDF and then return to influence American policy vis-a-vis Israel.  Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff is another as well as Ethan Bronner of the New York Times, whose son reportedly serves in the IDF are two more examples of people in high profile, influential positions with close ties to Israeli concerns who are able to influence American public opinion and policy with regards to the Middle East.   The Israeli desire/need  to expand their borders at the expense of other sovereign states,  unilaterally use such states’ natural resources without resorting to negotiations and changing their security requirements  based on the needs of “zionism” which may or may not have anything to do with the needs of modern day statehood  are things Americans might not see as a cause to go to war .  Hence the need for people like Goldberg whose job is to make just that case.

In this context of Goldberg’s IDF service it is simply not possible for him to be objective in his role as a reporter, and let’s be honest he’s not reporting anything rather he’s presenting the Israeli view on their need to destroy Iranian nuclear technology,  because it is “known” he, Goldberg, shares this view. A journalist’s biases and agendas all too often DO get in the way of  good reporting on issues of the day, and some expect and want that.   Otherwise how do you account for the dearth of Arab/Muslim reporters on the pages of the NYT, or WaPo backed by editors who think their ethnicity won’t affect their ability to elucidate clearly the talking points of main stream media and its supporters in governmnet, American or Israeli?  Those editors know the experiential and cultural  filter such people might bring to the job will not make it possible for them to slant the news in the direction editors would want it to go for a territorially expansive and militarily aggressive state that encroaches on its neighbors sovereignty.

In fact that is exactly why people like Goldberg are prominently displayed throughout media to make the case for whatever administration or regime, American or Israeli, is in power at the moment because given access to the holders of power they are expected to make the case for policy being touted by those officials  whereas  Arab/Muslim reporters are not  privileged with that access because it is known they are generally not disposed to be tools for political Zionism.

However, the theme that really is provocative and reminiscent of moving the goal posts to constantly justify the raison d’etre of Israel is the notion buried deep in Goldberg’s piece that although a nuclear Iran poses no existential threat to  Israel, the mere fact that notion is intimidating means it would convince enough Israelis not to live there, contribute to an accelerated brain drain of Israeli settlers moving to other places in the world and somehow diminish Israel’s existence.

The real threat to Zionism is the dilution of quality,” Barak tells Goldberg. “Jews know that they can land on their feet in any corner of the world. The real test for us is to make Israel such an attractive place, such a cutting-edge place in human society, education, culture, science, quality of life, that even American Jewish young people want to come here … Our young people can consciously decide to go other places [and] stay out of here by choice.”

……..

“[Israelis] are good citizens, and brave citizens, but the dynamics of life are such that if … someone finishes a Ph.D. and they are offered a job in America, they might stay there … The bottom line is that we would have an accelerated brain drain.”

In other words a threat to Israel is anything that causes its intelligentsia to leave that country to look for greener pastures and the fact Iran might possess nuclear weapons could possibly frighten Israelis now or in the future  to live elsewhere.  Job/educational opportunities in other countries that are inviting enough to Israelis to make them leave the state of Israel are a threat, which begs the question, how would Israel deal with such a “threat”?

In other words, Israeli elites want the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear program — with the potentially negative repercussions that Goldberg acknowledges — so that Israel will not experience “a dilution of quality” or “an accelerated brain drain.”

……….

Israeli elites want to preserve a regional balance of power strongly tilted in Israel’s favor and what an Israeli general described to Goldberg as “freedom of action” –the freedom to use force unilaterally, anytime, for whatever purpose Israel wants. The problem with Iranian nuclear capability — not just weapons, but capability  — is that it might begin constraining Israel’s currently unconstrained “freedom of action.”

The aforementioned ‘freedom of action’ is just a euphemism for the ability of the Israeli government to invade, trespass upon the territorial sovereignty of its neighbors without any repercussions, much like what it has done in Gaza, Lebanon and the aerial attack against Syria a few short years ago. In other words those conditions that Israel wants extended to it as a state in the region it is not in any way considering giving to its neighbors because of the very basic  principle of ‘might makes right’. Israel is not willing to live by any internationally accepted code of conduct that does not allow it to persecute its neighbors in order to meet its constantly changing ideas of what constitutes existential threats and because Goldberg is able to make the case persuasively enough in American circles,  so prominently displayed on the pages of The Atlantic or even considered is an indication of how important people like him are to American imperialism.

There is no race problem in America!


…..’and the cow jumped over the moon…the little dog laughed to see such sport, and the dish ran away with the spoon’, such is the fantasy land we live in here in America. That there are people who still believe there is no race problem in America, after years of Arab bashing and Islamophobia that has seen images of a female, Jewish Supreme Court nominee, dressed in Muslim garb, or torture imposed solely on people of Arab/Muslim decent, stereotypical images of a black US president dressed in scanty clothes with bones through his nose, and on and on, then the nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle is completely within the realm of possibility.

In just a few short weeks we’ve had people fired because they expressed respect for a dead Muslim, the MSM pick up and run with the false story (more here)  of the Obama Administration’s racism and fear of prosecuting the New Black Panther Party, and that same Administration react to the story by firing a black government employee because it was erroneously alleged she didn’t want to help a white farmer.  We could dredge up more examples of how race and the fear and distortions surrounding it are the impetus for politicizing a segment of the population.

The Lebanese Muslim cleric who received condolences from so many riled the “establishment” we’ve already covered.  We simply as a country cannot express any respect for Muslims, they are only to be defiled and defamed  like so many other races and ethnic groups that grace American soil and have gone on to contribute just as much to its fertility as any other.

FoxNews ran with a story about how the Obama Administration didn’t want to prosecute a black nationalist group, hoping one would draw the conclusion, because Obama himself along with his Attorney General is black they are not fit to run or govern the country because of their obvious prejudices.  Preying again on peoples’ fears and prejudices, the people who carry these stories hope you won’t immerse yourself in the details which as the links above points out, proves the story is just that, a story with no truth to it. It does serve the purpose of imposing doubt and suspicion of people against one another, the typical tactic of people whose motives and interests have nothing at all to do with the Nation’s interest or security.  But because this is America, it sells!

Obama didn’t help himself any when he had fired a woman after a 2:36 tape tape surfaced of her remarks  courtesy of right wing political hack Andrew Breitbart which supposedly showed her making disparaging and even racist comments about her job duties to a white farmer client of hers.  It didn’t matter to Breitbart, Obama, the NAACP or the other news media outlets that the tape was edited from a 43:15 tape where Shirley Sherrod pointed out she came to the realization it was her duty to help poor people no matter their color.  Equally unimportant so it seems, to race baiters and those easily intimidated by  them were the words of the white farmer who said Sherrod was helpful and is not a racist, nor did they feel this way during their interaction with her.   What matters to people who use race as the standard for conduct in society is  an entire  group  must pay for personal offenses!  We too quickly believe the lies, because like the previous examples mentioned above, we have been bred to, led to, raised to indeed are expected to believe; all Muslims/Arabs are terrorists, that a black President and Attorney General want to rule by the street and gangs of marauding New Black Panther Party members or even impose Islamic law, that people who talk of redemption and social cohesion are a threat to the moral fabric of this country and should not be allowed exposure to the rest of us.  We are a  nation made up of racists,  and the sooner we come to grips with that, ALL of us, the sooner we will be able to fix it, for without acknowledgment that we are sick, we are far less likely to seek a cure.  That has been the call for as long as I’ve been alive and it seems we are no closer to realizing it now than we were before.

Another One Bites the Dust


The British Ambassador to Lebanon has been forced to remove, from her website and which we linked to here at Miscellany101, the remarks she made about Lebanese cleric Mohammad Fadlallah; this after the heavy handed Israeli government complained to the British government about Guy’s remarks. No doubt similar arrogant and illicit entreaties were made by the Israeli government to CNN as well; the similarities of both cases can only lead to the regrettable conclusion that either Guys’ resignation or firing is next.

What I find interesting however is that secular women from both east and west, Nasr and Guy expressed regret over Fadlallah’s death and even a passing interest in this Lebanese cleric would reveal why.  Taking a very strong stand against honor killings, female genital mutilation and violence against women in general along with being a nationalist and not an expansionist/imperialist endears one with such positions more easily than most but because of his opposition to the heavy handedness of Israel and especially vis-a-vis his own country, Fadlallah must be an anathema to all who expect to keep their jobs or careers. Towing the line is something Israel expects everyone to do even if it’s not in their best interest.

Americans Kill Muslims Like Roaches


The American attitude about war in Islamic lands and the genocide nature of that action is so apparent to even the most casual observer, I want to post this article from another observer.

The current American imperial offensive “has all the characteristics of a race war,” and is viewed as such by much of the world. “In Muslim nations, the U.S. treats the inhabitants like roaches, stomping human beings underfoot and cursing them when they scurry to get out of the way.”

The latest American atrocity in Afghanistan – the wanton slaughter of civilians on an inter-city bus near Kandahar – is yet more bloody proof that the United States military offensive in the Muslim world has all the characteristics of a race war. The men, women and children in the packed, full-size bus found themselves suddenly boxed in between two American convoys on a highway of death – a place where the natives are instantly liquidated if they are unfortunate enough to find themselves in proximity to U.S. soldiers. Such highways of death inevitably appear whenever U.S. troops are deployed among populations that Americans think of as less than human.
In Iraq, the road between central Baghdad and the airport was also known among the natives as the “highway of death.” American convoys routinely fired on commuters on their way to work if they felt the Iraqi vehicles got too close. Civilian employees of the United States share in the imperial privilege of killing Muslims at will. In 2005, British mercenaries took a leisurely drive along Baghdad’s “highway of death” playing Elvis Presley records while shooting Iraqi motorists for sport. So confident of impunity were the soldiers of fortune, they videotaped their ghoulish joyride, to entertain friends and relatives back home. And they were right; neither the mercenary killers nor their corporate employers were punished.
In 2007, Blackwater mercenaries opened fire on commuters trapped in a traffic jam in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, killing 17 and wounding at least 20 – apparently because they were bored. But, why not? U.S. troops had been committing mass murder in villages like Haditha for years. Early in the war, they leveled Fallujah, a city larger than Birmingham, Alabama, after first bombing the hospital. Casual killing is a prerogative of imperial occupiers when the natives are considered sub-human.
“They would never behave in such a manner in European.”

In the newly-released WikiLeaks video of a 2007 aerial human turkey-shoot over a suburban Baghdad neighborhood, the voices of the American helicopter pilots and gunners are testimony to the endemic, pathological racism of the U.S. occupying force. The Americans beg their commanders for permission to kill Iraqis milling about on the street below, presenting no threat to anyone. They are thrilled when their cannon fire rips into over a dozen men, including two journalists. “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards,” says one G.I. When they fire on a car that stopped to aid one of the victims, severely wounding two children, the Americans crack that it served the Iraqis right for bringing children into a battle. But there was no battle, just Americans bringing casual death into an Iraqi neighborhood.

Americans seem unable to resist raining death from the skies on wedding parties in Afghanistan. Apparently, any gathering of Afghans, anywhere, for any reason, is sufficient cause for Americans to unleash high-tech weapons of destruction. They would never behave in such a manner in European countries because, well, people live there. But in Muslim nations, the U.S. treats the inhabitants like roaches, stomping human beings underfoot and cursing them when they scurry to get out of the way. This is race war, pure and simple. The fact that it’s commander-in-chief is a Black man does not alter the character of the crime, one iota.

Back From The Brink


One of the reasons Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize from a grateful prize committee is because those who awarded it to him realized America has barely escaped falling into the abyss of becoming a dictatorial and insane government worse than Josef Stalin et.co could ever imagine.  It wasn’t without a big price that we as a Nation and the world community had to pay; two invasions, the almost complete evisceration of the US Constitution and the de facto persecution and or ethnic cleansing of a religious group that would make even Israel green with envy.  In the clear light of day, absent the Bush Administration and its evil cohorts cooperation spin of fantasy from reality, the blinders are falling from our eyes and there is some sense of truth that has made its way in the media, that was once the stenographer for what could be the most corrupt US administration in the history of this country.

One such revelation came in the form of a lecture by a CIA employee, a 30 year veteran by the way, who it can be said has been around in the intelligence field a lot longer than Dick Cheney has, that intelligence gathering by his agency HAS NOT suffered as a result of not waterboarding terrorist suspects.  This flies in the face of assertions made by Dick Cheney, most notably, and others in the former Administration who claimed the US was at risk of an imminent attack if it did not waterboard information from people.  We’ve written about waterboarding alot here on the pages of Miscellany101 because it is an illegal activity that was sanctioned and made legal by the illegal Administration of Bush/Cheney.  Every other month or so another crack appears in the wall they set up to separate America from the rule of law and slowly but surely voices are speaking out to say we can survive as a Nation without resorting to criminal behavior.  This latest voice, that of  career intelligence agent, Michael Sulick is a welcomed addition to the others who stand up to say what makes America great and exceptional is ‘after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge, and her glow has held no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.’

Dissecting an Assassination


Dubai has given the international community a lesson in how the rule of law is supposed to be upheld when the sovereignty of a country is violated.  Reacting to the murder of a Palestinian figure last month, the chief of police for the Emirate of Dubai put on a text-book show of how you gather and present evidence to make your case to the world in calling for justice.  Without calling names but merely showing the facts, forged or fake passports and incontrovertible CCTV evidence from all over Dubai, Khalfan Tamim laid out all of the details surrounding the assassination/murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh and in so doing gave the international community a methodical lesson in the rule of law.  It remains to be seen whether the international community will respond in the same measured and civilized manner that the UAE did  in making the case for the arrest of the 11 individuals.   Releasing the names, photographs and nationalities of all they say are responsible for Mabhouh’s death has forced the hands of those countries named, Ireland, Germany and the UK  to admit their  passport bearers were using phony passports, while France admitted it was “not able to confirm the nationality” of the one suspect said to have used a French passport.  Those admissions alone are enough to lead to the conclusion as Tamim correctly  has that the UAE is on the right track of the killers.  While Tamim did not accuse Israel of the murder others even some in Israeli media have certainly come to that conclusion and it’s a reasonable conclusion to make.  Israel has said repeatedly it will violate any and all international law and state sovereignty to kill its opponents, political or military, and it has been able to act on  that threat with impunity. Below are three parts of the case made by Dubai/UAE authorities.  It’s fascinating to watch and reveals the underbelly of an assassination that was this time ‘caught on tape.’

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Neo-Conservatives are bad for America


neocons+straussIt’s been extraordinary watching how neocons have made everything up, down, everything black, white and everything evil, good and back again.  In the process they have managed to weaken America, tarnish her image in the world community and imperil the world.  In my wildest of conspiratorial dreams, I surmise they are responsible for the election of Barack Obama in order to undo some of the damage they have done, but they have not kept themselves out of the policy making apparatus of government; they are rather firmly entrenched there and have installed gate keepers at every door of the branches of government.  Rahm Emmanuel in the executive, and policy wonks at State, two previously mentioned here on the pages of Miscellany101.  They are not working in the best interests of the US; American interests take a back seat to interests feuled by tribalism and history they want to rewrite in order settle old scores at the expense of an unconcerned and uninitiated American public.  Sure most of it is based on OIL, oil, Israel and logistics, but personal aggrandizement and wealth also play a part in their deception.

So while going through my daily reading I wandered on this article which reinforced these notions above.  What picqued my interest and aggravated my anger was the explicit statement that Saddam wanted the help of America and would have entered into a defense pact with the US in order to defend him against Iran.  That’s not altogether surprising since Saddam fought the Iranians before in the 80s for eight years, at no expense to US personnel or materiel.  Saddam wanted to talk to Bush about that and if he had been successful in pitching the idea all the American lives killed and money wasted at great expense to the country could have been avoided with an even better policy result!  But Bush was convinced to ignore Saddam’s overtures, no doubt with the blessings of the many neocons entrenched in his government who advised against such acceptance.  Instead these people using fascist tactics of deception and the increased powers of the state  got Bush to promote the lie of WMDS and consequently,  America has  installed  a pro-Iranian regime, and destabilized one of the largest Arab speaking countries of the region.  All this happened because neocons have been pitching the idea of regime change to Democrats and Republicans alike since the mid 90s.

They have managed to pitch war at the expense of peace before, when they similarly got Bush to ignore Iranian attempts at rapprochement with America in 2003.  Now a second US administration is being led by the nose with the help of a belligerent ally, Israel, that wants a war and ostensibly drag America into it, with a country that wants peace and is willing to  make major concessions towards that aim.  Such a war would not be in the interests of America and could prove to be more costly than even the Iraq debacle.  The authors of American government advised this country in its infancy from foreign entanglements and that advice still reverberates throughout time but there are few in government who are able to hear it because of the noise being made by neoconservatives and their spin doctors.  The fact that Obama has further embraced them, making government positions a revolving door for the enemies of America to spin, deceive and escalate and involve this country in military adventures means there isn’t much that has changed with his election.  It’s time for Americans to show neocons the door.

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oliphantgazaisraelcarto

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“This is an action that sowed massive destruction among civilians. It is not certain that it was possible do have done it differently, but ultimately we have emerged from this operation and are not facing real paralysis from the Qassams. It is very possible that we will repeat such an operation on a larger scale in the years to come, because the problem in the Gaza Strip is not simple and it is not at all certain that it has been solved. What we want this evening is to hear from the fighters.”

Aviv: “I am squad commander of a company that is still in training, from the Givati Brigade. We went into a neighborhood in the southern part of Gaza City. Altogether, this is a special experience. In the course of the training, you wait for the day you will go into Gaza, and in the end it isn’t really like they say it is. It’s more like, you come, you take over a house, you kick the tenants out and you move in. We stayed in a house for something like a week.

“Toward the end of the operation there was a plan to go into a very densely populated area inside Gaza City itself. In the briefings they started to talk to us about orders for opening fire inside the city, because as you know they used a huge amount of firepower and killed a huge number of people along the way, so that we wouldn’t get hurt and they wouldn’t fire on us.

“At first the specified action was to go into a house. We were supposed to go in with an armored personnel carrier called an Achzarit [literally, Cruel] to burst through the lower door, to start shooting inside and then … I call this murder … in effect, we were supposed to go up floor by floor, and any person we identified – we were supposed to shoot. I initially asked myself: Where is the logic in this?

“From above they said it was permissible, because anyone who remained in the sector and inside Gaza City was in effect condemned, a terrorist, because they hadn’t fled. I didn’t really understand: On the one hand they don’t really have anywhere to flee to, but on the other hand they’re telling us they hadn’t fled so it’s their fault … This also scared me a bit. I tried to exert some influence, insofar as is possible from within my subordinate position, to change this. In the end the specification involved going into a house, operating megaphones and telling [the tenants]: ‘Come on, everyone get out, you have five minutes, leave the house, anyone who doesn’t get out gets killed.’

“I went to our soldiers and said, ‘The order has changed. We go into the house, they have five minutes to escape, we check each person who goes out individually to see that he has no weapons, and then we start going into the house floor by floor to clean it out … This means going into the house, opening fire at everything that moves , throwing a grenade, all those things. And then there was a very annoying moment. One of my soldiers came to me and asked, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘What isn’t clear? We don’t want to kill innocent civilians.’ He goes, ‘Yeah? Anyone who’s in there is a terrorist, that’s a known fact.’ I said, ‘Do you think the people there will really run away? No one will run away.’ He says, ‘That’s clear,’ and then his buddies join in: ‘We need to murder any person who’s in there. Yeah, any person who’s in Gaza is a terrorist,’ and all the other things that they stuff our heads with, in the media.

“And then I try to explain to the guy that not everyone who is in there is a terrorist, and that after he kills, say, three children and four mothers, we’ll go upstairs and kill another 20 or so people. And in the end it turns out that [there are] eight floors times five apartments on a floor – something like a minimum of 40 or 50 families that you murder. I tried to explain why we had to let them leave, and only then go into the houses. It didn’t really help. This is really frustrating, to see that they understand that inside Gaza you are allowed to do anything you want, to break down doors of houses for no reason other than it’s cool.

“You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won’t say anything. To write ‘death to the Arabs’ on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing in understanding how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It’s what I’ll remember the most.”

“One of our officers, a company commander, saw someone coming on some road, a woman, an old woman. She was walking along pretty far away, but close enough so you could take out someone you saw there. If she were suspicious, not suspicious – I don’t know. In the end, he sent people up to the roof, to take her out with their weapons. From the description of this story, I simply felt it was murder in cold blood.”

Zamir: “I don’t understand. Why did he shoot her?”

Aviv: “That’s what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn’t have to be with a weapon, you don’t have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him. With us it was an old woman, on whom I didn’t see any weapon. The order was to take the person out, that woman, the moment you see her.”

Zvi: “Aviv’s descriptions are accurate, but it’s possible to understand where this is coming from. And that woman, you don’t know whether she’s … She wasn’t supposed to be there, because there were announcements and there were bombings. Logic says she shouldn’t be there. The way you describe it, as murder in cold blood, that isn’t right. It’s known that they have lookouts and that sort of thing.”

Gilad: “Even before we went in, the battalion commander made it clear to everyone that a very important lesson from the Second Lebanon War was the way the IDF goes in – with a lot of fire. The intention was to protect soldiers’ lives by means of firepower. In the operation the IDF’s losses really were light and the price was that a lot of Palestinians got killed.”

Ram: “I serve in an operations company in the Givati Brigade. After we’d gone into the first houses, there was a house with a family inside. Entry was relatively calm. We didn’t open fire, we just yelled at everyone to come down. We put them in a room and then left the house and entered it from a different lot. A few days after we went in, there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sharpshooters’ position on the roof. The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn’t understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go, and it was was okay and he should hold his fire and he … he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders.”

Question from the audience: “At what range was this?”

Ram: “Between 100 and 200 meters, something like that. They had also came out of the house that he was on the roof of, they had advanced a bit and suddenly he saw then, people moving around in an area where they were forbidden to move around. I don’t think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to … I don’t know how to describe it …. The lives of Palestinians, let’s say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way.”

Yuval Friedman (chief instructor at the Rabin program): “Wasn’t there a standing order to request permission to open fire?”

Ram: “No. It exists, beyond a certain line. The idea is that you are afraid that they are going to escape from you. If a terrorist is approaching and he is too close, he could blow up the house or something like that.”

Zamir: “After a killing like that, by mistake, do they do some sort of investigation in the IDF? Do they look into how they could have corrected it?”

Ram: “They haven’t come from the Military Police’s investigative unit yet. There hasn’t been any … For all incidents, there are individual investigations and general examinations, of all of the conduct of the war. But they haven’t focused on this specifically.”

Moshe: “The attitude is very simple: It isn’t pleasant to say so, but no one cares at all. We aren’t investigating this. This is what happens during fighting and this is what happens during routine security.”

Ram: “What I do remember in particular at the beginning is the feeling of almost a religious mission. My sergeant is a student at a hesder yeshiva [a program that combines religious study and military service]. Before we went in, he assembled the whole platoon and led the prayer for those going into battle. A brigade rabbi was there, who afterward came into Gaza and went around patting us on the shoulder and encouraging us, and praying with people. And also when we were inside they sent in those booklets, full of Psalms, a ton of Psalms. I think that at least in the house I was in for a week, we could have filled a room with the Psalms they sent us, and other booklets like that.

“There was a huge gap between what the Education Corps sent out and what the IDF rabbinate sent out. The Education Corps published a pamphlet for commanders – something about the history of Israel’s fighting in Gaza from 1948 to the present. The rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles, and … their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land. This was the main message, and the whole sense many soldiers had in this operation was of a religious war. From my position as a commander and ‘explainer,’ I attempted to talk about the politics – the streams in Palestinian society, about how not everyone who is in Gaza is Hamas, and not every inhabitant wants to vanquish us. I wanted to explain to the soldiers that this war is not a war for the sanctification of the holy name, but rather one to stop the Qassams.”

Hat tip.

Out with the old!


I’m NOT a big fan of the UK these days, what with their obsequious adoption of US foreign policy measures, which included their  security forces’ gunning down  innocent residents merely on suspicion, their rendering of suspects and their abandonment of their residents to US rendition.  Neither do I think that this latest news is really their turning over a new leaf although that’s exactly what it should signify.

Britain says it is re-establishing contacts with the political wing of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah. The move follows “positive political developments” in Lebanon, officials from the UK Foreign Office said. It comes about 10 months after Hezbollah signed a unity accord in Lebanon and joined the government.

Of course it took no time for the Lobby via the American government to respond negatively to the news, and at this stage in America’s political development that’s entirely expected.  The American government has become a political arm of the Israeli war machine, spouting all the necessary rhetoric to keep the government of Israel at the top, for now, of the Middle East’s hierarchy.  The Obama administration even uses the same tactics as the Lobby, lies and deceit, claiming that it wasn’t given a proper advanced warning of this political development, as if such a warning was essential to the interests of either America, the UK, Lebanon or Hezbollah.  Rather, it appears as a veiled threat that for the moment at least Britain has no right to decide for itself what is in its best interests with other countries.  What is painfully obvious is that the Lobby has gone far beyond asserting Israel’s right to exist, which like every other sovereign country it has, instead it now declares it has the right to decide for other countries what is in their (Israel’s) interests exclusively.  This all or nothing, zero sum game signified by the one way flow of information, material, good will all in Israel’s direction is necessary for the establishment of the Israeli empire.  It ignores the admission of its foes that the right to exist belongs to all communities and peace should come from both sides, because Empire is established only on the corpses of opponents, not through peace treaties.  So it should come as no surprise that news Hamas wants peace with Israel and wants to stop attacks from its soil against Israel  doesn’t get mentioned in political discussions taking place around the world because such news means Israel must cease its aggressive policy against Palestinians, something it is not willing, nor able given the current political climate in Israel, to do.  Syria’s announcement that it can live peacefully alongside its Israeli neighbor was met with Israeli invasion of Syrian airspace on a suspect nuclear weapons site, still shrouded in doubt and mystery.

None of these movements, political or military pose even the slightest existential threat to Israel, yet they are all met with the same heavy handedness that only a leadership steeped in the oppression of its past adversaries can bring to bear on a defenseless population.  Part of that defenseless population includes those living in America who see oppression and brutality emanating from the Israeli side and call it just that.  Charles Freeman is one of the latest casualties of the Israeli blitzkreig. If America’s political leadership is able to muster the backbone necessary to fight the Lobby war, and free itself of its indulgence to that Lobby, only then will there be peace in the Middle East and the survival of all parties there will be a possibility.  Until then, we are destined for more conflict, death, destruction and political casualties of decent, honest civil servants and civilians at the hands of the Lobby and its military wing the Israeli government.

Clinton’s run in with the Lobby


I was really blown away by the headline, Jewish Leaders Blast Clinton over Israel Criticism and see it as one more descent into the abyss of extremist Zionism taking over American politics.  What is it Clinton criticized Israel for?

“Israel is not making enough effort to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza,” senior U.S. officials told Israeli counterparts last week, and reiterated Washington’s view by saying that “the U.S. expects Israel to meet its commitments on this matter.”

Sources at the defense establishment confirmed last night that pressure is increasing on Israel to reopen the crossings to larger volumes of aid for the Gaza Strip. Defense sources said that Israel will find it increasingly difficult to counter the pressure, and may agree to more extensive use of the crossings for aid. Currently, fewer than 200 trucks carrying aid are allowed through daily. The U.S., the EU and the UN are demanding that at least 500 trucks carrying aid be allowed into the Strip daily.

When Senator John Kerry visited the Strip, he learned that many trucks loaded with pasta were not permitted in. When the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee inquired as to the reason for the delay, he was told by United Nations aid officials that “Israel does not define pasta as part of humanitarian aid – only rice shipments.”

American Jewish leaders are upset that a US secretary of State insists the Israeli government allow in pasta, and because she, Clinton, has demanded the Israeli government allow that aid into Gaza, America’s Jews are angry?  Why, would be the logical question, are they angry?  Clinton was elected to the US Senate as a senator from New York, one of the most heavily populated Jewish states and has given Israel everything it has asked for in the form of American largess yet a simple declarative sentence that Israel must allow aid to the Palestinians has leaders turning on their heads.

Methinks what has happened is the old slight of hand trick, where the media pundits have used words to categorize Clinton’s remarks on the issue to inflame public reaction.  In fact, the only direct quote from Clinton I could find was this statement from the above link:’ “We are working across the government to see what our approach will be,” Clinton said’, otherwise Kramer, the CBS reporter goes on to characterize Clinton’s remarks as “hammering”, a “change of position”, “a swift about face” and “angry messages”, all terms designed to signify a change in Clinton’s positionvis-a-vis Israel.

However, even if the essence of Clinton’s remarks was that Israel must allow aid into Gaza is that such a bad thing?  The Gazan people’s ability to maintain themselves has been decimated; their agricultural subsistence is threatened daily by Israeli snipers who shoot at people working in the farm fields of Gaza or Israeli navy ships which intimidate fisherman as they fish in Gaza’s territorial waters.  In effect the Israelis “own” Gaza and the people living there are wholly dependent on what aid the Israelis allow in.  A territory with over 1 million people living there deserves more than 200 truck loads of aid a day.  That’s a nobrainer!  So American Jewish leaders don’t have anything to cry about.   Israel always had carte blanche with the Bush administration, which meant they got away with doing whatever they wanted, no questions asked, not a peep was made, and therefore Clinton’s protestations are markedly different in style than Bush’s way of handling things.  In order to get things back to “normal” as it were, this article was able to drum up the necessary sentiment that Clinton, and by extension the entireObama administration, should keep quiet.

It will be interesting to see what Clinton’s reaction will be.  If she buckles and gives in to the white noise about her remarks it means she probably has future political aspirations.  If she ignores them and continues on the same way she began it means she realizes she has reached the end of her political career and she should finally ‘do the right thing’.  Clinton is 62 years old and if  Obama is a two term president and she tows the line, she will be gainfully employed until she reaches 70 and the party nomination for president will most likely be only a twinkle in her eye.  I wish I could say she’ll do the right thing, but American politics and the closed door wheeling and dealing that goes on with it don’t make that possibility a sure thing.  Most likely what will happen is she will moderate her comments and send all that need assurance the sign that hers will not be a wayward State department as the Powell department of State was during the first Bush term.  Remember that one, where we heard talk from the religious right about how it should nuked? I’m not much of a Clinton fan and whether she’s able to win me over depends a lot on how she deals with Jewish leaders  in and outside America.




George Bush had no sense of humor and for that a man spent 7 years as a terrorist


I’ve written about a lot of bizarre things surrounding the George Bush administration’s 8 year tenancy and this story ranks right up there as one of the strangest, sickest and abusive to come to light.

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.

…The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the offending article – called How To Build An H-Bomb – was first published in a US satirical magazine and later placed on a series of websites.

Written by Barbara Ehrenreich, the publication’s food editor, Rolling Stone journalist Peter Biskind and scientist Michio Kaku, it claims that a nuclear weapon can be made ‘using a bicycle pump’ and with liquid uranium ‘poured into a bucket and swung round’.

Despite its clear satirical bent, the story led the CIA to accuse 30-year-old Mohamed, a caretaker, of plotting a dirty bomb attack, before subjecting him to its ‘extraordinary rendition programme’.

The satirical article, published in Seven Days magazine, says its authors were given ‘three days to cook up a workable H-bomb. They did and we have decided to share their culinary secrets with you’.

It adds: ‘Not that Seven Days supports nuclear terrorism. We don’t. We would prefer to die from familiar poisons like low-level radiation, microwaves, DDT or food dyes, rather than unexpectedly, say as hostage to a Latvian nationalists brandishing a home-made bomb.’

The recipe is highly detailed and plainly ridiculous. The prospective bomb maker is instructed to transform uranium gas into liquid by ‘subjecting it to pressure’, adding: ‘You can use a bicycle pump for this.’

The instructions continue: ‘Then make a simple home centrifuge. Fill a standard-size bucket one-quarter full of liquid uranium hexafluoride.

‘Attach a 6ft rope to the bucket handle. Now swing the rope (and attached bucket) around your head as fast as possible. Keep this up for about 45 minutes.

‘Slow down gradually, and very gently put the bucket on the floor. The U-235 – a uranium isotope which can be used to cause an explosive chain reaction – will have risen to the top, where it can be skimmed off like cream. Repeat this step until you have the required 10lb of uranium.’

There you have the essence of the war on terror.  Billions of American tax payer money spent chasing, rendering, and torturing people over satire, because a slightly insane president of the United States didn’t want to deal or work  with  his own institutions of government.

The REAL Dirty Bomb Plot


I really don’t know where to go with this, the story has such potential.  There was a plot to explode a dirty bomb, bomb making material was found along with literature that explained how to assemble it and the person responsible was a member of a known subversive group.  His name was James G. Cummings, of Belfast, Maine and the group he belonged to was the National Socialist Movement.  Before the plot could go anywhere, Mr. Cummings was shot and killed, by of all people……….his wife, who just got fed up with the domestic abuse she endured during their married life.

Jose Padilla should now be released from jail and every member of the National Socialist Movement should be rounded up and herded to some remote island prison camp, shackled, put under sensory deprivation and forced to listen toMarvin Gaye,  James Brown or the Average White Band blaring through loudspeakers continuously for months at a time because they constitute a threat to the United States and one of their own was caught red handed in an act of terrorism.  And for that matter, too, perhaps we should round up every white male who looks like Mr. Cummings because they hate the president of the United States and his values and therefore by extension, us.

This would be the  rhetoric applied to Muslims, yet the story of Cummings hasn’t spiked the front pages of most newspapers, let alone the muliti-colored  Homeland Security fear index whose needle pegged whenever terror and Islam were mentioned in the main stream media. Just as with most of what’s “good” about America, self expunging took place with regards to  Cummings and there wasn’t the need for another level of government bureaucracy to protect us from him.  All it took was a law abiding citizen who had the nerve, or strength and steady hand, to shoot him and rid us of the evil he intended for the “homeland”.  In fact, his wife did more to combat terrorism than George Bush did in all the 8 years of his presidency.

We know that will not be the approach of people in government.  Their goal is to make us more dependent on them and fearful of them as well, even if it means pitting one group of people against another.  Don’t fall for it.  The laws we have absent those enacted during the Bush administration, are enough to protect us, as long as we have the courage and strength of Cummings’ wife  keep a steady hand and act.  Are you feeling me, President Obama?

American academics stand up to be counted


Joining a growing list of people who are protesting the Israeli genocide in Gaza, American members of academe have come out to call for a cultural boycott of Israel, with five goals it wants to achieve.

“Refraining from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions that do not vocally oppose Israeli state policies against Palestine,” “promoting divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions,” and “supporting Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.”

The group’s press release continues,

“We believe that non-violent external pressure on Israel, in the form of an academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel, can help bring an end to the ongoing massacres of civilians and an end [to] the occupation of Gaza and Palestine” — with “Palestine” referring to the West Bank land occupied by Israel since the 1967 war

explained David Lloyd, a professor of English at the University of Southern California.  I am glad to see Americans joining in the initiative and I note that they very clearly say they are interested ina  non-violent form of protestation, not something that is designed literally to exterminate the Jewish state.  What this boycott is asking for is a modification of Israeli behavior that will ensure its existence as well as that of its neighbors, the Palestinians.  It is NOT a zero sum game but you can expect the Israelis will portray it that way.