Obama’s war in Afghanistan

Fault Lines brings together a panel of guests and a studio audience to discuss Obama’s war in Afghanistan. Hosted by Avi Lewis. Excellent interventions from Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Hoh.

Part two …

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A Ghazal from Ghalib

translated by M. Shahid Alam

Chughtai painting

نقش فریادی ہے کس کی شوخیِ تحریر کا
کاغذی ہے پیرہن ہر پیکرِ تصویر کا

Where is the Artist whose art they protest? Every
prop, every player, dreads his part in the play.

Hard, it is hard, digging through granite nights.
It takes a thousand sparks to break into day.

The heat is intense when lovers pine for death.
When she lifts her sword, the edge strips away.

Go, weave your snares with logic and design.
The arc of my flight will take your breath away.

The irons on my legs are like braids over fire.
Ghalib, I walk on cinders to pass my prison days.

–first published in Chicago Review, Summer 2003.

Kathy Kelly on the cost of war abroad and at home

The wonderful Kathy Kelly gives an excellent, compelling presentation on the costs, monstrosities and sorrows of war at the First Presbyterian Church in Binghamton, NY.  She importantly provides the view on the ground from the perspective of Pakistani, Afghani and Palestinian villagers at the receiving end of hellish drones and shares her experiences in Gaza and Pakistan.

Two highly recommended clips — and if you have any “progressive” friends who breezily defend Obama’s being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, please draw their attention to these videos and to an example of a two-time NPP nominee whose work would actually merit such recognition.

Kathy Kelly co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare, and co-founded Voices in the Wilderness, a group which had openly defied economic sanctions from 1996-2003 by bringing medicines to children and families in Iraq.

In two parts over the jump (courtesy Essential Dissent, h/t Tom Feeley –ICH)

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Hope? – Obama, Abbas, Abunimah and Morrisons

Bell on Obama
Steve Bell

The hope invested by many in Barack Obama has dissolved. Dare I sing ‘I told you so’? I do. The audacious hope of Obamamania was always faith-based, founded on the believer’s premise that the handsome candidate didn’t mean what he actually said, that we should read his words esoterically, as code for profound radicalism. Now reality bites, and we discover that his promises to AIPAC and the military were solid and literal.

It’s certainly something that a black man has become president of a country built by African slaves, although we must place this in the context of the fierce racist backlash since his election (would those guardians of the constitution raving about the tree of liberty being watered by the blood of tyrants be quite so eager to wear their guns on their sleeves if the president were white and not a jumped-up negro? I doubt it). But that’s the achievement of Obama’s skin colour, not his policy; in fact it’s the achievement of the people who voted for him. Another achievement is that – in the company of war criminals such as Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and Henry Kissinger – Obama has already won the Nobel peace prize. Hooray!

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Supporting the Academic Boycott from Within

The israeli group, BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within, have circulated a call to action, asking Israeli citizens to contact officials at the University of Trondheim, and express their support for a decision in favor of an institutional boycott against Israeli universities. The letter sent by the group itself follows.

8/11/09

Boycott the Israeli Academy Now! – Open Letter from Israeli Citizens to the Board of Governors of Trondheim University

Dear Trondheim University Officials,

We, Israeli citizens, activists and supporters of BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within, an Israeli group in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, applaud faculty members at the University of Trondheim and University College of Sør-Trøndelag in Norway for their principled support for the cause of justice in Palestine by proposing a motion to boycott Israeli universities. We support this historic step in the direction of applying effective pressure on Israel and holding it accountable for its occupation and apartheid policies, which violate international law and fundamental human rights.

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Refugees and Zionist propaganda

Agence France Press (AFP) reported the following today:

A draft law stipulating that any Middle East peace treaty must mention compensation for Jews forced to leave Arab states has passed a preliminary reading in the Israeli parliament, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The draft bill, presented by a member of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, a member of the government coalition, passed the preliminary vote 49 to 5 last week, said spokesman Giora Pordes.

The draft, which the Maariv daily called “a curious and provocative bill,” still has to pass three more votes before it becomes law.

It calls for the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab states to be raised whenever the question of Palestinian refugees comes up in Middle East negotiations…

Agence France Press (AFP) reported the following today:

A draft law stipulating that any Middle East peace treaty must mention compensation for Jews forced to leave Arab states has passed a preliminary reading in the Israeli parliament, a spokesman said on Wednesday.The draft bill, presented by a member of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, a member of the government coalition, passed the preliminary vote 49 to 5 last week, said spokesman Giora Pordes.

The draft, which the Maariv daily called “a curious and provocative bill,” still has to pass three more votes before it becomes law.

It calls for the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab states to be raised whenever the question of Palestinian refugees comes up in Middle East negotiations.

“The government should raise the issue about payment of compensation to Jewish refugees for the loss of their property and about granting to Jewish refugees who fled persecution in Arab countries a status similar to that of Arab refugees who lost their property when the state (of Israel) was created,” the proposed law states.

Shas had initially wanted a tougher bill stating compensations for Jewish refugees must be agreed before any further peace negotiations are held. The paragraph, which would have made it virtually impossible to reach a peace accord, was eventually removed so the government could support the text…

‘Israel mulls draft law tying peace, Jewish refugee issue’, AFP, 11 November 2009

The following is an extract from the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section of my book, ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide‘:

People talk about the Palestinian refugees, but weren’t a similar number of Jewish refugees kicked out of Arab countries and welcomed by Israel? Couldn’t this be seen as a ‘fair swap’?

The creation of the state of Israel led to two substantial population movements in the Middle East. Between 700,000 to 800,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes, and forbidden from returning by the new Jewish state, while from 1948 through to the 1970s, around 850,000 Jews left Arab countries, with the majority moving to Israel. But the rough equality in scale is just about the only similarity.

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Life in Hell: A Journalist’s Account of Life in Gaza – Mohammed Omer

In a recent presentation to the Palestine Center in DC, the courageous and talented Mohammed Omer interviews fellow Palestinians in Gaza trying to survive the crippling blockade. Continue reading “Life in Hell: A Journalist’s Account of Life in Gaza – Mohammed Omer”

Don’t repeat Vietnam in Afghanistan

A superb presentation by the great Daniel Ellsberg who suggests that the counter-insurgency plan in Afganistan is similar to Vietnam.

Part One (of Two)

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“Israeli Apartheid – A Beginner’s Guide”

gas arabs
settler graffitti in Hebron/al-Khalil

That there are striking parallels between white rule in apartheid South Africa and Zionist rule in Palestine – an analogy made by such mainstream figures as President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu – should no longer be controversial. But calling Israeli apartheid by its name will occasion the usual screams of anti-Semitism and ignorance from Zionist quarters, and for comprehensible reasons: the most politically inept American student knows that apartheid is a bad thing, a crime to be battled, not supported with weapons, vetoes in the Security Council and billions of dollars in ‘aid.’ Therefore the apartheid label must be vigorously resisted by Zionists and their fellow travellers.

Ben White’s “Israeli Apartheid – A Beginner’s Guide” begins by quoting Article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, UN General Assembly Resolution 3068, which defines the crime as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The rest of White’s book leaves the reader in no doubt that the Zionist instance of apartheid fits the bill even better than the erstwhile South African version.

Continue reading ““Israeli Apartheid – A Beginner’s Guide””

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