Guantanamo: So much for Change

According to a recent poll by CNN, public support for closing down GTMO has dropped 12 points over the past 14 months. Shortly before Obama’s inauguration, 51 percent of Americans said they thought the facility in Cuba should be closed. Now this number is down to 39 percent, and six in ten believe the United States should continue to operate Guantanamo.

This drop in numbers might indicate the public’s aversion to the idea of having alleged ‘terrorists’ on U.S. soil or may be due to a general fear of the return of legal rights that it is assumed would accompany such a shift. To this end, the public appears to overestimate the government’s intentions, for even if Guantanamo detainees were transferred to the United States, this shift cannot be assumed as indicative of a change in detention policies. The upcoming trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi, who has been detained in the United States since 2007, indicates that  this administration does not consider it unlawful to hold U.S. citizens with ‘alleged’ links to Al Qaeda under unconstitutional conditions. Bill Quigley, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has recently written the following concerning the treatment, legal conditions, and upcoming trial of Hashmi in the Huffington Post: Continue reading “Guantanamo: So much for Change”

Argentina renews Falklands claim

Lucia Newman of Al Jazeera reports from Buenos Aires.

It has been 28 years since Britain and Argentina went to war over the disputed Falkland islands – known as the Malvinas by Argentines – in the South Atlantic.

Britain emerged victorious from the conflict and the islands have since grown prosperous from tourism and fishing among other things.

Now with oil companies exploring the waters surrounding the islands, tensions between the two countries are rising again.

As Argentina pays tribute to the soldiers who fell in the conflict, many people, including the president, are raising their voices against the continued British rule over the islands.

AIPAC confronts its worst fear: Daylight

by Philip Weiss

Col (ret.) Ann Wright and Code Pinkers bring long overdue attention to the AIPAC annual conference, that great annual firesale of American politics.

In that radical handbook on the workings of American society, the Wizard of Oz never recovered once Dorothy pulled back the curtain of her own innocence. One would like to believe that AIPAC will never recover from a brutal spring that has exposed its real interests to the American public. Even supporters of the Jewish state have criticized the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for fully taking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s side in his battle with Barack Obama over settlements, and during its recent annual conference, the lobby looked wobbly and defensive.

Yes, there was the usual procession of weak-kneed politicians professing love for Israel, not to mention AIPAC board members explaining how they cultivate “relationships” with the powerful. Yes, Sen. Chuck Schumer gave a bloodcurdling yowl, Am Yisroel Chai—the Jewish people live!—as he pledged to be Israel’s guardian. But a large shift in American policy and opinion has left the lead institution of the lobby exposed, and worse, mocked.

AIPAC was taking on water before its VIP-studded conference began in late March. Important supporters of Israel in the media, including Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and David Remnick of The New Yorker, questioned whether reflexive support for Israel’s right-wing policies served the American interest, echoing the view of Gen. David Petraeus that the Palestinian problem is our problem in the battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East.

Continue reading “AIPAC confronts its worst fear: Daylight”

Israeli crimes and BBC propaganda march in lock-step

Israel has just launched a new assault on Gaza — 13 airstrikes — and here is how the BBC reports it.

Israeli warplanes have carried out at least 13 air strikes on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources have told the BBC.

Gaza is not besieged by Israel, you see. It’s ‘Hamas-ruled’. It makes it so much more acceptable to target it than if it were, say, ‘densely populated by civilians’.

See my earlier analysis of the despicable manner in which the BBC misreported last year’s massacre in Gaza.

UPDATE: The story and its propaganda content has been expanded since it was first published. Paul de Rooij adds:

There is more! The article states:

Palestinians and rights groups say more than 1,400 Gazans died in the conflict, while Israel puts the figure at 1,166.

Continue reading “Israeli crimes and BBC propaganda march in lock-step”

The Madman of Freedom Square

I see no need to swear an oath in order for you to believe in the strangeness of this world.”

How can imagination respond to a situation like Iraq’s, in which truth is so blatantly stranger and more horrifying than the darkest fiction? Perhaps by simply recording real stories, then sometimes allowing reality to slip a little further in the direction it’s already chosen.

Hassan Blasim, film maker, refugee, and author of the astounding short-story collection “The Madman of Freedom Square,” has a more precise formulation:

The important thing is to observe at length, like someone contemplating committing suicide from a balcony. The other important thing is to have an imagination which is not melodramatic but malicious and extremely serious, and to have an ascetic spirit that is close to death.

Except this isn’t a formulation but a voice within a story. In another story there is a man who throws himself from a balcony – a man who clears blood and debris in the aftermath of explosions, then migrates to Holland, renames himself Carlos Fuentes, becomes a Hirsi Ali figure, more Dutch than the Dutch, and suffers nightmares. There’s a man who dreams a number which foretells not a lottery ticket but .. something else. I give away too much.

Continue reading “The Madman of Freedom Square”

Impact of the Gaza war on Israel

Norman Finkelstein on Al Jazeera’s Riz Khan Show.

Has there been a shift in Israel’s ties with its allies since the Gaza war and how will that affect the peace process with the Palestinians? Is international support for Israel dwindling since the Gaza war and is it losing the battle for global public opinion?