J Street and the Middle East War Process

J Street, America’s premier liberal pro-Israel lobbying group, has just wrapped up its third annual conference in Washington.  There have been sessions and panels on “building peace from the ground up,” on “expanding the tent” and even some passionate condemnations of the Occupation.  Amid so much good feeling it’s almost possible to lose sight of one of J Street’s fundamental missions: to promote and guarantee America’s lavish and unconditional military aid to Israel.

J Street wants dialogue, peace, white phosphorus

This may seem like a harsh assessment of the lobbying group.  After all, isn’t J Street routinely attacked by neocon ultras and praised by American liberals?  But hack through J Street’s verbiage about “dialogue” and “conversation” and one bumps into this blandly phrased position statement: “American assistance to Israel, including maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, is an important anchor for a peace process based on providing Israel with the confidence and assurance to move forward on a solution based on land for peace. J Street consistently advocates for robust US foreign aid to Israel.”  This last sentence is 99% of what one needs to know about J Street.

We Americans aren’t used to talking about the one thing we are most directly responsible for in the Israel-Palestine conflict: our $3bn annual military aid package that goes almost exclusively to one of the two sides.  A bit weirdly, debate about Israel/Palestine among Americans tends to leap immediately to the issue of a one-state versus a two-state solution. Or we presume to give the Palestinians tips and pointers about what degree of violence is morally acceptable, and where’s that Palestinian Gandhi?  Or we vow to redouble our efforts towards a “peace process” which doesn’t quite seem to exist.

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What Gaddafi did for the CIA and MI6

This is why the West suddenly fell in love with Gaddafi a few years back. He was the CIA’s preferred torturer.

As opposition groups in Libya take over areas outside of the capital, state prisons and military buildings are being searched.

In Benghazi, the opposition says they have unearthed equipment used by the government to torture dissidents, while more and more allegations of cruelty towards political prisoners are emerging.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports from Benghazi, Libya.

No Exception for Oman

by Iman Said

After Cyclone Gonu

Just like the Gonu and Phet cyclones that hit the Sultanate in the last two years, corruption has united the Omani people once again. The protests that have spread all over the country turned into a huge campaign to ‘clean’ the country.

Yesterday I saw people holding placards on which they had written names of some of the corrupt officials in high positions. They were protesting peacefully and no riot police were involved. I felt very proud of the space of freedom that we have established in our beloved Oman. That is what I want for my country. That is what I want for my fellow countrymen.

Public opinion has been fluctuating because of what the Omani TV describes as vandalism. People came out with new slogans now: “No corruption…No vandalism”. However, one can never ignore the greater picture; a picture of Omani citizens expressing themselves with no fear.

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Daughter of a Martyr

picture by Ali Farzat

Anonymous eye witness in Tripoli:

After more than ten days at home, yesterday morning I went out for some grocery shopping, and I noticed a sad and fearful quietness in the faces of the Libyans in the streets because of the inhumane events which are happening. The streets are very quiet and almost empty. People no longer feel safe enough to walk in the streets even in daylight. In fact, the shops near here are all closed; only a few small grocery markets are open so people can buy the basic needs (water, flour, oil).

There is an apparent shortage of all goods in the market, including dairy products, beverages, and vegetables. All the goods are highly expensive. We wanted to buy flour but we couldn’t find any. Also people are buying up whatever is available. Two days ago I saw my neighbors carrying big bags of flour. They told me that some bakeries are running out of bread, and that soon all bakeries and food shops will close. Prices of food have almost doubled (a bag of 20 eggs used to cost between 4.75/5LYD, and now it costs 10 LYD). People are suffering between the need to stock up with adequate quanties of food and water on the one hand and the sudden high prices on the other.

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