Panorama – Homs: Journey into Hell

In a follow up to Panorama’s Syria: Inside the Secret Revolution they have produced Homs: Journey into Hell.

Paul Wood charts the rise and brutal suppression of the uprising in the Syrian city of Homs. What started with hope of revolution now sees refugees fleeing to escape retribution.

AIPAC Works for the 1 Percent

by Chris Hedges

The battle for justice in the Middle East is our battle. It is part of the vast, global battle against the 1 percent. It is about living rather than dying. It is about communicating rather than killing. It is about love rather than hate. It is part of the great battle against the corporate forces of death that reign over us—the fossil fuel industry, the weapons manufacturers, the security and surveillance state, the speculators on Wall Street, the oligarchic elites who assault our poor, our working men and women, our children, one in four of whom depend on food stamps to eat, the elites who are destroying our ecosystem with its trees, its air and its water and throwing into doubt our survival as a species.Illustration by Mr. Fish

What is being done in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, is a pale reflection of what is slowly happening to the rest of us. It is a window into the rise of the global security state, our new governing system that the political philosopherSheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.” It is a reflection of a world where the powerful are not bound by law, either on Wall Street or in the shattered remains of the countries we invade and occupy, including Iraq with its hundreds of thousands of dead. And one of the greatest purveyors of this demented ideology of violence for the sake of violence, this flagrant disregard for the rule of domestic and international law, is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

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Kandahar ‘killing-spree’ militarism

A call for U.S. and Afghan citizens to question the Strategic Partnership Agreement.

Anar Gul points to the body of her murdered grandchild

By the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

13th March 2012 — The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers question the presumption that the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan is necessary for American or Afghan peace.

Tragedies like the Kandahar killing spree which massacred 16 Afghan civilians in their sleep ( including 6 children and 3 women )  are tragedies repeated in any war, including the U.S. war in Afghanistan. This failed military strategy that is designed for U.S. power and economic interests is being sold to the U.S. electorate through the mainstream media doublespeak of ‘withdrawal’ and ‘negotiations’, but is quietly being pursued in what President Obama and President Karzai called ’progress’ towards the signing of the U.S Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement. The Agreement will entrench U.S. military presence in Afghanistan till 2024 and beyond and is based on the same militarism that has resulted in the pathologicalurinating on Afghan corpses by U.S. soldiers, the morbid keeping of severed finger-trophies by the Kill Teamthe burning of the Quran and many other ‘unforgiveable’ tragedies.

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Adam of Lost Eden

by Najeeb Mubarki

(This article first appeared in The Economic Times, May 19, 2007, while the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, was still alive.  Darwish was born exactly seventy-one years ago in the Western Galilee village of al-Birwa on March 13, 1941.)

Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008)
Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008)

In his 2004 film Notre Musique [Our Music], a journalese-philosophical meditation on war and reconciliation, Jean-Luc Godard gave pride of place to Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. In the film, repeating what he had once told an Israeli journalist, Darwish inverts the relationship with the ‘other’: “Do you know why we Palestinians are famous? Because you are our enemy. The interest is in you, not in me…” By saying that he was important because Israel is important Darwish wasn’t just referring to the erasure of identity and history the Palestinians have had to struggle against, but perhaps more to the continuum of suffering, of that erasure, that has been passed down, as it were, to the Palestinians by the Jews. Not that Darwish now needs to affirm his self as an inversion of his ‘enemy’, or that he needed a Godard to affirm his being. In fact, it is quite the other way round, he was in the film because one cannot make a film on reconciliation without him, and his is a poetry of love, loss, of memory and exile that is more a challenge to the occupier than slogans and bombs ever can be.

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MSM Jailbreak: Chris Hayes hosts remarkable Palestine debate

My friend Phil Weiss calls this ‘a historic day in the mainstream discourse’, a veritable ‘jailbreak’. He writes:

Chris Hayes devoted two hours of his MSNBC show “Up With Chris Hayes” to a discussion of the Israel/Palestine conflict, with a balanced roundtable. Let me repeat, with a balanced roundtable.

I’ve watched about half the show so far and I’m blown away by the fact that in the discourse Hayes established, two Zionists, Jeremy Ben-Ami at the center-left andJennifer Laszlo Mizrahi at the far right, must share the forum with Palestinians Rula Jebreal, the author of Miral, and Leila Hilal of the New America Foundation.

Jebreal repeatedly takes on Laszlo Mizrahi for distorting her views, once puts her head in her hands as Laszlo Mizrahi talks; while Laszlo Mizrahi looks like she has a stomach ache.

Phil concludes:

Meantime, we really must applaud Hayes, who states in segment two that the debate over Israel and Palestine “is grounded within the special relationship” — which means, no Palestinians get to speak. He has done a ton to reverse that. Let’s hope his bravery is contagious.

You can read Phil’s summary of the show’s highlights here.

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Israeli hysteria over Iran and the forgotten Palestinians

Rula Jebreal (author of Miral) and my friend Daniel Levy wipe the floor with neocons Elliot Abrams and Bret Stephens. (The discussion begins at about 20:00.) Daniel is particularly good at keeping the discussion focused on the question of Palestine. He notes that the hysteria over Iran is being used by Netanyahu to distract attention from the expanding settlements and the dwindling prospects for peace. He also rebuts forcefully the neocon talking points about the alleged support among Gulf Arabs for a war with Iran. Kudos to Fareed Zakaria for hosting a balanced panel, a rarity on mainstream US television, and for beginning the show with a strong statement opposing war with Iran. This, without doubt, is part of the Mearsheimer & Walt-effect.

America, Israel and Iran After Netanyahu’s Visit

Daniel Levy, one of the sharpest analysts of US-Israeli relations analyses Netanyahu’s recent visit to Washington. In an insightful piece for Foreign Policy he had already predicted, based on a close analysis of Israel’s internal political dynamics, that it was highly unlikely that Netanyahu was going to attack Iran. The real danger however was that Israel would use its powerful lobby to induce the US to fight another war for it. For now this danger has been averted. But Levy warns that ‘the President may have boxed himself in…All the arguments the President made for why it’s not a good idea to have a strike now apply later on down the line as well. And yet we’re still in a discourse here where rightsizing the Iranian threat is largely out of balance.’


Iran and the Bomb

An interesting documentary about the history of Iran’s nuclear program. There are some smart and forthright observations by historian Avner Cohen about the real motives that animate Israel’s belligerence toward Iran. Parts of the documentary are somewhat uncritical and treat the highly compromised IAEA as if it were an independent body. In his book Target Iran, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter revealed that IAEA has shared classified information from its inspections inside Iran with the Israelis, who in turn have used it for developing their list of potential bombing targets.

In the documentary, Ronen Bergman, who in a recent New York Times Magazine article predicted that Israel will attack Iran (something I find highly unlikely), claims that one point Mossad had sought US permission to assassinate Dr. Abul Qadeer Khan, which he says the US declined. That Israelis might have wanted to assassinate Khan I don’t doubt; but I find it highly improbable that they’d have sought US permission or would have refrained because of US objections.

Is Iran really building a nuclear weapon or are its activities peaceful? And would Israel really attack Iran’s nuclear facilities? We examine a dispute taking place against much sabre-rattling but in which the truth is hard to pin down.