The End of Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh inspect Haniyeh’s destroyed Gaza City office after an Israeli bombing in 2006. Samuel Aranda / Corbis

Obama began his ‘Middle East peace diplomacy’ by calling the ‘key figures’ in Palestine: war criminal Olmert, collaborating dictator Mubarak, and no-longer-president-of-anything Mahmoud Abbas. No calls to the organisation that democratically represents the Palestinians, of course. Here, Mouin Rabbani considers the future of inter-Palestinian relations, and concludes that one thing is certain: the demise of Abbas:

Speaking to his people on January 18, hours after Hamas responded to Israel’s unilateral suspension of hostilities with a conditional ceasefire of its own, the deposed Palestinian Authority prime minister Ismail Haniyeh devoted several passages of his prepared text to the subject of Palestinian national reconciliation. For perhaps the first time since Hamas’s June 2007 seizure of power in the Gaza Strip, an Islamist leader broached the topic of healing the Palestinian divide without mentioning Mahmoud Abbas by name.

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Stop Honorary Doctorates for Terrorists

I’ve just received news from the wonderful Mona Baker (Mona has been tirelessly campaigning for the academic boycott of Israel) of a courageous student action in the UK. King’s College students have begun an occupation demanding that the honorary doctorate awarded by the college to Shimon Peres be immediately revoked, in protest at the massacre in Gaza. Birmingham University students have started an occupation in solidarity. These students need our solidarity too. Please send messages of support for King’s occupation to Principal Rick Trainor at Please call the students to congratulate them. Tony Benn already has. Please consider any similar action you could take. The students’ letter is below:
 From: “KCL Occupation” <
 Subject: King’s College Student Occupation

Dear Sir/Madam
I am writing to inform you of the current occupation in Kings university in
order to revoke Shimon Peres’s Honorary Doctorate and to show solidarity
with the people of Gaza.

Open Letter to Obama

Now a call for divestment and boycott of the apartheid state comes from more than 900 American academics:

Once, in what was perhaps an unguarded moment, you stated that: “Nobody’s suffering more than the Palestinian people”. After days of relentless Israeli bombing in the Gaza strip that has already killed over seven hundred people, most of them civilians or policemen, and injured over three thousand, many of whom may yet die for lack of medical supplies and facilities, your words have never rung more true. And yet, so far, your signal response to this latest assault on the Palestinians, that the UN Secretary General diplomatically calls “disproportionate”, has been to defend Israel’s right to respond to rocket attacks that, while rightly condemned, are mere pinpricks in comparison to the horrific consequences of Israeli bombardment and of the ongoing blockade on Gaza. Continue reading “Open Letter to Obama”

New Middle East

Contrary to criminal US-Israeli plans, the new Middle East emerging is one of the triumphs of Arab resistance, writes Ramzy Baroud:

When Israel unleashed its military fury against Lebanon for several weeks in July-August 2006, it had one major objective: to permanently “extract” Hizbullah as a fighting force from South Lebanon and undermine it as a rising political movement capable of disrupting, if not overshadowing, the “friendly” and “moderate” political regime in Beirut.

As Israeli bombs fell, and with them hundreds of Lebanese civilians and much of the country’s infrastructure, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sprung into action. She too had one major objective: to delay a ceasefire, which the rest of the international community, save Britain, desperately demanded. Rice, merely but faithfully reiterating the Bush administration’s policy, hoped that the Israeli bombs would succeed in achieving what her government’s grand policies failed to achieve, namely a “New Middle East”.

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Rumbling from Gaza

The rumbling from Gaza, writes Hassan Nafaa, is the overture to something truly momentous.

The birth of the Arab system is usually associated with the creation of the Arab League (AL), in 1945. But two earlier developments paved the way for the AL’s creation. One was that Egypt, acting as the key country in the region, had a clear vision of what it wanted to do and was ready to act on that vision when regional and international circumstances were right — which is exactly what happened after the end of WWII. The other was that the conflict in Palestine had reached a point where most Arab countries recognised the danger posed by the creation of an independent Jewish state in their midst.

Reeling from the protracted fighting of World War II, Britain gave its endorsement for any scheme promoting unity among the Arabs. The endorsement, which was made public in 1943, was aimed to deter Arab countries from siding with Germany. Egypt, at the time ruled by a Wafd government led by Mustafa El-Nahhas, saw its chance. Soon it opened bilateral and multilateral consultations with Arab countries in an effort to lay down the framework of a regional political structure. The AL came into being as a result. It wasn’t a first step towards federalism as many hoped but a congregation of seven semi-independent countries willing to pass resolutions by consensus, more of a political club than a blueprint for unity.

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Muslim Representatives?

Britain’s Justice Minister Shahid Malik seems at first to be criticising the British government for its response to the Gaza Massacre. In fact, he is blaming British Muslims for not appreciating the government’s position. Worse, Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood “dismissed suggestions of an arms embargo.” Isn’t an arms embargo the very least that he should be asking for? Please write to these people – who we vote for, whose salaries are paid by us – and set things straight for them.

Hamas: Not a Religious War

“Our struggle is not against the Jewish people, but against oppression and occupation. This is not a religious war,” says Basim Naim, Gaza’s Minister of Health, in the Guardian:

We believe in resistance, not revenge

Sixteen days into its attack, Israel continues to bombard all areas in the Gaza strip from F16s, Apache helicopters, ships and tanks. Weapons used against our people include white phosphorus rockets, made in America, which burn the skin black and destroy human soft tissue completely. Now we can hear shooting around the outskirts of Gaza City.

Ninety per cent of the targets attacked are civilian. Of nearly 900 confirmed dead, 32% are children. More than 40% of the 4,000 wounded are children, while medical centres and 13 ambulances have been destroyed.

Hamas is not the only group fighting against this aggression: its fighters are joined by members of Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and Fatah. But the popularity of Hamas has increased during the invasion. Every occupied people has the right to resist if negotiation fails. People know very well that those who took the other path – of negotiation without resistance – got nothing from it: only more settlements, checkpoints, killings, prisoners and occupation without end.

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