Palestinian Refugees and Lebanon’s Election: Part I

Franklin Lamb writes from Wavel Palestinian Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley, on what Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees, over a tenth of the country’s population, require from Lebanon’s June 7th Election, as well as how Hezbollah, major Lebanese Party Platforms and US foreign policy weigh in.

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Taken in by the Hoopla?

The Israeli elections took place 24 days after a vicious Israeli attack on Gaza; it took place two days after the latest Israeli bombing of the Gaza-Egypt border. Yet, if one were watching the TV news coverage of the elections or the coverage of the mainstream press, one would not know that the dust has barely settled on Gaza. One would almost think that the elections were taking place in some far away country that wasn’t responsible for dropping the bombs and the war crimes. The reason for the exclusive “politics as a horse race” coverage is that it is part of the propaganda campaign surrounding the war. No sooner did the war end, the coverage switched to the inauguration of the US president; the economic crisis was equally competing for the headlines. And then the Israeli elections appeared full with flag-waving and blue-pom-pom shaking supporters, an image that reinforced the propaganda message of “Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East”. Never mind that several political parties representing the Palestinian citizens of Israel were banned by the right-wing’s mean-spirited ploys. Never mind the tilt towards fascism with a religious twist – that was not part of the message. Avigdor Lieberman is a more vicious fascist than Jorg Haider, yet while the election of the latter led to a boycott of the Austrian government, the “king-maker” role of Lieberman barely registers in the TV news.

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‘Screwing People Honestly’

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Porn Star for Senate‘, by Max Blumenthal

Sen. David Vitter’s phone number was found in the records of the notorious D.C. madam. Now he faces re-election (and massive karmic payback) against a sultry adult entertainer named Stormy. Max Blumenthal has an exclusive interview.

With 2010 midterm elections approaching, Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter is positioning himself as a leading conservative stalwart. In July 2008, Vitter joined accused bathroom-stall sex solicitor Sen. Larry Craig in co-sponsoring the anti-gay-marriage Marriage Protection Amendment, then addressed a massive antiabortion rally on the National Mall three days after Barack Obama’s inauguration. Vitter was also the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s lone vote against sending Hillary Clinton’s secretary of State nomination to the Senate floor.

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Kahane won

Gideon Levy in the Haaretz:

Rabbi Meir Kahane can rest in peace: His doctrine has won. Twenty years after his Knesset list was disqualified and 18 years after he was murdered, Kahanism has become legitimate in public discourse. If there is something that typifies Israel’s current murky, hollow election campaign, which ends the day after tomorrow, it is the transformation of racism and nationalism into accepted values.
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Security in Iraq: Relatively Speaking

Relative security.
Despite security gains in Iraq, civilians still struggle to gain some sense of normalcy. (Photo: Getty Images)

Our dear friend Dahr Jamail, winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize, is back in Iraq and here are his impressions.  He writes, ‘yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004’.  As for employment, Dahr reports that the line of work with highest job security is that of the grave digger.

If there is to be any degree of honesty in our communication, we must begin to acknowledge that the lexicon of words that describes the human condition is no longer universally applicable.

I am in Iraq after four years away.

Most Iraqis I talked with on the eve of the first provincial elections being held after 2005 told me “security is better.”

I myself was lulled into a false sense of security upon my arrival a week ago. Indeed, security is “better,” compared to my last trip here, when the number of attacks per month against the occupation forces and Iraqi collaborators used to be around 6,000. Today, we barely have one American soldier being killed every other day and only a score injured weekly. Casualties among Iraqi security forces are just ten times that number.

But yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004.

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A Capped Volcano of Suffering

Friend of Pulse, independent journalist Dahr Jamail is in Iraq to report on the elections.  Here he explains the differences in Iraq since his last trip and describes the mood as having changed from one of hope to one like a capped volcano of suffering:

Baghdad today [Thursday 29 January], on the eve of provincial elections, feels like it has emerged from several years of horrendous violence, but do not be misled. Every Iraqi I’ve spoken with feels it is tenuous, the still-fragile lull too young to trust.

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Israel bans Arab parties from running in upcoming elections

One of the stories we often hear is that Israel is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’ Israel is in fact an apartheid democracy, in which only Jews have full democratic rights. The area controlled by Israel includes almost equal numbers of Arabs and Jews, which means that almost half of the people under some form or other of Israeli rule have less than full democratic rights. The Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza can only vote for non-sovereign governments, and if they vote wrong, are starved. The ‘Arab Israelis’ (who make up 20% of the Israeli population excluding the West Bank and Gaza) face many restrictions, on which Adalah and Jonathan Cook provide good information. Today, Arab Israeli political parties have been banned from running in the nearby Israeli parliamentary elections. Here’s the story from Ha’aretz:

The Central Elections Committee on Monday banned Arab political parties from running in next month’s parliamentary elections, drawing accusations of racism by an Arab lawmaker who said he would challenge the decision in the country’s Supreme Court.

The ruling, made by the body that oversees the elections, reflected the heightened tensions between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority caused by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Arabs have held a series of demonstrations against the offensive.

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