Rene -- Forget the Two-State Solution
Palestine / Israel
Forget the Two-State Solution
Israelis and Palestinians Must Share the Land. Equally.
Published on Sunday, May 11, 2008 by the Los Angeles Times
By Saree Makdisi
There is no longer a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. Forget the endless arguments about who offered what and who
spurned whom and whether the Oslo peace process died when Yasser Arafat
walked away from the bargaining table or whether it was Ariel Sharon's
stroll through the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem that did it in.
All that matters are the facts on the ground, of which the most
important is that - after four decades of intensive Jewish settlement
in the Palestinian territories it occupied during the 1967 war - Israel
has irreversibly cemented its grip on the land on which a Palestinian
state might have been created.
Sixty years after Israel was created and Palestine was destroyed, then,
we are back to where we started: Two populations inhabiting one piece
of land. And if the land cannot be divided, it must be shared. Equally.
This is a position, I realize, which may take many Americans by
surprise. After years of pursuing a two-state solution, and feeling
perhaps that the conflict had nearly been solved, it's hard to give up
the idea as unworkable.
But unworkable it is. A report published last summer by the United
Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that
almost 40% of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure -
roads, settlements, military bases and so on - largely off-limits to
Palestinians. Israel has methodically broken the remainder of the
territory into dozens of enclaves separated from each other and the
outside world by zones that it alone controls (including, at last
count, 612 checkpoints and roadblocks).
Moreover, according to the report, the Jewish settler population in the
occupied territories, already approaching half a million, not only
continues to grow but is growing at a rate three times greater than the
rate of Israel's population increase. If the current rate continues,
the settler population will double to almost 1 million people in just
12 years. Many are heavily armed and ideologically driven, unlikely to
walk away voluntarily from the land they have declared to be their
These facts alone render the status of the peace process academic.
At no time since the negotiations began in the early 1990s has Israel
significantly suspended the settlement process in the occupied
Palestinian territories, in stark violation of international law. It
preceded last November's Annapolis summit by announcing the fresh
expropriation of Palestinian property in the West Bank; it followed the
summit by announcing the expansion of its Har Homa settlement by an
additional 307 housing units; and it has announced plans for hundreds
more in other settlements since then.
The Israelis are not settling the occupied territories because they
lack space in Israel itself. They are settling the land because of a
long-standing belief that Jews are entitled to it simply by virtue of
being Jewish. `The land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel and
only to the nation of Israel,' declares Moledet, one of the parties in
the National Union bloc, which has a significant presence in the
Moledet's position is not as far removed from that of Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert as some Israelis claim. Although Olmert says he believes in
theory that Israel should give up those parts of the West Bank and Gaza
densely inhabited by Palestinians, he also said in 2006 that `every
hill in Samaria and every valley in Judea is part of our historic
homeland' and that `we firmly stand by the historic right of the people
of Israel to the entire land of Israel.'
Rene -- Robert Fisk: Lebanon does not want another war. Does it?
Robert Fisk: Lebanon does not want another war. Does it?
Despite everything that has happened in the past few days, the people have no appetite for yet more civil confli
By Robert Fisk in Beirut
Sunday, 11 May 2008
I went to cover a demonstration in West Beirut yesterday morning – yes, please note the capital W on "West" – and then I get a text from a Lebanese woman on my mobile phone, asking if she will have to wear a veil when she returns to Lebanon. How do I reply? That the restaurants are still open? That you can still drink wine with your dinner?
That is the problem. For the war in West Beirut is not about religion. It is about the political legitimacy of the Lebanese government and its "pro-American" support (the latter an essential adjective to any US news agency report), which Iran understandably challenges.
A few days ago, I went to view an exhibition – here, in Beirut – of posters of the terrible 15-year civil war which cost the Lebanese and Palestinians 150,000 lives. It was called "Signs of Conflict: Political Posters of Lebanon's Civil War, 1975-1990", and I came to the conclusion that there would never be a civil war in Lebanon again. How could a people who were prepared to show such outrageous placards re-fight this hopeless conflict? But, am I not seeing almost identical posters in the streets of West Beirut?
So let us start at the beginning (be that the Ottoman, French, post-Versailles beginning of Lebanese history). Or let us begin yesterday, when it was broadcast that two Hizbollah members (for which read Shia Muslims) were knifed to death in Aley by Druze Muslims. Outrageous, if true. So let us begin with the statement that the Lebanese army command has decided to let Brigadier General Wafiq Chucair remain in command of security at Beirut airport. And that the Lebanese army commander – General Michel Sulaiman (the favourite for president if parliament, after 18 sittings, decide to choose one) – was determined to restore "law and order".
Thus (if the reader is not already confused) we should advance to the near-present. The army is demanding an end to all militia presence, for example the armed checkpoints in Lebanon; also, the opening of all roads. The army's fear, of course – and this is not in the official communiqués – is that if the militias do not end checkpoints and open all roads, then the army itself will split and its soldiers become part of the checkpoints. Yesterday, though, Hizbollah TV said the militias would comply with the request.
But let's go back to that demonstration I was covering in Beirut. Two days ago, Hizbollah, in its takeover of West Beirut, captured Saad Hariri's Future Television. This was the station of ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri prior to his assassination on 14 February 2005 (for whether Syria was responsible watch this space, as they say). When Hizbollah took over West Beirut two days ago, they cut Future's cable, and so the 200 or so demonstrators who turned up yesterday were wasting their time.
Meanwhile, back at the poster exhibition, the Phalangists (still very much alive) tell their supporters that their "martyrs" died "for Lebanon to live". Another tells readers that "the Morabitoun [in Arabic, the Muslim "Ambushers"] destroyed the symbol of fascist treason, of black Zionism". The Syrian Social Nationalist Party calls, after 53 years, for "the renaissance and unity of society, and for the liberation of the nation from Zionist and foreign occupation". Let us remember here that the SSNP still wants an Arab nation which includes "Palestine", and Cyprus. And there is poor old Bashir Gemayel (Phalangist leader, assassinated in 1982, after winning the pro-Israeli presidential ticket) telling the Lebanese, Kitchener-like, that "Your nation needs you – yes, You!"
And when I walked round that exhibition, I thought – yes – that this war could never be recreated. I even contemplated an article saying that there would not be another civil war here. On reflection, I should have sent that story to this paper. For despite everything that we have witnessed these past three days (or two years, or the 30 years or 2,000 years, you take your pick), I don't think the Lebanese want another civil war.
Rene -- Lebanon's Sunni bloc built militia, officials say
For those who were curious about who was fighting on the streets against Hezbollah. This is part of the answer. This is what is meant by proxy war and the main victims here being those living in Lebanon. -rg
Lebanon's Sunni bloc built militia, officials say
The Future movement used a security firm to assemble a private force, officials say. But the fighters were no match for the Shiite group Hezbollah.
By Borzou Daragahi and Raed Rafei, Special to The Times
May 12, 2008
BEIRUT -- For a year, the main Lebanese political faction backed by the United States built a Sunni Muslim militia here under the guise of private security companies, Lebanese security experts and officials said.
The fighters, aligned with Saad Hariri's Future movement, were trained and armed to counter the heavily armed Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah and protect their turf in a potential military confrontation.
But in a single night late last week, the curious experiment in private-sector warfare crumbled.
Attacked by Hezbollah, the Future movement fighters quickly fled Beirut or gave up their weapons. Afterward, some of the fighters said they felt betrayed by their political patrons, who failed to give them the means to protect themselves while official security forces stood aside and let Hezbollah destroy them.
"We are prepared to fight for a few hours but not more," said one of the Sunni fighters in the waning moments of the battle. "Where do we get ammunition and weapons from? We are blocked. The roads are blocked. Even Saad Hariri has left us to face our fate alone."
The head of a conventional private security firm in Beirut, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the Sunni force was "not really ready."
"You can't just spend millions of dollars to build an army in one year," he said. "They have to be motivated and believe in something. They have to be willing to die."
Lebanon's U.S.-backed government and the Iranian-backed opposition led by Hezbollah have been mired in a political stalemate for more than a year. The country has been without a president since November.
Rene -- Lebanon Fallout
Lebanon Fallout - 2 Articles trying to sort out the results of this most recent crisis in Lebanon
1. Franklin Lamb: WELCH CLUB, ALLIES LOSE IN LEBANON
2. Robert Fisk: Hizbollah rules west Beirut in Iran's proxy war with US
1. Franklin Lamb: WELCH CLUB, ALLIES LOSE IN LEBANON
Prominent American journalist and Director of the "Americans Concerned
for Middle East Peace" institution Dr. Franklin Lamb labeled losers and
winners in Lebanon in the wake of recent developments in the country.
Dr. Lamb said that "the main losers obviously are the Bush
administration, Israel and their Welch Club allies. Personal losers
are Amin Gemayel, barely still the "leader" of the Phalange Party,
as he talks tough and tries to rally his 'forces'â€¦from Paris. Samir
Geagea has pretty much nudged him aside and is reportedly casting
his dark gaze toward Saad Hariri who may be planning to retire from
politics and help with the very big family business. After the parties
meet with President Bush next week, a 'shaking out' process may begin.
Dr. Lamb added that "Walid Jumblatt is another loser since his
provocations, taunts, and Welch Club cheerleader role to take on
Hezbollah left him at its mercy both in the Mountains and in his
Beirut homeâ€¦ asking the army to occupy and secure his Progressive
Socialist Party (PSP) HQ."
Another loser, Dr. Lamb added is Fouad Saniora. "Prime Minister Fouad
Saniora loses more of his waning influence and status. One of his main
problems is that he is increasingly seen as a Bush administration
puppet. Not least of his worries this morning, as he prepares to
avoid being dumped by Bush next week, is the ringing endorsement he
received yesterday from Secretary of State Rice, without bringing
herself to mention Saniora by name," Dr. Lamb wrote.
On the other hand, Lamb determined the winners as follows: Lebanon's
Christian population allied with General Michel Aoun's Free
Patriotic Movement (FPM), Hezbollah, Amal and their Sunni, Druze
and international supporters. He described Hezbollah's Secretary
General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's position as "the strongest it
has ever been, not just in Lebanon but throughout the region". Lamb
called on Hezbollah and its allies to prove what the ruling bloc has
failed to prove. "Now Nasrallah has to prove that his side is ready,
willing and able to live up to its own expectationsâ€¦If Nasrallah
is the man who makes this happen, history will judge his actions to
have been a revolution, not a coup, and a long-overdue one at that."
Greg -- CALLING ALL STUDENTS AND ACTIVISTS IN SUPPORT OF VENEZUELA 'S BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION!!!
The Bolivarian Revolution should surely not be absolved from critique and disagreement. There are many outstanding questions remaining. But when the CATO institute invoking the name of Milton Friedman get involved, you know that the stakes for neoliberals are clear. This short post is not the forum for a conversation, but it sounds like an interesting call! -rg
CALLING ALL STUDENTS AND ACTIVISTS IN SUPPORT OF VENEZUELA 'S BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION!!!
EMERGENCY RALLY ON MAY 15TH
On May 15 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, a U.S.-backed student spokesperson of the opposition to Venezuela 's Bolivarian Revolution will receive $500,000 from the right-wing Cato Institute based in Washington, D.C.
The Cato Institute will present this student, Yon Goicoechea, with the "2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty" at a dinner costing $500 per person.
The student movement against the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has been receiving money from different agencies of the United States , such as the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, and other U.S. and international agencies.
Yon Goicoechea has made it clear that the $500,000 from the Cato Institute will be used for further attempts to sabotage the Bolivarian Revolution.
MDG -- Robert Fisk -- Lebanon descends into chaos as rival leaders order general strike
during those hours in which one tries to condense things, fragments, drawing other possible constellations from the dry images exposed on the everyday face, the power of the discourse ruins with a familiar noise
Robert Fisk: Lebanon descends into chaos as rival leaders order general strike
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Burning tyres on the airport road, flights suspended, demands from the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt that Hizbollah moves secret cameras from runway 1-7 and end the militia's equally secret underground communications equipment. Across Corniche Mazraa, crowds of shrieking Sunni and Shia Muslims hurl abuse and stones at each other. A soldier comes up to my car at the crossroads. "Turn round," he shouts. "They're shooting."
Lebanon seems to feed on crisis, need crisis, breathe crisis, like a wounded man needs blood. The man who should be the president is head of the army and the man who believes he leads the resistance – Sayed Hassan Nasrallah of the Hizbollah – accuses Mr Jumblatt of doing Israel's work while Mr Jumblatt claims the head of Beirut airport security, Colonel Wafic Chucair, works for the Hizbollah and should be fired.
Yesterday, in case you hadn't guessed, was a "general strike" by opponents of the Lebanese government with all the usual chaos. Mr Nasrallah is to hold a press conference today and then we'll all find out if this latest crisis is the greatest crisis since the last great crisis. Yes, a good cup of cynicism is necessary to wash down the rhetoric and threats of the past few days. At its most serious is the incendiary language in which Lebanon's politicians now address each other, the kind of menacing words that could easily touch an assassin's heart.
Indeed, the start of this latest drama might be traced to the murder of two Phalangist officials in the Bekaa town of Zahle a few weeks ago. The murderer has been named, is linked to the pro-Syrian opposition and is still at large.
Rene -- Al-Jazeera Journalist Freed From Guantanamo After 6 Years
Al-Jazeera Journalist Freed From Guantanamo After 6 Years
Published on Friday, May 2, 2008 by Associated Press
by Mohamed Osman
An Al-Jazeera cameraman was released from U.S. custody at Guantanamo
Bay and returned home to Sudan early Friday after six years of
imprisonment that drew worldwide protests.
Sami al-Haj, who had been on a hunger strike for 16 months, grimaced as
he was carried off a U.S. military plane by American personnel in
Sudan's capital, Khartoum. He was put on a stretcher and taken straight
to a hospital.
Al-Jazeera showed footage of al-Haj being carried into the hospital,
looking feeble and with his eyes closed, but smiling. Some of the men
surrounding his stretcher were kissing him on the cheek.
`Thank God ¦ for being free again,' he told Al-Jazeera from his
hospital bed. `Our eyes have the right to shed tears after we have
spent all those years in prison. ¦ But our joy is not going to be
complete until our brothers in Guantanamo Bay are freed,' he added.
`The situation is very bad and getting worse day after day,' he said of
conditions in Guantanamo. He claimed guards prevent Muslims from
practicing their religion and reading the Quran.
`Some of our brothers live without clothing,' he said.
The U.S. military says it goes to great lengths to respect the religion
of detainees, issuing them Qurans, enforcing quiet among guard staff
during prayer calls throughout the day. All cells in Guantanamo have an
arrow that points toward the holy city of Mecca.
Claire -- Federal judge dismisses mail and wire fraud charges against Kurtz
Federal judge dismisses mail and wire fraud charges against Kurtz UB professor was accused of illegally obtaining biological materials By Michael Beebe and Dan Herbeck NEWS STAFF REPORTERS Updated: 04/21/08 12:24 PM http://www.buffalonews.com/home/story/328455.html A federal judge today dismissed criminal...