Saturday, December 31, 2005

"Israel and Egypt are in late negotiation stages to bring 150 Egyptian workers to shore up foreign worker manpower at moshavim in the Nitzana area"
"Other papers released Sunday show that Churchill favored letting the Indian peace campaigner Mahatma Gandhi die if he went on a hunger strike while interned during World War II."
"Recent reports in the German media suggest that the United States may be preparing its allies for an imminent military strike against facilities that are part of Iran's suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program." (I personally don't believe it. I believe that, given the mess in Iraq which will not get less messy, the US will not strike at Syria or Iran. Now, Israel may be permitted, nay encouraged, by the Bush administration to bomb a few sites.)
The Syrian regime. The Syrian regime, according to the well-informed Al-Hayat correspondent Ibrahim Humaydi, will officially take legal action, NOW, against `Abdul-Halim Khaddam for a financial scandal in which he (and his son) were reportedly paid off to bury nuclear waste in Tadmur back in 1996. But the Syrian regime in 2001 arrested a Syrian, Nizar Nayyuf, and charged him with spreading false rumors against the "kind family" of `Abdul-Halim Khaddam.
The Posts, 1910. Leon Spilliaert.

Friday, December 30, 2005

"Spielberg is plainly nervous about the impulse behind this film, which is why he tosses in wisecracks, further flashbacks to Munich, soft chats between Avner and his mother, and anything else he can, so as to honor and legitimatize a series of state-approved kills. If he had told the story straight, without such hedging, and at half the length, it would have borne far more conviction. At the least, we would have been spared the sight, toward the end, of Avner having sex with his wife while images of the hostage ordeal flood his weary brain. How’s that? Is he fathering new life to replace the dead, or getting off on the sound of German helicopters? What a curious arc this movie has described: starting in terror, and ending up on the very brink of kitsch."
"Palestinians in Iraq Pay the Cost of Being 'Saddam's People'" (What an insult. "Saddam's people"? They are their own people.)
"Women's Rights Laws and African Custom Clash"
"Fuel Crisis Deepens in Iraq With Lines Forming at Pumps"
"Kurds in Iraq prepare to form state in north" (thanks Tara)
His last hurrah: "As a fuel crisis deepened in Iraq, the government replaced its oil minister with controversial Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, whose poor performance in the Dec. 15 elections was a setback in his recent attempt at political rehabilitation."
I just loved that sentence. I read it in my local newspaper and insisted on sharing it with you (it is the same AP story from another source)--later editions of the story edited it out: "But underneath that Mideast veneer was a full-blooded American teen, a born-and-bred Floridian sporting white Nike tennis shoes and trendy jeans. And as soon as the lanky, 6-foot teenager opened his mouth, his true nationality would betray him."
Gas, Oil, and Palestine. A most reliable source tells me this. "[I]t appears that along the Gaza coast there is oil and gas deposits. The CCC company of Hasib Sabbagh and Sa`id Khuri are the leading company that will explore and extract gas and oil on a 60% to PA and 40% to CCC basis. Sa`id Khuri is the man paying large sums to both Muhammad Dahlan and Jibril Rajjub." Now we know who is funding their campaign (along most likely with US taxpayers' money).
`Abdul-Halim Khaddam on Syrian Policy in Lebanon; and those who rule (and have ruled) Syria. And why Rustum Ghazalah may get a strong urge to hurt himself. Probably like most Syrians and Lebanese (and other Arabs), I was glued to the screen. I watched the marathon interview with `Abdul-Halim Khaddam on the Saudi Al-Arabiyya TV. First, the setting. The interview was most likely conducted in Khaddam's new mansion/palace on rue foch in the heart of Paris, France. That is the home that was reportedly purchased for him by Hariri Inc. The palace was previously owned by A. Onasis and was purchased for Khaddam by Hariri Inc for $40 million (not to be confused with the other home that Khaddam reportedly owns in Nice, France and which was purchased for $20 million). That must be nice; in the past, he used to stay in Rafiq Hariri's home in Paris, that is now occupied by his widow Nazik. In fact, Khaddam's wife also used to stay in Hariri's home, for weeks when she had to go with her family on shopping missions. Those were the days; there will be more days, rest assured. But Khaddam was most clumsy in allowing the interview in this most extravagant and ostentatious home; Khaddam was speaking about the poverty in Syria, and a bronze statue was just behind him (see above). The gigantic fireplace was within view of the camera when the interviewer was seen on camera. Some of the lies he told should become legendary. I mean, for Khaddam to speak about corruption or about the rude behavior of Rustum Ghazalah in dealing with Lebanese politicians, is like Bush speaking on the need for competence and qualifications in the presidency of the US. Khaddam, like Rustum Ghazalah, used to curse and threaten Lebanese politicians. Khaddam used to use obscenities in referring to Lebanese politicians too. George Hawi was a recipient, among others, of that behavior, as was Mufti Hasan Khalid who was killed only weeks after direct threats by none other than Khaddam. The Mufti's son, Sa`d Ad-Din, himself told that account in an interview with Ash-Shira` magazine. Khaddam posing as a peaceful man of integrity is, well, not different from Rif`at Al-Asad posing as a peaceful man of integrity. Khaddam has too long of a record to pose as a man of virtue. In fact, right after the interview, Al-Arabiyya interviewed a dissident in Syria and he had to remind Khaddam that the human rights situation was even worse under his tenure, during the times when he was very strong, and when Hafidh Al-Asad ruled. These were the days of the Hamah massacre, and of the times when beards and motorcycle riding were enough to get your arrested, tortured, and often killed in Syria. This is an era that Khaddam will try to convince the Syrian people was all pleasant and fine? This is true: the Syrian regime today wishes to blame all its problems in Syria and Lebanon on Khaddam, while Khaddam wants to blame all of Syria's problems in Lebanon (and in Syria) on Rustum Ghazalah and Faruq Ash-Shar` (whom he despises and this was clear when he would even mention him). Khaddam was part of the regime of Hafidh Al-Asad as soon as he took power (in fact, he also was part of the regime of Salah Jadid too belonging to Hafidh Al-Asad's faction, and holding a ministerial position). Khaddam can't with a shift in position, or with a sudden discovery of virtue erase his very long and very bloody record in Lebanon, or his very corrupt personality, or his very integral membership in a ruling elite of an oppressive government. Oppression did not start with Bashshar, and oppression was far worse before Bashshar. So if Bashshar is guilty (and he is), Khaddam is ten times more guilty--at least. The interviewer never once asked him about the enrichment of his family by Hariri Inc. Hariri bought the prime ministership of Lebanon (long before building a sectarian Sunni base in the country) by buying Khaddam, Hikmat Shihabi, Ghazi Kan`an, among other personalities of the Syrian regime. And Syria's opponents in Lebanon, especially Walid Jumblat, can't suddenly trace the problems of the Syrian regime to Bashshar's regime. The Hafidh Al-Asad's regime was the regime with the longest record of human rights violations; Bashshar has not even had a chance to emulate the path of his father, and would not succeed even if he tries. The international climate has changed; you have to be on the side of the US if you wish to conduct massacres in your country (as the Uzbek government has done, although Kofi Annan has not noticed because he is busy following the security situation in Lebanon). The ruling Hariri coalition in Lebanon can't on the one hand bases its position on claims of human rights advocacy while still expressing deep nostalgia for the regime of Hafidh Al-Asad and the "big ones" as Jumblat refers to his mentors Hikmat Ash-Shihabi, who was reportedly successfully purchased by the Hariri Inc, and who was responsible as chief-of-staff of the Syrian army for all the imaginary victories of the Syrian army under his command. Despite my deep political disagreements with him, Samir Qasir was the only one who was honest and consistent. He opposed the Syrian regime in principle, and did not draw dubious distinctions that favored Hafidh Al-Asad in comparison to Bashshar. Khaddam is now a new "star" witness of Mehlis; but he said things that could not help Mehlis. He spoke about the politeness of the Syrian president (although he later contradicted himself by saying that this "polite" and "refined" person threatened Hariri. Which is which?), and he also said that the Lebanese enemies of Hariri were more anti-Hariri than the Syrian critics of Hariri. He spoke about Rustum Ghazalah's corruption. Bashshar, he said, knew of this corruption. I know that he knew. And Bashshar, he said, told him about the palace that Ghazalah built for himself in his village (and a suq he also built). But Bashshar could not tell him what he told others who complained to him about Ghazalah's corruption. He would tell them that "the civilians"--in reference Khaddam--were no better than Ghazalah. "Look at Khaddam" he would say. The true nature of Khaddam's training at the feet of Hafidh Al-Asad showed when he told viewers that he advised Bashshar after the assassination of Hariri about Lebanon. That he told him to summon Ghazalah and "cut his neck." He spoke about Ghazi Kan`an with fondness; (he said that Bashshar would always remind him that Kan`an was the one who recommended Ghazalah). Kan`an was part of the faction in the Syrian regime that worked for Hariri, almost literally. He said that Kan`an was polite. Polite? Was he polite when people would disappear under his command? When Palestinians and Lebanese would be subjected to the famous methods of torture that have made the Syrian mukhabarat world-renowned? Polite? About Kan`an? The man who ruled over Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s, when all sort of human rights violations occurred at his direction and under his supervision? And Khaddam slipped when he indirectly mentioned how he had ruled Lebanon. He mentioned how he summoned `Umar Karami to Damascus to ask to become Lebanon's prime minister in 1991. Just like that. Khaddam would appoint prime ministers and dismiss ministers, just like that. Sometimes on whim. For example, one of the reasons that the Lebanese Communist Party was excluded from Lebanese political life in the post-Ta'if period is because Khaddam hated George Hawi. Even the interviewer had to ask him about years of "mistakes" in Syrian foreign policy long before Bashshar took over, when Khaddam was in charge. And let us face it: when Hafidh Al-Asad got ill in 1984, Khaddam ran Lebanon. Hafidh only kept tight control over the general Middle East and international policy of Syria and of Arab-Israeli issues. So all the "mistakes"--we are talking here about murder, extortion, rape, bombardment, war of the camps, political marginalization of Christians--all that should be blamed on Khaddam. And before the rise of Hariri, Khaddam was in charge of the policy that deprived the Sunnis of Lebanon of all their leaders--they were either exiled (Sa'ib Salam, Ibrahim Qulaylat, Kamal Shatila), or killed or marginalized. Salim Al-Huss was never favored by the Syrian junta. He was not corrupt, and did not have millions to give away like Hariri. And when he spoke about Rustum Ghazalah cursing Jumblat, Hariri, and Birri. I could only think of how far people go to keep their powers (and riches). Why else would they accept such humiliating behavior from Rustum Ghazalah. Of course, what he said of Ghazalah was true, and I am sure that Ghazalah is worse. But so is Khaddam himself. His appearance was not accidental; it must have been well-choreographed and in coordination with Hariri Inc. I read or heard that he has been meeting with Marwan Hamadi, Walid Jumblat, and Sa`d Hariri in France, and possibly coordinating with Rif`at Al-Asad, and both now answer to King `Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. And Al-Arabiyya TV would not air the interview without permission from the highest echelons of the Saudi government, or royal family, and from the king himself, I think. It is amazing that the Syrian regime has not held one person dealing with Lebanon responsible. But that is not surprising. Corrupt and oppressive governments can't reform themselves. This is why I don't believe that Arab governments can reform themselves. When the US speaks about "reform" of governments in the Middle East, they merely mean pushing them in a more pro-US/Israel direction, and opening up their markets for US corporations. Khaddam is writing his memoirs, he said. I can't wait. He knows a lot, and has been around for a long time, and has been smuggling documents, minutes, and papers out of Syria since the 1980s as one source just informed me. But he will write his story from a perspective that will only serve his personal agenda. So we will not know about the meeting in Damascus in which he and others ordered the murder of Kamal Jumblat, among many others who were murdered by the regime that Khaddam served so faithfully and loyally. One thing we learned from the interview: that Bashshar Al-Asad is stronger inside the regime than has been previously assumed. That Bashshar can, and does, make decisions on his own. Even the Damascus correspondent of the anti-Syrian, pro-US/Saudi/Israel site, elaph, had to admit that Khaddam does not have much credibility with the Syrian public given his corruption, and the corruption of his two sons who now are employed by Hariri Inc. One of his sons was involved in the scandal where nuclear waste was buried in Tadmur in Syria. The first response to Khaddam came from Ad-Diyar, the Lebanese newspaper that has become a semi-official propaganda mouthpiece of the Syrian regime. Charles Ayyub (editor of Ad-Diyar), whose bank account secrecy was lifted by the Mehlis team, has nothing to lose. He reminded readers of the corruption of Khaddam; that Hariri had built a private port for him in Banyas where he keeps two yachts (Maya 1 and Maya 2). An-Nahar reported that Ghazalah called Al-Arabiyya asking to response, but then changed his mind. Will Ghazalah now get a strong urge to shoot himself, 20 times, in the back? Stay tuned. And Khaddam said more things in the 2nd part of the interview too. He now calls for a policy of dialogue with the US and not of "confrontation". He is now "an international man of peace" you have to understand. If only Bashshar had listened to him, he now says, Syria would be a superpower. It was amusing to hear him talk about Bashshar listening to the advise of Martin Indyk and Darrel Issa. He mocked the notion held by Bashshar to the effect that the US only cares about Iraq, and not about Lebanon. But it is still true: the US does not care about Lebanon. Notice that when Syria started cooperating with the Americans in Iraq in recent months, American attention to Lebanon has declined, and US public pressures on Syria have decreased.

PS I just watched Syrian TV. They had a person-on-the-street segment. They were all interviewed about Khaddam's interview. There are signs of political insecurity on the part of the Syrian regime; the propaganda is more crude and more vulgar than ever. The evening newscast ended with this line: "hopefully the new year will take away those traiters..." or words to that effect. All people who were interviewed sounded alike. But they all also referred to the corruption of Khaddam and his two sons. I have been told that Khaddam is now related to Hariri: that Jamal Khaddam's son or daughter married a Hariri. (I am now told that Khaddam's granddauther married Fahd Al-Hariri). Does anybody know about that? And now the members of the Syrian "parliament" are calling for the trial of Khaddam for "high treason." Why did they not discover his treason earlier? Why only now have they discovered officially his corruption? Similarly, why has Khaddam not discovered his love for democracy before? What a bunch. Khaddam mentioned something important in passing. I have been told that the Syrian regime weeks before the extension of the term of Lahhud, was not going to favor such extension. Syria was favoring the selection of Jan `Ubayd as president, before reports of Syrian mukhabarat accused him of various things. Khaddam mentioned the report about `Ubayd, and that Bashshar was not going to renew Lahhud's term. In fact, I was told that Lahhd was told that Syria would not be calling for an extension of his term, before the `Ubayd report that is.
"The United States government does have a plan to invade Canada. It's a 94-page document called "Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan -- Red," with the word SECRET stamped on the cover. It's a bold plan, a bodacious plan, a step-by-step plan to invade, seize and annex our neighbor to the north. It goes like this:"

The Lebanonese Revolution Continues: a human rights organization in Syria announced the death of a Syrian (Kurdish) worker who was killed in Lebanon. His name is Shams Ad-Din Ahmad Mahmud, and his name will be added to the list of tens--nobody really knows how many--of Syrian victims who were murdered by Lebanese "freedom" lovers since the beginning of their Hummus Revolution. He worked at a gas station in Beirut. This is the 2nd murder of a Syrian worker in Lebanon in less than a month. Neither the Lebanese nor the Syrian government have shown any concern over those murders. Police sources said that he was shot three times in the chest, head, and neck (seen above). He left 8 children behind. (His daughter is seen crying above). Police sources will now try to cover up by claiming that the motive was robbery (although a mere $150 were missing). Do you think that Kofi Annan or US State Department spokesperson will mention him? Wait. Spielberg could mention him in the sequel to Munich: he can link him to the attack in Munich.
Rustam dressed as merchant before Piran.
"Holocaust survivors go hungry in Israel" (thanks Amina)
"The announcement comes in the wake of several incidents over the past month in which more than a thousand [Palestinian] olive trees were cut down, mainly from areas near Jewish settlements adjacent to the northern West Bank city of Nablus." (No links were found between the olive trees and the attack in Munich)
"Marwan Barghouti apologizes to Palestinians for Fatah corruption" (Apologize? Apologize? This is it? It takes much more than an apology Mr. Barghouti).
"The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al Qaeda has grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War, expanding in size and ambition despite a growing outcry at home and abroad over its clandestine tactics, according to former and current intelligence officials and congressional and administration sources."
"U.S. officials defended an anti-terrorism program yesterday that secretly tested radiation levels around the country -- including at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington area -- and insisted that no one was targeted because of his or her faith."
"Lebanese Awaiting Psychics' Predictions" (This is so true; many Lebanese are extremely obsessed with fortune tellers and "psychics." The most famous is Michel Hayik. He is now praised for his "accurate predictions" for 2005. What did he predict? Well, he predicted: a stormy session of Lebanese parliament; that some tourists sites in the region will be hit; and that a Lebanese politician will have his speech interrupted. LBC-TV found footage to fit his most general "predictions", and declared the man a genius. (thanks Amina)
"Indonesian military admits being paid by US mining firm"
"Leaders of Pakistan's 13,000 madrasas have vowed to defy a government deadline to expel foreign students by December 31, saying the regulations discriminate against religious schools."
"Egyptian riot police beat a Sudanese man during the forceful evacuation of thousands of refugees from their protest camp outside UN offices in Cairo. Photograph: Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images"
Ten Sudanese refugees, including a young girl, were killed today when Egyptian police fired water cannon and beat migrants with clubs to break up a protest camp in Cairo."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

"PALESTINE: 9200 Prisoners still Imprisoned in 28 Israeli Prisons and Detention Camps" (And none are linked to the attack in Munich)
American Enterprise Institute is in tears. Ahmad Chalabi's office in Iraq announced that the results of the elections will not permit Ahmad Chalabi to even win one seat in parliament. AEI promises to give him any seat he wants in Washington, DC. You know that Antoine Lahd is nicknamed General Hummus by Israeli newspapers? After the humiliating withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon in 2000, Lahd fled for his life to open the Byblos restaurant in occupied Palestine. We need a new Middle East restaurant in Washington, DC. Go for it, Chalabi. Oh, and Judith Miller can search for Iraqi WMDs in the kitchen. Enjoy.
Say what you want about US occupation troops in Iraq. But they are willing to go to any length to "liberate" the hell out of the Iraqi people.
Spielberg would justify the terror that is visited by Israeli occupation troops on those Palestinian children in Tulkarm. He would argue that they all are tied to the Munich "operation."
The Lebanese police arrested a Syrian worker and held him as a suspect in the assassination of Jubran Tuwayni. Why? You see, he used his cellphone before and after the assassination, said a police source. Apparently, he is the only one in Lebanon who used his cellphone before and after the assassination, while all others in Lebanon used their cellphones either before or after.
The best seller in the category of religion in the latest Beirut Book exhibit, is Hall `Abdullah Al-Hirari (the religious guide of Al-Ahbash movement in Lebanon).
The Old Guard and the New Guard of Fath. I have been reading about the New Guards of the Fath Movement in the next Palestinian election-under-occupation. I mean, I never liked the Old Guards (people like Ahmad Quray`, Intisar Al-Wazir, Al-Hakam Bal`awi, and company), but I like the New Guards even less. I mean, do you think that the corrupt unsavory characters, people like Muhammad Dahlan and Jibril Rajjub, can represent the best interests of the Palestinian people? Of course, the best Guards of the movement (in terms of effectiveness and non-corruption even if I disagreed with their politics, as I do with the Fath Movement, always, on ideological grounds) have either died or have been killed by Israel (people like Abu Salih, Kamal `Udwan, Abu Yusuf An-Najjar, Abu Al-Walid, Abu Iyad, Abu Al-Hawl, Majid Abu Shrar, etc.)
Yusuf Entertained in Court Before His Marriage to Zuleikha. (Persian, 16th century).
"U.N. Observer in Baghdad Calls the Voting Valid" (1500 complaints of voting fraud notwithstanding)
"Americans split on feds listening in: Half of Americans say Bush has the right to OK the secret program."
"NSA Web Site Puts [non-chocolate] 'Cookies' on Computers"
"U.S. military websites that pay journalists to write articles and commentary supporting military activities in Europe and Africa do not violate U.S. law or Pentagon policies, a review by the Pentagon's chief investigator has concluded. But a senior Defense Department official said this week that the websites could still be shut down to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The Pentagon inspector general's inquiry concludes that two websites targeting audiences in the Balkans and in the Maghreb region of northern Africa are consistent with U.S. laws prohibiting covert propaganda, are properly identified as U.S.-government products and are maintained in close coordination with U.S. embassies abroad, according to a previously undisclosed summary of the report's findings."
"Terrorism cases in US may be reopened after wiretap scandal"
"Where Was the New York Times When It Mattered?"
"Facing Servitude, Ethiopian Girls Run for a Better Life"
A source at KPFA radio station told me that some people called and complained that I speak too fast. What is next? People will ask me, or force me, to write in paragraphs?
There is no end to the corruption of this man: "Chirac tried to win Da Vinci role for friend of his daughter"

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Yusuf's Escape from the Well (Attributed to Muzaffer 'Ali. Persian, 16th century).
"the Pentagon has been sitting on a request from The Times's Jeff Gerth to cough up a secret 500-page document prepared by Halliburton on what to do with Iraq's oil industry - a plan it wrote several months before the invasion of Iraq, and before it got a no-bid contract to implement the plan (and overbill the U.S.)." In other news, "Iraqis Pummeled at the Pumps."
"In a USA Today/CNN/Gallup survey released just before Christmas Day, 72 percent of Americans thought that it was "wrong for the US to pay Iraqi newspapers and journalists to publish and write stories about US efforts in Iraq." USA Today reported earlier this month, however, that the US actually plans to continue with the program and expand it to other countries, spending more than $300 million in the effort."
Somebody cut my post on Spielberg's Munich into paragraphs. An outrage.
Tell this to Ramsey Clark: "Saddam's victims unearthed in mass grave"
Tolerance (for some?): "Two months after California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled the cornerstone of the new Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, the Islamic Movement northern branch leader Sheikh Ra'ad Salah on Wednesday called on authorities to stop its construction, claiming it is being built on the site of a Muslim cemetery."
"A newspaper poll published yesterday claimed that 60% of Saudis believe that women should be allowed to drive."
"Four years after the fall of the Taliban, major reconstruction in Kabul is polarising rich and poor."
"It was a reminder that Ms. Hughes's job - to improve the image of the United States and expand support for its policies abroad - is an uphill battle. A poll by the Pew Research Center this year found that the United States remained "broadly disliked" not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe and Asia."
Thanks for the honorable mention.
""So many academics lead such frightened lives," he said. "The whole system sometimes seems designed to encourage paranoia and timidity."
Another reason to boycott Intel. "The Intel Corporation, the world's largest chip maker, announced this month that it would invest $3.5 billion to build a new plant, adjacent to an existing one that makes Pentium 4 chips, at an industrial park in this town in southern Israel, which has long struggled economically despite the money poured into it.
A bridge in Gaza destroyed by Israeli occupation army. Don't be surprised if Spielberg claims that the bridge was used by the Palestinian attackers in Munich.
For those who care, my interview yesterday on Flashpoints.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I can't believe this. The New York Times has never heard of irony or even sarcasm. If you look at the last Thomas Friedman's article (on Iran) on the New York Times' website, they list my website with this quotation: ""If you really want sophisticated and just abstract analysis of international relations, you really have to seek the columns of Thomas Friedman." I can't believe this. Here is my original post, which was mocking that very column, not praising it. So now I am on the record on the New York Times' website praising Thomas Friedman.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Tents of "Hummus." As you know , the Lebanonese youth organizations have set up their tents in downtown Beirut. It was reported on New TV that the work to set up the tents was undertaken by Syrian workers. The anchorwoman reported attacks on Syrian workers in Lebanon, and racist anti-Syrian (people) chants by the lovely youth of "freedom." The youth representative of Hariri Mustaqbal group, said: that he apologizes for the racism, but that this was due to the fact the tents were not complete yet. OK.
"Pierre Bourdieu said that he made his intellectual way by trying to do and say the opposite of what Sartre did and said—all the while admiring him intensely. Bourdieu credited Sartre with enshrining the "myth of the intellectual""
How could they? How could they? "When Bob Bernstein arrived at his coffeehouse to assess the scene of an early Christmas morning break-in, the one thing he noticed missing was the cinnamon bun that bears a striking likeness to Mother Teresa. Bernstein said he believes that the culprit is someone angry over the shop displaying the world-famous pastry, which has been preserved with shellac. A jar of money next to the Nun Bun was not stolen. "They went right for the bun," he said. "Unfortunately I think it's somebody who wanted to take it to destroy it." (thanks Amina, Matt, and Mona)

Spielberg on Munich: the humanization of Israeli killers, and the dehumanization of Palestinian civilians. Or the Celebration of the Israeli Killing Machine. And who is retaliating against whom in the Arab-Israeli conflict? THIS is the question. It reminds me of a line that George Carlin—yes, that Carlin—used to use in his comedy routine and went roughly like this: “why do “we” call Israeli terrorists commandos, and we call Palestinian commandos terrorists?” That line never got a laugh the two times I saw him use it with a live audience. The thrust of the Spielberg movie is simple, fanfare notwithstanding: Israeli killers are conscientious and humane people, while Palestinians are always--no matter what--killers. But a Spielberg movie about current affairs is like a Thomas Friedman’s column about…Emanuel Kant. What do you expect. But you know? Did you notice how one lone critical opinion of the movie by one Israeli diplomat, which only mildly criticized the movie, got so much press in the US? It was needed; and it even helped to promote the movie to give a “balanced” cast to the narrative, that it of course does not deserve. This one critical opinion reminded me of O’Reilly; how he every night finds one email from somebody in Montana who tells him that he is too liberal. He needs to that to maintain an image that does not exist, just as Spielberg needs to maintain an image that he does not deserve. This movie could easily have been a paid Israeli advertisement for its killing machine. In fact, it could be a recruitment movie for Israeli killing squads. I mean that. In fact, it is a celebretary movie of Israeli murder of Palestinians. Israel killing is always moral, and always careful, and always on target. Today, yet another New York Times reviewer who also thinks that Spielberg was not sympathetic enough to the Israeli killers, even had the audacity to describe Israeli killings at the time as "targeted assassinations" when even Israel had not invented that propaganda term back then. He must have forgotten to remember. That's all. Where do I begin. I mean yes, I was quite angry watching it; and I got more angry as I watched the Berkeley liberal audience react sympathetically to the movie, rooting for the Israel head killer, as he went about his "civilized" killing. I watched the audience root for an Israeli killing team, and this WAS a true story, and Palestinian victims were real people, with real blood. The most emotional moment for Spielberg, and presumably for American audiences was when the head killer talked with his baby daughter in New York, that he missed very much. Oh, ya. That was the point at which you were expected to shed a tear or two; the music got particularly sentimental at that point. It had to be. But where to begin; the movie was based on a book that took the Israeli account as it was delivered. But the book was honest and more accurate at least on one count: in the book by George Jonas titled Vengeance (only Israelis are entitled to vengeance as you know, the more violent the better as far as some US movie audiences are concerned), the killers did not express regret or second-thoughts. None. In the book but not in the movie, the killers, according to Jonas, had "absolutely no qualms about anything they did." How could Spielberg miss that. Well, he just managed. Hell, that was the whole movie, and the whole political project behind it. Of course, it was not easy for me to watch this movie, I mean not only at the political and intellectual levels, but also at the personal level. I can connect to the story, in its details and personalities. The first victim of the movie was Wa’il Zu`aytir, and I knew his niece; I went to school with Abu Hasan Salamah’s son--he was younger; and I knew the street and building where the three PLO leaders were massacred in Beirut. And let me tell you that NONE of the five people mentioned here had anything to do with Munich--but more on that later. NONE. But why should this movie, a Spielberg’s movie for potato’s sake, bother with facts, especially if they come in the way of a smooth pro-Israeli narrative? But this movie is intended for mass audiences who know nothing about the facts of the conflict. That is exactly why it will work, and why it will deliver the (propaganda) goods. Let me start by saying this: this, Munich that is, was not as planned an operation as has often been maintained. This was not planned months in advance, as Abu Iyad maintained in his account with Eric Rouleau (translated into English as My Home, My Land by dear Linda Butler). Abu Iyad for years exaggerated the claims about the “carefully planned” operation, and PLO media at the time lied about how the PLO gunmen threw grenades into the helicopters, so as to make the last shootout more of a fight that it actually was. Angry Palestinians who were being hit by Israeli fighter jets in their refugee camps demanded heroes and heroism, and the PLO had to give them some, even if they were not legitimate heroes. The German troops were going to take them out, no matter what, and no matter how much they, the Germans in this case, endangered the lives of the hostages, and they presumably had Israeli consent. The Arab League diplomat talked about this recently when he broke his silence in an interview on Ziyarah Khassah on Al-Jazeera. He should know: he was the negotiator with the the Palestinian team in Munich. Yes, I know. It can be argued that the Palestinian attackers risked the lives of the hostages by taking them hostages, even if they did not intend to kill them. That is true. This is like hijacking: the hijackers, any hijackers, are responsible, and should be held responsible for whatever endangerment to the lives and health of victims. That is true. But it is also true that the State of Israel has taken a nation as a hostage, and has been endangering the lives of Palestinians since the inception of the state of Israel. This is why it is all a question of who is retaliating against whom? One of the many false premises of the movie is that Israel only went on a killing rampage—and only against Palestinian “killers”--after Munich. That Munich was a watershed. Watershed it was not, except in Israeli propaganda brochures. Israel has been going on killing rampages against Palestinians, civilians mostly, since before the creation of the state of Israel. And how could you even talk about Golda Meir and forget to mention her most memorable quote: that “there is no such thing as the Palestinian people.” Spielberg must have missed that, just as he needed to show her as grandma goodness who was pushed into vengeance by Palestinian cruelty. More humanization. That is why we had to see the head Israeli killer with his child: you need to see him as a human being. Do you know that not a single Palestinian in the movie appeared unarmed? They all were terrorists, and their murder had to be justified, and Spielberg did a great service for the state of Israel in that regard. They should name some stolen Palestinian property in Israel in his honor, I argue. A street, a destroyed Arab village, or a stolen olive tree. Anything. He deserves it. And let us see what Israel was doing before Munich. Before Munich, NOT AFTER—did you get that, Israel placed a bomb under the car seat of Palestinian writer/artist, Ghassan Kanafani and killed him and killed his niece (14). The niece was not plotting the Munich operation when she was murdered by the Israelis; nor was her uncle. That was BEFORE Munich. Kanafani was best friends with my uncle; they both used to write in Al-Hurriyyah magazine during their days at the Movement of Arab Nationalists. Israel also—BEFORE Munich—sent a letter bomb to Bassam Abu Sharif (a writer and journalist with the PFLP), and left him with life-long scars and bodily damage, and they also sent a letter bomb to Anis Sayigh, a scholar and researcher, who was not a member of any group. But he was a really diligent researcher, and Israel did not appreciate it--I am assuming. This is not easy for me; I have shaken the hands--or what was left of their hands--of both of those men, and Abu Sharif never had a military role—I say this although I never liked Abu Sharif or respected him (read my review of his memoir in Journal of Palestine Studies a few years ago). But those were innocent victims of Israeli killing. They never held guns those two, or those three, or four. This story is personal for me, of course. I see them as human beings, and not as armed and vengeful characters that they appear in Spielberg’s movie. And typical of US movies where Arabs appear, Arabs when they speak Arabic never need subtitles. We need them when people speak in French and German, but Arabic is not important. It is not important to know what cheap natives say; we only need to know what expensive people say: Europeans and Israelis. And do you notice that Hollywood still portrays Israelis as Europeans: they still don’t want to accept that some half of all Israelis come from Asian and African countries. This makes it easier for the White Man to identify with them. And there is this element that is never mentioned about Palestinian attacks: and this is true of the present and of the past. It is not that some Palestinian leaders recruit or compel Palestinians to attack Israelis. It is the other way round. Palestinians, regular rank-and-file and sometimes civilians, pressure Palestinian leaders and commanders to send them on military or suicidal missions against Israeli targets. Munich occurred exactly like that. Palestinians in the camps in Lebanon, those who were trained by Fath and by other groups, were lobbying for “action.” Why?, you may ask? Well, not only for the loss of Palestine but also because Israel was KILLING Palestinians. In February of the same year PRIOR to Munich, Israeli jets bombed Palestinian refugee camps, and killed tens of innocent people. This is what is missing in the movie, among many other things. Most Palestinians who are killed by Israelis are unarmed and are killed not by assassins who are conscientious and sensitive—as they are outrageously portrayed in this movie—but by pilots who bomb refugee camps filled with unarmed civilians. Palestinians who are bombed from the air, long before Munich, are elderly and people and children in their beds. These are the victims that you will never see in a Spielberg movie. So Israel was killing Palestinians, and this was the context of pre-Munich. So a small group decided to do something, but they were not sure what, and this was only 3 months before Munich. And one of the handful of people who knew about this, and this will never make it into the press was Abu Mazin--yes, that Abu Mazen the head of the puppet Palestinian Authority. But do you notice that US/Israel always forgive the past of those who submit to Israeli dictates? Look at how US and Israel forgave Anwar Sadat for his anti-Semitic Nazi past. Abu Mazin was the money guy, and he dispersed the funds for Abu Dawud, who engineered the operation. And the American public in US media and popular culture is so enamored with the Mossad, that the image of the Mossad does not match its actual reality. The best evidence is this movie: look at this obsession with Abu Hasan Salamah as the “mastermind” of Munich when he had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Munich. To be sure, Abu Hasan was a braggart, and had a big mouth, and would take credit for things he did not do, and would distance himself from failed “operations” that he planned, like the Sabena failed hijacking in 1972. That was Abu Hasan: he lived the life of a playboy, and enjoyed a unique indulgent pampering from Abu `Ammar who treated him like a son. Abu `Ammar would never say no to Abu Hasan, on anything. But Abu Hasan had nothing to do with Munich, and this ostensibly all-knowing Mossad, did not know it, and probably still does not know it. Former CIA director, Stansfield Turner, once said that the Mossad is a mediocre organization, but that it is outstanding in PR--only in PR. Former CIA man in Beirut Robert Baer said this about the Mossad--I am translating this from an interview he gave to Al-Jazeera: “Let me tell you something, what people most err in in the Middle East, and I am responsible for my words to the end, is related to Israeli intelligence. To be sure, they can kill somebody in Paris or Rome or killing the wrong person in Finland or wherever else they did that in [he meant Norway]. To be sure they know Europe and Palestinians, and they know many things about Palestinians, but when it comes to the rest of the Middle East, I have not seen anything from their part that indicated their knowledge of those countries.” But this can never be maintained in a country that wants to exaggerate the prowess and knowledge of an intelligence agency not only to help feed the Israeli propaganda myth, but to also prepare the American public for more ruthless times and ways. So a very small number of people knew about it, and of course Abu Iyad was one of them. And Abu Iyad is the most important person on the list, and yet his name was NOT on the list, just to show you about how much--or how little-- Israel knew. Abu Iyad spoke more than he needed not only because he wanted to send a message to the enemy, but also because the wars of factions and "Abu"s within Fath necessitated a game of one-up-manships, and of wild exaggerations at times. And while Black September was a paper name, and did not have a separate organizational existence or structure, several factions used the name for their own ends. Nobody consulted with Abu Iyad about Abu Hasan’s use of the name for the Sabena’s failed hijacking mentioned above. Abu Dawud is a key person here. And while his name was mentioned in passing, it was added after the fact in Israeli propaganda accounts. Abu Dawud was arrested in France for another reason in 1977, and he was released because there were no German or Israeli warrants about his involvement in Munich. That shows you. Now, I will not give a blow-by-blow account of Munich. But I personally believe the account of Abu Dawud more than I believe Spielberg, i.e. Israeli propaganda claims, or even German police. (Abu Dawud's account is found in Abu Dawud, Filastin: Mina-l-Quds Ila-Muikh (Beirut: Dar An-Nahar, 1999)). German police lied quite a bit about the case; they leaked to the press fanciful accounts of Palestinian infiltration of the workforce at the Olympic city, when none of that actually took place. They were too embarrassed to tell the truth. Similarly, the Israelis wanted to back the German account, especially as the violence at Munich was a propaganda bonanza for the Israelis in the West, just as Munich—this is not known in the West—was a propaganda bonanza for Fath in the Middle East, as horrrific as the outcome was for all. And in that sense, the Germans, the Israelis, and Abu Iyad (and certainly Abu Hasan) lied about Munich, but not Abu Dawud, in my opinion. Abu Dawud is one of those 2nd tier PLO leaders who did not get corrupted in the messy Lebanese scene, and who did now allow the Gulf money that corrupted many PLO leaders to affect him. This was a man who was in charge of Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, and yet his name does not appear in any chronicle of the war because he was too low key, and because he never bragged. (Hell, he never talked even when the brutal mukhabarat in Jordan held him from his feet for days, while torturing him. People who saw him in jail at the time did not recognize him. But you know this: your reliable "moderate" friends in Jordan are quite "good" in torture. They are probably the best; they are helping you in that regard as we speak.) Most Lebanese did not even know his name. But this also explains why he survived, unlike say Abu Hasan Salamah, who married a Lebanese former Miss Universe, who introduced him to Lebanese bourgeois society, and he could not get enough of that life. He developed a routine, and lived in a fancy apartment on Madame Curie Street in Beirut, and the routine he developed (going to the GYM at the same time every day), made him an easy target. Abu Hasan could get all the money he wanted for his own group from `Arafat, and was doing a good job of maintaining not only good relations with the CIA but also with Lebanese right-wing groups. He became good friends with some right-wing militia leaders. Read the novel by Navid Ignatius, Agents of Innocence: it is about Abu Hasan, although the author does not admit it. It is interesting that in the movie, the Israeli head killer (who was in the movie Troy), was cast to be most appealing to the audience: a good looking and charismatic figure. But say what you want about Abu Hasan (and many people in Palestinian struggle, like Abu Dawud, did not like him) but he was a good looking and charismatic figure in real life, but not the actor who played him in Spielberg’s movie. But Spielberg did not want the viewer to identify with any Palestinian in the movie: that was contrary to him and to his political goal. He just wanted to identify with the expensive human beings: the Israelis. The Arabs are worse than they were in Renoir’s painting, the Mosque, as an unidentifiable blob. They were just armed, with no humanity. They were not supposed to evoke emotions, and you were not supposed to see them bleed, and if you did, you had to cheer for their killers. The only ones that you had to feel sorry for: were the Israelis who get killed, including the killers when they kill. The music that played when Israelis die, was different from the music that played when Palestinians died. And no speaking roles for Palestinians were necessary. Why bother. Give one a line, and you have done your "objective" duty. And the list of prisoners that attackers submitted to German authorities did not have “200 Arab prisoners” on it, as the movie said. It had some 234 Arab and NON-Arab names on them, including Japanese and German prisoners, but that was not in the movie. And the statement that was issued by the attackers gave a name to the “operation”: Bir`im and Ikrit, names of two (predominantly Christian) villages in northern Palestine, the people of which were expelled by Israeli occupation forces in 1948 for “security reasons.” In 1972, the people of those villages petitioned the courts to return to their villages, and the courts of course turned them down. But if you were to use the name of the “operation” you would have to tell the audience those burdensome details that would have distracted from the celebration of the Israeli killing machine. But this begs the question: why is Munich more famous than the savage bombardment of Palestinian refugee camps back in February prior to Munich? And why did the letter bombs to three Palestinian writers not get any world attention? Why did American liberals and PEN not notice it back then? Could you imagine what would happen if a Palestinian threw even a rose at an Israeli writer? Could you imagine what would happen among American leftists if a Palestinian were to say even a bad word to Amos Oz for example? That was the stature of Ghassan Kanafani among Palestinians and Arabs. Now, I will not get into the military/intelligence background of the Israeli hostages as Abu Dawud does in his memoirs because the attackers did not know that information prior to the “operation.” Abu Dawud gives many details about the military backgrounds of some of the hostages, but I do not think that this is appropriate because even Abu Dawud did not know that before hand. I will not get into what actually happened at the site at the airport when the hostages were being transferred by their captors not only because the captors were responsible by virtue of the hostage "operation", but you can raise questions regarding the actual responsibility of the killing of the hostages. Abu Dawud cites Israeli newspapers from the 1990s in which writers raised questions about German responsibility, and on how the German government never published autopsy reports of the hostages, etc. The Israeli government also did not want to examine the bullets that killed the Israeli hostages. That would have settled the question, of course. Abu Dawud stressed that the attackers were under strict instructions to not shoot at the hostages, and you noticed in the scene, even in the movie, that when they were storming the compound, they clearly struggled with the door and avoided shooting, while that could have shortened the time of entry, and Abu Dawud says that they were under strict instructions to avoid using the grenades. And Abu Dawud raises the possibility that the helicopter may have exploded from a bullet that hit it gas tank, but I don’t know, and I have never relied on Spielberg, or on the silly book on which he based his account, for historical accuracy. And another thing comes to mind: Palestinians also have managed to assassinate Israeli military and intelligence leaders but that never gets attention because the trend in US media and popular culture is that you should only show Palestinians when they are killing civilians. And it is not true that the Israeli response was confined to the assassination of the 11 Palestinians as was shown in the movie: Israel was also killing other Palestinians. Israeli “response” or initiative we should call it, was more massive and brutal that the operation of the secret team. Three days after Munich, Israel ordered an air strike which required the use of some 75 Israeli aircrafts (the largest attack since 1967) and the attacks on Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon resulted in the killing of more than 200 mostly civilians. And this is not because the Israelis knew that there was a camp north of Sidon that was used for training the Munich attackers. That camp was not even hit (another sign that Israelis had no information about the real culprits of Munich) and other camps with civilians were hit. And then while the assassinations were taking place, Israeli bombing of camps continued uninterruptedly. And the most glaring omission in the film, which shows you that the Israeli team was not only savage but also ignorant of their targets, was what happened on July 21st 1973, when `Ali Bushiki, a Moroccan waiter resting with his pregnant wife around a swimming pool in Norway, was murdered by that assassination team merely because `Ali resembled what the hit team thought Abu Hasan Salamah looked like. (The Norwegian police tracked and arrested the killers, but they were all released in a secret deal with the Israeli governement--is that not nice?) Should that not have made it to the movie? But that would have made them look more brutally clumsy than Spielberg wanted them to look like. And even Wa’il Zu`yatir, the PLO representative in Rome. He knew nothing about Munich, and was an academic with close ties to socialist circles in Italy. Zu`ytir was shot 14 times. He never held a gun in his life. These Israeli team members were killers who really relished killing, and did not seem susceptible to moral second-thinking as was stressed over and over again in the movie. Zu`ytir was more interested in literature than he was in military affairs, on which he knew nothing. And PLO representative in France Mahmud Hamshari also had nothing to do with Munich; Israeli propaganda later had to contend with that, and claimed after killing him that the attackers passed through France on their way to Munich. In reality, the attackers never stepped on French soil when they went to Germany. And the movie, it seems really enjoyed covering the 1973 massacre in Beirut. Spielberg I could tell really enjoyed learning and covering that massacre by Israeli terrorist squads. But who were the three PLO personalities killed in that "operation"? And who cares about the details? Kamal `Udwan was the Fath/PLO leader responsible for the West Bank and Gaza. He not only had no responsibilities in Europe, but he opposed “operations” in Europe, and even those by Black September. More than that, `Udwan was one of the most moderate Fath leaders having accepted the two-state solution back in 1970, before any of his colleques in Fath. Abu Yusuf An-Najjar was in charge of intelligence in LebanonLebanon, not Europe. While `Udwan had no knowledge of Munich, Abu Yusuf may have heard about it but had no role whatever in it. The third person was a poet: and you know how much Israelis like to murder Palestinian poets, artists, and writers. Kamal Nasir was a poet, and was killed in his bed. The movie did not tell you that by the time the Israeli terrorists finished with their “mission,” some 100 Palestinians and Lebanese were murdered on that day in April 1973. I also was amused--not really--how Spielberg portrayed the neighborhood where the PLO leaders AND others were killed: it had all the features of Orientalist imagination. It was traditional and the houses were old styles with arches, and the place was protected like a military base. In reality, the PLO leaders lived in a residential building in the most modern and upper class neighborhood of Verdun in Beirut. But why bother with that detail too. And the Fath representative in Cyprus also had nothing to do with Munich; he was the intelligence envoy of Abu Yusuf An-Najjar. And some people on the list of the Israeli murder team were not only not involved with Black September, but some were not even members of the Fath organization. Basil Al-Kubaysi was a Palestinian scholar who had just completed his PhD in political science; I recently had dinner with Basil’s best friend in college in Candada. Kubaysi was in the PFLP and not in the Fath organization. The same for Muhammad Budia: he was with Wadi` Haddad, and not with Black September. But then again: I read that Spielberg offered the script to Dennis Ross and to Bill Clinton to verify the “accuracy” of Middle East political and historical references. The two are experts on the Middle East, in case you have not heard. More than that, the movie did not tell you that on September 16th, and 17th, Israel launched a savage invasion of South Lebanon, erasing the refugee camp of Nabatiyyah, and the Lebanese newspapers at the time (I even remember that as a 12 years old) had on the first page that famous picture of a smashed civilian car with seven Lebanese civilians smashed inside when an Israeli tank ran over the car near Jwayya in South Lebanon. That must have been too messy for Spielberg to cover. Why bother? And the car had stopped at the Israeli checkpoint that was set up at the entrance to the village. Were those civilians in the car also involved in Munich? Later, as the movie ended, it was written on the screen that Abu Hasan Salamah was later “assassinated.” Spielberg forgot to add that he was “assassinated” by a massive car bomb in a crowded street in Beirut, which killed and injured tens of people—oh, and those people also were not involved with Munich. The reviews of the movie in US media almost expressed frustration that Spielberg did not express enough sympathy for the Israeli killers. Only Michelle Goldberg of Salon to her credit (great review Michelle) pointed out that contrary to that lousy review by Leon Wieseltier in the New Republicmany of those [Israelis] in Munich are, if anything, slightly unbelievable in their constant self-interrogation and closely guarded humanism.” I was thinking after the movie that public ignorance of the Middle East greatly helps Israeli propaganda; this explains why Zionist organizations express contempt and wrath at Middle East expertise and specialty (as in MESA) because those who get to know and learn about the Middle East overwhelming find it difficult if not impossible to consume the unbelievable dosages of Israeli propaganda delivered via US media and popular and political cultures.
*Three of the Munich Palestinian attackers survived. One died from a heart attack; the remaining two are...somewhere in the Middle East.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Miniature: The giant Uj and the prophets Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, from a work on legends of the Prophets (Early 15th century).

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A columnist at Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat explains the success of the Grand (not really) Ayatollah's list in Iraq and the demise of Iyad `Allawi (former Iraqi puppet prime minister/car bomber/Saddam's henchman/embezzler-in-Yemen). He said that it was Al-Jazeera's fault. That's right. Al-Jazeera's fault. You see, a few days before the election, Al-Jazeera's program, Al-Ittijah Al-Mu`akis hosted a program on Iraq, and a guest insulted Sistani. According to the columnist, this was a deliberate conspiracy to undermine Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat's candidate, `Allawi. OK.
Another evidence of the genius of the Lebanonese "civilization". I am translating this item verbatim from the new issue of the Lebanese weekly, Al-Afkar: "On the morning of Wednesday, the Member of Parliament from Diniyyah, Qasim `Abdul-`Aziz, visited the Saudi Ambassador in Lebanon, Mr. `Abdul-`Aziz Al-Khujah, accompanied by a farmer/artist from Bakh`un, named Jalal Jbarah, who has able to print the picture of King `Abdullah bin `Abdul-`Aziz on an apple, while it was small on the bush. The apple grew, and the picture grew with it. The Ambassador accepted a basket of the apples with the picture of the Guardian of the Two Holy Sites, with a letter of love and appreciation from the people Diniyyah to Saudi Arabia, which holds in its lap Lebanese people, including people from Diniyyah."
AIPAC is dying for another war, having not noticed the plight of the last war.
Here, US Congress expresses its opinion of the curriculum in Saudi Arabia. (I like the phrase "encourages functionality in the global economy." Who wrote this? Lord Balfour?)
LBC-TV runs short segments about "great" Lebanese before the evening news (they have included such famous Lebanese as Frank Zappa, James Zoghby, and Jack in the Box). Today, they had a segment about a Lebanese Maronite "saint" by the name of Hardini--he is huge among some in Lebanon. They said that his "miracles" are "widely known around the world." So for my readers out there, please supply me of news of his miracles that have reached you. Thanks.
I have been reading a book that will come out early next year, titled A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation From the Cold War to the War on Terror by Univ of Wisconsin historian, Alfred McCoy. (The book will be published by Henry Hold). This passage is from the book: "...the CIA would spend several billion dollars over the next decade to probe two key aspects of human consciousness--the mechanisms of mass persuasion and the effects of of coercion on individual consciousness. This complex, at times chaotic, mind-control project, had two goals: improved pscyhological warfare to influence whole societies and better interrogation techniques for targeted individuals."
"Sources in the Israeli military establishment say that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is at an all-time political low since taking over from Yasser Arafat in November 2004. Some Israeli intelligence officials believe he is considering resigning. Senior Israel Defense Forces officials and Shin Bet security service officials have said recently during internal discussions that Abbas is impotent to enforce his directives, especially on the security front." No. Really? But Bush and Rice support him. Is that not enough to bring you popular support?
An Arabic proverb says: Sleep is sultan. How true.
"Gideon Levy tells the story of Mahmoud Shawara, a 43-year-old father of nine, who left for work on his donkey one day from his house in the village of Nuaman, near Bethlehem, was arrested by border policemen, and, after he refused to accompany the soldiers without his donkey, was tied to the donkey. The frightened donkey then galloped toward the village; Shawara sustained serious injuries all over his body, and ultimately died in great pain in the hospital to which he was taken by eyewitnesses." (thanks Amal)
I watched Nihad Awad of Council on American-Islamic Relations talk on the new scandal of US spaying on Muslims in the US. How he can turn any American scandal to a fundraising opportunity. He said that he needed the help of Muslim governments to tell the US that Islam is not terrorism. Those Muslim American organizations. Who do they speak for? Nobody, I hope.
"The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001."
Laura Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Karen Hughes, among other US officials, all praise Mubarak for allowing, HOW NICE, other Egyptians to run for president. Now, Mubarak decided to jail his main rival. That is also nice. Bush's Middle East reforms continue.
News from the sovereign and "liberated" country of Iraq: "The commander of American-run prisons in Iraq says the military will not turn over any detainees or detention centers to Iraqi jailers until American officials are satisfied that the Iraqis are meeting United States standards for the care and custody of detainees." (Especially how humane US treatment of Iraqi detainees have been. Ya).
Niqula Ziyadah in a moving tribute to Khalil Tawtah.
The Lebanese civil war, the Ayatollah, and the holocaust. Now, him. Ayatollah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah has added his voice to the silly notion that the Lebanese civil war was a war of "the others" on the Lebanese land. That was never the tenor of his discourse when I interviewed him more than 3 times in the past. He said that it was a war planned by Henry Kissinger. He added that there are "documents" that prove that. Even after Kissinger dies, there will be some Arab conspiracy theorists who will still argue that Kissinger is running the Middle East. On the stupid statements of the Iranian president, he expressed surprise and dismay that people can't dispute the number of the victims of the holocaust. This is what I have to say about this: aside from all the obvious reasons, why? I mean, why do you want to dispute the number of the victims of the holocaust? Don't we also condemn those Zionists who want to prove that Jenin was not a massacre because "only" 54 were killed--which was the line of the US government by the way? I know that it is difficult for many Arabs to address the issue of the holocaust because Israel has used, abused, and exploited the holocaust for cheap political reasons. But if that is true, and it is, why do we have to punish the victims of the holocaust? The victims of the holocaust are not responsible for Zionist exploitation. We should let them rest in peace, and be respectful of their memory, and leave the holocaust out of our polemical squabbles and ideological wars. We have to reach a point where we--as Arabs--can understand Jewish suffering in the holocaust, and even be sensitive to anti-Semitism in general without having to worry about Zionist political exploitations. The two are--or should be--separate. And when we engage in the hateful talk that seems to either denigrate Jewish suffering or question the magnitude of suffering of the victims of the horrors of the holocaust, we only supply Zionist exploitations with more weapons. And I wish I can make this point without references to the polemics of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Most importantly, those who engage in anti-Semitic questioning of the methods or numbers of the holocaust only reveal their ignorance, let alone their insensitivity, just as those who decide to "cite" the trash named The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as Hamas does in its charter, also reveal their ignorance. Having said that: this bothers me about Arab "liberals" like Hazim Saghiyyah and the crowd of Mulhaq An-Nahar. They show more outrage at the stupid talk of Middle East anti-Semites, than they do at actual Israeli killing of Palestinians. But then again, Arab "liberals" more than anything else, they write to impress Western readers. `Abdur-Rahman Ar-Rashid now has an English site just so that Thomas Friedman can read him and praise him, which he does, along with David Ignatius, with predictable regularity. But I notice that the English site of Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat does not carry this article by this columnist who does not accept the number of holocaust victims. (I notice that MEMRI tends to go easy on Middle East publications that are pro-US and anti-Palestinian like Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat). Supporters of Palestinian liberation, and I count myself as a fierce supporter of the Palestinian cause, should not hesitate from vehement rejection and denunciation of anti-Jewish trash talk. And let me say this, please end this cult of Roger Garaudy among some circles in the Arab world. He was a Stalinist fanatic as a communist; and became a fanatic crackpot as a Muslim. OK? Also, don't you hate it when Israel and Zionist organizations act sanctimonious about hate speech? I mean, what is Zionism if not an institutional practice of persecution and denigration of another people in order to uproot them, and justify the theft of their lands?
Tapis "vase" (Fin du XVIIe - début du XVIIIe siècle; Iran, Kirman ?)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Read this entire article on Mehlis in Der Spiegel. This will not be published in Lebanon. "And Mehlis believes he is close to the truth -- nevertheless, he was unable to find enough solid evidence to ensure that his case would hold up in court...The German prosecutor is convinced that this network of Lebanese and Syrian officials is responsible for the murder. But to this day, he and his staff have failed to prove who the spider in the web was and who issued the orders to kill Hariri, nor have been they been able to identify the killers themselves."
This conservative writer is right: "The media may be biased, but even they support the troops."
Meanwhile, in "sovereign" Iraq: "U.S. airstrikes in Iraq have surged this fall, jumping to nearly five times the average monthly rate earlier in the year, according to U.S. military figures. Until the end of August, U.S. warplanes were conducting about 25 strikes a month. The number rose to 62 in September, then to 122 in October and 120 in November."
"U.S. Marine airstrikes targeting insurgents sheltering in Iraqi residential neighborhoods are killing civilians as well as guerrillas along the Euphrates River in far western Iraq, according to Iraqi townspeople and officials and the U.S. military."
Hasan Nasrallah on Al-Manar TV. Well, you know that we can't watch Al-Manar TV in the US anymore. It used to be offered by Globecast satellite service (which I get), but Al-Manar has been banned. I rarely watch the service of Globecast, because they mostly offer official Arab stations. I mean, how interested are you in knowing whether King `Abdullah visited this mosque or that mosque? Do you know that there are now 200 Arab TV stations? And nothing to watch as Bruce Springsteen once sang. But the interview with Nasrallah was carried live on New TV (a private Lebanese station). The political naivete and blunders of Hizbullah continue unabated since Hariri's assassination. I don't understand what their calculations are. They are yet to provide the Lebanese people with an argument--one argument--regarding their weapons, and with an explanation for their current relationship with Syria. Jumblat and the Hariri gang are of course eager to use that issue (of weapons of Hizbullah and of Palestinians) in order to please the US/Israel axis (known in Lebanon as "international legitimacy". But Hizbullah can't continue with their vague formulations especially given the rising Sunni antipathy to Hizbullah, if not to Shi`ites altogether (and sectarian animosities in Lebanon are always reciprocated), and the past history of Israel's allies in Lebanon, like Lebanese Forces. How naive is it for Nasrallah to state that he was impressed with Samir Ja`ja`'s words on Israel in the interview with Al-Mustaqbal TV last week in which he grudgingly agreed--not volunteered--that Israel is an enemy of Lebanon? And what do those words of Ja`ja` mean, when he has lied repeatedly in court about his responsibility for various assassinations and car bombs? And did not Bashir Gemayyel deny having links with Israel when Sharon was waiting for him at a restaurant in Junyah on the same day? And I can't believe how well the Hariri Inc are deceiving Hizbullah, but Hizbullah and Amal are willing victims of that deception. Of course, one has to analyze Lebanese politics in terms of sectarian calculations and all those groups and organizations are sectarian, in their agendas, and in the composition of their political organization, with the exception of the ineffective Lebanese Communist Party. It is almost certain the ministers of Amal-Hizbullah will return to the cabinet to be deceived yet again, in order that the US-Saudi plan for Lebanon prevails. Hizbullah still thinks that they are being smart, or outsmarting Hariri Inc, but the reverse is true. In today's appearance by Nasrallah, he appeared defensive, and went out of his way to appease his Lebanese critics. He even refused to respond to Jumblat's latest salvos against Hizbullah. Amal-Hizbullah: the best "rivals" that Hariri Inc can hope for. What bothers me about Lebanon these days, among 10,000 other things, is that no group and no party is willing to stand up to the arrogance and corruption of Hariri Inc. That will ensure that Lebanon will continue its slide.
If you really want sophisticated and just abstract analysis of international relations, you really have to seek the columns of Thomas Friedman. Here, Friedman analyzes the Iranian president: "So you are nothing more than a shah with a turban and a few crooked ballot boxes sprinkled around." (Do you know that there are some professors who use his writings in courses on international relations? How insulting to the students.)
"Another School Barrier for African Girls: No Toilet"
"U.S. Monitored Muslim Sites Across Nation for Radiation." Just watch. Bush will invite the leaders of Muslim American organization to the White House for one photo op and those leaders will then rush to offer praise for Bush. Hell, I would not be surprised if Ibrahim Hooper issues a fatwa calling on Muslims to consider Bush the most handsome man there is. Muslim American organizations: do they do anything beside loyalty to Saudi Arabia? And here is the full report: "EXCLUSIVE: Nuclear Monitoring of Muslims Done Without Search Warrants"
Pimpism: Lebanese publisher Ghassan Tuwayni was asked today about his opinion of `Amr Musa's initiative for Lebanese-Syrian crisis. He said it is "`Akratah" (pimpism). An-Nahar did not publish the word but said that he used an obscene word.
So who is the terrorist?

Red flags in Beirut. You never see this in the US press. And Lebanese Communist Party leader, Khalid Hdadah, is a great rally speaker. I just wish they play a bigger role, and take more initiatives.
Is there anything I can do for Al-Jazeera to end its unending monologues of Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal? Anything. Please.
After Omar Sharif, every Arab artist have to address the "international option"--i.e. the option of going global, or to Hollywood. He/she is either expecting it, or waiting for it, or claims to have turned it down. I heard an interview with Palestinian director Michel Khlayfi, and he said that he was "invited by Hollywood"--and notice that here Hollywood appears as one corporation--but that he decided to turn it down. OK. (What do you think of his Wedding in Galilee? I have seen in a few times, and I like it less as I see it.)
The US will withdraw two brigades from Iraq, bringing down troop levels to a mere 138,000. And according to international law, any occupation that relies on less than 140,000 occupation troops is NOT an occupation. So the occupation has now ended. Enjoy.
The US hoped that the Iraqi election would narrow the basis of opposition and resistance to US occupation. It looks like the elections have actually expanded the basis of opposition. Another brilliant move by George W.
There are wild rumors in the Palestinian areas about clear signs of outside funding for candidates, especially those who are on good terms with "the West" like the ever opportunistic Yasir `Abd Rabbuh. And Hamas seems to awash with cash too.
Shadow Government by Syrian poet Muhammad Al-Maghut (my translation):

"My mother is Arabism
and my father is struggle
and my sister is unity
and my uncle is positive neutralism
and my [other] uncle is non-alignment
and my brother-in-law is steadfastness
and my mother-in-law is the Arab League
and my grandfather is [Arab] Joint Defense
and my children are the streets
and I call for an exit from this chaos,
but I only hear words:
The fighter talks about war,
but never shoots one bullet
The peasant talks about good seasons,
but does not plant one seed
The worker talks about abundance in production,
but does not hit one nail
The mother talks about motherhood,
but does not give birth to a cat even
I cry...There are always new tragedies
I eat..There are always new fields
and wheat piles
I drink...There are always new rivers,
wells, and springs
I fight..There are always new enemies
and new fronts
Hemiplegia, don't treat*
But I will treat
And I have formed a shadow...emergency... government...
and I have nominated the following:
All kinds of flowers for the Ministry of Youth
The moon for the Ministry of Electricity
Rain for the Ministry of Irrigation
Swallow for the Ministry of Transportation
An eagle for the Foreign Ministry
A mole for the Ministry of Interior
A peacock for the Ministry of Defense
A parrot for the Ministry of Information
Wind for the Ministry of Planning
A drunk for the Ministry of Education
A gypsy for the Ministry of Housing
Abu Nuwwas for the Ministry of Religions
Abu Sayyaf for the Ministry of Tourism
Al-Hajjaj for the Ministry of Justice
A child for the Ministry of Holidays,
Swings, and Sweets
Abu Hurayrah a secretary general
of the ruling party, the council of ministers,
the union of writers, teachers, engineers,
workers, peasants, or for any union
or syndicate, or foundation with secrets
And Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, Ibn An-Nafis,
and Abu Al-`Atahiyah:
Ministers without ministries
Religion of state: the spring
And George Bush Sr. or Jr. or George
Washington secretary general of the UN,
NATO, WHO, the environment organization,
IAEA, weather organization, World Bank,
and data banks of any kind,
and Marx: Minister of Time..."

*A reference to the Arabic proverb, "Falij La T`alij."