Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Be back soon

My computer up and died on me the other day, and we're off tomorrow morning on an unexpected trip to Amman.

I'll be back soon.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Two for one!

Ok, I've got to go do something with my time. But you should check out the two-for-the-price-of-one Salon advertisement and check out the two quite good articles on Lebanon and Hizbullah that popped up on the site yesterday.

The "Hiding Among Civilians" Myth

Watching Beirut Die (by Anthony Bourdain, who you might know from Kitchen Confidential)

Put your money where your mouth is . . .

. . . or something like that. For all this talk about Lebanon and Syria, isn't it kind of ironic that Syria's ambassador to the U.S. hasn't once been contacted by the White House in a year and a half?

Welcome to the dementia that is this administration's foreign policy.

Imad Moustapha says, "But I do now occupy the unique position of being the only ambassador of a rogue state in the United States," and then adds: "That's a joke. We are not a rogue state. But no other 'quote, unquote' rogue state has an ambassador here."

A kind of hilarious article.

Dept. of "What dope is this guy smoking?"

One can always count on Bush and Co. to fill us in on what the real picture is in the Middle East. Yesterday I heard him declare--no less than 5 times--on NPR the following:

"Hezbollah attacked Israel. I know Hezbollah is connected to Iran. Now is the time for the world to confront this danger . . . Now is the time to address the root cause of the problem and the root cause of the problem is terrorist groups trying to stop the advance of democracy."

You've got to be kidding me.

It's these ridiculous links that are made and repeated ad infinitum in the media that end up sticking in people's minds. I mean, all this is about democracy, for Pete's sake? Give me a break.

This is one big reason why when I tell my mother I'll likely be heading to Jordan in September on a quick job she asks me, "But don't you think it's unsafe?" Jordan is not its own entity, but rather one small part of an insane, monochromatic area of the world where terrorists run rampant and look to take out as many people as possible. And my mom's been to Jordan more than once herself--she's one of the more enlightened ones! Geez, this stuff gets so tiring.

"Who are the real terrorists in the Middle East?"

Wednesday's Independent has an excellent commentary by Oren Ben-Dor, an Israeli who's definitely not a fan of Israel's military adventures. Reading something like this is probably much better than listening to me rant on and on.

Here's a bit:

. . .While states should defend their citizens, states which fail this duty should be questioned and, if necessary, reconfigured. Israel is a state which, instead of defending its citizens, puts all of them, Jews as well as non-Jews, in danger.

What exactly is being defended by the violence in Gaza and Lebanon? Is it the citizens of Israel or the nature of the Israeli state? I suggest the latter. Israel's statehood is based on an unjust ideology which causes indignity and suffering for those who are classified as non-Jewish by either a religious or ethnic test. To hide this primordial immorality, Israel fosters an image of victimhood. Provoking violence, consciously or unconsciously, against which one must defend oneself is a key feature of the victim-mentality. By perpetuating such a tragic cycle, Israel is a terrorist state like no other. . .

Take a look at the rest--he's got some extremely valid points. Somehow I can't imagine coming across this one here in the U.S.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sad but true

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Israel Commits War Crimes in Lebanon"

Seen the latest from Robert Fisk?

. . . For the second time in eight days, the Israelis committed a war crime yesterday. They ordered the villagers of Taire, near the border, to leave their homes and then - as their convoy of cars and minibuses obediently trailed northwards - the Israeli air force fired a missile into the rear minibus, killing three refugees and seriously wounding 13 other civilians. The rocket that killed them is believed to have been a Hellfire missile made by Lockheed Martin in Florida.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Brand Israel: A Jordanian perspective

I just loved Ahmad's post a few days ago that takes up the idea of what Israel might possibility be thinking in terms of "branding" itself for the rest of the world. A great read!

Here's a snippet:

. . . Israel’s overwhelming firepower makes sure that the suffering it inflicts on Arab civilians is always greater than anything the other side can inflict upon Israel.I am not attempting a political or military analysis here. I am just wondering about Israel’s ‘branding strategy’ when it comes its neighboring audiences. We keep hearing from Israelis that all they want is to live in peace in this region. How does that fit with Israel’s actions that produce an image of a country that can only be seen as ‘barbaric’?

Your tax dollars hard at work

Just in case you haven't seen this one yet, Saturday's New York Times reports that our government is rushing a delivery of bombs to Israel (source). Too many civilians, not enough bombs . . .

WASHINGTON, July 21 — The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A primer on Palestinian discontent

Gosh, it's so nice to engage in discussion with people truly interested to know about what's going on in Palestine and Lebanon. I was a bit early picking Issy up from his summer camp today, and two of his teachers sat with me and wanted me to tell them what Israel's problem is. They are annoyed with all the civilians dying in Lebanon and feel frustrated at how difficult it is to get information that's not pro-Israeli.

I told them a bit about my experience living in Jordan and what I know of how difficult life is for Palestinians. The questions kept coming, which is refreshing after feeling so insulated from everything all the way over here in the U.S.

And yeah, Palestinian suffering continues. It's been brutal--and going on for way too long, as this Salon article confirms. A fascinating read--especially for those of you who don't know a lot about the mass ejection of Palestinians from their homes early in Israel's history.

U.S. media vs. the rest of the world on Lebanon

Jefferson Morley over at The Washington Post site has an interesting comparison of international media outlets' take on Israel's war on Lebanon. Check it out.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

There's no grand plan

Again and again I keep hearing about the close connection between Iran, Syria and Hizbollah. This connection is there, to be sure, but the heavy emphasis we keep listening to our oh-so-knowledgeable American pundits go on and on about makes me more and more certain that Bush and Co.'s grand scheme to take on Syria and Iran has been an easy sell over here. My only solace is that I can't imagine how on earth this government would give a green light to start up more wars at the rate of debt we're accumulating in Iraq. Well, perhaps Israel will do the job for us (heh heh).

Anthony Shadid of The Washington Post had it right on NPR yesterday, when he said that Hizbollah's engagement with Israel has nothing whatsoever to do with taking orders from Iran or Syria. It's pretty plain and simple: everyone in the Arab World is fed up with Israel's apartheid state and the horrific treatment of Palestinians on a daily basis. Hizbollah considers itself at war with the Israeli state and so capturing a few "Defense Force" soldiers in no way differs from the acts of war Israel engages in daily against Palestinian civilians.

I just came across a great piece by Tariq Ali in the Guardian that's worth a read. Here are a few bits and pieces:

In his last interview - after the 1967 six-day war - the historian Isaac Deutscher, whose next-of-kin had died in the Nazi camps and whose surviving relations lived in Israel, said: "To justify or condone Israel's wars against the Arabs is to render Israel a very bad service indeed and harm its own long-term interest." Comparing Israel to Prussia, he issued a sombre warning: "The Germans have summed up their own experience in the bitter phrase 'Man kann sich totseigen!' 'You can triumph yourself to death'."

In Israel's actions today we can detect many of the elements of hubris: an imperial arrogance, a distortion of reality, an awareness of its military superiority, the self-righteousness with which it wrecks the social infrastructure of weaker states, and a belief in its racial superiority. The loss of many civilian lives in Gaza and Lebanon matters less than the capture or death of a single Israeli soldier. In this, Israeli actions are validated by the US. . .

. . . I was in Beirut in May, when the Israeli army entered and killed two "terrorists" from a Palestinian splinter group. The latter responded with rockets. Israeli warplanes punished Hizbullah by dropping over 50 bombs on its villages and headquarters near the border. . . A protracted colonial war lies ahead, since Hizbullah, like Hamas, has mass support. It cannot be written off as a "terrorist" organisation. The Arab world sees its forces as freedom fighters resisting colonial occupation.

There are 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli gulags. That is why Israeli soldiers are captured. Prisoner exchanges have occurred as a result. To blame Syria and Iran for Israel's latest offensive is frivolous. Until the question of Palestine is resolved and Iraq's occupation ended, there will be no peace in the region. A "UN" force to deter Hizbullah, but not Israel, is a nonsensical notion.