December 30, 2008

Palestine's Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood

Mustafa Barghouthi, Huffingtonpost

The Israeli campaign of 'death from above' began around 11 am, on Saturday morning, the 27th of December, and stretched straight through the night into this morning. The massacre continues Sunday as I write these words.

The bloodiest single day in Palestine since the War of 1967 is far from over following on Israel's promised that this is 'only the beginning' of their campaign of state terror. At least 290 people have been murdered thus far, but the body count continues to rise at a dramatic pace as more mutilated bodies are pulled from the rubble, previous victims succumb to their wounds and new casualties are created by the minute.

What has and is occurring is nothing short of a war crime, yet the Israeli public relations machine is in full-swing, churning out lies by the minute.

Once and for all it is time to expose the myths that they have created.

1. Israelis have claimed to have ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement. read more

December 24, 2008

Hamas and the Gaza Strip Become the Major Electoral Issues in Israel

Sergio Yahni, Alternative Information Center

The three major political parties in Israel, Likud, Kadima and Labor, published their lists of candidates for the 10 February parliamentary elections as the political platforms of the parties toward the elections begins to be clearer.
As the elections approach, it is difficult to find significant ideological differences among the major actors.

All three major political parties have marginalized Palestinian citizens of Israel in their list of candidates for the Knesset. Furthermore, women, new immigrants and Jews of non-European origin are under-represented in the electoral lists. Among the first 20 candidates, the Likud included four women, three non-European Jews and two new immigrants. Kadima included five women, seven non-European Jews and three new immigrants.

Among the three major parties, only the Labor Party included non-Jews among the first 20 candidates—Ghaleb Majadlah and Shakhib Shanaan in the 15th and 16th place of the list respectively. According to the latest polls, at least one of them, Ghaleb Majadlah, has some chance of being elected. The Labor party is also the party with the highest rate of Jews of non-European descent in their lists, but they, as well as women and new immigrants, are still under-represented. However, the relatively larger representation of minorities in the party list does not amount to a representative political agenda. read more

Lebanon's supersonic solution?

Matthias S Klein
Guardian, 21 December 2008

"Russia has promised to give Lebanon 10 fighter jets. But they could be more of a liability than an military asset"

During a trip to Moscow last week the Lebanese defence minister, Elias Murr, exuberantly announced that Russia will provide Lebanon with 10 MiG-29 fighter jets, as part of a general military aid package. He added that it "was much more than we had expected".

According to Mikhail Dmitriyev, director of the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service, the planes will come out of Russia's own "existing contingent", and both modernisation and transport to Lebanon be paid for by the Russian ministry of defence. Also, they will be covered by an initial limited warranty period that later is to be followed by a maintenance agreement. Needless to say, the Lebanese pilots will also be trained in Russia. read more

December 21, 2008

Turkey's Domino Theory

David Ignatius, Washington Post
Sunday, December 21, 2008

ISTANBUL -- As Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's leading foreign policy strategist, explains the series of political choices that are ahead in the Middle East next year, he might be describing a row of dominoes. If they fall in the right direction, good things could happen. But if they start toppling the wrong way, watch out.
Davutoglu's domino theory deserves careful attention from Barack Obama's team as it thinks about Middle East strategy. The Turkish official knows his stuff. As the top adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he has managed Turkey's successful mediation between Syria and Israel as well as other delicate diplomacy in this messy part of the world. read more

December 20, 2008

A Comprehensive Approach to the Middle East Peace Process

David Miliband, Al-Hayat- 18/12/08/

Next year needs to be an important year for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Unless we make real progress, the prospect of a two-state solution will slowly - or perhaps fast - slip away. The situation on the ground leaves too many people insecure, in poverty and despair, and is rapidly undermining the political process. While both sides are tiring of the conflict, they are also tiring, faster, of efforts to resolve it.
The basics of an agreement to the Israel-Palestine conflict now command an unparalleled level of consensus. There is no viable alternative to a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders: a democratic and viable state of Palestine must live peacefully alongside an Israel secure from attack and recognised by its neighbours. Jerusalem must be the capital for both, with a just settlement for refugees.
This is not just what the Palestinian President wants; it is also what the Israeli Prime Minister aspires to. It is the position of the both the outgoing and the incoming US administrations, of Europe and the Arab world. Yet our efforts to realise this vision are not succeeding. For many ordinary Palestinians and ordinary Israelis, the endless rounds of negotiations and talks are not delivering improvements on the ground. Israelis continue to feel threatened and under siege. They tried withdrawal from Gaza and Lebanon, but were rewarded only with rocket fire.
Palestinians feel cheated and abused. Their daily experience is of checkpoints, road blocks and harassment. And despite promises made at Annapolis twelve months ago, settlement expansion has increased in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Whilst their leaders talk with Israel, ordinary Palestinians worry they are being robbed of what they are supposed to be talking about.
read more

Turkey faces obstacles in changing its constitution

Liam Hardy, The Daily Star

The Turkish foreign minister and the chief negotiator for the European Union, Ali Babacan, speaking at a NATO foreign ministers meeting recently, mentioned that the Turkish Constitution as it stands now will not help Turkey move forward with its reform agenda.

This resonates with a statement made last September by the EU's commissioner for enlargement, Olli Rehn, that constitutional reform would greatly accelerate Turkey's EU accession process and could "break the cycle" of political crises in the country. This includes last year's presidential election crisis and this year's Constitutional Court case to disband the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Although debate over changing the constitution has waned immensely over the past year, Babacan has rightly called attention to an issue that has important implications for Turkey. The current constitution, which was implemented under Turkish military rule in 1982, has caused some serious headaches. Many elements within Turkey argue that the current constitution limits basic rights and freedoms, including the freedom of speech, religious expression and association. read more

December 18, 2008

Russia, Testing U.S. Sway, Offers Lebanon 10 Warplanes


ROBERT F. WORTH, December 17, 2008
New York Times

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon’s defense minister announced in Moscow on Tuesday that Russia had offered to give the country 10 MIG-29 fighter jets that would significantly upgrade its antiquated air force and serve as a slap to the United States.

The United States is Lebanon’s main military partner, but American plans to help rebuild the country’s army and air force are moving slowly. And Russia, which is increasingly challenging the United States in regions where American influence has been paramount, has made other gestures toward reasserting itself in the Mediterranean.

Lebanon’s military had no official comment on the offer. It is far from clear whether the jets would be delivered. The deal would depend on the Lebanese government’s approval and would have to be discussed with the country’s allies, said a former Lebanese military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing diplomatic sensitivities. read more

December 17, 2008

OPEC plans further output cut


Jad Mouawad, December 16, 2008
International Herald Tribune

The OPEC cartel is preparing to announce its biggest oil production cut ever, as producers struggle to contain a collapse in prices amid a global recession, the Saudi oil minister said Tuesday.

The cut would amount to two million barrels a day, or the equivalent of 2.5 percent of global production. It would be the third cut announced by OPEC in three months, and would come on top of previous pledges to reduce production by a total of two million barrels a day.

In addition, producers outside of the cartel, including Russia, may agree to trim their production by as much as 600,000 barrels a day as OPEC appeals to outsiders to prevent prices from falling any further. read more

December 16, 2008

The bars of central Cairo: Echoes of a bygone era


Paul Schemm and Sebastian Abbot, December 15, 2008
International Herald Tribune (Photo:Ben Curtis/The Associated Press)

CAIRO: Armed with a bottle of Egyptian brandy and a bowl of steaming chickpeas, Hatem Fouad keeps watch each night over a historic slice of Cairo that is in danger of dying: the bars that once flourished amid the sweeping boulevards and graceful roundabouts of the city's European-style city center.

The former police officer is part of a cadre of older Egyptian men who frequent drinking holes and belly dancing cabarets chronicled by the Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz in the 1940s and popular with Cairo's artists and intellectuals until the late 1970s.

Many of these establishments have fallen into disrepair and disrepute as Egyptians grow more observant of Islam, with its prohibition on alcohol, and the country's elite migrates away from the traffic-choked streets of the now crumbling central city.
read more

December 15, 2008

ANALYSIS / Who wants to end the Hamas-Israel ceasefire?

Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz

Israel and Hamas on Monday ratcheted up their public statements ahead of the critical date of Friday, December 19 when the six-month old cease-fire is set to expire. In Damascus, Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal threatened that calm would end this week. At the huge Hamas rally in Gaza on Sunday, the crowds saw a Hamas activist dressed as kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told her Austrian counterpart that Israel could not leave Gaza to Hamas rule.

Rather than clarifying things, the deluge of declarations clouds them. While Meshal threatened in Damascus, Hamas leaders in Gaza said things had not yet been decided. Ambiguity serves Hamas at this point, especially with Israel announcing far and wide that it wants to continue the cease-fire. That is the message emissary Amos Gilad brought to Cairo on Sunday, and that is in fact what Livni is saying, after the threats. read more

Palestinian PM Fayyad says West Bank settlement must end for peace

Ian Black, Guardian, Monday 15 December 2008

Settlement activity in the occupied West Bank must stop at once if there is to be any prospect of reaching a two-state peace agreement with Israel, the Palestinian prime minister has warned in a Guardian interview.

Salam Fayyad said he found it "devastating" that Israelis were not even debating the settlement issue in their election campaign. He warned that Palestinian support for his policy of reform and negotiation would collapse if prospects for a workable deal faded away.

Speaking before talks with Gordon Brown this morning, Fayyad dismissed as "naive" calls by Binyamin Netanyahu, leader of Israel's rightwing Likud party, for an "economic solution" to the conflict with the Palestinians. Polls show Netanyahu beating Kadima's Tzipi Livni ahead of February's election. read more

Özür Diliyorum - I Apologize

1915'te Osmanlı Ermenileri'nin maruz kaldığı Büyük Felâket'e duyarsız kalınmasını, bunun inkâr edilmesini vicdanım kabul etmiyor.
Bu adaletsizliği reddediyor, kendi payıma Ermeni kardeşlerimin duygu ve acılarını paylaşıyor, onlardan özür diliyorum.
http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com/

My conscience does not accept that (we) remain insensitive toward and deny the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected in 1915, I reject this injustice, share in the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers, and apologize to them.

December 14, 2008

Government report details the failures of rebuilding Iraq

James Glanz and T. Christian Miller, December 14, 2008
International Herald Tribune

BAGHDAD: An unpublished, 513-page federal history of the U.S.-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

"Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience," the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag - particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army - the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures. read more

December 13, 2008

The EU's blind eye to Israel


David Morrison, The Electronic Intifada, 10 December 2008

On 1 September 2008, the European Union decided that meetings with Russia about a new partnership agreement would be postponed until the latter ended its military occupation of Georgia. In contrast, on 16 June 2008 the 27-member EU decided to "upgrade" its relations with Israel. This has now been put into effect by a decision of the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels on 8 December.

Was this in recognition of Israeli adherence to previous agreements with the EU, or progress in the peace process with the Palestinians? On the contrary, by the EU's very own standards it appears to have been a reward for Israel's military occupation of the territory of several countries, and gross violations of human rights and international law, as well as specific commitments made to the EU. If the conditions applied to Russia today were applied to Israel, the EU would immediately terminate its partnership agreements with Israel.
read more

December 12, 2008

French Muslims, more integrated than you know


Jean-Pierre Filiu- Saturday, December 06, 2008
The Daily Star-Lebanon

Those who believe in the "clash of civilizations" also claim that Islam cannot flourish in the West without creating a threat there. However, such talk falls on deaf ears in France, where Islam has been present since the Middle Ages, albeit in very small numbers initially.
The Algerian conquest in 1830 and the French protectorates over Morocco and Tunisia conferred a distinctly North African tone to Islam in France. And it was to pay tribute to the sacrifice of tens of thousands of Muslim soldiers during World War I that the French Republic decided in 1922 to build the Great Mosque in the heart of Paris.
read more

Likud Rising-Eyes Wide Shut


URI AVNERY, Counter Punch

Two documents appeared side by side in Haaretz last week, on November 21: a giant advertisement from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the results of a public opinion poll.The proximity was accidental, but to the point. The PLO ad sets out the details of the 2002 Saudi peace offer, decorated with the colorful flags of the 22 Arab and the 35 other Muslim countries which have endorsed the offer.
The public opinion poll predicts a landslide victory for Likud, which opposes every single word of the Saudi proposal.
The PLO ad is a first of its kind. At long last, the PLO leaders have decided to address the Israeli people directly.
read more

December 11, 2008

Obama's Middle East challenge

Yinon Cohen and Neve Gordon
Guardian, Thursday December 4 2008

As Barack Obama enters the oval office he will face a series of daunting challenges. One of these is the age old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been seriously, yet unsuccessfully, tackled by every American president since Jimmy Carter. The inability to reach a peaceful solution has not only had fatal repercussions for the people in Israel and the Occupied Territories, but has also been detrimental to Middle East stability and to vital US interests in the region.

In recent years, some of the hurdles facing those political leaders who want to reach a peace agreement based on the two-state solution have only grown. The Palestinians are in the midst of an internal fray between the old-guard of Fatah and the fundamentalist Hamas ideologues, and currently there is no agreed-upon leadership with which one can negotiate. The Israeli political arena has also become much more polarised, and, it will be practically impossible for whichever party wins the coming elections to sign a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians, not least because the settler movement and its supporters will control a critical bloc in the Knesset.
read more

December 10, 2008

Britain Says Most Troops to Leave Iraq

JOHN F. BURNS, December 10, 2008
New York Times

LONDON — Britain’s remaining troops in Iraq will begin withdrawing from the country in March on a timetable that will aim to leave only a small training force of 300 to 400 by June, according to Defense Ministry officials quoted by the BBC and several of Britain’s major newspapers on Wednesday.
The long-expected drawdown of the British force next year from its current level of 4,100 troops will bring an effective end to Britain’s role as the principal partner of the United States in the occupation of Iraq. In the invasion in March 2003, a British force of more than 46,000 troops participated in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
read more

Israeli Wall Fuels Migration


Linda Gradstein, The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 10
JERUSALEM -- Samih Bashir, a Palestinian lawyer, plans to move early next year to a large house with two living rooms, three bathrooms and a big backyard where his four children can play. It is in a Jerusalem neighborhood called French Hill -- a part of the city that Israel says will never become part of a Palestinian state. Bashir worries that his current neighborhood, Beit Hanina, would end up under Palestinian control if the two sides ever reach a peace deal.

In some ways, the move is a psychological one. There is no legal difference between Beit Hanina and French Hill. Both are parts of East Jerusalem that Israel occupied during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and unilaterally annexed soon after, a status not recognized by the international community. But French Hill is a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, and Beit Hanina is overwhelmingly Arab.

"They're talking about giving this area back to the Palestinians, and then we would be stuck here," Bashir, who holds Israeli citizenship, said of Beit Hanina. "My wife works in the Jerusalem municipality as a social worker. How would she get to her job if this area becomes Palestinian?"
read more

Palestinian prisoners’ release is delayed - but why?

Arabist
Are the Israelis trying to destabilize Mahmoud Abbas with this leak?

JERUSALEM – Israeli officials said Monday they would delay the release of 250 Palestinian prisoners until next week because of a request by Palestinian officials.
They said the Palestinian officials had asked for the delay because President Mahmoud Abbas is out of the country and wants to be back in the West Bank to greet the freed prisoners.

Note that if they were immediately released they could spend eid with their families.

December 8, 2008

Yaşar Kemal'in Ödül Konuşmasının Tam Metni



Ben, bu yaşta, böyle bir ödül almaktan memnunum. Beni bu ödülle onurlandıranlara teşekkür ederim. Bugünü benimle paylaşan dostlarım da sağolun.

Biliyorum, bir takım düşünceleri her zaman söylemek bıktırıcıdır. Yine de her fırsat buldukça söylediğim, yazdığım düşünceleri tekrarlayacağım.

Biz, Cumhuriyet çağının sanatçıları, romancılar, şairler, ressamlar, kendi kültürümüze, dilimize dönmeyi öğrendik. Tercüme bürosunun çevirdiği dünya klasikleri ile yetiştik. Halkevlerinin, Köy Enstitülerinin kuruluşları bize yardım etti. O Köy Enstitüleri ki, gelecekte dünyamızı gerçek insanlığa kavuşturacak tek eğitim düzenidir.

Bugün Türk romanı, şiiri, resmi artık dünyada yüzümüzü güldürecek duruma gelmiştir. Türkiye'nin sanatçıları soluk alabildiğinde dünya görkemli sanatçılarla karşılaşır.

devamini okumak icin tiklayiniz

Jumblatt repeats warning that Syria imperils Lebanon's independence



The Daily Star-Lebanon
Monday, December 08, 2008

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) leader MP Walid Jumblatt said on Sunday that the Syrian regime posed a danger to Lebanon's "independence movement," referring to his anti-Damascus March 14 Forces. "The Syrian regime is the first and last danger that the independence movement is facing," he told his party's general assembly, which was held in the town of Baakline in the Chouf Mountains, southeast of Beirut.

Jumblatt said that next year's parliamentary elections would decide Lebanon's fate in the near future.

"If the March 14 Forces lose the elections, the country will return to the period of Syrian tutelage," he said.
read more

A Report on the 4 December Settler Attacks on Palestinians in Hebron



Ahmad Jaradat, Alternative Information Center (AIC)
08 December 2008

On Thursday, 4 December, in the early evening, hundreds of Israeli settlers from settlements in the Hebron region attacked Palestinian residents of the city of Hebron. The settlers, mostly armed young men from Kiryat Arba, split into smaller groups and set fire to five homes and nine cars. They also damaged nine other vehicles, including the city’s ambulances and a fire truck that was dispatched to put out fires started by the settlers. The settlers wounded some two dozen Palestinians, nine of whom were shot by the settlers. The serious attacks occurred in an areas that are located near Kiryat Arba, such as Wadi Nassara, Wadi Husain, Ja’bari Square and al-Ras.
Abed al-Hay Abu Is’afan, 67, who was shot in the leg by settlers, stated “When the settlers attacked our house and wanted to burn it, we tried to stop them and defend our family. One of the settlers shot my son Hisni on the left side of his chest from two meters away. And then he shot me. This happened in front of many soldiers who were in the place, but didn’t stop him or arrest him. My son is now in the hospital in serious condition.”

read more

Lebanon's Aoun Visits Syria

Al-Jazeera, News-Middle East

Michel Aoun, leader of Lebanon's National Patriotic Movement, has been holding meetings with Syrian officials in Damascus.
Speaking before he departing for Damascus on Wednesday, Aoun said that his visit is justified because diplomatic ties have been set up between the Lebanese and Syrian governments.
"They are welcoming me with admiration and respect ... I was a rival and the rivalry has ended and I may become a friend," he said.
read more

Palestinians fear Israeli moves in parts of East Jerusalem


By Isabel Kershner,
International Herald Tribune, Published: December 7, 2008

JERUSALEM: A series of recent Israeli actions in the mainly Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem have raised tensions there, with Palestinian and Israeli critics contending that they are part of a wider plan to "Judaize" historically charged areas around the Old City.

The actions, ostensibly unconnected, include the demolition of two Arab homes in Silwan, a neighborhood adjacent to the Old City above the ruins of an ancient Jewish site; the start of a controversial infrastructure project there; and the eviction of a Palestinian family from its home in Sheik Jarrah, another neighborhood coveted by Jewish nationalists near the Old City.

None of these actions in themselves are that unusual here. But the spate of high-profile, highly symbolic moves in the past few weeks has reignited concerns that an increasing Jewish presence in Arab areas will further complicate the chances of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian political agreement based on a two-state solution that calls for a division of powers in a shared capital.

Read more...

December 7, 2008

Turkey in Arab Eyes

Mustafa El-Labbad, Al-Ahram Weekly

After an absence of many decades, Turkey has returned as a major player in the Middle East. Clearly motivated by national interests, its reengagement in the affairs of the region will have significant repercussions on Middle Eastern balances of powers. It will also impact on the way Arab elites regard Turkey and their judgements on that country's historical experience since the declaration of the republic in 1923.

Despite its relatively long absence, the ideological prism through which Arab politicians and intellectuals of all shades of the political spectrum view Turkey has hampered an objective view of that great and ancient country that had such a profound historical impact on the region. For decades, Arab leftists and Arab nationalists branded Turkey as subordinate to the West on the basis of the Cold War experience and Ankara's membership in the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and then NATO. This static, one dimensional and essentially facile judgement naturally hampered the ability to monitor and appreciate the major developments and changes that Turkey has undergone. Arab Islamists, meanwhile, have long faulted the founders of the Turkish Republic for having ended -- and establishing itself on the ruins of -- the Islamic caliphate. Yet, so intent are they in condemning the republic for its "historical crime" that they missed the fact that the founders of the republic actually scored a historical achievement, which was to salvage what they could of an empire that had already disintegrated and that the West had virtually pronounced dead. Indeed, even Istanbul, the capital of the country and the seat of the caliphate, was under foreign occupation at the time of the founding of the republic, along with other chunks of present day Turkey, and it fell to Turkish soldiers in the ranks of Mustafa Kemal to recapture their land from British, Italian and even Greek forces.

read more

December 4, 2008

Mamma Mia


Sophie yaklasmakta olan dugununden once annesinin gunluklerini okur. Babasini bulmak ve dugununde onunla beraber yuruyebilmek umuduyla annesinin uc eski sevgilisine annesinden habersiz dugun davetiyesi gonderir. Baba adaylari da dugune katilmak icin Yunan adasi Kalokairi'ye gelirler. Fakat isler gorundugu gibi yurumez ve Sophie son ana kadar adaylardan hangisinin kendi babasi olduguna karar veremez. Annesi -Donna- ise Sam'in Sophie'nin babasi oldugunu bilmektedir. Dugun gunu isler karisir. Sophie'nin dugunu ertelenir, Sam Donna'ya evlilik teklif eder ve Donna kabul eder.

Konusunu yukarida kisaca ozetlemeye calistigim Mamma Mia tum zamanlarin en iyi Hollywood film muzikalinin sinemaya uyarlanmis hali. Pop grubu Abba'nin sarkilari (I Have A Dream, Honey Honey, Money Money Money, Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Our Last Summer...) filme renk katiyor.

"mamma mia, here i go again
my my, how can i resist you?
mamma mia, does it show again?
my my, just how much i've missed you
yes, i've been brokenhearted
blue since the day we parted
why, why did i ever let you go?
mamma mia, now i really know,
my my, i could never let you go."