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  • 16th November, 2010

    On the right to resist ‘foreign occupation’

    by Sunny at 9:47 am    

    Last week the former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Moazzam Begg said this:

    If you are asking me what are my feelings towards people fighting occupation, the answer is I completely support them. I believe in the inalienable right to defend yourself against foreign occupation.

    Predictably, the bloggers at Harry’s Place went postal. ‘habibi’ said: “It is a ridiculous statement.”.. and “It is no surprise that people such as the managers of the East London Mosque have no problem with Begg and Cageprisoners spreading their extremist messages.”

    ZOMG! Terrorist!

    Last year I asked David T (of Harry’s Place) about the right to defend one’s homeland. After much obfuscation and dodging the question, he finally admitted that proportional action would be…

    A variety of things, including military action aimed at Israeli soldiers, that is proportionate and likely to achieve the aims of an independent Palestine.

    So, in other words, David T of Harry’s Place supports the right of people to resist foreign occupation. It’s also worth noting, the blog hasn’t ever (that I’ve seen) criticised British Jews from going to Israel and joining the Israeli Defence Force, to fight Palestinians. And so continues the blog’s long-running series of scenarios where it’s one rule for Muslims and another for everyone else.

    Now let’s be clear: I’m against anyone going to foreign countries and getting involved in conflicts that kill innocent people. I was for Nato staying in Afghanistan and getting rid of the Taliban but that looks like an increasingly impossible goal. Let’s also not pretend that Nato soldiers aren’t killing innocent people in Afghanistan - there is too much fucking evidence for supposedly-informed bloggers to ignore.

    But there are hypocritical fuckwits with a clear view of the world: Westerners = good; bearded Muzzlims = bad, and they will ignore deaths of innocent civilians in the Middle East by Nato forces and pretend there is no moral dilemma. These are the people who have one rule for Muslims and another for the ‘good guys’. Above is one perfect example.

    1st November, 2010

    We need the right response to terrorism from Yemen

    by guest at 12:45 pm    

    by Naadir Jeewa

    David Randall and Andrew Johnson in the Independent open their feature article “the axis of terror got bigger yesterday.” Well, not quite. Yemen has been a potential source of terrorist attacks on the West for a large portion of the last decade. The rest of the article is quite good in explaining the dire conditions within Yemen fuelling conflict, but there’s a problem with this:

    …there comes to prominence one Yemeni who – in the eyes of America and some leading security specialists – is on a par with Osama bin Laden: Anwar al-Awlaki. Linked to three of the 9/11 bombers, the Fort Hood shootings, last Christmas’s failed "underpants" bomber and the Times Square bombing, he has been described by a US representative as "No 1 terrorist", and yesterday by Sajjan M Gohel, director for international security for the London-based Asia-Pacific Foundation, as "the most dangerous ideologue in the world".

    Umm…no. Anwar al-Awlaki is not a senior figure in AQAP. By focusing strategy on charismatic jihadi PR figures like al-Awlaki, we miss the strategic leaders who perform the nuts & bolts job of actually perpetrating terror, who we really should be focusing on, such as Nasir al-Wihayshi & Qasim al-Raymi, former disciples of Osama Bin Laden.

    After the Soviet-Afghan War, Yemeni mujahedeen made a tacit deal with the extremely weak regime of President Saleh’s, allowing them freedom of movement as long as they didn’t challenge the regime. However, in February 2006, 23 Al Qaeda suspects, largely rounded up by Saudi Arabia, plus al-Wihayshi and Qasim al-Raymi escaped from prison. Several months later, Yemen experienced car bombings and attacks on oil installations. Ever since, terrorist attacks have been on the rise.

    The official response is to single out Al-Awlaki for targeted killing by drone strikes. Legal issues notwithstanding, drone strikes have been a major driver of recruitment by causing civilian casualties, and this is easily woven into a narrative that conflates internal Yemeni conflict with the United States.

    I’m not entirely sure what the best way forward is. Perhaps it’s some sort of counterinsurgency campaign – but this will take resources the Yemeni forces don’t have. Some attempt to resolve President Saleh’s on-off civil war with the Houthis would help, which is currently a distraction from defeating Al Qaeda. And some economic growth to offset a rapidly growing population, declining receipts from the sale of oil, and a drug problem with large segments of the population addicted to Qat, the cultivation of which is fuelling water-based conflict.

    By and large, the story of counterterrorism operations in Yemen will be a local one, dealing with local actors, most of whom, the press will never bother reporting on.

    Note: For some decent coverage on Yemen, may I recommend Greg Johnsen, here in a guest post at Foreign Policy.

    26th October, 2010

    Is Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai the slickest politician around?

    by Sunny at 10:00 am    

    Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, manages to unite the United States and Iran….. in, err, giving him bags of cash.

    President Hamid Karzai acknowledged on Monday that he regularly receives bags of cash from the Iranian government in payments amounting to millions of dollars, as evidence mounted of a worsening rift between his government and its American and NATO supporters.

    During an often hostile news conference, Mr. Karzai also accused the United States of financing the “killing” of Afghans by paying private security contractors to guard construction projects and convoys in Afghanistan. He has declined to postpone a December deadline he set for ending the use of private security forces despite urgent pleas from Western organizations, including development organizations, that need protection here.

    To summarise: Nato presence in Afghanistan has become a joke and a massive waste of money. I think it’s probably best President Obama pulls out now, this situation does not look to be improving.

    10th October, 2010

    Conflict, encapsulated

    by Sunny at 9:17 am    

    An Israeli driver runs down a masked Palestinian youth, standing amongst a group of children throwing stones at Israeli cars in Silwan, a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. NYTimes

    Filed under: Middle East
    4th October, 2010

    Leaked documents show how US ignored warnings about Afghanistan and made it worse

    by guest at 9:44 am    

    by Iman Qureshi

    Probably around the time that then US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage infamously informed President Pervez Musharraf that he would bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if it didn’t comply with American demands, the following correspondence between the two countries, recently declassified and published by the National Security Archive on 13 September 2010, took place.

    These documents reveal that the US voiced to Pakistan their refusal to engage in any discourse with the Taliban, and instead forge straight ahead with military action.

    US Ambassador to Pakistan tells President Musharraf that “there was absolutely no inclination in Washington to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban.”

    The US further put to Pakistan a list of seven non-negotiable demands:
    1. To stop al Qaeda at the border;
    2. Provide the US with blanket landing rights to conduct operations;
    3. Provide territorial and naval access;
    4. Provide intelligence;
    5. Publicly condemn terrorist attacks;
    6. Cut off recruits and supplies to the Taliban;
    7. Break diplomatic relations with the Taliban and help the US destroy Osama Bin Laden.

    Continue Reading...
    29th September, 2010

    Barbaric regime jails blogger for twenty years

    by Rumbold at 11:17 am    

    A prominent blogger in Iran has been jailed for nineteen and a half years by the Iranian regime:

    Readers of the Guardian’s news section may have seen that Hossein Derakhshan, the prominent Iranian blogger, has been jailed for 19 and a half years by a court in Tehran.

    Derakhshan, who also has Canadian citizenship, was apparently convicted of “co-operation with hostile countries, spreading propaganda against the establishment, promoting counter-revolutionary groups, insulting Islamic thought and religious figures and managing obscene websites”.

    This continues the trend for Iran’s regime in handing out vicious and/or lengthy punishments to people who cross it, migrants or women.

    24th September, 2010

    Ahmadinejad - the bad news and the good news

    by Sunny at 9:10 am    

    The bad news is that this quasi-dictator still keeps spouting anti-semitism and 9/11 conspiracy theories.

    The good news is:

    He briefly touch on the four sets of sanctions imposed on his country by the United Nations over Tehran’s refusal stop enriching uranium and to prove Iran is not trying to build an atomic bomb.

    Some members of the Security Council have “equated nuclear energy with nuclear bombs,” Ahmadinejad said. He accused the United States of building up its nuclear arsenal instead of dismantling it and reiterated his call for a nuclear-free world.

    “The nuclear bomb is the worst inhumane weapon and which must totally be eliminated. The NPT (Nonproliferation Treaty) prohibits its development and stockpiling and calls for nuclear disarmament,” the Iranian president said.

    Of course, some people may choose not to believe him, but Ahmedinejad usually shoots straight from the hip. Besides, at least that’s better than threatening his neighbours with nukes.

    18th September, 2010

    Israel walks away from peace process (again)

    by Sunny at 10:47 am    

    AFP reported this yesterday:

    Israel reiterated on Friday its refusal to extend curbs on settlement building that expire this month, despite US pressure and Palestinian threats to walk out of peace talks.

    Meanwhile, US envoy George Mitchell met Lebanese President Michel Sleiman as part of Washington’s target of forging a comprehensive Middle East peace. “The prime minister has not changed his position on this issue, there is no question of extending the moratorium,” a senior Israeli government official told AFP, asking not to be named.

    The 10-month measure to curb construction of settler homes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank concludes at the end of this month.

    Abbas told Netanyahu during the talks that he would walk out of the negotiations if Israel does not renew the moratorium, according to an aide.

    And yet it’s always Palestinians being blamed for the peace process going nowhere. I wonder if any of Israel’s usual supporters will condemn this and put pressure on the govt to stop the settlements. Don’t hold your breath though.

    8th September, 2010

    Castro to Ahmedinijad - stop your bloody anti-semitism

    by Sunny at 9:50 am    

    I don’t have much time for some of the dishonest reporting that Jeffrey Goldberg does (search the blog for examples), but this account with Fidel Castro (if true) is interesting:

    Castro’s message to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, was not so abstract, however. Over the course of this first, five-hour discussion, Castro repeatedly returned to his excoriation of anti-Semitism. He criticized Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust and explained why the Iranian government would better serve the cause of peace by acknowledging the “unique” history of anti-Semitism and trying to understand why Israelis fear for their existence.

    Castro went on to analyze the conflict between Israel and Iran. He said he understood Iranian fears of Israeli-American aggression and he added that, in his view, American sanctions and Israeli threats will not dissuade the Iranian leadership from pursuing nuclear weapons. “This problem is not going to get resolved, because the Iranians are not going to back down in the face of threats. That’s my opinion,” he said. He then noted that, unlike Cuba, Iran is a “profoundly religious country,” and he said that religious leaders are less apt to compromise. He noted that even secular Cuba has resisted various American demands over the past 50 years.

    I think both points are spot on. Mahmoud Ahmedinijad is indefensible because he is a racist and anti-semitic quasi-dictator. But at the same time, Iranians are also paranoid about US-Israeli aggression and unlikely to give up attempts at pursuing nuclear weapons (if that is indeed the case) if aggression is the main tactic used against them. They’re not going to back down because they don’t trust US motives and expect the country to be turned into a military colonised hell-hole that Iraq has become.

    It’s bizarre that it takes someone like Castro to point out the obvious. I wonder if Goldberg himself will be intelligent enough to pay heed.

    31st August, 2010

    ‘Palestinian Gandhi’ convicted for protesting; US remains silent

    by Sunny at 10:05 am    

    Common Dreams reports:

    Last week, an Israeli military court convicted Abdallah Abu Rahmah, whom progressive Zionists have called a “Palestinian Gandhi,” of “incitement” and “organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations” for organizing protests against the confiscation of Palestinian land by the “Apartheid Wall” in the village of Bilin in the West Bank, following an eight month trial, during which he was kept in prison.

    The European Union issued a protest. But as far as I am aware, no U.S. official has said anything and no U.S. newspaper columnist has denounced this act of repression; indeed, the U.S. press hasn’t even reported the news.

    Many of Israel’s ardent supporters keep demanding where peaceful Palestinians protesters are, and yet remain silent when this kind of stuff happens. More at the Guardian.

    (via @TenPercent)

    18th August, 2010

    ‘Attack Iran now! Like, tomorrow!’

    by Sunny at 9:30 am    

    Right on cue, after Jeffrey Goldberg’s propaganda piece, up pops cranky mad man John Bolton, former Bush acolyte. He declares Israel has only about eight days to attack Iran. Maybe less. Whatever, just attack them now dammit!
    (via @randomvariable).

    As Foreign Policy blog points out, Bolton said the same thing in 2009. And, err, in 2008. He’s a straight-up nutjob.

    US professor Juan Cole also says that Bolton is actually contradicted by George Bush , who approved the very nuclear reactor deal Bolton is scare-mongering about.

    There’s no other way to describe these people. They’re mad. They just want a continuous state of war in order to achieve peace.

    13th August, 2010

    Jeffrey Goldberg, propaganda merchant for Israel’s plan to attack Iran

    by Sunny at 11:33 am    

    I pointed yesterday to an article by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, who says quite seriously that Israel wants to attack Iran over the next 12 months because ‘it has no choice‘ (he says so, so it must be true). Glenn Greenwald today points out why Goldberg is laying the ground for the neo-cons.

    1) This is Goldberg in his recent article: “In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions…”.

    This is Goldberg in 2002 when he advocating invading Iraq:

    Saddam Hussein never gave up his hope of turning Iraq into a nuclear power. After the Osirak attack, he rebuilt, redoubled his efforts, and dispersed his facilities.

    I admire people who can hold and understand two opposing views but this is ridiculous. As Greenwald says: “This is what a propagandist, by definition, does: asserts any claim as fact in service of a concealed agenda without the slightest concern for whether it’s true.”

    2) And what about Goldberg’s claim that, “the imposition of devastating economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran will persuade its leaders to cease their pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

    Does Iran actually have nuclear weapons? In the wingnut community this is accepted as fact. But (I’d blogged this but completely forgotten about it), as Jonathan Schwarz points out:

    The official position of the U.S. intelligence community about this remains the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate. And it said Iran stopped pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003. Maybe it was wrong, or maybe something’s changed since then. But it is the essence of Goldberg-itude to simply ignore this and assert the opposite as unquestionable fact.

    Remember - this report came out under the Bush administration - which was trying its hardest at the time to create a drumbeat against Iran too. Is there any new evidence to contradict this? No, it’s just accepted as a given that Iran is developing nukes, even if the intelligence community says its bollocks.

    You have to admire neo-con chutzpah: they’re not only happy to u-turn when required, but happy to ignore America’s military-intelligence establishment. Maybe US national intelligence is infiltrated by Muslims? Arabists? Wet-liberals! Who knows.

    12th August, 2010

    The drumbeat to declare war on Iran gets louder

    by Sunny at 9:59 am    

    Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic has written a long article titled: The point of no return.

    His point is that within the next 12 months, Israel will take the unilateral decision to fly into Iranian airspace and attack what it believes to be its nuclear weapons programme.

    When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel—regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program—they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.

    At least he’s realistic about what the consequences will be. And those are just the short-term consequences.

    But the article then goes on to say, in effect, that Israel thinks it has no choice because Obama’s willingness to confront Iran isn’t credible. He concludes, after spending a lot of time discussing Israeli perspective, with:

    Based on months of interviews, I have come to believe that the administration knows it is a near-certainty that Israel will act against Iran soon if nothing or no one else stops the nuclear program; and Obama knows—as his aides, and others in the State and Defense departments made clear to me—that a nuclear-armed Iran is a serious threat to the interests of the United States, which include his dream of a world without nuclear weapons.

    It looks like a kite-flying operation. The drumbeat for Obama to attack Iran otherwise Israel will, is likely to kick off with this… though it has been in motion for a while.

    But here’s the thing: the article doesn’t even bother discussing that bizarre concept of peace. It’s assumed without doubt that the Iranians are only interested in obliterating Israel and that no peaceful settlement can be found.

    I also have this radical idea. It involves Israel making significant overtures to its Arab neighbours by stop building illegal settlements, working with the Obama adminstration to build on peaceful steps, and offering Palestinians much more autonomy, aid and land. That would reduce tensions massively across the Middle East, create the environment for a closer relationship with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and would isolate Iran. But none of this is discussed as a viable option. There’s only one option: either Israel attacks or the US does something drastic. The neo-cons have learnt absolutely-fucking-nothing from their previous escapades.

    28th July, 2010

    The Israeli Octopus?

    by Rumbold at 8:26 pm    

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has caused a fresh diplomatic storm after attacking Germany’s most popular octopus:

    The Iranian president accused the octopus of spreading “western propaganda and superstition.” Paul was mentioned by Mr Ahmadinejad on various occasions during a speech in Tehran at the weekend.

    “Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection, basing themselves in the love of all sacred values,” he said.

    Some may laugh, but last week a Pickled Politics reporter was able to obtain an exclusive shot of Paul attending the World Zionist Conference:

    This also vindicates Martin Linton. Mr Linton, an MP, was heavily criticised after referring to “the long tentacles of Israel” and their impact on British politics. It seems he was right, and critics, including myself, clearly owe him an apology.

    (Via Mr Eugenides)

    Filed under: Humour,Middle East
    27th July, 2010

    Afghanistan, now an unwinnable war?

    by guest at 2:55 pm    

    guest post by Ghaffar Hussain of Quilliam Foundation

    So Wikileaks has published a ‘treasure trove’ of classified documents on Afghanistan which has got journalists very excited. But what new information has been revealed? Civilian causalities are being under-reported? Pakistan and Iran have been assisting the Taliban? Taliban leaders are being hunted and killed without a trail? Things are generally going badly?

    None of this is news and it merely confirms what has already been reported in the past. However, that doesn’t mean that these leaks are insignificant. In fact, they are very significant in the realm of public perceptions.

    The Afghanistan campaign has been compared to Vietnam in the past, often much to the irritation of military officials. But that comparison will become very difficult to ignore now with this leak. In 1971, the New York Times published excerpts of a secret document called United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense.

    Continue Reading...
    19th July, 2010

    Benjamin Netanyahu caught saying what he really thinks

    by Sunny at 10:02 am    

    Bizarre this hasn’t made more of a splash. Tablet Magazine reports:

    Meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu last week, President Obama could not have been more effusive. “I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace,” Obama said. “I believe he is ready to take risks for peace.”

    A newly revealed tape of Netanyahu in 2001, being interviewed while he thinks the cameras are off, shows him in a radically different light. In it, Netanyahu dismisses American foreign policy as easy to maneuver, boasts of having derailed the Oslo accords with political trickery, and suggests that the only way to deal with the Palestinians is to “beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until it’s unbearable” (all translations are mine).

    According to Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, the video should be “Banned for viewing by children so as not to corrupt them, and distributed around the country and the world so that everyone will know who leads the government of Israel.”

    The idea that the Prime Minister of Israel wants peace always has been bollocks. His continuous refusal to curb the settlements already pointed to that fact. This just reinforces it.
    via Neil R

    15th June, 2010

    David Miliband expresses regret over Lebanon invasion fiasco

    by Sunny at 10:10 am    

    Well here’s a surprise. Asked what were his top three policy regrets were, David Miliband cited Israel’s invasion of Lebanon as the top one.

    Lebanon: he argued in Cabinet and wished he had been more successful in persuading his colleagues and senior colleagues.

    You’ll remember that over 1000 civilians died in Lebanon when Israel decided to invade and bomb. I’m surprised the elder Miliband is willing to admit he wasn’t successful enough in convincing his colleagues to take a stronger stance against Israel, but it’s better than nothing I suppose.

    He also admitted it was stupid of the party to try and stop Ken Livingstone running as Labour’s candidate for Mayor. And he repeated his line: “The worst thing to happen to Tony Blair was George Bush.” The ultra-Blairite is saying things that even now the decent left and neo-cons will not admit to. Maybe he has more sense than I thought.

    Filed under: Middle East
    7th June, 2010

    Israelis making fun of the Gaza dead

    by Sunny at 10:12 am    

    I accept that there isn’t much sympathy in Israel for the 9 Flotilla deaths, but this is is actually shocking and deeply callous:

    The Israeli government has been forced to apologise for circulating a spoof video mocking activists aboard the Gaza flotilla, nine of who were shot dead by Israeli forces last week. The YouTube clip, set to the tune of the 1985 charity single We Are the World, features Israelis dressed as Arabs and activists, waving weapons while singing: “We con the world, we con the people. We’ll make them all believe the IDF (Israel Defence Force) is Jack the Ripper.”

    Here’s the video

    It features a group led by the Jerusalem Post’s deputy managing editor Caroline Glick (so much for journalistic balance there) and includes the lyrics: “There’s no people dying, so the best that we can do is create the biggest bluff of all” - wow. Just, wow. There’s also: “We must go on, pretending day by day, that there is in Gaza, crisis hunger and plague“. That’s a real show of humanity right there.

    Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev tells the Guardian: “I called my kids in to watch it because I thought it was funny.” - I’m sure those imaginary dead people from the Flotilla appreciate the humour.

    Perhaps the IDF is frustrated after it’s terrible attempts at PR keep backfiring:

    Last week, the Israel Defence Force had to issue a retraction over an audio clip it had claimed was a conversation between Israeli naval officials and people on the Mavi Marmara, in which an activist told soldiers to “go back to Auschwitz”. The clip was carried by Israeli and international press, but today the army released a “clarification/correction”, explaining that it had edited the footage and that it was not clear who had made the comment.

    The Israeli army also backed down last week from an earlier claim that soldiers were attacked by al-Qaida “mercenaries” aboard the Gaza flotilla.

    The Jerusalem Post is still crowing about it.

    4th June, 2010

    More reaction to Israel’s Flotilla attack

    by Sunny at 9:32 am    

    This is mostly just a link-dump…

    1. Max Blumenthal: The Flotilla Raid Was Not “Bungled.” The IDF Detailed Its Violent Strategy In Advance.

    Statements by senior Israeli military commanders made in the Hebrew media days before the massacre revealed that the raid was planned over a week in advance by the Israeli military and was personally approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.

    (via @GuyAitchison)

    2. Jack Straw speaks out. And he’s not mincing his words (via @psbook), while recounting a previous experience at the border:

    All very ordinary but for the fact that the Israeli authorities made no disguise that they had ‘organised’ the crossing in a way designed to maximise the humiliation of and delays endured by the Palestinians. There was no shelter from the rain; no tarmac. None of this was remotely necessary. Indeed co-operation from the Palestinians would have been that much better if the Israelis had treated them with even a modicum of respect and dignity.

    But that was not on the agenda.

    3. George Packer in the New Yorker: Israel takes the bait

    Obama’s strategy of engagement is based on the notion that America, its allies, and its opponents have certain mutual interests that self-interest will lead them to identify and embrace. This notion has not been borne out with Iran, where the rulers of the Islamic Republic believe that self-interest—their own survival—depends on a climate of perpetual crisis and permanent demonization of the U.S. and Israel. And it hasn’t been borne out with Israel, which has just acted in a way that blurs self-interest into suicide.

    4. Reuben: A UK activist gives an eyewitness account of the raid. Reads out a list of absurd charges Israel has pressed against survivors.

    5. A demonstration is happening this Saturday in London at 1:30pm outside Downing Street (I won’t be around I’m afraid, in Oxford this weekend).

    2nd June, 2010

    The cartoons on Israel’s attack

    by Sunny at 2:08 am    

    Steve Bell in the Guardian:

    Continue Reading...
    31st May, 2010

    Flotilla attacks: the condescended version

    by Rumbold at 8:56 pm    

    Were the protesters trying to provoke a response from Israel? Yes.

    Did the protesters want to get shot by Israeli commandos? No.

    Were there unsavoury, anti-Semitic elements amongst the protesters? Yes.

    Did this mean they deserved to die? No.

    Were the protesters foolish to try and fight the commandos? Yes.

    Did this mean they deserved to die? No.

    Do ordinary Israelis or Gazans benefit from any of this? No.

    (Inspired by Shamit’s comments on the previous thread)

    6th May, 2010

    Bita Ghaedi saved from deportation

    by Rumbold at 10:51 am    

    Whatever the election result, at least Bita Ghaedi, who was featured here, has received a stay of execution after the High Court ordered the Home Office to cancel her deportation and reconsider her case:

    Bita Ghaedi can now represent her case at a hearing in the UK on 21st July, but unfortunately until then the Home Office will hold her at Yarl’s Wood detention centre unless she is bailed out…

    Special mention should go to the many different groups and individuals who have been involved with Bita’s case, from Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) who handled Bita’s case directly, to Senator John McCain and his staff for complaining to their British Embassy, numerous NGOs and human rights groups, individual campaigners such as Maria Rohaly of Mission Free Iran who made a big noise online despite mainstream media silence on the case (with the exception of Karen McVeigh’s excellent article in the Guardian) and the protestors who took to the streets in the both UK and the USA.

    13th April, 2010

    Avigdor Lieberman and Israel’s defenders

    by Sunny at 3:54 pm    

    Just a quick trip down memory lane. Avigdor Lieberman is currently the foreign minister of Israel.
    Here are some of his views:

    Lieberman advocates “reducing the number of Arabs who are Israeli citizens” through giving the Palestinian Authority Arab-Israeli towns near the West Bank and having Arabs who remain Israeli citizens take loyalty tests and recognize Israel as a Jewish State. Those who refuse would be stripped of their citizenship, but could remain in Israel as permanent residents.

    He was called by the US conservative commentator a “fascist”. The anti-terrorism thinktank Quilliam Foundation issued this statement when Lieberman was welcomed into the UK:

    The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is today hosting Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister who is also the founder and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu, a hardline nationalist and extreme Zionist political party in Israel. In view of Lieberman’s previous openly racist and violence-inciting statements, as well as his alleged involvement in a terrorist group banned in the US and Israel, this decision to host Lieberman is inconsistent with recent Home Office decisions to exclude other individuals on the specific grounds that they “promote hatred, terrorist activities and serious violence” and “advocate hatred and violence in support of their religious beliefs”.

    It looks like Israel is already moving towards policies espoused by Lieberman, given this recent move to force all people within Palestinian territories to carry “valid permits” that are intentionally kept vague by Israel itself. Where was the outrage over this here? Did Nick Cohen stand up for human rights then? How about Hitchens? Doesn’t look it.

    Now let’s compare this situation to the Amnesty Int / Gita Sahgal controversy. In this controversy it is regularly alleged by critics of Amnesty that by virtue of working with Moazzam Begg, Amnesty is endorsing the views of Cage Prisoners and its people. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any problem right?

    Defenders of Amnesty Int who say it doesn’t follow that the organisation has adopted CP’s agenda or been influenced by Moazzam Begg are called ‘naive’. The organisation is damned by association apparently, without any investigation into whether its agenda has actually been influenced by Moazzam Begg or CagePrisoners (the latter of whom it has no relationship with).

    Given the two examples, is it then ok to assume that anyone who defends the Israeli government as “a supporter of fascists”. Right?

    25th February, 2010

    No… this isn’t about Israel at all

    by Sunny at 5:47 pm    

    You won’t be surprised to hear that someone has started a blog called ‘Has Amnesty Lost Its Way?‘. You also won’t be surprised to hear that the reason why its author Eric Lee thinks Amnesty has lost its way is because it’s been too damn critical of the USA and especially Israel.

    Eric Lee, a trade unionist and long-standing Israel cheerleader, seems to be planning an absurd Trotskyist attempt to hijack Amnesty International UK Section Board. I hope they laugh him out of the hall.
    He says:

    I believe that Amnesty has lost its way when it comes to Israel and Palestine. Instead of being seen as an unbiased source, Amnesty is increasingly viewed by many as being anti-Israel. Amnesty’s uncritical support for the controversial Goldstone report, the excessive coverage of Israel in its magazine (far more than coverage of, for example, Iran), the partnerships with anti-Israel NGOs like War on Want which label Israel as an “apartheid” society, all contribute to this perception. And just as Amnesty demands that governments tolerate dissent, it too must be open to criticism and not smug or defensive.

    And there you have it - the real reason why certain people have piled in to undermine Amnesty Intl. The Goldstone report merely highlighted what everyone knew already - that Israel had committed gross human rights violations in Gaza that were illegal under Geneva Conventions. It showered innocent civilians with White Phosphorous!, But apparently it’s more important that we criticise Amnesty for its “uncritical support” of the report.

    As I’ve always said Gita Sahgal became merely the vehicle for Nick Cohen / Hitchens / Harry’s Place et al to undermine Amnesty because of they would rather prefer the organisation did not criticise the US / Israel and their friends at all. Instead of wanting it to be unbiased - they would in fact prefer it if it was more biased. Just, in favour of their geo-political aims.

    Just to clarify the links:
    Eric Lee frequently writes for Harry’s Place. He is being supported by Jonathan Hoffman, a man who compiled an absurd 57 page ‘report’ of website comments as example of ‘Anti-Semitism at the Guardian CIF’, even though he admits a majority of the comments were removed by moderators. The blog above was also promoted on CIF Watch - which now spends most of it’s time attacking Jewish writers on Guardian CIF for being critical of Israel.
    Who said we don’t have wingnuts in this country?

    19th February, 2010

    Our misplaced sense of priorities over Israel

    by Sunny at 9:04 am    

    I find this whole kerfuffle over Mossad ‘allegedly’ killing some Hamas people in Dubai quite absurd. The British government is acting all horrified over this? Nearly 1,500 innocent people were killed by the Israeli government when they invaded Gaza in Dec 2008. They chucked chemical weapons on them for god’s sakes!

    But oh no, all the government did was shuffle its feet. There were some mumblings about human rights. But generally, no real noise. Who the hell cares if White phosphorus was used eh? It’s faaaar more important to get angry when a few flipping passports get faked.

    The BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen said if there was proof Israel had used British passports “for some nefarious uses of its Mossad service - as they have in the past with Canadian and New Zealand ones”, then relations between the UK and Israel would be “in a crisis”.

    No they won’t. They’ll make a few noises as an act and then things will go back to normal. Israel will be back to it’s ‘we’ll break international law and use chemical weapons and we don’t care‘ mode. It’s actually gobsmacking when the political fallout from a passport-faking scandal is more than the lives of over a thousand innocent people.

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