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Thoughts on the Attempted Murder of Palestine PDF Print E-mail
Jul 26, 2007 at 05:45 PM
The Siren Song of Elliott Abrams

By KATHLEEN CHRISTISON, Former CIA analyst

"Coup" is the word being widely used to describe what happened in Gaza in June when Hamas militias defeated the armed security forces of Fatah and chased them out of Gaza. But, as so often with the manipulative language used in the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, the terminology here is backward. Hamas was the legally constituted, democratically elected government of the Palestinians, so in the first place Hamas did not stage a coup but rather was the target of a coup planned against it. Furthermore, the coup -- which failed in Gaza but succeeded overall when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, acting in violation of Palestinian law, cut Gaza adrift, unseated the Palestinian unity government headed by Hamas, and named a new prime minister and cabinet -- was the handiwork of the United States and Israel.

The Fatah attacks against Hamas in Gaza were initiated at the whim of, and with arms and training provided by, the United States and Israel. No one seems to be making any secret of this. Immediately after Hamas won legislative elections in January 2006, Elliott Abrams, who runs U.S. policy toward Israel from his senior position on the National Security Council staff, met with a group of Palestinian businessmen and spoke openly of the need for a "hard coup" against Hamas. According to Palestinians who were there, Abrams was "unshakable" in his determination to oust Hamas. When the Palestinians, urging engagement with Hamas instead of confrontation, observed that Abrams' scheme would bring more suffering and even starvation to Gaza's already impoverished population, Abrams dismissed their concerns by claiming that it wouldn't be the fault of the U.S. if that happened.

Abrams has been working on his coup plan ever since with his friends in Israel. As part of this scheme, the U.S. also urged Abbas -- again making no secret of this -- to dissolve the Fatah-Hamas unity government formed in March this year, form a new government, and call for new elections. Abbas acceded to U.S. demands with embarrassing alacrity after Hamas took Gaza. In a further gratuitous turn of the screw, he has appealed to Israel to turn up the heat on Hamas in Gaza by stopping delivery of fuel to Gaza's power plant and keeping the Rafah border crossing point from Egypt closed so that none of the thousands of Palestinian waiting at the border to return home will be able to enter.

The UN's outgoing Middle East envoy, Alvaro de Soto, whose final report on his two years in Palestine-Israel was recently leaked to the press, describes Abrams and a State Department colleague, Assistant Secretary David Welch, threatening immediately after the Hamas election victory to cut off U.S. contributions to the UN if it did not agree to a cutback in aid to the Palestinian Authority by the Quartet (of which the UN is a member, along with the U.S., the EU, and Russia). De Soto also describes a gleeful U.S. response to Hamas-Fatah fighting earlier this year. The U.S., he says, clearly pushed for this confrontation, and at a meeting of Quartet envoys, the U.S. delegate crowed that "I like this violence" because "it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas." ...

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Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born? PDF Print E-mail
Jul 26, 2007 at 06:30 PM
by Richard Falk   July 05, 2007 
 
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

      -- William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

There is little doubt that the Nazi Holocaust was as close to unconditional evil as has been revealed throughout the entire bloody history of the human species. Its massiveness, unconcealed genocidal intent, and reliance on the mentality and instruments of modernity give its enactment in the death camps of Europe a special status in our moral imagination. This special status is exhibited in the continuing presentation of its gruesome realities through film, books, and a variety of cultural artifacts more than six decades after the events in question ceased. The permanent memory of the Holocaust is also kept alive by the  existence of several notable museums devoted exclusively to the depiction of the horrors that took place during the period of Nazi rule in Germany.
 
Against this background, it is especially painful for me, as an American Jew, to feel compelled to portray the ongoing and intensifying abuse of the Palestinian people by Israel through a reliance on such an inflammatory metaphor as 'holocaust.'  The word is derived from the Greek holos (meaning 'completely') and kaustos (meaning 'burnt'), and was used in ancient Greece to refer to the complete burning of a sacrificial offering to a divinity. Because such a background implies a religious undertaking, there is some inclination in Jewish literature to prefer the Hebrew word 'Shoah' that can be translated roughly as 'calamity,' and was the name given to the 1985 epic nine-hour narration of the Nazi experience by the French filmmaker, Claude Lanzmann. The Germans themselves were more antiseptic in their designation, officially naming their undertaking as the 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question.' The label is, of course, inaccurate as a variety of non-Jewish identities were also targets of this genocidal assault, including the Roma and Sinti ('gypsies'), Jehovah Witnesses, gays, disabled persons, political opponents.

Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy. If ever the ethos of 'a responsibility to protect,' recently adopted by the UN Security Council  as the basis of 'humanitarian intervention' is applicable, it would be to act now to start protecting the people of Gaza from further pain and suffering. But it would be unrealistic to expect the UN to do anything in the face of this crisis, given the pattern of US support for Israel and taking into account the extent to which European governments have lent their weight to recent illicit efforts to crush Hamas as a Palestinian political force.

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Symptoms of Decay in Occupied Palestine PDF Print E-mail
Jul 23, 2007 at 12:51 PM

by Bashir Abu-Manneh; July 16, 2007 

...It is worth repeating that the closest Palestinians ever came to decolonizing the West Bank and Gaza was in the first Intifada. A whole nation struggled together then in what Edward Said called 'one of the most extraordinary anti-colonial and unarmed mass insurrections in the whole history of the modern period'. It is clear that conditions are now much more difficult than they were in the 1980s. Palestinians are cut off, fragmented, politically divided, and made dispensable by Israel's closure policy, which has diminished their political leverage and capacity to force Israeli society to pay the price of its brutal occupation. Palestinian bantustans are clearly Oslo's doing, leaving most Palestinians stranded and demobilized. Only 5% of Palestinians actively participated in resistance against the occupation from the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000 to 2005, a measure of severe crisis and political disengagement if ever there was one.[6] This is why it has long been imperative to rebuild Palestinian self-capacity for collective resistance and mass mobilization. Struggles against the Wall have testified to the political efficacy of popular mobilization, as Palestinians invited and led both international solidarity and support from Israel's meager yet important anti-occupation groups, like Tayyush and Anarchists Against the Wall...

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Israeli troops detained a 9-year-old Palestinian at school. It's 'becoming normal', locals say

(CNN)  The day before we met, human rights campaigner Aref Jaber recorded the arrest of a 9-year-old Palestinian boy, taken out of school in the West Bank city of Hebron by armed Israeli soldiers.

His footage shows soldiers inside Ziad Jaber elementary school, arguing with the school principal and other teachers, as they attempt to remove Zein Idris and his 7-year-old brother Taim.

At one point on the video, one of the teachers is told that if he does not let go of Zein, the soldier will break the teacher's arm.