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 Thursday, August 24, 2006



The United Nations children's fund, UNICEF, estimates that some 1,183 people died, mostly civilians and about a third of them children during the Israeli attack on Lebanon .

Israel suffered international condemnation,except from the United States, when it attacked targets in southern Lebanon hours after Hezbollah guerrillas operating there killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two in a cross-border raid July 12.
Other Breaking News
  • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday rejected Israeli demands for the deployment of international troops on the Lebanese-Syrian border to stop what Israel says is the smuggling of arms to Hezbollah.Read here for more

  • Italy, which is expected to lead a U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, will be unable to send troops if Israel "keeps shooting", Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said on Tuesday. "From Israel, we expect a renewed effort, this time truly binding, to respect the ceasefire," D'Alema said. "It's fair to expect that Hizbollah put down their weapons, but we cannot send our troops to Lebanon if the (Israeli) army keeps shooting".

  • The Israeli government's plan to dismantle some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and redraw the country's borders is being shelved at least temporarily, a casualty of the war in Lebanon, government officials said.The plan, which propelled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to victory in March elections and was warmly endorsed by President Bush as a way of solving Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, is no longer a top priority, Olmert told his ministers last weekend, according to one of his advisers.Read here for more

  • Israel dropped cluster bombs on at least 170 villages and other places in south Lebanon during its 34-day war with Hezbollah guerrillas, a senior United Nations de-mining official said yesterday. The bomblets that failed to explode are now a deadly trap for civilians who stayed in the south or who fled and are now returning, some to find their homes or workplaces pounded to rubble by Israeli air strikes and artillery. The devices are known to have killed eight people and wounded at least 25, including several children, since a truce took hold on Aug. 14, said Tekimiti Gilbert, operations chief of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in Lebanon. Read here for more

  • CHINA has never exported arms to Hezbollah, a senior Chinese diplomat said today, although he did not rule out the possibility that weapons may have been transferred to the Lebanese group by a third party.Sun Bigan, China's special envoy to the Middle East, was asked to respond to media reports which alleged Hezbollah used weapons from Iran, whose technology originally came from China.Read here for more

  • Water and sanitation systems were badly damaged in Israeli air strikes across southern Lebanon during the recent conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah militants. "The water system has been totally destroyed," Abu Hamid said. "Even now that the war is over, here in Aitaroun we are still facing a shortage of water." With relief efforts underway in southern Lebanon, the UN's Children's Fund (Unicef) said in a statement on Tuesday that the destruction of water infrastructure was a major obstacle to helping people return home. Read here for more

  • Read here full article

    Amnesty International on Wednesday accused Israel of war crimes, saying it broke international law by deliberately destroying Lebanon's civilian infrastructure during its recent war with Hezbollah guerrillas.

    The human rights group said initial evidence, including the pattern and scope of the Israeli attacks, number of civilian casualties, widespread damage and statements by Israeli officials "indicate that such destruction was deliberate and part of a military strategy, rather than 'collateral damage.'"

    Amnesty International, whose delegates monitored the fighting in both Israel and Lebanon, said Israel violated international laws banning direct attacks on civilians and barring indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.

    "The scale of the destruction was just extraordinary," said Amnesty researcher Donatella Rovera, who visited Lebanon during the war and co-authored the report.

    "There is clear evidence of disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks."

    The group urged the United Nations to look into whether both combatants, Israel and Hezbollah, broke international law.

    Amnesty International said it would address Hezbollah's attacks on Israel separately.

    Israel suffered international condemnation when it attacked targets in southern Lebanon hours after Hezbollah guerrillas operating there killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two in a cross-border raid July 12.

    The Israeli Defense Force has said that between that raid and the Aug. 14 U.N.-brokered cease-fire, it launched more than 7,000 air attacks on Lebanese targets and the navy conducted about 2,500 bombardments.

    The United Nations children's fund, UNICEF, estimates that some 1,183 people died, mostly civilians and about a third of them children.

    Lebanese Higher Relief Council says 4,054 people were injured and 970,000 displaced. U.N. officials reported that around 15,000 civilian homes were destroyed.

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     Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    Israel's Attack on Lebanon: Who are the Losers ?


    "Bush is on notice from the neocons and War Party that have all but destroyed his presidency: 'Take down Iran, Mr. Bush, or you are a failed President.'"
    - Pat Buchanan

    Pat Buchanan
    (Patrick J. Buchanan was twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the Reform Party’s candidate in 2000. He is also a founder and editor of the new magazine, The American Conservative. Now a commentator and columnist, he served three presidents in the White House, was a founding panelist of three national television shows, and is the author of seven books. )

    Read here full article

    When Israel answered the Hezbollah raid that captured two soldiers with air strikes on Lebanon's airport, runways, gas stations, lighthouses, bridges, buses, apartment houses, and power plants, we who questioned the wisdom and morality of what Israel was doing were denounced as anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.

    Turns out we were right.

    In private, even Israeli army generals were raging that Israel was fighting a stupid, losing war.

    Ehud Olmert, who gave Chief of Staff Dan Halutz the green light to launch the shock-and-awe air campaign, cannot survive the moral, political, and strategic disaster his country has suffered.

    While the Israeli air force was hammering Lebanon, Hezbollah rained down 3,000 rockets on Israel and fought off pinprick raids.

    When the Israeli army, after a month, moved in force against the real enemy, Hezbollah, Israel had already suffered irreparable damage to its reputation as a fighting nation and a moral country.

    As the war began, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Bahrain all condemned Hezbollah, as did the Beirut government, for inciting the war.

    But with Hezbollah's defiant resistance, as Israel smashed up Lebanon, the Arab street rallied to Nasrallah. Arab regimes followed.

    The losers?

    (1) LEBANON

    Lebanon, which suffered 800 dead, thousands injured, and 1 million made refugees, saw its infrastructure destroyed and nation set back 20 years.

    If the government falls or Lebanon becomes a failed state, it will be an even greater calamity for the Lebanese, and for Israel and the Middle East.

    For the mightiest political and military force in Lebanon, and likely heir apparent to power slipping away from Prime Minister Siniora, is now Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah.

    Says Walid Jumblatt, savage critic of Hezbollah and its Syrian alliance, "Hassan Nasrallah has won militarily and politically, and has become a new leader like Nasser."

    (2) ISRAEL and OLMERT

    Another loser is Israel, and Olmert, who seized on the border skirmish to launch his Lebanon war.

    Writes Ari Shavit of Ha'aretz:

    "Chutzpah has its limits. You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeats, and remain in power.

    You cannot bury 120 Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million Israelis in shelters for a month, wear down deterrent power, bring the next war very close, and then say, oops, I made a mistake."

    Olmert and Halutz are history.

    The Kadima Party regime will fall. Left and Right are already tearing at its flanks.

    What does this mean?

    The Sharon-Olmert policy of unilateral withdrawal from the territories is dead.

    The Hamas-led Palestinian authority, the creation of the freest and fairest elections ever held in Palestine, is on a death watch, after Israel's starvation blockade and ravaging of the Gaza Strip, which has left 150 Palestinians dead.

    A new Israeli regime will NOT withdraw from any more land, NOR shut down any more settlements, NOR vacate any part of Jerusalem, NOR negotiate with a Palestinian Authority led by Hamas, or by a PLO that is unable to disarm Hamas.

    We are at a dead end, as George W. Bush will NOT push the Israelis to do anything, nor will Congress.

    (3) AMERICA

    America is another loser.

    The United States knew in advance Israel planned to attack and, if possible, destroy Hezbollah.

    And America approved.

    But when Olmert launched an air war on Lebanon, instead, Bush cheered him on, refused to rein in attacks on civilian targets, sent smart bombs and used U.S. influence at the United Nations to block an early cease-fire.

    Bush-Cheney are thus morally and politically culpable for what was done to Lebanon and the democratic government there that was born of a "Cedar Revolution" George Bush himself had championed.

    Congress poodled along with Bush, so Bush will NOT be called to account, as he would be were any other nation but Israel involved.

    From Morocco to the Gulf, there is probably NOT a country today that would welcome Bush, or where he would be safe on a state visit.

    Where does this leave us?

    With Israel's failure to achieve its strategic objectives in Lebanon and America having failed to attain its strategic objectives in Iraq, Nasrallah emerges triumphant, and Syria and Iran emerge unscathed and gloating.

    What comes next? That is obvious.

    With our War Party discredited by the failed policies it cheered on in Lebanon and Iraq, there will come a clamor that Bush must "go to the source" of all our difficulty – Iran.


    Bush is on notice from the neocons and War Party that have all but destroyed his presidency:

    Either you take down Iran, Mr. Bush, or you are a failed President.

    Only thus can the War Party redeem itself for having pushed us and Israel into two unnecessary and ruinous wars.

    And the drumbeat for war on Iran has already begun.

    "[T]he dangers continue to mount abroad," wails The Weekly Standard in its lead editorial.

    "How Bush deals with Ahmadinejad's terror-supporting and nuclear-weapons pursuing Iran will be the test" of his administration.

    Yes, the supreme test.

    If the president is still listening to these people, Lord help the Republic.

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     Monday, August 21, 2006

    MUST WATCH !! - What Americans Don't Hear and Watch on Their TVs


    Cutting through Israel's Propaganda War in the US

    HERE " Four short clips of things Americans NEVER see on their TVs "

    US citizens need two things they're NOT getting:

    1. Factual reporting on what is going on in the Middle East and

    2. Representatives in Congress who represent the interests of the United States, NOT of the Israeli War Party.

    The following are the MUST-WATCH video clips : Click HERE

    Video Clip 1: Calling it what it is - terrorism against a civilian population

    UK correspondant John Snow interviews Israeli ambassador about Israel's attacks against Palestinians.

    Notice that in the UK, television journalists don't automatically defer to Israeli government represenatives the way US news people do.

    Why is that?

    Video Clip 2: For European eyes only
    CNN broadcasts different news in Europe than it does in the US. Why can't we get reporters like this on CNN-US?

    Instead we get Wolf Blitzer, a former employee of AIPAC, the Israeli War Party's lobby in the US.

    Video Clip 3: The US is mortgaging its future to supportthe criminal activities of a foreign power - why?

    Do you think all Americans are uninformed and/or unconcerned about America's relationship with Israel?

    You would if you watch US TV.

    The reality: Millions of Americans are aware that US foreign policy has been hijacked by the Israeli War Party - and they CANNOT get their voices heard because of US media news censorship.

    Video Clip 4: What goes on in the refugee camps
    The Israeli military thought this footage of a routine operation in the Occupied Territories had been destroyed.

    It wasn't and someone with courage ran it on TV - in Israel.

    Then, thanks to Canada, it was aired in North America.

    You will NEVER see it on a US network.

    Being on the receiving end of this kind of brutality is the norm for Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories.

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     Sunday, August 20, 2006

    UPDATE !! UN Says Israel Violated Ceasefire Truce, Bush Administration Refuses to Criticise Israeli Violation

      Read here full article

    U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling Saturday's military operation by Israel in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley a violation of the U.N. truce between Israel and Hezbollah.

    The US White House declined to criticize the raid.

    The Lebanese government is threatening to halt further troop deployments in protest.

    The UN statement said, "The secretary-general is deeply concerned about a violation by the Israeli side of the cessation of hostilities."

    Earlier Saturday, Israel's prime minister contacted Annan and defended a military commando raid into Lebanon.

    The Israeli army confirmed that it blew up a bridge in the Bekaa Valley. It said the move was to keep more Hezbollah fighters from reaching an area where Israeli forces are battling militants.

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    The Nonsense in the Speech to the Security Council by Israeli Ambassador to the UN


    Read here the full article by William Cook, "The State without Shame"
    (William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Depception: Bush's Mideast Policy)

    August 18, 2006

    As I watched Ambassador Daniel Gillerman of Israel at the final proceedings of the United Nations Security Council last week,...I could not help but be repulsed by this state (Israel) that bears NO shame for its atrocities against innocent people.

    How does one describe Daniel Gillerman?

    He images the manicured, impeccably attired diplomat of sophisticated demeanor, calm in facial expression and gesture as he looks attentively at each member of the Security Council assuring them of his sincerity and empathy for the difficult situation that has necessitated this gathering.

    He speaks in a deliberative manner with soft, sensitive, but modulated tones as he encapsulates his statements in words that obfuscate the reality of their purported meaning.

    Gillerman might have been honest and told the assembly of the world, "Exterminate the brutes!", for that seems to be the promise the Lebanese can expect as their current devastated landscape suggests.

    Embedded in Gillerman’s prose resides the "idea" that gives justification to the wanton and illegal slaughter inflicted upon the Lebanese, the idea of superiority in intellect, morality and military might.

    Condescendingly, Gillerman creates a dehumanized scenario of insane Arabs from Teheran, Damascus, Gaza and "parts of Lebanon" dancing in joy as planes fall from the sky, the result of "terror" tactics planted in London, a rejoicing comparable to that witnessed when the Twin Towers fell.

    He does NOT mention the five Israelis dancing on the panel truck in a Jersey parking lot as they filmed the planes slamming into the Towers.

    There is much that Gillerman does NOT mention.

    Having fictionalized the non-existent suicidal destruction of the planes, he provides a seamless rationale that binds these fanatical Arabs together, a "genocidal ideology inspired it."

    Now we have a dehumanized enemy working together to destroy not just "our region" but "the world at large."

    And Israel alone has entered the fray to stop this "vile phenomenon" with its "gruesome record of heinous innovations" that uses "hostage taking," "suicide bombers," and "hijackings" to carry out its insidious ends.

    All countries of the west and good, moderate regimes in "our region" "which offer hope of progress and prosperity" can await the impending "campaign of terror."

    Thus does Gillerman compress multiple organizations and nation states into one conglomerate of power intent on the destruction of the West providing NO evidence of his contentions but unsubstantiated assertions, negating in the process the distinctions between states and insurgent groups that are created and designed for specific response to occupying forces like Hezbollah Shias fighting against Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Syrian land and Hamas Sunnies and Fatah PLO that fight on behalf of those suffering Israeli occupation in Palestine.

    But Gillerman goes further than this.

    He has the unmitigated gall to yoke the people of Israel with the people of Lebanon as victims of these fanatical Arabs with the "genocidal ideology."

    As Israel pounds the people of Lebanon and their civilized state into the dark ages, Gillerman, the visible representative of Israel, decries the "heavy price" "the peoples of Israel and Lebanon" have had to pay at the hands of Hezbollah, as if by some miraculous act of God, Hezbollah’s rockets had ricocheted like boomerangs off the homes of Israelis to return and devastate those of Lebanese.

    Thus does Gillerman make the thousands upon thousands of Israeli bombs and missiles hurled into Lebanon, weapons of mass destruction caused by Hezbollah.

    Unfortunately, as Gillerman sympathetically proclaims, Israel had "no choice" but to destroy Lebanese roads, bridges, utility plants, gas stations, sea ports, oil tanks, coastal waters, shipping, irrigation systems, hospitals, businesses and homes in order to recapture two of its soldiers "kidnapped" on Israeli land, a decided act of aggression taken by Hezbollah.

    Now, as he asserts the innocence of Israel in the devastation of Lebanon, Gillerman fails to mention that the cost of this "no choice" has been

  • the death of more than 900 Lebanese,

  • near a million made homeless, suffering untold hardships as they wander the demolished landscape of their country, and

  • a country ravaged and decimated.

    But, as Yitzhak Laor notes lamentably, "Israelis long ago ceased to be distressed by images of sobbing women in white scarves, searching for the remains of their homes in the rubble left by our soldiers. We think of them much as we think of chicken or cats." (Yitzhak Laor, "You are terrorists, we are virtuous.").

    Perhaps now we must account for the most serious omissions in Gillerman’s text, the reality behind what he appears to say.

    1. What is NOT said when he asserts "The tragedy of the past month, could – and would – have been avoided if the previous resolutions of this Council had been heeded…"?

    2. What is NOT said when he claims desperately that "Israel has the right and duty to defend its citizens from Hezbollah’s unprovoked attacks…"?

    3. What is NOT said when he states poetically "There is nothing more beautiful, holier or more eternal than a child able to grow up in region (sic) living in security and at peace."?
      1. Gillerman’s focus on UN Resolution 1559 places full responsibility for Israel’s need to invade Lebanon on the government of Lebanon because it did not disarm Hezbollah.

        What Gillerman does NOT mention is Israel’s defiance of more than 60 UNSC resolutions, especially Resolution 242 demanding that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders returning occupied land to Palestine, and including Resolution 520 that calls for Israel to withdraw from occupied lands belonging to Syria, the Golan Heights, and Lebanon, the Shaba Farms.

        Should the UNSC have acted to force Israel to comply with these resolutions, the very need for Hezbollah and Hamas to exist would have been removed.

        It is Israel’s illegal occupation of the lands of Palestine, Lebanon and Syria that has caused the growth of organizations that fight against Israel and its supplier of weapons, the United States.

        Indeed, Iraq’s failure to comply with Resolution 687 in 1982 was one of the reasons UNSC Res. 1441 passed giving the US its rationale for attacking Iraq since it continued to violate that Resolution.

        However, that same resolution stipulated that there must be a nuclear weapons free Middle East, a provision that Israel continues to defy.
      2. Consider now Gillerman’s use of the Israeli and United States mantra that "Israel has a right to defend itself" or, as Gillerman notes, "Israel, like any other state, has the right to defend itself."

        Does it?

        The fighting this month has taken place in southern Lebanon and in northern Israel, we are told.

        But the reality behind that statement does not hold.

        What we call northern Israel is stolen land, the land of Galilee.

        In 1948, "According to the New York Times, the sixty hour campaign was designed to 'eliminate the Arab-held bulge descending into Galilee from Lebanon …’

        This was the last pocket of Arab resistance in Galilee.

        Within three days the whole of Upper Galilee was occupied; the population was either expelled or fled out of fear. Some villages captured during the operation were emptied of their inhabitants immediately, but other villagers were expelled in the following weeks, on the pretext of 'clearing’ the border."

        This ethnic cleansing came as a direct result of Israeli intention as expressed by David Ben-Gurion that the Galilee would become "clean" and "empty" of Arabs. (All That Remains, p.5).

        The 1947 map that divided the Palestinian lands into Jewish and Palestinian gave northern Palestine from Acre (Akka) north of Haifa to the Lebanon border to Palestine going east to Dayshun.

        That section of northern Palestine made possible a connected Palestinian state since it reached south to the West Bank.

        Israel took the land by force and it has defied UN resolutions that demand its return.

        Therefore, the Israeli claim that it has a right to defend itself is disingenuous on the surface and outright deceit proclaimed before the United Nations.

        The very reason that Hamas exists is to regain land stolen by Israel and, since Hezbollah exists in full sympathy with its cause, the insurgents attack against the occupiers’ forces is a legitimate act of war.
      3. What, finally, is NOT said when Gillerman waxes poetic about that lovely child who simply wants to grow up in peace?

        Let me offer two polarized perspectives, the first eloquently, yea indelibly marked by Chris Hedges:
        "Israel’s security wall has ripped a mortal gash in the lives of Palestinians living in its shadow. The rage and extremism of the Islamic militants in Lebanon and the occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza appear incomprehensible to the outside world. …

        But this branding of these militants as something less than human, as something that reasonable people cannot hope to understand, is possible only because we have ignored and disregarded the decades of repression, the crushing weight of occupation, the abject humiliation and violence, unleashed on Lebanese and Palestinians by Israel because of our silence and indifference.

        It is Israel’s penchant for violence and occupation that slowly created and formed these frightening groups."
      This reality brands not only Israel but the United States.

      It is perhaps the most single telling cause of terrorism against America, one that Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton have just acknowledged in their book, "Without Precedent: the Truth Behind the 9/11 Commission Report. Israel is the principle cause of terror against America."

      For Gillerman to sit impassively before the eyes of the world, for him to assume that no one watching his performance would recognize his deceit, for this frozen specter of the nation of Israel to raise the picture of a lovely girl desiring peace as his closing remarks, pointedly made to the Lebanese ambassador, is a stark illustration of how far Israel has fallen from its inherent roots that found sustenance in the soil of morality.

      Certainly, as he sat there he knew of the pictures that could be placed before the whole world of the atrocities that Israel has perpetrated on the Palestinians in the dead silence behind its detestable Wall of Fear, that monument to the inhumanity of Ariel Sharon.
      1. What he DID know is that Israel had killed 176 residents of Gaza since June 27th, 40 of them children like the young girl he uses as a poster girl of Israel’s love for humanity.

      2. What he DID know is that Israel had wounded 872 in Gaza including 272 children during that same period and shot and injured another 172 in the West Bank. (Eliza Ernshire, "No Lights in Gaza").

      3. What he DID know is that the world would not see these dead because Israel controls what goes in and what comes out of Gaza and the West Bank and it determines what the world will know and what it will not. What hubris. What hypocrisy.

      4. What he DID know for certain is that the world watched the slaughter played out before the TV cameras in Lebanon and was repelled by it.

      5. What he KNEW was that the mangled body of a child, unrecognizable as boy or girl, held up before the camera by a United Nations medic, a body charred after an Israeli missile hit a van carrying passengers in southern Lebanon on July 15, a body lacking a portion of the head, the left arm a stub, the stomach ripped from its socket and left hanging, a body caked in blood and dirt, a body seen by hundreds of thousands around the world, would never grow up to go to school and enjoy the morning sun as it beckoned her to a new day.

      6. What he KNEW and HID from the Security Council members and the people of the world is that Israel has hurled new and barbarous weapons at the civilians of Lebanon, weapons that leave "the bodies with dead tissues and no apparent wounds; shrunken corpses; civilians with heavy damage to lower limbs that require amputation, which is nevertheless followed by unstoppable necrosis and death … corpses blackened but not burnt." (Prof. Paola Manduca, Global Research, 7/8/06).

      7. What he KNEW is that he sat there in full civilian dress, pin striped suit and lapel pin shining beneath the TV lights,, and he condemned the "diabolical inventions" of the "genocidal ideology" that used these "heinous innovations" against the innocent Israelis when in fact it is the Israelis that unleash with full malevolence violence of a kind never seen before in the world.

      8. That he KNEW, yet he played out his role as spokesperson for all Israelis, speaking in their name whether or not they could find it in their hearts to support this state that has arrived at a point where its government knows no faith, knows no fear, and drives forward knowing no restraint, the indelible mark of a nature that has returned to its savage base.

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      Israel: America's Deliquent Ally


      Other Breaking News

      • Israeli commandos raided a Hezbollah stronghold deep inside Lebanon Saturday, sparking a fierce clash with militants that left one Israeli soldier dead. Lebanon called the raid a “flagrant violation” of the U.N.-brokered cease-fire, while Israel said it was aimed at disrupting arms smuggling from Iran and Syria.Read here for more

      • The breeze blew fine dust across graves where Lebanon on Friday, the Muslim holy day. Standing on a platform overlooking the grave site in Qana, the Hezbollah chief in southern Lebanon, Sheik Nabil Kaouk, accused the United States of being "a partner" in Israeli attacks by supplying Israel with sophisticated weapons. "You Americans and you in the U.S. administration are partners in committing massacres. You are partners in killing us. You are partners in destroying our country. There will be no friendship between you and us," Kaouk said. Read here for more

      • Between 15,000 and 30,000 homes were destroyed during Israel's month-long offensive in Lebanon, the aid minister of Finland, which holds the current EU presidency, said Friday."The numbers on how many houses or house units were destroyed are very rough estimates. Numbers we heard are something between 15,000 and 30,000 house units," Paula Lehtomaeki said following a four-day visit to Lebanon accompanied by the EU's commissioner for development and humanitarian aid Louis Michel. "That makes at least 100,000 people without a home and decent shelter. Winter is not so far away, we only have a couple of months to provide the basic shelter for these people," she told a news conference.Read here for more

      • As refugees flood back to their war-ravaged villages, Hezbollah has flung itself to the front of the burgeoning reconstruction effort in southern Lebanon, funded with a deluge of petro-dollars from neighboring Iran. But the most extravagant element of Hezbollah's plan is to provide a year's rent and a set of new furniture for every family whose house has been destroyed. The promise was made by Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, within hours of Monday's ceasefire. The housing scheme will benefit 15,000 families, Nasrallah said, and will cost up to US$150 million, according to one estimate. Funding will come from oil-rich Iran, which until now has mostly supplied Hezbollah with thousands of missiles used against Israel.Read here for more

      • The portraits of suffering on the television commercials follow the familiar imagery of fundraising appeals after major disasters: video of collapsed buildings, the injured being carried away on stretchers and women wailing for the dead.But this isn't a plea for some earthquake-ravaged nation. It's an appeal on behalf of Israel, a highly industrialized nation emerging from war.And the pitch goes beyond mere sympathy. The scenes are interspersed with biblical passages that suggest a divine calling to help the cause. "Israel is under attack, her civilians living their lives in bomb shelters," intones the narrator, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, leader of a group that seeks to rally support for Israel among Christians, particularly conservative evangelicals. "Stand with Israel in its time of need." Read here for more

      • Israeli soldiers arrested the Palestinian deputy prime minister Saturday, the highest-ranking Hamas official rounded up in a seven-week-old crackdown against the ruling party. Troops burst into the home of Nasser Shaer around 4:30 a.m. and took him away, said the deputy prime minister's wife, Huda. Read here for more


      "... Yes, those suckers, the Americans – they're responsible for cleaning up Israel's bloody mess.

      So what else is new?

      It's our fate, our destiny, our cross to bear – like having a juvenile delinquent for a
      son, or a "black sheep" brother who can't stay sober and/or out of jail.

      And we play the role of the dutiful, self-sacrificing Samaritan to the hilt: we paid for their ugly little war, and, if Yatom and Israel's supporters in this country have anything to say about it, we'll continue to pay for quite some time.

      How much longer we can afford this policy of caving in to Israel's every demand is in some doubt, however, as the cost of appeasement continues to skyrocket. "
      - Justin Raimondo


      Justin Raimondo

      Read here full article

      "The war isn't over yet," says Tzipi Livni.

      The Israeli foreign minister's address to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations left no doubt that the battle will continue, for the moment, on a diplomatic and political plane:

      "At first there was the military battle and then there was the diplomatic battle and now it is crucial that the international community and the Lebanese government will implement fully the resolution 1701."

      The faster the UN peacekeepers deploy, the faster the IDF will withdraw from Lebanon: but the international force may take as long as a month to be put in place, and meanwhile the truce is very fragile. The resumption of hostilities is a real possibility.

      Under this kind of threat, the pressure is on to give Israel the victory it could not win on the battlefield.

      Israel's demands were voiced by Danny Yatom, a member of the Knesset and a former director of the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, when he said:

      "There is no doubt that Hezbollah must follow the decision in its entirety, and it is the responsibility of the Americans and the French as well as the other members of the Security Council and the government of Lebanon to bring about the disarmament of Hezbollah and have it driven up north past the Litani."

      Yes, those suckers, the Americans – they're responsible for cleaning up Israel's bloody mess. So what else is new?

      It's our fate, our destiny, our cross to bear – like having a juvenile delinquent for a son, or a "black sheep" brother who can't stay sober and/or out of jail.

      And we play the role of the dutiful, self-sacrificing Samaritan to the hilt: we paid for their ugly little war, and, if Yatom and Israel's supporters in this country have anything to say about it, we'll continue to pay for quite some time.

      How much longer we can afford this policy of caving in to Israel's every demand is in some doubt, however, as the cost of appeasement continues to skyrocket.

      The latest price hike: Dennis Ross, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, one of the Lobby's major tentacles, is telling us this is all about Syria, not Lebanon, and that the "implementation" of 1701 means a virtual blockade of Syria – and Iran – which must be prevented from resupplying Hezbollah.

      But the resolution passed by the Security Council says no such thing: it leaves the task of disarming Hezbollah to the Lebanese government, and they have already decided, as Ha'aretz reports, that Hezbollah, rather than surrendering its weapons, will "conduct no military activity in the south.

      There is to be no 'show of military arms' by Hezbollah in the south, but only of the Lebanese army and UNIFIL."

      This don't-show, don't-tell policy, designed to maintain Lebanon's internal peace – and recognize the overwhelming popularity of Hezbollah in the wake of their victory – is a slap in the face to the Israelis, who are hardly in a position to be making demands in the first place.

      After all, they lost the war: it is the Lebanese, and specifically Hezbollah, who hold all the cards.

      However, the Israelis have an ace up their sleeves: the United States.

      It is the Americans who rushed military supplies and provided signals intelligence to their key ally in the region, and it is the Americans who are expected to come through, in the end, by providing diplomatic, and, if necessary, military cover for the Israeli retreat.

      While the U.S. still denies American troops will be present in the peacekeeping force, the Israelis are rejecting soldiers from any country deemed to be an "enemy" – a designation that, as lately as two years ago, might have been applied to the French.

      Malaysia, which has so far refused to extend diplomatic recognition to the Jewish state, has volunteered 1,000 troops, but this does not appeal to the Israelis: the same goes for offers from Indonesia and Morocco.

      As for the French, who were expected to lead the peacekeeping force, they have so far come up with a mere 200 engineers, accompanied by 10 officers.

      The Italians, too, are waffling, nervous about the terms of engagement and eager for a more precise definition of the peacekeepers' tasks. As the peacekeepers' ranks dwindle, so do the hopes that the cease-fire can hold.

      Israel initially proposed a NATO force be brought in, and the American response to this was cautious.

      The return of U.S. troops to Lebanon would be a mistake of colossal proportions, one that would rival – if not top – what Gen. William E. Odom calls "the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history," namely the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

      It would set up a tripwire for massive intervention in the region, and also set our soldiers up for another slaughter such as occurred in Beirut in 1983, when 241 U.S. military personnel were blown to bits by a suicide bomber.

      It would also suck us into an accelerating conflict with Syria, and this would draw in Iran – a game plan that may suit the Israelis just fine, but which hardly serves American interests.

      When the Israelis launched their blitz, they endangered the lives of 25,000 American nationals residing or visiting in Lebanon.

      Pentagon officials said the troops would be deployed solely to aid in rescue efforts, but added they were studying supplemental rules of engagement in case the troops were attacked or became embroiled in the fighting."

      If we are cast into this hellish maelstrom, there will be no easy escape: we will be conscripted into fighting Israel's battles for the next decade or so: humbling the Syrians, confronting the Iranians, reducing the entire region to rubble in the name of promoting "democracy" and supporting Israel's right of "self-defense."

      Isn't it odd how the "defense" of Israel always seems to require the invasion and destruction of its neighbors?

      Funny how that works.

      Bill Kristol, the little Lenin of the neocons, came up with a slogan to express the current neocon line on the Israeli invasion: "This is our war, too."

      That they are desperately trying to make it so is the one thing that leaps out at us as the fog of war dissipates – and the region prepares for round two.

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       Friday, August 18, 2006

      Letter to Newspapers: The Double Standards of the West on the Palestinian Conflict

        This letter, signed by Harold Pinter, Jose Saramago, Noam Chomsky and John Berger, has been forwarded to major newspapers.

      July 25th, 2006

      The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza.

      An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press.

      The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner - and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis - there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.

      That this “kidnapping” was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources - most particularly that of water - by the Israeli Defense (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land allotted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.

      Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones.

      The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called Justice. Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment?

      Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over.

      But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.

      This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognized for what it is and resisted.

      signed by

      John Berger
      Noam Chomsky
      Harold Pinter
      José Saramago

      Later endorsed by…

      Tariq Ali
      Eduardo Galeano
      Naomi Klein
      Arundhati Roy
      Giuliana Sgrena
      Howard Zinn

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       Thursday, August 17, 2006

      MUST READ !! Noam Chomsky on Destruction of Lebanon: Interview with Israeli Newspaper "Yediot Ahronot"

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      Noam Chomsky, "the man once called the most important intellectual alive , for the last 30 years, has been one of the most prolific, radical, and contrary political commentators in the United States. Adherents of his school of political thought number at least as many as do the apprentices of his linguistic theory; a half-dozen Chomsky Web sites dot the Internet, featuring his latest lectures and essays on politics and society." Read here Profile of Chomsky (1995)

      Read here full article by MERAV YUDILOVITCH in CounterPunch

      The Yediot Ahronot interview came out (on Ynet), Aug. 3, but only in Hebrew -- so far at least. The version posted here reproduces the original transcript in full.

      MY: You say the provocation and counter-provocation all serve as a distraction from the real issue. does the war in Lebanon is also a distraction the aims to draw the world's attention to the north of Israel while Gaza is been destroyed?


      I assume you are referring to John Berger's letter (which I signed, among others).

      The "real issue" that is being ignored is the systematic destruction of any prospects for a viable Palestinian existence as Israel annexes valuable land and major resources (water particularly), leaving the shrinking territories assigned to Palestinians as unviable cantons, largely separated from one another and from whatever little bit of Jerusalem is to be left to Palestinians, and completely imprisoned as Israel takes over the Jordan valley (and of course controls air space, etc.).

      This program of "hitkansut," cynically disguised as "withdrawal," is of course completely illegal, in violation of Security Council resolutions and the unanimous decision of the World Court (including the dissenting statement of US Justice Buergenthal). If it is implemented as planned, it spells the end of the very broad international consensus on a two-state settlement that the US and Israel have unilaterally blocked for 30 years ­ matters that are so well documented that I do not have to review them here.

      The US and Israel do not tolerate any resistance to these plans, preferring to pretend ­ falsely of course ­ that "there is no partner," as they proceed with programs that go back a long way.

      We may recall that Gaza and the West Bank are recognized to be a unit, so that if resistance to Israel's destructive and illegal progams is considered to be legitimate within the West Bank, then it is legitimate in Gaza as well, in reaction to Israeli actions in the West Bank.

      To turn to your specific question, even a casual look at the Western press reveals that the crucial developments in the occupied territories are marginalized even more by the war in Lebanon. The ongoing destruction in Gaza ­ which was rarely seriously reported in the first place -- has largely faded into the background, and the systematic takeover of the West Bank has virtually disappeared.

      The severe punishment of the population for "voting the wrong way" was never considered problematic, consistent with the long-standing principle that democracy is fine if and only if it accords with strategic and economic interests, documented to the heavens. However, I would not go as far as the implication in your question that this was a purpose of the war, though it clearly is the effect.

      MY: Do you see the world media partialy responsible for not insisting of linking between what's going on in the Occupied Territories and Lebanon?


      Yes, but that is the least of the charges that should be levelled against the world media, and the intellectual communities generally. One of many far more severe charges is brought up in the opening paragraph of the Berger letter.

      Recall the facts. On June 25, Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured at an army post near Gaza, eliciting huge cries of outrage worldwide, continuing daily at a high pitch, and a sharp escalation in Israeli attacks in Gaza. The escalation was supported on the grounds that capture of a soldier is a grave crime for which the population must be punished.

      One day BEFORE, on June 24, Israeli forces kidnapped two Gaza civilians, Osama and Mustafa Muamar, by any standards a far more severe crime than capture of a soldier.

      The Muamar kidnappings were certainly known to the major world media. They were reported at once in the English-language Israeli press (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz English edition, June 25), basically IDF handouts. And there were indeed a few brief, scattered and dismissive reports in several newspapers around the US; the only serious news report in English that day was in the Turkish press.

      Very revealingly, there was no comment, no follow-up, no call for military or terrorist attacks against Israel. A google search will quickly reveal the relative significance in the West of the kidnapping of civilians by the IDF and the capture of an Israeli soldier a day later.

      The paired events, a day apart, demonstrate with bitter clarity that the show of outrage over the Shalit kidnapping was cynical fraud. They reveal that by Western moral standards, kidnapping of civilians is just fine if it is done by "our side," but capture of a soldier on "our side" a day later is a despicable crime that requires severe punishment of the population.

      As Gideon Levy accurately wrote in Ha'aretz, the IDF kidnapping of civilians the day before the capture of Cpl. Shalit strips away any "legitimate basis for the IDF's operation," and, we may add, any legitimate basis for support for these operations.

      The same assessment carries over to the July 12 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers near the Lebanon border, heightened, in this case, by the (null) reaction to the regular Israeli practice for many years of abducting Lebanese and holding many as hostages for long periods, and of course killing many Lebanese.

      No one ever argued that these crimes justified bombing and shelling of Israel, invasion and destruction of much of the country, or terrorist actions within it. The conclusions are stark, clear, and entirely unambiguous.

      All of this is, obviously, of extraordinary importance in the present case, particularly given the dramatic timing. That is, I suppose, why the major media chose to avoid the crucial facts, apart from a very few scattered and dismissive phrases.

      Apologists for state crimes claim that the kidnapping of the Gaza civilians is justified by IDF claims that they are "Hamas militants" or were planning crimes. By their logic, they should therefore be lauding the capture of Gilad Shalit, a soldier in an army that was (uncontroversially) shelling and bombing Gaza.

      These performances are truly disgraceful.

      MY: You're talking first and foremost about acknowledging the Palestinian nation but will it solve the "iranian threat" will it push the Hizbullah from the Israeli boarder? today Israelis see an imediate danger in the northern front are we being blinded?


      Virtually all informed observers agree that a fair and equitable resolution of the plight of the Palestinians would considerably weaken the anger and hatred towards Israel and the US in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Such an agreement is surely within reach, if the US and Israel depart from their long-standing rejectionism.

      Before they were called off prematurely by Ehud Barak, the Taba negotiations of January 2001 were coming close to a viable settlement, carried forward by subseqnent negotiations, most prominently the Geneva Accord released on December 2002, which received strong international support but was dismissed by the US and rejected by Israel.

      One can raise various criticisms of these proposals, but they are at least a basis, perhaps a solid basis, for progress towards peaceful settlement ­ if the US and Israel sharply reverse their rejectionist policies.

      On Iran and Hizbollah, there is, of course, much more to say, and I can only mention a few central points here.

      Let us begin with Iran. In 2003, Iran offered to negotiate all outstanding issues with the US, including nuclear issues and a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The offer was made by the moderate Khatami government, with the support of the hard-line "supreme leader" Ayatollah Khamenei. The Bush administration response was to censure the Swiss diplomat who brought the offer.

      In June 2006, Khamenei issued an official declaration stating that Iran agrees with the Arab countries on the issue of Palestine, meaning that it accepts the 2002 Arab League call for full normalization of relations with Israel in a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus.

      The timing suggests that this might have been a reprimand to his subordinate Ahmadenijad, whose inflammatory statements are given wide publicity in the West, unlike the far more important declaration by his superior Khamenei.

      Just a few days ago, former Iranian diplomat Saddagh Kharazzi "reaffirmed that Iran would back a two-state solution if the Palestinians accepted" (Financial Times, July 26, 2006). Of course, the PLO has officially backed a two-state solution for many years, and backed the 2002 Arab League proposal.

      Hamas has also indicated its willingness to negotiate a two-state settlement, as is surely well-known in Israel. Kharazzi is reported to be the author of the 2003 proposal of Khatami and Khamanei.

      The US and Israel do not want to hear any of this. They prefer to hear that Iran "is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state" (Jerusalem correspondent Charles Radin, Boston Globe, 2 August), the standard and more convenient story.

      They also do not want to hear that Iran appears to be the only country to have accepted the proposal by IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradei that all weapons-usable fissile materials be placed under international control, a step towards a verifiable Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), as mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1993.

      ElBaradei's proposal, if implemented, would not only end the Iranian nuclear crisis but would also deal with a vastly more serious crisis: the growing threat of nuclear war, which leads prominent strategic analysts to warn of "apocalypse soon" (Robert McNamara) if policies continue on their current course. The US strongly opposes a verifiable FMCT, but over US objections, the treaty came to a vote at the United Nations, where it passed 147-1, with two abstentions: Israel, which cannot oppose its patron, and more interestingly, Blair's Britain, which retains a degree of sovereignty.

      The British ambassador stated that Britain supports the treaty, but it "divides the international community" ­ 147 to 1. These again are matters that are virtually suppressed outside of specialist circles, and are matters of literal survival of the species, extending far beyond Iran.

      It is commonly said that the "international community" has called on Iran to abandon its legal right to enrich uranium. That is true, if we define the "international community" as Washington and whoever happens to go along with it. It is surely not true of the world. The non-aligned countries have forcefully endorsed Iran's "inalienable right" to enrich uranium.

      And, rather remarkably, in Turkey, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, a majority of the population favor accepting a nuclear-armed Iran over any American military action, international polls reveal.

      The non-aligned countries also called for a nuclear-free Middle East, a longstanding demand of the authentic international community, again blocked by the US and Israel. It should be recognized that the threat of Israeli nuclear weapons is taken very seriously in the world.

      As explained by the former Commander-in-Chief of the US Strategic Command, General Lee Butler, "it is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East, one nation has armed itself, ostensibly, with stockpiles of nuclear weapons, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, and that inspires other nations to do so." Israel is doing itself no favors if it ignores these concerns.

      It is also of some interest that when Iran was ruled by the tryant installed by a US-UK military coup, the United States ­ including Rumsfeld, Cheney, Kissinger, Wolfowitz and others -- strongly supported the Iranian nuclear programs they now condemn and helped provide Iran with the means to pursue them.

      These facts are surely not lost on the Iranians, just as they have not forgotten the very strong support of the US and its allies for Saddam Hussein during his murderous aggression, including help in developing the chemical weapons that helped kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians.

      There is a great deal more to say, but it appears that the "Iranian threat" to which you refer can be approached by peaceful means, if the US and Israel would agree. We cannot know whether the Iranian proposals are serious, unless they are explored. The US-Israel refusal to explore them, and the silence of the US (and, to my knowledge, European) media, suggests that it is perhaps feared that they may be serious.

      I should add that to the outside world, it sounds a bit odd, to put it mildly, for the US and Israel to be warning of the "Iranian threat" when they and they alone are issuing threats to launch an attack, threats that are immediate and credible, and in serious violation of international law; and are preparing very openly for such an attack.

      Whatever one thinks of Iran, no such charge can be made in their case. It is also apparent to the world, if not to the US and Israel, that Iran has not invaded any other countries, something that the US and Israel have done regularly.

      On Hezbollah too, there are hard and serious questions. As well-known, Hezbollah was formed in reaction to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and its harsh and brutal occupation in violation of Security Council orders. It won considerable prestige by playing the leading role in driving out the aggressors. Also, like other Islamic movements, including Hamas, it has gained popular support by providing social services to the poor.

      Along with Amal, now its close ally, Hizbollah represents the Shi'a community in the parliament in Lebanon's confessional system. It is an integral part of Lebanese society. And much as in the past, US-backed Israeli violence is sharply increasing popular support for Hezbollah, not only in the Arab and Muslim worlds generally, but also in Lebanon itself. Polls taken in late July reveal that "87 percent of Lebanese support Hizbullah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February.

      More striking, however, is the level of support for Hizbullah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hizbullah along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis. Lebanese no longer blame Hizbullah for sparking the war by kidnapping the Israeli soldiers, but Israel and the US instead" (Christian Science Monitor, July 28).

      As often in the past, Israel is doing itself no favors by failing to attend to the predictable consequences of its resort to extreme violence instead of such measures as prisoner exchange, as in the past.

      It is also not wise to ignore the recent observations of Zeev Maoz (Ha'aretz, July 24). As he wrote, the "wall-to-wall consensus in Israel that the war against the Hezbollah in Lebanon is a just and moral waris based on selective and short-term memory, on an introverted world view, and on double standards." The reasons include the Israeli practice of kidnapping and the almost daily violations of the Lebanese border for surveillance: "a border violation is a border violation."

      The reasons also include the historical record: the four earlier Israeli invasions since 1978, and their grim consequences for Lebanese. And we should also not forget the pretexts. The 1982 invasion was carried out after a year in which Israel repeatedly carried out bombing and other provocations in Lebanon, apparently trying to elicit some PLO violation of the 1981 truce, and when it failed, attacked anyway, on the pretext of the assassination attempt against Ambassador Argov (by Abu Nidal, who was at war with the PLO).

      The invasion was clearly intended, as virtually conceded, to end the embarrassing PLO initiatives for negotiation, a "veritable catastrophe" for Israel as Yehoshua Porat pointed out. It was, as described at the time, a "war for the West Bank." The later invasions also had shameful pretexts.

      In 1993, Hezbollah had violated "the rules of the game," Yitzhak Rabin announced: these Israeli rules permitted Israel to carry out terrorist attacks north of its illegally-held "security zone," but did not permit retaliation within Israel. Peres's 1996 invasion had no more credible pretexts.

      It is convenient to forget all of this, or to concoct tales about shelling of the Galilee in 1981, but it is not an attractive practice, nor a wise one.

      The problem of Hezbollah's arms is quite serious, no doubt. Resolution 1559 calls for disarming of all Lebanese militias, but Lebanon has not enacted that provision. Sunni Prime Minister Fuad Siniora describes Hezbollah's military wing as "resistance rather than as a militia, and thus exempt from" Resolution 1559.

      A National Dialogue in June 2006 failed to resolve the problem. Its main purpose was to formulate a "national defense strategy" (vis-à-vis Israel), but it remained deadlocked over Hezbollah's call for "a defense strategy that allowed the Islamic Resistance to keep its weapons as a deterrent to possible Israeli aggression" (Beirut-based journalist Jim Quilty, Middle East Report, July 25), in the absence of any credible alternative.

      The US could, if it chose, provide a credible guarantee against an invasion by its client state, but that would require a sharp change in long-standing policy.

      In the background are crucial facts emphasized by several veteran Middle East correspondents. Rami Khouri, an editor of Lebanon's Daily Star, writes that "the Lebanese and Palestinians have responded to Israel's persistent and increasingly savage attacks against entire civilian populations by creating parallel or alternative leaderships that can protect them and deliver essential services."

      Syria specialist Patrick Seale agrees: "You have the rise of essentially non-state actors like Hezbollah and Hamas because of the vacuum created by the impotence of Arab states to contain or deter Israel. These actors are basically taking issue with Israel's 'deterrence,' which posits that Israel can strike but no one can strike at it."

      Until such basic questions are dealt with, it is likely that "the Middle East will sink further into violence and despair," as Khouri predicts.

      MY: You are not refering in your letter to the Israeli casualties. is there diferentiation in your opinion between Isareli casualties of war (and I'm not talking about soldiers I'm talking about civilians) and Lebanese or Palestinians casualties?


      That is not accurate. John Berger's letter is very explicit about making no distinction between Israeli and other casualties. As his letter states: "Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment."

      MY: Why in your opinion the world is co-operating with the Israeli invasion to Lebanon and why isn't there any real pressure on the Israeli government to stop the madness in Gaza and Jenin? What purpose does this silence serve?


      The great majority of the world protests, but chooses not to act. Europe is unwilling to take a stand against the US administration, which has made it clear that it supports Israeli policies in Palestine and Lebanon. The rest of the world strongly objects, but they are not even considered part of the "international community," unless they obey.

      The US-backed Arab tyrannies at first condemned Hezbollah, but were forced to back down out of fear of their own populations.

      Even King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Washington's most loyal (and most important) ally, was compelled to say that "If the peace option is rejected due to the Israeli arrogance, then only the war option remains, and no one knows the repercussions befalling the region, including wars and conflict that will spare no one, including those whose military power is now tempting them to play with fire."

      With regard to Palestine, while Bush's stand is extreme, it has its roots in earlier policies. The week in Taba in January 2001 is the only real break in US rejectionism in 30 years.

      During the Oslo years, the US-Israel hinted at joining the international consensus, but made sure it would be very difficult to implement by steady increase in settlement, the rate peaking in 2000. The US also strongly supported earlier Israeli invasions of Lebanon, though in 1982 and 1996, it compelled Israel to terminate its aggression when atrocities were reaching a point that harmed US interests.

      Unfortunately, one can generalize a comment of Uri Avnery's about Dan Halutz, who "views the world below through a bombsight." Much the same is true of Rumsfeld-Cheney-Rice, and other top Bush administration planners, despite occasional soothing rhetoric.

      As history reveals, that view of the world is not uncommon among those who hold a virtual monopoly of the means of violence, with consequences that we need not review.

      MY: What is the next chapter in this middle-eastern conflict as you see it?


      I do not know of anyone foolhardy enough to predict.

      The US and Israel are stirring up popular forces that are very ominous, and which will only gain in power and become more extremist if the US and Israel persist in demolishing any hope of realization of Palestinian national rights, and destroying Lebanon.

      It should also be recognized that Washington's primary concern, as in the past, is not Israel and Lebanon, but the vast energy resources of the Middle East, recognized 60 years ago to be a "stupendous source of strategic power" and "one of the greatest material prizes in world history."

      We can expect, with confidence, that the US will continue to do what it can to control this unparalleled source of strategic power. That may not be easy.

      The remarkable incompetence of Bush planners has created a catastrophe in Iraq, for their own interests as well. They are even facing the possibility of the ultimate nightmare: a loose Shi'a alliance (including Shi'ite-dominated Iraq, Iran, and the Shi'ite regions of Saudi Arabia), controlling the world's major energy supplies, and independent of Washington ­ or even worse, establishing closer links with the China-based Asian Energy Security Grid and Shanghai Cooperation Council.

      The results could be truly apocalyptic. And even in tiny Lebanon, the leading Lebanese academic scholar of Hezbollah, and a harsh critic of the organization, describes the current conflict in "apocalyptic terms," warning that possibly "All hell would be let loose" if the outcome of the US-Israel campaign leaves a situation in which "the Shiite community is seething with resentment at Israel, the United States and the government that it perceives as its betrayer" (Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Washington Post, 23 July).

      It is no secret that in past years, Israel has helped to destroy secular Arab nationalism and to create Hezbollah and Hamas, just as US violence has expedited the rise of extremist Islamic fundamentalism and jihadi terror.

      The reasons are understood. There are constant warnings about it by Western (including US) intelligence agencies, and by the leading specialists on these topics. One can bury one's head in the sand and take comfort in a "wall-to-wall consensus" that what we do is "just and moral" (Maoz), ignoring the lessons of recent history, or simple rationality. Or one can face the facts, and approach dilemmas which are very serious by peaceful means.

      They are available. Their success can never be guaranteed.

      But we can be reasonably confident that viewing the world through a bombsight will bring further misery and suffering, perhaps even "apocalypse soon."

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      Joe Darby- Prisoner of Conscience: He Exposed the Abu Ghraib Scandal


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      In his own words.

      For the first time since exposing the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, Joe Darby speaks out.

      As told to Wil S. Hylton

      Read here original article in

      " Everybody thinks there was a conspiracy at Abu Ghraib.

      Everybody thinks there was an order from high up, or that somebody in command must have known. Everybody is wrong. Nobody in command knew about the abuse, because nobody in command cared enough to ?nd out. That was the real problem.

      The entire command structure was oblivious, living in their own little worlds. So it wasn’t a conspiracy—it was negligence, plain and simple. They were all fucking clueless.

      The general in charge of the prison was Janis Karpinski, but that didn’t mean she was ever there. To actually lay eyes on Karpinski took an act of God. She spent all her time in Kuwait or in the Green Zone Palace.

      She kept her happy ass in the nice, safe places. The only time she’d come by was when a dignitary was visiting. She’d ?y in a half hour before they got there, get briefed, lead the tour, and then ?y back out. Other than that, she had no idea what was going on. She did nothing but suck dignitary ass. I guess she didn’t like being in an overcrowded, violent prison with constant mortar ?re coming in. In the ?ve months I was at Abu Ghraib, I only saw her twice.

      You have to understand, we were the most heavily mortared compound in Iraq. From the day we got there until the day I left, nobody took more mortars than we did. Nobody. We were taking them morning and night. It was just something you got used to. It became normal. After a while, we started having these surreal conversations while the mortars were ?ying. We’d hear the boom of the launch, and then we’d argue about what size it was while the shit was still coming in.

      “What do you think that was? A sixty or an eighty?”

      “Might have been a 120.”

      “No, it wasn’t big enough to be a 120.”

      Other times, we’d hear the launch and start counting, just to see how far away it was. If you got to thirty before it blew, you knew they were 700 to a thousand meters away. But that’s really all you could do—try to ?gure out where they were and what they were shooting at you. That, and get pissed off that nobody was shooting back.

      The compound had a main prison, which was two stories high, a series of smaller prisons, an administrative building, and a small building called the Death Chamber. That’s where Saddam used to torture his prisoners. There was a room with ceramic tile on the walls, ?oor, and ceiling so the blood would come off easily.

      Outside, there was a tent camp. That’s where we housed the prisoners who’d committed normal crimes. Some of them were really minor offenses that would only get a two-month sentence, but they might be housed for three years while they waited for trial. The system was that backed up.

      As long as the mortars landed on a building, it wasn’t a big deal—they weren’t powerful enough to pierce the roof. But if one landed in the yard or in the tent camp, it could do a lot of damage. Like, one night they got lucky and split our fuel tanker in half. Dropped a mortar right through it. It caused a ?re you could see for miles, probably 4,000 gallons of burning fuel.

      Another time, they dropped one in the middle of a prisoner prayer group. That was pretty bad. These guys had just been sitting in rows, facing Mecca and praying, when the mortar came in. We had ?fteen to sixteen dead and a bunch more wounded. We had to dig through the bodies, put them in body bags, and take them to the processing area to check them out of the prison.

      Whenever a prisoner was brought in, we would ID them with a retina scan and ?ngerprints, so when they died, we had to process them out the same way. Which meant that, for the rest of the day, we were digging through body bags looking for eyeballs. Sometimes there wasn’t an eyeball we could use, so we’d look for a ?nger. You just had to tune it out. You couldn’t let it get to you.

      You got numb.

      But it catches up to you later, when you get home. Like, I slept ?ne while I was there, but now I have nightmares. And a few days before my unit left Abu Ghraib, all of a sudden people started worrying about mortar attacks for the ?rst time. It was weird. They’d be huddling against the wall together. I found myself crouched in a corner, praying. The numbness was wearing off. That’s one of the things you have to keep in mind when you look at the pictures. We all got numb in different ways.


      I’ll say this, too: The abuse started earlier than anybody realizes. Nobody has ever said that publicly, but there were things going on before our unit even got there. The day we arrived, back in October of 2003, we were getting a tour of the compound and we saw like ?fteen prisoners sitting in their cells in women’s underwear. This was day one; nobody from our unit had ever set foot in the prison.

      We asked the MPs in charge—the Seventy-second, out of Las Vegas—why the prisoners were wearing panties. They told us that it was a corrective action, that these guys had been mortaring the compound. So probably the MPs decided to mess with these guys. This stuff was going on before we arrived. After we took over, it basically just escalated.

      The other thing was, there were other government agencies who would come into the prison and handle prisoners. I can’t say which agencies, but you can probably guess. Sometimes we didn’t know exactly who they were.

      We’d get a call at like three in the morning from the battalion commander, saying, “You have a bird coming in. You need to take prisoner such and such from cell whatever to the landing zone in ?fteen minutes.”

      So I’d put my gear on, cuff the prisoner, bag him, go to the LZ, wait for the helicopter to land, and then hand the prisoner off to the guys inside. I didn’t know who they were. Didn’t ask. When they tell you not to ask any questions, you don’t ask questions. They might bring the prisoner back in a few hours, or the next morning, or two days later. You didn’t ask.

      Other times, they would bring a new prisoner into the compound. You didn’t know who they were, or who the prisoner was, or what he had done, or what they were going to do to him. You just handed over the cellblock.

      One night, this Black Hawk landed at about 4 a.m., and a couple guys came in with a prisoner and took him to tier 1, put sheets up so that nobody could see, and spent the rest of the night in there. They told us to stay away, so we did. Then a couple hours later, they came back out. They were like, “The prisoner is dead.”

      They asked for ice to pack him, and then they said, “You guys clean this up. We weren’t here. Have a good day.” Got back on the bird and took off, left the dead body right there.

      Those guys can come in and kill a guy, and there’s nothing you can do.

      There’s no record of them. They were never there. They don’t exist.

      You’ve probably seen pictures of that prisoner with Graner and Harman crouching next to his dead body, giving the thumbs-up. Well, that’s the guy.

      Everybody takes that picture at face value, but the truth is, Graner and Harman didn’t kill him. And when something like that happens, it stretches the limits.

      Maybe Graner and Harman came away thinking, Okay, let’s take it further.


      The earliest pictures were from October of 2003, but I didn’t discover them until January of 2004. I found the pictures on a CD that Graner had given me.

      To this day, I’m not sure why he gave me that CD. He probably just forgot which pictures were on it, or he might have assumed that I wouldn’t care. I was ?ipping through them, checking out pictures he had taken in Hilla, where we were stationed before Abu Ghraib, when all of a sudden these other pictures came up.

      And to be honest, at ?rst I thought they were pretty funny. I’m sorry, people can get mad at me if they want, but I’m not a Boy Scout. To me, that pyramid of naked Iraqis, when you ?rst see it, is hilarious. When it came up out of nowhere like that, I just laughed. I was like, “What the fuck?! I’m looking at a pyramid of asses!”

      But some of the other pictures didn’t sit right with me.

      The ones of prisoners being beaten, or the one with a naked Iraqi sitting on his knees in front of another naked Iraqi, some of the more sexually-explicit-type stuff to humiliate the prisoners—it just didn’t sit right with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

      After about three days, I made a decision to turn the pictures in. You have to understand: I’m not the kind of guy to rat somebody out. I’ve kept a lot of secrets for soldiers. In the heat of the moment, in a war, things happen. You do things you regret. I have exceeded the proper use of force myself a couple times. But this crossed the line to me. I had the choice between what I knew was morally right and my loyalty to other soldiers. I couldn’t have it both ways.

      I think the decision would have been harder if they had been different soldiers. But most of these soldiers I had doubts about already.

      Like Sabrina Harman. She was a piece of shit from the day I met her.

      Before we ever got to Abu Ghraib, when we were still in Hilla, she had this kitten for three days when a dog came and killed it. So Harman decided to dissect it. She said there were no marks on the outside, so she dissected it and found some ruptured organs or something. And then she decided to mummify it. She tried different methods, but all she ended up with was the head. A damned mummi?ed cat’s head, for Christ’s sake. This rotted-out head with pebbles for eyes. She stuck it on top of a soda can and carried it around with her everywhere. I didn’t give a rat’s ass what happened to her. I just tried to avoid her.

      Or Ivan Frederick, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the night shift. He and I avoided each other, too. We didn’t get along.

      Or Charles Graner. He and I got along, but we weren’t friends. Graner is one of those guys, he’s got an overpowering aura about him. People just like him. But if you see the other side, you understand that he’s not someone you want to get too close to. He’s manipulative. He has multiple personalities. He can be this religious guy, talking about God and the way things are supposed to be done, but he’s also got this very, very dark, evil side. We were talking in Hilla one time, before we got to Abu Ghraib. I’d been walking around smoking a cigarette, and he was working the gate to our compound, so I was talking to him for like ten minutes, and he was telling me about when he thought his wife was cheating on him. He said that he found himself across the street from their house, up on a hill, with a loaded ri?e trained on the door, just waiting for them to come out. I said, “What happened?” and he said, “They never came out.”

      When I turned the pictures in, that’s the story that stuck with me. Because I knew what this guy was capable of.


      I always wanted to stay anonymous. At ?rst, I didn’t even give my name to the Criminal Investigation Division. I just burned a copy of the pictures onto a CD, typed an anonymous letter, put them in a manila envelope, and handed them to an agent at CID.

      I said, “This was left in my office,” and walked out. But about an hour later, this little short guy named Special Agent Pieron came to my office and started grilling me about where the pictures came from. It took him about half an hour before I gave it up. I said, “Fine, I had the pictures. I’m the one who put them in there.” I said, “I’ll talk to you after work.”

      I still didn’t think it would be as big a deal as it turned out to be. I thought they would be taken off duty and tried, but I didn’t think the world would ever hear about it. I never thought it would explode the way it did.

      So after work, I went to Agent Pieron’s office, scrolled through the pictures with him, and gave a sworn statement. A few of the soldiers in the pictures he knew, but I identi?ed the rest and told him where the pictures were taken, that kind of thing. But while I was doing it, another CID agent was actually going out and rounding these people up.

      They worked too fast. They were picking them up while I was still there! So I’m in the back room, and I start to hear voices and people’s gear coming off out front. I knew right away whose voices they were. It was Graner, Ambuhl, and England. I looked at Agent Pieron, and I didn’t have to say anything. He grabbed the other agent and said, “He’s still in here. He is still here.”

      There was only one way out of the room, so there was basically no way to sneak by. One of the agents went and grabbed all of these blankets and rugs and covered me up with them, made me look like a really tall woman in some kind of ridiculous out?t. Then he told everyone in the room to turn around and face the wall, and they led me out the door and down the corridor and outside. I couldn’t see anything; they had to guide me. I was scared as hell.


      The next two days, there was a lot of tension and anger in the unit. My ?rst sergeant and my company commander knew what I’d done, and they had a big problem with it. They were pissed that I hadn’t come to them ?rst. But the problem was, in the past, every time something came to them, it got covered up. The track record left me no choice. We had a drug addict in the unit getting prescription drugs. He actually walked out of a military hospital and jumped into an Iraqi cab and took a hundred-mile trek to Hilla.

      They did nothing. There were other things, too, that I’m not going to mention. But things happened, and nothing was done about it. Plus, Frederick was involved—he was in charge of the night shift for the prison, and he was in the damned photos.

      For about three days, Graner and England and the rest of them were being questioned. Then it got even worse. Someone decided to keep them on the compound. I had expected them to be charged and taken away, but no, they were going to get new jobs. They’d be walking around with their weapons all day long, knowing that somebody had turned them in and trying to ?nd out who.

      That was one of the most nervous periods of my life. I was constantly scared. I started getting paranoid. I kept my gun with me at all times. I took it to sleep with me.

      All the other platoons in my company slept in one of the old prison buildings on the compound, in cells, but I slept in a closet in an old administration building, so I was one of the only soldiers who didn’t have a big metal door that I could close. In fact, there wasn’t any door at all. I was totally exposed. I hung a poncho in the doorway, like an army raincoat, and I would lie there in bed with both arms behind my head and my left hand inside the pillowcase, gripping my nine-millimeter with the safety off.

      I would just listen. And about four days into it, I’m lying there, and I hear the poncho go swish. I was like, Holy shit—somebody is coming into my goddamn room. And then it was quiet again. I’m thinking, Oh fuck. I tighten my grip around my weapon, and then I feel a hand on my foot.

      So I swing up with the nine as fast as I can and grab the guy by the shoulder, and he goes, “Jesus Christ!” It was my friend Layton, completely blasted. He just wanted some help with his computer. Thank God he didn’t remember in the morning that I had pulled a gun on him. I don’t think he would’ve realized why I had the gun, but Layton was the type of guy that wouldn’t have let me forget it. He would’ve teased me about it, and somebody else might have heard the story and put it together.

      The day after that, I was working at my office in the Operations building when Graner came in. You could tell he hadn’t slept, he’s all unshaven and everything, and he’s still got his weapon—an M16 with a grenade launcher. Takes it off and sets it on the desk. He just looks exhausted, and he’s acting funny. He’s talking to my boss, Sergeant Coville, but he keeps looking at me.

      At one point, he says to Coville, “You don’t know who your friends are.” And then he looks at me and says, “Do you, Darb?” I froze. But then he just laughed and started talking again, and I realized then that he didn’t know. He trusted me enough to believe it wasn’t me.

      Eventually, after about a month, somebody ?nally had the sense to take them off the compound. That was a huge relief, but I still wanted to make sure nobody found out what I’d done. One of the things you have to understand is the mentality of where I grew up, in western Maryland.

      It’s a small town, and there’s not a lot of work. So most people are either in the military, in the Reserves, or they’re related to somebody who is. They’re good people, but I knew they weren’t going to look at the fact that these guys were beating up prisoners. They were going to look at the fact that an American soldier put other American soldiers in prison. For Iraqis. And to those people—who basically are patriotic, socially programmed people who believe whatever they’re told—the Iraqis are the enemy, and screw whatever happens to them.

      So I knew if I wanted to go back to my civilian life, if I wanted to integrate back home, nobody could know what I’d done. They’d never forgive me. And I was assured by the army that nobody would know. I would remain anonymous.

      Well, it didn’t work out that way. About a month after Graner and the rest of them left Abu Ghraib, we were up in Camp Anaconda, and I was sitting with ten other guys from my platoon in the dining facility. It’s a big facility, packed with like 400 other soldiers, and I’m sitting there eating when Donald Rumsfeld comes on during the damned congressional hearings. It was like something out of a movie.

      I’m sitting there, and right next to me there’s a TV, and Rumsfeld is on it when he drops my damned name. Almost nobody in my unit knew what I’d done until he dropped my damned name. On national TV. I was sitting midbite when he said it, and I was like, Oh, my God. And the guys at the table just stopped eating and looked at me. I was like, Fuuuuuck. And I got up and got the hell out of there.


      After my name got out, I knew I had to get home.

      The media was swarming all over the house like vultures. They were taking pictures every time my wife came in and out, the phone was ringing nonstop, and they were coming to the door one after the other with presents and ?owers, even after she told them to go away. Most of the neighbors didn’t support her, either. Some did, like the postmaster—he’s a Vietnam vet, and he told my wife that he understood. But as soon as somebody else walked in, even he stopped talking to her. Because a lot of people up there view me as a traitor.

      Even some of my family members think I’m a traitor. One of my uncles does, and he convinced my brother not to talk to me anymore. So my wife had to hide in a relative’s house, and when the media tracked her there, she had to be taken into military custody. I still have a lot of bad feelings toward the press.

      I was stuck in Iraq, powerless to help her. I needed to get home. I asked for emergency leave, and at one o’clock in the morning they came to my room with a two-hour warning. They said, “Get out of bed, get what you need, turn in your ?ak vest. You’re getting out of the country.”

      So I grabbed everything I could ?t into two duffel bags, gave my weapons to a friend, and went down to wait for the plane. It’s a long ?ight, and I managed to sleep for most of it. Finally, we land in Dover, Delaware. We’re taxiing on the runway when all of a sudden, the plane stops. You can hear the hissing of the hydraulics, and the plane door is opening up.

      But we’re still on the runway. The loadmaster of the plane looks at me and says, “What the hell are we doing?” And then these three guys in suits come on, and they point at me and they’re like, “Let’s go.”

      There was a van sitting there on the runway, and I was saluted by a colonel, who said, “Your family’s waiting. We’ll take you to them.”

      I couldn’t believe it when I walked through the doors and saw my wife. I had no idea she was actually going to be in the airport. I was just hugging her and crying. Then they took us to a house on the post for the night, and after a while, I went outside to talk to Major Chung, the provost marshal for my unit based in Cumberland. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, “I just want to go home.”

      And he said, “You can’t go home. You can probably never go home.”


      He was right. I never went back to my home.

      I’ve only been back to my town twice: for my mother’s funeral and for a wedding. Even then, I was only in town as long as I needed to be. I’m not welcome there. People there don’t look at the fact that I knew right from wrong. They look at the fact that I put an Iraqi before an American.

      So we’ve relocated, and I’ve been working as a military mechanic for the past two years. My orders were extended through the trials, so I have now served ten years on an eight-year contract.

      My last day in the military is August 31. I’m done. I have a job lined up, working for a medical-equipment company. It’s a nice job, a lucrative job. At ?rst it might be hard for me to adapt to civilian life. You hear this from everybody who’s out of the military—if you’re a supervisor over a civilian, you can’t bark at them like you do in the military, so you have to learn to do things different.

      I always treated my soldiers well, but if I wanted something done, it better be done now. It’ll be different in civilian life.

      But I don’t regret any of it. I made my peace with my decision before I turned the pictures in. I knew that if people found out it was me, I wouldn’t be liked. That’s why I wanted to be anonymous. I knew what the mentality is up there.

      But the only time I have ever regretted it was when I was in Iraq and my family was going through a lot. Other than that, I never doubted that it was the right thing. It forced a big change in my life, but the change has been good and bad. I liked my little quiet town, but now I have a new place, with a new job and new opportunities.

      And I’m going to live my life like anyone else, and raise my family.

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