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 Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Joshua Muravchik, The Jewish NeoCon's Essay in LA Times: Full of Hatred, Embarrassment and Lack of Credibility on IRAN


Dr. Karen Kwiatkowski,
(Dr. Karaen Kwiatkowski is a a retired USAF lieutenant colonel. She has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for and Liberty and Power. Archives of her American Forum radio program can be accessed here and here. A version of this article originally appeared on )

Read here full article

Who is Joshua Muravchik?

Joshua Muravchik is a Jewish author and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Muravchik received an undergraduate degree from City College of New York a doctorate in international relations from Georgetown University.

True to the implications of the title "neoconservative," Muravchik was National Chairman of the Young People's Socialist League from 1968 to 1973.
Muravchik has been an adjunct professor at the
Institute of World Politics since 1992. He served on the Maryland State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1985 to 1997.

Additionally, he has been an adjunct scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy since 1986 and was executive director of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority from 1977 to 1979. He is an editorial board member of the journals World Affairs and Journal of Democracy.

Muravchik is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute where he researches Middle East politics, democracy, neoconservatism and the history of socialism.

The neoconservative moment in American politics has NOT passed, and it won’t for some time.

There is also something utterly and basely human about the whole neoconservative political outlook that tells me we won’t be rid of it easily.

Neoconservatism encourages our natural reluctance to believe that other countries might be populated with mothers and daughters just like us, sons and fathers like our own, caring friends and neighbors who look out for us, and happy children filled with dreams.

While advocating democracy and "freedom" for these other people for whom we "care" so much, neoconservatism demands that we simultaneously see them as subordinate to our wishes. We are happy to meet them, subject to our economic and military boot – or else we are happy to meet them in a hell of our own creation.

Our sordid tendencies toward rage and bloodlust are fed and nurtured by neoconservative prescriptions in foreign policy.

Knowing this, I was still shocked to see Joshua Muravchik’s November 19th opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times.

I was surprised that an essay of such ignorance, such hatred, and such embarrassing lack of credibility was published at all in a major newspaper.

I was surprised that Joshua Muravchik has an audience; that he apparently does is frightening.

When I read Joshua explain why we must bomb Iran as soon as possible, I was surprised that the LA Times hadn’t hit the "DELETE" button.

Sure, Muravchik hails from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and we do expect this type of stupidity from the folks who insisted the same thing five years ago regarding Iraq.

Yes, the AEI still informs key players in the White House and in Congress. And we do understand the real role of Washington think tanks these days.

But in "Bomb Iran," one wonders what it is really all about.

The official neoconservative view, as produced by the AEI and AIPAC too, is that Iran must NOT be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.

  • That they do not have one is irrelevant.

  • They must NEVER ever have a nuclear weapon – under no imaginable government, under no imaginable regional or global arrangement. Islamic countries and bombs are a bad mix, according to neoconservatives.

  • In "Bomb Iran," Joshua says that we cannot deter Iran’s use of a nuclear weapon – once they have one – by telling Iran that if anything in the whole wide world happens, we will nuke Iran.

    This, by the way, is Dick Cheney’s foreign policy – we will assume Iran is behind anything bad that happens, and first use of the great American nuclear arsenal against Iran is our present security doctrine.

    Joshua worries that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, "[c]oming on top of North Korea's nuclear test, ... would spell finis to the entire nonproliferation system."

    Apparently, AEI’s ivory tower is an actual tower made of ivory. A tower with no windows, no internet, no television, no radio, no intelligent life. It was clear to me and a few billion other people back in the 1970s that finis for non-proliferation had already been spelt.

    Joshua worries that Iran is an archenemy of the United States and Israel, and he worries that it is led by a messianic leader, and that Tehran seeks regional dominance.

    Thus, Joshua – Alfred Prufrock style – recalls Churchill and World War I, and the Cold War, choices not made, actions not taken, the painful anonymity of timidly sitting on ones’ hands.

    He says if we do not bomb, we will not "forestall" Iran’s regional dominance and its global war, and Ahmadinejad the next Lenin.

    If we do bomb, Joshua says… well, it would be better. Trust him.

    What, indeed, is it really all about?

    First, it is about guys like Joshua Muravchik doing their workaday job.

    Advocating positive solutions to real American security challenges does not earn them a paycheck. Instead, feeding the ongoing Washington and Tel Aviv obsession with whether Israel or Iran will be the regional military and economic hegemon does.

    Hence, Joshua is just doing his job.

    Secondly, it is about the Washington establishmentarian desire to lay the psychological-linguistic groundwork for what is going to happen soon – and for those with connections in this White House, to come out on the "right" side early and often.

    "Bomb Iran" becomes legitimate to say, and thus to think and do, even as the Muravchik arguments, and those of a hundred others in key media outlets, remain illegitimate, illogical, and empty.

    And lastly, it is practically important, as several American carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf patiently await the 2006 rendition of a Tonkin incident, as the Air Force and Navy polishes those target lists, as the Army and Marines send more troops into the region.

    We hear that more troops are going to Iraq because of its complete political and security breakdown, but the Pentagon knows our troops cannot save Iraq, and if they enter into the fray, they will be killed.

    Instead, it seems more likely that these troops will stay on the major U.S. bases in central and southern Iraq, and elsewhere in the region, until needed for the next big thing. The news that more American troops may be required in Afghanistan also fits nicely with what must be done.

    As Cheney visited our men in Saudi Arabia this past weekend, and as the Secretary of State sees our man in Jordan, it’s all on track.

    Telling us this is the only reason the LA Times would publish the type of racist, evil, Armageddonite hogwash as found in "Bomb Iran!"

    Consider yourself told.

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    Former US President Jimmy Carter BLAMES Israel for Mideast Conflict

      See here video clip on the interview with President Carter on Good Morning America

    In some of the harshest and one-sided language he has used to date, former Democratic President Jimmy Carter called Israeli "domination" over Palestinians "atrocious" in an interview today on ABC's "Good Morning America."

    Carter said there was "no doubt now that a minority of Israelis are perpetuating apartheid on the people in Palestine, the Palestinian people."

    Carter called Israel's occupation the "prime cause" of continuing violence in the Middle East.

    "And contrary to the United Nations resolutions, contrary to the official policy of the United States government, contrary to the Quartet so-called road map, all of those things – and contrary to the majority of Israeli people's opinion – this occupation and confiscation and colonization of land in the West Bank is the prime cause of a continuation of violence in the Middle East," he said.

    "And what is being done to the Palestinians under Israeli domination is really atrocious.

    It's a terrible affliction on these people."

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     Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    IRAQ WAR: They Lied Their Way into Iraq And Now They Are Trying to Lie Their Way Out


    Other Breaking News

    Bush Blames Al Qaeda for Wave of Iraq Violence

    President Bush today said Al Qaeda was to blame for the rising wave of sectarian violence in Iraq, which he refused to label a civil war.

    Mr. Bush said he would press Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, during meetings in Jordan later this week to lay out a strategy for restoring order.

    My questions to him will be: What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence?” said Mr. Bush. “I will assure him that we will continue to pursue Al Qaeda to make sure that they do not establish a safe haven in Iraq.”

    Read here for more


    "Bush and Blair will blame anyone but themselves for the consequences of their disastrous war - even its victims"


    Gary Younge

    Read here full article in The Guardian(UK)

    'In the endgame," said one of the world's best-ever chess players, José Raúl Capablanca, "don't think in terms of moves but in terms of plans."

    The situation in Iraq is now unravelling into the bloodiest endgame imaginable.

    Both popular and official support for the war in those countries that ordered the invasion is already at a low and will only get lower.

    Whatever mandate the occupiers may have once had from their own electorates - in Britain it was none, in the US it was precarious - has now eroded.

    They can NO longer conduct this war as they have been doing.

  • Simultaneously, the Iraqis are no longer able to live under occupation as they have been doing.

  • According to a UN report released last week, 3,709 Iraqi civilians died in October - the highest number since the invasion began.

  • And the cycle of religious and ethnic violence has escalated over the past week.

  • The living flee. Every day up to 2,000 Iraqis go to Syria and another 1,000 to Jordan, according to the UN's high commissioner for refugees.

  • Since the bombing of Samarra's Shia shrine in February more than 1,000 Iraqis a day have been internally displaced, a recent report by the UN-affiliated International Organisation for Migration found last month.

  • Those in the west who fear that withdrawal will lead to civil war are too late - it is already here.

  • Those who fear that pulling out will make matters worse have to ask themselves: how much worse can it get?

  • Since yesterday American troops have been in Iraq longer than they were in the second world war. When the people you have "liberated" by force are no longer keen on the "freedom" you have in store for them, it is time to go.

  • Any individual moves announced from now on - summits, reports, benchmarks, speeches - will be ignored unless they help to provide the basis for the plan towards withdrawal.

    Occupation got us here; it CANNOT GET US OUT.

    Neither Tony Blair nor George Bush is in control of events any longer.

    Both domestically and internationally, events are controlling them. So long as they remain in office they can determine the moves; but they have neither the power nor the credibility to shape what happens next.

    So the crucial issue is no longer whether the troops leave in defeat and leave the country in disarray - they will - but the timing of their departure and the political rationale that underpins it.

    For those who lied their way into this war are now trying to lie their way out of it.

    Franco-German diplomatic obstruction, Arab indifference, media bias, UN weakness, Syrian and Iranian meddling, women in niqabs and old men with placards - all have been or surely will be blamed for the coalition's defeat.

    As one American columnist pointed out last week, we wait for Bush and Blair to conduct an interview with Fox News entitled If We Did It, in which they spell out how they would have bungled this war if, indeed, they had done so.

    So, just as Britain allegedly invaded for the good of the Iraqis, the timing of their departure will be conducted with them in mind. The fact that - according to the foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett - it will coincide with Blair leaving office in spring is entirely fortuitous.

    More insidious is the manner in which the Democrats, who are about to take over the US Congress, have framed their arguments for withdrawal.

    Last Saturday the newly elected House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, suggested that the Americans would pull out because the Iraqis were too disorganised and self-obsessed. "In the days ahead, the Iraqis must make the tough decisions and accept responsibility for their future," he said. "And the Iraqis must know: our commitment, while great, is not unending."

    It is absurd to suggest that the Iraqis - who have been invaded, whose country is currently occupied, who have had their police and army disbanded and their entire civil service fired - could possibly be in a position to take responsibility for their future and are simply not doing so.

    For a start, it implies that the occupation is a potential solution when it is in fact the problem. This seems to be one of the few things on which Sunni and Shia leaders agree.

    "The roots of our problems lie in the mistakes the Americans committed right from the beginning of their occupation," Sheik Ali Merza, a Shia cleric in Najaf and a leader of the Islamic Dawa party, told the Los Angeles Times last week.

    "Since the beginning, the US occupation drove Iraq from bad to worse," said Harith al-Dhari, the nation's most prominent Sunni cleric, after he fled to Egypt this month facing charges of supporting terrorism.

    Also, it leaves intact the bogus premise that the invasion was an attempt at liberation that has failed because some squabbling ingrates, incapable of working in their own interests, could not grasp the basic tenets of western democracy. In short, it makes the victims responsible for the crime.

    Withdrawal, when it happens, will be welcome. But its nature and the rationale given for it are not simply issues of political point-scoring.

    They will lay the groundwork for what comes next for two main reasons.

    1. First, because, while withdrawal is a prerequisite for any lasting improvement in Iraq, it will NOT by itself solve the nation's considerable problems.

      Iraq has suffered decades of colonial rule, 30 years of dictatorship and three years of military occupation. Most recently, it has been trashed by a foreign invader. The troops must go. But the west has to leave enough resources behind to pay for what it broke.

      For that to happen, the anti-war movement in the west must shift the focus of our arguments to the terms of withdrawal while explaining why this invasion failed and our responsibilities to the Iraqi people that arise as a result of that failure.

      If we don't, we risk seeing Bono striding across airport tarmac 10 years hence with political leaders who demand good governance and democratic norms in the Gulf, as though Iraq got here by its own reckless psychosis.

      Eviscerated of history, context and responsibility, it will stand somewhere between basket case and charity case: like Africa, it will be misunderstood as a sign not of our culpability but of our superiority.
    2. Second, because unless we understand what happened in Iraq we are doomed to continue repeating these mistakes elsewhere.
      Ten days ago, during a visit to Hanoi, Bush was asked whether Vietnam offered any lessons. He said: "We tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while ... We'll succeed unless we quit."

      In other words, the problem with Vietnam was not that the US invaded a sovereign country, bombed it to shreds, committed innumerable atrocities, murdered more than 500,000 Vietnamese - more than half of whom were civilians - and lost about 58,000 American servicemen.

      The problem with Vietnam was that they lost. And the reason they lost was not because they could neither sustain domestic support nor muster sufficient local support for their invasion, nor that their military was ill equipped for guerrilla warfare.

      They lost because it takes a while to complete such a tricky job, and the American public got bored.

    "You learn more from a game you lose than a game you win," argued the chess great Capablanca.

    True, but only if you heed the lessons and then act on them.

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     Friday, November 24, 2006

    Syria: Convenient but Unlikely Fallguy for Gemayel's Death


    Jonathan Cook

    Read here full article by Jonathan Cook

    Commentators and columnists are agreed aare Pierre Gemayel's assassination must have been the handiwork of Syria. His Christian Phalangists have been long-time allies of Israel. He was one of the leading figures in the Lebanese government's anti-Syria faction.

    President Bush thinks so too. Case, apparently, settled.

    Unlike my colleagues, I do not claim to know who killed Gemayel.

  • Maybe Syria was behind the shooting.

  • Maybe, in Lebanon's notoriously intrigue-ridden and fractious political system, someone with a grudge against Gemayel – even from within his own party – pulled the trigger.

  • Or maybe, Israel once again flexed the muscles of its long arm in Lebanon.
  • It seems, however, as if the last possibility cannot be entertained in polite society.

    So let me offer a few impolite thoughts.

    Suspicion falls automatically on Syria because the Christian Phalangists are one of Syria's main enemies in Lebanon.

    Partly as a result, Christian Phalangists have opposed recent attempts by Syria's main ally in Lebanon, the Shi'ite group Hezbollah, to win a greater share of political power. They are also part of the majority in the pro-American government of Fuad Siniora that supports a United Nations tribunal to try the killers of Rafik Hariri, an anti-Syria politician and leader of the Sunni Muslim community, who was blown up by a car bomb more than a year and a half ago.

    After all six Shi'ite ministers walked out of the Siniora cabinet two weeks ago, and now with Gemayel's assassination, the government is close to collapse, and with it the tribunal that everyone expects to implicate Syria in Hariri's murder.

    If Syria can "bump off" another two cabinet ministers and the government loses its quorum, Syria will be off the hook – or so runs the logic of Western observers.

    But does this "evidence" make Syria the prime suspect or the fallguy?

    How will Syria's wider interests be affected by the killing, and what about Israel's interests in Gemayel's death – or rather, its interests in Hezbollah or Syria being blamed for Gemayel's death?

    In truth, Israel will benefit in numerous ways from the tensions provoked by the assassination, as the popular and angry rallies in Beirut against Syria and Hezbollah are proving.

    1. First, and most obviously, Hezbollah – as Syria's main political and military friend in Lebanon – has been forced suddenly on to the back foot. Hezbollah had been riding high after its triumph over the summer of withstanding the Israeli assault on Lebanon and routing an invasion force that tried to occupy the country's south.
      Hezbollah's popularity and credibility rose so sharply that the leaders of the Shi'ite community had been hoping to cash in on that success domestically by demanding more power. That is one of the reasons why the six Shi'ite ministers walked out of Siniora's cabinet.

      The system of political representation in Lebanon was rigged decades ago by the former colonial power, France, to ensure that power is shared between the Christian and Sunni Muslim communities.

      The Shi'ite Muslims, the country's largest religious sect, have been kept on the margins of the system ever since, effectively disenfranchised.

      With their recent military victory, this was the moment Hezbollah hoped to make a breakthrough and force political concessions from the Sunnis and Christians, concessions that indirectly would have benefitted Syria.

      With Gemayel's death, the chances of that now look slim indeed.

      Hezbollah, and by extension Syria, are the losers.

      Israel, which wants Hezbollah weakened, is the winner.
    2. Second, the assassination has pushed Lebanon to the brink of another civil war.
      There is a real danger that fighting will return to Lebanon's streets. Hezbollah's underground cadres who took on the Israeli war machine will doubtless have to come out of hiding and will pay a price against other well-armed militias.

      The benefits for Syria are at best mixed.

      A possible benefit is that a bloody civil war may increase the pressure on the United States to talk to Syria, and possibly to invite it to take a leading role again in stabilizing Lebanon, as it did during the last civil war. But,it may have the opposite effect, encouraging the US to isolate Syria further.

      Conversely, civil war may pose serious threats to Syrian interests – and offer significant benefits to Israel.

      If Hezbollah's energies are seriously depleted in a civil war, Israel may be in a much better position to attack Lebanon again.

      Almost everyone in Israel is agreed that the Israeli army is itching to settle the score with Hezbollah in another round of fighting.

      This way it may get the next war it wants on much better terms; or Israel may be able to fight a proxy war against Hezbollah by aiding the Shi'ite group's opponents.

      Certainly one of the main goals of Israel's bombing campaign over the summer, when much of Lebanon's infrastructure was destroyed, appeared to be to provoke such a civil war.

      It was widely reported at the time that Israel's generals hoped that the devastation would provoke the Christian, Sunni and Druze communities to rise up against Hezbollah.
    3. Third, Syria is already the prime suspect in Hariri's murder and in the assassination of three other Lebanese politicians and journalists, all seen as anti-Syrian, over the past 21 months.

      The US exploited Hariri's death, and the widespread protests that followed, to evict Syria from Lebanon.

      Syria's removal from the scene also paved the way for Israel's assault this summer, which would have been far more dangerous to the region had Syria still been in Lebanon.

      Gemayel's assassination, however, has dramatically revived interest in the question of who killed Hariri and brings Syria firmly back into the spotlight.

      None of this benefits Syria, but no doubt Israel will be able to take some considerable pleasure in Damascus's discomfort.
    4. Fourth, the Israeli government has been under international and domestic pressure to engage with Syria and negotiate a return of the Golan Heights, an area of Syrian territory it has been occupying since 1967.

    With it would be resolved the fraught question of the Shebaa Farms, still occupied by Israel but which Hezbollah and Syria claim as Lebanese territory that should have been returned in Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.

    The status of the Shebaa Farms has been one of the main outstanding areas of dispute between Israel and Hezbollah.

    President Assad of Syria has been hinting openly that he is ready to discuss Israel's return of the Golan Heights on better terms for Israel than it has ever before been offered.

    According to reports in the Israeli media, Assad is prepared to demilitarize the Golan and turn it into a national park that would be open to Israelis. He would probably also not insist on a precise return to the 1967 border, which includes the northern shoreline of the Sea of Galilee.

    Traditionally Israel's leaders balked at this idea, and provoked popular fears by conjuring up the vision of Assad's father, Hafez, dipping his feet in the lake.

    But if negotations on the Golan are desperately sought by the young Assad, Israel shows no interest in exploring the option.

    The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has repeatedly ruled out talking to Damascus. That is for several reasons:

  • Israel, as might be expected on past form, is not in the mood for making territorial concessions;

  • it does not want to end Syria's pariah status and isolation by making a peace deal with it;

  • and it fears that such a deal might suggest that negotiations with the Palestinians are feasible too.
  • Peace with Syria, in Israeli eyes, would inexorably lead to pressure to make peace with the Palestinians. That is most certainly not part of Israel's agenda.

    Gemayel's death, and Syria being blamed for it, forces Damascus back into the fold of the "Axis of Evil," and forestalls any threat of talks on the Golan.

    5. Fifth, pressure has been growing in the US Administration to start talking to Syria, if only to try to recruit it to Washington's "war on terror."

    The US could desperately do with local local help in managing its occupation of Iraq.

    Key allies such as Britain's Tony Blair are pushing strongly for engagement with Syria, both to further isolate Iran – the possible target of either a US or Israeli strike against its presumed ambitions for nuclear weapons – and to clear the path to negotiations with the Palestinians.

    Gemayel's death, and Syria's blame for it, strengthens the case of the neoconservatives in Washington – Israel's allies in the Administration – whose star had begun to wane.

    They can now argue convincingly that Syria is unreformed and unreformable.

    Such an outcome helps to avert the danger, from Israel's point of view, that White House doves might win the argument for befriending Syria.

    For all these reasons, we should be wary of assuming that Syria is the party behind Gemayel's death – or the only regional actor meddling in Lebanon.

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     Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Assassination of Perre Gemayel in Lebanon: Accusations Against Syria are All TOO ROUTINE


    Zvi Bar'el

    Read here full article in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz

    Questions Need to be Ask:

    Is there another black hand in the Middle East that attempts to make Syria responsible for the
    destabilisation of the Middle East?

    Which country is well-known in its policy for the assassination of political leaders of neighboring countries in the Middle East in recent years?

    Why is this assassination timed when Washington is about to reach out to Syria?

    The accusation leveled at the Syrians put Syria at the top of the list of suspects in Tuesday's assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.

    However pure political and diplomatic logic makes it difficult to see Damascus behind the assassination.

    It puts Syrian president Bashar Assad in an embarrasing position.

    The accusations were made by Saad Hariri, son of assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, hinted by Prime Minister Fuad Siniora urging the establishment of an international tribunal to try Hariri's killers, and in statements by anti-Syrian elements in Lebanon ,

    The day Gemayel was killed, Syria chalked up one of its most significant diplomatic achievements since its defeat in Lebanon in April 2005: the renewal of full diplomatic relations with Iraq.

    Syria is also on the way to achieving a semi-official stamp of approval from Washington as able to calm things down in Iraq.

    Syria could have been on the verge of an important political success in Lebanon - the possible fall of Fuad Siniora's government, which would mean Syria could increase the power of its supporters in the government by means of the Hezbollah ultimatum.

    With three such achievements, the LAST THING Damascus needed was a new accusation of a political murder in Lebanon.

    When Hariri was murdered in February 2005, Syria apparently thought it could repress the forces of reform through political assassination.

    Now things are different.

    Hezbollah is about to pave the way for both itself and Syria to direct political influence.

    No wonder, then, that it was Hezbollah, about to organize huge rallies against the Siniora said the Gemayel killing was a plot, woven, no less, by elements hostile to Hezbollah.

    The organization says it will now be difficult to persuade the Lebanese public to oppose a government one of whose ministers was assassinated.

    And why Pierre Gemayel?

    He may have been a promising young leader expressing anti-Syrian sentiments, as befitting a scion of the Gemayel family.

    But he was not among the first pick of Lebanese leaders.

    On the other hand, more prominent leaders are surrounded by small armies.

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     Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Beit Hanoun Masssacre: The Israel Defense Force - An Efficient Murdering Machine of Innocent Women and Children


    It is a pattern, a murderous pattern.

    This is not the first time the Israel Defense Force went on a rampage killing innocent women and children. The same happened in the war in Lebanon a few months ago.

    The Israel Defense Force is NOT doing any favors to the Israeli citizens as this killing will definitely bring about revenge by Hamas, causing another round of death of innocent Israelis.

    The Western Governments could only say it is a tragedy while Israeli gets away with the continued killing of innocent women and children in the Palestinian territories.

    When Hamas decides to take revenge, the western media start to have amnesia of this murderous pattern of the Israeli army.


    "We Overcame our Fears" by al-Shanti in Beit Hanoun
    (Jameela al-Shanti is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas. She led a women's protest against the siege of Beit Hanoun last Friday)

    Read HERE full article by Jameela in The Guardian (UK)

    Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care.

    In the same raid Israel's artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds.

    One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children.

    The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week.

    This is Israel's tenth incursion into Beit Hanoun since it announced its withdrawal from Gaza. It has turned the town into a closed military zone, collectively punishing its 28,000 residents.

    For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled.

    All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in.

    Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved.

    We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday.

    They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away.

    It is not easy as a mother, sister or wife to watch those you love disappear before your eyes. Perhaps that was what helped me, and 1,500 other women, to overcome our fear and defy the Israeli curfew last Friday - and set about freeing some of our young men who were besieged in a mosque while defending us and our city against the Israeli military machine.

    We faced the most powerful army in our region unarmed. The soldiers were loaded up with the latest weaponry, and we had nothing, except each other and our yearning for freedom. As we broke through the first barrier, we grew more confident, more determined to break the suffocating siege.

    The soldiers of Israel's so-called defence force did not hesitate to open fire on unarmed women. The sight of my close friends Ibtissam Yusuf abu Nada and Rajaa Ouda taking their last breaths, bathed in blood, will live with me for ever.

    Later an Israeli plane shelled a bus taking children to a kindergarten. Two children were killed, along with their teacher.

    In the last week 30 children have died.

    As I go round the crowded hospital, it is deeply poignant to see the large number of small bodies with their scars and amputated limbs.

    We clutch our children tightly when we go to sleep, vainly hoping that we can shield them from Israel's tanks and warplanes.

    But as though this occupation and collective punishment were not enough, we Palestinians find ourselves the targets of a systematic siege imposed by the so-called free world. We are being starved and suffocated as a punishment for daring to exercise our democratic right to choose who rules and represents us.

    Nothing undermines the west's claims to defend freedom and democracy more than what is happening in Palestine. Shortly after announcing his project to democratise the Middle East, President Bush did all he could to strangle our nascent democracy, arresting our ministers and MPs.

    I have yet to hear western condemnation that I, an elected MP, have had my home demolished and relatives killed by Israel's bombs.

    When the bodies of my friends and colleagues were torn apart there was not one word from those who claim to be defenders of women's rights on Capitol Hill and in 10 Downing Street.

    Why should we Palestinians have to accept the theft of our land, the ethnic cleansing of our people, incarcerated in forsaken refugee camps, and the denial of our most basic human rights, without protesting and resisting?

    The lesson the world should learn from Beit Hanoun last week is that Palestinians will never relinquish our land, towns and villages. We will not surrender our legitimate rights for a piece of bread or handful of rice. The women of Palestine will resist this monstrous occupation imposed on us at gunpoint, siege and starvation. Our rights and those of future generations are not open for negotiation.

    Whoever wants peace in Palestine and the region must direct their words and sanctions to the occupier, not the occupied, the aggressor not the victim. The truth is that the solution lies with Israel, its army and allies - not with Palestine's women and children.

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