Read here full article in The Independent (UK)
Read here related article and HERE and HERE
I suppose that astonishment is not the word for it. Stupefaction comes to mind.
I checked the date - no, it was not 1 April (April Fool's Day) - but I remain overwhelmed that this vain, deceitful man, this proven liar, a trumped-up lawyer who has the blood of thousands of Arab men, women and children on his hands is really contemplating being "our" Middle East envoy.
That this ex-prime minister, this man who took his country into the sands of Iraq, should actually believe that he has a role in the region - he whose own preposterous envoy, Lord Levy, made so many secret trips there to absolutely no avail - is now going to sully his hands (and, I fear, our lives) in the world's last colonial war is simply overwhelming.
Of course, he'll be in touch with Mahmoud Abbas, will try to marginalise Hamas, will talk endlessly about "moderates"; and we'll have to listen to him pontificating about morality, how he's absolutely and completely confident that he's doing the right thing (and this, remember, is the same man who postponed a ceasefire in Lebanon last year in order to share George Bush's ridiculous hope of an Israeli victory over Hizbollah) in bringing peace to the Middle East...
Not once - ever - has he apologised.
Not once has he said he was sorry for what he did in our name.
Yet Blair actually believes - in what must be a record act of self-indulgence for a man who cooked up the fake evidence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" - that he can do good in the Middle East.
For here is a man who is totally discredited in the region - a politician who has signally failed in everything he ever tried to do in the Middle East - now believing that he is the right man to lead the Quartet to patch up "Palestine".
I suppose Blair has his uses. His unique blend of ruthlessness and dishonesty will no doubt go down quite well with our local Arab dictators.
And I have a suspicion - always assuming this extraordinary story is not untrue - that Blair will be able to tour around Damascus, even Tehran, in his hunt for "peace", thus paving the way for an American exit strategy in Iraq.
But "Palestine"? The Palestinians held elections - real, copper-bottomed ones, the democratic variety - and Hamas won.
But Blair will presumably not be able to talk to Hamas.
He'll need to talk only to Abbas's flunkies, to negotiate with an administration described so accurately this week by my old colleague Rami Khoury as a "government of the imagination".
The Americans are talking - and here I am quoting the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack - about an envoy who can work "with the Palestinians in the Palestinian system" to develop institutions for a "well-governed state".
It was James Wolfensohn who was originally "our" Middle East envoy, a former World Bank president who left in frustration because he could neither reconstruct Gaza nor work with a "peace process" that was being eroded with every new Jewish settlement and every Qassam rocket fired into Israel.
Does Blair think he can do better?
What honeyed words will we hear?
I bet he doesn't mention the Israeli wall which is taking so much extra land from the Palestinians. It will be a "security barrier" or a "fence" (like the famous Berlin "fence" which was actually called a "security barrier" by those generous East German Vopo cops of the time).
There will be appeals for restraint "on all sides", endless calls for "moderation", none at all for justice (which is all the people of the Middle East have been pleading for over the past 100 years).
And Israel likes Tony Blair.
Indeed, Blair's slippery use of language is likely to appeal to Ehud Olmert, whose government continues to take Arab land for Jews and Jews only as he waits to discover a Palestinian with whom he can "negotiate", Mahmoud Abbas now having the prestige of a rabbit after his forces were crushed in Gaza.
Which of "Palestine"'s two prime ministers will Blair talk to?
Why, the one with a collar and tie, of course, who works for Mr Abbas, who will demand more "security", tougher laws, less democracy.
Once, our favourite trouble-shooter was James Baker - who worked for George W's father until the Israelis got tired of him - and before that we had a whole list of UN Secretary Generals who visited the region, frowned and warned of serious consequences if peace did not soon come.
Kurt Waldheim visits - especially to the late King Hussein - came to nothing, of course. But Waldheim's ability to draw a curtain over his wartime past does have one thing in common with Blair. For Waldheim steadfastly, pointedly, repeatedly, refused to acknowledge - ever - that he had ever done anything wrong.
Now who does that remind you of?
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Read here full article in ABCNEWS.com
DePaul University Denies Tenure to Professor Who Has Accused Some Jews of Abusing Holocaust Legacy
A DePaul University professor who has accused some Jews of improperly using the legacy of the Holocaust to get compensation payments has been denied tenure after a drawn-out public fight.
Norman Finkelstein, whose work led to a long-running public feud with a Harvard law professor and lawyer famous for representing O.J. Simpson, said he was disappointed by the faculty panel's 4-3 decision.
"They can deny me tenure, deny me the right to teach," the 53-year-old told the Chicago Sun-Times. "But they will never stop me from saying what I believe."
Finkelstein's most recent book, "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History," is largely an attack on Alan Dershowitz's "The Case for Israel."
In it, Finkelstein argues Israel uses the outcry over perceived anti-Semitism as a weapon to stifle criticism.
Dershowitz, who threatened to sue the book's publisher for libel, has urged DePaul officials to reject Finkelstein's tenure bid.
"This should not have been a close case," he said in an e-mail Sunday. "Finkelstein's only academic output is ad hominem attacks on ideological enemies. ... The only reason this appeared close was because outsiders from the hard left mounted a political campaign on his behalf."
The debate over his tenure raised the ire of many in academic and religious circles, and blogs and petitions that both support and deride him have appeared on the Internet.
On his Web site Sunday, Finkelstein posted a letter explaining why the panel denied him tenure at the Catholic university.
The three-page note cites Finkelstein's "deliberately hurtful" scholarship along with his lack of involvement with the school and his tendency for public clashes with other scholars.
"In the opinion of those opposing tenure, your unprofessional personal attacks divert the conversation away from consideration of ideas, and polarize and simplify conversations that deserve layered and subtle consideration," school President Dennis Holtschneider wrote in a letter dated June 8.
In a statement issued by the university, Holtschneider noted the heated debate surrounding Finkelstein's tenure.
Over the past several months, there has been considerable outside interest and public debate concerning this decision," he said. "This attention was unwelcome and inappropriate and had no impact on either the process or the outcome of this case."
An e-mail message left Sunday for Finkelstein, who lives in New York, was not returned. A telephone recording said his Brooklyn phone had been temporarily disconnected.
The son of Holocaust survivors, Finkelstein earned his doctorate from Princeton in 1988. He published five books and taught political theory at DePaul since 2001, school officials said.
University spokeswoman Denise Mattson said Sunday that Finkelstein's teaching term expires next June, but he can elect to leave his post immediately.
He was one of nine faculty members to be denied tenure or promotions this year, she said.
On the Net:
Norman Finkelstein's Web site: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com
DePaul University: http://www.depaul.edu
Alan Dershowitz: http://www.alandershowitz.com
Read here article by AIJAZ HUSSAIN in AP Newswire
A group claiming to represent the al-Qaida terror network declared a holy war on India over its partial control of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, Indian officials said Saturday.
A statement and video was sent Friday to the Current News Service, in Srinagar, the main city of India's Jammu-Kashmir state, in which a masked man standing next to an automatic weapon read the declaration.
"We declare righteous holy war against India on behalf of God the great in which Jammu and Kashmir will be the launch pad for holy war in India," said the statement signed by Abu Abdul Rehman al-Ansari, purportedly the chief of al-Qaida Fil Hind or al-Qaida in India.
While this is the first time the group has been heard from since it announced its establishment in July, police said they were taking the threat seriously.
Police are trying to establish the veracity of the statement, said the state's director general of police Gopal Sharma. "But there is no need to panic," he said.
There have been allegations that Islamic militants fighting to wrest predominantly Muslim Kashmir from India have ties to al-Qaida, but these links have not been proven.
The statement — five pages long and given in Urdu — mentions insurgencies in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, the Palestinian territories and Algeria and describes them as a global Islamic movement "aimed at wiping out borders and leading to the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate."
Muslims account for 130 million of the India's 1.1 billion people and their relations with the country's Hindu majority have been largely peaceful since the bloody partition of the subcontinent at its independence from Britain in 1947.
But there have been sporadic bouts of religious violence, and India's part of Kashmir — a Himalayan land divided between India and Pakistan in a 1948 war — has been beset by an Islamic separatist insurgency since 1989.
More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict.
India has also blamed Kashmiri militants for a string on bombings across India in recent years.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Read here full article by John Hooper in The Observer
He really is priceless. Other world leaders see the Pope with their advisers and the Vatican's peerlessly punctilious protocol experts, making sure they do not commit the slightest gaffe. But George W. Bush can outwit them all. On the plane to Rome, he was already struggling.
The Pope is addressed as 'Your Holiness'. Roman Catholics refer to him as 'The Holy Father'. But somewhere in the tumble dryer that is the part of the US President's brain set aside for words, the two concepts got tangled and he told Associated Press: 'I think His Holy Father will be pleased to know that much of our foreign policy is based on the admonition to whom much is given, much is required.'
No doubt Pope Benedict, whom Bush later described as 'very smart', was able to deconstruct the rest of the sentence.
But before he got down to cases with Bush, the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church had the unusual experience of being called 'sir'. 'It's good to be with you, sir,' said Bush as he sat down.
But it was just one of those days for George W. Even the car broke down.
His visit to Rome had been preceded by the biggest security operation this bodyguard's nightmare of a city had ever seen. The Tiber was dragged. The sewers were searched. Squares were cleared and roofs occupied. Yesterday the presidential cavalcade hurtled along its route preceded by a swarm of more than a dozen motorcycles, scooters and even motorised three-wheelers carrying tough-looking armed police riding pillion.
But when it got to Largo Poli, near the Trevi fountain, Bush's car ground to a halt.
It remained perilously immobile for a minute and half. The President and Laura Bush were hustled into another car. That was denied by a White House official, who said the reasons for the breakdown were 'unclear'.
Just as unclear was how the wide presidential limo could get through the gates of the US embassy. It couldn't. The presidential couple had to walk in.
'But this is how we do things in Italy,' cried a delighted onlooker. At least Bush could take heart from the G8 summit in what, in talking to the German-born Pope, he termed 'your old country'. He described it as 'successful ... good'.
Not everyone saw it that way. Some felt Bush had been spectacularly wrong-footed. Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, suggested that, if America's anti-missile shield was really to protect Europe from Iran and not Russia, the US could use Russian-controlled radar.
The Pope mischievously asked Bush if his talks with Putin had also been good. Glancing at the reporters who were about to be ushered from the room, the President replied: 'Ummm ... I'll tell you in a minute.'