Bulletin N°276


7 December 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Our century of industrial-scale violence --the 20th century-- has continued into the first decade of the following century. A history will be written one day of this era describing how the nature of the mass violence changed and how pacifist responses changed accordingly. Meanwhile, we are still living in an incredibly numbing environment, where social democracy is not working and capitalisme sauvage is at the door. It would seem to many that capitalist regulations do not protect the public effectively from environmental and personal damage, that public ownership and democratic control of the means of production is the only practical alternative to the ravages brought about by the private profit motive.

The present technological revolution has not been completely appropriated by capitalist interests, and democratic movements are able to use the scientific knowledge necessary to "think globally and act locally". While giant corporate interests are staking out their claims to the sources of global wealth, indigenous people everywhere are beginning to envision a better collective future and are learning how to organize against the forces of the private profit motive, which would enslave them with the assistance of an army of "hired guns".

It has been estimated that more than 178 million people have been murdered by states between 1900 and 1999. These state murders, represent the work of a molar action [see Giles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus], which once set in motion has a momentum virtually impossible to halt until it reaches its destination. How to prevent the initial movement toward mass destruction is a question at the level of strategy and would require the dismantling of the arms industries of the entire world, all of which have a vested interest in promoting warfare.

The arms industries, like all capitalist enterprises, are governed by the private profit motive, and with this narrow interest they are prepared to destroy the environment and even the market economy to attain their goals of short-term maximum profits.

Here are descriptions of a few of the consequences of the arms industries' profit motive at work in the 20th Century :

Testimonies on Genocides :

From Genocide in Guatemala :

Form Genocide in Cambodia :

From Genocide in Sudan :

On the 85th Anniversary of Armenian genocide :

On the 64th Anniversary of the Nazi Holocaust :

On genocide in Rwanda :

On Kurdish genocide in Iraq :

On a Palestinian genocide in process ?


Below are 8 articles which CEIMSA recently received describing this economy of death and the social movements now growing in the wastelands.

A., sent to us by Stendhal University Professor Hélène Palma, is an address by international pacifist, Judea Pearl, which was delivered before the United Nations' Non-governmental Organizations Briefing on 26 January, as part of the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance.

B. is an article by Israeli anti-war activist, Gideon Levy, analyzing why the Lebanese cease fire is likely to "go up in flames" in the coming months.

C. is an article by Mike Whitney suggesting that unless anti-war interventions occur, another blood bath is likely in Lebanon.

D. is an audio interview with Noam Chomsky speaking with Robert McChesney on Media Matters, about "The Death of a Nation".

E. is an article by Bashir Abu-Manneh, member of the English Department Faculty at Barnard College reviewing two books on Palestine :The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood by Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah's new book, One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

F. is an article by Adel Safty, in which he observes how it is getting increasingly difficult for the U.S. media to ignore the Israeli massacres and starvation tactics used against the people of Palestine.

G. is an announcement from Academics for Justice, publicizing the news that “Israel came in at the bottom of the ranking in almost every question, even among Americans!”

And finally, item H. is an article from Alexander Cockburn, reminding us of the virtual reality of neo-conservatives and how the correspondence theory of Truth has raised its ugly head once again, challenging their performative theory  which recognizes Truth as simply an act of speech, or a concession with what has been stated, again and again.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Dircector of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Hélène Palma :
4 December 2006

Dear Francis,
here is the script of a speech delivered by Dr. Judea Pearl (Daniel Pearl Foundation, www.danielpearl.org) which he kindly sent to me yesterday.
Best regards,

Remembrance, Vigilance, and Beyond
by Judea Pearl
Daniel Pearl Foundation

Remarks at the UN NGO Briefing January 26, 2006, as part of the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance
(See:  http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/index.asp )

Thank you Mr. Sommereyns, Ambassador Gillerman, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

On this solemn day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust, I am grateful for the opportunity to highlight the memory of my grandparents, who perished in Auschwitz in 1942, and that of my son, Daniel Pearl, who was murdered 60 years later, in Karachi, Pakistan.

Situated thousands of miles apart, and executed under totally different circumstances, by people of a different faith, language and purpose, the two murders nevertheless illuminate each other as well as the topic under discussion.

This speech was webcast alive and can be viewed on : http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/brief-calendars/brief-jan26.htm

from Gideon Levy :
5 December 2006

The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is not interested in the cease-fire. One can assume that neither is the Shin Bet. Reports on how the cease-fire is already being exploited for redeployment on the other side are flooding the media.

The cease-fire will go up in flames

from ICH :
5 December 2006
Information Clearing House

Another Bloodbath in Lebanon?
by Mike Whitney

The Lebanese government has nearly doubled the size of its security forces in recent months by adding about 11,000 mostly Sunnis and Christian troops, and has armed them with weapons and vehicles donated by the UAE, a Sunni state.” (“Lebanon Builds Up Security Forces, Megan Stack, LA Times) “The army’s conclusion is that a war in the near future is a reasonable possibility….the IDF’s operative assumption is that during the coming summer months, a war will break out against Hezbollah and perhaps against Syria as well.” Ha’aretz editorial

When Hezbollah puts a million people on the streets of Beirut, it doesn’t appear on the front page of the New York Times. That spot is reserved for Bush’s “made-in-Washington” extravaganzas like the Cedar, Orange or Rose revolutions. Those bogus revolutions were cooked up in American think tanks and engineered by US NGOs; that’s why they got headline coverage in the Times. The Beirut demonstrations don’t promote the political agenda of the America’s ruling elite, so they’re stuck on page 8 where they’ll be ignored.

Some things never change.

But the demonstrations are an important part of the drama which is currently unfolding in the region. They signal the shifting of power away from Washington and Tel Aviv to a new Shiite-dominated Middle East. The American-backed government of Fouad Siniora is the next domino on the list which could fall in a matter of weeks. Time appears to be running out for Siniora and there’s nothing Bush or Olmert can do about it.

Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, is moving Lebanon towards "democratization" by demanding greater representation for the country’s majority, the Shi’ites. So far, he’s decided to take the peaceful route, but the massive protests are an impressive “show of force” that could be a sign of things to come. If the situation deteriorates, Hezbollah will do what is necessary to defend its people and its interests. Siniora knows that Nasrallah has the power to bring down the government or to plunge the country into civil war. So, it's all a matter of who blinks first.

Ironically, Nasrallah’s tactics mirror those that were used during the so-called Cedar Revolution which put Siniora in office and forced the Syrian troops out of Lebanon. Now, the situation has reversed itself and tens of thousands of mostly poor Shi’ites have set up camp in Bierut’s main square, the Riad el Soloh, and are hunkering-down for the long haul. There defiance is as much an indication of class struggle as it is a rejection of the Siniora government. Megan Stack of the LA Times clarifies this point:

“Some of the poorest and most marginalized people in the country, Shiite Muslims, have abandoned their homes in suburban slums to camp out on the nation's priciest bit of real estate. Though they often have trudged through Lebanese history as war refugees, now they have managed to displace Lebanon's wealthiest shop owners. They also have surrounded Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, barricaded in his office.”

“Class struggle” is a big part of the present confrontation. The media has tried to emphasize the religious differences to promote their theory of a “clash of civilizations”; the ongoing struggle between modernity and Arab reactionaries. It’s all the same gibberish Americans read every day in op-ed columns by Tom Friedman, David Brooks or the other neocon scribes.

The “clash of civilizations” theory is a great boon to those who would like see war in the Middle East continue into perpetuity or at least until every Arab country is broken up into little defenseless statlets.

But the truth is that the Shiites are mostly poor and underrepresented and are entitled to a bigger place at the political table. Does that mean they would have the right to “veto” legislation? (which seems to be the main bone of contention)

Yes, of course, if they are in the majority, but that doesn’t imply that the Lebanon is destined to become an Islamic theocracy. Nasrallah has already dismissed the idea of an Iranian-type “Mullahocracy”, run by Ayatollahs who strictly apply Sharia Law. Nasrallah is fiercely nationalistic despite his clerical robes. His main objective is to remove the US-Israeli agents, like Siniora, from the government and reestablish Lebanese sovereignty. Remember, Siniora refused to even deploy the Lebanese army to fight the Israelis when they invaded his country and killed 1300 Lebanese nationals. For the hundreds of thousands of victims in the south, there’s no doubt as to where Siniora’s true loyalties lie.

Siniora is Washington’s man. In fact, he even kept the lines of communication open with Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, while his country was being bombed with American ordinance dropped from Israeli planes. After the war he quickly reopened the US embassy even though his country’s infrastructure was still in ruins from Israel’s 34 Day rampage. He has been a great asset to US-Israeli plans to create a “New Middle East”, but utterly useless for the great body of poverty-stricken and homeless Lebanese civilians.

Michel Chossudovsky summarized the administration’s goals in Lebanon this way:

“Washington’s objective is to transform Lebanon into a US protectorate. The Lebanese people are demanding the resignation of a government which is acting on behalf of the US and Israeli invaders of their country. They are demanding the formation of a national unity government which will defend the Lebanese homeland against US-Israeli aggression.”

Chossudovsky adds:

“The Beirut government is taking orders directly from the US embassy. The Siniora government has allowed the deployment of NATO forces on Lebanese territory under the pretext of UN-sponsored peace-keeping operation. NATO warships under German command are stationed off the country’s eastern Mediterranean coastline. NATO has a military cooperation agreement with Israel.” (“Mass Demonstrations against the US-backed Lebanese Government” Michel Chossudovsky; Global Research)

The US and Israel are working feverishly behind the scenes to destabilize Lebanon as part of their broader plans for the entire region. The assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister, Pierre Gemayel can only be understood in this larger context. The assassination strengthened the US-Israel position vis a vis Syria and increased the likelihood of a confrontation between Hezbollah and government forces. This is precisely what Israel wants. It allows Tel Aviv to stay uninvolved while their 34 Day War resumes via their Lebanese proxies.

Megan Stack of the LA Times reports that, “The Lebanese government has nearly DOUBLED the size of its security forces in recent months by adding about 11,000 mostly Sunnis and Christian troops, and has armed them with weapons and vehicles donated by the UAE, a Sunni state.” (“Lebanon Builds Up Security Forces, LA Times)

The dramatic increase in the Interior Ministry troops, including the creation of a controversial intelligence unit and the expansion of a commando force, is meant to counter the growing influence of Iran and Hezbollah, its Shiite ally in Lebanon….The quiet, speedy buildup indicates that Lebanon’s anti-Syria ruling majority, has been bracing for armed sectarian conflict since the withdrawal of Syrian forces in the spring of 2005. It also reflects growing tensions across the region between US-allied Sunnis Muslims who hold power in most Arab nations and the increasingly Shiite-ruled Iran and Hezbollah.” (LA Times)

The Siniora government has actually moved troops out of the army into the Internal Security Forces (ISF). The implication is clear. Siniora has no interest in defending his country from foreign (Israeli) invasion; he’s simply getting ready to fight his own people. Clearly, the weapons from the United Arab Emirates are being provided under Bush’s authority to help Siniora in a future confrontation with Hezbollah.

Mark Mackinnon of the Globe and Mail confirms much of what appeared in the LA Times. Mackinnon says, “Since the Syrian army’s departure from Lebanon in early 2005, the US and France have been providing money and training to the Internal Security Forces (ISF). With the political situation souring further in recent weeks, the UAE stepped in to provide the unit with an emergency “gift” of thousands of rifles and dozens of police vehicles.” (“West helps Lebanon build Militia to fight Hezbollah”; Globe and Mail)

Even though Siniora’s troops have been armed and trained by western powers, Israel is still not confident that they can prevail. In fact, Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported:

“The mounting crisis threatening the Siniora government in Lebanon, and the specter of a Hezbollah takeover, have spurred senior Israeli government officials in Jerusalem to raise several proposals in recent days aimed at strengthening Siniora….(They are) increasingly concerned that Siniora’s government will fall, resulting in a Hezbollah takeover that would turn the country into what an Israeli government official source termed ‘the first Arab state to become an Iranian protectorate’”.

But Israeli fears may be unwarranted. While Hezbollah receives military assistance from Iran, it certainly does not compare to the high-tech weaponry and foreign aid that Israel gets from the US. Nor is there any indication that Hezbollah is merely a puppet of the Iranian Mullahs. This is just more baseless scaremongering. In fact, a strong nationalist government in Beirut could serve to stabilize the region by developing a more credible deterrent to Israeli aggression. (Israel has invaded Lebanon 4 times in 25 years) That might undermine Israel’s regional ambitions but, it would be infinitely better for the Israeli citizens who simply want peace and security.

Nevertheless, Israel is preparing for any eventuality; especially since it is unlikely that Bush will be able to commit any American troops if war breaks out. Ha’aretz summarized the somber mood of the Israeli high-command in an editorial earlier in the week:

“The army’s conclusion is that a war in the near future is a reasonable possibility. As Amir Oren reported several weeks ago, the IDF’s operative assumption is that during the coming summer months, a war will break out against Hezbollah and perhaps against Syria as well.”

But there is room for optimism. By summer, the Bush administration should be winding down in Iraq. This is bound to have a profound effect on the entire region. Israel will be less likely to restart its war with Lebanon if the administration is engaged in fragile negotiations with the neighboring states. And, who knows; a phased withdrawal of troops in Iraq might force a compromise in the Israel-Palestine standoff? (Olmert has already begun talking to Saudi Arabia about a comprehensive peace plan modeled on the Road Map)

So far, only one thing seems certain; that US-Israeli influence will steadily decline just as Shiite power continues to rise. Another bloodbath in Lebanon won’t change that reality.

from Noam Chomsky :
2 December 2006

The Palestinians committed a major crime in January (2006) There was a free election, closely monitored, declared to be free and fair and they voted the wrong way. That is absolutely criminal.

The Death Of A Nation
(Audio interview with Prof. Noam Chomsky

from The Nation Magazine :
5 December 2006

In Palestine, a Dream Deferred
by Bashir Abu-Manneh

[A review of The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood by Rashid Khalidi and One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse by Ali Abunimah]

ince occupying the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel has been the only sovereign state in British Mandate Palestine. Palestinians have been living either as second-class citizens in the Jewish state; or as colonized residents of the West Bank and Gaza with no human or political rights; or as refugees dispersed and stranded in neighboring Arab countries, in often extremely difficult conditions. The chances of Palestinians overcoming exile and exercising their right of return seem as far away as ever. Hardly more promising are the immediate prospects for ending the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza in accordance with the international and Arab consensus, in place since at least 1976 and rejected by the United States and Israel.

 Neither armed struggle from bordering Arab countries and the occupied territories nor popular mobilization and political struggle have brought liberation and decolonization. The defeat or containment of one intifada after another has only strengthened the Israeli colonial presence in the West Bank. Despite the withdrawal of 8,000 settlers from Gaza, the area's 1.3 million Palestinians are under intensified blockade and siege. Since the summer nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed, many of them civilians, as in the recent Beit Hanoun massacre. Haughtily told by the United States that the lack of Palestinian "democracy" was the main obstacle to peace, Palestinians freely cast their ballots in the legislative elections in January, only to be punished for their democratic choice: threatened by Israel with "starvation" and denied the funds needed to pay the salaries of civil servants, the breadwinners for much of Palestinian society. Walls, checkpoints, closures, collective punishments, roadblocks, Jewish-only roads, massacres by shelling, assassinations, mass imprisonment and a poverty rate of 70 percent have come to define the Palestinian condition under occupation.

The diplomacy of the Oslo period has also failed to restitute--even some--Palestinian national rights. In fact, as far as the Israeli elite were concerned, the Oslo framework was never intended to end the occupation or to bring about withdrawal to the 1967 borders. Oslo has proved to be yet another version of the Allon Plan, first presented after the 1967 war by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. The Allon Plan proposed a truncated autonomy for Palestinians in the West Bank (Allon suggested that Arab-majority areas be placed under Jordanian jurisdiction), with substantial quantities of their land annexed to Israel, which would control all borders and entry points to the territory as a whole.

Since 1993, under the guise of peacemaking, Israel has doubled the number of settlements and settlers (around 400,000) in the occupied territories. For Israel "peace" and "security" have come to mean a Palestinian population cut off from Israel yet at the same time totally dependent on it--a recipe for continuing Palestinian subjugation and Israeli domination. Palestinians have, as a result, been undergoing their worst ordeal since their dispossession and expulsion from most of Palestine in 1948 and their occupation by Israel in 1967. As John Dugard, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, put it in his recent report, Palestinians are the first occupied people in history on whom international sanctions have been imposed--sanctions that are "possibly the most rigorous form...imposed in modern times." Palestinian democracy, he concludes, is as curtailed by the international community as Palestinian freedom of movement is by Israel.

This bleak picture is compounded by grave internal divisions between Fatah and Hamas, which in the past year have spilled over into street confrontations and killings. For the first time in Palestinian history there looms the possibility of civil war. The political contradictions between those who seem ready to accept whatever Israel offers (Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah elite) and those who seek the complete decolonization of the 1967 lands (Hamas, grassroots elements in Fatah and the majority of Palestinians) are rapidly sharpening. Though the Palestinians' steadfastness is intact, living under near permanent siege and without hope of immediate real change could intensify the tendency toward self-destruction, a prospect that Israel's leaders are happy to encourage.

How then to respond to this deepening Palestinian crisis and to Israel's relentless drive toward consolidating and expanding the settlement project? Thus far, there has been no collective or national Palestinian self-reckoning. But conversations are beginning to take place in Palestinian communities all over the world. Activists and intellectuals are beginning to ask the central questions: What is the nature of the Palestinian crisis today, and how can it be overcome?

 The new books by Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah are important in this regard. Both writers have longstanding records of engagement with the Palestinian question: Khalidi holds the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies at Columbia University, has published several fine books on Palestinian nationalism and advised the Palestinian delegation at the 1991 Madrid talks; Abunimah is a founding editor of and frequent contributor to http://www.electronicintifada.net, an indispensable online source of alternative information on the occupation. Both men seek, in their different ways, to ignite more focused debate and discussion about fundamental Palestinian and Israeli concerns. Khalidi's The Iron Cage examines the causes of the Palestinian failure to achieve statehood, from the British Mandate in 1922 to Hamas's recent electoral victory, while Abunimah's One Country makes the case for the creation of one state for Arabs and Jews in all of Israel-Palestine.

 Why did the Palestinians fail to achieve statehood before 1948, and what impact did their defeat have on their national prospects thereafter? This is the main question that Khalidi tackles in The Iron Cage, a work of forceful historical analysis written in a spirit of self-examination. If the Palestinians take center stage in this critical survey of their leadership, it's not because Khalidi is "blaming the victims." Rather, he is holding them "accountable for their actions and decisions," as he puts it. Ridiculing Palestinian leadership has long been a veritable pastime in the West, from Abba Eban's oft-quoted line "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" to the myth that Arafat consigned his people to continuing occupation by rejecting Ehud Barak's "generous offer" at Camp David. Khalidi, in contrast, never loses sight of the fact that the Palestinians had few good choices, and that the odds against their struggle for self-determination may have been insurmountable. Those odds are well suggested by a remark made in 1919 by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, author of the 1917 Balfour Declaration supporting a Jewish "national home" in Palestine: "Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far greater import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land." Since then, denial of Palestinian national aspirations has been a constant of Western and Zionist policy in the region, and Khalidi emphasizes its crucial significance. He minces no words appraising the US record: "In practice the United States is, and for over sixty years has been, one of the most determined opponents of Palestinian self-determination and independence."
As Khalidi underscores, it is these British and American commitments to Zionism that are centrally responsible for continuing Palestinian statelessness and dispossession. It has long been argued that Palestinians--alone among Arab nations--failed to establish their independence because of their internal weaknesses: the petty quarrels and betrayals of their elites, their lack of social development, even an absence of genuine national consciousness. In fact, Khalidi shows, Palestinian society compared favorably, economically and socially, to other Arab societies that had emerged from Ottoman rule. Indeed, it "was manifestly as advanced as any other society in the region, and considerably more so than several."

Palestine's history diverged from its neighbors' because of the external interest that no other territory in the Arab world attracted: Zionism's desire to create a Jewish state and Britain's sponsorship of its settler-colonial project. Indeed, without Britain no Jewish state would have been possible. Britain did everything in its power to nurture Jewish state institutions and to prevent Palestinian ones from taking shape, creating, in Khalidi's words, "a kind of iron cage for the Palestinians, from which they never succeeded in escaping." Fundamental inequalities of policy defined British imperialism in Palestine. For most of the Mandate period, Britain facilitated and supported Jewish immigration from Europe against the wishes of the Palestinian majority. Although the British and the Zionist movement came to blows over the 1939 White Paper limiting Jewish immigration and land purchase, Britain's colonial policies ultimately led to Zionist control of most of Palestine in 1948, when Jews still constituted only a third of its population and owned around 6 percent of its land.

 But why, Khalidi asks, were the British able to achieve their objectives against the obvious desires of Palestine's Arab majority? At times, his answer skirts dangerously close to circularity--the Palestinians didn't achieve statehood because they failed to build state structures that would contest the British Mandate. But what accounts for this failure? Khalidi's answer is tough-minded and unsparing. Rather than establish "alternative sources of legitimacy" and fight the Mandate, the notables who led Palestinian society were all too trusting of the British as intermediaries, with whom they engaged in "ineffectual beseeching." Thus did they deprive themselves of political leverage to substantially affect, much less reverse, the British policy of supporting the creation of a Jewish national home. If Palestinian leaders were co-opted and contained by the Mandate's iron cage, Khalidi suggests, it was in part because they lacked any real willingness to move against British imperialism until it was far too late. (The Palestinian elite's tendency to entrust their people's fate to imperial powers would re-emerge during the Oslo period.)

Even more than this dependence on the Mandatory system, what set the Palestinian leadership apart from other Arab nationalist elites was its specifically religious character. These were, in fact, intertwined, as Khalidi demonstrates in a striking discussion of the role played by Haj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Palestine. The British created his office--raising his stature in order to help them administer the Mandate--and invested it with powers that no mufti had ever enjoyed in the history of Islamic religious institutions. This put the Palestinian national movement at a severe disadvantage: "Lacking effective vehicles for building toward statehood, either pre-existing, provided by the British, or developed by the Palestinians themselves, the Arab population of Palestine was instead granted a religious leadership, authorized, encouraged, legitimated, subsidized, and always in the end controlled by the British."

It was only in the early 1930s, with the rise of the Hizb al-Istiqlal al-Arabi (the Arab Independence Party), that Palestinians turned to mass resistance to the Zionist project and its British patrons. In contrast to the mufti and other Palestinian leaders who denounced the British in speeches while quietly cooperating with them behind the scenes, Istiqlal advocated Palestinian independence and Arab unity and denounced cooperation with the Mandate authorities. Istiqlal quickly aroused opposition from the British, the Zionist movement and from the mufti, who would tolerate no challenges to his charismatic leadership. (As Khalidi ruefully observes, "The Palestinians were to suffer again many decades later from this damaging conflation of the national cause with the personality of an overweening leader in the twilight era of Yasser 'Arafat's dominance of the Palestinian national movement.") Under the weight of these pressures, the party disintegrated within two years of its founding. Yet its brief existence indicated a growing middle-class disenchantment with elite capitulation and a rising mood of popular militancy, particularly with regard to the deepening plight of Palestinian peasants and their increasing dispossession by Zionists. And in identifying the British as the main enemy of Palestinian national aspirations, Istiqlalists laid the groundwork for the armed struggle led by Sheikh Iz al-Din al-Qassam and for the general strike and violent rebellion of 1936-39.

 For Khalidi "the crushing of the 1936-39 revolt largely determined the outcome of the 1948 war...for the Palestinians." He is aware that the anticolonial mobilization may well have been doomed to defeat, pointing out that no such revolt was successful in the interwar years and that Britain deployed more than 20,000 troops and the Royal Air Force against the Arab rebellion. But the revolt led the British to issue the White Paper, a small and ambiguous concession that the mufti rejected. Thus, writes Khalidi, the leadership "failed to take advantage of the momentary weakness of the British position or to win any political gains from the sacrifices that had been made by the rebels." Although the odds were stacked against them, he insists, "the Palestinians did have choices, and some of them may have been less bad than others," including mass organization, non-cooperation with the British and tactical concessions.

 Khalidi rightly underscores the issue of leadership, which plays an important, at times decisive, role in the success or failure of political movements. But why does it always come back to haunt the Palestinians? The self-interest of the elite and their propensity to cooperate with the British are part of what needs to be explained. Was there something about the conditions of Palestinian life under the Mandate that accounts for the persistently bad choices of the leadership? Or were there more deep-seated social causes?

 Palestinian writer and PFLP leader Ghassan Kanafani made a powerful case for the latter in his 1972 study on the 1936-39 revolt. According to Kanafani, the nature of the Zionist colonial project forced Palestinian society to undergo "an extremely violent transformation from an Arab agricultural society into a Jewish industrial one." This, combined with British colonial policy, produced a weak Palestinian bourgeoisie and a weak industrial working class and labor movement, neither of which could mount an effective challenge to the Palestinian elite's political hegemony. As a result, the resistance to Zionism was led by the peasantry--dispossessed, nationally disorganized, geographically dispersed and ultimately powerless. As Mona Younis writes in her excellent Liberation and Democratization: The South African and Palestinian National Movements: "Indeed, while peasant and migrant workers could wreak havoc through rioting, they lacked leverage with which to force either the British or the Zionists into aborting their colonization designs."

Crushed by the British and the Zionist movement, and unable either to reorganize or to gain support from Arab governments that were more concerned with maintaining friendly relations with the British than with defending Palestinian national rights, the mass rebellion of 1936-39 ultimately degenerated into incoherence and infighting. The road to the 1948 catastrophe was open. The Palestinians might have compensated for their lack of leverage with a more coherent anticolonial nationalism that combined principled mass mobilization of peasants and workers with violent insurrection. The Palestine Communist Party might have led such a struggle, as did other Communist parties in underdeveloped countries like China and Vietnam. However, the predominantly Jewish PCP was too weak among Palestinians to challenge the leadership of the notables. And when Stalin decided that partition was the best solution to the Palestine question, the party adhered to the new line.

The Palestinian defeat in 1948 dramatically altered the political landscape, resulting in the expulsion of more than half the Arab population and the creation of Israel on the ruins of most of historical Palestine. This left the Palestinians stateless and dispersed, and with even less leverage to recover their lands and achieve their independence. Palestinians in exile faced the challenge of transforming Israel from outside its borders, while those still in Israel were placed under Israeli military rule until 1966. From 1948 through the mid-1960s, Khalidi argues, Palestinians "paid scant attention to the problem of what form of state was appropriate for Palestine" and generally did little more than project the imagined past into the future.... In thus attempting to turn back the clock, Palestinians once again appear to have given little serious thought to the nature of the relationship between them and Israeli Jews who would remain in such a projected Palestinian Arab state, just as during the Mandate period, there was no appreciation of Zionism as anything more than a colonial movement that had dispossessed the Palestinians. Clearly, the fact that Zionism had also functioned as a national movement, and had founded a national state, Israel, was still not something that the traumatized Palestinians could bring themselves to accept, since these things had happened at their expense.

What difference such an "appreciation" of Zionism as both a colonial and a national movement would have made, when it was obviously bent on displacing Palestinians and expropriating their country, is not made clear. Indeed, Khalidi shows that an accommodation with Zionism was never a real option precisely because of its exclusivism and unwavering rejection of the Palestinian right of national self-determination. While it may be true that Palestinians between 1948 and 1967 lacked sufficient realism in their understanding of Israel, much more evidence than the Palestinian National Charter of 1964 is needed to substantiate such a strong claim. It certainly doesn't ring true of those Palestinians who suddenly found themselves a besieged minority in a Jewish state, or of exiled Palestinians like Kanafani, whose novella Men in the Sun (1963) offered a powerful critique of Palestinian nostalgia for the world they'd lost.

It is important to recognize, nevertheless, that a qualitative shift in Palestinian political history did occur with the emergence of Fatah and the PLO from the mid-1960s onward--a story that has been told in exhaustive detail by Yezid Sayigh in his study Armed Struggle and the Search for State. For Sayigh and most historians of the Palestinian national movement, the PLO has served in effect as a state in exile, seeking a territory to rule. Pointing to the Palestinian Authority's abject failure to achieve even the semblance of independence and sovereignty, Khalidi suggests that "this entire teleology, and the narrative about the PLO that is based on it, is very much open to question." He finds too much "clear evidence that it was not seriously preparing to build the Palestinian state that had been its formal objective for several decades," including contradictions between rhetoric and practice, armed struggle and diplomacy. Again and again, Khalidi attributes the PLO's failure to its lack of preparation. While he accepts the notion that the PLO was bureaucratized and that it had become "more and more of a quasi-state and less and less of a national liberation movement," he argues that this process never deepened into "regularization and organization on a legal basis of the organs of the PLO, their democratization, and their preparation for a move into the occupied territories."

But if there was too little "regularization and organization," as Khalidi puts it, there was also far too much bureaucratization, authoritarian leadership and lack of accountability. The only way to overcome these impediments would have been to foster, not undermine, mass mobilization and democratic participation. But Fatah elites were always averse to participatory democracy. In such a milieu, self-deception all too easily took root in the leadership. Thus Arafat was capable, in 1972, of characterizing the Palestinian revolution as "a succession of temporary setbacks until final victory." Never mind that in 1970-71, the Palestinian resistance had been brutally crushed in Jordan (in the events of "Black September") and expelled to Lebanon. But how can such extraordinary defeats bring about victory? How can worsening conditions of operation lead to transformation without any thoroughgoing reassessment of the causes of failure and without devising more successful strategies of resistance?

Arafat's thinking has been far too prevalent in the Palestinian movement. It came into its own politically, as Gilbert Achcar has shown in Eastern Cauldron, after what he describes as the "catastrophic" liquidation of the Palestinian left's most progressive and committed cadres. This defeat led to a policy of increasing dependence on Arab dictatorships and the petrodollars of Gulf monarchies and to the deepening bureaucratization and corruption of the PLO, whose purse strings were controlled by Arafat.

Why did Arafat's conservative nationalist policies prevail after 1970? The reasons behind such developments were subject to considerable debate in the movement itself in that period, particularly on the Palestinian left; one wishes that Khalidi had examined more closely the period between Black September and the PLO's expulsion from Beirut in 1982, which he too quickly brushes aside in phrases like "the futility of exile politics." For it was precisely during the exile period in the early '70s, and after Black September, that a serious and democratic critique of the PLO developed. Within Fatah it was voiced by Husam al-Khatib, a member of the central committee who recognized that the defeat of the resistance in Jordan was not just about "the question of leaderships" (masalat al-qiyadat) but about revolutionary clarity, organizational structure and political form. What Khatib championed was "revolution within the revolution," an internal transformation of the PLO's structures that would foster popular participation and advance the organization's ends more effectively. Interestingly, Khatib referred to this process as an "internal intifada."

A similar critique of the PLO was advanced by Syrian Marxist philosopher Sadek Jalal al-Azm, who attributed the defeat of Black September to Fatah's capitulation to King Hussein and its policy of "non-interference" in Arab authoritarian regimes. For the PLO to achieve its desired objectives, he argued, it needed to assume the mantle of democracy and revolution in the whole Arab world. Only then could the Palestinians establish the political leverage that they lacked as a nation-in-exile. This would help them correct the balance of forces and push Israel and the West to recognize Palestinian self-determination. This road was arguably available to the Palestinians; at the very least it should have been considered among their historical options. Such a revolutionary road may well have been blocked and defeated by Israel and the United States. But it remained a road not taken, and it marks a possible alternative in the Middle East of the 1970s, destroyed by Arab authoritarian brutality, with the backing of Israel and the West. By re-examining this radical period in Palestinian history, Khalidi may well have recognized that bad leadership after 1948, as in the Mandate period, is a symptom of deeper causes. Nevertheless, The Iron Cage compels us to reflect more deeply on the problems that continue to bedevil the Palestinian movement.

Focused on the sources of the Palestinians' failure to build a state of their own, Khalidi does not explicitly advocate a particular solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (although a longstanding supporter of a two-state solution, he expresses doubts about whether even this will come to pass, given the enormous odds Palestine now faces). Since the 1967 war, the Palestinian national movement has formally adopted two main solutions to end the conflict with Israel: from the late '60s to the early '70s, a single democratic state in Palestine, which would incorporate all religious groups and existing populations; and, since 1974, a commitment to building a state on any liberated part of Palestine, formalized at the Palestinian National Council's 1988 meeting in Algiers into a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the international consensus. Contrary to conventional wisdom in the West, the two-state solution has long been the dominant program of the Palestinian movement, still supported by a majority of Palestinians and their representatives, including, implicitly, by Hamas, despite its maximalist rhetoric. Though most Palestinians have never regarded the creation of a state in 22 percent of their land to be a just resolution of the conflict, they have also viewed the end of the occupation as a necessary condition before other issues, such as the right of return and Israel's status as a Jewish state, can be discussed.

Ali Abunimah's principal argument in One Country is that Israelis and Palestinians are so deeply "intertwined" geographically and economically, and the occupation so deeply entrenched, that binationalism, or a single democratic state with equality and self-determination for both peoples, is "the only viable solution." (Similar arguments have been made in recent years by, among others, Tony Judt, Virginia Tilley, Meron Benvenisti and the late Edward Said.) For Abunimah, binationalism resolves many inherent problems with Zionism: its exclusivism; its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians (which is becoming increasingly popular in Israel, where Russian-born settler Avigdor Lieberman, an advocate of "transfer," recently joined Ehud Olmert's Cabinet); and its racist obsession with demography. It would also crucially allow the Palestinians to return to their usurped lands and to live in peace with Israelis on an equal basis.

What's missing in his account, however, is an appreciation of immediate Palestinian needs and strategies. Although Abunimah draws on a number of examples to support his proposal, including Northern Ireland and South Africa, the creation of a single democratic state is not a pressing demand for most Palestinians. Indeed, he concedes that today neither Palestinians nor Israelis want to live together in one state. What is more, if Palestinians have been struggling to no avail to implement the much less demanding two-state solution with international laws and resolutions solidly on their side, how can they be expected to work toward an end that is even less feasible than it was thirty years ago, namely ending political Zionism? Abunimah consoles us with the assertion that Israelis "do aspire to progressive values." It's hard to share his faith, however, with the erosion of the Israeli peace camp and a society permanently lurching to the right. So one cannot help but wonder: Is it fair to ask 3.5 million occupied Palestinians to wait for redress of their daily sufferings and national humiliation until there is sufficient support among both peoples for a binational solution?

When Palestinian and Jewish socialists, notably Noam Chomsky and the Israeli Matzpen group, advocated a binational state in the 1970s (an issue ignored by Abunimah), its realization was premised on large-scale social and political transformation: Radical movements on both sides, with strong and capable constituencies, would pull toward each other and end their separation. When that option evaporated with the deepening colonial expansion of Israel and the rise of Jewish fundamentalism, many socialists shifted toward advocating a two-state solution, while remaining hostile to political Zionism. With the global retreat of radical politics since the mid-'70s, there is even less reason to believe a binational constituency exists in Israel-Palestine today. "Binationalism without social, political agents on the ground is an idea: an interview here, an article there," says Azmi Bishara, the Palestinian leader of the National Democratic Assembly in the Israeli Knesset, who, as a supporter of a state for "all its citizens," can hardly be accused of hostility to binationalism. "Are there masses--social movements--that are raising binationalism? I say no. There are not.... Among the Palestinian masses, the mood is still national. National-Islamic. Not binational." And if the binational idea remains largely divorced from politics, it has no legs to stand on.

Bishara is hardly mentioned by Abunimah, who ignores much of the literature on binationalism. The binational idea has a history in both societies, and it cannot be encompassed in a few passing references to PLO documents and to Martin Buber's writings. Unlike Khalidi, Abunimah overlooks Towards a Democratic State in Palestine (1970), the only one-state proposal ever produced by Fatah, written in English by a group of Palestinian intellectuals at the American University of Beirut. (Written for foreign consumption under the aegis of PLO official Nabil Shaath, the document mainly sought to convince a Western audience that Palestinians accepted the Jewish presence in Palestine.) Abunimah's discussion of the PLO amounts to two paragraphs, one of which is a long quote. He ends with this: "But if a single state was unthinkable in the past, many of the conditions that made it so have changed. Perhaps the most important is that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians now understand that the other community is here to stay."

But the fact that they know this doesn't mean that the conditions for binationalism are emerging. Nor does it make sense to describe the Israeli-Palestinian relationship as "intertwined," as Abunimah often puts it. One can make that claim only about either Palestinians living inside Israel, however unequal their access to power and social goods may be, or about occupied Palestinians between 1967 and 1991, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin started instituting his policy of closure and separation. Only then was Israel significantly dependent on Palestinians and their migrant labor. As Mona Younis argues, only then did Zionism make a partial exception to its exclusionary logic of expulsion and incorporate the Palestinians into the Israeli polity as subordinate laborers. And this, in turn, gave the occupied Palestinians some leverage to pursue certain forms of mobilization. The first intifada is a great example of what such inclusionary dynamics can generate, and it's the closest Palestinians have ever come to decolonizing Gaza and the West Bank. Even then their democratizing force was checkmated by an exiled PLO bureaucracy that feared losing its authority--and crushed by severe Israeli repression. Today the situation in the occupied territories is totally different, and much worse, leaving Palestinians with even fewer options for change and transformation than before. Israel has unilaterally cut Palestinians off and excluded them from access to its territory and settlements, even to their own surrounding areas. How can walls and closures be described as intertwining? In fact, Israel is no longer and in no way dependent on occupied Palestinians, while Palestinians remain dependent on Israel in every way. And this, incidentally, may well explain why Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians (shelved by Hamas for the past eighteen months, while Israel's deliberate targeting of civilians continues) were prevalent as a resistance tactic after Oslo and its institutionalization of closure. However morally indefensible and politically counterproductive, suicide bombings were the only way desperate Palestinians felt they could "get at" their occupiers. Notions of interdependence, then, are simply wrong, and miss what is fundamental about Zionist colonization since 1991: its powerful exclusionary form. Comparisons with American settler-colonialism and its treatment of Native Americans are, therefore, much more apt than comparisons with inclusionary settler-colonialisms like apartheid. One hopes that the Palestinian solidarity movement doesn't get too distracted by the surface similarities between South Africa and Palestine, like the question of violence or boycott, to understand their crucial differences--and that it aspires to be as uncompromisingly realist as it is hostile to political Zionism.

 Palestinians are entering a critical stage in their history. More oppressive structures are firmly established now, raising the possibility of permanent dispossession and national disintegration. Geographically and politically divided, Palestinians around the world know neither their immediate goals nor their long-term objectives. Such a deep crisis requires widespread collective engagement and effort. It may be useful to take the recent Palestinian Prisoners' Document of National Conciliation, amended and agreed upon by both Fatah and Hamas on June 27, as a launching pad for emerging debates and discussions. The prisoners clearly call for the end of the occupation, dismantling of all settlements and realization of Palestinian national rights. Their position is supported by a majority of Palestinians in the occupied territories, who realize that it may well prove to be the strongest basis for national unity today. A national liberation movement can achieve success only if it is based on values of self-organization, independence, democracy and active mass participation, including women and workers. A new anticolonial national movement is still possible and ever more necessary. And if the outcome of decolonization also produces a constituency in Israel happy to live in peace and equality with the Palestinians without walls and borders, so much the better. But there's no shortcut around the struggle against the occupation.

Bashir Abu-Manneh teaches English at Barnard College. This article was published in the December 18, 2006 issue of The Nation.

from Z Magazine :
4 December 2006

Getting Difficult to Ignor
by Adel Safty
American influential opinion makers, who generally managed to remain indifferent to the plight of the Palestinian people, are finding that ignoring Palestine is getting harder everyday.

This is largely the result, not of a fundamental change in how the influential media in the US views the Palestine tragedy, but of the unease produced by the remarkable insensitivity of the Bush administration and the political establishment, republicans and democrats alike, in the face of sustained and growing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and distressing disregard for Palestinian lives.

In a November report about Jewish settlements, the Israeli Peace Now movement showed how “Israel has effectively stolen privately owned Palestinian lands for the purpose of construction settlements…”

The report also demonstrated with maps and figures leaked to it by an Israeli official, that “nearly 40 percent of the total area on which the settlement sit is privately owned by Palestinians.” The data, said the report, “has been hidden by the State for many years.”

On a moral note, the Peace Now movement concludes, the report shows “the Israeli state acting in ‘daylight robbery’ of Palestinian land and handing it over to Israeli settlers.”

There is nothing remarkable about the report, except possibly its graphic details and its official Israeli source, making it an admission of immoral and illegal conduct.

The reality of dispossession has been known and documented for quite sometime, but largely ignored in the West, and particularly in Washington. Sabri Jiyris’s classic book The Arabs in Israel, documented the process of dispossession in Israel proper, the late Ibrahim Abu Lughod’s classic book the Transformation of Palestine presented similar facts about the process of confiscation of land and demographic and geographic transformation of Palestine into a Jewish state.

Israeli writer and leading dissident Israel Shahak documented a similar process by which Israeli authorities erased some 450 Palestinian villages from the face of the earth.

As Israeli writer Yossi Melman put it, the Peace Now report provided “the basic database for what we -- journalists, human rights organizations, liberal minded Israelis, and every Israeli with a grain of moral and ethical values -- have known for many years.” (Washington Post. Nov 22)

Although the facts have been known for many years, the New York Times published the story of the Peace Now Report as front page news.

It treated the report tentatively, introducing a key paragraph with the conditional and referred to Israeli occupation as mere “presence.”

Still, the paper highlighted the implication of the report’s finding that 40% of settlement land is privately owned by Palestinians, namely that Israeli leaders had been lying: “Israel has long asserted that it fully respects Palestinian private property in the West Bank and only takes land there legally or, for security reasons, temporarily.” (NYT.Nov 21.06)

The Washington Post also published an article by Israeli writer Yossi Melman discussing the Peace Now report.

Melman repeats some standard propaganda lines which presumably made his piece more appealing to the Washington Post, claiming for instance that the Palestinians could have had their state if Yasser Arafat had accepted the ‘generous offer’ made by then Israeli Prime Minister Yahud Barak at the Camp David Summit hosted by Bill Clinton in July 2000.

He argues that peace depended on Hamas if it renounced violence, recognized Israel and honored agreements signed by previous Palestinian governments. (Nov 22.06). This argument of course ignores the fact that Israeli leaders have not only violated their own commitments to the roadmap for peace, they have publicly bragged about freezing the political process. Sharon’s own advisor Dov Weissglas admitted that this whole package of the roadmap “has been removed from our agenda indefinitely.” (Haaretz, Oct 8, 04)

Melman’s argument is the same propaganda previously used by Israeli leaders to justify their refusal to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization. When Yasser Arafat gave in to Israeli conditions and signed the 1993 Oslo Accords, various Israeli governments only intensified the repression and accelerated the dispossession of the Palestinians, while ignoring Oslo.

Still, it is remarkable that the Washington Post would publish an article under the headline “Israel’s West Bank Theft.” The very title challenges the established and long dominant view in American corporate media of a democratic Israeli state where rule of law and respect for human rights guide Israel’s treatment of its Arab population and of the Palestinians over whom it rules in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Suggesting that Israel is less than a rule of law-state when it comes to the Palestinians, and that it engaged systematically in immoral and illegal conduct –beyond the systematic repression of Palestinians graphically shown on television screens- and actually printing the words ‘theft’ is a remarkable development for the influential media in the USA.

The New York Times story also mentioned another fact known to most of the world but not frequently mentioned to the NYT’s readers. It highlighted the prevailing status in law of East Jerusalem as occupied territory and of the settlements as illegal: “… much of the world regards East Jerusalem as occupied. Much of the world also considers Israeli settlements on occupied land to be illegal under international law.” (NYT, Nov. 21, 06)
Even more remarkable, the New York Times quotes a certain Avi Teksler, an official of the council of the settlement of Migron, built on private Palestinian land, who, with refreshing candor, admits that his settlement enjoyed the support of every Israeli government. In effect, he brags that the government-sponsored theft of Palestinian land “is how the state of Israel was created. And this is all the land of Israel. We’re like the kibbutzim. The only real difference is that we’re after 1967, not before.”

Prof. Adel Safty is Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Siberian Academy of Public Administration, Russia. His latest book, Leadership and Democracy, is published in New York.

From : Academics for Justice :
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Subject: Nation Brand Index ranks Israel near the bottom

Forwarded from: Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Sent: 12/5/2006 6:15:11 AM
Subject: "Israel is ranked last by every country, including the Americans" - Pariah state vulnerable to boycott campaigns
“Israel came in at the bottom of the ranking in almost every question, even among Americans!”

The Nation Brand Index surveys a regular list of 35 nations, with Israel added to the list for the first time for this survey and analysis.  Israel came in at the bottom of the ranking in almost every question.
For example, respondents around the world were asked:
"How strongly do you agree with the statement that this country behaves responsibly in the areas of international peace and security?" Israel scored the lowest of all 36 countries surveyed. Even Americans placed Israel 35th out of 36, with China last.
The UK panel's rankings were typical of the majority of countries: it gave Israel the bottom score on every dimension of the index apart from exports where Israel came 27th.
Get the original report, a must-read for all supporters of Palestine: go to www.nationbrandindex.com and download NBI Q3 2006 Report.  See such gems as: Israel’s government recently announced it would undertake a branding campaign
*The most negative brand ever measured by NBI
*Comes in at the bottom of the ranking on almost every question
*Israel is ranked last by every (country) panel, including the Americans…on how willing people are to live and work there

Now is the time for assertive boycott campaigns on behalf of Palestine.

For a fuller analysis of the implications of Israel’s pariah status for successful boycott campaigns, mail secretary@scottishpsc.org.uk
For solidarity updates www.scottishpsc.org.uk


Visit http://academicsforjustice.org

Contact your representatives and elected officials: use

For other ways to help, see http://BoycottIsraeliGoods.org

Views are those of their owners and not reflective of the group or any organization unless indicated otherwise.  No racism, intolerance, or bigotry is allowed.  Posting is limited to no more than three messages per week from human rights advocates. All messages are moderated.

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From Alexander Cockburn :
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Subject: Gaza and Darfur

When Will Kristof Visit the Occupied Territories?
and Darfur
by Alexander Cockburn

As a zone of ongoing, large-scale bloodletting Darfur in the western Sudan has big appeal for US news editors. Americans are not doing the killing, or paying for others to do it. So there's no need to minimize the vast slaughter with the usual drizzle of "allegations." There's no political risk here in sounding off about genocide in Darfur. The crisis in Darfur is also very photogenic.
When the RENAMO gangs, backed by Ronald Reagan and the apartheid regime in South Africa were butchering Mozambican peasants, the news stories were sparse and the tone usually tentative in any blame-laying. Not so with Darfur, where moral outrage on the editorial pages acquires the robust edge endemic to sermons about inter-ethnic slaughter where white people, and specifically the US government, aren't obviously involved.
Since March 1 the New York Times has run seventy news stories on Darfur (including sixteen pieces from wire services), fifteen editorials and twenty-one signed columns, all but one by Nicholas Kristof. Darfur is primarily a "feel good" subject for people here who want to agonize publicly about injustices in the world but who don't really want to do anything about them. After all, it's Arabs who are the perpetrators and there is ultimately little that people in this country can do to effect real change in the policy of the government in Khartoum.
Now, Gaza is an entirely different story. The American public as well as the US government have a great deal of control over what is happening there. And it is Israel, America's prime ally in the Middle East that is, on a day-to-day basis, with America's full support, inflicting appalling brutalities on a civilian population. To report in any detail on what's going on in Gaza means accusing the United States of active complicity in terrible crimes wrought by Israel, as it methodically lays waste a society of 1.5 million Palestinians. Of course the death rate is a fraction of what's alleged about Darfur, but all the same, we are talking here about a determined bid by Israel, backed by the U.S. and E.U. to destroy an entire society.
I wan't at all surprised there was a sharp swerve in emphasis towards Darfur at about the time of the Kerem Shalom attack and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in Gaza in June of this year. By the time Israel's campaign of destroying Lebanon got under way this summer (a campaign intricately linked to the Palestine issue), Darfur was hotter still as a distracting topic.
Where is Kristof? Couldn't he trade at least one of his Darfur columns for one on Gaza's suffering? Maybe he is deferring to Thomas Friedman, who owns the Middle Eastern turf on the NYT op-ed page the way Kristof owns chunks of Africa.
Israel's soldiers are not going to march into Gaza and truck all the inhabitants away. The strategy is simply to make the place into a garbage dump picked over by destitute people. The current ceasefire will do nothing to relieve the siege imposed physically, financially, commercially by Israel, the U.S. and the E.U. Israel and its accomplices are sentencing Gaza's occupants to a living death in situ, with actual death meted out each day to "terrorists" and those unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire, like the family in Beit Hanoun or the school teacher by the minibus filled with children (a near miss).
As Gideon Levy wrote in one of his many searing reports in Ha'aretz, the Israeli army "has been rampaging through Gaza-there's no other word to describe it-killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately". When my brother Patrick was there in September he reported in The Independent that "Israeli troops and tanks come and go at will. In the northern district of Shajhayeh they took over several houses last week and stayed five days. By the time they withdrew, 22 Palestinians had been killed, three houses were destroyed and groves of olive, citrus and almond trees had been bulldozed. Fuad al-Tuba, the 61-year-old farmer who owned a farm here, said: 'they even destroyed 22 of my bee-hives and killed four sheep.' His son Baher al-Tuba described how for five days Israeli soldiers confined him and his relatives to one room in his house where they survived by drinking water from a fish pond. 'Snipers took up positions in the windows and shot at anybody who came near," he said. "They killed one of my neighbors called Fathi Abu Gumbuz who was 56 years old and just went out to get water.'"
The sound that Palestinians most dread, Patrick wrote, "is an unknown voice on their cell phone saying they have half an hour to leave their home before it is hit by bombs or missiles. There is no appeal."

The Israelis have destroyed 70 percent of the orange groves; stopped the fishermen from going out in their boats, destroyed the central power station. More than 50 percent of the population is out of work, and per capita income is less than $2 a day.
Jennifer Loewenstein, of the Middle Eastern studies program at the Unversity of Wisconsin at Madison, has visited Gaza many times and written powerfully about it on the CounterPunch website. She wrote to me last week, "If people received genuine information about Gaza they would also be appalled-and that's of course why they don't get any real information about it from getting out. In addition, if the Israeli blockade of virtually all human traffic into Gaza were to end and more visitors could actually get in, more people-including freelance journalists-would be outraged, or stunned into disbelief at what Israel with US and EU backing has done to that miserable strip of land. Again, that's why the Israeli-imposed human blockade persists. And while diplomats, UN and international aid workers and a few others do get in, the fact that most of them utter not a peep about this ongoing crime against humanity suggests in the most sinister way that they will continue not to utter a peep when things get worse.
As Loewenstein concluded: "Servility to power doesn't get more insidious or malignant than this."
Hitchens Study Group Probes Policy Options for Bedraggled Warmonger
We hear indirectly that Christopher Hitchens, as seemingly impervious to reality as his hero George Bush, is at last beginning to ponder how to extract himself from the Iraq mess. The usual unreliable sources claim a plaintive phone call from Hitchens to his friend Martin Amis, brooding on his dilemma.
Others have already fled the burning deck of Bush's Mission Iraq. The Neocons are trying to regroup, amid plaintive squeals that George Bush had not the intellectual mettle nor moral fiber for the great task they charged him with. The thousands of liberal intellectuals who either openly or tacitly backed the venture have long since sidled towards the exits, albeit without a word of remorse or self criticism.
Hitchens has been a full-bore supporter of the war, summoned to the White House days before the invasion to preach the morality and assured success of the cause. Since those days he has stumbled from one fox hole to the next. The early howls of triumph and exultant paragraphs about troops being garlanded with flowers have given way to more sterterous rationales, before a final stand on Kurdish soil. His recent book on Tom Paine (which according to a devastating review in the London Review of Books (is extensively plagiar ... --er-- indebted to an earlier work by John Keane) is dedicated "by permission" to the Kurdish president Jalal Talabani). No more talk from Hitchens of democracy and freedom further south amidst the Shia and the Sunni.
But defiant wagging of the Kurdish flag won't suffice for long. A special Hitchens Study Group is being convened to evolve policy options for the beleagured scrivener. Among the options on the table:
Hitchens should redeploy immediately over the horizon to the United Kingdom, be recommended for a peerage by the expiring Blair and take his seat in the House of Lords.
Hitchens should publish a vast essay of plaintive self-justification in Vanity Fair and then retire for a period of seclusion in the Betty Ford Clinic.
Hitchens should approach Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, ask for his column back and carry on.
Note: An earlier version of first item in this column ran in the print edition of The Nation that went to press last Wednesday.