Bulletin N°318




10 September  2007
Grenoble, France
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
For decades medieval historians have warned that there is no way to fully understand the present era of Euro-American history without understanding the one thousand years that connected Antiquity with the period of the Renaissance. By "telescoping" the history of ancient Greece and Rome to Early Modern times, and ignoring the so-called "Middle Ages," we have forfeited the ability to more fully comprehend ourselves and the society we live in today.
In ancient Greek mythology Demeter, the goddess of harvest and fertility, punished the mythical King Erysichthon ("tearer of the earth"), who had cut down trees in her sacred grove. She punished him by placing the god of Famine in his stomach, making him permanently hungry. Erysichthon sold all his possessions, including his daughter, Mestra, to buy food but was still hungry. Mestra, according to this legend, was freed from slavery by the god Poseidon, who gave her the gift of shape-shifting to escape her bonds. Erysichthon sold her numerous times to make money to feed himself, but eventually Erysichthon ate himself in hunger. Greed as an affliction and the self-destruction of the greedy is a theme that goes back to Antiquity and even further, as we see elements of this theme in the Gilgamesh Epic (ca. 22nd Century B.C.)

The Renaissance --beginning in the early 14th century-- represents, we are told, a renewed interest in Classical Antiquity following the "Dark Ages." What is missing here is the historical fact that many remnants of medieval traditions and institutions remained at the time of the Renaissance and remain with us still today.

Of course history does not repeat itself, but the political history of Medieval Europe offers what Barbara Tuckman has called A Distant Mirror, an outline of human potentials, depicting a broad range of human capacities in rich detail around such themes of domination/subjugation,  arrogance and violence, rhetoric and hypocrisy, venality and opportunism, and simply mass murder on a personal scale.
Tuckman, for example, writes of mid-14th-century Europe about the codottieri, which were companies of independent knights who contracted out for wages or simply pillaged, murdered, and raped peasants for revenues and social status. These private enterprises were known not to be entirely free from the Christian notion of Redemption and concerns about eternal life after death. As a act of precaution these knights sometimes forced the survivors of their pillage to write to the Pope requesting that he grant these soldiers "full absolution" for the sins they had committed during their attack.
The dominant ideology in the West today, which in many ways falsifies the idea of "an immutable progress" by hiding some of the most regressive elements of contemporary social relationships, blinds many of us, I believe, to the historical continuity of mankind and his relationship to his society. The almost unspeakable inequalities, injustices, violence, and hypocrisies that we witness today are not new. By understanding the history of medieval mentalities we are better equipped to understand the different currents circulating in contemporary society. Marc Bloch observed the presence of these currents on the eve of the Second World War, when he wrote in his classic study, La Société féodale (1939-40), that feudalism was far from being a just form of government, but the emphasis on kinship, lordship and personal relationships made it a source of persistent loyalties, which served as the foundation of the first modern states.

The 9 items below, we believe, serve to illustrate the historical continuity of our present era of 21st-century warfare and impoverishment. The current capitalist crisis has produced a noticeable regression in social and political relationships, which can be recognized only from a historical perspective. The heritage of American civilization is largely European in its origins. We encourage readers to look at this selection of contemporary reports from American society and to attempt to place these items of information in their historical context, which portends a future of both conflict and hope.

Item A. is an article by Gabriel Kolko in which this renown economic historian predicts a major international fiscal crisis in the coming weeks or months.

Item B. is Professor Kolko's discussion of bankers and their new worries over the money market.

Item C. is an article by Greg Palast describing the Bush administration's racist "War on the Poor" in New Orleans.

Item D. is the 29 August  pod cast from Democracy Now! describing the devastation of New Orleans, two years after.

Item E., is a letter from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) addressed to The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., President of DePaul University, concerning the pattern of discrimination suffered by Professor Norman Finkelstein at this university.

Item F. is an article from Council for the National Interest Foundation on "AIPAC's Long Criminal History".

Item G. is an article by John Pilger on the necessity for positive change in Israeli policy and the non-violent means that might accomplish this.

Item H., is an article by historian Lenni Brenner on the danger of arming theocratic states.

Item I. is a new book review of Azzam Tamimi's book, Hamas A History From Within (Northampton, Massachusetts Olive Branch Press, 2007), by Jim Miles.

And finally, we offer readers two Internet articles which promise deeper insights into the limits of global economic expansion:

Understanding the approaching economic depression and preparing for it,

And More on the Mortgage Crisis in the United States,
from Dollars & Sense

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Universit Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Gabriel Kolko:
29 August 2007

The Predicted Financial Storm Has Arrived

By Gabriel Kolko

Contradictions now wrack the world's financial system, and a growing consensus exists between those who endorse it and those who argue the status quo is both crisis-prone as well as immoral. If we are to believe the institutions and personalities who have been in the forefront of the defense of capitalism, we are on the verge of a serious crisis-if not now, then in the near future.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Bank for International Settlements, the British Financial Services Authority, the Financial Times, and innumerable mainstream commentators were increasingly worried and publicly warned against many of the financial innovations that have now imploded. Warren Buffett, whom Forbes ranks the second richest man in the world, last year called credit derivatives-only one of the many new banking inventions-"financial weapons of mass destruction." Very conservative institutions and people predicted the upheaval in global finances we are today experiencing.

The IMF has taken the lead in criticizing the new international financial structure, and over the past three years it has published numerous detailed reasons why it has become so dangerous to the world's economic stability. Events have confirmed its prognostication that complexity and lack of transparency, the obscurity of risks and universal uncertainty, especially regarding collateralized debt and loan obligations, will cause a flight to security that will dry up much of the liquidity of banking. "Financial innovation itself," as a Financial Times columnist put it, "is the problem". The ultra-creative system is seizing up because no one understands where risks are located or how it works. It began to do so this summer and fixing it is not very likely.

It is impossible to measure the extent of the losses. The final results of this deluge have yet to be calculated. Even many of the players who have stakes in the countless arcane investment instruments are utterly ignorant. The sums are enormous.

Only a few of the many measures give us a rough estimate:

The present crisis began-it has scarcely ended there--with subprime mortgage loans in the U.S., which were valued at over $1.3 trillion at the beginning of 2007 but are, for practical purposes, worth far, far less today. We can ignore the impact of this crisis on U.S. housing prices, but some projections are of a 10 percent decline-another trillion or so. Indirectly, of course, the mortgage crisis has also brought many millions of people into the larger financial world and they will get badly hurt.

What the subprime market did was unleash a far greater maelstrom involving banks in Germany, France, Asia, and throughout the world, calling into question much of the world financial system as it has developed over the past decade.

Investment banks hold about $300 billion in private equity debts they planned to place-mainly in leveraged buy-outs. They will be forced to sell them at discounts or keep them on their balance sheets-either way they will lose.

The near-failure of the German Sachsen LB bank, which had to be saved from bankruptcy with 17.3 billion euros in credit, revealed that European banks hold over half-trillion dollars in so-called asset backed commercial paper, much of it in the U. S. and subprime mortgages. A failure in America caused Europe too to face a crisis. The problem is scarcely isolated.

The leading victim of this upheaval are the hedge funds. What are hedge funds? There are about 10,000 and, all told, they do everything. Some hedge funds, however, provided companies with capital and successfully competed with commercial banks because they took much greater risks. A substantial proportion is simple gamblers; some even bet on the weather--hunches. Many look to their computers and mathematics for models to guide their investments, and these have lost the most money, but funds based on other strategies also lost during August. The spectacular Long-term Capital Management 1998 failure was also due to its reliance on ingenious mathematical propositions, yet no one learned any lessons from it, proving that appeals to reason as well as experience fall on deaf ears if there is money to be made.

Some gained during the August crisis but more lost, and in the aggregate the hedge funds lost a great deal-their allure of rapid riches gone. There have been some spectacular bankruptcies and bailouts, including some of the biggest investment firms. Investors who got cold feet found that withdrawing money from hedge funds was nigh on impossible. The real worth of their holdings is hotly contested, and valuations vary wildly. In reality, there is no way to appraise them realistically-they all depend largely on what people want to believe and will take, or the market.

We are at an end of an era, living through the worst financial panic in many decades. Now begins global financial instability. It is impossible to speculate how long today's turmoil will last-but there now exists an uncertainty and lack of confidence that has been unparalleled since the 1930s-and this ignorance and fear is itself a crucial factor. The moment of reckoning for bankers and bosses has arrived. What is very clear is that losses are massive and the entire developed world is now experiencing the worst economic crisis since 1945, one in which troubles in one nation compound those in others.

All central banks are wracked by dilemmas. They have neither the resources nor the knowledge, including legal powers, to remedy the present maelstrom. Although there is clamor from financiers and assorted operators to bail them out, the Federal Reserve must also weigh the consequences of its moves, above all for inflation. Then there is the question of "moral hazards." Is the Federal Reserve's responsibility to save financial adventurers from their own follies? Throughout August the American and European central banks plunged about a half-trillion dollars into the banking system in an attempt to unfreeze blocked credit and loans that followed the subprime crisis-an event which triggered a "flight to safety" which greatly reduced banks' willingness to loan. In effect, the Federal Reserve relied on banks to restore confidence in the financial system, subsidizing their efforts.

Central banks' efforts succeeded only very partially but, in the aggregate, they failed: banks and investors now seek security rather than risk, and they will sit on their money. The Federal Reserve privately acknowledges its inability to cope with an inordinately complex financial structure. European central bankers are in exactly the same dilemma: they simply don't know what to do.

But this scarcely touches the real problem, which is structural and impinges wholly on the way the world financial structure has evolved over the past two decades. As in the past, there is a critical split in the banking and finance world and each has political leverage along with clashing interests. More important, central banks were not designed to cope with today's realities and have neither the legal powers nor knowledge to control them.

In this context, central banks will have increasing problems and the solutions they propose, as in the past, will be utterly inadequate, not because their intentions are wrong but because it is impossible to regulate such a vast, complex economy-even less today than in the past because there is no international mechanism to do so. Internationalization of finance has meant less regulation than ever, and regulation was scarcely very effective even at the national level.

Not only leftists are nave but so too are those conservatives who think they can speak truth to power and change the course of events. Greed's only bounds are what makes money. Existing international institutions-of which the IMF is the most important--or well-intentioned advice will not change this reality.

from Gabriel Kolko :
26 August 2007

Bankers Fear World Economic Meltdown
by Gabriel Kolko 

There has been a profound and fundamental change in the world economy over the past decade. The very triumph of financial liberalization and deregulation, one of the keystones of the Washington consensus that the U.S. government, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank have persistently and successfully attempted over the past decades to implement, have also produced a deepening crisis that its advocates scarcely expected.

The global financial structure is today far less transparent than ever. There are many fewer reporting demands imposed on those who operate in it. Financial adventurers are constantly creating new products that defy both nation-states and international banks. The IMFs managing director, Rodrigo de Rato, at the end of May 2006 deplored these new risks risks that the weakness of the U.S. dollar and its mounting trade deficits have magnified greatly.

De Ratos fears reflect the fact that the IMF has been undergoing both structural and intellectual crises. Structurally, its outstanding credit and loans have declined dramatically since 2003, from over $70 billion to a little over $20 billion today, doubling its available resources and leaving it with far less leverage over the economic policies of developing nations and even a smaller income than its expensive operations require. It is now in deficit. A large part of its problems is due to the doubling in world prices for all commodities since 2003 especially petroleum, copper, silver, zinc, nickel, and the like that the developing nations traditionally export. While there will be fluctuations in this upsurge, there is also reason to think it may endure because rapid economic growth in China, India, and elsewhere has created a burgeoning demand that did not exist before when the balance-of-trade systematically favored the rich nations. The U.S.A. has seen its net foreign asset position fall as Japan, emerging Asia, and oil-exporting nations have become far more powerful over the past decade, and they have increasingly become creditors to the U.S.A. As the U.S. deficits mount with its imports being far greater than its exports, the value of the dollar has been declining 28 per cent against the euro from 2001 to 2005 alone. Even more, the IMF and World Bank were severely chastened by the 1997-2000 financial meltdowns in East Asia, Russia, and elsewhere, and many of its key leaders lost faith in the anarchic premises, descended from classical laissez-faire economic thought, which guided its policy advice until then. {O]ur knowledge of economic growth is extremely incomplete, many in the IMF now admit, and more humility on its part is now warranted. The IMF claims that much has been done to prevent the reoccurrence of another crisis similar to that of 1997-98, but the international economy has changed dramatically since then and, as Stephen Roach of MorganStanley has warned, the world has done little to prepare itself for what could well be the next crisis.

The whole nature of the global financial system has changed radically in ways that have nothing whatsoever to do with virtuous national economic policies that follow IMF advice ways the IMF cannot control. The investment managers of private equity funds and major banks have displaced national banks and international bodies such as the IMF, moving well beyond the existing regulatory structures. In many investment banks, the traders have taken over from traditional bankers because buying and selling shares, bonds, derivatives and the like now generate the greater profits, and taking more and higher risks is now the rule among what was once a fairly conservative branch of finance. They often bet with house money. Low-interest rates have given them and other players throughout the world a mandate to do new things, including a spate of dubious mergers that were once deemed foolhardy. There also fewer legal clauses to protect investors, so that lenders are less likely than ever to compel mismanaged firms to default. Aware that their bets are increasingly risky, hedge funds are making it much more difficult to withdraw money they play with. Traders have re-intermediated themselves between the traditional borrowers both national and individual and markets, deregulating the world financial structure and making it far more unpredictable and susceptible of crises. They seek to generate high investment returns which is the key to their compensation and they take mounting risks to do so.

In March of this year the IMF released Garry J. Schinasis book, Safeguarding Financial Stability, giving it unusual prominence then and thereafter. Schinasis book is essentially alarmist, and it both reveals and documents in great and disturbing detail the IMFs deep anxieties. Essentially, deregulation and liberalization, which the IMF and proponents of the Washington consensus advocated for decades, has become a nightmare. It has created tremendous private and social benefits but it also holds the potential (although not necessarily a high likelihood) for fragility, instability, systemic risk, and adverse economic consequences. Schinasis superbly documented book confirms his conclusion that the irrational development of global finance, combined with deregulation and liberalization, has created scope for financial innovation and enhanced the mobility of risks. Schinasi and the IMF advocate a radical new framework to monitor and prevent the problems now able to emerge, but success may have as much to do with good luck as policy design and market surveillance. Leaving the future to luck is not what economics originally promised. The IMF is desperate, and it is not alone. As the Argentina financial meltdown proved, countries that do not succumb to IMF and banker pressures can play on divisions within the IMF membership - particularly the U.S. - bankers and others to avoid many, although scarcely all, foreign demands. About $140 billion in sovereign bonds to private creditors and the IMF were at stake, terminating at the end of 2001 as the largest national default in history. Banks in the 1990s were eager to loan Argentina money, and they ultimately paid for it. Since then, however, commodity prices have soared, the growth rate of developing nations in 2004 and 2005 was over double that of high income nations - a pattern projected to continue through 2008 - and as early as 2003 developing countries were already the source of 37 per cent of the foreign direct investment in other developing nations. China accounts for a great part of this growth, but it also means that the IMF and rich bankers of New York, Tokyo, and London have much less leverage than ever.

At the same time, the far greater demand of hedge funds and other investors for risky loans, combined with low-interest rates that allows hedge funds to use borrowed money to make increasingly precarious bets, has also led to much higher debt levels as borrowers embark on mergers and other adventures that would otherwise be impossible.

Growing complexity is the order of the world economy that has emerged in the past decade, and the endless negotiations of the World Trade Organization have failed to overcome the subsidies and protectionism that have thwarted a global free trade agreement and end of threats of trade wars. Combined, the potential for much greater instability and greater dangers for the rich now exists in the entire world economy.

High-speed Global Economics

The global financial problem that is emerging is tied into an American fiscal and trade deficit that is rising quickly. Since Bush entered office in 2001 he has added over $3 trillion to federal borrowing limits, which are now almost $9 trillion. So long as there is a continued devaluation of the U.S. dollar, banks and financiers will seek to protect their money and risky financial adventures will appear increasingly worthwhile. This is the context, but Washington advocated greater financial liberalization long before the dollar weakened. This conjunction of factors has created infinitely greater risks than the proponents of the Washington consensus ever believed possible.

There are now many hedge funds, with which we are familiar, but they now deal in credit derivatives and numerous other financial instruments that have been invented since then, and markets for credit derivative futures are in the offing. The credit derivative market was almost nonexistent in 2001, grew fairly slowly until 2004 and then went into the stratosphere, reaching $17.3 trillion by the end of 2005.

What are credit derivatives? The Financial Times chief capital markets writer, Gillian Tett, tried to find out but failed. About ten years ago some J.P. Morgan bankers were in Boca Raton, Florida, drinking, throwing each other into the swimming pool, and the like, and they came up with a notion of a new financial instrument that was too complex to be easily copied (financial ideas cannot be copyrighted) and which was sure to make them money. But Tett was highly critical of its potential for causing a chain reaction of losses that will engulf the hedge funds that have leaped into this market. Warren Buffett, second richest man in the world, who knows the financial game as well as anyone, has called credit derivatives financial weapons of mass destruction. Nominally insurance against defaults, they encourage far greater gambles and credit expansion. Enron used them extensively, and it was one secret of their success and eventual bankruptcy with $100 billion in losses. They are not monitored in any real sense, and two experts called them maddeningly opaque. Many of these innovative financial products, according to one finance director, exist in cyberspace only and often are simply tax dodges for the ultra-rich. It is for reasons such as these, and yet others such as split capital trusts, collateralized debt obligations, and market credit default swaps that are even more opaque, that the IMF and financial authorities are so worried.

Banks simply do not understand the chain of exposure and who owns what - senior financial regulators and bankers now admit this. The Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund meltdown in 1998, which involved only about $5 billion in equity, revealed this. The financial structure is now infinitely more complex and far larger the top 10 hedge funds alone in March 2006 had $157 billion in assets. Hedge funds claim to be honest but those who guide them are compensated for the profits they make, which means taking risks. But there are thousands of hedge funds and many collect inside information, which is technically illegal but it occurs anyway. The system is fraught with dangers, starting with the compensation structure, but it also assumes a constantly rising stock market and much, much else. Many fund managers are incompetent. But the 26 leading hedge fund managers earned an average of $363 million each in 2005; James Simons of Renaissance Technologies earned $1.5 billion.

There is now a consensus that all this, and much else, has created growing dangers. We can put aside the persistence of imbalanced budgets based on spending increases or tax cuts for the wealthy, much less the worlds volatile stock and commodity markets which caused hedge funds this last May to show far lower returns than they have in at least a year. It is anyones guess which way the markets will go, and some will gain while others lose. Hedge funds still make lots of profits, and by the spring of 2006 they were worth about $1.2 trillion worldwide, but they are increasingly dangerous. More than half of them give preferential treatment to certain big investors, and the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission has since mid-June 2006 openly deplored the practice because the panic, if not chaos, potential in such favoritism is now too obvious to ignore. The practice is a ticking time bomb, one industry lawyer described it. These credit risks risks that exist in other forms as well seemed ready to materialize when the Financial Times Tett reported at the end of June that an unnamed investment bank was trying to unload several billion dollars in loans it had made to hedge funds. If true, this marks a startling watershed for the financial system. Bankers had become ultracreative in their efforts to slice, dice and redistribute risk, at this time of easy liquidity. Low-interest rates, Avinash Persaud, one of the gurus of finance concluded, had led investors to use borrowed money to play the markets, and a painful deleveraging is as inevitable as night follows day. The only question is its timing. There was no way that hedge funds, which had become precociously intricate in seeking safety, could avoid a reckoning and forced to sell their most liquid investments. I will not bet on that happy outcome, the Financial Times chief expert concluded in surveying some belated attempts to redeem the hedge funds from their own follies.

A great deal of money went from investors in rich nations into emerging market stocks, which have been especially hard-hit in the past weeks, and if they (leave then the financial shock will be great -- the dangers of a meltdown exist there too.

Problems are structural, such as the greatly increasing corporate debt loads to core earnings, which have grown substantially from four to six times over the past year because there are fewer legal clauses to protect investors from loss - and keep companies from going bankrupt when they should. So long as interest rates have been low, leveraged loans have been the solution. With hedge funds and other financial instruments, there is now a market for incompetent, debt-ridden firms. The rules some once erroneously associated with capitalism -- probity and the like -- no longer hold.

Problems are also inherent in speed and complexity, and these are very diverse and almost surrealist. Credit derivatives are precarious enough, but at the end of May the International Swaps and Derivatives Association revealed that one in every five deals, many of them involving billions of dollars, involved major errors as the volume of trade increased, so did errors. They doubled in the period after 2004. Many deals were recorded on scraps of paper and not properly recorded. Unconscionable was Alan Greenspans description. He was frankly shocked. Other trading, however, is determined by mathematical algorithm (volume-weighted average price, it is called) for which PhDs trained in quantitative methods are hired. Efforts to remedy this mess only began in June of this year, and they are very far from resolving a major and accumulated problem that involves stupendous sums.

Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanleys chief economist, on April 24 of this year wrote that a major financial crisis was in the offing and that the global institutions to forestall it ranging from the IMF and World Bank to other mechanisms of the international financial architecture were utterly inadequate. Hong Kongs chief secretary in early June deplored the hedge funds risks and dangers. The IMFs iconoclastic chief economist, Raghuram Rajan, at the same time warned that the hedge funds compensation structure encouraged those in charge of them to increasingly take risks, thereby endangering the whole financial system. By late June, Roach was even more pessimistic: a certain sense of anarchy dominated the academic and political communities, and they were unable to explain the way the new world is working. In its place, mystery prevailed. Reality was out of control.

The entire global financial structure is becoming uncontrollable in crucial ways its nominal leaders never expected, and instability is increasingly its hallmark. Financial liberalization has produced a monster, and resolving the many problems that have emerged is scarcely possible for those who deplore controls on those who seek to make money whatever means it takes to do so. The Bank for International Settlements annual report, released June 26, discusses all these problems and the triumph of predatory economic behavior and trends difficult to rationalize. The sharks have outfoxed the more conservative bankers. Given the complexity of the situation and the limits of our knowledge, it is extremely difficult to predict how all this might unfold. The BIS (does not want its fears to cause a panic, and circumstances compel it to remain on the side of those who are not alarmist. But it now concedes that a big bang in the markets is a possibility, and it sees several market-specific reasons for a concern about a degree of disorder. We are currently not in a situation where a meltdown is likely to occur but expecting the best but planning for the worst is still prudent. For a decade, it admits, global economic trends and financial imbalances have created increasing dangers, and understanding how we got to where we are is crucial in choosing policies to reduce current risks. The BIS is very worried.

Given such profound and widespread pessimism, the vultures from the investment houses and banks have begun to position themselves to profit from the imminent business distress a crisis they see as a matter of timing rather than principle. Investment banks since the beginning of 2006 have vastly expanded their loans to leveraged buy-outs, pushing commercial banks out of a market they once dominated. To win a greater share of the market, they are making riskier deals and increasing the danger of defaults among highly leveraged firms. There is now a growing consensus among financial analysts that defaults will increase substantially in the very near future. But because there is money to be made, experts in distressed debt and restructuring companies in or near bankruptcy are in greater demand. Goldman Sachs has just hired one of Rothschilds stars in restructuring. All the factors which make for crashes excessive leveraging, rising interest rates, etc. exist, and those in the know anticipate that companies in difficulty will be in a much more advanced stage of trouble when investment banks enter the picture. But this time they expect to squeeze hedge funds out of the potential profits because they have more capital to play with.

Contradictions now wrack the worlds financial system, and a growing consensus now exists between those who endorse it and those, like myself, who believe the status quo is both crisis-prone as well as immoral. If we are to believe the institutions and personalities who have been in the forefront of the defense of capitalism, and we should, it may very well be on the verge of serious crises.

Gabriel Kolko is the leading historian of modern warfare. He is the author of the classic Century of War: Politics, Conflicts and Society Since 1914 and Another Century of War?. He has also written the best history of the Vietnam War, Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, the US and the Modern Historical Experience. His latest book, The Age of War, was published in March 2006.

He can be reached at: kolko@counterpunch.org

from Greg Palast:
30 August 2007

They wanted them poor niggers out of there.
(New Orleans two years after)
by Greg Palast

[Thurs August 30] "They wanted them poor niggers out of there and they ain't had no intention to allow it to be reopened to no poor niggers, you know? And that's just the bottom line."

Malik Rahim of Common Ground Relief






It wasn't a pretty statement.  But I wasn't looking for pretty.  I'd taken my investigative team to New Orleans to meet with Malik Rahim.  Pretty isn't Malik's concern.
We needed an answer to a weird, puzzling and horrific discovery.  Among the miles and miles of devastated houses, rubble still there today in New Orleans, we found dry, beautiful homes.  But their residents were told by guys dressed like Ninjas wearing "Blackwater" badges:  "Try to go into your home and we'll arrest you."
These aren't just any homes.  They are the public housing projects of the city; the Lafitte Houses and others.  But unlike the cinder block monsters in the Bronx, these public units are beautiful townhouses, with wrought-iron porches and gardens right next to the tony French Quarter.
Raised up on high ground, with floors and walls of concrete, they were some of the only houses left salvageable after the Katrina flood.
Yet, two years later, there's still bars on the windows, the doors are welded shut and the residents banned from returning.  On the first anniversary of the flood, we were filming this odd scene when I saw a woman on the sidewalk, sobbing.  Night was falling.  What was wrong?
"They just messing all over us.  Putting me out our own house.  We come to go back to our own home and when we get there they got the police there putting us out.  Oh, no, this is not right.  I'm coming here from Texas seeing if I can get my house back.  But they said they ain't letting nobody in.  But where we gonna go at?"
Idiot me, I asked, "Where are you going to go tonight?"
"That's what I want to know, Mister.  Where I'm going to go - me and my kids?"
With the help of Patricia Thomas, a Lafitte resident, we broke into an apartment.  The place was gorgeous.  The cereal boxes still dry.  This was Patricia's home.  But we decided to get out before we got busted.
I wasn't nave.  I had a good idea what this scam was all about:  89,000 poor and working class families stuck in Homeland Security's trailer park gulag while their good homes were guarded against their return by mercenaries.  Two decades ago, I worked for the Housing Authority of New Orleans.  Even then, the plan was to evict poor folk out of this very valuable real estate.  But it took the cover of a hurricane to do it.
Malik's organization, Common Ground, wouldn't wait for permission from the federal and local commissars to help folks return.  They organized takeovers of public housing by the residents.  And, in the face of threats and official displeasure, restored 350 apartments in a destroyed private development on the high ground across the Mississippi in the ward called, "Algiers."  The tenants rebuilt their own homes with their own sweat and their own scraps of cash based on a promise of the landlords to sell Common Ground the property in return for restoring it.

Why, I asked Malik, was there this strange lock-out from public housing?
Malik shook his dreds.  "They didn't want to open it up. They wanted them closed. They wanted them poor niggers out of there."
For Malik, the emphasis is on "poor."  The racial politics of the Deep South is as ugly as it is in Philadelphia, Pa.  But the New Orleans city establishment has no problem with Black folk per se.  After all, Mayor Ray Nagin's parents are African-American.

It's the Black survivors without the cash that are a problem.  So where New Orleans once stood, Mayor Nagin, in connivance with a Bush regime more than happy to keep a quarter million poor folk (i.e. Democrats) out of this swing state, is creating a new city:  a tourist town with a French Quarter, loose-spending drunks, hot-sheets hotels and a few Black people to perform the modern version of minstrel shows. 

Malik explained, "It's two cities. You know? There's the city for the white and the rich. And there's another city for the poor and Blacks. You know, the city that's for the white and rich has recovered. They had a Jazz Fest. They had a Mardi Gras. They're going to have the Saints playing for those who have recovered. But for those who haven't recovered, there's nothing."
So where are they now?  The sobbing woman and her kids are gone:  back to Texas, or wherever.  But they will not be allowed back into Lafitte.  Ever. 

And Patricia Thomas?  The middle-aged woman, worked sweeping up the vomit and beer each morning at a French Quarter karioke joint. Not much pay, no health insurance, of course.  She died since we filmed her - in a city bereft of health care.  New Orleans has closed all its public hospitals but for one "charity" make-shift emergency ward in an abandoned department store.
And the one bright star, Malik's housing project?  The tenants' work was done this past December.  By Christmastime, they received their eviction notices - and all were carried out of their rebuilt homes by marshals right after the New Year, including a paraplegic resident who'd lived in the Algiers building for decades.
Hurricane recovery is class war by other means.  And in this war of the powerful against the powerless, Mr. Bush can rightly land his fighter plane in Louisiana and declare that, unlike the war in Iraq, it is, indeed, "Mission Accomplished."

This report is based on Greg Palasts film, Big Easy to Big Empty: The Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans.  You may purchase a copy of the DVD, watch an excerpt or read the new chapter on New Orleans in Palasts New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans - Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild.

from Democracy Now! :
29 August 2007

Today marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The storm ravaged
the Gulf coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and left over 1,600
people dead. More than 300,000 homes were destroyed and over 770,000 people
displaced. It was the most powerful and expensive natural disaster to hit
the country and one of the deadliest hurricanes recorded in US history. We
speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, John McQuaid.

The Path to Destruction: Two Years After Katrina, Cleanup and Recovery Far From Complete


from Z Magazine :
30 August 2007

(Note: On 5 September Dr. Finkelstein resigned his post at DePaul University in Chicago.)

AAUP writes DePaul yet again

by American Association of University Professors -- AAUP

August 27, 2007
The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
DePaul University
1 East Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60604-2287

Dear President Holtschneider:

We have written to you twice regarding the issue of academic due process attendant upon the DePaul University administration's refusal to recognize Professor Norman Finkelstein's right to appeal the decision to deny him tenure to a faculty committee. We are writing to you again about a new issue of due process in his case in connection with an e-mail message on Friday, August 24, from Provost Helmut Epp to Professor Finkelstein, notifying him of the administration's decision to place him on paid administrative leave, relieving him of further academic duties during his terminal year of service. (We understand that he is also being denied access to the office he had occupied.) According to the provost's message, the action removing Professor Finkelstein from further teaching was taken "based on departmental and college needs and because of [his] behavior at the end of the Spring quarter." Professor Finkelstein informs us that he takes sharp issue with the stated grounds for the action and objects to the lack of any procedural protections afforded to him.

Action to separate a faculty member from ongoing academic responsibilities prior to demonstration of stated cause in an appropriate proceeding is considered to be a suspension, which is justified, according to the enclosed joint 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings, "only if immediate harm to the faculty member or others is threatened by continuance." According to Interpretive Comment Number 9 on the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, "a suspension which is not followed by either reinstatement or the opportunity for a hearing is a summary dismissal in violation of academic due process." We note that the "Separation" section of the DePaul Faculty Handbook (p. 13) provides for suspension to be imposed on a faculty member "only to prevent probable and serious harm to the reputation of the University or to its ability to carry out such important functions as instruction. The faculty member is guaranteed that fair and consistent procedures will be used for making any suspension decision." The policy goes on to describe three ways in which a faculty member may be suspended, the first two of which involve a formal hearing before a faculty body. Paragraph (3) of that section provides that a faculty member may be suspended without a hearing in the event of an emergency where potentially serious harm must be prevented immediately and there is no opportunity for a previous hearing, with the right of the affected professor "after the fact to a formal grievance hearing." We are not aware of any "emergency" reason advanced by the administration that would justify acting against Professor Finkelstein without having first afforded him opportunity for a hearing.

We have taken strong issue with the argument, which we encounter from time to time, that an administration discharges its obligation to a faculty member on term appointment by relieving the individual of his or her teaching duties while continuing payment of salary for the duration of the term. In our report on the 1965 cases at St. John's University in New York, where terminal suspensions were imposed on twenty-one professors because of alleged activities variously described as harassment and unprofessional conduct, our investigating committee found that the administration "had excluded from consideration a principle crucial to the profession." The committee went on to explain as follows:

The profession's entire case for academic freedom and its attendant standards is predicated upon the basic right to employ one's professional skills in practice, a right, in the case of the teaching profession, which is exercised not in private practice but through institutions. To deny a faculty member this opportunity without adequate cause, regardless of monetary compensation, is to deny him his basic professional rights. . . . In the case of teachers at St. John's, denial of their classroom was, in itself, a serious injury. To inflict such injury without due process and, therefore, without demonstrated reason, destroys the academic character of the University. (AAUP Bulletin, Spring 1966, pp. 18, 19.)

We addressed the issue of suspension of a nonreappointed probationary faculty member and the attendant standards of academic due process in the enclosed 1996 report on our investigation of a case at the University of Southern California. We urge that the administration reinstate Professor Finkelstein to his normal academic duties. If the administration is unwilling to do so, we urge that it initiate a hearing before an elected faculty body and assume the burden of demonstrating, in an adjudicative hearing of record, adequacy of cause for the suspension.

I plan on calling you tomorrow to discuss the contents of this letter, at which point we would welcome your comments on the statements and recommendations we have made.


B. Robert Kreiser

Associate Secretary


Enclosure (via surface mail)

Dr. Helmut P. Epp, Provost
Jose D. Padilla, Esq., Vice President and General Counsel
Dr. Charles S. Suchar, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Professor Anne Clark Bartlett, President, Faculty Council
Professor Gil Gott, Chair, Faculty Governance Council, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Professor Michael A. McIntyre, President, AAUP Chapter
Professor Michael L. Budde, Chair, Department of Political Science
Professor Norman G. Fi

from Council for the National Interest Foundation :
Date 30 August 2007
Subject: New Study Reveals AIPAC's Long Criminal History.


Book Review by Terry Walz
CNI Staff

Foreign Agents
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal
By Grant F. Smith

any citizens concerned by the undue influence of the Israel lobby are dismayed by the action of the US Congress that adopts resolution after resolution favoring Israel with nary of word about its failure to make peace with the Palestinians, whose land it inhabits, or with its neighbors, whose borders it abutts.  Last year Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, two professors from prestigious American universities, began a public debate on the power of the lobby - a cause long advocated by the Council for the National Interest - giving hope that a public airing of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), its work, financing, and political connections would help Americans understand the gross misdirection of Middle East foreign policy over the last forty years. Grant F. Smith's new book, Foreign Agents, decisively pushes this debate forward and shows just how brazen and criminal the lobby has acted since its beginnings.

Smith traces the development of AIPAC from its early days under founder Si Kenen, who in 1947 registered with the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as an employee of the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs. He was representing himself then as an agent working for Israel.  He continued to register as a foreign agent during the late forties and fifties, working for various organizations funded by the Israel government, but in 1959, the name of the American Zionist Committee was changed to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to better reflect, as Kenen said, that it "raised its funds from both Zionists and non-Zionists."  Its focus of work never changed, which was to promote the cause of Israel in both the executive and legislation branches of government, yet the organization no longer filed as a foreign agent.  AIPAC eventually developed an extensive grassroots national network of organizations that engaged in all manner of illegal activities, from transgressing federal elections laws, to economic and industrial espionage, to flouting congressional laws regarding the use of arms exported to foreign countries, and passing classified and secret information to the Israeli government via the Israeli embassy in Washington. In 2005, after a nine-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, two of AIPAC's top officials were arrested for espionage, and the role that AIPAC played over the years as a covert agent for Israel was given unusual light.

The book uses as a primary source the historic and remarkable hearings that Senator William Fulbright held in 1963 to investigate the "activities of agents of foreign principals in the United States." The Committee's aim was to look at the work of all organizations working on behalf of foreign countries, but in the process it discovered that the American Zionist Committee (AZC) was funded by the Jewish Agency, an arm of the Israeli government, and by the Israeli embassy, although its principals were not registered as foreign agents. The hearings disclosed the secret world of the AZC and the Jewish Agency, finding a pattern of money laundering that became a hallmark of AIPAC in the years to come. Both the Agency and the embassy typically hid the support that they provided by using private foundations and individuals as fronts so that it would appear the AZC was funded by American, not foreign, sources.  Thus they bypassed the terms of the Foreign Agent Registration Act and sought to obscure their aim, which was to represent the interests of the Israeli government. 

To measure the influence of the emerging lobby, Smith covers a wide spectrum of illegal and criminal activity.  He begins by examining AIPAC's efforts to promote Israeli economic interests to the disadvantage of American workers. During the 1984 negotiations that preceded the creation of a "US-Israel Free Trade Agreement," AIPAC obtained a copy of the classified document spelling out the American negotiating strategy.  Thus Israeli negotiators were aware of American positions well in advance of the meeting.  AIPAC then managed to persuade the House Ways and Means Committee to provide special protections for Israeli imports of certain products should a free-trade zone be established.   Even Congressional members, with long experience in Israeli lobby tactics, couldn't help but notice AIPAC's heavy hand in this instance.

The pressure exerted by AIPAC during congressional and presidential elections is well known, though consistently denied by the organization.  Smith here focuses on the California Senate race of 1986 and the role played by Michael Goland, a real estate developer, who contributed $1 million via various conduits to derail a potential dangerous opponent of Sen. Alan Cranston, who was seeking reelection that year and was an AIPAC favorite.  Goland was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for election fraud.  Goland had been a member of the board of AIPAC and had been highly visible in AIPAC's successful effort to unseat Sen. Charles Percy of Illinois in 1984.

AIPAC also had a hand in the defeat of Sen. Fulbright in 1968, and of Congressman Paul Findley in 1986. Findley's series of books about the lobby, especially his Dare to Speak Out, have been noted for the light they have thrown on the power of the lobby and its illegal activities.

AIPAC set up a series of political action committees (PACs), all with innocuous names, with the aim of influencing the election of congressional representatives all over the country. It made sure that internal firewalls, as Smith describes them, were set up so that no one could detect AIPAC's hand.   But the line between them and the actions of the committees was hardly invisible. One "activist," a Chicago businessman, attempted to explain in a New York Times interview in 1987 how he and AIPAC operated independently, in the course of which it became apparent that the opposite was true, that there was tight coordination between AIPAC and dozens on pro-Israel committees. In 1988 the Washington Post published an internal AIPAC memo, reproduced in Foreign Agents, revealing now active AIPAC was in illegally coordinating PAC distributions to favored candidates.

The many instances of election fraud prompted a group of former US government officials to sue the Federal Election Commission for failure to require AIPAC to publish details of its income and expenditures, which political action committees are required to do.  Among this group were George Ball, former secretary of state, Paul Findley, former congressman and founder of the Council for the National Interest, Andrew Kilgore, publisher of the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs and former ambassador to Qatar, and James Akin, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  The FEC delivered a report on the complaint that cleared the PACs but professed a desire to further study the actions of AIPAC, but in fact the chief complaints were ignored.  Appeals to the Supreme Court were turned aside on various points and the case remains in legal limbo to this day.

In the last twenty years, AIPAC has continued to develop its political networks.  Steve Rosen, AIPAC Director of Policy, notoriously likened the lobby to "a night flower. It thrives in the dark and dies in the sun."  It funds dozens of congressional "educational" trips to Israel every year through its affiliate the American Israel Education Foundation; it continues to publish Si Kenen's Near East Report, which serves as a propaganda arm of the Israel government; it established a "think tank," the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which maintains a roster of "experts" providing cover for Israeli government positions (many of whose Board members have served as Board members of AIPAC); it maintains a large public relations office in Manhattan; and works in tandem with the new Saban Center for Middle East Policy, whose president, Martin Indyk, was deputy director of AIPAC and a former US ambassador to Israel.  Thus Middle East policy at Brookings Institution, once a formidable independent think tank, has been usurped by pro-Israeli interests.

The growing arrogance of AIPAC, which in recent years acted with brazen impunity, was not unnoticed by the FBI counterintelligience which began probing the organization's activities as far back as 1999.  In 2005, Col. Lawrence Franklin, who was working in the office of Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, was arrested and charged with giving classified documents to two top officials at AIPAC who passed them on to the Israeli embassy.  The information concerned US positions toward Iran.  The AIPAC officials were also arrested and charged with espionage. Lawrence was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison and fined $10,000 for passing classified information to AIPAC and an Israeli diplomat.  The trial against Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman has been delayed on several occasions and is now scheduled to begin in January 2008.  The espionage charges have been dropped. A full analysis of the trial and its various permutations can be found in Smith's Chapter Five.

The case appropriately summarizes the extent of the illegalities that AIPAC has engaged in since its beginnings some fifty years ago. Senator Fulbright was on to something much bigger than even he could have imagined.  Spawned by the Jewish Agency, it has abetted efforts that have encouraged "charitable" organizations in the US to contribute more than US $50 billion to illegal settlements in Gaza and the West Bank while appropriating and developing lands that belong to Palestinians. The money laundering activities of the Agency and the US donors have been brought to the attention of the US Department of Justice, thanks to work by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy and the Council for the National Interest but as yet no action has taken place to stop the illegal operations.  As Smith states, "This follows an established pattern of law enforcement failures since the Fulbright foreign agent hearings."

Foreign Agents shines light on the murky world of AIPAC and its efforts to divert policy and push Israel's rightwing interventionist agenda in Washington. It garnered support for a war and occupation of Iraq in Congress.  Contrary to the assertions of many now claiming how AIPAC was not promoting war, Smith documents how it helped prompt the American invasion of Iraq and now threatens to coordinate an intervention by the US in Iran.  The consequences for the American public have been huge, as the response to Hurricane Katrina made clear, and has rendered the US the least popular country in the world.  The book also discusses in detail how tenuous are AIPAC's claims to even be a legally constituted nonprofit corporation.  Most of all, it serves to remind us that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee does not serve US interests, but works as a foreign agent for the government of Israel and should be required to register as a foreign agent.  Only then will be operations and financing be made transparent and public. In fact, this book makes a convincing case that America - and the world - would be better off without AIPAC.

from John Pilger :
2 September 2007
Subject: Boycott of Israel gains momentum.

An important marker has been passed

by John Pilger

hose calling for a boycott of Israel were once distant voices. Now the discussion has gone global. It is growing inexorably and will not be silenced.

From a limestone hill rising above Qalandia refugee camp you can see Jerusalem. I watched a lone figure standing there in the rain, his son holding the tail of his long tattered coat. He extended his hand and did not let go. "I am Ahmed Hamzeh, street entertainer," he said in measured English. "Over there, I played many musical instruments; I sang in Arabic, English and Hebrew, and because I was rather poor, my very small son would chew gum while the monkey did its tricks. When we lost our country, we lost respect. One day a rich Kuwaiti stopped his car in front of us. He shouted at my son, "Show me how a Palestinian picks up his food rations!" So I made the monkey appear to scavenge on the ground, in the gutter. And my son scavenged with him. The Kuwaiti threw coins and my son crawled on his knees to pick them up. This was not right; I was an artist, not a beggar . . . I am not even a peasant now."

"How do you feel about all that?" I asked him.

"Do you expect me to feel hatred? What is that to a Palestinian? I never hated the Jews and their Israel . . . yes, I suppose I hate them now, or maybe I pity them for their stupidity. They can't win. Because we Palestinians are the Jews now and, like the Jews, we will never allow them or the Arabs or you to forget. The youth will guarantee us that, and the youth after them . . .".

That was 40 years ago. On my last trip back to the West Bank, I recognised little of Qalandia, now announced by a vast Israeli checkpoint, a zigzag of sandbags, oil drums and breeze blocks, with conga lines of people, waiting, swatting flies with precious papers. Inside the camp, the tents had been replaced by sturdy hovels, although the queues at single taps were as long, I was assured, and the dust still ran to caramel in the rain. At the United Nations office I asked about Ahmed Hamzeh, the street entertainer. Records were consulted, heads shaken. Someone thought he had been "taken away . . . very ill". No one knew about his son, whose trachoma was surely blindness now. Outside, another generation kicked a punctured football in the dust.

And yet, what Nelson Mandela has called "the greatest moral issue of the age" refuses to be buried in the dust. For every BBC voice that strains to equate occupier with occupied, thief with victim, for every swarm of emails from the fanatics of Zion to those who invert the lies and describe the Israeli state's commitment to the destruction of Palestine, the truth is more powerful now than ever. Documentation of the violent expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 is voluminous. Re-examination of the historical record has put paid to the fable of heroic David in the Six Day War, when Ahmed Hamzeh and his family were driven from their home. The alleged threat of Arab leaders to "throw the Jews into the sea", used to justify the 1967 Israeli onslaught and since repeated relentlessly, is highly questionable. In 2005, the spectacle of wailing Old Testament zealots leaving Gaza was a fraud. The building of their "settlements" has accelerated on the West Bank, along with the illegal Berli! n-style wall dividing farmers from their crops, children from their schools, families from each other. We now know that Israel's destruction of much of Lebanon last year was pre-planned. As the former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison has written, the recent "civil war" in Gaza was actually a coup against the elected Hamas-led government, engineered by Elliott Abrams, the Zionist who runs US policy on Israel and a convicted felon from the Iran-Contra era.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is as much America's crusade as Israel's. On 16 August, the Bush administration announced an unprecedented $30bn military "aid package" for Israel, the world's fourth biggest military power, an air power greater than Britain, a nuclear power greater than France. No other country on earth enjoys such immunity, allowing it to act without sanction, as Israel. No other country has such a record of lawlessness: not one of the world's tyrannies comes close. International treaties, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by Iran, are ignored by Israel. There is nothing like it in UN history.

But something is changing. Perhaps last summer's panoramic horror beamed from Lebanon on to the world's TV screens provided the catalyst. Or perhaps cynicism of Bush and Blair and the incessant use of the inanity, "terror", together with the day-by-day dissemination of a fabricated insecurity in all our lives, has finally brought the attention of the international community outside the rogue states, Britain and the US, back to one of its principal sources, Israel.

I got a sense of this recently in the United States. A full-page advertisement in the New York Times had the distinct odour of panic. There have been many "friends of Israel" advertisements in the Times, demanding the usual favours, rationalising the usual outrages. This one was different. "Boycott a cure for cancer?" was its main headline, followed by "Stop drip irrigation in Africa? Prevent scientific co-operation between nations?" Who would want to do such things? "Some British academics want to boycott Israelis," was the self-serving answer. It referred to the University and College Union's (UCU) inaugural conference motion in May, calling for discussion within its branches for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. As John Chalcraft of the London School of Economics pointed out, "the Israeli academy has long provided intellectual, linguistic, logistical, technical, scientific and human support for an occupation in direct violation of international law [against which] no Israeli academic institution has ever taken a public stand".

The swell of a boycott is growing inexorably, as if an important marker has been passed, reminiscent of the boycotts that led to sanctions against apartheid South Africa. Both Mandela and Desmond Tutu have drawn this parallel; so has South African cabinet minister Ronnie Kasrils and other illustrious Jewish members of the liberation struggle. In Britain, an often Jewish-led academic campaign against Israel's "methodical destruction of [the Palestinian] education system" can be translated by those of us who have reported from the occupied territories into the arbitrary closure of Palestinian universities, the harassment and humiliation of students at checkpoints and the shooting and killing of Palestinian children on their way to school.

British initiatives

These initiatives have been backed by a British group, Independent Jewish Voices, whose 528 signatories include Stephen Fry, Harold Pinter, Mike Leigh and Eric Hobsbawm. The country's biggest union, Unison, has called for an "economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott" and the right of return for Palestinian families expelled in 1948. Remarkably, the Commons' international development committee has made a similar stand. In April, the membership of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted for a boycott only to see it hastily overturned by the national executive council. In the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called for divestment from Israeli companies: a campaign aimed at the European Union, which accounts for two-thirds of Israel's exports under an EU-Israel Association Agreement. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, has said that human rights conditions in the agreement should be invoked and Israel's trading ! preferences suspended.

This is unusual, for these were once distant voices. And that such grave discussion of a boycott has "gone global" was unforeseen in official Israel, long comforted by its seemingly untouchable myths and great power sponsorship, and confident that the mere threat of anti-Semitism would ensure silence. When the British lecturers' decision was announced, the US Congress passed an absurd resolution describing the UCU as "anti-Semitic". (Eighty congressmen have gone on junkets to Israel this summer.)

This intimidation has worked in the past. The smearing of American academics has denied them promotion, even tenure. The late Edward Said kept an emergency button in his New York apartment connected to the local police station; his offices at Columbia University were once burned down. Following my 2002 film, Palestine is Still the Issue, I received death threats and slanderous abuse, most of it coming from the US where the film was never shown. When the BBC's Independent Panel recently examined the corporation's coverage of the Middle East, it was inundated with emails, "many from abroad, mostly from North America", said its report. Some individuals "sent multiple missives, some were duplicates and there was clear evidence of pressure group mobilisation". The panel's conclusion was that BBC reporting of the Palestinian struggle was not "full and fair" and "in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture". This was neutralised in BBC press releases.

The courageous Israeli historian, Ilan Papp, believes a single democratic state, to which the Palestinian refugees are given the right of return, is the only feasible and just solution, and that a sanctions and boycott campaign is critical in achieving this. Would the Israeli population be moved by a worldwide boycott? Although they would rarely admit it, South Africa's whites were moved enough to support an historic change. A boycott of Israeli institutions, goods and services, says Papp, "will not change the [Israeli] position in a day, but it will send a clear message that [the premises of Zionism] are racist and unacceptable in the 21st century . . . They would have to choose."

And so would the rest of us.

from Lenni Brenner :
Date: 31 August 2007
Subject: Call for a Coalition Against Arming Theocratic States

Call for a Coalition Against Arming Theocratic States
by Lenni Brenner

It is time for enlightened Americans, religious or unbelievers, to unite in a coalition against arming theological states. Its immediate task would be to help defeat both parts of President Bush's scheme to sell $20 billion worth of satellite-guided bombs, fighters and naval vessels to Saudi Arabia and five other Persian Gulf states, and increase US military grants to Israel by 25%, to $30.4 billion over 10 years.

No mincing words: Since the beginning of the cold war against 'godless Communism,' one of Washington's overriding Middle Eastern strategies, arming religious states, has been catastrophic for the region's people. Bush's extension of it guarantees more disasters for them and Americans.

The 7/28 New York Times described his strategy :

"[T]o contain the growing power of Iran in the region and to demonstrate that, no matter what happens in Iraq, Washington remains committed to its longtime Arab allies."

Everyone old enough to cross streets alone knows that oil is the consideration. After WW ll, the US replaced Britain as the Gulf's imperial overlord, and he seeks to dominate the economically crucial region. But the vast majority of Arabs and Iranians know, thru experience, that official Washington remains their nonstop enemy.

In 1948, Democrat Harry Truman, needing campaign funds from wealthy pro-Zionist Jews, recognized officially Orthodox Jewish Israel. He loaned it money used to buy weapons to drive hundreds of thousands of native Palestinians into exile. In 1953, Republican Dwight Eisenhower shifted gears. He brought Said Ramadan of the Muslim Brotherhood to the White House. The US patronized Islamic fundamentalism against the Soviets and those Iranians and Arabs seeking to nationalize their countries' imperialist owned oil industries.

That year, Eisenhower's CIA overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mosaddegh for nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. It restored Shah Muhammad
Reza Palevi's "For the Shah, Iran and Islam" despotism. Regime opponents were tortured and murdered for 26 years. Eventually the Shia clergy broke with the US puppet, bringing him down in 1979. That's their valid domestic claim to legitimacy. But their Islamic republic is brutal. Nevertheless, its millions of internal opponents, anti-regime Muslims, atheists, drinkers, feminists, gays, Marxists, Baluchi and Kurdish nationalists, etc., don't want the US or Israel bombing Iran's nuclear installations, or the US trying to replace the Ayatollahs with yet another marionette.

The US learned nothing from its Iranian debacle. That same year, Democrat Jimmy Carter secretly started arming Afghan Sunni fundamentalists against the Soviet-imposed regime in Kabul. They won under Republican Ronald Reagan, who allied with the Saudis in a jihad against 'godless' Communism. The first thing America's fundos did was take away rights women had under the pro-Soviet regime. Then they fought among themselves, with the Taliban winning.

In 1991, Iraq's Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and old Bush sent thousands of troops to Saudia to protect the pro-American regime. Osama bin Laden, a leader of bipartisan Washington's terrorist allies in Afghanistan, finally realized that the Saudi dynasty were American dependents. He broke with them and the 'Crusaders' and, in time, blew up the World Trade Center, killing thousands of innocents.

"Blow back" is CIA slang for unforeseen negative consequences of its plots and 9/11 was truly the inevitable result of Washington's using religious fanatics in its imperial machinations. Although bin Laden had broken with the dynasty, post-9/11 Saudia is absolutely unpopular here. Fifteen of the 19 plane hijackers were Saudi citizens. Americans, right to left, understand that they were inevitable end-products of the regime's indoctrination.

The country's male chauvinism is spectacular. Women must wear veils in public and can't drive cars. They need their father or husband's approval to leave the country. There is blatant discrimination against Shia Muslims. Open Christian churches are forbidden. So it isn't surprising that the proposal to further arm this ultimate high-tech medieval regime has generated A to Z opposition to Bush's scheme.

American Atheists, Inc., founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who got prayers tossed out of US public schools, warns that "Bush's plan to sell $20 billion of advanced military hardware to Saudi Arabia and five other Persian Gulf states, and provide more aid to Israel threatens to further destabilize the region and fuel religion-based terrorism."

Ellen Johnson, AA's President, added that "Creating jobs and economic opportunity, securing full rights for the region's women, encouraging an authentic civil society with personal rights -- all of this is needed to challenge the rampant clerical terrorism that plagues the Middle East."

Israel, worried about Shia Iran's nuclear ambitions, backs Bush's sales to Sunni Saudia. But some pro-Zionist Congressional Democrats are opposed. They claim that the Saudi regime backs Sunni terrorists in Iraq, killing American troops. More important. they fear for Israel if the dynasty were to be overthrown. Alternative regimes, left or Al-Qaeda, would be serious foes. They feel that increasing US arms to Israel can't compensate it for the risk that the weapons sold to the Saudis would ultimately be used by its determined opponents.

When Israel is denounced for its crimes, Zionists typically respond by asking 'why is Israel being singled out? Why aren't people also crying out against Saudi Arabia's crimes?' Israel shouldn't be singled out. Americans must oppose arms going to all governments violating human rights. But aren't these Democrats now singling out Saudi Arabia? Why aren't they likewise excoriating Israel for its political sins?

Moshe Katsav just resigned as Israel's President. The Attorney General announced sufficient evidence to indict him for raping his office manager. Eventually he pled guilty to committing an indecent act under coercion. This is usually punished by up to 10 years imprisonment but he got a one-year suspended sentence. Twenty-thousand people demonstrated in the streets, demanding that he go to prison.

Katsev was President of an Orthodox Jewish state. Every morning an adult Orthodox male thanks God for "making me a man, not a woman." Women thank him for
"making me what I am." They are segregated in Orthodox synagogues. Wives can't divorce their husbands in the country's religious courts and there is no civil divorce. If their husbands won't divorce them, they can't remarry. There are thousands of women in this situation.

"Reform Judaism" is America's largest Jewish sect. "Conservative Judaism" its 2nd largest. Orthodoxy is 3rd, ca. only 10% of US Jews. There are Reform and Conservative Israeli rabbis, but they can't perform legal marriages. Only Orthodox rabbis can. And of course there is no Israeli civil marriage. Israel's Palestinian minority must also marry in religious ceremonies. In the ultimate theocratic state comedy, an Israeli supreme court judge had to go to Cyprus to marry a Conservative woman.

Theoretically, all Israeli male Jews must serve in the military. Some Orthodox become regular soldiers. But others do their hitch in Orthodox-only units, shielded against contact with Jewish women soldiers who might be menstruating. Another 11% of 18 year olds are completely exempt from the military so they can study theology, while Israel's many atheists must kill or be killed, fighting for a state rooted in their legal inequality.

Orthodox superiority over rival Judaic sects is superimposed on massive colonial inequality for native Palestinian Muslims, Christians, Druze and atheists. In 1948, Israel drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. The truth is in the uncensored University of California edition of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's Memoirs, published after his 1995 assassination by a Zionist: "'Driving out' is a term with a harsh ring. Psychologically, this was one of the most difficult actions we undertook. The population of Lod did not leave willingly. There was no way of avoiding the use of force and warning shots in order to make the inhabitants march the ten to fifteen miles to the point where
they met up with the legion. The inhabitants of Rami watched and learned the lesson. Their leaders agreed to evacuate voluntarily, on condition that the evacuation was carried out by vehicles."

Religious inequality went further after Israel's 1967 victory. All 'Israeli' settlements in the West Bank are Jews-only, even though 1.4 million of Israel's 7.1 million citizens are Palestinian. Some of these, male members of the Druze sect, Muslim Bedouins, and some Christians, fight in Zionism's wars. Yet none can live in the settlements. And some Jews-only settlements are Orthodox-only. Not even atheist Zionists can live in them.

Bush just signed an "Advance Democracy Act," requiring the State Department to develop strategies helping tyrannies turn into democracies. No one takes it seriously. The pro-Bush NY Sun reported that "passage into law comes as Mr. Bush himself has abandoned most of his democracy promotion agenda." The Gulf arms deal means the end of "any remnant of public pressure for these states to afford their citizens the rights to assembly, free speech, or petition." And Bush and the Democrats wouldn't dream of applying the law to Israel. To hear them tell it, 'Israel,' with its legal ethnic, religious and sexual inequalities, 'is the only democracy in the Middle East.'

The proposed coalition's constant task must be education. Few Americans are familiar with Washington's Middle Eastern history. Few know their party's role. Even fewer understand the theological distinctions between Sunni and Shia Islam, or know that Israel has no civil marriage or divorce. The young never heard of the Shah. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was Reagan's favorite among his Afghan anti-Soviet "freedom fighters," but how many voters know that he is now killing American troops? How many can explain the conflict between Palestinian Hamas and Fatah or why the US backs Fatah?

The coalition must establish a "just the facts, ma'am" website where everyone can get the details re the above topics and more. Among other things, the public should be able to conveniently read the program of the major political players in the region, theological or secularist.

Members must agree to its prime demand, no weapons to theocratic states, anywhere. But disagreement is inevitable re how to get to a democratic secular Middle East in a democratic secular world. That's good because debates between members, and with supporters of Washington's policies, would attract attention to the coalition message.

Every wannabe presidential candidate of every party expected to be on the 2008 ballot should be questioned, ASAP, re arming religious states, and the public should be informed of their answers or failure to answer.

Given the disastrous history of Democratic and Republican arming of religious fanatics, the coalition and the public would benefit from debating whether it should endorse a candidate of a 3rd party committed to ending arming religious states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Israel, but with the proviso that individual members would still be free to vote as they wished.

There are existing rival coalitions dealing with aspects of the Middle East. Many demand that the US get out of Iraq. Others call for justice for Palestinians, others oppose war with Iran. US gays speak out against gay executions in Iran. Feminists demand equal rights for Afghan women. The proposed coalition should always act as a catalyst trying to unify the broad movement in action. In general, it should ask to speak at anti-war rallies on issues related to its mandate and, where invited to do so, help build such actions, especially among secularists.

Allow me a personal theological/political point as the proponent of such a coalition. I'm an atheist. But the new movement shouldn't be an atheist front. There are atheist Zionists. There are atheist Arab nationalists who use terror against Israel. But every July 4th, Americans remember Thomas Jefferson, a deist, not an atheist, who did his best to separate church and state in his new republic. The new coalition can end arming of bigot states if it educates America about what he meant by religious freedom.

Some readers are atheists, some are religious. That's fine. His last written words were about his Declaration of Independence and its meaning for the world. If you are interested in scrolling him up to our times and building such a coalition to operate in their spirit, contact me: "May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind
themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.

The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them."

Lenni Brenner was born into an Orthodox Jewish family. He became an atheist at 10 and a left political activist at 15, in 1952. He was arrested 3 times during 1960s Black civil rights sit-ins in the San Francisco Bay Area. He spent 39 months in prison when a court revoked his probation for marijuana possession because of his activities during the Berkeley Free Speech Movement at the University of California in 1964.

Immediately on imprisonment, he spent 4 days in intense discussion with Huey Newton, later founder of the Black Panther Party, whom he encountered in the court holding tank. 

He was an antiwar activist from the 1st days of the Vietnam war, speaking frequently at rallies in the Bay Area. In 1963 he organized the Committee for Narcotic Reform in Berkeley. In 1968 he co-founded the National Association for Irish Justice, the American affiliate of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.

He worked with Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture), the legendary "Black Power" leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in the Committee against Zionism and Racism, from 1985 until Ture's death in 1998.

Brenner is the author of 4 books, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir, Jews in America Today, and The Lesser Evil, a study of the Democratic Party. His books have been favorably reviewed in 11 languages by prominent publications, including the London Times, The London Review of Books, Moscow's Izvestia and the Jerusalem Post.

He has written over 120 articles for many publications, including the American Atheist, New York's Amsterdam News, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, The Atlanta Constitution, CounterPunch, The Jewish Guardian, The Nation, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Middle East Policy, Middle East International, The Journal of Palestine Studies, The New Statesman of London, Al-Fajr in Jerusalem and Dublin's United Irishman.

In 2002 he edited 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis.It contains complete translations of many of the documents quoted in Zionism in the Age of the Dictators and The Iron Wall.

In 2004 he edited Jefferson & Madison On Separation of Church and State:Writings on Religion and Secularism.

He blogs at www.smithbowen.net/linfame/brenner and can be reached at BrennerL21@aol.com.

from Z Magazine :
5 September 2007
Subject: Hamas - A History from Within.

Hamas A History From Within

by Jim Miles

Hamas - A History From Within.  Azzam Tamimi. Olive Branch Press, Northampton, Massachusetts. 2007.
Most of the world knows the superficial history of Hamas as presented by western media, the stories of the suicide bombers, the election results that were argued to be a vote against the PLO/Fatah but not for Hamas, the resulting denial of that democratic vote by all western governments, and most recently, the Hamas takeover of the dysfunctional governance of the Gaza Strip.  Azzam Tamimis book, Hamas A History From Within, presents a much broader and much more accurate perspective on a group that has had much more significance for the Palestinian people than simply being a militant suicidal terrorist group.
Consistent with the title, Tamimi presents a history that shows Hamas development from its roots within the Muslim Brotherhood, from its aspects of international cooperation and denial, and from within the development of the ideas, policies, and implementation of ideas that is rarely seen in western media sources. It is not a fawning sycophantic review, as it also reveals the internal struggles within Hamas between the various people and political institutions involved in its history and development, and further reveals the precarious hold it had on survival, a survival that became ensured only with the advent of more serious Israeli atrocities during the first Intifada. 
Arguments have been made that Hamas was assisted in its set-up by Israel in order to counter the power of the PLO/Fatah organization.  Tamimi is much more nuanced in his discussion of this, arguing more that Israeli ignorance of what Hamas embodied and what it meant to the mostly poorer and refugee Palestinians allowed it to survive without direct complicity.  Beginning with Sheikh Yassin in Gaza, and as a reaction to the defeat of pan-Arabic Nasirism after the 1967 war, the Islamic Brotherhood centred their concerns not on militancy, but primarily on instilling Islamic values and ethics in the hearts and minds of the young.   At that time, Israel did not support the Islamic Brotherhood (Ikhwan) but the occupation authorities did not object to this seemingly benign religious activity.
Tamimi argues, At this time, the Palestinian Ikhwanwere concerned principally with the education and training of their members and supporters so as to shield them from what they deemed to be alien and hostile ideologies and sociopolitical trends [rescuing] the individual, the family, and the community as a whole from the onslaught of Western ideas, whether liberal or Marxist.  An Islamic education and revival of Islamic society, and not militant terrorism, were the initial forces behind Ikhwan activities.
Following from that, and with full evidence over the years, the Ikhwan, focussed mainly on students and young people, focussed on providing social, recreational, and educational services.  Again, The Israelis did not see this association [the Islamic Society] as any kind of threat, and granted the Ikhwan a license for its establishment.  The activities of the society included sports, recreational trips, scouting activities, and public lectures on religious and social issues.
There is certainly room to spin these developments into that of Israeli subterfuge against the PLO, and more than likely within the broad spectrum of opinion that is usual in all possible political motivations that view could arise within some individuals, but Tamimis overall historical development indicates, as above, that Israel simply saw it as no threat to themselves at that time.  Likewise, within the Ikhwan, would be individuals that were more militantly oriented than others, but the fundamental appears solid and well argued, that education and social services were the primary goal of the original Ikhwan set-up. 
This led to the development of mosques, schools, kindergartens, universities, day-care, medical clinics, hospitals, and other social organizations.  These organizations obviously greatly benefited the poor and the refugees within the West Bank and Gaza; in contrast, the PLO/Fatah, as evidenced in this work and other recent histories, became more concerned about supporting their own internal structures and maintaining their power and predominance politically and economically over the Palestinian territories. 
As history from within Tamimi concentrates most of his presentation on the personalities and politicians that influenced the development of the Ikhwan into what became known as Hamas.  Sheikh Ahmad Yassin was the foremost among them, a spiritual and moral leader who oversaw the major developments of the group, and who served as spiritual leader in absentia during his many years in Israeli prisons.   Other less familiar names play major roles in the many developments both for and against Hamas, Khalid Mishal, Abu Marzuq, Samih al-Battikhi, Ibrahim Ghosheh, Ismail Haniyah, Jordans King Abdullah, and many others illustrate the political turmoil that Hamas experienced over the years.
The international role played within Hamas is also reviewed, with its on and off relationship with what I could only label as the conspiratorial monarchy of Jordan significantly displayed.  Hamas relationships with other Arab states, many of which appeared self-serving for the Arab states, is well outlined, with the ultimate support coming with the release of Sheikh Yassin in 1997 after the disastrous (for the Jordanians) botched Mishal assassination attempt.  Yassins Arabic tour the next year demonstrated high level political support from his Arab neighbours (except those overly influenced by his political rival Arafat) as well as the continuing strong support from the Arab populations.  This support came from the movements steadfastness in recent years in the face of an American-led global campaign against it.  In the face of would-be crushing blows, Hamas had refused to modify its stance in the slightest towards compliance.
In Palestine, Hamas leaders were noted for ascetism, altruism, dedication, and honesty, for living with and among the people as they always had, as no one joins Hamas to make money or has become rich by virtue of their position within it.Finally, donors were aware that only a small fraction of the money raised by Hamas would be used for military purposes. 
This stands in contrast to the PLO/Fatah activities.  The internal relationship of Hamas with the PLO/Fatah becomes more intense as events progress, the comparison between the two also drawing significant support towards Hamas.  Tamimi, as with other recent Palestinian histories [1] is quite direct in his criticism of the PLO/Fatah who dominated the Palestinian Authority whose officials were seen to be paid unreasonably high sums as well as being employed in the expanding security services, whose task was to control the occupied Palestinians on behalf of Israel.  This vast bureaucracysecured the loyalty of its employees.and served to increase the disparity of economic means between Palestinians.  Fatah suffered from a plague of rampant corruption and was wracked by corrosive rivalries that sickened many Palestinians.
The transition from being a section of the Islamic Brotherhood, the Ikhwan, into Hamas began before the start of the first Intifada. Internal discussion had taken place about armed resistance, with the Ikhwan maintaining that building the Islamic individual and community were paramount.  From these discussions developed the movement towards protest actions, and a more militant viewpoint that found expression with the Intifada, dated as of December 8, 1987.  The Intifada was a gift from heaven for Hamas, with the PLO and Israel being caught off guard.  The Israelis misjudged it in two aspects: that it was Merely an expression of anger that would abate in a day or two; and they were not sure who was orchestrating the unrest.
The results of the Intifada were counterproductive for Israel as they were oblivious to the fact the whenever they hit Hamas, and no matter how hard they hit it, they only earned it further popular sympathy and support.  With the PLO leaders at this time still encamped in Tunis, it was these actions that Tamimi credits to the emergence of Hamas as a credible alternative to the PLO.  Through all this the Hamas military wing developed, the al-Qassam Brigades, a product of the intifada itself.   With their organization involving an inside and outside leadership, and the recognition that Israel would try to decapitate that leadership, Hamasseemed to make gains out of its losses.
From that time, Hamas history became public, with the western media emphasizing the Islamic militancy of the al-Qassam Brigade above the overall Hamas political set-up.  From that, as is well known, Hamas has been declared a terrorist organization by many countries even though it is much more similar to all other insurgencies worldwide against foreign occupation. [2]  Eventually, through all the intervening activities, Tamimi summarizes, From Israels unconditional and unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon to its unconditional and unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, it was Hamas that reaped the benefits and emerged victorious despite the losses.  The failure of peace negotiations, whether the Oslo Accords, the road map, or Sharons disengagement policy, seemed in the eyes of many Palestinians to vindicate Hamass approach.
History then takes the story in a new direction as Hamas buys into the political process.  This part of the story is much better known to the west, albeit similarly biased in its presentation of Hamas as a terrorist group.  Although winning a clear majority of the Palestinian legislative seats, an accomplishment that Tamimi sees not as a vote against the PLO as in reality, only a fraction of the votes cast was made up of protest votes, the election was universally disallowed and has resulted in ongoing internal division within the Palestinian territories, with now PLO leader Abbas being the current Israeli/American man of peace while being derided alternately as another PLO pawn in their hands.  The PLO, Israel, America and the west in general have done as much as possible to discredit and destroy the Hamas political success.
While discussing these recent events, Tamimi also discusses more of the philosophical underpinnings of the Hamas movement and the discussion that takes place within Hamas itself concerning its goals and means.  The Hamas charter reads more like an internal circular and there is ongoing discussion about writing a new charter.  In Appendix II, Tamimi presents a memo prepared by the Hamas Political Bureau in 2000 that is a much more nuanced document, and it still calls for naturally - the liberation of Palestine, and supports its right to military resistance (as a right determined under international law as well).
In the chapter The Liberation Ideology of Hamas Tamimi develops these internal discussion as well as adding more definition to other ideas presented in passing in western media.  The idea of hudna or truce receives strong coverage (including previous statements that only Hamas had ever initiated and maintained a unilateral truce during the various conflicts), as well as tahdiah or calming, a temporary hudna.  The result of these truces however was that Israels refusal to reciprocate led many Palestinians to lose confidence in the usefulness of declaring a unilateral truce.  The concept of suicide and suicide bombing within the Islamic context as well as within western perception is discussed, along with the related Islamic discussions of jihad and its subordinate positions of qital and martyrdom. 
For those in the west who truly want to understand Hamas, Hamas A History From Within should be required reading (along with those mentioned in the footnotes).  It is clearly written, presents well structured arguments and while it is a history, it is much more than dates, names, and events, but a running discussion of the changes in ideas and organizational structures within Hamas. Although the Israelis and Americans use their own terrorist theology to denounce Hamas the reality as seen by the Palestinians is one of colonial occupation and subjugation with the intent, ultimately, of Israeli hegemony over the Palestinian territories as well as the greater Middle East, supported in full by American commercial/military interests.  Azzam Tamimi has presented a highly informative work, one that provides a significant new perspective for the west on what is occurring in Palestine and the Middle East.  

[1] see in particular Between the Lines, by Honig-Parnass and Haddad, Haymarket Books, 2007, and The Palestinian Hamas by Mishal and Sela, Columbia University Press, 2006.  While they all direct criticism at the PLO/Fatah, they also recognize the contributions made towards recognition of the Palestinian situation internationally and the powerful unifying symbolism of Arafat, particularly when he defied Israel at the end of his time in Ramallah.
[2] Nor did Hamas originate suicide bombings of civilians.  Yes, that is terror, but it is also an asymmetrical response to massive oppression endured under occupation and the terror that devolves from Israeli and American military actions against Palestinian civilians. For a reasoned discussion on suicide bombing, see Dying To Win, by Robert Pape, Random House, 2005.
Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles.  His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government.