Bulletin N° 393



15 February 2009
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
In his classic novel, Notes from the Underground (1864), Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) wrote in the voice of the Underground Man:
You see, gentlemen, reason, gentlemen, is an excellent thing, there is no disputing that, but reason is only reason and can only satisfy man's rational faculty, while will is a manifestation of all life, that is, of all human life including reason as well as all impulses. And although our life, in this manifestation of it, is often worthless, yet it is life nevertheless and not simply extracting square roots.(cited by Hazel E. Barnes (1915-2008) in An Existentialist Ethics, 1985, p.4)
Dostoevsky's anti-hero goes on to imagine a future in which someone someday might rise up and declare:
What do you think, gentlemen, hadn't we better kick over all that rationalism at one blow, scatter it to the winds, just to send these logarithms to the devil, and to let us live once more according to our own foolish will!  . . .  One's own unfettered choice, one's own fancy, however wild it may be, one's own fancy worked up at times to a frenzy --why that is that very 'most advantageous advantage' which we have overlooked. [No matter how stupid the caprice, the Underground Man argues, it is still more advantageous because] . . .  in any case it preserves for us what is most precious and most important --that is, our personality, our individuality.(p.4)

The Underground Man, of course, is not intended as a model for a positive ethical ideal, but his negative qualities do represent a deep revolt against the status quo. His stubborn defiance is not oriented toward any goal, nor is it motivated by any deep, positive social urge. The inmost self of this anti-hero is preserved by a process of only destructive relations between it and the world.

In his book, Suicide of the Democracies (1972, English translation in 1975), Claude Julien (1925-2005) wrote that,

The sickness of the West is not solely a matter of its institutions. These, even in their most inhuman form, have never become depersonalized: it is men that choose their member of parliament and their newspaper, adopt or reject opinions, and seek or avoid debate. The citizen cannot throw responsibility for his own malaise onto the structures of his society. Those structures do not exist as something apart from him, and deep down he does recognize himself in them, for they reflect an enlarged image of his indifference to others, his thirst for power, his improvidence, and his greed for gain. Democracy can be judged by its structures for they are a more or less faithful reflection of the attitudes of its citizens.(p.234)
The wanton attack on Gaza has been described as a historic escalation of Israeli imperialist politics, turning toward formal endorsements of mass murder outside its borders and increasingly paranoid racist policies within. This has alarmed many people, including British MP George Galloway (1954 - ), who spoke at the January 3rd Gaza Massacre Protest in London where he compared the attack on people living in Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, when German Nazis murdered thousands of Jews living behind wire fences when they found themselves being removed from their homes and began to resist their deportation to death camps. (Click here to see: Stop Gaza Massacre Protest London 3 January 2009.)

Another attempt at an analogy to better understand the historic importance of this escalated "tactic of survival" on the part of Israel is Guernica-1937, when German planes were deployed to murder Basque civilians in an effort to win the survival of Francisco Franco's (1892-1975) fascist forces in Spain. (Please click here to see historic fascist parallels with Israeli policy today, made by Israeli Professor Neve Gordon and Palestinian Lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti on the Israeli Elections.)

Discussing the genealogy of force, power, politics and war in the first volume of his classic discussion of the history of sexuality and ethics, Michel Foucault (1926-1984) seeks to define power in its relationship to force.
The analysis, made in terms of power, must not assume that the sovereignty of the state, the form of the law or the over-all unity of domination are given at the outset; rather, these are only the terminal forms power takes. It seems to me that power must be understood in the first instance as the multiplicity of force relations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their own organization; as the process which, through ceaseless struggles and confrontations, transforms, strengthens, or reverses them; as the support which these force relations find in one another, thus forming a chain or a system, or on the contrary, the disjunctions and contradictions which isolate them from one another; and lastly, as the strategies in which they take effect, whose general design or institutional crystallization is embodied in the state apparatus, in the formulations of the law, in the various social hegemonies. Power's condition of possibility, or in any case the viewpoint which permits one to understand its exercise . . . must not be sought in the primary existence of a central point, in a unique source of sovereignty from which secondary and descendent forms would emanate; it is the moving substrate of force relations which, by virtue of their inequality, constantly engender states of power, but the latter are always local and unstable. The omnipresence of power: not because it has the privilege of consolidating everything under its invincible unity, but because it is produced from one moment to the next, at every point, or rather in every relation from one point to another. Power is everywhere; not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere.  . . . [P]ower is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.  . . . [T]his multiplicity of force relations can be coded --in part but never totally-- either in the form of "war," or in the form of "politics" . . . . (Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction, 1980, p.93)

The method of discovering power through strategies in relationship to force is not entirely new.
It is in this sphere of force relations that we must try to analyze the mechanisms of power. In this way we will escape from the system of Law-and-Sovereign which has captivated political thought for such a long time. And if it is true that Machiavelli was among the few --and this no doubt was the scandal of his "cynicism"-- who conceived the power of the Prince in terms of force relationships, perhaps we need to go one step further, do without the persona of the Prince, and decipher power mechanisms on the basis of a strategy that is immanent in force relationships.(p.97)
What is new, however, is that Foucault insists that "the counterattack against the deployment of sexuality [which he describes as "the strategic field of force relationships"(pp.96-97), ought not to be sex-desire, but [rather] bodies and pleasures."(p.157)

The 8 items below offer CEIMSA readers some reflections on the notions of power as strategy and politics as war in the context of Late Capitalism.

Item A. is message from Dr. Jame Cohn in which he provide a dossier of article published in French journal, Mouvements.

Item B. is a collection of photos of Baghdad and a report on the state of the Tigris River sent to us by Dahr Jamail from war-torn Iraq.

Item C. is an article by Deutsche Welle on Joseph Stiglitz's "only answer" to the current fiscal crisis: "Nationalize the Banks !"

Item D. is a pod cast by Laura Flanders at GRITtv on "feeling stimulated, and feeling screwed: the Obama bailout," from Firedog Lake Productions.

Item E. is an appeal to save the Arts in the current economic crisis, sent to us by UCSD Professor Fred Lonidier.

Item F. is video reproduction of the theatrical satire produced on Monday, 9 February, by the MARRE Collective of students and personnel at the Stendhal University-Grenoble  campus : Le soutenance de thèse de Valérie Pécresse ( comédie parodique).

Item G. is a series of pod casts from GRITtv covering "Israeli Crimes Against Humanity."

Item H. is a Internet link to Palestine Journal, where the victims of Israeli racism speak for themselves.

We conclude this CEIMSA Bulletin with an invitation to our readers to listen with us to the beautiful music of John Williams, performed by Itzhak Perlman, Yo-yo Ma, Anthony Mcgill, and Gabriela Montero at the Inauguration of the first African American President of the United States, at noon on 20 January, and a brief commentary on this performance by Mumia Abu-Jamal from Death Row Radio.

"Obama Inauguration with Itzhak Perlman, Yo-yo Ma, Anthony Mcgill, and Gabriela Montero "

"Music over the Mall"

And finally, an invitation to visit the site of Palestine Journal, for a perspective from Israel's victims themselves :



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

from James Cohen :
Date: 8 February 2009
Subject: GAZA, un dossier de mouvements.

GAZA: Un dossier de "Mouvements"

1) Israël et Gaza : la perte des repères moraux  http://mouvements.info/spip.php?article374

Par Michel Warschawski  Comment expliquer le soutien quasi unanime de la société israélienne pour une solution de force à Gaza dont les effets meurtriers et dévastateurs ont pourtant été d’emblée visibles par tous ? Pourquoi ce processus de déréalisation du Palestinien qui conduit à l’acceptation par une majorité d’Israéliens d’un massacre d’une telle ampleur ? Michel Warschawski tente ici d’éclairer de l’intérieur les raisons de cette dérive vers une perte progressive de tous repères moraux. 7 février 2009
2) Israël échappera-t-il aux poursuites pour crimes de guerre ? http://mouvements.info/spip.php?article375
Par Phyllis Bennis   Phyllis Bennis doute de la possibilité politique de poursuivre Israël pour crimes de guerre malgré les possibilités offertes par le droit international et malgré les responsabilités évidentes d’un Etat multirécidiviste. 7 février 2009

3) Palestinien universel : entretien avec Omar Som http://mouvements.info/spip.php?article373
Par Jim Cohen et Manuel Domergue  En pleine offensive israélienne à Gaza, les manifestations de janvier 2009 ont témoigné de nouvelles formes de mobilisations en France pour la cause palestinienne. Pour nous en parler, Mouvements a interrogé Omar Somi, délégué général de l’association Génération Palestine. 7 février 2009

4) Parti socialiste : l’impossible critique d’Israël http://mouvements.info/spip.php?article357
Par Philippe Marlière  Alors que le PS ambitionnait de prendre "une position franche" sur Gaza, il s’est contenté de réaffirmer sa "neutralité", mettant sur le même plan "deux camps qui souffrent". Philippe Marlière décrypte cette logique, qui refuse de prendre en compte l’oppression dont sont victimes les palestiniens. 18 janvier 2009.
5) Gaza : les exigences d’une solidarité active http://mouvements.info/spip.php?article360
Par Gustave Massiah  Gus Massiah expose ici ce qu’il estime être les priorités du mouvement de solidarité contre la guerre et la colonisation : soutenir la résistance palestinienne dans son ensemble ; veiller à ne pas en accroître les divisions mais à en favoriser l’unité ; assumer nos propres responsabilités vis-à-vis de la communauté internationale. 20 janvier 2009.
6) Le véritable but du carnage à Gaza  http://mouvements.info/spip.php?article359
Par Ilan Pappe  Ilan Pappe propose de déconstruire la "certitude israélienne d’être juste", qui permet de masquer les liens entre l’idéologie sioniste et les politiques d’apartheid passées et présentes engagées par l’État israélien. 18 janvier 2009.
7) Israël : le suicide par l’autodéfense http://mouvements.info/spip.php?article358
Par Dr Oren Ben-Dor  Les tentatives d’Israël visant à assurer sa sécurité par le recours à la force s’avèrent être des échecs. Comprendre les motivations qui poussent Israël à poursuivre dans cette voix implique de revenir de s’interroger sur ses fondements discriminatoires et le "désir d’être haï". 18 janvier 2009.
D’autres textes à paraître prochainement, dont :
Un entretien avec Gilbert Achcar : analyse de la situation politique du conflit israélo-palestinien après Gaza
Des témoignages de Mireille Fanon-Mendès-France recueillis à Gaza après l’assaut israélien
Sari Hanafi sur le mouvement palestinien après Gaza
Laurent Lévy sur l’« importation du conflit » israélo-palestinien en France et le rôle de la communauté juive officielle

from Dahr Jamail :
Date: 15 February 2009
Subject: MidEast Dispatches: Photographs from Iraq / The River Too Tells the Story (IPS)

I have been posting photographs from Iraq. Please visit the following albums to have a look

Photographs from Iraq

Album: Fallujah, 2009 (Views from inside Fallujah, February 2009.)

Album: Over 1 Million Displaced Persons In Baghdad (As of February 2009, there are over one million displaced people in Baghdad alone.)

Album: Various Photographs of the Occupation (2009) (Various pictures from the occupation in Iraq, February 2009)

Album: Fishermen on the Tigris River (Due to decreased water level, increased pollution, and a disasterous economy, Iraqi fishermen are struggling to survive.)

Album: Awakening Group leaders of Iraq’s Al-Anbar Province (Photos of two key leaders of the U.S.-backed Sunni militia)

Album: Baghdad: City of Walls (Baghdad, in 2009, is filled with countless security walls and security personnel.)


"The River Too Tells the Story"
by Dahr Jamail
February 12th, 2009 | Inter Press Service

Click here to read story with photograph.

There is less water now in the Tigris, and it is less clean. The river has fewer fish, and rising fuel and other costs mean they are more costly to catch. It's not, as Hamza Majit finds, a good time to be a fisher.

“It’s getting worse everyday,” Majit told IPS on board his fishing boat.

“You see the low water level,” Majit said, touching the bottom of the river, just two metres down, with a wooden pole. “We need higher water to hold our nets up. And this is the deepest point in the Tigris in this area. With the water this low, it makes it difficult to catch any fish.”

Plastic bottles, grocery bags and other garbage are now more commonly seen floating down the once clear river. “Fish are a treasure from God, but now so much is preventing us from reaping our treasure,” said Majit.

Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Majit says, it was common to catch several dozen fish daily. Now, “we are lucky to catch ten.”

Now the government too is alarmed.

“The Tigris remains extremely polluted, and this situation continues to worsen,” Minister for the Environment Narmin Othman told IPS. “So many Iraqis are suffering from this. We realise it is a crisis, and we are looking for more ways the government can actively begin to solve the problem.”

The matter is being considered urgently, she said. “We have to do this, because if we don’t, nobody else will, and the suffering will continue. The Tigris is one of Iraq’s treasures, and we must safeguard our treasures.”

The government has been before. “The situation is critical,” Prof. Ratib Mufid, environment expert at Baghdad University, said back in 2007. “The river is gradually being destroyed, and there are no projects to prevent its destruction.”

Since then it has only become worse. The new difficulties begin at the source, and multiply along the way.

“The problem of decreasing water flow starts in Turkey’s Taurus mountains,” Seif Barakah, media officer at the Ministry of Environment had warned, about the same time in 2007. “Between there and Kurdistan, many dams have been built which reduce the water flow. The idea was to prevent floods which over the years affected northern communities, but the consequence can now be seen with nearly half the previous water flow.”

The Tigris flows from the mountains of south-eastern Turkey through Iraq, where it ends up in the Persian Gulf.

Majit has been a fisher since he was 10, and like most fishers on the Tigris, inherited the family business of generations. Two of his children work with him.

Fishing is not just difficult now, but also unpleasant and hazardous. The smell of burning plastic, or at places of raw sewage, is overpowering. And, Majit says, he has been shot at by U.S. soldiers from the Green Zone, whose concrete walls line the banks along one stretch.

Iraqi environmentalists report that the river is contaminated with war waste, oil derivatives, industrial waste, and toxins. “Sometimes I find crude oil on my nets when I pull them up,” Majit said. “The fish also sometimes taste like crude oil.”

Big rubbish heaps have come up on the banks. Dumping garbage in the river was punishable during the days of former dictator Saddam Hussein. Today there is nothing to stop people.

The ripple effect of fish scarcity has inevitably hit the markets. The average cost of a fish has risen from two dollars to eight dollars (8,000 Iraqi Dinars).

“That is too expensive, so fewer people are buying,” says Amar Hamsa, a 25- year-old fish seller. “Business is bad, it’s not a good situation for us nowadays.”

Roast fish was considered a treat once, says Ali Sabri, still in the business though with many empty fire pits around him of vendors who had to abandon business. “Few people in Baghdad can afford this now as they used to.”

from Truth Out :
Date: 7 February 2009
Subject: Nationalized Banks Are "The Only Answer."

Joseph Stiglitz: Nationalized Banks Are "Only Answer"
by Deutsche Welle

(Artwork: The Financial Times)


Nationalized banks are the "only answer," economist Stiglitz says. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz talks about nationalizing banks, the outlook for developing countries, and the need for an international financial regulator.
any experts fear that while things are bad now, we haven't seen the worst of the crisis yet. Do you share the belief that we are facing a long decline that could rival the Great Depression?
    Joseph Stiglitz: We live in a very different world than during the Great Depression. Then, we had a manufacturing economy. Now we have a service-sector economy. Many people in the in the United States are already working part time because they can't get full-time jobs. People are talking more about the "comprehensive" measures of unemployment, and these show unemployment at very high levels, around 15 percent. So it clearly is a serious downturn.
    Another big difference between now and the Great Depression is then we didn't have a safety net. Now we have unemployment insurance.
    Economists Nouriel Roubini and Nassim Taleb, who predicted the global economic downturn, have called for a nationalization of banks in order to stop the financial meltdown. Do you agree?

    The fact of the matter is, the banks are in very bad shape. The U.S. government has poured in hundreds of billions of dollars to very little effect. It is very clear that the banks have failed. American citizens have become majority owners in a very large number of the major banks. But they have no control. Any system where there is a separation of ownership and control is a recipe for disaster.
    Nationalization is the only answer. These banks are effectively bankrupt.
    The Institute of International Finance estimates that the private flow of capital to developing countries will shrink by about two-thirds. Are we facing a situation where we could see a total collapse of many developing countries?

    I think many governments of emerging nations actually have a much better central banking system than the United States. They realized the risks of excessive leverage, excessive dependance on real estate lending and so they took much more prudent actions. Many developing countries also built up large reserves and are in a better position to meet this crisis than they were a decade ago.
    But some will face very difficult times, potentially defaults. Some of these countries are suffering from having paid too much attention to what has gone on in the United States.
    Should steps be taken to help these developing countries?

    Very definitely. I think it is absolutely imperative not just for the interest of these countries, not just from a humanitarian perspective, but from the perspective of global stability. It is not possible to have a strong global economy when there are large pockets of economic turmoil.
    The World Bank has called for advanced industrial countries as they are bailing out their own industries and provide subsidies, to set aside some amounts for the developing countries, who can't compete on this uneven playing field.
    US President Obama blasted banks for paying out billions in bonuses to executives while still on brink of collapse. Do you agree with him that their behavior is "shameful" and "irresponsible"?

    Yes, it is shameful and irresponsible. But it is not a surprise ... for years the executives of American firms have defended their outrageous compensation, saying it's important as an incentive scheme. How in the world can you give bonuses of billions of dollars when your firm has had record losses of billions of dollars? Unless you're rewarding people for failure you shouldn't be getting bonuses, you should be getting penalties.
    In her speech at the World Economic Forum, German Chancellor Merkel warned the U.S. of protectionism and criticized subsidies for American auto companies. Is she correct? Do you see a danger that the U.S. will resort to protectionist measures?

    Yes, very clearly. We have always been aware that protectionism takes two forms: Tariffs and subsidies. Subsidies distort the playing field just like tariffs do. Subsidies are even more unfair and even more distorting, because while developed countries can give subsidies, poor countries can't afford to do so. Rich countries are distorting the level playing field by giving huge subsidies, not necessarily in the intention of protection, but with the consequence of protection.
    Merkel recently called for an international financial oversight body, and concensus on the issue is growing. How realistic do you think it is that governments and companies would give up sovereignty to an international entity?

    Merkel's idea is a very important one, which I have long supported. You need to have coordination of global economic policy that goes beyond the IMF, which has failed, and the World Bank. You cannot say that we have open borders without global regulation. It is inconceiveable as we go forward that we would allow financial products that are risky, manufactured in countries with inadequate regulation, to come without regulation into the United States and vice versa. International companies that are committed to gobalization should be at the forefront of calling for international regulation.  
Michael Knigge interviewed Joseph Stiglitz, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001. Under US President Bill Clinton, Stiglitz served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1995- 1997. He was chief economist of the World Bank from 1997-2000 and was a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He is currently a professor at Columbia University in New York.

from GRITtv
Date: 7 February 2009
Subject: The U.S. Economy off track, and where it is headed. . . .


Are You Feeling Stimulated or Screwed?

Thank goodness for compromise! After eight years of tempered policy, aisle-crossing, and bipartisan resolution after bipartisan resolution, it’s heartening to see Obama carry on the longstanding tradition. It’s particularly encouraging to know that during the Bush era, lapel pins, water boarding, and wars in countries that didn’t attack us, gauged one's level of patriotism. But in all seriousness, the same ultra-partisan GOP hacks that force-fed Americans this nauseating propaganda are also the ones that drove this economy into the ground. Yet, fiery rhetoric aside, Democrats act as if they wield no power and need permission from the GOP to use the bathroom.

In a recent article, John Nichols of the Nation discussed how bipartisanship crafted the Senate bill. Nichols asserted that states will receive less aid, "schools will get less help," programs that create jobs “will be less well funded,” and “preparations to combat potential public health disasters­which could put the final nail in the economy’s coffin­will not be made.” Nichols later states, "[t]hese are the fruits of bipartisan fantasies and the compromises that follow upon them."

On Tuesday's roundtable, Louis Uchitelle, the author of The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences, Teresa Ghilarducci Director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School and the author of When I'm Sixty Four, Irasema Garza a member of Obama's transition team and the President of Legal Momentum, and Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research discuss the stimulus bill and what needs to happen for the economy to get back on track.


from Fred Lonidier :
Date: 7 February 2009
Subject: AftA Acts to Counter Anti-Arts Media Blitz.

American for the Arts has launched a campaign to counter "anti-arts" media responses to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. AftA's Arts Action Fund has issued a call for letters to local media editors in support of the Act's proposed increase of $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. The fund hopes to counter such attacks as this from the National Review: "The National Endowment for the Arts, for example, is in line for $50 million, increasing its total budget by a third. The unemployed can fill their days attending abstract-film festivals and sitar concerts." AftA suggests stressing that the arts employ people locally and enhance community development; that the NEA increase will save 14,422 jobs from being lost in the U.S. economy; and that without the proposed stimulus, 10% of nonprofit organizations will close in 2009, costing 260,000 jobs.

Go to this entry:

from Thomas Lebarbé :
Date: 10 February
Subject: Soutenance de thèse de Valérie Pécresse ( comédie parodique).

Valérie Pécresse a soutenu sa thèse Lundi 9 février 2009 à Grenoble

La vidéo de cette prestation majestueuse est en ligne sur YouTube :

Bouygle 1/7 - Intro
Bouygle 2/7 - Soutenance
Bouygle 3/7 - QuestionsSarko
Bouygle 4/7 - Questions Darkos
Bouygle 5/7 - QuestionsCarla
Bouygle 6/7 - QuestionsEinstein
Bouygle 7/7- Conclusion

ou en téléchargement AVI (DivX3) sur http://w3.u-grenoble3.fr/lebarbe/bouygle/Bouygle.avi

UN SPECTACLE PARODIQUE, AVEC DE VRAIS MORCEAUX DE SARKOZY DEDANS ! (attention : tournage amateur) Réalisé par le collectif MARRE de l'Université Stendhal, et interprété par des personnels et étudiants du campus. Ce spectacle aura lieu à l'occasion de la non tenue des jurys de premier semestre. --- The intergalatctic Bouyggle University TM To boldly go where no University has gone before ! A Bouygues and Google Inc. company Anciennement : Université de Grenoble La soutenance de thèse de Madame Valérie Pécresse « Du bricolage de l'université à l'Université du bricolage : la formation à prix entrepôt » Directeur de Thèse : Nicolas Sarkozy Présidente : Laurence Parisot Rapporteurs : Xavier Darcos, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Membre du jury : Albert Einstein

Ecrivez-moi à mon adresse MSH-Alpes (tlebarbe@msh-alpes.fr). Merci.
* Enseignant au Département d'Informatique Pédagogique
* Chercheur au Laboratoire LIDILEM - Université Stendhal - Grenoble 3
Courriel : tlebarbe@msh-alpes.fr
Web : http://www.u-grenoble3.fr/lebarbe
Poste : BP 25 - 38040 Grenoble Cx 9
C'est drôle, les cons ça repose,
C'est comme le feuillage au milieu des roses...
Le temps qui reste - Jean-Lou Dabadi (interprété par Serge Reggiani)

from GRITtv :
Date: 11 February 2009
Subject: Israeli Crimes against Humanity.

Retired US army colonel Ann Wright talks about her recent trip to Gaza. Throughout Israel's intensive war in Gaza, reporters and international observers have been barred from entering the region. Wright says that the damage is extensive and Israel's disproportionate response "criminal." During her visit to Egypt and Gaza, Philip Rizk, a 26 year old student of Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Cairo was detained after participating in a rally in support of Gazans. Rizk has been an outspoken critic of the Israeli invasion and of the Egyptian government's feeble response to the suffering of Palestinian civilians. His whereabouts remain unknown and no formal charges have been issued. A demonstration in support of his release will take place on Wednesday, February 11 at 11:30 in front of the Egyptian Consulate in New York.

(Wright and Code Pink are also planning fundraising events to aid women's groups in Gaza for International Women's Day. You can find out more here.)

Israel’s Crimes
(Posted February 11, 2009)

Retired US army colonel Ann Wright talks about her recent trip to Gaza. - Wright says that the damage is extensive and Israel's disproportionate response "criminal." Continue

UN special rapporteur Richard Falk likens Gaza to Warsaw Ghetto: There is more than enough evidence that Israel committed war crimes in its three week-long offensive into Gaza, says a UN investigator.

UN says Israel blocks most Gaza aid: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says Israel only allows a meager amount of humanitarian aid to enter the impoverished Gaza Strip.

UN official slams Israel for blocking textbooks: Head of UNRWA operation in Gaza 'extremely frustrated' by Israel's refusal to allow paper into Strip, says new textbooks meant for children's human rights program

Iranian Leader: War on Gaza enters new phase: Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that Israel's aerial and ground offensive in Gaza has entered a third stage: a viral psychological campaign designed to sap Palestinian morale and resistance - a goal Tel Aviv failed to achieve by the means of blockade and war.

With 99% of votes counted, Kadima leads Likud 28 to 27 seats: With 99 percent of the votes counted, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's Kadima Party is in first place with 28 of the Knesset's 120 seats, with Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party following closely behind with 27 seats.

Netanyahu and Yishai: Israel needs Likud-led rightist government: During their talks, the two party leaders analyzed the election results and agreed on the need to forge a right-wing government under Netanyahu's leadership

ANALYSIS / Without Lieberman, Livni has no government: Tens of thousands of left-wing voters who recently decided to vote for Kadima instead of Labor or Meretz will wake up this morning to hear that Tzipi Livni is vigorously courting far-right leader Avigdor Lieberman.

Few Peacemakers in Israel's Knesset: Israelis have had their say at the polls, and now it is up to the world, and particularly the Obama administration, to respond.

Hamas: Zionist voters have elected a 'troika of terrorism': "This troika, this trio of terrorism of Lieberman, Livni and Netanyahu chose the dramatic development in Israeli society towards terror."

from Council for the National Interest Foundation :
Date: 15 February 2009
Subject: Prospects for Middle East Peace

Prospects for Middle East Peace
Part I: Gaza Realities
by Harry Shaw


In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times, Rashid Khalidi, Professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, stated: "Nearly everything you have been led to believe about Gaza is wrong." Indeed! There is no more appropriate launching pad for an examination of the prospects for peace in the Middle East than Khalidi's charge. Israel has avoided deserved condemnation for its conduct of the Gaza War by hiding behind a screen of misinformation and falsifications of the true story and denying access to journalists who could witness and report the truth about Israel's brutal assault on the people of Gaza.

Part I: Gaza Realities, of this three part series, reviews the background to events in Gaza and the consequences of a war of grossly disproportionate casualties: over 1,300 Gazans dead, many women and children, and some 5,500 injured and wounded, along with several billions in damage to homes and public structures, at the cost of 13 Israeli lives, a few injured and wounded, and minor damage to buildings.

Israel justifies its war on Gaza as a response to rocket attacks and on the false claim that the Islamic Palestinian movement, Hamas, is primarily a terrorist organization, beyond the law, that seized power from the legitimate Palestinian Authority (PA) when Israel withdrew its settlers and occupying troops in 2005. It is not commonly known that after the Israeli withdrawal but before the 2006 elections, James Wolfensohn, former World Bank president, was engaged to draw up plans to bolster the Gaza Strip's isolated economy. But his plan foundered, in part because it was sabotaged by the Bush administration official in charge. Concurrently, Secretary of State Rice and her staff schemed to manipulate the 2006 election to ensure a victory for the rival Fatah movement at a time of growing Hamas popularity.

When these American schemes backfired and Hamas won the democratic elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, taking control of the Gaza government, Secretary of State Rice responded by banning all contact with "terrorist" Hamas and supported Israel's economic blockade of Gaza, which clearly violates Israel's Geneva Convention responsibilities as an occupying power for the welfare of the civil population. Israel's siege of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza was, and continues to be, a serious violation of international law.

Although Hamas is widely represented by the press [as] a terrorist organization, Tom Segev of the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz, considers it "a genuine national and religious movement" that "cannot be bombed away." Israel and its supporters have long traded on Hamas rhetoric about destroying the Zionist state, as if a Palestine under Hamas control would be an existential threat to the strongest military power in the Middle East. As for Hamas's refusal to recognize Israel as a precondition to negotiations, it reflects a shrewd understanding that "recognition" implies acceptance of borders which Israel declines to define while it continues to "create facts" on the West Bank that prejudice future negotiations. Hamas insists on Israel's return to the 1967 borders and has offered to extend an Egyptian arranged truce for up to ten years if Israel accepts the 1967 borders.

Clearly, events in Gaza, including Israel's recent military assault there, are intimately linked to the broader Palestinian-Israeli conflict over the division of land and the terms of a two-state solution of that conflict. The ultimate purposes of the bombing and attempt to break Hamas's hold there are sensed by Gazans, like the Fatah member who characterized the Israeli attack as "War on the Palestinian state, not against a Party." Israel's Gaza War was not about Hamas rockets but about larger issues.

Israel has blamed Hamas for breaking a six-month ceasefire agreed to last June. But Israel failed to honor its own commitment to ease the blockade it had imposed on Gaza since Hamas's 2006 election victory, a regime that has inflicted grievous harm on the people of Gaza: denial of electricity, fuel, medical supplies; serious sanitation problems, such as pollution of the water supply; economic collapse accompanied by widespread unemployment, malnutrition, and depression. The result: a humanitarian crisis of serious proportions.

When, in November, 2008, Israel violated the truce with an attack across the border that killed six Hamas people, Hamas resumed rocket attacks which Israel used as the pretext for a long-planned massive assault on Gaza, carefully timed to take place during the last days of the feckless Bush Administration and before the January 20 Inauguration. But it might have been a different story if Israel had not been so determined to teach Hamas and the Palestinian people a lesson, instead following a different script as described by Brigadier General Shmuel Zakai, former commander of the IDF's Gaza Division, in a column by Roger Cohen in the January 15 New York Review:

   We could have eased the siege over the Gaza Strip, in such a way that the Palestinians,
    Hamas, would understand that holding fire served their interests. But when you create
    a tahadiyeh [truce]. and the economic pressure on the Strip continues, it's obvious that
    Hamas will try to reach an improved tahadiyeh, and their way to achieve this is re-
    sumed Qassam fire.

We now know from Robert Pastor, who accompanied former president Jimmy Carter in a Dec, 14, 2008, meeting in Damascus with Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal that Hamas offered to resume the ceasefire in return for Israel's lifting the siege of Gaza and that Pastor promptly conveyed that offer to the Israeli military. There was no answer from the Israelis who launched the Gaza War two weeks later.

Part II of this series will examine how the situation in the West Bank is likely to affect prospects for Middle East peace.

Harry Shaw, PhD., has taught international law at the University of Virginia and George Washington University. He lives near Easton.
This article was first published on February 11, 2009, by The Star Democrat, Easton, Maryland