Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sensible & Perceptive Views on the Hell that is Gaza

I came across this interview just this morning. It is so perceptive and sensible that I am quoting it verbatim (though edited by me to be more concise).
Gaza is being slowly and (in all likelihood) fatally suffocated to death.


  • doesn’t want the Gaza Strip (or at least its people)
  • is constrained by international public opinion such that it cannot just brazenly carry out genocide or ethnic cleansing; and therefore
  • has to find ways to do what it wants - get rid of the Gazan people - by piecemeal sadism that doesn’t focus the world media’s attention.
  • The gratuitous savagery of the siege on Gaza would have taken place whether or not Hamas had come to power.
  • That it has, however, is a gift to the Israelis seeking pretexts - in combination with a well-oiled propaganda machine - for the continued strangulation and starvation of an entire people.

I don’t know when it will stop - or if it will stop.
What I fear is an international event of such magnitude that attention will be focused elsewhere allowing Israeli brutality much freer reign than it already has.

In that case, God help the people living there.
Realize, however, that under the present circumstances - and in line with Zionist/Israeli history since 1947-48- Israel has no intention of allowing a viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian state.
Had this ever been a real goal, it could have been brought about 60 years ago.

On the forthcoming Annapolis 'Peace Conference':

  • It’s a pitiful and belated attempt by the United States to “get serious” about this issue as Iran rises in regional strength - and at precisely the time when Iraq is draining the US of its financial, human, military and political resources.
  • Iran knows this and is supremely self-confident just now because it understands that the costs to the US of a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be so high as to change the course of Middle East history on the spot.
  • The same would be true of an Israeli (proxy) strike on Iran - it would boomerang back onto Israel and, by association, onto the US.
  • We just have to hope that the Madmen in the Bush administration aren’t planning to go out of power in some inglorious inferno.

Q: As we now know, the United States has been pressuring Palestinian President Abbas to include Mohammed Dahlan in the regime. What is your opinion on this?

  • Dahlan has made it clear that he is willing to be a strongman for the US and to do its bidding.
  • His coming to power would almost guarantee that any attempts by Fatah and Hamas to begin working toward conciliation would be ruined.
  • This is one of Israel’s and the US’ goals - and probably also of other regional players, including Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia - all of whom fear the rise of Hamas or of the “Islamic” element in Palestinian politics.
  • Such an element only strengthens the Iran-Syrian-Hizbullah-Hamas fault line and would empower Islamist groups within these countries to begin seriously to contend for power.
  • There are some complex issues at hand here, however:
    first, Hamas is doing a terrible job in Gaza and is losing popular support.
    It could thereby indirectly aid Fatah in its attempt to rid Gaza of the Hamas leadership.
  • This would make negotiating with Fatah the only viable solution for Israel and the US (just what they’d like but without the problem of Hamas in the background) and right now
  • Fatah’s leaders look ready to sell Palestine to the Israeli buyers for nothing and without much remorse. They’d remain the nominal leaders of “Palestine” with all the external trappings of power, and we’d simply have to hope for yet another popular uprising.
  • It’s just such a horrible thing to contemplate when you understand the physical, emotional, economic and social exhaustion of this people.
  • On the other hand, Abbas probably understands that if he gives Israel what it wants at the upcoming summit (or whatever it’s been called recently) that he, too, will lose all popular support.
  • The Palestine National Movement has been transformed over the past seven years or more.
  • In the past six months it has been severely weakened because of the open split between Hamas and Fatah.
  • In the next six months to two years it will either die altogether - to the quiet applause of the Israelis - or it will be reborn in another form or forms and we won’t know what the long-term outcome will be for some time.

I don’t know what it will take for people on this side of the Mediterranean/Atlantic to understand that Israel is systematically destroying an entire people and its quest for national self-determination.

It’s happening before our eyes each day - and in the most unspeakable ways - but barely gets any notice at all.

Until there is a political shift here in the US my own mood will remain one of profound cynicism.

That said, there are some signs of a “sea change” at the popular level here [in the US], however, and this keeps me going.
This is my edited version of an interview, published by Steve Amsel at DesertPeace and originally, by Kris Petersen, who asked the questions, of:
Jennifer Loewenstein:

  • Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
  • She recently completed a year as Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University's Refugee Studies Program where she began work on a book dealing with resistance and the rise of Islam in Palestine and Lebanon.
  • Jennifer is a freelance journalist, human rights activist and founder of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.
  • She has lived in Beirut, Jerusalem and Gaza City and has traveled extensively throughout the region.
  • Her articles have appeared in books and journals such as The New Intifada by Roane Carey, ed; Searching Jenin, by Ramzy Baroud; the Journal of Palestine Studies, the Forced Migration Review and the CounterPunch newsletter.
  • Jennifer lives with her husband and daughter in Madison, Wisconsin.

But Jennifer's very name - Loewenstein- gives the game away.

She is, very obviously, a:

  • Zionist world-dominating conspirator
  • Islamo-Fascist world-dominating conspirator
  • or a thoughtful good American (as opposed to 'good American'), demonstrating, and upholding the very values we EuroTrash thought the US had lost about two decades ago.

Echoes from the Past - Kiryat Shmona

Today I met two visitors, a young Israeli surfer and his girlfriend, who have been staying in GL (General Luna) for some time now. Cloud 9, our local surfing break, is popular with Israeli surfers, particularly because Indonesia (which, quite frankly, has better surfing spots) does not allow entry to Israeli tourists due to the Israeli Government's treatment of Palestinians.
Surfers, on the whole, are a good bunch, an apolitical lot, but, inevitably, conversations with Israelis turn, particularly in my case, and in my house, to the Israeli/Palestinian issue.
We had an entirely friendly and polite, but sometimes heated discussion, in which the girl, a resident of Tel Aviv, brought up the 'terrible situation of her relatives' in Kiryat Shmona, right in the north of Israel, by the Lebanese border.
The name of the town rang a bell in my mind, but I didn't know much about the situation there now, so I've checked the facts:

Wikipedia says, verbatim:
Kiryat Shmona (Hebrew: קִרְיַת שְׁמוֹנָה‎, "City of the Eight", alternatively spelt קריית שמונה) is a city located in the North District of Israel on the western slopes of the Hula Valley on the Lebanese border. The name was named for the eight people, including Joseph Trumpeldor, who died in 1920 defending Tel Hai. Today, about one-third of Kiryat Shmona’s population of 22,000 are younger than 19, and the majority of its inhabitants are Jews, particularly of Moroccan descent.
On May 11, 1948, the Haganah rejected the request by the residents of al-Khalisa request [sic] for an "agreement". Villagers fled from their homes after hearing news of the fall of Safad and sought refuge in Hunin. In later weeks, a few of them decided to return in order to dig up money they had buried in their land, or to harvest some of their tobacco and grain. They reported that the Israeli forces had burned and destroyed many of the houses.

The settlement of Qiryat Shemona was established in 1950 on the village site as a transit camp for immigrants who worked mainly in farming. Stone rubble from the houses marks the site whilst the school, village mosque and minaret, as well as the Mandate government's office buildings stand abandoned. The level land surrounding the site was cultivated by the settlers and has continued to be done so.
Kiryat Shmona has been the scene of several attacks from Arab terrorists operating from across the Lebanese border.

On April 11, 1974, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, sent three members across the border from Lebanon to Kiryat Shmona. They killed eighteen residents of an apartment building, including many children, before being killed in an exchange of fire at the complex (see Kiryat Shmona massacre).
The city continued to be the target of attacks after this, including Katyusha rocket attacks by the PLO in July 1981, a Katyusha rocket attack by the PLO in March 1986 (killing a teacher and injuring four students and one adult), and further Katyusha rocket attacks by Hezbollah during 1996's Operation Grapes of Wrath. The citizens of the town had suffered almost daily attack from the mid 70's until the year 2000, when the IDF left Lebanon. In the years 2000-2006 the locals suffered loud explosion noises every few weeks because of Anti Plane rockets launched at IDF planes flying nearby.
During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, the city often received media attention because of its being the frequent target of multiple Hezbollah Katyusha rocket attacks. On July 13, 2006, Kiryat Shmona closed its courts due to the ongoing danger of rocket attacks. The next day, three Hezbollah rockets landed in the town. On July 17, Hezbollah launched more Katyusha rockets that hit Kiryat Shmona and neighboring towns. The night of July 17, as a barrage of Hezbollah rockets were launched into northern Israeli communities, a Katyusha hit a house near Kiryat Shmona. During the war, a total of 1012 Katyusha rockets hit Kiryat Shmona. Approximately half of the city’s residents had left the area, and the other half who remained stayed in bomb shelters.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To which I would add:

  • Al Khalisa, the original Arab village on the site of Kiryat Shmona, is no more, erased, forgotten, like another 400 or so villages after the Nakba of 1948.
  • The Kiryat Shmona Massacre of April 11, 1974 was a result of 3 members of the PFLP-GC infiltrating the town from Lebanon, getting besieged by the IDF in an apartment block, and killing the residents before being killed themselves. I cannot excuse the actions of the PFLP-GC, but then, I cannot excuse the incompetence of the IDF in getting their own citizens killed during the siege.
  • The 1974 PFLP-GC raid (and a similar incident at Ma'alot) were the direct excuses for Israel's punitive air raids on Beirut for some time onwards, one of which, later that year, killed the eldest son of my own daily house cleaner, Umm Ahmad, as related in my previous post A Terrible Anniversary.
  • Those subsequent collective punishments are mentioned absolutely nowhere in the published narratives on Kiryat Shmona (or Ma'alot).
  • I completely concur with the Israeli condemnation of the attacks on the two Israeli settlements, but find it extremely difficult to concur with the apparent erasure of any Israeli mention of their subsequent vengeful retributions on the capital city of their neighbouring sovereign nation.
  • From 1982 until 2000, the Israeli Army fully occupied a belt of Southern Lebanon, but apparently failed to prevent rocket attacks (claimed, but unspecified, in the Wikipedia article).
  • From 2000, following the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon after defeat by Hezbollah, a purely local Lebanese resistance group, until July 2006, the IDF continued to overfly southern Lebanon, in the complete absence of any viable Lebanese air defence. As the Wikipedia article details, the locals suffered loud explosion noises every few weeks - because of Anti Plane rockets launched at IDF planes flying nearby - but no deaths or injuries.
  • On 12 July 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon. The conflict killed more than a thousand people, most of whom were Lebanese civilians; severely damaged Lebanese infrastructure; and displaced 974,184 Lebanese. After the ceasefire, some parts of Southern Lebanon remained uninhabitable due to unexploded cluster bombs (about a million of them), fired in the very last days of the invasion.
  • Hezbollah retaliated with rocket attacks on Northern Israel, as detailed, on 13 July 2006, Kiryat Shmona closed its courts. The rockets frightened the living daylights out of the residents of Kiryat Shmona, half of whom fled, and half of whom stayed in bomb shelters.
  • The Wikipedia article claims 1012 rockets hit Kiryat Shmona during that month-long invasion and retreat, but gives details of only 4 of them, one of which ' hit a house near Kiryat Shmona'. Not a single resident of Kiryat Shmona was injured or killed.

Perhaps this small story may persuade you to agree with my utter lack of sympathy for the 'poor little besieged Nation of Israel' myth.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fair and Balanced - Honest Reporting 2 - Apartheid


From Honest Reporting's story "Barghouti Is No Mandela", a critique of the Toronto Star's Middle East bureau chief Oakland Ross report of June 30 2007, from which is quoted:

Many say comparisons with Nelson Mandela are exaggerated, but the parallels do exist.
Like the hero of South Africa's long struggle against white rule, Barghouti joined an established liberation organization and soon began to inveigh against its older leaders' complacency and corruption.
Like Mandela, his initial political credibility arose from his involvement in street-level politics.
Like Mandela, Barghouti was soon captured by a more powerful enemy, charged and convicted of violent crimes and locked away.
Seized by Israeli forces in April 2002, he was convicted and sentenced two years later and has remained behind bars ever since.

"Reporters who compare Barghouti and Mandela may not appreciate the historical context in which this false comparison is made.

If Barghouti is another Mandela, then by implication, Israel is another apartheid South Africa. And if apartheid South Africa was an illegitimate regime that needed to be isolated and replaced, then logic dictates that Israel, too, is illegitimate and needs to be replaced."

Yes, indeed.
HonestReporting goes on to say:
How You Can Make a Difference
Tell the Toronto Star that the Barghouti-Mandela comparison is false and dangerous. Point out that portraying a convicted murderer of civilians as a new Nelson Mandela is an affront not only to Barghouti’s victims, but also to liberal democratic values such as the right to life and the rule of law.
Send your letter to or via fax to 416-869-4322. To be considered for publication, letters must include sender’s name, address and phone number; street names and phone numbers will not be published.
Pointers for contacting the media: State your position clearly in your own words, remain rational and avoid being abusive, and contact us at to tell us you took action.

Fair and Balanced - Honest Reporting 1 - Refugees

I have just come across a Zionist apologist website which makes so many self-condemning Freudian slips that I think I should share some of them with you:
HonestReporting:"a fast-action website that monitors Mideast media bias and ensures that Israel receives fair worldwide press coverage", says:
On getting flooded with returning native wogs:
One such method [for destroying the Jewish state] is the so-called Palestinian "right of return", which would see Israel flooded with Palestinians ultimately leading to the end of Israel through demographic means. Those who advocate the Palestinian return to Israel know that Israel's Jewish character would not survive the influx of several million Palestinian refugees. [Nor, perhaps, should it]

In the next para, the Zionist shill writes:
While Dr. Karmi does say that Israel - as a "Jewish state" that necessitated the removal of the indigenous Arab population - should never have been created, she does not suggest that present-day Israelis must be removed. Instead, she argues that a single state, that is secular and democratic for all its citizens, offers much more hope for peace than a state based on Jewish exclusivity next to a truncated and utterly unviable proposed Palestinian state under Israel's vice-like control.

What, exactly, is the difference between the Jewish state and the "Jewish state"?

And then on to the killer quote:
As Sol Stern and Fred Siegel have written in the New York Sun:
The "one state" solution is a euphemism for the destruction of the Jewish state - a trope of the most extreme rejectionist elements within the Palestinian movement and their allies in Syria and Iran. Terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah want to create an Islamic Republic in place of Israel.

To which he adds the absolutely ineffable Alan Dershowitz :
The one-state solution proposal now being made by Palestinian lawyers and some anti-Israel academics is nothing more than a ploy. It is designed to destroy the Jewish state of Israel and to substitute another Islamic Arab state.
Those who advocate the single state solution would never do so with regard to India, the former Yugoslavia, or other previously united states which have now been divided on ethnic or religious grounds.

(Who, in Josip Broz Tito's time, could have predicted the break-up of Yugoslavia? And who, in George W. Bush's time, would predict that the USA won't go the same way?
I'm just waiting quietly for Southern California to go Latino, Minnesota to go Scandinavian, New York (united with Florida) to take on the Israeli refugees, and Pennsylvania to go Dutch.
We've already seen the cleansing of New Orleans after Katrina.)

Asymmetrical War: Qassam Rockets vs 200 Nuclear Bombs

Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam was quite a lad. A Syrian Muslim Brotherhood member, he set out to fight the Italian invasion of Libya in 1911, but failed. He then turned, in 1921, against the French colony (sorry, Mandate) of Syria. After the French siege of Damascus, he fled to Haifa, and took his fight against the British and the Jewish Haganah in Palestine. He preached Jihad (holy war) and revolution against both the British and the Zionists, and organized and led the first Palestinian guerilla group.

  • He was killed in action on 19 November 1935 in the first Palestinian guerilla action against British forces.
  • His death triggered the Arab Revolt of 1936-39.

Hamas has named part of its organization after Qassam and in recent years developed the Qassam rocket.

  • The Qassam rocket was first developed by Nidal Fat'hi Rabah Farahat
    On February 16, 2003, Farahat was working along with other militants around newly acquired parts of a drone when one of them, booby-trapped, exploded. The device killed Farahat and 5 other militants.
  • Adnan al-Ghoul, called by the Israelis "Father of the Qassam" was a shadowy figure who lived in hiding and never spoke to the media.
  • The Zionists tried to assassinate Adnan Al-Ghoul many (times). The first attempt when he was in the PA prison, the Zionists tried to poison his coffee. Another big attempt, which also failed, when he was coming back after launching the first Qassam Rocket. Belal ( his eldest son ) was martyred in this wicked attempt. A third attempt was when... Zionist bulldozers and tanks came to his house thinking that he was there ... His second son Mohammad and his nephew Emran were martyred in this failure attempt.
  • On September 26, 2003 he reportedly attended a meeting with Mohammed Deif, Ismail Haniya, Hamas' (current) political leader, and the organisation's spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yasin, when Israeli forces bombed the house where they gathered.
  • Adnan Al-Ghoul was finally assassinated on October 22 2004, by an Israeli drone that fired 2 missiles at his car in the centre of Gaza city, woundng (as usual) a number of quite innocent passers-by.

  • Qassams were first fired at Israeli civilian targets in October 2001.
  • The first Qassam to land in Israeli territory was launched on February 10, 2002.
  • The first time an Israeli city was hit was on March 5, 2002, when two rockets struck Sderot.
  • Some rockets have hit as far as the edge of Ashkelon.
  • The total number of Qassam rockets launched exceeded 1000 by June 9, 2006.

During the year 2006 alone, 1000+ rockets were launched.

The introduction of the Qassam rocket took Israeli politicians and military experts by surprise. Reactions have been mixed. The Israeli Ministry of Defense views the Qassams as "more a psychological than physical threat."

But the initial psychological effect of the rockets upon Israel has been significant. Prior to the Qassam, Palestinian militants lacked the means to conduct long range attacks.
The simple nature of the small rocket makes it exceedingly hard for Israeli officials to shut down its production. The IDF has noted that militants commonly hide a Qassam in a commercial truck, drive to a clearing near the Gaza border and launch the rocket. One Hamas website states that this takes only 15 minutes.

You can judge for yourself the potency of this piddling little weapon from List of Qassam rocket attacks - assembled solely from Israeli sources.

Qassam Rocket Specifications
Qassam 1 Qassam 2 Qassam 3
Length (cm) 79 180 200+
Diameter (cm) 6 15 17
Weight (kg) 5.5 32 90
Explosives Payload (kg) 0.5 5-7 10
Maximum Range (km) 3 8-1010

Sources: Wikipedia and

Update: 31/10/07: From Honest Reporting:

In one of a series of short films for The Guardian,
Clancy Chassay witnesses Palestinian terrorists launching Qassams from Gaza into Israel and finds that they are using Google Earth to prepare their attacks. Click on the image below to view this eye-opening video and take action through GIYUS by elevating this story on the Reddit website. Also send your feedback to Google Earth stating that this technology should not be allowed to assist terrorists.

Perhaps rather better satellite technology shouldn't be shared by the US with the Israelis, who also, continulayy, with total impunity, bomb their neighbours, Lebanon and Syria.

We keep saying people in Gaza are at rock bottom but they keep digging into the rock

Israel's decision to cut power in Gaza is illegal, says UN
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem (The Independent)
Published: 30 October 2007
The UN's top official in Gaza will tell British ministers today that Israel's cuts in fuel and power to the Palestinians violate international law, while the isolation of Hamas has strengthened extremism and started to drive non-affiliated moderates who can leave Gaza to do so.
"We keep saying people in Gaza are at rock bottom but they keep digging into the rock," Karen Koning- Abu Zayd, head of the UN refugee agency UNRWA.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sderot - Sacrifice a Few Immigrants for The Cause?

Let's get these deadly Palestinian rocket attacks into perspective.

Israel has a policy of establishing front-line, development towns where brave, courageous Israeli colonists can confront the 'Arab Peril'.
Sderot is one such.
It was set up as a front-line town, and it gets attacked, as it was planned to be. That's why Sderot's population is half recent Russian immigrant, and half Sephardi (Moroccan and Persian Jews). Not a brave Ashkenazi or Sabra in sight.

The Gaza Strip (not worth calling it anything more than a strip) is nothing more now than a refugee concentration camp where about half the Palestinians expelled from 'Israel' in 1948 ended up, in places like Jabalyah, Khan Yunis and Rafah refugee camps. There are 1.5 million people confined to 300sq km.

They are not allowed to leave Gaza, even for emergency medical care, or if they do, to return.

At least two generations of refugee peasant farmers, kicked off their land, have ended up in Gaza, with nothing much to do, no education, no jobs, and damned little hope.

But Sderot is useful as a subject for schmaltzy Israeli propaganda:
The Israeli pull out from the Gaza Strip has intensified the feeling of vulnerability in Sderot, a development town just 2 miles from the Palestinian controlled area.
Kasaam missiles continue to rain down on the town and its environs. The Israel Defense Forces created an early warning system that detects the incoming missiles.
The piercing siren often adds to the anxiety and trauma of the citizens.
NATAL's community outreach unit, through a generous grant from the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, is training emergency teams and educational, health and mental health professionals throughout the town.
The training helps the helpers identify their clients who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The outreach unit trainers teach the Sderot professionals how to build resilience among the population by exercises that help bolster the emotional and psychological resources that help in times of crisis. The trainers also assist the helpers in dealing with secondary traumatization that can develop from overexposure to traumatized clients. [Poor dears]
Hilary Benn, son of old Wedgie, said this of the situations of Beit Hanoun and Sderot:
Victims of the failure of politics By Hilary Benn
Two conversations will remain with me as a result of my visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. One was with the mayor of Sderot, who told me how his town had seen 3,500 rocket attacks and 16 deaths in the last six years. The other, after a short journey to Gaza, was in Beit Hanun, where I met the family that tragically lost 19 members when a shell came through the roof of their home. A mother showed me where her 8-year-old son died as he slept. A father showed me photographs of his two daughters who also had been killed.

Sderot and Beit Hanun are terrible examples of the grim front line of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Two communities, both of which have suffered terribly, have been deeply affected, and are yearning for an end to the cycle of hopelessness.

Hilary Benn, nice man as he may be, was entirely wrong - this was not a 'failure of politics' but a deliberate Israeli policy.

Just consider the position of the two towns - they are just 2km apart, separated by (you can see it here for yourself) the most effective people-killing wall/zone since the Berlin/East Germany one.

Take in a few details:

- The undeveloped Arab town of Beit Hanoun to the left, with its tiny peasant fields around.

Beit Hanoun (Arabic: بيت حانون) is a city on the north-east edge of the Gaza Strip with a population of 35,000. It is administered by the Palestinian Authority. It is located by the Hanoun stream, just 6 kilometers (4 mi) away from the Israeli town of Sderot. As opposed to nearby Gaza City, its population is almost entirely of Bedouin descent. More than 5,000 of its residents are part of the "Zaneen" tribe.
The area is notorious in being the source of the launching of many Qassam rockets attacks by Palestinian militants against Israel, over the security fence.
This town is also notable for the Beit Hanoun November 2006 incident where 19 Palestinians were killed by IDF shelling. According to Israeli authorities it was in response for its use as a base from which Palestinian militant groups have fired Qassam rockets into the northern Negev towns like Sderot, as well as the former Gush Katif settlements.
In December 2006, the UN appointed a fact-finding commission led by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to investigate the attack. However, Tutu and the other members were not granted permission to travel by Israel and the investigation was cancelled.

The Palestinian Authority alleges that prior to the November 2006 incident, at least 140 Palestinians were killed by Israeli Forces in Beit Hanoun from September 2000 to November 2006.

- The New Town of Sderot, paid for by contributions by (mostly) American Jews or the US Government.
The first inhabitants of Sderot arrived in 1951 to what was then known as the Gevim-Dorot transit camp. Most of these residents were Kurdish and Persian refugees who lived in tents and shacks before building permanent structures almost four years later in 1954. In the 1961 census, the percentage of North African immigrants, mostly from Morocco, was 87% in the town, whilst another 11% of the residents were immigrants from Kurdistan. In the 1950s, the city continued to absorb a large number of immigrants from Morocco and Romania, and was declared a local council in 1958.

In the 1990s Sderot again absorbed a large immigrant population from the former USSR, and doubled its population in this decade. In 1996 it was declared a city. According to CBS, in 2001 there were 9,500 males and 9,700 females (about half the population of its Palestinian twin, Beit Hanoun)
Sderot lies a kilometer from the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada in October 2000, the city has been frequently attacked by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants using homemade rockets known as "Qassam rockets". Although they are very inaccurate, these attacks have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries as well as significant damage to homes and property, psychological distress among the residents, and a net emigration from the city. The Israeli government has installed a "Red Dawn" alarm system in an attempt to alert Israelis to possible shellings, though there are doubts concerning its effectiveness. Thousands of Qassam rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip since Israel's disengagement from Gaza in September 2005.

How would you feel if a bunch of Russian immigrants were dumped in a brand-new town just a mile across an uncrossable border within your own homeland, and given huge subsidies as 'Jewish' immigrants, while you were left to rot in a prison?

But the score is pretty even - 16 victims in Sderot, over 6 years, versus 19 in Beit Hanoun, with just one shell, beside the 140 Palestinians killed in Beit Hanoun over those same 6 years.

An eye for an eye? Now the Israelis are besieging the entire 1.5 million population of the Gaza Strip, with the compliance of the EU, Britain, the US (all the usual suspects).

Someone in Israel Has a Heart (Caution: He's a Lawyer)

This is a straightforward news report - I have added only a few comments in red

Yahoo News by Charly Wegman
Mon Oct 29, 5:10 PM ET
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel's attorney general said Monday that planned punitive cuts in electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip can not go ahead before a full assessment of the possible humanitarian consequences.
Menahem Mazouz, who is also the government's legal adviser, said in a statement that "security chiefs must carry out supplementary examinations to take account of the humanitarian obligations before ordering electricity cuts."
A spokesman for Mazouz's office, Moshe Cohen, told AFP there was a need to "evaluate the risks that such measures could have on the civilian population."
Mazouz published his advice following close consultations with officials from the justice, defence and foreign ministries as well as the prime minister's office and the supreme court.
The supreme court has given the government until Friday to justify the economic sanctions it is seeking to impose on the Palestinian territory, following legal action taken by 10 human rights groups.
Israel on Sunday began reducing the amount of fuel it supplies to the beleaguered Hamas-run coastal strip, just weeks after it declared the territory a "hostile entity" in response to frequent but rarely lethal rocket attacks.
It has said it intends to impose electricity cuts within the next few days and earlier on Monday rejected criticism of its decision from the European Union, United Nations, and Russia.
"Israel is continuing to maintain the flow of humanitarian support for the Palestinian people in Gaza -- foodstuffs, medicine, and energy. We do not see the Palestinian people as our enemy," Mark Regev, a foreign ministry spokesman, told AFP. Bullshit - this wanker talks this crap "just weeks after it (Israel) declared the territory (Gaza Strip) a "hostile entity"
"What we are trying to do is find ways to protect our people from these daily attacks of deadly rockets against Israel," he added. "Our response is proportional and calculated to protect our civilians." Bullshit - compare the numbers of Israelis killed or injured in Sderot with the numbers of Palestinians killed or assassinated in Gaza
UN chief Ban Ki-moon called the "punitive measures" against the Gaza Strip "unacceptable" and urged the Jewish state to reconsider its actions.
Russia lodged a similar complaint, with the foreign ministry condemning the "isolation" of the Palestinian territory and insisting the measures would do little to combat extremism.
Earlier on Monday a top EU official expressed similar concerns.
"I have mentioned these concerns openly in all my discussions," External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told a news conference following talks with top Israeli officials.
"There are indeed real, humanitarian concerns. We do not want the population to suffer," she said, adding that she understood the threat to the Jewish state posed by the frequent rocket attacks launched on southern Israel.
Regev rejected charges that the measures constitute collective punishment, insisting that Israel had the right to defend itself. Bullshit
"Ultimately the ongoing bombardment of the Israeli civilian population in the south -- a deliberate and ongoing policy to try to kill innocent civilians -- is a war crime," Regev said. Bullshit
"Israel is justified under international law in acting to protect our population. That is our obligation as a government." Bullshit

Mark Regev (Hebrew: מרק רגב‎) is the spokesman of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to occupying his current post, he has served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Consulate General in Hong Kong, Spokesman at the Embassy in Beijing and at the Jordan Division at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Jerusalem, and as a professor of International Relations and Strategy at the Israel Defense Forces' Staff College.

Born in Australia....
'Nuff said.
And it's not even news - read this:
Yes - that report is dated more than 3 years ago.

And this photo: "June 2003. UNRWA Operations Support Officer approaches an Israeli tank on the only remaining road between Erez and Gaza city in order to negotiate passage of an UNRWA convoy carrying UNRWA staff living in Beit Hanoun to their work places in Gaza City.

Did You Know?

… that non-Jewish Israelis can’t buy or lease land in Israel.

… that Palestinian license plates in Israel are color coded to distinguish Jews from non-Jews.

… that Jerusalem, both East and West, is considered by the entire world community, including the United States, to be occupied territory and NOT part of Israel.

… that Israel allots 85% of the water resources for Jews and the remaining 15% is divided among all Palestinians in the “territories”? For example in Hebron, 85% of the water is given to about 400 settlers, while 15% must be divided among Hebron’s 120,000 Palestinians.

… the United States awards Israel $5 billion in aid each year.

… that yearly US aid to Israel exceeds the aid the US grants to the whole African continent.

… that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons.

… that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and bars international inspections from its sites.

… that Israel currently occupies territories of two sovereign nations (Lebanon and Syria) in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

… that Israel has for decades routinely sent assassins into other countries to kill its political enemies.

… that high-ranking military officers in the Israeli Occupation Forces have admitted publicly that unarmed prisoners of war were executed by the IOF.

… that Israel refuses to prosecute its soldiers who have acknowledged executing prisoners of war.

… that Israel routinely confiscates bank accounts, businesses and land, and refuses to pay compensation to those who suffer the confiscation.

… that Israel blew up an American diplomatic facility in Egypt and attacked a U.S. ship in international waters, killing 33 and wounding 177 American sailors.

… that the second most powerful lobby in the United States, according to a recent Fortune magazine survey of Washington insiders, is the Israeli AIPAC.

… that Israel stands in defiance of 69 United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

… that today’s Israel sits on the former sites of more than 400 now-vanished Palestinian villages, and that the Israeli’s re-named almost every physical site in the country to cover up the traces.

… that it was not until 1988 that Israelis were barred from running “Jews Only” job ads.

… that four prime ministers of Israel Begin, Shamir, Rabin, and Sharon, have taken part in either bomb attacks on civilians, massacres of civilians, or forced expulsions of civilians from their villages.

… that the Israeli Foreign Ministry pays two American public relations firms to promote Israel to Americans.

…that Israel’s government includes a party which advocates expelling all Palestinians from the occupied territories.

… that Israel’s settlement-building increased rapidly since Oslo.

… that settlement building under Barak doubled compared to settlement building under Netanyahu.

… that Israel once dedicated a postage stamp to a man who attacked a civilian bus and killed several people.

… that recently-declassified documents indicate that David Ben-Gurion in at least some instances approved of the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948.

We often hear of Ehud Barak’s generosity about an alleged return of 95% of the Palestinian Occupied Territories. When Palestinians refused, they were blamed for “missing an opportunity.” The Palestinians have already accepted Israel’s existence on 78% of what was Palestine. For those who use the argument of the Bible: God said to Abraham, “Unto thy seed, I will give thy land.” Abraham had two sons. Ismael - the Arab son, and Isaac - the Jewish son. So even if one wants to go to the Bible, the land would belong to both.

… that Palestinian Christians are considered the “living stones” of Christianity because they are the direct descendants of the disciples of Jesus Christ.

… that despite a ban on torture by Israel’s High Court of Justice, torture has continued by Shin Bet interrogators on Palestinian prisoners.

… that Palestinian refugees make up the largest portion of the refugee population in the world.


Quoted verbatim from: Sabbah Blog and DesertPeace

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dumb Yanks?

30% of Americans don't know when 9/11 happened. I wonder if they're the same 30% (of all Americans) who were dumb enough to vote for George Bush?

Sorry, the Blogger software doesn't do the embedding of videos that it is supposed to do. Please click on: ShoutFile and play or download the video there.

God Bless Democracy!

I've been wondering, over the past few days, why there's a noticeable lack of fish available in the market, and many shops have run out of supplies of Tanduay rum and Kulafu, that disgusting Chinese medical wine the locals drink when they want to get seriously plastered for next to no cost.
A baffling mystery, but now the reason is revealed.
Today is Election Day, for local barangay officials, and the voters, paid off by the candidates, don't need to work for a couple of days, so they're all sitting around, getting pissed.

Wonderful thing, democracy, isn't it?

Update: 31/10/07 - All Hallows Eve (of which more, later)
The elections are over, and several surprising candidates have made it.

Yok-Yok, of the Totong family, is now Barangay Kapitan of Purok 3 (my parish). The Totong, a close-knit family, would be, almost anywhere else in the world, the local gang/terror squad, but they are as honest and upstanding as anyone I've ever known.
Ansing runs my boat, Matugas helped me see off my irritating do-good neighbour who ran a highly-intrusive local kids' hip-hop dance group. (I don't know if you like hip-hop 'music' but if you do, you'll get as irritated as I was after 6-times-daily repetition of the same goddamned routine every single day for six months. And Yok-Yok is a natural fixer (of electrical goods as well as elections).

Jaime Rusillon, the late great Ex-Mayor of GL, is now Barangay Kapitan of Purok 4. You cannot help but admire a 65 year old man, who, after ruling the town with an iron and very constructive fist, for a quarter-century, suffered a devastating defeat, and then comes back, fighting up through the ranks. I'll be backing his comeback.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Brilliant PR by our Local Government

Did you know that the Carrera Habagat, the Philippines' "toughest adventure race, a four-day non-stop multi-event race, which includes disciplines such as kayaking, rappelling and special section tasks which incorporates mind and indigenous games into the race" finished with a final stage and an awards ceremony in General Luna last Friday, 26 October?

No? Nor did anyone else in the town
, due to the total lack of public-relations awareness or ability of our newly-elected local government, although they did, on Friday morning, put up a promotional banner across the main road.

I won't rant any more; I'm sure you can see the irony of having a town whose only 'industries' are fishing and tourism run by such a bunch of incompetents.

Could you imagine any French town on the route ever ignoring the Tour de France completely?

You CAN Fool All of the People All of the Time...Or, At Least, You Can Try

Powell lying through his teeth at UN Feb 2003Déja vue, all over again.

Remember George Bush's House Nigger at the UN in February 2003?
Good old Coe-Lin almost convinced everyone that the blatant lies being told about Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction were true.

Powell showed a satellite photograph of "35 ton trailer trucks carrying Chemical Weapons, at a known location in Iraq.Faked chemical weapons in Iraq

Of course, there was no actual evidence of anything remotely resembling Chemical Weapons, and no evidence that the photograph wasn't, in fact, taken in Kansas or Texas.

There is evidence (see the tree at bottom left), that someone has been doing wheelies. Ever heard of a Chemical Weapons Truck driver doing wheelies?
Now they're at it again. The following two photos have appeared this week, on CNN, The Guradian, and The Washington Post

This is the supposed site of the Syrian/North Korean reactor, attacked by Israel on 6th Sept, 2007, in a very hush/hush mission from which their US-supplied fighter-bombers returned in a great hurry, after dropping a fuel tank, embarrassingly, in Turkish territory.

So-called reactor site Syria
ABC News released, on October 19th 2007:
EXCLUSIVE: The Case for Israel's Strike on Syria
Israeli officials believed that a target their forces bombed inside Syria last month was a nuclear facility, because they had detailed photographs taken by a possible spy inside the complex, ABC News has learned.
The official described the pictures as showing a big cylindrical structure, with very thick walls all well-reinforced. The photos show rebar hanging out of the cement used to reinforce the structure, which was still under construction.
The official said the facility was a North Korean design in its construction, the technology present and the ability to put it all together."

Devilish Syrians - first of all they change the shape of the building from round to square, then they vanish it. Must be doing something suspicious!

The news pimps have been making great hay out of the fact that the heavily-bombed site was cleared up within 6 weeks. That, for a bunch of wogs, is incredible. It took the great USA 2 years to clear up the Twin Towers, and more than that for Katrina.

The Syrian 'Potential Nuclear Reactor' is certainly (round or square) of Korean design, as can be seen by comparing its amazingly close likeness to this photo of North Korea's notorious Yongbyon plant, by the same ISIS/DG group:
North Korea Yongbyon Nuclear Plant
Note how closely the two square buildings resemble each other.

The authors of this codswallop (David Albright and Paul Brannan of the Institute for Science and International Security [sic]) actually publish some very fuzzy photos in their PDF report showing how the Syrian building somehow matches in size, metre for metre, the entire central complex at Yongbyon.

David Albright's done this before:
The bottom line with regard to ISIS and Hamza is this: Hamza is introduced to ISIS by Chalabi; Albright of ISIS takes him on. Hamza later lies to Senate committee and later continues to feed on the lies to the OSP at the Pentagon. Albright gets cold feet and by 1999/2000 starts back-pedalling to put as much distance between himself, Hamza and the Iraqi nuclear story as he can. Prior to 1999 ISIS and Albright were quite happy to perpetuate the myth of an Iraqi nuclear bomb – they knew it wasn’t going anywhere under the Clinton administration – just as they are trying to perpetuate the myth of an Iranian nuclear bomb today without any evidence whatsoever.
Albright and his ISIS organisation were wrong about the Iraqi bomb in the late 1990s and have no credibility. After the Gulf War Saddam was completely boxed up and could barely get a SCUD missile to fly in a straight line let alone have a nuclear program. Albright knew that. He knew that both as a weapons inspector and via his research work heading up ISIS later on yet still, up until 1998 at least, was perpetuating the myth of the Iraqi nuclear bomb. Just taking on Hamza in the first place tells the story in itself.
Iran has no plans for nuclear weapons and neither Russia nor China would be allowing Iran to become nuclear armed. This entire Iranian nuclear weapons beat-up is simply a US/Israeli propaganda story designed to prepare the world for an attack on yet another sovereign nation that they perceive are its enemy. Webdiarists might like to make judgements for themselves on this matter.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

GL's Public Park Killed

This spring, the local people voted in a surprise new Mayor, Felipe 'Ping' Espejon, ousting Jaime Rusillon, who had been the very strong mayor (or Mayor by proxy) for the previous twenty-five years.

I hoped this might lead to a new, more active local government. Dear old Jaime had done a remarkable amount of good for the town, but, frankly, he was getting a little old and tired (we are separated in age by little more than a fortnight, and God knows, I wouldn't want to try and keep this bunch in order).

There were signs of reforms; the local government workers started showing up for work, and you could even go to the Post Office in the municipal building and actually find the postmaster present and awake. Even the police showed some energy, and were awarded a brand-new police station, between the Municipal and the Boulevard.

And he began some consultations; but entirely in the wrong way, not consulting the people, but special interests. I imagine he got this from spending many years in America.

For instance, he allowed my odious neighbour, Andreas Mikoleiczik, of Patrick's resort, to invite him for a meeting, at the resort, of selected resort-owners (selected in the sense that only a small minority of them would go anywhere near Andreas).

The subject of 'The Boulevard' came up. Like all resort-owners anywhere, they would prefer to keep their punter/tourists, and their spending, within their control.

In April 2005, Jaime opened the 'Paseo de Cabuntog', a seaside boulevard with bayan kubos for families, benches, a seawall, etc., along the seafront from the market to the creek, with a new walkway across the creek to another cleared seafront area in front of the Mabua village.

It was a huge success; the first time that anyone had ever offered the townspeople, and purposely built, a public space for their own use.

Later, the town council rented spaces to small entrepreneurs along about 60m of the back of the area. Most of them built their own small cabins, and set up combo bar/karaoke/ Filipino 'fast food' joints.

The Boulevard (no-one called it the Paseo de Cabuntog) soon became the evening entertainment area of the town, with a constant stream of young and old townspeople coming to have fun.

Filipinos love karaoke, and most have an entirely mistaken idea that they are good singers. The resulting cacophony of bars competing on volume (with very poor tone control, feedback screeches, etc) was terribly and truly awful, but it was possible to consciously ignore it when passing by.

There were problems with drunks, fights, and so on, but that is quite normal, and the Boulevard is just on the doorstep of the new police station. (I never, ever saw a policeman in uniform patrolling the Boulevard in the evening; that was probably outside working hours, or during one of the many evening drinking parties we saw in the police station, from Lalay's just next door).

Lalay set up a restaurant/bar at the end, by the market, underneath the town's huge talisay tree, and this soon became a very popular foreigners' bar and food place. You could buy fresh fish from the market opposite, and Lalay would cook it for you, for a pittance, or you could have some of what Lalay had found for himself earlier in the day (prawns, fresh fish, crabs, etc).

Soon, visitors to resorts at Cloud 9, 4 miles away, were coming to Lalay's for their evenings. Many of those ripped off at Patrick's-On-The-Beach (nearer the town) also ate there.

Lalay's became an institution. The Old Farts Club (including me) of long-term GL foreign residents met there every evening.

Now it's gone. Lalay's and all those cacophonous karaoke bars (which I personally hated, but tried to accept because the townspeople loved them) have been cleared out.

The Boulevard now, at night, is a ghost town.

The crusading new mayor has not only destroyed the spirit of the major public space for the town, and alienated many of the townspeople, but he has pissed-off all the regular foreign residents as well.

And all for the sake of a 'crusade' that might have been influenced by a hypocritical 'Christian' phony like Andreas - it makes my blood boil.

Baking Oven

I love bread. I am just passionate about crispy crusted fresh French baguettes, bought hot from the oven, and taken home to eat, still warm and delicious, with great lumps of fresh salted butter (and Mama's marmalade for breakfast, cheese for lunch, and the remainder dunked in soup for supper).

Maybe I told you that I used to stay in Majorca for the summer months, trying to sell ethnic joolery to the tourists, so I had plenty of Mama's marmalade, wonderful local cheeses, and fresh baguettes every morning.

I miss that bread, so I've decided to try and make my own. Starting with the oven.

Ron-Ron and Totong have built what they know how to do, a construction of hollow blocks and a concrete platform, with a bit for the barbecue on the left.

On top of the concrete shelf to the right, we're going to build the kind of clay beehive oven used throughout most of Europe and Asia over the past 5000 years.

Next problem is how to actually make the oven. We don't have bricks at all here, let alone fire bricks, so we've had to make do.

R-R and T-T went off to the carabao wallow up the road, and dug up 10 sacks of clay. I've been looking up oven-making on the internet, so I'll be able to direct them to make it correctly. Then they'll just go ahead and make it in their own way, and it will, as always, work much better than if I had had any serious part in it.

It will be a clay/earth dome, with a flat floor, and a front door. We'll work things out as we go along. I just wish I still remembered the tribal wisdom of those 5,000 years of making ovens.

The best bread I ever ate, in my life, was in Dana, a small village in Jordan, just off the edge of the escarpment that leads down to the Wadi Araba, the section of the Great Rift Valley that leads from the Dead to the Red Sea.

At that time, the village hadn't been 'gentrified', as in this photo. Most of it was in ruins, because the inhabitants had moved up to the top of the escarpment to be nearer the modern world.
Since then, my old friend Anis Muasher has turned the whole valley into a wonderful national park. It was so left behind by the turbulent history going on all around it that it remained wild. In the 1980s, I'm told, a leopard was sighted there.
Otherwise, the villagers were still living the life their ancestors had, 2, 3, 4, or 5000 years ago. My son and I had fresh khubbes baked in an oven that had probably been in the house for a couple of millenia.
I want to make bread at least as good as that.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Taramosalata !

I lived for a few bits of my life in Cyprus, Lebanon, and Jordan, and adore the local style of mezze meals; small bits and pieces of anything at all, set out on small dishes all over the table, and eaten with pitta bread chunks, very leisurely, preferably with a good ration of arak or ouzo.

One of the marvels of Middle Eastern food is that it looks good, and tastes wonderful. Good-looking food is a luxury idea that has not taken much root in the Philippines.

My section of Tayang-Tayang fish included the roe, so I whacked that into the smoker as well. It shrank a bit, but then I chopped it up, and put it into the blender, with some stale bread, lemon juice, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. I now had at least an approximation of taramosalata

Tasting it was a 'Back to the Future' moment; right back to those long lunchtime sessions in the harbour in Famagusta, the Istanbouli in Beirut and that place whose name I can't remember in Amman. (I can't remember the name of the one in Amman, because they were often deal-concluding sessions, and my customers filled me with so much arak and delicious food that I usually entirely forgot what I was there for).

Now I'm going to make hummus, tabbouleh, and babaghanoush, and maybe even arak. Watch this space.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The 'Land of Israel' Myth

In Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty about 1300BC, Habiru nomadic tribesmen were taken to Egypt as forced labor on building projects. During the reign of Ramesses II (1304-1237BC), Moses led twelve tribes--each believed to be descended from a great-grandson of Abraham--back to the Levant.

This became a revered tradition--the Exodus--among the Israelites, Moses's chosen people. While wandering they forged a collective faith and identity, and received Mosaic Law on Mount Sinai.

They then invaded the peaceful land of milk and honey, Canaan, with great slaughter.

Another map from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shows the supposed extent, some few hundred years later, of the Kingdoms of David and Solomon.

Their description: "King David ruled Israel from 990 BCE to 968 BCE; and his son Solomon ruled after him until 928 BCE. David enlarged his kingdom and brought it to the peak of political and military power. Solomon "ruled over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River from Tiphsah to Gaza; he was at peace with all his neighbors" (I Kings, 4:24)."

The entire 'David/Solomon Empire' lasted just 62 years.

Note that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers that 'Modern Israel' fills the entire area of British-Mandated Palestine.

This rather more realistic map of the southern Levant, c.830 BC, shows the multitude of small states that actually ruled the area.
The Philistine and Phoenician city-states, the kingdoms of Aram-Damascus, Ammon, Moab and Edom all existed during the time of David and Solomon, and for a long time after, but an Israeli propaganda map always has to show the wishful thinking of an aggressive state that then, as now, invaded all its neighbours.

With the rise of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires in Mesopotamia, some of the inhabitants of Judah and Israel were taken into captivity in Mesopotamia, to the East.

The two separate nations of Israel in the north with capital at Samaria, and Judah in the south with capital at Jerusalem, went downhill at separate rates.

Israel went into paganism first and God allowed them to be taken captive in two separate waves by the Assyrians.

The Israelites never returned.

I'm sorry, I'll read that again....

The Israelites never returned.

Judah worshipped God a little longer, but God sent the Babylonians to take them into captivity about 120 years after Israel. Some Jews returned after 70 years to rebuild Jerusalem.

But enough remained in Mesopotamia for Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, to say, 700 years later, about 100AD: "The ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers."

Around 200 BC some of the returned Jews lived as an autonomous people in the land of Israel, referred to, by most, as Judea, which at that time was controlled by the Seleucid king of Syria. The Jewish people paid taxes to Syria and accepted its legal authority, and by and large were free to follow their own faith, maintain their own jobs, and engage in trade.

By 175 BC Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended to the Seleucid throne. At first little changed, but under his reign, the Temple in Jerusalem was looted, Jews were massacred, and Judaism was effectively outlawed. In 167 BC Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple.
The king may have been intervening in an internal civil war between the traditionalist Jews in the country and the Hellenized elite Jews in Jerusalem. These competed violently over who would be the High Priest, with traditionalists with Hebrew/Aramaic like Onias overthrown by Hellenizers with Greek names like Jason and Menelaus. As the conflict escalated, Antiochus took the side of the Hellenizers by prohibiting the religious practices the traditionalists had rallied around. This may explain why the king, in a total departure from Seleucid practice in all other places and times, banned the traditional religion of a whole people.

Antiochus' actions provoked a large-scale revolt. Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. Judah became known as Judah Maccabee ("Judah the Hammer"). There's an almost drinkable Israeli beer, and a football tem, named after him.

By 166 BC Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BC the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was 'liberated'.

The festival of Hanukkah was instituted by Judah Maccabee and his brothers to celebrate this event. After recovering Jerusalem and the Temple, Judah ordered it to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, oil was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. But there was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle. Nowadays, Hannukah is about as religious a festival as Christmas, and just about as holy.

By Jesus Christ's time, the Holy Land had become the Kingdom of Herod (30 BCE to 70 CE).
King Herod, an Edomite, was Rome's puppet king of Israel from 40 BCE to 4 BCE. He conquered the kingdom from the Hasmoneans. When Augustus became Caesar in the year 30 BCE, Herod convinced him of his loyalty, and Augustus rewarded him by adding Jericho, the coastal region south of Dor and the region east of the Sea of Galilee. In 23 BCE, he was given the Bashan, Horen, and Tarchon regions, and three years later, the Golan Heights.

Herod, of course, was the bloke who massacred the innocents and rebuilt the Temple. The foundations of that grandiose scheme are those worshipped by modern Jews at the Wailing Wall.

Then the Romans took over. In 70AD, the Jews revolted against them, and were treated like any other colonised people who ever became revolting.

The remaining Jews tried again. In 132, a revolt led by Bar Kokhba quickly spread across the country, cutting off the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.
Simon Bar Kokhba took the title Nasi Israel (ruler or prince of Israel) - a century earlier a certain JC was crucified with INRI - King of Israel above his head.

The Bar-Kokhba Revolt was of decisive historic importance. The massive destruction and loss of life occasioned by the revolt has led some scholars to date the beginning of the Jewish diaspora from this date. They note that, unlike the aftermath of the First Jewish-Roman War chronicled by Josephus, the majority of the Jewish population of Judea was either killed, exiled, or sold into slavery after the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, and Jewish religious and political authority was suppressed far more brutally. After the revolt the Jewish religious center shifted to the Babylonian Jewish community and its scholars.

Judea would not be a center of Jewish religious, cultural, or political life again until the modern era, though Jews continued to live there and important religious developments still occurred there.

Although: in Galilee, the Jerusalem Talmud was compiled in the 2nd–4th centuries. Eventually, Safed became known as a center of Jewish learning, especially Kabbalah in the 15th century.

So the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs comes up with yet another map, showing Jewish presence in the intervening centuries before modern times.

Their description says:
"Jewish Communities in the Land of Israel (7th - 11th Centuries)
After the death of Emperor Julian II, in 363 CE, most of the Jewish settlements in the south were destroyed. The Jews remained mainly in the Galilee and in the larger cities.

This is pure propaganda, designed deliberately to make you feel that poor Jews were persecuted in their own ancient homeland.

What a bunch of absolute codswallop.

Thousands of Jews were the intellectual stars of Andalucia, in Spain, fully adopted by the sympathetic Moslems.

They were just about as persecuted as Presbyterians or Mormons in the USA.

Mark Cohen, Norman Stillman, Uri Avnery, M. Klien and Bernard Lewis opine that antisemitism in pre-modern Islam is rare, and did not emerge until modern times. Lewis argues that there is little sign any deep-rooted emotional hostility directed against Jews, or any other group, that can be characterized as antisemitism. There were, however, clearly negative attitudes, which were in part the "normal" feelings of a dominant group towards subject groups (which exists in virtually any society). More specifically, the contempt consisted of Muslim contempt for disbelievers. Wikipedia

Al-Andalus (Arabic: الأندلس al-andalus) was the Arabic name given to those parts of the Iberian Peninsula governed by Muslims, or Moors, at various times in the period between 711 and 1492. It refers to the Umayyad Caliphate province (711-750), Emirate of Córdoba (c. 750-929) and Caliphate of Córdoba (929-1031) and its "taifa" ("successor") kingdoms.
The first period of exceptional prosperity took place under the reign of Abd ar-Rahman III (882-942), the first independent Caliph of Cordoba. The inauguration of the Golden Age is closely identified with the career of his Jewish councillor, Hasdai ibn Shaprut (882-942). Originally a court physician, Shaprut's official duties went on to include the supervision of customs and foreign trade. It was in his capacity as dignitary that he corresponded with the kingdom of the Khazars, who had converted to Judaism in the 8th century.
With Hasdai as its leading patron, Cordoba became the "Mecca of Jewish scholars who could be assured of a hospitable welcome from Jewish courtiers and men of means"
During this period the achievements of Sephardic culture, which were in large measure a synthesis of different Jewish traditions, in turn enriched those other cultures to which it was indebted. Perhaps most notable of Sephardic achievements which occurred during and following Hasdai's time were in the literary and linguistic fields.
Hasdai brought a number of men of letters to Cordoba, including Dunash ben Labrat (innovator of Hebrew metrical poetry), Menahem ben Saruq (compiler of the first Hebrew dictionary, which came into wide use among the Jews of Germany and France), and philologist Dunash ben Labrat. Celebrated poets of this era include Solomon ibn Gabirol, Yehuda Halevi, Samuel Ha-Nagid ibn Nagrela, and Abraham and Moses ibn Ezra.

Jews also formed large respected and influential groups in Baghdad, Cairo, Tripoli, Tunisia, and Morocco, besides Spain, and began to move eastwards through Europe, towards the Rhine, the westward limit of Mittel-European barbarian tribes.

That's as far as Sephardi Jews ever went. They were met, around there, by Ashkenazi 'Jews' but that's a different story altogether.

Friday, October 19, 2007

How To 'Disappear' A Country

All the maps shown in this post are from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website showing: Facts About Israel > Israel in Maps > Israel's Story in Maps.
Since the Ministry is, almost by definition, a source of highly partisan propaganda, you might treat the story in pictures, as told by them, with a certain amount of caution.

The first of the Israeli maps shows the Levant in 1922, after the British and French had carved up the Middle East between them, and the Brits drew a few lines and transferred half their Mandate to the younger son, Abdullah, of Sherif Hussein of Mecca. Another Husseini got Iraq, and the father kept the Hejaz, the area of the Moslem Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina.

1) At that time, Saudi Arabia (as shown on this map) did not exist. Few people, then, knew much about oil, and neither the Frogs nor the Brits wanted much more of Arabia.
In 1916 Hejaz' independence was proclaimed by Sherif Hussein ibn Ali, the Sherif of Makkah. In 1924, however, ibn Ali's authority was usurped by Ibn Saud of the neighboring region of Nejd and became known as the Kingdom of Hijaz and Nejd and later the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Nejdis have remained as the least likeable of Middle Eastern peoples (always excepting Zionists) ever since.
2) The Israeli propaganda map shows Transjordan as: Area separated and closed to Jewish settlement, 1921.
By this time, of course, the Brits had already woken up to the mad colonialist ambitions of the Zionists, and were trying to limit it.

Palestine - UN Partition Plan This next map shows the UN's partition plan of 1947.

The Israeli Ministry describes this map as:

In 1947, Great Britain relinquished to the UN the power to make decisions relating to the status of the Land of Israel. The General Assembly appointed a special committee that collected evidence and decided unanimously that Israel should be granted independence. Most of the committee members favored partitioning the land into two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state, with Jerusalem under international supervision. On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly accepted the partition resolution, 33 to 13.

The "Land of Israel" did not exist in 1947, and never has, except in fevered Zionist imaginations.

The Brits did not give up their mandate over Palestine until six months later, on 10 May 1948, the same day that 'Israel' declared its 'independence'. Just another instance of Zionists 'massaging' history.

By this time, the Israeli Zionist colonists had taken matters into their own hands, and invaded as much of the rest of Palestine as they could reasonably take at the time.

Much of their side of the story has been sanitised and glamourised. See:

Exodus is a 1960 epic war film made by Alpha and Carlyle Productions and distributed by United Artists. It was produced and directed by Otto Preminger from a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo from the novel, Exodus, by Leon Uris. The Super Panavision 70 cinematography was by Sam Leavitt.

You can read the whole saccharin Hollywood 'Israeli Liberation' story here. Suffice it to say that Eva Marie Saint plays a blonde American nurse, and Paul Newman plays a Haganah rebel.

I loved the film in 1960, but in those innocent days, I wasn't to know that much of it was a load of bullshit.

So was much of the special pleading in the Israeli 'Declaration of Independence':

…the Land of Israel, was the birthplace of the Jewish people.

In fact, the Jews only became Jews when a mob of runaway slaves under a charismatic leader left Egypt, wandered a bit, and then invaded the peaceful land of Canaan.

- Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.

Here, things get a bit mixed-up, between the Hebrew mob invasian of Canaan in about 1200BC, and the Romano-Jewish War of 70 AD, about a millenium later:

After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.

Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they returned in their masses.

Pioneers… and defenders, they made deserts bloom, revived the Hebrew language, built villages and towns, and created a thriving community controlling its own economy and culture, loving peace but knowing how to defend itself, bringing the blessings of progress to all the country's inhabitants, and aspiring towards independent nationhood.

...they made deserts bloom - Zionists established 'Jewish National Forests' on razed Palestinian villages, and made sucker donors pay for them.

...revived the Hebrew language - Hebrew was not spoken by anybody very much between the exile to Babylon in the 6thC BC and the late 19thC AD, when it was revived, specifically as part of the Zionist colonial enterprise. Jesus and most Jews in his time spoke Aramaic.

...loving peace but knowing how to defend itself - lovely piece of irony from an entity that has invaded every single one of its neighbours over the past 40 years.

In 1897, at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in what it claimed to be its own country. This right was supported by the British government in the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 and re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Palestine and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.

The League of Nations actually : "explicitly tasked the British with recognizing "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country" and “secur[ing] the establishment of the Jewish national home” while simultaneously safeguarding "the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine.

This was much the same as the earlier Balfour Declaration, although the Brit promise to the Zionists was a little more protective of the existing inhabitants of Palestine: "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country".

- The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people—the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe—was another clear demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Israel the Jewish State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the community of nations.

Bugger homelessness - more Jews live in the USA than ever lived in 'Israel'.

Did then, and do now.

According to the Jewish Agency, for the year 2007 Israel harboured 5.4 million Jews (40.9% of the world's Jewish population) and the United States contained 5.3 million (40.2%).
The most recent large scale population survey, released in the 2006 'American Jewish Yearbook population survey' estimates place the number of American Jews at 6.4 million, or approximately 2.1% of the total population.
A 2007 study released by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute (SSRI) at Brandeis University presents evidence to suggest that both of these figures may be underestimations with a potential 7.0-7.4 million Americans with Jewish ancestry.

Israeli historian Benny Morris's 1987 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, chronicled the Zionist murders, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing that drove 600,000-750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948, thus refuting the myth that they fled under the orders of Arab leaders. He produced a new edition, revealing more murders, massacres, and rapes, in 2004, and is quoted:

"From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created."

Survivors of the Nazi Holocaust in Europe, as well as Jews from other parts of the world, continued to migrate to Israel, undaunted by difficulties, restrictions and dangers, and never ceased to assert their right to a life of dignity, freedom and honest toil in their national homeland.

This was the kind of intentional heart-rending nonsense (still believed by a host of willing dupes) used to establish the first openly racist state of modern times.

South Africa followed just 16 days after the Israelis:
The South African general election of 1948 was held on the May 26, 1948 and saw Herenigde Nasionale Party leader DF Malan call for the prohibition of mixed marriages, for the banning of black trade unions and for stricter enforcement of job reservation. Running on this platform of apartheid, as it was termed for the first time, Malan and his party benefited from the weight given to rural electorates, defeating Smuts and his United Party.

Both South Africa and Israel followed very parallel racist policy paths. The History of South Africa in the Apartheid era gives a long and very detailed history of Apartheid in South Africa.

Nothing as detailed as that Wiki article has been written about Israel's openly racist policies, although Jimmy Carter has done his very diplomatic best.

That's possibly because 'sand niggers' can't dance, play jazz, or have as significant a voting bloc as real black niggers in the US.

In 1994, there was some real hope. The Oslo Accords were the first direct, face-to-face agreements between Israel and Palestinians.

This was the first time that the Palestinians publicly acknowledged Israel's right to exist. That is, they caved into the colonisation of more than half their land by Eastern Europeans.

It was also a framework for the future relations between Israel and the anticipated State of Palestine, when all outstanding final status issues between the two states would be addressed and resolved.

This arrangement would last for a five year interim period during which a permanent agreement would be negotiated (beginning no later than May 1996). Permanent issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, Israeli settlements in the area, security and borders were deliberately left to be decided at a later stage. Interim self-government was to be granted in phases.

In other words, a Palestinian State was envisaged to be established by May 2001.

So what happenedPalestinian cantons Oslo Accords ?

- The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin took place on November 4, 1995 at 21:30, at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo agreements at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv.
His assassin, Yigal Amir, is currently serving a life sentence for murder plus 14 years for conspiracy to murder Yitzhak Rabin on different occasions and for injuring Rabin's bodyguard, Yoram Rubin. They intend to keep him quiet.

- The Oslo Agreements really gave the Palestinians very little at all, except for nominal rule over certain small areas (A - yellow), but still subject to Israeli Military control over much of their villages, (B - brown), and none at all over the rest (C - blue).

- Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu (original name Milkosky, but born in Tel Aviv in 1949, son of a former senior aide to Zeev (Wolf) Jabotinsky) became Israeli Prime Minister in June 1996.

Little Bibi's policy, from then on, followed advice from a bunch of dual-citizen Israeli-Americans: Clean Break.

The authors of Clean Break included: Richard Perle, the "Study Group Leader", James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser.

If you're savvy, you might recognise some of these names as among the NeoCons who got the USA and its poodles, Britain and Australia, into the Iraq morass, another Israeli-American neo-colonialist enterprise that went horribly wrong.