Sunday, December 16, 2007

Who is this prat?

Who is this prat?

Well, he's just another one of those British flunkeys sent out to Palestine to pay obeisance to the occupying power, and get committed British Jews to vote for New Labour (or whatever-party-needs- their-votes).


Britain is staking its claim
By Adar Primor
Tags: Douglas Alexander, Israel
Some call him "Gordon Brown's Dick Cheney", he is defined as the British prime minister's confidante and considered to be a politician with influence on the Labor Party and government policy. Douglas Alexander, 40, is also a key figure to understanding the new government in London, to comprehending the prime minister's global policies, and to grasping Brown's mottos, including "vision for change" and "hard-headed internationalism."
As the wonder-boy of British politics, Alexander has been put in charge of one of the prime minister's most favorite priorities: the international development portfolio. Both Brown and Alexander believe that they can use this to fix the world, or at least improve it.
Last week Brown unveiled his plan for this policy arena, which is based on seven "emergency development" goals covering such areas as poverty, education, health and sanitation. He also announced that he would begin talks with 20 major multinational corporations, including Google, Vodafone and Goldman Sachs, with the aim of establishing cooperation in achieving these emergency goals.
Brown's conceptual doctrine fits Alexander's idealism.
Even as a child, he was preoccupied with weighty global matters. While his friends were romping on the beach, Alexander chose to listen to a speech delivered by former German chancellor Willy Brandt in Glasgow. Brandt was speaking about poverty in Africa, and Alexander often says that his ardor to provide aid was ignited back then. As a student he traveled to Kenya, within the framework of a special project to build a school. "I entered politics to change the world," he said after joining Brown's cabinet, adding that the portfolio he was awarded means he now has the means to further that goal.
Brown and Alexander, together with Foreign Minister David Miliband, intend to place "development" smack at the center of Britain's international policy. They consider economic progress as key to solving even the thorniest political problems. This, for instance, is true for Iraq and Afghanistan, which Prime Minister Brown visited last week; and also for Palestine, where Brown sent his youthful International Development secretary and ally.
Alexander bore a triple message on his visit last week to the Palestinian Authority and to Israel: to lay Britain's stake and show presence; to encourage the parties participating in the renewed peace process; and to criticize one of the parties -- Israel -- for creating obstacles en route to the grail that is a final peace agreement. In an interview with Haaretz, Alexander says that his visit was designed to show the importance London accords to the process that began at Annapolis. The visit was timed to coincide with the critical period between the summit and the first post-Annapolis meeting between Israelis and Palestinians, which was held last Wednesday, and before the meeting of donor nations in Paris this week -- whose British delegation will be headed by Alexander. But Alexander didn't come here just to make statements. At his meetings with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and with the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat, the secretary presented them with a 243-million pound ($500 million) contribution Britain means to give the Palestinians over three years, depending on progress in the peace process. "As friends of the Palestinian people and as friends of Israel, we believe that the process begun at Annapolis is vital and worthy of our support, not only political but economic as well," Alexander says.
A senior political source in Israel says the secretary's visit corresponds with Brown's intention to demonstrate a prominent British presence on the ground. "Brown wants to demonstrate an active foreign policy in the Middle East," says the source. "He won't be satisfied by the mere presence of his predecessor and today's Quartet envoy, Tony Blair, in the region."
Brown's assertiveness is also evident in his decision to appoint Michael Williams, an assistant to former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, as his special envoy to the Middle East. Alexander himself says that he does not see Brown's conduct as a battle over prestige with the former prime minister. He speaks of "tight cooperation" with his friend and former boss, Blair, who was the first prime minister to bring Alexander into the cabinet, and he says that he likes and even admires the former prime minister. He believes that Blair's capacities could bring about more economic development and help lay the foundations for the future Palestinian nation. In the final analysis, Alexander says, Blair's actions and those of the British government complement each other. Just like Blair, Alexander views the roadblocks in the West Bank as a big obstacle to Palestinian economic development. And like Brown, he grew up in a religious household in Scotland and does not hesitate to use a moral tone to justify his policy: He took advantage of his meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak to protest the plan to build 300 housing units in the Har Homa settlement and to express his concern lest "the opportunity created at Annapolis be missed." Furthermore, Alexander turns Israel's demand that the Palestinians stop all forms of terrorism as a precondition for the peace process on its head. "Israel is committed to the first stage of the road map," he says, and it is therefore incumbent upon it to halt all settlement activity. Given present-day conditions, could a permanent agreement be reached by the end of 2008? To meet the Annapolis schedule, Alexander says, what's needed are goodwill, determination, imagination and courage on both sides. He already found all these characteristics in Abbas and Erekat. End of the poodle era? Last month Brown gave his first foreign policy speech. He spoke of "hard-headed internationalism," referring to a borderless global society; to a multilateral world, not one with a single superpower; a world of united nations, not of unilateral adventurism; a world that battles poverty rather than radical Islam. Pundits hastened to link his speech to his July visit to Camp David, where he met with U.S. President George W. Bush. His chilly body language said it all: there will be no more British poodles for Bush. The dog wasn't wagging its tail any more. It was turning its back on its owner and setting off on its own path. The change was demonstrated by Brown's decision to withdraw all British soldiers from Basra, Iraq, by Christmas. It was also evident in the speech Alexander delivered in Washington last July, where he called for the establishment of new alliances based on shared values. Alexander denies having had any intention of criticizing the Bush government in his speech. "The speech wasn't anti-American or anti-Bush. The main point of the speech was the importance of international development and how it fits into diplomatic work," he says. "The main idea was that international development can't be unilateral, where we take out own positions and impose them on other countries; but rather that we should make it a multilateral process where everyone who is involved and affected should have a say." He also notes that when Brown served as cabinet member in 2003, he supported sending British forces to Iraq, and hints that he wouldn't have acted differently than Blair, had he been in his shoes at the time. Jerusalem tends to accept Alexander's explanations. The difference between Brown and Blair boils down to style, not substance, local officials say. The conduct of Brown's government was designed merely to assuage public opinion, which hadn't forgiven Blair for his part in the bungled war in Iraq. As for relations with Israel, London seems to be warming. Upgrading relations Alexander is short, blue-eyed, baby-faced. He is surrounded by an entourage of about 10 aides and consultants who give him that "favorite" status in cabinet. Some might say his serious expression and rapid-fire responses throughout the interview are meant to contrast his physical profile. He declines to draw links between the recent American intelligence report on Iran and the intelligence on Iraq before the war, which proved to be far off the mark. But he clarifies, "The latest report does not change our basic position that the international community should approve stricter sanctions against Iran." He won't comment on the interpretation of some that the report puts an end to military options against Iran, but does say firmly: "As long as Iran continues its uranium enrichment program it will continue to pose a threat to the region. We will push for a third UN Security Council resolution imposing further sanctions on Iran because we cannot stand aside while Iran continues its proliferation-sensitive activities." Last month Foreign Minister Miliband visited Jerusalem and declared that he would take advantage of Israel's 60th anniversary to upgrade strategic relations between the two countries. Alexander supports the initiative and is especially keen on expanding cooperation between Israeli hi-tech firms and London's financial markets, and Britain's hi-tech economy in general. How does that sit with his country's public opinion, which is among the hardest on Israel throughout Europe? How does that fit in with British initiatives to boycott Israeli academia and goods? Or with the lively debate on Israel's right to exist and the fear of the long arm of British justice among some top Israeli security officials? When it comes to these matters, Alexander is evasive and ostrich-style, shoving his head firmly into the sand. I don't know that Britain, he says, and immediately adds that Britain's relations with Israel are multiform and strong, and have the potential to further strengthen. That is the main mission for both countries in the years to come, he concludes. The Jewish scandal Alexander's visit to Israel took place at the height of a scandal involving illegal donations to Britain's Labor Party. The affair rocked the party and prompted theories about a Jewish and Israeli conspiracy in the kingdom. It all started two weeks ago when the Mail on Sunday revealed that Jewish millionaire David Abrahams had secretly donated 600,000 pounds, or $1.4 million, to the ruling party through front-men. Abrahams, who admitted to the donation, said that the Laborites who knew of his donations included Jon Mendelsohn, Brown's chief money-raiser and a Jew as well. Speaking with the Jewish Chronicle two weeks ago, Abrahams said he had acted covertly because he didn't want to link "Jewish money" to the Labor Party. Later he claimed that his words had been taken out of context but did say that the conduct of the British press proved that he was right to fear that his donation would be considered part of a "Jewish conspiracy." Most of Abrahams' wealth comes from real estate business. He is considered a major benefactor to both education in Israel and to Jewish education in Britain. He also has close ties with some Israeli politicians. The British media didn't miss any of that, nor the fact that until 2002 he had been deputy leader of the "Friends of Israel in Labor" organization, which aims to bring elements in the party closer to Israel. In a piece headlined "Hunt for 'mystery benefactor' in Gordon Brown's donations scandal," the Daily Telegraph published a picture of Abrahams shaking hands with former Israeli ambassador Zvi Hefeitz. The hint was loud and clear: The illegal donations originated in Israel. Some voices in the British media linked the donations to Tony Blair's pro-Israel policy. As this and other scandals lowered Labor's approval ratings to 13 percent below the conservative opposition, Jewish elements expressed grave concern about repercussions affecting the Jewish community. A senior political source in Israel told Haaretz that he feared bilateral relations could suffer, too. "It will certainly make it harder to raise funds, attract investors, and organize meetings and visits," he said. Douglas Alexander's name also arose in the context, through his sister, Wendy Alexander, a Labor leader in the Scottish parliament, who is also suspected of receiving an illegal donation. Asked about the ramifications of the scandal, Douglas Alexander says the government must remain constantly alert to the possibility of anti-Semitic outbursts. But he has faith in interfaith dialog and in the close inter-community relations being forged in Britain. He chooses to praise the "efficient and impressive" advocate of the Jewish community, none other than Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, whose last book - a controversial tome about multiculturalism in society - Alexander is currently reading. He also has warm words for other members of the Jewish community who, he says, are making a terrific contribution to modern life in Britain. Moreover, he is confident that the bilateral relations between Israel and Britain will not suffer in the aftermath; they are as strong as ever, he says.

Moreover, he is confident that the bilateral relations between Israel and Britain will not suffer in the aftermath; they are as strong as ever, he says.

Well, as Winston Churchill said, once, when sober: "Jaw-jaw is better than War-war".

Lebanon buries general

I've seen those bastards blowing up bits of Beirut, (and so have you) so I view this story with all the cynicism that comes from years of seeing the neighbourhood bully messing up the neighbours.

Lebanon buries general, France sends warning
Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:10pm EST
By Nadim Ladki

BEIRUT, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Lebanon's army urged feuding politicians to set aside their differences and resolve the country's political crisis on Friday at the funeral of an assassinated general.

Brigadier General Francois al-Hajj was killed in a car bomb on Wednesday, the ninth figure to be assassinated in Lebanon in less than three years. He was the first military officer to be killed. The other attacks targeted anti-Syrian figures.

Hajj, who had good ties to Syria's allies in Lebanon including Hezbollah, had been tipped to take over as army chief from General Michel Suleiman, who could be elected president by parliament as early as next week.

"In the name of your precious blood, we urge everyone to take a brave historic decision that would lead us to building confidence and communication between the sides and achieve reconciliation and consensus without any preconditions," Major General Shawki al-Masri, the army's chief of staff, told the funeral service for Hajj at a church north of Beirut.

Masri said "blood messages", such as Hajj's killing, were meant to weaken the foundations of Lebanon, as well as the army.

Schools, banks and public offices across the country were closed for a day of mourning.

The funeral coincided with a stark warning from French President Nicolas Sarkozy who said the Lebanese parliament must pick a new president on Monday.

The French leader, whose country led
[read: tried to strong-arm] mediation efforts between the Lebanese Western-backed ruling coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition, warned that any country which intervened to prevent a [their] deal would be isolated. [Except, of course, if the intervening country was Israel]

"Monday is the day of the last chance. France appeals to all parties, internally and externally, to work so that Lebanon can get a president of unity and consensus," Sarkozy told a news conference following a European Union summit in Brussels.

What can you possibly say about a comment on the situation by Sarkozy the Sayanim ?

Except: It's about time the Frogs (and the Rosbifs) and the Yanks f***ed off out of it, and let the Middle East do its own thing.

Israel's Palestinians Speak Out

I've written here about Israel's Niggers. Some of them are high yaller coloureds (Sephardim) but others, 20% of the nation's population, are well and truly third-class citizens of the 'only Democracy in the Middle East'.

Here's a report from one of them (lifted in toto from Information Clearing House which is a very, very good online source of real news and worthwhile op-eds.
Israel's Palestinians Speak Out
By Nadim Rouhana

12/14/07 "ICH" --- - - The Annapolis peace talks regard me as an interloper in my own land. Israel's deputy prime minister, Avigdor Lieberman, argues that I should "take [my] bundles and get lost." Henry Kissinger thinks I ought to be summarily swapped from inside Israel to the would-be Palestinian state.

I am a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship--one of 1.4 million. I am also a social psychologist trained and working in the United States. In late November, on behalf of Mada al-Carmel, the Arab Center for Applied Social Research, I polled Palestinian citizens of Israel regarding their reactions to the Annapolis conference and their views about our future, and how they would be affected by Middle East peace negotiations.

During Israel's establishment, three-quarters of a million Palestinians were driven from their homes or fled in fear. They remain refugees to this day, scattered throughout the West Bank and Gaza, the Arab world and beyond. We Palestinian citizens of Israel are among the minority who managed to remain on our land. Like many Mexican-Americans, we didn't cross the border, the border crossed us. We have been struggling ever since against a system that subjects us to separate and unequal treatment because we are Palestinian Arabs--Christian, Muslim and Druze--not Jewish. More than twenty Israeli laws explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews.

The Palestinian Authority is under intense pressure to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This is not a matter of semantics. If Israel's demand is granted, the inequality that we face as Palestinians--roughly 20 percent of Israel's population--will become permanent.

The United States, despite being settled by Christian Europeans fleeing religious persecution, has struggled for decades to make clear that it is not a "Christian nation." It is in a similar vein that Israel's indigenous Palestinian population rejects the efforts of Israel and the United States to seal our fate as a permanent underclass in our own homeland.

We are referred to by leading Israeli politicians as a "demographic problem." In response, many in Israel, including the deputy prime minister, are proposing land swaps: Palestinian land in the occupied territories with Israeli settlers on it would fall under Israel's sovereignty, while land in Israel with Palestinian citizens would fall under Palestinian authority.

This may seem like an even trade. But there is one problem: no one asked us what we think of this solution. Imagine the hue and cry were a prominent American politician to propose redrawing the map of the United States so as to exclude as many Mexican-Americans as possible, for the explicit purpose of preserving white political power. Such a demagogue would rightly be denounced as a bigot. Yet this sort of hyper-segregation and ethnic supremacy is precisely what Israeli and American officials are considering for many Palestinian citizens of Israel -- and hoping to coerce Palestinan leaders into accepting.

Looking across the Green Line, we realize that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has no mandate to negotiate a deal that will affect our future. We did not elect him. Why would we give up the rights we have battled to secure in our homeland to live inside an embryonic Palestine that we fear will be more like a bantustan than a sovereign state? Even if we put aside our attachment to our homeland, Israel has crushed the West Bank economy--to say nothing of Gaza's--and imprisoned its people behind a barrier. There is little allure to life in such grim circumstances, especially since there is the real prospect of further Israeli sanctions, which could make a bad situation worse.

In the poll I just conducted, nearly three-quarters of Israel's Palestinian citizens rejected the idea of the Palestinian Authority making territorial concessions that involve them, and 65.6 percent maintained that the PA also lacked the mandate to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Nearly 80 percent declared that it lacks the mandate to relinquish the right of Palestinian refugees--affirmed in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948 and reaffirmed many times--to return to their homes and properties inside Israel.

Palestinians inside Israel have developed a history and identity after nearly sixty years of hard work and struggle. We are not simply pawns to be shuffled to the other side of the board. We expect no more and no less than the right to equality in the land of our ancestors. Israeli Jews have now built a nation, and have the right to live here in peace. But Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic, nor can it find the security it seeks by continuing to deny our rights, nor those of Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, nor those of Palestinian refugees. It is time for us to share this land in a true democracy, one that honors and respects the rights of both peoples as equals.

Nadim Rouhana is Henry Hart Rice Professor of Conflict Analysis at George Mason University and heads the Haifa-based Mada al-Carmel, the Arab Center for Applied Social Research.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

King of the Gossip

A few weeks ago, I received a strange e-mail:
Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2007 04:50:35 -0800 (PST)
From: "roy" ( Add to Address Book
Subject: Notes From a Small Island : GL's Public Park Killed
roy has sent you a link to a blog:

Richard Parker the king of the gossip in siargao island

Blog: Notes From a Small Island
Post: GL's Public Park Killed
Which I thought was a compliment.

If, after all, I'm gossiping about island life, what's better than to be King of it?

Well, doesn't exist as an email address. "Roy" is a Belgian resident of the town, who feels much as I do about a certain Andreas.
So, it was a bit of clever computer hackery, used very stupidly.
Then, this week, I was out swimming in the sea just opposite my back garden (which I have to reach by a 200 yard detour because Andreas has closed off my right of way to the sea) and I heard and saw his young son, the eponymous Patrick, standing on the high tide mark, shouting:
"Richard - Hari nan Chismis" - "Richard - The King of Gossip!"
I ignored him completely, and that certainly riled his mother, who used to be such a nice young lady.

So now I know where my mysterious emails come from.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tree Chopper

My wonderful neighbour, Andreas Mikolewicz, a German-Polish-American fellow who is trying his damnedest to "Car-ibb-e-anise" this lovely island, has started to chop down what is left of the local forest.
(Well, it's not really a local forest, it's a couple of bits of feral coconut plantation to the left and right of the road that leads out of GL towards Cloud 9, the 'famous' surfing spot).
It used to be a sort of green forest gateway; an archway of coconut palms leading out of the town.
But then, Andreas 'bought' the land to the left, a couple of years ago.
The local people, through their barangay council, complained bitterly that he left it to waste. The dropped coconut fronds were never cleared up, and other plants couldn't grow through them, so, for about 100 metres on the left hand side of GL's gateway to Cloud 9, there was a vermin-ridden wasteland (rats like coconut-frond-sheltered homesteads).
The inhabitants of Mabua (Purok Alingit) on the right hand side, who have built their huts amongst the coconut trees, without destroying any of them, became a bit concerned. (They have a right to be so; Andreas has cut off their access to their local swimming hole, set dogs on their children, and put up a concentration-camp-style barbed wire fence to keep them off his his 'property').

Now he's chopped all those coconut trees down (I think he really doesn't want to pay anything for 'his own' timber, and probably has plans for a highway strip mall leading out from GL).
If you think I'm exaggerating about the hypocrisy of this fellow, then read his website:
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No job, No unemployment or No welfare checks. You have No money, No bank accounts, No credit cards, No refrigerator, No ice and No food. You are hungry, and to make matters worse, your children are hungry. On top of that they are sick, full of worms and usually naked. This is the AVERAGE home in Haiti, Philippines, Africa and India.
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