Archive for August, 2006

Khaled sings ‘Aicha’ (!)

Like this song just heard recently….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LFJY3tX9TE

VDO Courtesy:

YouTube

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New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh Uncovers Washington’s Interests In Middle East War

From The New Yorker, investigative journalist, Seymour M. Hersh on Lebanon, Hezbullah, Israel, Condi, Rummy, Cheney (where IS he?) and more….piecing it all together.  Article in it’s entirety from the August 21, 2006 issue of The New Yorker follows. 

As many know, Mr. Hersh was the journalist who broke (amonst many others) the My Lai massacre story in Vietnam and the more recent Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. In this article he traces how the attack on Lebanon had been planned months ago, along with several high level discussions which took place between US and Israeli officials, on the various scenarios which may lie ahead.   

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In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. “It’s a moment of clarification,” President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. “It’s now become clear why we don’t have peace in the Middle East.” He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the “root causes of instability,” and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until “the conditions are conducive.”

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the country’s immediate security issues were reason enough to confront Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, Israel’s foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, “We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America’s requirements, that’s just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.”

Hezbollah is seen by Israelis as a profound threat—a terrorist organization, operating on their border, with a military arsenal that, with help from Iran and Syria, has grown stronger since the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon ended, in 2000. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has said he does not believe that Israel is a “legal state.” Israeli intelligence estimated at the outset of the air war that Hezbollah had roughly five hundred medium-range Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets and a few dozen long-range Zelzal rockets; the Zelzals, with a range of about two hundred kilometres, could reach Tel Aviv. (One rocket hit Haifa the day after the kidnappings.) It also has more than twelve thousand shorter-range rockets. Since the conflict began, more than three thousand of these have been fired at Israel.

According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah—and shared it with Bush Administration officials—well before the July 12th kidnappings. “It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,” he said, “but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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What about Gaza?

Photo essay from the online publication of Slate:

A Photographer in Gaza: How to take pictures of a war.

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Call for Ceasefire – Amnesty International Vigil: Monday August 7

                                    Ceasefire - Lebanon/Israel

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Historical Context – Understanding the ‘Why’ in the ME Crises

In a personal, yet historically documented opinion column submitted by Karma Nabulsi (Professor of Politics and International Relations at Oxford) to the Guardian, puts the roots and future consequences of the almost 60 year war which has displaced and killed too many in the Middle East over that piece of land…

The refugees’ fury will be felt for generations to come

Israel is seeking to cast itself as the victim even as it expels the people of Lebanon and Gaza from their homes

Karma Nabulsi
Wednesday August 2, 2006
The Guardian

People walk the dusty, broken roads in scorching summer heat, taking shelter in the basements of empty buildings. In Gaza and Lebanon, in the refugee camps of Khan Younis, Rafah and Jabaliya, in Tyre and Beirut, in Nabatiyeh and Sidon, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children seek refuge. As they flee, they risk the indiscriminate wrath of an enemy driven by an existential mania that can not be assuaged, only stopped. Ambulances are struck, humanitarian relief convoys are struck, UN observers are struck. Warning leaflets are dropped from the sky urging people to abandon their homes, just as they were in 1996, 1982, 1978, 1967 and 1948. The ultimately impossible decision in Gaza and Lebanon today is: where does a refugee go?

In Beirut in July 1982, after surviving a bomb that destroyed a seven-floor apartment block next door to me, burying alive more than 40 people taking refuge in its cellar, some of us began to sleep on the roof; there is no refuge from this terror, there is only resistance. Fifteen of the 37 children killed in Qana on Sunday were disabled; their families could take them no further north, according to the Lebanese MP Bahia Hariri.

From June to August 1982, Israeli aircraft flying over Lebanon dropped “smart bombs” on children’s hospitals in Shatila camp, Gaza hospital, Acre hospital and 11 of the country’s orphanages, killing dozens of disabled children. They had nowhere else to shelter. The roofs had been painted with huge white crosses visible from the sky.

That war did not give Israel the security it claims to seek, and nor will this one. In 1948 Palestinians fled after hearing news of the massacres in villages by Haganah forces and receiving leaflets dropped from the sky telling them to run for their lives. This week their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are being killed with impunity in the refugee camps of Gaza, where they are trapped. Last Friday alone more than 30 Palestinians were killed, with no international condemnation and barely a mention in the press. In Qana they were also trapped. “We couldn’t get out of our neighbourhood because there are only two roads leading out and the Israelis bombed them both several days ago,” said Mohammad Shalhoub, a disabled 41-year-old survivor.

The US and Britain are claiming that no ceasefire is possible until there is an international force that will implement United Nations resolution 1559. Yet the Lebanese prime minister issued a seven-point plan in Rome last week, consistent with international law and agreed by all elected parties in Lebanon (including Hizbullah), that had as its first requirement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. It is implementation of the dozens of UN resolutions that Israel has flouted for more than 50 years with protection from the US – and now from Britain – that will stop this conflict.

The capture of a soldier from an occupying army in Gaza, and of two soldiers on the Lebanese border by local resistance, in an attempt to force the release of thousands of illegally detained Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners, should have been dealt with by Israel in the framework of the laws of war and with a proportional response. Instead, by launching this massive attack, Israel has destroyed the social and economic infrastructure of a sovereign nation, Lebanon, just as it is destroying the infrastructure of a democratically elected administration in occupied Palestine.

It is producing generations of refugees who will also resist. Power stations, bridges, key manufacturing and food factories in Lebanon are ruined, the entire industrial estate of Gaza pulverised. The ancient city centre of Nablus has been demolished. Whole villages in south Lebanon and sections of refugee camps in Gaza have been obliterated. These too are war crimes. If Britain will not stop Israel, nor condemn it, then under the Geneva conventions it is complicit in those crimes.

Before seeking the implementation of UN resolution 1559, which calls for the disarmament of Hizbullah, Britain must seek with more sincerity the implementation of UN security council resolutions 242 and 338, which demand the immediate withdrawal of Israel from lands illegally occupied in the 1967 war, including the Golan Heights, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza. There is hardly a statesman or citizen in the world today who cannot see that it will take outside intervention to stop Israel inflicting this terror. Calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, and working towards the implementation of all UN resolutions addressing this conflict, will restore to the international community – and Britain in particular – the legitimacy it has squandered by allowing months of war crimes to go by, witnessed but uncondemned and unconstrained.

Israel has failed to understand that it cannot expel a people and call itself the victim; that it cannot conquer its neighbours and treat any and all resistance to that conquest as terrorism; that it cannot arm itself as a regional superpower and annihilate the institutional fabric of two peoples without incurring the fury of their children in the years that follow.

· Karma Nabulsi teaches politics and international relations at Oxford University. She is the author of Traditions of War: Occupation, Resistance and the Law karmanabulsi@hotmail.com

And the children are paying again.  Haunting.  Here is another report in again, the Guardian.

Children flee the village of Aitaroun in South Lebanon. Photograph: Sean Smith/Guardian

Children flee the village of Aitaroun in South Lebanon. Photograph: Sean Smith/Guardian

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