Saturday, 14 February 2009

ONU critica Israel por bloqueio dos livros escolares.13/01

fonte:Ynetnews; fotos:Al Jazeera

UN official slams Israel for blocking textbooks

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

The top UN Official in Gaza criticized Israel on Monday for blocking the shipment of paper to print textbooks for a new human rights curriculum that will be taught to children in all grades in the Palestinian territory.

Israel also has refused to allow 12 truckloads of notebooks into Gaza as well as plastic sheeting which is

turned into plastic bags to distribute food that the UN provides to some 900,000 people, John Ging, head of Gaza operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency which helps Palestinian refugees, said in a videoconference with reporters at UN Headquarters.

He said 60% of the textbooks needed in Gaza have not been printed, so children don't have the material they need to study.

Ging said he was "extremely frustrated" at Israel's refusal to allow paper into Gaza, "Not least because we have a new human rights curriculum which everybody here is very excited to teach the children."

The human rights courses are modeled on those developed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with input from the human rights community in Gaza, he said. They will be taught by specialist human rights teachers in every school, and human rights organizations in Gaza will evaluate the teachers' performance.

"Hopefully when the kids leave our schools, they'll have the clearest understanding of rights, responsibilities and the effective mechanisms to uphold and achieve those rights," Ging said.

"We want these kids to come up with a civilized outlook, with the mindset that is orientated toward peace and tolerance, and we're being obstructed," he said. "Not being allowed to bring in paper to print the human rights textbooks means that there is an obstruction for the teaching of human rights to the children here in Gaza."

Friday, 13 February 2009

e o cerco continua ainda....13/02

fonte:Al Jazeera

Ahmad, 9 anos:"Venham todos ver como vivemos. Venham ver como perdemos tudo. Vivemos do nada, não temos camas nem cobertores, não temos água nem comida nem electricidade. Simplesmente não temos nada. É isto uma viver? É isto aceitável? Este é o cerco mais humilhante de sempre, o pior bloqueio da história."

Legenda: o Bloqueio continua... ainda.

sobre Gaza 2.13/01

fonte: Mazen Kerbaj (Libano)

o numero-os numeros.13/02

fonte: Mazen Kerbaj (Libano)

Thursday, 12 February 2009

sobre Gaza-do Libano.13/02

fonte: Mazen Kerbaj (Libano)

Cristãos em Jerusalém querem que os Judeus param de cuspir sobre eles.12/01


A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face

Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them
By Amiram Barkat
The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot.

On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop's 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student.

Both were questioned by police and the yeshiva student will be brought to trial. The Jerusalem District Court has meanwhile banned the student from approaching the Old City for 75 days.

But the Armenians are far from satisfied by the police action and say this sort of thing has been going on for years. Archbishop Nourhan Manougian says he expects the education minister to say something.

"When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don't they take harsher measures?" he asks.

According to Daniel Rossing, former adviser to the Religious Affairs Ministry on Christian affairs and director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue, there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, "as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country."

Rossing says there are certain common characeristics from the point of view of time and location to the incidents. He points to the fact that there are more incidents in areas where Jews and Christians mingle, such as the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the Old City and the Jaffa Gate.

There are an increased number at certain times of year, such as during the Purim holiday."I know Christians who lock themselves indoors during the entire Purim holiday," he says.

Former adviser to the mayor on Christian affairs, Shmuel Evyatar, describes the situation as "a huge disgrace." He says most of the instigators are yeshiva students studying in the Old City who view the Christian religion with disdain.

"I'm sure the phenomenon would end as soon as rabbis and well-known educators denounce it. In practice, rabbis of yeshivas ignore or even encourage it," he says.

Evyatar says he himself was spat at while walking with a Serbian bishop in the Jewish quarter, near his home. "A group of yeshiva students spat at us and their teacher just stood by and watched."

Jerusalem municipal officials said they are aware of the problem but it has to be dealt with by the police. Shmuel Ben-Ruby, the police spokesman, said they had only two complaints from Christians in the past two years. He said that, in both cases, the culprits were caught and punished.

He said the police deploy an inordinately high number of patrols and special technology in the Old City and its surroundings in an attempt to keep order.

A guerra em que eu estava morto e Gaza sobreviveu.12/02


The war where I was killed and Gaza survived

Eman Mohammed writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 10 February 2009

A boy walks on the rubble of a destroyed home in the Gaza Strip. (Eman Mohammed)

Since Israeli missile savagery first hit Gaza, everything started to become blurry to me. My vision was totally unclear -- all the horrible events went in slow motion as if I was watching a horror movie, but the most realistic one I've ever seen.

My biggest fear was losing a loved one.

After 21 indescribable days, "the war was over," or so they said. But it wasn't for me; enormous destruction covered the beautiful face of Gaza that I knew. Thousands of houses and buildings were wiped off the earth. Three weeks were all that Israeli warplanes and tanks needed to smash so many living creatures in Gaza including babies -- even unborn ones -- women, children, men and the elderly.

I wandered among the rubble of houses and the remains of lives for more than I can remember. I couldn't find the words or photographs to convey how much pain the people feel. Somehow they still manage to get up every morning. They search for a new start, to begin their lives again, or they search for remnants of the old life -- maybe a tattered family picture that was so precious to them.

Like the teddy bear with the ripped-off head which belonged to four-year-old Samar Abed Rabu who was hit three times in her chest and went abroad for treatment. Her father Khaled was clinging to it waiting for his baby girl to come back and get it after he lost her other two sisters Suad, seven, and Amal, two, in front of his eyes. Samar's broken teddy bear was the only thing that managed to comfort him.

A similar tragic loss, but a different time and place, was Manal al-Samouni's story. She was sitting near the remains of her destroyed house waiting for her brother's four children to return from visiting their father's grave. They lost him after he was injured while bravely rescuing his family. For four days he bled to death. This is their memory of their heroic father, Manal said.

Muhammad Balousha, age two, waited constantly by the door listening carefully to the sounds around him, hoping to recognize the sounds of his five sisters coming home. He does not know that on that one night they said goodnight and went to sleep, it was forever.

These were some of the stories I got emotionally involved with and maybe because of that I broke the first rule of journalism which is supposedly to stay professional, not to get involved. Whether I took photos, delivered a message, or whatever I was supposed to be doing, I did it all while watching my soul slip away, not being able to hold onto it or let it go, as if I were falling into a coma. I did not see this war coming even in my worst nightmares and I can't feel that it has gone because all that is left are lifeless bodies whether they are under the ground or still breathing above it.

The silence in Gaza is too loud, too bare. Words don't seem to ease the pain or heal the wounds. The shouts are gone without an echo, but Gaza's people still managed to get up from under the rubble and the torn memories. My people proved to me once again that they are stronger than these attacks and invasions. They have vanquished death by rebuilding their lives time after time. Maybe that's something I'll never be able to understand or do myself, since the day they stabbed Gaza, my soul was stolen by an evil force. I believe it was a war on Gaza, not in Gaza as they claim. Their attacks were barbarism, but Gaza managed to survive, one way or another.

Eman Mohammed is a Jordanian-Palestinian freelance photojournalist and reporter based in the Gaza Strip since 2005.

mais e mais fanáticos dentro do exército israelita por Jonathan Cook.12/02

fonte: counterpunch; fotos:the National(EAU)

Religious Extremists Rising Through the Ranks

An IDF Jihad?



Extremist rabbis and their followers, bent on waging holy war against the Palestinians, are taking over the Israeli army by stealth, according to critics.

In a process one military historian has termed the rapid “theologisation” of the Israeli army, there are now entire units of religious combat soldiers, many of them based in West Bank settlements. They answer to hardline rabbis who call for the establishment of a Greater Israel that includes the occupied Palestinian territories.

Their influence in shaping the army’s goals and methods is starting to be felt, say observers, as more and more graduates from officer courses are also drawn from Israel’s religious extremist population.

“We have reached the point where a critical mass of religious soldiers is trying to negotiate with the army about how and for what purpose military force is employed on the battlefield,” said Yigal Levy, a political sociologist at the Open University who has written several books on the Israeli army.

The new atmosphere was evident in the “excessive force” used in the recent Gaza operation, Dr Levy said. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, a majority of them civilians, and thousands were injured as whole neighbourhoods of Gaza were levelled.

“When soldiers, including secular ones, are imbued with theological ideas, it makes them less sensitive to human rights or the suffering of the other side.”

The greater role of extremist religious groups in the army came to light last week when it emerged that the army rabbinate had handed out a booklet to soldiers preparing for the recent 22-day Gaza offensive.

Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, said the material contained messages “bordering on racist incitement against the Palestinian people” and might have encouraged soldiers to ignore international law.

The booklet quotes extensively from Shlomo Aviner, a far-right rabbi who heads a religious seminary in the Muslim quarter of East Jerusalem. He compares the Palestinians to the Philistines, the Biblical enemy of the Jews.

He advises: “When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers … This is a war on murderers.” He also cites a Biblical ban on “surrendering a single millimetre” of Greater Israel.

The booklet was approved by the army’s chief rabbi, Brig Gen Avichai Ronsky, who is reportedly determined to improve the army’s “combat values” after its failure to crush Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006.

Gen Ronsky was appointed three years ago in a move designed, according to the Israeli media, to placate hardline religious elements within the army and the settler community.

Gen Ronsky, himself a settler in the West Bank community of Itimar, near Nablus, is close to far-right groups. According to reports, he pays regular visits to jailed members of Jewish terror groups; he has offered his home to a settler who is under house arrest for wounding Palestinians; and he has introduced senior officers to a small group of extremist settlers who live among more than 150,000 Palestinians in Hebron.

He has also radically overhauled the rabbinate, which was originally founded to offer religious services and ensure religious soldiers were able to observe the sabbath and eat kosher meals in army canteens.

Over the past year the rabbinate has effectively taken over the role of the army’s education corps through its Jewish Awareness Department, which co-ordinates its activities with Elad, a settler organisation that is active in East Jerusalem.

In October, the Haaretz newspaper quoted an unnamed senior officer who accused the rabbinate of carrying out the religious and political “brainwashing” of troops.

Dr Levy said the army rabbinate’s power was growing as the ranks of religious soldiers swelled.

Breaking the Silence, a project run by soldiers seeking to expose the army’s behaviour against Palestinians, said the booklet handed out to troops in Gaza had originated among Hebron’s settlers.

“The document has been around since at least 2003,” said Mikhael Manekin, 29, one of the group’s directors and himself religiously observant. “But what is new is that the army has been effectively subcontracted to promote the views of the extremist settlers to its soldiers.”

The power of the religious right in the army reflected wider social trends inside Israel, Dr Levy said. He pointed out that the rural cooperatives known as kibbutzim that were once home to Israel’s secular middle classes and produced the bulk of its officer corps had been on the wane since the early 1980s.

“The vacuum left by their gradual retreat from the army was filled by religious youngsters and by the children of the settlements. They now dominate in many branches of the army.”

According to figures cited in the Israeli media, more than one-third of all Israel’s combat soldiers are religious, as are more than 40 per cent of those graduating from officer courses.

The army has encouraged this trend by creating some two dozen hesder yeshivas, seminaries in which youths can combine Biblical studies with army service in separate religious units. Many of the yeshivas are based in the West Bank, where students are educated by the settlements’ extremist rabbis.

Ehud Barak, the defence minister, has rapidly expanded the programme, approving four yeshivas, three based in settlements, last summer. Another 10 are reportedly awaiting his approval.

Mr Manekin, however, warned against blaming the violence inflicted on Gaza’s civilians solely on the influence of religious extremists.

“The army is still run by the secular elites in Israel and they have always been reckless with regard to the safety of civilians when they wage war. Jewish nationalism that justifies Palestinian deaths is just as dangerous as religious extremism.”

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (, published in Abu Dhabi.

Uri Avneri sobre "as meias sujas".12/02

fonte:counterpunch; fotos:Assafir

The Israeli Elections

Dirty Socks


"I have some good news and some bad news,” the sergeant in the joke tells his men. “The good news is that you are going to change your dirty socks. The bad news is that you are going to exchange them among yourselves.”

I am not the only person who is reminded of this old British army joke by the current elections.

We are faced by a sorry lot of politicians, some of them documented failures and some completely free of any past achievements. There is no meaningful discussion between them about the issues. Not one of the main contenders offers real solutions to our basic problems. The differences between them are invisible without a magnifying glass.

The instinctive reaction: “To hell with the lot of them. Let’s not vote at all!”

But that is childish. We cannot afford not to vote, or to vote out of spite or as a protest. Even if the differences are tiny – they may turn out to be important.

Therefore, let’s hold our nose and vote. If necessary, let’s take some medicine against nausea. If all of them are bad, let’s look for the lesser evil.

* * *

FOR ME, the greatest evil is Binyamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu.

If he gets one vote more than his rivals, the President will entrust him with the task of setting up the next government. Netanyahu has already committed himself to inviting Avigdor Liberman, the pupil of the fascist Meir Kahane, as his first partner, as well as Shas, which has now become an extreme right-wing party. Perhaps he will also take in the “National Union”, which is even more extreme, and the remnants of the National Religious party, together with the Orthodox.

If this is to be the core of the next coalition, we shall have an extreme nationalist-racist government, a government that will reject outright any possibility of ending the occupation, setting up a Palestinian state and evacuating the settlements.

After that, Netanyahu could invite Kadima and Labor, but that would not matter anymore. Since he will be able to set up a government without them, he will get them for next to nothing. In such a government, their only function will be to serve as fig leaves, camouflage for the Americans.

One must also remember who would come with Netanyahu: types like Limor Livnat, Benny Begin and Bogie Yaalon.

Some people have brought up a Machiavellian idea: let the Likud come to power. That way, the entire world will see the true face of Israel and boycott it. The government will fall, and we can start all over again.

Sorry, that is too risky a bet for me. I am not ready to gamble with the future of Israel. To use an old catch-phrase: I don’t have another country.

Some try to cheer us up with another thought: Netanyahu is a weak person. If the Americans exert pressure on him, he will give in. In the end he will do whatever Obama tells him to do.

I am not so sure. I am not ready to bet on that either. His partners will not let him submit. For me, the first decision is: No Netanyahu.

* * *

TZIPI LIVNI has one enormous advantage: she is not Bibi.

It may seem that this is also her only advantage.

At this moment, she is the only person who could – perhaps, perhaps – block the road to a coalition headed by the Likud. For many, that is reason enough to vote for her.

Is there any other reason? Hard to see one. She could have risen above the murky waters and presented a clear and focused message: peace with the Palestinian people and the Arab world. That would have separated her from Netanyahu and also from Ehud Barak and given her the status of a statesperson. It would have turned the elections into a referendum on war and peace.

She has missed this opportunity. Like all the other candidates, she is afraid of the word “peace”. Her advisors have probably warned her that the shares of peace in the stock exchange of public opinion are way down.

If she were a real leader, if peace had been burning in her bones (as we say in Hebrew), she would have ignored the advice and stood up as a woman of principle.

Instead, she is trying to be more macho than all the machos, “The Only Man In The Government”. She cries to high heaven against any dialogue with Hamas. She objects to a mutually agreed cease-fire. She tries to compete with Netanyahu and Liberman with unbridled nationalist messages.

That is bad. That is also stupid. Someone who is looking for a he-he-man will not vote for a woman. Someone who is longing for a brutal warlord will not vote for a female civilian who, in the words of Barak, “has never held a rifle in her hands”.

It was a test of leadership. And Tzipi flunked it.

True, here and there she has voiced some vague ideas about “two nation-states”, but in all her years in office she has not taken the smallest real step in this direction.

Therefore, there is no reason to vote for her, except one: if she gets one vote more than Netanyahu, the President will call on her to try to set up a government. Such a government will surely include Netanyahu, and probably Liberman too. Yet it will be different from a government headed by Netanyahu. Under heavy American pressure, it might even move towards peace.

* * *

I CANNOT vote for Ehud Barak. Even if my head wanted to, my hand would not obey.

The inhuman Gaza War was a reflection of Barak’s own inhuman character. He waged the war as a part of his election campaign. When the anti-war demonstrators marched through the streets of Tel-Aviv and shouted: “Don’t buy votes / with the blood of babies” they were not so far off the mark.

Like Netanyahu, Barak is a documented failure. I was among the masses who celebrated his triumph in Rabin Square in 1999 when he was elected Prime Minister, and, hardly a year later, I sighed with relief when his government collapsed. In his short term of office he convened the Camp David conference and sabotaged it, spread the poisonous and mendacious mantra “We have no partner for peace”, provoked the second intifada and destroyed the peace camp from within.

Contrary to Livni, Barak does not even pretend to have a perspective of peace. He sees before him an endless landscape of mountain chains of war, mountain after mountain, stretching well beyond the horizon.

Unlike the Kadima and Likud lists, the Labor election list does include some good people. But these will have no influence at all on things to come. Effectively, it’s a one-man list, and that one man is deeply flawed.

FOR A MOMENT it seemed that Meretz was going to transform itself into something bigger. They included in their list some attractive new people. Men of letters recommended them warmly.

And then something happened to them, the same thing that happened to them the last time. A war broke out, and Meretz supported it enthusiastically. Their three literary musketeers - Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua and David Grossman – went out of their way to call for the war and laud it, each one in his turn. Exactly as they had done in Lebanon War II.

True, after some days the three – together with Meretz and Peace Now – called for the end of the attack. That call was not accompanied by an apology for the preceding one. This showed a lot of Chutzpa. After helping in breaking the dam, they thought that they could stop the flow with their fingers. But after they had legitimized the war of atrocities, no one listened to them anymore. Every woman and child who was killed in that war, up to the very last day, should weigh on their conscience.

Of course, some will say: you don’t vote to punish and take revenge. In spite of the crime, one has to vote for Meretz because among the “Zionist” parties they are the lesser evil. They speak about peace and social justice, and some of their representatives, like Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid, did a good job in the Rabin government. Meretz also did some good parliamentary work for the right causes.

* * *

QUITE ANOTHER problem is posed by the three so-called “Arab” parties, one of which is the communist Hadash, which has a small Jewish component.

The Hadash program is closer to the consistent peace camp than any other. Some would say: That’s close enough. I vote according to my beliefs, and not tactical considerations. Hadash should also be credited for advancing some positive causes in the Knesset.

The problem of the “Arab” lists is that they have not succeeded in playing a meaningful role in the political arena, which has remained an exclusive fiefdom of the “Zionist” parties (“Zionist” in this context means “non Arab”). In order to break into the Jewish street, Hadash could have put at the head of its list, or at least in the No. 2 slot, Dov Khenin, who has risen to stardom in the recent Tel-Aviv municipal elections. By not doing so, they have lost at least some of the votes that could have strayed from Meretz and Labor.

The impact of the “Arab” parties on Israeli policy is next to nil. It is limited to one point in time: on the day after the elections, the question will arise whether all the center/left parties together, from Kadima leftwards, can muster enough votes to block a right-wing government. In this context, and only there, the “Arab” parties do play a role.

* * *

THERE REMAINS the Liberman phenomenon.

Liberman has created a party that is simply and thoroughly racist. Its election campaign is centered on the demand to annul the Israeli citizenship of “non-loyal” people. Meaning: the Arabs, who constitute 20% of Israel’s citizens.

In every other country, Liberman’s program would be called fascist, without quotation marks. Nowhere in the Western world is there a large party that would dare to advance such a demand. The neo-fascists in Switzerland and Holland want to expel foreigners, not to annul the citizenship of the native-born.

The core of the party is made up of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of whom have brought from their homeland an utter contempt for democracy, a desire for a strong leader (a Stalin or a Putin), a racist attitude towards brown-skinned citizens and a taste for brutal, Chechnya-style wars. They have now been joined by young, native-born Israelis, who have been radicalized by the recent war.

When Joerg Haider was taken into the Austrian cabinet, Israel recalled its ambassador from Vienna in protest. But compared to Liberman, Haider was a raving liberal, and so is Jean-Marie le Pen. Now Netanyahu has announced that Liberman will be “an important minister” in his government, Livni has hinted that he will be in her government, too, and Barak has not excluded that possibility.

The optimistic version says that Liberman will prove to be a passing curiosity. Every Israeli election campaign has featured a trend-party that reflects a passing mood, achieves a resounding success and then disappears. In 1977 it was the Dash party, which rode the horse of “changing the system”. It won 12.5% of the vote, broke apart and disappeared before the next elections. Later it was the Tzomet party of Rafael Eitan, on the horse of uncorrupted purity. Another was the Shinui (Change) party, which rode the horse of anti-religious hatred and disappeared without leaving a trace. In the last elections it was the pensioners’ list, with tens of thousands of youngsters voting for it as a prank. In the current elections, Liberman’s party has caught the trend, riding on the primitive emotions of the masses which broke free in the Gaza War.

There is also a pessimistic version: Fascism has become a serious player in the Israeli public domain. The three main parties have now legitimized it. This phenomenon must be stopped before it is too late.

* * *

SO, HOW shall I vote?

I intend to draw up a list that will start from the worst down to the least evil. The last one on the list gets my vote.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch's book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

as eleições israelitas na imprensa libanesa.11/01

Stavro (AlBalad-French edition)

Stavro (Opinion)

Pierre Sadeq (Annahar) : Eleições israelitas, o resulto: eu, mim ou eu

Arman Homsi(Annahar)

Hajo (Assafir): Eleições israelitas

Bleibel (Al Mustaqbal): esquerda, centro, direita

fonte: Annahar (Arman) ; Assafir; Pierre Sadeq; Al Balad; Stavro; Al Mustaqbal

As eleições israelitas.11/01

fonte:Al Jazeera

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

caricaturas sobre as eleições israelitas.10/01

votar pela direita, votar pela esquerda

as eleicoes em Israel

fonte: Al Hayat (Beirut); Al Ittihad (EAU)

a nova administração americana e Gaza.09/01

fonte:DailyStar (Lebanon); fotos: AP on Yahoo

Obama's Mideast ways are pretty similar to Bush's By Yossi Alpher
Commentary by
Monday, February 09, 2009

It is too early to evaluate the direction the Mitchell mission is taking. Mitchell's preliminary visit, immediately after the war in Gaza and just days before Israel's elections, can only be defined as an orientation tour. Hence, at this early date we can address the Mitchell mission only in terms of the direction George Mitchell appears to be headed.

Based on this first foray into the region, Mitchell's mission can already be characterized as one enveloped in a paradox: He is not addressing all those Middle East actors who will have to be addressed if progress is to be achieved and if the principles laid out by President Barack Obama for dealing with the Middle East are to be honored.

Here we must recall the backdrop to Mitchell's appointment and examine the course of this first visit. Back in 2001, it was Mitchell who coined a certain equation linking cessation of both Palestinian violence and Israeli settlement expansion. In the ensuing years, US President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon managed to address that equation in rather unique terms: they agreed to the total rejection of Palestinian violence, a wink and a nod at settlement expansion, but also the removal of all the Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip.

This, and Hamas' takeover of power in Gaza, put the focus on the West Bank, where Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have resolutely worked against Palestinian violence despite the absence of movement by Sharon's successor, Ehud Olmert, on the settlement issue. Now the legitimacy of the Abbas-Fayyad duo is now called into question by the expiration, several weeks ago, of Abbas' term of office. In parallel, Egypt is renewing efforts to establish a Palestinian unity government, which will almost certainly lead to fresh Palestinian elections as well.

So Mitchell is really waiting for not one but two very relevant governments to resolve the issue of their composition. For this reason, and because of the humanitarian aftermath of the war in Gaza, the practical focus of his first visit was on the need to formulate and implement new arrangements for Gaza: prevention of weapons smuggling on the one hand, but facilitation of reconstruction aid on the other.

One additional background factor is relevant here. Mitchell excelled in his mediation role in Northern Ireland because of his legendary patience and readiness to listen to all parties to a conflict and include them in its resolution. (A second background factor, the fact that Mitchell differs from most of his predecessors in the Middle East role in that he is of Arab rather than Jewish background, is of doubtful relevance. He can be expected to promote American interests, just as his Jewish predecessors did.)

Here we arrive at the paradox of Mitchell's mission, at least as manifested in his first visit. Mitchell ostensibly represents both Obama's readiness to talk to America's Islamist adversaries as well as his own legacy of including all combatants. In addition, he concentrated during this visit on ways to channel reconstruction aid into the Gaza Strip. Moreover, his mandate presumably includes not only Israeli-Palestinian but Israel-Syria issues as well.

Yet Mitchell did not attempt to talk to Hamas or even visit the Gaza Strip during the visit. Like many others in the West and in the Arab world, he appears to believe it is possible to rebuild Gaza yet ignore its Hamas-led government. His itinerary took him to Ramallah, Cairo, Amman and Riyadh - but not to Damascus. He cancelled a visit to Turkey after a high-level Israeli-Turkish clash at the Davos World Economic Forum - as if this somehow rendered Ankara's own Middle East mediation efforts, past and future, less relevant.

A Mitchell visit to Gaza, Damascus or Ankara would not in any way have betrayed Israel or the administration's basic undertaking regarding Israel's security. On the contrary, it would have served them. If Obama and his emissary for Arab-Israel affairs intend to represent a new and refreshing departure in America's approach to the Middle East, Mitchell's first visit was not characteristic of this approach. It seemed to reflect attitudes regarding the identity of America's interlocutors that characterized the Bush era.

Let's hope this is not a harbinger of things to come.

Yossi Alpher is a former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, and was a senior adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Barak. This commentary first appeared at, an online newsletter publishing contending views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Entrevista a Alan Stoleroff

Entrevista com Alan Stoleroff

“Israel não actua em meu nome”

Manuel Raposo - Sábado, 31 Janeiro, 2009 p1000437_reduz.jpgSociólogo e professor universitário, Alan Stoleroff é cidadão norte-americano e português. Faz parte de uma corrente, ainda minoritária, de judeus que combatem o sionismo e que recusam contribuir para a legitimação da ocupação da Palestina e do papel de Israel no Médio Oriente. “A única esperança de saída para a situação”, afirma, “é o fim da ocupação, a unidade palestiniana, a negociação com todas as forças representativas do Povo Palestiniano e a criação de um Estado Palestiniano”.

Como judeu e cidadão norte-americano como reages à situação que se vive na região?
Em primeiro lugar agradeço a oportunidade de fazer ouvir a minha voz. Acontece que há cada vez mais vozes de Judeus – sobretudo de norte-americanos mas também de europeus – além das habituais como Chomsky, Finkelstein e Falk, a tomarem posições críticas a respeito da ocupação. Há pouco éramos verdadeiramente uma pequena minoria, sobretudo de judeus com posições consequentes e com activismo público contra a ocupação. Éramos rotulados “self-hating Jews” [“judeus auto-odiados”] pela propaganda sionista e pela direita judaica norte-americana. Pode-se ver na Internet a vilipendiação que merecemos destas forças escuras. É uma caracterização que sempre me melindrou e que rejeito. Aliás, faço questão no meu activismo público de identificar-me explicitamente como Judeu para deixar claro que Israel não actua em meu nome e que recuso contribuir para a legitimação da ocupação e do papel de Israel na região. Por outro lado, quero afirmar que a minha postura e oposição frontal à ocupação derivam da minha concepção do que é ser um Judeu a viver correctamente neste mundo pós-Holocausto. As implicações desta afirmação são muitas, mas não quero centrar a conversa sobre esse tema.

Em concreto sobre a situação política…
Respondendo directamente à pergunta, a minha reacção é de repúdio ao rejeicionismo de Israel, isto é, à sua rejeição repetida de todas as oportunidades para obter a sua normalização na região através do fim da ocupação; é de repúdio absoluto dos crimes cometidos sob a ocupação contra o povo palestino. Não só reajo contra Israel enquanto potência bélica e desestabilizadora na região e como bastião do imperialismo em geral na região; considero também que esta estratégia de domínio com base na dissuasão pela força desproporcional é uma estratégia errada para a segurança do Estado de Israel.
A frontalidade da minha posição causa problemas à maior parte dos Judeus norte-americanos que aceitam a narrativa sionista dominante em relação ao estabelecimento do Estado e que culpabilizam os Palestinianos, ignorando e negando o Naqba [“Desastre”, derrota árabe na guerra de 1948] desse povo que tem tantos direitos, senão mais, quanto os Judeus à Terra. Os Judeus em geral têm alguma dificuldade em enquadrar a resistência dos Palestinianos numa perspectiva histórica e só entendem a sua própria justiça. Vejam por exemplo como reagiram à situação em Gaza; só viram os rockets do Hamas, ignorando a miséria que estava a ser exacerbada em Gaza pelo bloqueio e cerco. Temos vindo a alertar todos quanto à guetoização de Gaza ao longo dos últimos anos, mas o mundo não quis saber.

Porque as pessoas em geral dificilmente conseguem relativizar as suas observações do mundo por contextos históricos, sobretudo quando se trata de situações coloniais. Os Israelitas e os Judeus da Diáspora, que não conhecem ou ignoram a história, também ignoram o facto irónico de que os “militantes” de Gaza estavam a lançar rockets para as cidades e aldeias do sul donde os seus avós e pais tinham sido expulsos. Faziam isso como acto de auto-afirmação, como um apelo ao mundo, e se entendiam isso ideologicamente como um acto de resistência e de guerra era uma vingança pelo sofrimento histórico e imediato. Tentar explicar esta perspectiva a Judeus em geral e aos norte-americanos, em particular, é muito difícil e não é aceite. Mas temos que fazer esse esforço, sem medo e sem parar, porque os lobbies sionistas dos EUA são o apoio fundamental para a política criminosa de Israel e esses lobbies dependem do apoio dos Judeus americanos.
De facto, tem havido progresso importante nesse sentido, o qual é evidenciado em parte pela criação de um contra-lobby judaico nos EUA que, apesar do seu sionismo moderado, trabalha para uma política mais racional. Veremos com o tempo qual será o seu efeito e como a antiga equipa de Clinton actuará com a administração de Obama no novo contexto da região.

E como te sentes enquanto cidadão português?
Como cidadão português insisto em actuar no mesmo sentido. O nosso governo tem uma influência importante bilateralmente mas especialmente no contexto da União Europeia, e penso que podemos trabalhar para que o nosso Governo tenha uma política relevante para acabar com a ocupação e resolver o conflito – que precisa de intervenção saudável de fora. Farei tudo o que posso nesse sentido. Portugal é um país pequeno mas pode ter uma enorme influência.

Nas últimas semanas, houve várias posições públicas de judeus contra Israel. Que importância vês nisso?
Tem imensa importância pelas razões que já referi e mais algumas. Israel obtém uma certa legitimação na medida em que haja uma identificação do Estado com o povo Judeu que sofreu o Holocausto. Esta identificação, que é muito forte embora escusada, em conjunto com as tendências anti-árabes e anti-islâmicas dos países europeus (apesar da importância dos trabalhadores imigrantes muçulmanos nas suas economias) e interesses parcialmente alinhados com os norte-americanos para o controlo das fontes do petróleo, faz com que Europa siga uma política que, no fim de contas, favorece Israel, e acaba por ser complacente com a ocupação.

E como avalias as manifestações contra a guerra no interior de Israel?
Avalio muito positivamente as manifestações nas cidades e aldeias árabes. Do meu ponto de vista, um dos fenómenos mais importantes nos últimos tempos é a re-emergência da voz dos “árabes israelitas-palestinianos” dentro do Estado de Israel. As suas manifestações contra a agressão em Gaza, lideradas por Hadash (partido de esquerda juntando Árabes e Judeus) e os partidos e organizações “árabes-palestinas” foram maciças, eficazes, belas e heróicas. A resistência israelita judaica também foi importante, embora de relativa pequena dimensão. A pequena manifestação dos anarquistas à frente de uma base da Força Aérea teve um simbolismo importante bem como, claro, a recusa dos jovens em servirem no exército, o caso dos Shiministim. Foram importantes também as tomadas de posição de alguns jornalistas; destaco Gideon Levy do Há’aretz. Mas, de facto, ainda não foi suficiente. Houve alguma repressão da oposição e, como já disse, a população israelita está notoriamente cega e anestesiada e manipulada. Há grandes riscos na situação porque não são apenas os fascistas do Partido Yisrael Beitonu que consideram os Árabes Israelitas e o movimento israelita pela paz como uma “quinta coluna”. Portanto tanto o movimento pela paz como o povo palestino precisam e exigem a nossa solidariedade.

Como vencer esses riscos?
Neste momento seria muito produtivo se houvesse uma articulação destes protestos dentro de Israel com a resistência nos territórios ocupados. Há dois ou três dias em Hebron houve uma grande manifestação e na altura pensei que seria muito positivo se, na sequência da criminosa agressão a Gaza, houvesse na Cisjordânia uma revolta de massa, de desobediência, sem qualquer recurso a armas, que considero verdadeiramente contra-producente como táctica, mas com o sentido de um confronto com o exército ocupante. Infelizmente a Autoridade Palestiniana não permite isso. Acho a postura da AP um grande erro estratégico que também não a vai beneficiar em posteriores negociações com Israel nem nas suas relações com o Hamas.

Os protestos em Portugal foram escassos para a importância da situação. Como interpretas isto?
Ai, isso é difícil. Oiço os activistas experientes dos vários movimentos contra guerra e o imperialismo dizerem constantemente como é difícil mobilizar os portugueses para acções de solidariedade internacional, sobretudo quando não se sintam implicados na situação, como foi o caso do Timor. É verdade, as manifestações em Portugal foram escassas. Os portugueses sentem-se pouco implicados na situação, e há muitos argumentos eficazes para atenuar a indignação moral das pessoas, mesmo aquelas que de facto conseguiram testemunhar minimamente a atrocidade humana que foi o ataque a Gaza. Quanto muito, foi mais um espectáculo televisivo de barbaridade humana, cujo saco está sempre a reabastecer-se.

O que falta fazer para alterar este estado de coisas?
A situação é complexa. Mesmo amigos meus progressistas recusaram tomar posição, e não entendem o meu empenho enquanto Judeu, tanto porque sobrevive alguma simpatia para com os Judeus que se identificam com Israel, como porque responsabilizam pela situação o Hamas, que consideram um movimento reaccionário islamista fanático que provocou Israel. Não foram convencidos pelos meus argumentos quanto ao bloqueio, quanto às raízes históricas da violência, nem ouviram as minhas revelações quanto ao planeamento deliberado do ataque por Israel, nem as minhas explicações sobre a degeneração da trégua. Só ouviam a demonização do Hamas. Pronto, há alguma lógica nesse raciocínio. Já sabemos o que acontece e pode acontecer quando um movimento islamista reaccionário obtém o poder, e de facto ninguém deveria ter ilusões quanto ao que o Hamas poderá representar. Mas, por um lado, foi o próprio Israel que conduziu o Hamas para a posição onde está agora, pela sua política estúpida durante a primeira Intifada, de que alguns agentes mais inteligentes já se arrependem. Por outro lado, a barbaridade das reacções israelitas, que no pensamento hegemónico militar é vista cínica e funcionalmente como “dissuasão”, só aumentou o ódio contra Israel e dificultou a resolução do conflito.

Que saldo se pode fazer de mais este morticínio?
Israel não atingiu os objectivos quanto ao Hamas, mas acho que os seus verdadeiros objectivos foram semear medo da sua reacção ao “terrorismo”. Uma pacificação obtida desta forma não será duradoura e terá efeitos perversos terríveis. A única esperança de uma saída qualquer do marasmo da situação é o fim da ocupação, a unidade palestiniana, a negociação com todas as forças representativas do Povo Palestiniano e a criação de um Estado Palestiniano.
Acabo dizendo que a nossa solidariedade com a Palestina é mais importante que nunca e nunca deveremos deixar questões secundárias interferir com a nossa unidade nesse esforço.

Fonte: Jornalmudardevida. net (Obrigada, Luís!)


Obama e o império.09/02

fonte :counterpunch

Change (in Rhetoric) We Can Believe In?

Obama and the Empire


I've said all along that whatever good changes might occur in regard to non-foreign policy issues, such as what's already taken place concerning the environment and abortion, the Obama administration will not produce any significantly worthwhile change in US foreign policy; little done in this area will reduce the level of misery that the American Empire regularly brings down upon humanity. And to the extent that Barack Obama is willing to clearly reveal what he believes about anything controversial, he appears to believe in the empire.

The Obamania bubble should already have begun to lose some air with the multiple US bombings of Pakistan within the first few days following the inauguration. The Pentagon briefed the White House of its plans, and the White House had no objection. So bombs away — Barack Obama's first war crime. The dozens of victims were, of course, all bad people, including all the women and children. As with all these bombings, we'll never know the names of all the victims — It's doubtful that even Pakistan knows — or what crimes they had committed to deserve the death penalty. Some poor Pakistani probably earned a nice fee for telling the authorities that so-and-so bad guy lived in that house over there; too bad for all the others who happened to live with the bad guy, assuming of course that the bad guy himself actually lived in that house over there.

The new White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, declined to answer questions about the first airstrikes, saying "I'm not going to get into these matters."1 Where have we heard that before?

After many of these bombings in recent years, a spokesperson for the United States or NATO has solemnly declared: “We regret the loss of life.” These are the same words used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on a number of occasions, but their actions were typically called “terrorist”.

I wish I could be an Obamaniac. I envy their enthusiasm. Here, in the form of an open letter to President Obama, are some of the "changes we can believe in" in foreign policy that would have to occur to win over the non-believers like me.


Just leave them alone. There is no "Iranian problem". They are a threat to no one. Iran hasn't invaded any other country in centuries. No, President Ahmadinejad did not threaten Israel with any violence. Stop patrolling the waters surrounding Iran with American warships. Stop halting Iranian ships to check for arms shipments to Hamas. (That's generally regarded as an act of war.) Stop using Iranian dissident groups to carry out terrorist attacks inside Iran. Stop kidnaping Iranian diplomats. Stop the continual spying and recruiting within Iran. And yet, with all that, you can still bring yourself to say: "If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us."2

Iran has as much right to arm Hamas as the US has to arm Israel. And there is no international law that says that the United States, the UK, Russia, China, Israel, France, Pakistan, and India are entitled to nuclear weapons, but Iran is not. Iran has every reason to feel threatened. Will you continue to provide nuclear technology to India, which has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while threatening Iran, an NPT signatory, with sanctions and warfare?


Stop surrounding the country with new NATO members. Stop looking to instigate new "color" revolutions in former Soviet republics and satellites. Stop arming and supporting Georgia in its attempts to block the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhasia, the breakaway regions on the border of Russia. And stop the placement of anti-missile systems in Russia's neighbors, the Czech Republic and Poland, on the absurd grounds that it's to ward off an Iranian missile attack. It was Czechoslovakia and Poland that the Germans also used to defend their imperialist ambitions — The two countries were being invaded on the grounds that Germans there were being maltreated. The world was told.

"The U.S. government made a big mistake from the breakup of the Soviet Union," said former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev last year. "At that time the Russian people were really euphoric about America and the U.S. was really number one in the minds of many Russians." But, he added, the United States moved aggressively to expand NATO and appeared gleeful at Russia's weakness.3


Making it easier to travel there and send remittances is very nice (if, as expected, you do that), but these things are dwarfed by the need to end the US embargo. In 1999, Cuba filed a suit against the United States for $181.1 billion in compensation for economic losses and loss of life during the almost forty years of this aggression. The suit held Washington responsible for the death of 3,478 Cubans and the wounding and disabling of 2,099 others. We can now add ten more years to all three figures. The negative, often crippling, effects of the embargo extend into every aspect of Cuban life.

In addition to closing Guantanamo prison, the adjacent US military base established in 1903 by American military force should be closed and the land returned to Cuba.

The Cuban Five, held prisoner in the United States for over 10 years, guilty only of trying to prevent American-based terrorism against Cuba, should be released. Actually there were 10 Cubans arrested; five knew that they could expect no justice in an American court and pled guilty to get shorter sentences.4


Freeing the Iraqi people to death ... Nothing short of a complete withdrawal of all US forces, military and contracted, and the closure of all US military bases and detention and torture centers, can promise a genuine end to US involvement and the beginning of meaningful Iraqi sovereignty. To begin immediately. Anything less is just politics and imperialism as usual. In six years of war, the Iraqi people have lost everything of value in their lives. As the Washington Post reported in 2007: "It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003."5 The good news is that the Iraqi people have 5,000 years experience in crafting a society to live in. They should be given the opportunity.

Saudi Arabia

Demand before the world that this government enter the 21st century (or at least the 20th), or the United States has to stop pretending that it gives a damn about human rights, women, homosexuals, religious liberty, and civil liberties. The Bush family had long-standing financial ties to members of the Saudi ruling class. What will be your explanation if you maintain the status quo?


Reinstate the exiled Jean Bertrand Aristide to the presidency, which he lost when the United States overthrew him in 2004. To seek forgiveness for our sins, give the people of Haiti lots and lots of money and assistance.


Stop giving major military support to a government that for years has been intimately tied to death squads, torture, and drug trafficking; in no other country in the world have so many progressive candidates for public office, unionists, and human-rights activists been murdered. Are you concerned that this is the closest ally the United States has in all of Latin America?


Hugo Chavez may talk too much but he's no threat except to the capitalist system of Venezuela and, by inspiration, elsewhere in Latin America. He has every good historical reason to bad-mouth American foreign policy, including Washington's role in the coup that overthrew him in 2002. If you can't understand why Chavez is not in love with what the United States does all over the world, I can give you a long reading list.

Put an end to support for Chavez's opposition by the Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, and other US government agencies. US diplomats should not be meeting with Venezuelans plotting coups against Chavez, nor should they be interfering in elections.

Send Luis Posada from Florida to Venezuela, which has asked for his extradition for his masterminding the bombing of a Cuban airline in 1976, taking 73 lives. Extradite the man, or try him in the US, or stop talking about the war on terrorism.

And please try not to repeat the nonsense about Venezuela being a dictatorship. It's a freer society than the United States. It has, for example, a genuine opposition daily media, non-existent in the United States. If you doubt that, try naming a single American daily newspaper or TV network that was unequivocally against the US invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam. Or even against two of them? How about one? Is there a single one that supports Hamas and/or Hezbollah? A few weeks ago, the New York Times published a story concerning a possible Israeli attack upon Iran, and stated: "Several details of the covert effort have been omitted from this account, at the request of senior United States intelligence and administration officials, to avoid harming continuing operations."6

Alas, Mr. President, among other disparaging remarks, you've already accused Chavez of being "a force that has interrupted progress in the region."7 This is a statement so contrary to the facts, even to plain common sense, so hypocritical given Washington's history in Latin America, that I despair of you ever freeing yourself from the ideological shackles that have bound every American president of the past century. It may as well be inscribed in their oath of office — that a president must be antagonistic toward any country that has expressly rejected Washington as the world's savior. You made this remark in an interview with Univision, Venezuela's leading, implacable media critic of the Chavez government. What regional progress could you be referring to, the police state of Colombia?


Stop American diplomats, Peace Corps volunteers, Fulbright scholars, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, from spying and fomenting subversion inside Bolivia. As the first black president of the United States, you could try to cultivate empathy toward, and from, the first indigenous president of Bolivia. Congratulate Bolivian president Evo Morales on winning a decisive victory on a recent referendum to approve a new constitution which enshrines the rights of the indigenous people and, for the first time, institutes separation of church and state.


Perhaps the most miserable people on the planet, with no hope in sight as long as the world's powers continue to bomb, invade, overthrow, occupy, and slaughter in their land. The US Army is planning on throwing 30,000 more young American bodies into the killing fields and is currently building eight new major bases in southern Afghanistan. Is that not insane? If it makes sense to you I suggest that you start the practice of the president accompanying the military people when they inform American parents that their child has died in a place called Afghanistan.

If you pull out from this nightmare, you could also stop bombing Pakistan. Leave even if it results in the awful Taliban returning to power. They at least offer security to the country's wretched, and indications are that the current Taliban are not all fundamentalists.

But first, close Bagram prison and other detention camps, which are worse than Guantanamo.

And stop pretending that the United States gives a damn about the Afghan people and not oil and gas pipelines which can bypass Russia and Iran. The US has been endeavoring to fill the power vacuum in Central Asia created by the Soviet Union’s dissolution in order to assert Washington's domination over a region containing the second largest proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world. Is Afghanistan going to be your Iraq?


The most difficult task for you, but the one that would earn for you the most points. To declare that Israel is no longer the 51st state of the union would bring down upon your head the wrath of the most powerful lobby in the world and its many wealthy followers, as well as the Christian-fundamentalist Right and much of the media. But if you really want to see peace between Israel and Palestine you must cut off all military aid to Israel, in any form: hardware, software, personnel, money. And stop telling Hamas it has to recognize Israel and renounce violence until you tell Israel that it has to recognize Hamas and renounce violence.

North Korea

Bush called the country part of "the axis of evil", and Kim Jong Il a "pygmy" and "a spoiled child at a dinner table."8 But you might try to understand where Kim Jong Il is coming from. He sees that UN agencies went into Iraq and disarmed it, and then the United States invaded. The logical conclusion is not to disarm, but to go nuclear.

Central America

Stop interfering in the elections of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, year after year. The Cold War has ended. And though you can't undo the horror perpetrated by the United States in the region in the 1980s, you can at least be kind to the immigrants in the US who came here trying to escape the long-term consequences of that terrible decade.


In your inauguration speech you spoke proudly of those "who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom ... For us, they fought and died, in places like ... Khe Sanh." So it is your studied and sincere opinion that the 58,000 American sevicemembers who died in Vietnam, while helping to kill over a million Vietnamese, gave their life for our prosperity and freedom? Would you care to defend that proposition without resort to any platitudes?

You might also consider this: In all the years since the Vietnam War ended, the three million Vietnamese suffering from diseases and deformities caused by US sprayings of the deadly chemical "Agent Orange" have received from the United States no medical attention, no environmental remediation, no compensation, and no official apology.


Stop supporting the most gangster government in the world, which has specialized in kidnaping, removing human body parts for sale, heavy trafficking in drugs, trafficking in women, various acts of terrorism, and ethnic cleansing of Serbs. This government would not be in power if the Bush administration had not seen them as America's natural allies. Do you share that view? UN Resolution 1244, adopted in 1999, reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to which Serbia is now the recognized successor state, and established that Kosovo was to remain part of Serbia. Why do we have a huge and permanent military base in that tiny self-declared country?


From protecting Europe against a [mythical] Soviet invasion to becoming an occupation army in Afghanistan. Put an end to this historical anachronism, what Russian leader Vladimir called "the stinking corpse of the cold war."9. You can accomplish this simply by leaving the organization. Without the United States and its never-ending military actions and officially-designated enemies, the organization would not even have the pretense of a purpose, which is all it has left. Members have had to be bullied, threatened and bribed to send armed forces to Afghanistan.

School of the Americas

Latin American countries almost never engage in war with each other, or any other countries. So for what kind of warfare are its military officers being trained by the United States? To suppress their own people. Close this school (the name has now been changed to protect the guilty) at Ft. Benning, Georgia that the United States has used to prepare two generations of Latin American military officers for careers in overthrowing progressive governments, death squads, torture, holding down dissent, and other charming activities. The British are fond of saying that the Empire was won on the playing fields of Eton. Americans can say that the road to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram began in the classrooms of the School of the Americas.


Your executive orders concerning this matter of utmost importance are great to see, but they still leave something to be desired. They state that the new standards ostensibly putting an end to torture apply to any "armed conflict". But what if your administration chooses to view future counterterrorism and other operations as not part of an "armed conflict"? And no mention is made of "rendition" — kidnaping a man off the street, throwing him in a car, throwing a hood over his head, stripping off his clothes, placing him in a diaper, shackling him from every angle, and flying him to a foreign torture dungeon. Why can't you just say that this and all other American use of proxy torturers is banned? Forever.

It's not enough to say that you're against torture or that the United States "does not torture" or "will not torture". George W. Bush said the same on a regular basis. To show that you're not George W. Bush you need to investigate those responsible for the use of torture, even if this means prosecuting a small army of Bush administration war criminals.

You aren't off to a good start by appointing former CIA official John O. Brennan as your top adviser on counterterrorism. Brennan has called "rendition" a "vital tool" and praised the CIA's interrogation techniques for providing "lifesaving" intelligence.10 Whatever were you thinking, Barack?

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi

Free this Libyan man from his prison in Scotland, where he is serving a life sentence after being framed by the United States for the bombing of PanAm flight 103 in December 1988, which took the lives of 270 people over Scotland. Iran was actually behind the bombing — as revenge for the US shooting down an Iranian passenger plane in July, killing 290 — not Libya, which the US accused for political reasons.11 Nations do not behave any more cynical than that. Megrahi lies in prison now dying of cancer, but still the US and the UK will not free him. It would be too embarrassing to admit to 20 years of shameless lying.

Mr. President, there's a lot more to be undone in our foreign policy if you wish to be taken seriously as a moral leader like Martin Luther King, Jr.: banning the use of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, and other dreadful weapons; joining the International Criminal Court instead of trying to sabotage it; making a number of other long-overdue apologies in addition to the one mentioned re Vietnam; and much more. You've got your work cut out for you if you really want to bring some happiness to this sad old world, make America credible and beloved again, stop creating armies of anti-American terrorists, and win over people like me.

And do you realize that you can eliminate all state and federal budget deficits in the United States, provide free health care and free university education to every American, pay for an unending array of worthwhile social and cultural programs, all just by ending our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not starting any new ones, and closing down the Pentagon's 700+ military bases? Think of it as the peace dividend Americans were promised when the Cold War would end some day, but never received. How about you delivering it, Mr. President? It's not too late.

But you are committed to the empire; and the empire is committed to war. Too bad.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.

He can be reached at:


1. Washington Post, January 24, 2009
2. Interview with al Arabiya TV, January 27, 2009
Gorbachev speaking in Florida, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 17, 2008
4. Washington Post, May 5, 2007, p.1
5. New York Times, January 11, 2009
6. Washington Post, January 19, 2009
7. Newsweek, May 27, 2002
8. Press Trust of India (news agency), December 21, 2007
9. Washington Post, November 26, 2008

Sunday, 8 February 2009

os repórteres da guerra preferem a moralidade sobre imparcialidade??.09/02

fonte: The Independent; fotos: AP on Yahoo

Robert Fisk: War reporters used to prefer morality over impartiality

I wonder whether we show the same power and passion as the earlier generations

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The "normality" of war, part two. We had a great storm in Beirut this week, thunder-cracks like gunfire, great green waves crashing below my balcony, rain like hail. So I curled up on my balcony sofa – coat and red scarf and thick socks – and opened a book sent by a kindly Independent reader, a much bent copy of Snyder and Morris's 1949 A Treasury of Great Reporting. And I began to wonder – in an age when the BBC can refuse help to the suffering because of its "impartiality" – whether we still report war with the same power and passion as the men and women of an earlier generation.

"'Turn back! Retreat!' shouted the men from the front, 'we're whipped, we're whipped!' They cursed and tugged at their horses' heads and struggled with frenzy to get past." This is William Howard Russell covering the Union rout at Bull Run for The Times. "Soon I met soldiers who were coming through the corn, mostly without arms... The ambulances were crowded with soldiers, but it did not look as if there were many wounded... Men literally screamed with rage or fright when their way was blocked... At every shot a convulsion, as it were, seized upon the morbid mass of bones, sinew, wood, and iron, and thrilled through it, giving new energy and action to its desperate efforts to get free from itself... In silence I passed over the long bridge."

And here is Archibald Forbes reporting the collapse of the Paris Commune in 1871 for the London Daily News. "The Parisians of civil life are caitiffs to the last drop of their thin, sour, white blood. But yesterday they had cried 'Vive la Commune!'... Today they rubbed their hands with livid currish joy to have it in their power to denounce a Communard and reveal his hiding place. Very eager at this work are the dear creatures of women... They have found him, the misérable!... a tall, pale, hatless man with something not ignoble in his carriage. His lower lip is trembling, but his brow is firm, and the eye of him has some pride and defiance in it. They yell – the crowd – 'Shoot him; shoot him!'... men club their rifles and bring them down on that head. They are firing on the flaccid carcass now, thronging about it like blowflies..."

The first German war crime of the 1914-18 war – the sack of the Belgian city of Louvain – was covered by Richard Harding Davis of the New York Tribune, forced by the Germans to stay aboard his military train as it circled the burning city. "When by troop train we reached Louvain, the entire heart of the city was destroyed and fire had reached the Boulevard Tirlemont, which faces the railroad station. The night was windless, and the sparks rose in steady, leisurely pillars, falling back into the furnace from which they sprang... Outside the station in the public square the people of Louvain passed in an unending procession, women bare-headed, weeping men carrying the children asleep on their shoulders... Once they were halted, and among them were marched a line of men. They well knew their fellow townsmen. These were on their way to be shot."

Now a slightly selfish Quentin Reynolds at the fall of Paris in 1940: "I had stayed behind to write the story of the siege of Paris... Now it developed that there would be no siege of Paris. The Grand Boulevard was almost deserted this morning. One middle-aged woman was sitting at a table at a sidewalk café, one of the very few where one could still get coffee and bread. She had driven into the city that morning in her small one-seated (sic) car. She wanted to sell her car. I bought it on the spot. Now I was mobile."

And Ed Murrow for CBS in the London Blitz: "Millions of people ask only, 'What can we do to help? Why must there be 800,000 unemployed when we need these shelters?... What are the war aims of this country? What shall we do with victory when it's won? What sort of Europe will be built when and if this stress has passed?' These questions are being asked by thoughtful people in this country. Mark it down that in the three weeks of the air Blitz against this country, more books and pamphlets have been published on these subjects than in any similar period of the war... Mark it down that these people are both brave and patient, that all are equal under the bomb... You are witnessing the beginning of a revolution, maybe the death of an age."

Finally, the sharp tongue of Rebecca West for The New Yorker at the Nuremberg trials. "Though one has read surprising news of Göring for years, he still surprises. He is, above all things, soft. He wears either a German air-force uniform or a light beach-suit in the worst of playful taste, and both hang loosely on him, giving him an air of pregnancy. He has thick brown young hair, the coarse, bright skin of an actor who has used grease paint for decades, and the preternaturally deep wrinkles of the drug addict; it adds up to something like the head of a ventriloquist's dummy. His appearance makes a pointed but obscure reference to sex... it appears in the Palace of Justice that it is only the Americans and the British who can hold up a mirror to Germany and help her to solve her own perplexing mystery – that mystery which, in Nuremberg and the countryside around it, is set out in flowers, flowers which concert by being not only lovely but beloved... 'The people where I live now send me in my breakfast tray strewn with pansies,' says the French doctor who is custodian of the relics at the Palace of Justice (the lampshade made of human skin, the shrunken head of the Polish Jew)."

It's not just the power of the writing I'm talking about here; the screaming soldiers, the dying Communard, the condemned men, the woman wanting to sell her car, the death of an age, the flowers. These reporters were spurred, weren't they, by the immorality of war. They cared. They were not frightened of damaging their "impartiality". I wonder if we still write like this.

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