Friday, September 01, 2006

Merkel Wimps Out on Israeli Cluster Bombs

Merkel Wimps Out on Israeli Cluster Bombs
Thursday August 31st 2006, 1:36 pm

German Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul was spot on when she criticized Israel for its obscene and wanton use of cluster bombs in Lebanon.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel was quick to jump up and kiss the hem of Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of German Jews, after she angrily complained that mentioning such is antisemitic.

“Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor, has repeatedly complained about what she terms a growing mood against Israel and Jews in Germany,” reports Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Wieczorek-Zeul and Oskar Lafontaine, members of Germany’s Left Party, according to Knobloch, “support the anti-mood against Jews in Germany.” In other words, if a German complains about Israel’s obvious war crimes—and in Germany, considerable parliamentary activity on cluster munitions is underway—he or she is obviously a raving antisemite, an accusation that imputes unspoken comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis.

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Charlotte Knobloch, the president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Wednesday to address Jewish anger over remarks made by overseas development minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul about Israel’s offensive in Lebanon,” reports Deutsche Welle. “Government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said Wednesday that Germany believed it carries a historical responsibility towards the Jewish state because of the Holocaust, and said all government ministers respected this policy.”

In other words, once again, the Holocaust was used as a cudgel by Jews who apparently believe Israel has the right to mass murder innocent Arabs, for as Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Los Angeles Times last month, there is a “new vocabulary to reflect the realities of modern warfare,” that is to say some civilians—Israeli civilians—are more innocent than other civilians, mostly Arabs, who are to be conflated with terrorists out of hand. In effect, the feelings of Germany’s Jews are more important than the lives of Lebanese children and grandmothers. How dare Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul think otherwise. No doubt she is a closet Nazi.

It does not matter that Wieczorek-Zeul and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier have lashed “out at human rights abuses regardless who may have committed them.” After all, we’re talking about Israelis here and victims of the Holocaust, an event exploited over the last six decades to shake down not only Germany but virtually every other country that feels somehow responsible for what the Nazis did, a guilt expertly milked to the tune of billions of dollars.

Of course, the Nazis killed nearly 7 million Russian civilians (others put this estimate at 16 million) and thousands of communists, socialists, “degenerate artists,” homosexuals, and Roma were executed or sent to die in concentration camps, but we hear little about these poor souls.

Obviously, UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland often retreats to the secrecy of his closet and dons a Nazi uniform, glimmering with SS-Totenkopfverbande, or death’s head regalia. “What’s shocking, and I would say completely immoral, is that 90% of [Israel’s] cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict when we knew there would be a resolution, when we knew there would be an end,” Egeland said.

UN chief Kofi Annan is also a Nazi fellow traveler, as he criticized Israel’s use of cluster bombs as well. “Those kinds of weapons shouldn’t be used in civilian and populated areas,” said Annan, obviously not understanding that Israel (and the United States in Iraq) use these weapons primarily to kill civilians and inflict terror on populations considered less than civilian, as Dershowitz would have it.

“Up to yesterday night we had figures saying there were 405 locations of cluster-bomb strikes in southern Lebanon,” declared Dalya Farran, a spokeswoman for the UN Mine Action Coordination Center in southern Lebanon. “Per day, we are receiving an average of 30 new locations of cluster-bomb strikes because we have survey teams going to the field and getting information, and the picture is still emerging more and more.”

Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch, “who’s just returned from a visit to southern Lebanon, says the least the Israelis can do is hand over maps of where they dropped these munitions,” but then this would be considered surrendering to Islamofascists and an unforgivable effrontery to Jews around the world who suffered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Chełmno, Dachau, etc., or rather the ancestors of said victims, as most of the actual victims have passed on.

But merely mentioning such crimes in relation to Israel is verboten in Germany. “A German Jewish leader has lashed out at German Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul for demanding a UN inquiry into Israel’s use of cluster bombs against civilians in Lebanon, the daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported in its Wednesday edition,” reports IRNA. “The vice-president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Salomon Korn, accused Wieczorek-Zeul of being biased against Israel…. ‘The demand shows once again that the minister has reacted in a reflexive manner with regard to Israel,’ Korn said.”

Instead of complaining about Lebanese school kids maimed or killed by the uninhibited dispersal of cluster bombs—often painted in bright colors and thus attractive to children—Korn demanded “Wieczorek-Zeul should have first visited Israel to express her ’sympathy’ with the Israelis and not the Lebanese,” who are, recall, conflated with terrorists.

Meanwhile, “Germany’s powerful and influential Central Council of Jews removed the head of the Jewish community in the north German city of Luebeck from office for strongly criticizing the 34-day Israeli war in Lebanon, the Hamburg-based daily Die Welt reported on Thursday,” reports IRNA. “Rolf Verleger who was chairman of the Jewish community in Luebeck, was dismissed from office after writing an open letter to the Central Council of Jews in which he lashed out at Israel’s brutal and murderous policies in Lebanon and the Palestinian-run areas.”

In the letter, Verleger lambasted Israel for its target killings, the collective punishment and discriminatory policies of other people and the massive bombing of civilian areas in Lebanon.

He urged the Central Council of Jews not to remain silent towards Israel’s atrocities.

The Central Council of Jews is seen as a die-hard defender of the Zionist regime as it automatically equates any criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.

In addition, Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, the daughter of the late German Jewish leader Heinz Galinski, “lashed out at Germany’s powerful Central Council of Jews, accusing it of being nothing more than a mouthpiece of Israel,” reports IRNA. “Evelyn Hecht-Galinski expressed her outrage over continued attempts by the Central Council of Jews to stifle any criticism of Israel in Germany…. ‘As a German Jew, I am ashamed of Israel. Target killings, humiliating the Palestinian population, land dispossessions, destroying infrastructure, border checkpoint harassments, building the wall, blowing up houses, bombing UN monitors,’” Hecht-Galinski wrote for Stern magazine.

Obviously, Rolf Verleger and Evelyn Hecht-Galinski are self-hating Jews, for as “Natan Sharansky made clear, where Israel is criticized illegitimately, that is anti-Semitism,” writes Fiamma Nirenstein. “Israelis have difficulty understanding the nature of the polemical attacks used against the Jewish state. By being tarred as an apartheid, colonial, racist state, the enemy is merely employing anti-Semitic canards against Israel,” thus all criticism of Israel—beyond a tourist taking an Israeli restaurateur to task for bad dining experience or complaining about a rude hotel concierge—is antisemitism.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, Third New International Edition, antisemitism is defined as “opposition to Zionism” and “sympathy for the opponents of Israel,” most notably the Palestinians and more recently the people of Lebanon, who are less innocent than Israelis because they attempted to defend their country against invasion.

“Ken Jacobson, the associate national director of the Anti-Defamation League, urged Merriam-Webster to retain the definition,” notes Wikipedia, after the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee complained to Merriam Webster directly over the inclusion of the spurious entry. “Zionism is the national expression of the Jewish people,” he told the New York Times, “and to deny that, it seems to me, most often reflects anti-Semitic views.” In other words, if you complain about Israel killing Palestinian school children or targeting Lebanese apartment buildings in the middle of the night, you are denying the “national expression of the Jewish people.”

Fearful of denying this “national expression of the Jewish people”—in reality translated as stealing Arab land and invading neighboring countries—and angering the Jews of Germany, Angela Merkel wimped out.

“Merkel and Knobloch, in the first meeting of its kind since the council’s president took office, discussed the situation of the Jewish community in Germany, the state of affairs in the Middle East and Germany’s cooperation with the United Nations in stabilizing Lebanon for over an hour.”

In short, the German head of state kissed Knobloch’s heinie and begged for forgiveness, never mind the cluster bombs and merciless Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

Of course, this was to be expected, as Merkel is essentially a German version of a neocon, fully in support of Israel’s invasion and mass murder campaign in Lebanon.

“At a press conference in Germany [on July 13], Chancellor Angela Merkel lined up behind US President George Bush in supporting Israel’s expanding war of attrition in the Middle East. On the same day that Israeli fighter planes bombed Lebanon’s main airport, Bush and Merkel stood shoulder to shoulder to declare their solidarity with Israel,” writes Stefan Steinberg. “Merkel … raised the issue of the intensified fighting in the Gaza Strip and laid the entire blame for the Israeli invasion of Gaza and the expansion of its aggression into Lebanon on the Palestinians. The main issue, she said, was for Palestinian and Lebanese militants to return their captured prisoners and cease rocket attacks on Israel,” in other words, the Palestinians and Lebanese must accept Israeli domination and ethnic cleansing without resistance.

It would seem the question now is how long it will be before Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul is bounced.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

War, Crime, Propaganda, and Judeo-Fascism

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Slithered back recently into the lexicon of the Bush administration, Israel's Ohmert crowd, and their supporters in the corporate media, a new meme to help you better understand what the dated, "War on Terror" really means, and what it demands of the citizenry: "Islamo-Fascism," and its interchangeable synonyms, "Islamic Fascism," and "Islamic Terrorism" are the action phrases of the day, and as with much of the language heard coming from these actors over the past years, the au courant terms describe best their authors' values and methods.

War, Crime, Propaganda, and Judeo-Fascism

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
August 31, 2006

We needn't have witnessed the systematic destruction of Lebanon last month to appreciate the nature of Israel, we need only remember the ongoing systematic destruction of the Palestinian peoples, a project escalated this summer and quaintly dubbed by Israel 'Operation Summer Rains'.

Those "rain drops" are naturally not water, but a torrent of blazing steel and lead. These "rains" don't bring life to the hills, rivers, orchards, and beasts beneath them, but terrible death and heart-rending loss. And, for the Palestinians there is no umbrella, they are caught in the storm; no United Nations troops are urged to protect them from the Rainmakers across the wall.

The Palestinians, those surviving the repeated pogroms perpetrated by their neighbour to remain depite the murderous, and continuing Diaspora, are left to scratch a living out of the rubble, while Israeli tower guards snipe at their children, and rockets destroy their civic leaders and any unfortunates within a hundred yards of them. Daily, news of the freshly killed in Gaza and the West Bank could be heard before a shot was fired in Lebanon.

Every day, more civilians killed. Remember the family cut down while they barbecued on the beach? Remember the family dismembered in their flat by a "stray" Israeli missile? Recall the doctor kidnapped from Gaza, with his young son before Palestinians attacked a military outpost, killing several soldiers, and abducting one?

No? How about the campaign of "Sonic Straifing" carried out continuously over Gaza commencing last Autumn, (a tactic deployed too against the Lebanese last month)?

What the media and the U.N. have consistently failed to address in the recent tragedy brought upon Lebanon through the agency of the Israeli leadership, in collusion with their armourers in America, and callously carried out by the Israeli military is context. The depth of the United Nations' abrogation of their duty to justice for peoples and nations, as presented in the pitiful Resolution 1701 makes clear: The truth of the matter will not be addressed; Israel will not be punished for its blatant illegalities; No reproach either offered to the United States, Canada, and others in the international community who sanctioned Israel's unilateral destruction and continued blockade of Lebanon.

Of course these, Israel's signature pursuits, identically apply in Palestine, but are of no issue. Despite Kofi Annan's, seemingly made suddenly aware of Israel's brutality in occupied Palestine, harsh words parting directed to the rogue of the region are meaningless. It's doubtful Kofi's successor to the helm of the U.N. will waiver from Annan's long-practiced inaction where Israel is concerned; and, 1701 insures that.

Littered again with Israeli land-mines, uncounted thousands of unexploded cluster bomb "bomblets," and other munitions, the land and waters polluted with oil and Depleted Uranium, Lebanon is in ruins. More than a thousand Lebanese civilian dead counted so far, more to be discovered when the wreckage of their homes and offices are cleared, and more being killed and wounded daily by Israel's "left-behind" ordnance, and not a single line in Resolution 1701 calls on Israel to make reparations. In fact, that duty, as with the "DMZ- like buffer zone" is assigned to others, and to be implemented at Israel's pleasure, most incredibly, while Israeli soldiers continue to occupy portions of Lebanon.

While rumours of a greater war in the middle east and beyond near deafening, the United Nations sees fit, at this late date, to reward recalcitrant, reprobate, scofflaw Israel for its unwarranted aggression against a sovereign nation. This is, as the soon late-to-be Saddam Hussein may have called it, "The Mother of All Crimes." And, those sitting at Nuremberg and Geneva, Washington, London, and Paris agreed. They explicitly cite: "Unprovoked war of aggression" as the ultimate war crime, a crime against the peace from which all others follow. Yet today, neither the United Nations, nor the European Union, are willing to apply the law. America stands silent on this too, naturally, as it has stood silent so many times in the past, opting instead to further embolden its "client state" to loose ever more American-made munitions upon its neighbours.

With the November mid-term elections in the U.S. drawing close, George W. Bush has brushed off the old "Islamic Fascists" doggerel in hope to carry again his disreputable Republican regime to control of both Houses of Congress. It proves the desire, and desperation of his administration for further wars. In an article, linked here, Toronto Star writer, Eric Margolis cites, Colombia University Professor Robert Paxton’s 2004 book, 'The Anatomy of Fascism,' and Paxton's definition of fascism as:

"1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions; 2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits; 3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts; 4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint; 5. fear of foreign 'contamination.'"

As Margolis observes: "Fascism demands a succession of wars, foreign conquests, and national threats to keep the nation in a state of fear, anxiety and patriotic hypertension. Those who disagree are branded ideological traitors."

With wars already burning in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, and battered Lebanon teetering, all these of the making of the Bush administration and it's allies, those same criminals would call the world to arms to fight the "Islamic Fascists," proving again the verity of the schoolyard rejoinder: "What you say is what you are."

C. L. Cook
is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Can You Really Not See?

By Amira Hass

08/30/06 "
Haaretz." -- - -Let us leave aside those Israelis whose ideology supports the dispossession of the Palestinian people because "God chose us." Leave aside the judges who whitewash every military policy of killing and destruction. Leave aside the military commanders who knowingly jail an entire nation in pens surrounded by walls, fortified observation towers, machine guns, barbed wire and blinding projectors. Leave aside the ministers. All of these are not counted among the collaborators. These are the architects, the planners, the designers, the executioners.

But there are others. Historians and mathematicians, senior editors, media stars, psychologists and family doctors, lawyers who do not support Gush Emunim and Kadima, teachers and educators, lovers of hiking trails and sing-alongs, high-tech wizards. Where are you? And what about you, researchers of Nazism, the Holocaust and Soviet gulags? Could you all be in favor of systematic discriminating laws? Laws stating that the Arabs of the Galilee will not even be compensated for the damages of the war by the same sums their Jewish neighbors are entitled to.

Could it be that you are all in favor of a racist Citizenship Law that forbids an Israeli Arab from living with his family in his own home? That you side with further expropriation of lands and the demolishing of additional orchards, for another settler neighborhood and another exclusively Jewish road? That you all back the shelling and missile fire killing the old and the young in the Gaza Strip?

Could it be that you all agree that a third of the West Bank (the Jordan Valley) should be off limits to Palestinians? That you all side with an Israeli policy that prevents tens of thousands of Palestinians who have obtained foreign citizenship from returning to their families in the occupied territories?

Could your mind really be so washed with the security excuse, used to forbid Gaza students from studying occupational therapy at Bethlehem and medicine at Abu Dis, and preventing sick people from Rafah from receiving medical treatment in Ramallah? Will also you find it easy to hide behind the explanation "we had no idea": we had no idea that the discrimination practiced in the distribution of water - which is solely controlled by Israel - leaves thousands of Palestinian households without water during the hot summer months; we had no idea that when the IDF blocks the entrance to villages, it also blocks their access to springs or water tanks.

But it cannot be that you don't see the iron gates along route 344 in the West Bank, blocking access to it from the Palestinian villages it passes by. It cannot be that you support preventing the access of thousands of farmers to their land and plantations, that you support the quarantine on Gaza which prevents the entry of medicine for hospitals, the disruption of electricity and water supply to 1.4 million human beings, closing their only outlet to the world for months.

Could it be that you do not know what is happening 15 minutes from your faculties and offices? Is it plausible that you support the system in which Hebrew soldiers, at checkpoints in the heart of the West Bank, are letting tens of thousands of people wait everyday for hours upon hours under the blazing sun, while selecting: residents of Nablus and Tul Karm are not allowed through, 35-year-olds and under - yallah, back to Jenin, residents of the Salem village are not even allowed to be here, a sick woman who skipped the line must learn a lesson and will be purposefully detained for hours. Machsom Watch's site is available for all; in it are countless such testimonies and worse, a day by day routine. But it cannot be that those who are appalled over every swastika painted on a Jewish grave in France and over every anti-Semitic headline in a Spanish local newspaper will not know how to reach this information, and will not be appalled and outraged.

As Jews we all enjoy the privilege Israel gives us, what makes us all collaborators. The question is what does every one of us do in an active and direct daily manner to minimize cooperation with a dispossessing, suppressing regime that never has its fill. Signing a petition and tutting will not do. Israel is a democracy for its Jews. We are not in danger of our lives, we will not be jailed in concentration camps, our livelihood will not be damaged and recreation in the countryside or abroad will not be denied to us. Therefore, the burden of collaboration and direct responsibility is immeasurably heavy.

Amira Hass writes for Ha'aretz. She is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza.

© Copyright 2006 Haaretz

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spy Pie: Porn and the CIA

August 29, 2006 at 16:03:15

Porn and the CIA (Your tax dollars at work)

by Mickey Z.

With a defense budget-hold on, let's dispense with the bullshit-with a "war" budget of over $350 billion dollars per year, did you ever wonder if all the legal tender being funneled away from social programs is making anyone except defense contractors feel safe? And just who are the clever folks trusted with the responsibility of deciding how that monumental sum is spent?

One doesn't exactly have to waste hours scouring accurate expenditures to get the feeling that U.S. decision makers fall neatly into the Austin Powers camp of spying. It might be comforting to convince ourselves that the CIA is efficient and necessary, but here's a fine example of American "intelligence" to help snap us out of our denial...and it involves one-time Indonesian president, Sukarno.

In 1948, George Kennan, head of the State Department post-war planning staff, called the resource-rich nation of Indonesia "the most crucial issue of the moment in our struggle with the Kremlin." At that time, Sukarno had been president of the world's largest Muslim nation for three years. "A star among Third World leaders, active in the nonaligned, anti-imperialist movement," author Mark Zepezauer says Sukarno had "long been a thorn in the side of the US. Worse yet, the Communist party (PKI) was part of his governing coalition."

"The PKI, nominally backed by Sukarno, was a legal and formidable organization and was the third largest Communist Party in the world," writes former CIA agent Ralph McGehee. Inevitably, Sukarno garnered the attention of that inventive gang of sleuths at the Central Intelligence Agency and covert U.S. support for his rivals in the Indonesian military hit full stride by 1957. That's just about the time that the CIA hatched a scheme to bring down the popular Indonesian leader-a scheme that would make Inspector Clousseau smile.

The basic idea was to portray the hated Sukarno in a pornographic film: getting frisky with his supposed Soviet spy mistress. (Note to younger readers: Yes, there was actually a time when appearing in a sex video was not considered a good career move.) "Our special Sukarno committee was formed to accomplish ... the production of a film, or at least some still photos, showing Sukarno and his Russian girlfriend engaged in his favorite activity," CIA operative Joseph Burkholder Smith writes in "Portrait of a Cold Warrior."

American taxpayers dollars went a long way in funding the CIA's neat idea (as Ollie North might have called it) of developing a full-face mask of Sukarno and then hiring an American porn actor in Los Angeles to wear it. History did not record who would handle the role of sexy Soviet mistress but it's not hard to imagine her looking something like Natasha in "Rocky and Bullwinkle."

"The resulting movie and some still photographs from it were passed around influential circles in Indonesia," explains Barry Hillenbrand in Time magazine. "But the CIA miscalculated. Rather than express surprise and outrage at their leader's apparent peccadilloes, Indonesians shrugged."

Shortly after that, the CIA went back to what it does best: covert military support and destabilization resulting in a bloody coup to install a dictator more amenable to America's desires.

Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at

Mickey Z. is the author of five books, most recently "50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know: Reclaiming American Patriotism" (Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at

NYT to Freedom of the Press: "Drop Dead!"

NYT to Freedom of the Press: "Drop Dead!"

Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Readers in the UK perusing the New York Times yesterday ran across an intriguing headline about new facts emerging in the "bomb terror plot" that recently shook the island kingdom. I say, what does America's "paper of record" have to say about this vital subject. Let's click the headline and…let's click again and…Where's the story? What's this message?

This Article Is Unavailable

On advice of legal counsel, this article is unavailable to readers of in Britain. This arises from the requirement in British law that prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial.

Yes, that's right: British users of the great universal information system of the age are being blocked from reading a story in America's most venerable and venerated newspaper – blocked not by government censorship, but by the newspaper itself. Who needs the KGB or the Stasi if the media watchdogs of a "free country" willingly snap the muzzle on themselves and lie down whimpering, thumping their tails at the bootheels of power?

And it wasn't just this newfangled internet gizmo that was blocked: "the shipment of yesterday's paper to London was stopped. The story was also omitted from the International Herald Tribune, the NYT's European sister paper," as the Guardian reports.

What accounts for this extraordinary situation? The Guardian explains:

…It is believed to be the first time that the paper has stopped British readers accessing one of its articles because of worries about UK law. Earlier this month, the home secretary, John Reid, and the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, issued a joint warning to the media to avoid coverage of the current terror investigations which might prejudice future trials. The statement threatened possible contempt proceedings against publications that failed to show appropriate "restraint".

That would be the same John Reid – the former Stalinist enforcer turned rightwing Blairite bullyboy in Labour's "four legs good, two legs better" regime – who immediately after the alleged bomb plot was uncovered took to the airwaves and spoke in no uncertain terms of the predetermined guilt of the terrorist suspects. It was Reid himself who prejudiced the case, in the most spectacular fashion. Reid's little confab with Lord Goldsmith – the legal eagle who cravenly reversed himself on the obvious illegality of the Iraq War after the White House and Blair leaned on him – had nothing to do with "protecting the rights" of the bomb plot suspects. (Blair after all has called for "rethinking" Britain's legal commitment to Europe's Human Rights Law, because of the "restrictions" this puts on his regime's maniacal drive to overturn the Magna Carta.)

No, what Reid (and the ever-acquiescent attorney general) want to do is intimidate the press from probing too deeply into the terror plot, from which the Blair government has tried to make so much political hay. (Without success, by the way; Blair, like Bush, is in free fall at the polls. His cynical mendacity and bloodthirsty lockstep with Bush have produced a true political miracle in Britain: the resurrection of the hated Tory Party, which had almost disappeared as a political force since 1997. Now the Conservatives are soaring in the polls, leading Labour by nine points.)

And so the New York Times is aiding and abetting this attempt to throttle the free flow of information in a supposed democracy. What is truly sinister about this cowardice is the precedent it sets for the paper's future policy. Hearken to the strange black-and-white rationale of this self-censorship delivered by George Freeman, vice president and assistant general counsel of the New York Times Company:

"…We're dealing with a country [the UK] that, while it doesn't have a First Amendment, it does have a free press, and it's our position that we ought to respect that country's laws."

Dig the pretzel logic: because the UK has a "free press," we should bend our knee to its laws that, er, restrict the freedom of the press. "We ought to respect that country's laws."

So when will the New York Times start blocking Chinese readers from reading stories that might violate "that country's laws"? (Those Chinese readers who have somehow circumvented the Reidish restrictions that Beijing's enforcers have clamped on the internet, that is.) Hey, the United States has a "free press," too; should the New York Times stop publishing stories using leaks of classified information that might violate "that country's laws?" If you're going to bow down to John Reid, why not to George Bush too while you're at it? Are Britain's press-restriction laws somehow more honorable than the shackles Bush, Al Gonzales and the whole sick crew are trying to put on America's media?

But you can be sure the next time the New York Times is under fire from the White House and the rightwing echo chamber for publishing classified material from a whistleblower (or from some savvy player in the Regime's own internecine warfare), the paper will send out the call: "Stand up for us, friends! The freedom of the press is being attacked! Help us defend our sacred liberties! Help us speak truth to power and cast a torchlight on the darkness of government skullduggery!"

I guess it's OK to kill the freedom of the press – as long as it's suicide, not a whack job from outside. We can campaign for "net neutrality" and maintaining the unrestricted, gloriously anarchic freedom of the internet from government encroachment until we're blue in the face; we can pour our hearts and souls into it, lobby Congress, write letters, lead protest marches and what all – but it's not going to mean a damn thing if the media itself is going to fall down and grovel in a paroxysm of trembly "respect" whenever they're confronted with the onerous press restrictions of the various principalities and powers of the world.

This is a major defeat for press freedom – a craven surrender offered up meekly without even firing a shot.

Lebanon, Lebanon

Lebanon, Lebanon
John Le Carré
29 - 8 - 2006

The attacks on Lebanon's infrastructure and civilians will rebound on Israel for years to come, says John Le Carré.

So answer me this one, please. If you kill a hundred innocent civilians and one terrorist, are you winning or losing the war on terror? "Ah", you may reply, "but that one terrorist could kill two hundred people, a thousand, more!" But then comes another question: if, by killing a hundred innocent people, you are creating five new terrorists in the future, and a popular base clamouring to give them aid and comfort, have you achieved a net gain for future generations of your countrymen, or created the enemy you deserve?

Also by John Le Carré in openDemocracy:

"A predatory and dishonest war"
(January 2003)

This was the opening contribution of a symposium among writers, artists and civic leaders responding to the build-up to the war in Iraq that was to be launched in March 2003:

"The American over-reaction is beyond everything Osama could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. But this war was planned long before Osama struck, and it is Osama who made it possible. Without him, the Bush junta would have been mired in Enron, electoral scandal and taxation sleaze. Thanks to Osama, Americans are instead being daily misled by their leaders and by their compliant corporate media."

On 12 July 2006 the Israeli chief-of-staff granted us an insight into the subtleties of his nation's military thinking. The military operations being planned for the Lebanon, he told us, would "turn back the clock by twenty years". Well, I was there twenty years ago, and it wasn't a pretty picture. Since then, the lieutenant-general has been as good as his word. I am writing this just twenty-eight days after Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers, a common enough military practice not unknown to the Israelis themselves.

In that time, 932 Lebanese have been killed and more than 3,000 wounded. 913,000 have become refugees. Israel's dead number ninety-four, with 867 wounded. In the first week of this conflict, Hizbollah fired some ninety rockets a day into Israel. Last week – despite 8,700 unopposed bombing sorties flown by the Israeli air force, resulting in the crippling of Beirut's international airport, and the destruction of power-plants, fuel-dumps, fishing-fleets, 147 bridges and seventy-two roads – Hizbollah upped its daily average of rockets to 169. And those two Israeli prisoners who were the purported cause of all the fuss have still not come home.

So yes. Exactly as we were warned, Israel has indeed done to the Lebanon what it did to it twenty years ago: laid waste its infrastructure and visited collective punishment on a delicate, multicultural, resilient democracy that was struggling to reconcile its sectarian differences and live in profitable harmony with its neighbours.

Until four weeks ago, Lebanon was being heralded by the United States as a model of what other middle-eastern countries might become. Hizbollah, it was widely and perhaps optimistically believed by the international community, was loosening its ties with Syria and Iran and on the way to becoming a political rather than a purely military force, yet today this very force is the toast of all Arabia, Israel's reputation for military supremacy is in tatters and its cherished deterrent image no longer deters. And the people of Lebanon have become the latest victims of a global catastrophe that is the work of deluded zealots and has no end in sight.

This piece was written in support of Lebanon, Lebanon, to be published by Saqi on 28 September 2006; all proceeds will go to children's charities working in Lebanon

© David Cornwell, 2006

Hamas, Hizbullah Face Their Greatest Challenges

Hamas and Hizbullah are two resistance movements on different paths. But both must effectively transition from armed resistance to governance. How successfully they do this will significantly affect the Arab region in the months ahead.

Advisory Release: 29 August 2006
Rights & Permissions Contact: Agence Global, 1.336.686.9002,

Hamas, Hizbullah Face Their Greatest Challenges
by Rami G. Khouri

BEIRUT -- The Arab world's two leading self-styled "Islamic resistance movements" -- Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine -- seem to be moving in different directions, but there are lessons to be learned from both. The main one is that armed resistance is primarily a means for these groups. Their ultimate goal is a national order that reflects their society's valid concerns on political legitimacy, sovereignty, ideology and social values. Above all, their success reflects their ability to respond to the real needs of their constituents, rather than to promote any sort of ideal Islamic society or espouse revolutionary rhetoric and wage perpetual war.

As Hizbullah holds its own in Lebanon and the region, it also finds itself preoccupied with the challenges of shifting its center of gravity -- or at least its international image -- from guns to governance. After achieving the two striking feats of driving the Israeli army out of south Lebanon in 2000 and fighting it to a draw in 2006, it has no room left for military endeavors, and nothing more to prove on the battlefield.

It asserted itself in recent years by defying five parties: a weak Lebanese central government, other Lebanese political groups, Israel, the United States, and the dominant regimes in the Arab world. In return, these forces have now physically and politically hemmed it in: The Israeli army will destroy all Lebanon after the next provocation, the Lebanese government has moved 15,000 soldiers to the south, the UN Security Council dispatched another 15,000 international peace-keepers, and Lebanese and Arab political leaders call on Hizbullah to engage and integrate fully in the national governance and security system.

History suggests that fighting resistance wars to liberate one's occupied land is much more straightforward than making a subsequent transition to political responsibility. Hizbullah's most important test is just starting: It must erase the haze of its own inscrutability, remove the ambiguity of its relations with Iran and Syria, and slay the demons of mistrust that plague its relations with many key players, especially in Lebanon. It can do this and retain its integrity and impact, but only if it applies the same serious operating principles to the political realm that it has applied in recent years militarily, socially and in terms of its sheer focus, courage and efficiency.

The parallel lessons from Palestine are instructive and sobering. The Palestinian national resistance movement against Zionism and Western powers since the 1930s has passed through erratic stages of success and failure. The Fateh-dominated PLO made some major political achievements regionally and globally in the 1970s and 80s, only to sink into a sad cycle of complacency, corruption and incompetence after 1990. This ultimately led to its own marginalization, and the political and physical destruction of many aspects of Palestinian society.

Three key responses to this institutional mediocrity and political failure were the rise of Hamas and smaller Islamist groups, the waging of two grassroots and largely spontaneous popular intifadas against Israeli occupation, and the fragmentation of society into local political-military wards, militias and gangs. Hamas' success in resisting Israel militarily ultimately helped drive Israel out of Gaza; it achieved parallel political success in winning local and national elections in 2005-2006.

Its overall trajectory, however, has been more difficult than Hizbullah's. This is mainly because it has been fought simultaneously by a brutal Israeli military and political assault, Fateh and other Arab governments that fear its ilk, and the United States and Europe who have sanctioned and tried to break it. Yet it has also performed poorly in many cases, unable to build on the credibility and legitimacy that it had achieved since its founding less than two decades ago.

A respected member of Hamas in Gaza has now publicly admonished his fellow ruling Islamists and other Palestinians for their failures, charging that, "Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs," and since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza a year ago, "life became a nightmare and an intolerable burden."

These sentiments were published in an article Sunday by Ghazi Hamad, a former Hamas newspaper editor and the spokesman for the current Hamas government. He urged Palestinians to examine their own performance and not blame Israel for all their problems and failures, though he also seemed to place most of the blame on assorted Fateh-linked armed groups in Gaza. His most important point was his insistence on "self-criticism and self-evaluation," instead of the habit of "blaming our mistakes on others."

Hamas has been through tough moments before, including repeated assassinations of its leaders, mass deportations and jailings of its members, and the current political and economic boycott of Israel, the United States and Europe. In light of the lessons of Hizbullah's performance in Lebanon, Hamas must now adjust quickly or risk the same doomed, but self-inflicted, fate as Fateh and the PLO.

As Ghazi Hamad aptly challenged it and Palestinian society to do, it needs to examine its own ways in order to achieve success by being more accountable to its constituents, rather than faithful to fiery or emotional slogans. The performance of Hizbullah and Hamas in the months ahead are worth monitoring, for they will impact greatly on political trends throughout the Arab world.

Rami G. Khouri is an internationally syndicated columnist, the director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, and editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star.

Copyright ©2006 Rami G. Khouri / Agence Global
Released: 29 August 2006
Word Count: 867
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Agence Global is the exclusive syndication agency for The Nation, The American Prospect, Le Monde diplomatique, as well as expert commentary by Richard Bulliet, Mark Hertsgaard, Rami G. Khouri, Tom Porteous, Patrick Seale and Immanuel Wallerstein.