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Articles Archives - March 2010
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Monday, March 29, 2010
My Children, Ralph Nader and the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud, CounterPunch 3/26/2010
      The Starfish Incident
     I basked in the warm Borneo sun, following a long run somewhere at the edge of a rainforest. The beach was only partly clean, but the water was most inviting. My children ran excitedly, collecting what I assumed to be shells and whatever other treasures the South China Sea had decided to divulge that afternoon. Their movement, from afar, signaled frenzy and perhaps even a slight panic. I hesitated at first, then ran to investigate.
     At the ages of six and four, my girls Zarefah and Iman were already the most kindhearted kids. They were actually going through complete and unmitigated panic, as they had just noticed the starfish which had been cast off by the waves and which were now dotting the shoreline as far as the eye could see. The children became determined to place every single one of them back in the water before they died.
     But most all of them were already dead.
     My kids didn’t know this. And I didn’t have the courage to break the dreadful news. I stood in silence, proud to the core, as the girls’ shaky voices urged everyone around them to help. Then I too was summoned. “Dad, what are you waiting for? Please help us before they all die.” I tried to absolve myself from what seemed to me a waste of time. But when I saw the tears in Zarefah’s eyes, and heard the fright in her voice, I joined in – as enthusiastically as the many other beachgoers-turned-environmentalists.
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The Mullen-Petraeus Report on the Middle East
Bouthaina Shaaba, CounterPunch 3/26/2010
      Bubbles, Mere Bubbles
     "The importance of the Petraeus-Mullen briefing lies in its implicit suggestion that an Arab and Muslim stand can be effective..."
     Amidst a cacophony of statements, commentary and analyses about the American-Israeli relationship, and the events since Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, Mark Perry wrote an article in Foreign Policy magazine on March 13, 2010 titled “The Petraeus briefing: Biden’s embarrassment is not the whole story”. Perry explained that on January 16, 2010, a team of central command officers and officials responsible for American national security in the Middle East made a presentation in the Pentagon to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, headed by Admiral Michael Mullen, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     The team had been sent by General David Petraeus to “underline his growing concerns at the lack of progress in resolving the issue”. The conclusion of the presentation was that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel. That is why Arabs have started to lose faith in the United States and its promises, and that Israeli intransigence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was paralyzing the position, role and status of the United States in the region. It added that “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding, despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of American troops in the region”.
     Perry says that the briefing given to Mullen, at Petraeus’ request, fell like a bombshell on the White house. That is why the Obama administration sent Mullen to meet Gabi Ashkenazi.... Related: Petraeus denies saying Israel endangers lives of U.S. troops -- See also: Petraeus denies saying Israel endangers lives of U.S. troops
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Netanyahu’s outright deceit
Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/25/2010
      For Israel’s hawkish premier, the issue is not halting illegal settlement expansion, but increasing it less conspicuously.
     While claiming to have a genuine desire for the resumption of "peace talks" with the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel has been murdering Palestinian civilians in the streets of the West Bank in a clear overreaction to recent Palestinian protests against Israeli transgressions against Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.
     Eyewitnesses reported that trigger-happy Israeli troops shot had killed two young Palestinians who were trying to access their land near the northern West Bank town of Nablus. Initially, the Israeli army claimed the two tried to attack heavily armed soldiers with pitchforks, a claim rejected by the Ramallah- based Palestinian government that described the killings as "cold-blooded murder". An Israeli army spokesman later said the circumstances surrounding the two deaths were vague and that an investigation into "the incident" would be carried out.
     Ghassan Al-Khatib, head of the Palestinian Government Press Office, accused the Israeli occupation army of murdering Palestinians in order to provoke a new uprising -- or Intifada -- that would divert the world’s attention from the belligerent discourse adopted by the Netanyahu government. "We look at this as part of the Israeli escalation. It could have been treated in a completely different way. But the Israelis have been escalating, and this is something the prime minister [Netanyahu] has been warning."
     More ominous remarks came from Mahmoud Al-Alul, a senior Fatah leader based in Nablus. He told some 2,000 mourners that, "nobody can imagine that we can stand with our hands tied vis-ŕ-vis what is happening." A day earlier, two more Palestinians were killed and others injured when Israeli troops opened fired on Palestinian youths protesting against Israeli provocations at Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest shrines. The Israeli army claimed it used rubber bullets, though they can also prove fatal.
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Israel's blood diamonds
Electronic Intifada: 29 Mar 2010 - Every year, consumers the world over unwittingly spend billions of dollars on diamonds crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund one of the world's most protracted and contentious conflicts. Most people are unaware that Israel is one of the world's leading producers of cut and polished diamonds. As diamonds are normally not hallmarked, consumers cannot distinguish an Israeli diamond from one crafted in India, Belgium, South Africa or elsewhere. The global diamond industry and aligned governments, including the EU, have hoodwinked consumers into believing the diamond trade has been cleansed of diamonds that fund human rights abuses, but the facts are startlingly different. Seán Clinton analyzes for The Electronic Intifada.

"We are defending our culture": an interview with Samir Joubran
Electronic Intifada: 29 Mar 2010 - Earlier this month the Palestinian group Le Trio Joubran gave a concert in Geneva to support the work of the Association Meyrin-Palestine, which is planning to build a cultural center in Gaza. Le Trio Joubran is comprised of three brothers, Samir, Wissam and Adnan Joubran, who play the oud , a pear-shaped instrument from the Middle East related to the lute. The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof spoke with Samir Joubran about the trio's music.

Stuck between a wall and an occupation
Electronic Intifada: 29 Mar 2010 - When Bilal Jadou's grandmother was sick last year, neither Israeli ambulances or Palestinian ambulances were able to cross the checkpoint to his house. Jadou's house is on the other side of the sprawling apartheid wall, separated from his community and the West Bank. Nora Barrows-Friedman interviews Jadou from Aida refugee camp, occupied West Bank.

Israel's Declaration Of War On INGOs
Palestine Monitor: 29 Mar 2010 - Israel is increasingly prohibiting international workers from crossing its borders. In 2009 it cancelled the B1 Visa, a work permit that allows holders to work legally in areas controlled by Israel, both in the Occupied Territories and in Israel, reducing the status of aid workers to that of normal tourists. Written by FLV. Since last summer, international aid workers have faced difficulties in obtaining a B1 visa. Until then, the process for securing a B1 visa had more or less been clear and efficient, according to Martha Myers, chairwoman of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), who represents about 90 organisations from all over the world. “ In general, INGOs (International No Profit Organisations) have registered with the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs. Upon INGO request, the Ministry of Social Affairs has issued a letter requesting a B1 visa for a particular staff member to the Israeli Ministry of...

Israel Unveils 'Green' Strategy to Defeat Enemies
Palestine Chronicle: 29 Mar 2010 - By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth Under cover of a sudden interest in developing new green technologies, the Israeli government hopes to weaken the Gulf states by making their oil redundant and thereby defeating 'Islamic terror'. Uzi Landau, the national infrastructures minister, outlined a vision of a world without oil this week to Israel’s most loyal supporters in Washington as he searched for wealthy American-Jewish investors and White House support for the strategy. His message was that: “The West is addicted to oil, and so is bound by states that support terrorism … Whoever wants to fight radical Islam and terrorist organizations should know that by purchasing gasoline, he's giving terrorists increased motivation.” Analysts say the plan’s chief goals are to cripple the large oil-producing Gulf states, particularly Iran, which is seen as Israel’s main rival in the region, and resistance groups that oppose Israel’s long-term occupation of Palestinian land. “Israel...more

Happy Passover from Gaza
Palestine Chronicle: 29 Mar 2010 - By Sam Bahour In 2010, Jews in Israel and around the world will celebrate Passover beginning on March 30th. Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorating the ancient Hebrews' escape from enslavement in Egypt. (In Israel, March 30th is also Land Day: the day when Palestinians commemorate and protest the confiscation of their lands by the Israeli government; but that’s another story.) As I’m learning, the Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a traditional ceremonial meal. Its centerpiece is a special Seder plate containing six symbolic foods. Each has its own significance in the retelling of the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. The stack of three matzos, or unleavened bread, a kind of cracker made of plain white flour and water, has its own separate plate on the Seder table. For each of the six traditional items on the Seder plate (as per...more

Talk about US/Israel Crisis
Palestine Chronicle: 29 Mar 2010 - By Dr. Elias Akleh During the last two weeks people were faced with a propaganda campaign trying to convince them that there developed a crisis in the American Israeli relationships due to Israel’s announcement of approving the building of 1600 Jewish only housing units in occupied east Jerusalem Palestinian suburb of Shu’fat on the day of Joe Biden’s visit to Israel March 9th. Major media sources and many politicians declared this announcement as an Israeli slap on Biden’s face, especially after the Palestinian Authority, backed by Arab leaders, had just accepted American mediation in indirect talks (proximity talks as per Hillary’s description). The announcement, in reality, was an Israeli gift to Biden that also included a framed document announcing the planting of several trees in Jerusalem in memory of Biden’s mother; a loyal supporter of Israel. This was an excellent gift, rather than a slap, for the ardent self-proclaimed Zionist...more

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