Aug 02 2008
Whoever scheduled Gordon Brown’s recent visit to Israel is surely out of a job. Brown’s dreary, etiolated performance – appropriate for a political corpse – was rendered even flatter by its proximity to Barack Obama’s headline-hogging whirlwind tour of Europe and the Middle East. Despite the differences in style, however, both politicians took to the podium in Israel with a similar message: one of support for the latter’s rejectionist expansionism.
Mar 15 2008
I’ve just returned home from the World Against War demo today in London. It was a fantastic event, with an excellent turnout (between 10-40,000, according to the BBC) and a great atmosphere. The march was called to mark five years since the invasion of Iraq, although Israel’s recent crimes in Gaza were definitely on everyone’s mind – which is excellent, of course. The march was convened by the Stop the War Coalition around three basic demands: troops out from Afghanistan and Iraq, no attack on Iran and an end to the siege of Gaza. On all three, as Tony Benn was sure to remind us, the marchers spoke for the majority of British and world public opinion.
Feb 28 2008
The British government admits to complicity in two cases of “extraordinary rendition”, but claims they are an isolated case and promises that it “never uses torture for any purpose, including obtaining information, neither would we instigate actions by others to do so.”
Feb 28 2008
Three Palestinian children aged 10, 12 and 14 were killed this evening in an Israeli air-strike in northern Gaza, bringing today’s Palestinian death toll to 12. Five members of Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades were killed this morning in two targeted assassinations in Gaza, while this afternoon two Palestinian farmers were killed by Israeli tank fire.
In retaliation for the killing of its activists, Hamas fired at least 30 Qassam rockets into Israel, killing a student in Sderot and wounding several others. Olmert indicated that the campaign of assassinations will continue, declaring that “no one in Hamas, not the low-level officials nor the highest echelon, will be immune against this war.” To prove his sincerity, Israeli jets bombed the Hamas Interior Ministry (again), killing a six-month old baby and wounding at least 14 bystanders.
Jan 06 2008
This being a brief round-up of several recent developments in the Middle East.
Firstly, a respected Israeli NGO published a report into the state’s treatment of its Palestinian citizens during last year’s Lebanon war. Readers will recall that, back in the summer of 2006, while Israel was busy destroying southern Lebanon killing close to 1,200 Lebanese civilians in the process, one of the main arguments used by its apologists to justify the atrocities was that the civilian deaths were the fault of Hizbullah, not the IDF, because the militia deliberately hid its fighters among the civilian population.
Dec 26 2007
Okay, so yesterday was Christmas and much merriment was had by all. Except, as the media were determined to remind us, by Palestinian Christians suffering persecution by Muslim extremists. While the persecution certainly exists, it is plainly a sideshow to the Israeli occupation, which not only persecutes but kills Palestinians of all religious persuasions. It’s perfectly egalitarian in that sense: men, women, children, Muslims, Christians – no Palestinian is safe. But that story doesn’t fit with the “evil Muslims taking away Christmas” or the “war on terra” memes, and has therefore been marginalised.
In any event, ’tis the season to be jolly, so let’s look at the bright side: this will all be over within a year, as agreed upon at Annapolis. Both sides will work tirelessly and sincerely to achieve a final settlement. The Palestinian Authority will make real attempts to crack down on militant groups while Israel will freeze all settlement construction and dismantle all outposts, and will in no way attempt to use the structure of the roadmap to delay and obfuscate progress, as it has done in the past. Good, now that’s sorte – huh?:
Dec 17 2007
Suppose I were to argue that, given Israel’s numerous and gross war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the international community should impose sanctions on Israel of such severity that 80% of the Israeli population would be reduced to reliance upon UN food aid for mere survival, and over 65% of Israeli households would be forced to live in ‘deep poverty’ (i.e. on less than $474 per month). The blockade would be so tight that only 41% of Israel’s food import needs would be met, and supplies of 91 out of 416 essential drugs and about a third of essential medical supplies (including most children’s antibiotics) would run out.
Dec 05 2007
Oct 31 2007
It seems the propaganda and fear-mongering is working. According to a Zogby poll published yesterday,
“A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.” [my emph.]
Oct 19 2007
Life for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is now so miserable that it has become quite difficult not to be seduced by the theatre of the latest ‘peace push’, such is the desire to see an end to the conflict. When Condoleeza Rice expresses her sincere ambition to create an independent Palestinian state, and when Ehud Olmert hints about a willingness to divide Jerusalem, it is extremely tempting to simply forget about the facts on the ground and dare to hope that perhaps, this time, they’re for real.