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October 2011

Terrorist and Hostages

Nael Barghouti

Congratulations are due to the Hamas movement for the successful conclusion of the process set in motion when its operatives captured a soldier of the Zionist occupation in June 2006. On October 18th 2011 the enemy soldier was returned to his commanders after Israeli authorities agreed to release 1027 Palestinian hostages.

It wasn’t easy to arrive at this point. Over 400 Palestinians were killed by Zionist rampages in Gaza shortly after the capture of the terrorist (and thousands more have been murdered since). In July 2006 Hizbullah sought to take the heat off Gaza and at the same time to ensure the release of Lebanese hostages by capturing Israeli terrorists on the Lebanese border. Israel responded by launching a full scale assault on the civilians of Lebanon. Over 1000 Lebanese were killed – but Israel received an unexpected bloody nose. It aimed to finish Hizbullah off; instead Israeli cities and military installations came under rocket attack, Israeli soldiers failed to move beyond the Lebanese border villages, and Hizbullah was strengthened. In 2008 the Lebanese hostages were exchanged for the captured Israeli terrorists. Israel’s defeat in 2006 shifted the balance of power, and the current prisoner deal also shifts the balance, albeit in a smaller way. It comes after years of Zionist siege of the already impoverished refugees in Gaza, after Israeli-American-Mubarak sponsorship of a bitter split in Palestinian ranks, and after the massacre of 1400 Palestinians in the winter of 2008/2009. It comes in large part as a result of the momentous changes occurring in a revolutionary Arab world and the wider region, because of the decline of American power, and Israel’s increasing isolation. Israel was forced to break its own taboos, not only to deal with Hamas but also to release Palestinian prisoners from Jerusalem and from the lands occupied in 1948.

I was in a caravan in the north of Scotland when the enemy soldier was released. I saw the news on the caravan’s television set, on the BBC and Sky. The soldier was named again and again, his parents were pictured, his fate was pondered with sympathy. The Palestinian hostages, on the other hand, received very little attention, and when they did they tended to be demonised. Over the last five years, the name of the single Israeli prisoner has been burnt by repetition into the Western consciousness. The thousands of Palestinian prisoners have hardly been mentioned. Driving home yesterday, I glimpsed a front page headline in the Times (the once august London paper now owned by Rupert Murdoch, a committed Zionist). Again it named the Israeli prisoner, and reminded the reader of his five years in a ‘dungeon’. The world is full of prisoners – in occupied Palestine, in Syria, in China. Why does the Israeli merit front page treatment?

In such ways the media and the politician class manufacture Western consent to Zionist crimes. They also encourage the Jewish Israeli public in its delusions. Many Israelis are outraged by the deal. They see the Israeli prisoner as an innocent boy abducted by terrorists, and the Palestinian prisoners as bloodthirsty killers who have fought Israel out of sheer evil, inherent anti-Semitism, and an inexplicable propensity to violence. These Israelis do not understand that Palestinians will fight for justice so long as they are denied justice, so long as they are kept cooped in refugee camps while their land is stolen by the masters in an apartheid state. If Western media magnates and politicians are genuinely concerned for the long-term survival of Israeli Jews in Palestine, they should seek to alert them to the reality of the situation. What they’re doing now is like buying whiskey for an alcoholic.

Many of the released hostages never took up arms. Some are elected members of the Palestinian parliament who were illegally abducted by Israel. Those who did take up arms did so for a very good reason – they were resisting ethnic cleansing, apartheid and occupation. This makes them freedom fighters, not terrorists. One of the prisoners, Nael Barghouti, was held hostage for 33 years. Several others have been imprisoned for over thirty years.

Why is it that one Israeli appears to be worth a thousand Palestinians?When it comes to prisoner swaps, the disproportion works in the Palestinians’ favour. When it comes to anything else, it doesn’t. Obviously. One day a Palestinian will be counted the equal of an Israeli Jew. Until then, the resistance would be well advised to do all it can to capture more terrorists to exchange for the remaining five thousand freedom fighters languishing in the Israeli gulag.

In this comment I’ve chosen my words carefully. I’ve called the Palestinian prisoners ‘hostages’ because they’ve been held as leverage for a ransom – the ransom being Palestinian submission. (This isn’t all; they’ve been held also to satisfy the narrative of Israeli innocence and Palestinian criminality). I’ve called the Israeli prisoners ‘terrorists’ because they operated in an organisation which applies physical and psychological violence against civilians for political purposes.

The Israelis are the ethnic cleansers and the occupiers. The Palestinians are the refugees and the occupied. Zionist propaganda constantly obfuscates these simple facts. The Palestinians are the first victims of the propaganda, but Israeli Jews are also its victims, as the future will demonstrate.


The Millions in Saadallah Al-Jabri Square

Oct 19

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The big news today on regime’s media outlets was the Millions of people who marched to Saadallah Aljabri square in Aleppo to celebrate the Russian and Chinese veto and to declare, yet one more time their love and adoration of the Bashar Al-Assad.

I recall that during the Al-Aasi square anti regime demonstration. Jad, on Syria Comment argued that the square can not fit 500,000 protesters. He eyeballed the area near accurately, and I supported his calculation using the free distance measuring tool on Google Earth. Two of my regime supporting friends have argued that my support of the revolution is unscientific. I have no idea how can one scientifically support the revolution. But I decided today to use a bit more advanced tools to check the Millions in Saadallah Aljabri Square in Aleppo.

I started by using a public domain software called Quantum GIS (Geographic Information System). Using a plugin in the software I connected to Google WMS (Web Mapping Service), which allowed me to view Google Satellite layer and overlay it with other spatial data as well as perform measures not available except for paid Google Earth subscribers. Next was deciding on what would constitute the Pro Regime demonstration area.

As I was moderately generous in the case of Hama, I was excessively so here. I decided to allow people to share space with trees, to sit on fences, and to occupy almost every single square meter in the square as well as in many of its branching streets. For wider streets I decided to go until the second major street after the square. Once the hypothesis was completed. I went on to create a polygon overlay (pretty much a digitizing process), and then to measure the area with another area measuring tool.

The end result is shown below. A larger full size image can be seen when clicking on the image, and it shows that the area calculated is 2.315 hectare. A hectare is 100×100 meters square (10,000 square meters). So the square’s area is basically 23150 square meters (including greenery, trees, structures, and a lot of street space).

I do not recall how many individuals we allowed the Hamwis to have in each square meter, but again, I will be generous and assume 5 people as a first guess (nearly impossible). That would yield an amazing number of 115,750 marchers for the love of Bashar.

Saadallah Al-Jabri Square in Aleppo, Syria, where on the 19th of October, 2011, regime loyalists held one more “Millionic” march. The area within the red polygon, including the tree areas in the south central part of the image is less than 2.5 hectares. That is less than 25000 square meters.

The same approach was used to calculate the place where we Americans (of all origins) like to have our Million people Marches. It is the National Mall in Washington DC. The mall presents a little challenge in digitizing as one has to digitize account for the reflection pool and for few other small water bodies.

But it is doable as seen in the figure below, which shows that even with providing for a security zone for the white house (north of the ellipse park), and with much more conservative discount of tree areas than in the Aleppo case. The mall comes to a 1.037 square kilometer. A square kilometer is 100 hectare (1000m x 1000 m) making 1,000,000 square meters, which is a figure consistent with a much lower and far more realistic density of 1 person/square meter. To play the devil’s advocate recall that every time a group marches on the mall, its adversaries challenge the Million number despite of the full mall.

The National Mall in Washington, DC, where several Million person events were held and caused the mall to be packed. The area within the polygon is slightly more than 1 square kilometer, that is 100 hectares or more than 1 Million square meters.

Here is a photo showing how generous I was in estimating the area. Te green area with trees is not occupied, which takes at least a half hectare from the equation. But fine, let us be generous to those who love Bashar.


The analysis herein is very approximate.

If you find the figure of 5 persons/square meter preposterous, you are right. It is. More appropriate is 2 in crowded situations, which would make the Men7ebbaks in today’s MASEERA nearly 46,000, assuming my hypothesis is correct.

Here is a Bonus. An image was shown on Syrian TV as having been found on a captured anti-regime revolutionist. Notwithstanding the stupidity of the message the image tries to convey. It was a poorly doctored image. While such may be idle nonsense,  it speaks volumes of the regime’s manipulation, desperation, and utter arrogance. The top image, which was published on Syrian TV had a banner saying (peaceful until freedom), the independence flag has a white border around it indicating that it was added to the image. The lower panel image is the original image without the flag and the banner says “the islamic movement of the mujahideen of Iraq”

Calvin and Hobbes

Al-quds – Jerusalem by Fairouz

Ramallah: Palestinian Political Prisoners Release 18-10-2011


Translator as Censor

Posted on October 19, 2011 by mlynxqualey| Leave a comment

Ola al-Saket has interviewed Albawtaka editor Hala Salah Eldin as part of Al Masry Al Youm’s ongoing series on translation, “In Other Words.”

One thing that caught my attention was the paragraph on (self)-censorship:

What’s even “sadder,” says Salah Eldin, is that some translator practice self censorship. A governmental cultural institution translated a novel by Doris Lessing five years ago, yet the sexual scenes were missing. “Lessing was furious, it was said. Censorship officers have nothing to do with it. The translator simply knew his boundaries,” she explains.

It reminded me of an incident Humphrey Davies mentioned, I believe, at his first AUC Center for Translation Studies talk. He told the audience that he’d removed an (unnamed) slur from an (unnamed) text. To his credit, he informed the author of his choice. The author was very angry, although the author initially agreed to the change. But the author’s irritation surfaced again, and Davies put the slur back in.

No doubt translators frequently make small edits to texts they are working on, guessing at how the reception of a given word or phrase will shift between source- and target-language audiences. The one Salah Eddin notes is fairly brazen, and it’s likely the novel doesn’t cohere without the sex, much as a scene from The Hours doesn’t cohere with the kiss between Toni Collette and Julianne Moore. (The Cairo censors did a good job of making it look seamless, I’ll give them that.)

I would just add that I think that it may not always be clear to a translator (or editor) that he or she is censoring. That the line between “making a text work” in another language, with a different audience, and “censorship” is a somewhat grayish one. Avoiding (self)-censorship requires a good deal of self-interrogation.

“I was 1-day-old when my father was jailed”

Shahd Abusalama

18 October 2011

Emotional scenes as Palestinian prisoners reunited with their loved ones today.

A very confusing feeling passes through me after hearing about the exchange of 1,027 Palestinian detainees for the only Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by the Palestinian resistance fighters. I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad.

Gazing at the faces of the prisoners’ families in the solidarity tent in Gaza City, I see a look that I have never seen before: eyes glittering with hope. These people have attended every event in solidarity with our detainees, have never given up hope that their freedom is inevitable someday, and have stayed strong during their loved ones’ absence inside Israeli cells. Thinking about those women whose relatives are most likely to be released and seeing their big smiles makes me happy. But at the same time, thinking about the other 5,000 detainees who will steadfastly go on with their resistance in the prisons makes my heart break for them.

Hearts aching for those still in jail

When I arrived at the tent on 12 October, the wife of the prisoner Nafez Herz, who was sentenced to life-long imprisonment and has been jailed for 26 years, shook hands with me and said very excitedly that she had heard that her husband would be freed. Then she said, “But you can’t imagine how much my heart aches for those families whose prisoner will not be released in this exchange deal. All prisoners’ families have become like one big family. We meet weekly, if not daily in the Red Cross, we share our torments, and we understand each other’s suffering.” I grabbed her hands and pressed them while saying, “We will never forget them, and God willing, they will gain their freedom soon.”

While I was writing this article among the crowd of people at the Red Cross building, I suddenly heard people chanting and clapping and could see a woman jumping with joy. While on the phone, she said loudly, “My husband is going to be free!” Her husband is Abu Thaer Ghneem, who received a life sentence and spent 22 years in prison. As I watched people celebrating and singing for the freedom of the Palestinian detainees, I met his only son, Thaer. He was hugging his mother tight while giving prayers to God showing their thankfulness. I touched his shoulder, attempting to get his attention. “Congratulations! How do you feel?” I asked him. “I was only one day old when my father was arrested, and now I am 22-years-old. I’ve always known that I had a father in prison, but never had him around. Now my father is finally going to be set free and fill his place, which has been empty over the course of 22 years of my life.”

His answer was very touching and left me shocked and admiring. While he was talking to me, I sensed how he couldn’t find words to describe his happiness at his father’s freedom.

The celebration continues for an hour. Then I return to my former confusion, feeling drowned in a stream of thoughts. The families of the 1,027 detainees will celebrate the freedom of their relatives, but what about the fate of the rest of the prisoners?

Don’t forget the hunger strike

I have heard lots of information since last night concerning the names of the soon-to-be-released prisoners, but it was hard to find two sources sharing the same news, especially about Ahmad Saadat and Marwan Barghouti and whether they are involved in the exchange deal. I’ve always felt spiritually connected to them, especially Saadat, as he is my father’s friend. I can’t handle thinking that he may not be involved in this exchange deal. He has had enough merciless torment inside Israeli solitary confinement for over two and a half years.

Let’s not forget those who are still inside the Israeli occupation’s prisons and who have been on hunger strike, as this hunger strike wasn’t held for an exchange deal, but for the Israeli Prison Service to meet the prisoners’ demands. The people who joined the hunger strike in Gaza City has included those with loved ones in prison. We have to speak out loudly and tell the world that Israel must address our living martyrs’ demands. We will never stop singing for the freedom of Palestinian detainees until the Israeli prisons are emptied.

Shahd Abusalama is an artist, blogger and English literature student from the Gaza Strip. Her blog is called Palestine from My Eyes.

U.S. deportations reach historic levels

By Jim Barnett, CNN

October 18, 2011 — Updated 2022 GMT (0422 HKT)
An undocumented Guatemalan charged as a criminal prepares to board a deportation flight in Mesa, Arizona, this summer.
An undocumented Guatemalan charged as a criminal prepares to board a deportation flight in Mesa, Arizona, this summer.

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the numbers show a focus on priority groups
  • Nearly 55% had been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, it says
  • “These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress,” Director John Morton says

Washington (CNN) — Nearly 400,000 people were deported from the United States in the past fiscal year, the largest number in the history of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the government announced Tuesday.

The year-end removal numbers “underscore the administration’s focus on removing individuals … that fall into priority areas” such as lawbreakers, threats to national security and repeat violators, the agency said in a news release.

Overall in fiscal year 2011, immigration officials said, 396,906 individuals were removed. Of these, 216,698, nearly 55%, had been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors. That’s an 89 percent increase of criminals from three years ago, the enforcement agency said.

“This includes 1,119 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,848 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 44,653 aliens convicted of drug related crimes; and 35,927 aliens convicted of driving under the influence,” it said.

The percentage was even higher for some regions. In the sector that covers Houston, Beaumont and Corpus Christi, Texas, about 74% of the 20,450 removals were of people with criminal records, said Gregory Palmore of the agency’s Houston office.

“Smart and effective immigration enforcement relies on setting priorities for removal and executing on those priorities,” said agency Director John Morton. “These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress, with more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration law violators and immigration fugitives being removed from the country than ever before. Though we still have work to do, this progress is a testament to the hard work and dedication of thousands of ICE agents, officers and attorneys around the country.”

The government said 90% of the agency’s removals fell into a priority category and more than two-thirds of the other removals in 2011 were either recent border crossers or repeat immigration violators.

The American Civil Liberties Union reacted to the announcement by again criticizing the Obama administration’s emphasis on deportations.

“All told, this administration has deported nearly 1.2 million people, leaving a wake of devastation in Latino communities across the nation,” Joanne Lin, ACLU legislative counsel, said in a news release. “These record-breaking deportation numbers come at a time when illegal immigration rates have plummeted, the undocumented population has decreased substantially and violent crime rates are at their lowest levels in 40 years.”

Lin also said the deportations represent “uncontrolled, unwarranted” spending of taxpayers’ money by the Department of Homeland Security, of which the immigration agency is a part.

The department’s chief, Secretary Janet Napolitano, last week defended the administration’s polices as she gave advance notice that this fiscal year would end with a record number of removals.

“What … critics will ignore is that while the overall number of individuals removed will exceed prior years, the composition of that number will have fundamentally changed,” she said in a speech at American University.

The Department of Homeland Security more than a month ago announced that the government would review about 300,000 deportation cases pending in federal immigration courts. Lower-priority cases — those not involving individuals considered violent or otherwise dangerous — would be suspended under the new criteria.

That change drew criticism from the other side of the immigration issue, with some people who favor more deportations characterizing it as a back-door amnesty program aimed at skirting the nation’s immigration laws.

Napolitano said the approach is a common-sense way to tackle immigration problems with limited resources.

“There has never been, nor will there be in these tight fiscal times, sufficient resources to remove all of those unlawfully in the country,” she said last week. “That is why it is so important to set clear priorities.”

CNN’s Tracy Sabo contributed to this report.


Syria remains in Arab League


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