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Month

December 2011

Syria : What Happened in Midan (By SGID)

on Tuesday the Midan coordination committee called for mass demonstrations in the abu habel district of Midan in Central Damascus after Asr prayers. it was planned in anticipation of a visit by the Arab league observers specifically in Midan. it is quite rare for a coordination committee to announce a date for a demonstration as most protests start spontaneously without a planning. of course this yields a disadvantage as the authorities can get air of this ,gather and disrupt the protests. i took part in these protests and these are my observations: i arrived an hour early as to find a safe place to protest. i quickly noticed that Midan in general is covered in anti-regime graffiti ( which the regime subsequently badly covered). every few meters you would find slogans like ” get out Bashar” or more insults to Bashar. The Abu Habel district was cordoned off by regime thugs, yet the Abu Habel district is riddled with alleys and paths to the main gathering points. so it would be easy for someone to get in discretely but extremely difficult to get in large numbers. Upon entering the district i saw a crowd of regime supporters ( near the buses that were used to transport them ). Addounia TV was also holding interviews, with some participants falsely stating they were residents of Midan. After more inspection i counted more than 200 armed thugs accompanying the pro-regime crowd. the regime had done its homework and had prepared to fool the observers with this fake stage of support. at the other end of the district the anti-regime demonstrators started gathering. Those who attended were far fewer than i anticipated ( Midan can peak 25,000 demonstrators). yet those who attended were around 1000-2000. a far call from a massive demonstrations the committee called for. the regime thugs decided to flex their muscles and attempted to disrupt the demonstration before it stared. the anti-regime crowd decided to meld into the pro-regime crowd as to hide. what was usually an opposition strong hold has become a stage for a pro-regime crowd.When the Asr prayers were announced, the anti-regime crowd entered the Daqaq Mosque. The pro-regime crowd started chanting their generic chants, while the the anti-regime crowd waited for more people to arrive. directly after prayers the protests started, but we were surrounded from 2 out of 3 sides. we managed to taunt the regime thugs a bit, before moving to one of the alleys by the Daqaq mosque. i managed to escape then, those who didn’t returned to the mosque where they were surrounded for about 2 hours, before the regime thugs pulled out. luckily no one was harmed. one thing that surprised me was the relatively mass participation by women ( about 40% of the crowd). in fact one of the worshipers started mumbling about the women that weren’t wearing hijabs inside the mosque, i told him better them inside the mosque than the shabeeha. sadly the observers never showed up until late in the evening where both crowds (pro and anti) had long ago dispersed. the observers went to pray at the Daqaq mosue and listened to the testimonies of some opposition activists for a short while before leaving. as i was leaving i was amused to realize that one of the regime thugs accidentally used tear gas on the pro-regime demonstrators that were bussed in(غبأكم ينصرنا ). i would like to state that if it weren’t for the numerous checkpoints and regime thugs the demonstration would’ve certainly been better.

the regime is trying to manipulate the observers the same way they manipulated Robert Fisk.

some guy in damascus

Addounia tv with pro-regime crowd and thugs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj7kOru8d20
the demonstration held in the alley neighboring the mosque
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQ2nMaWtUoQ&feature=youtu.be

Source

Israel Zochrot : Testimony of Amnon Neumann

[youtube http://youtu.be/KS4OXOom_vk?]

Democracy Now : Kim Jong-un Inherits Father’s Nuclear Legacy

CLICK ON IMAGE

Mohammad Nourizad’s dissidence to the Iranian government comes in the form of admonishing, public letters.

Letters to a dictator

Last Modified: 29 Dec 2011 14:02
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In his letters, Mohammad Nourizad accused the “father” – Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – of being surrounded by corruption, and dared him to cease military rule to see what happens [EPA]

Playa del Carmen, Mexico – Iranians around the globe these days are mesmerised in anticipation of the next public letter that Mohammad Nourizad will write to Ali Khamenei.

Much is happening in Iran these days, all under the radar of the Arab Spring and its cataclysmic consequences, whilst the US and its regional allies’ counter-revolutionary designs to halt and derail the Arab Spring laser-beams on the Iranian nuclear project. These events, exemplified by Nourizad’s letters and the public reaction to them, can only be understood in dialectical reciprocity with the world-historic events turning the region upside down, with the tsunami of the Arab revolts in particular, and with full recognition of the US-Israeli-Saudi attempts to alter their course to their respective benefits. The import of these events will remain entirely bewildering if left to the limited means of the nativist Iranian expat “opposition”, with their “Iran über alles” motto, or to those non-Iranians habitually severing the Arab uprisings from the democratic landscape of the region.

The letters of Mohammad Nourizad are now known and counted by their numbers – now only five, then 10, and by the end of 2011 they had amounted to no less than 15. These letters are written and published publicly to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei. The reaction of Iranians to these letters all comes together to mark a critical passage in contemporary Iranian political culture with ramifications for the region at large.

Nourizad publishes his letters initially in his website, and from there they go viral – millions of Iranians around the globe read them, jaws dropping in admiration of his courage, his diction, his tenacity. He pulls no punches.

These letters are punctiliously polite, written in an exceedingly genteel diction, never crossing the boundaries of propriety – and then quickly they cut to the chase and expose the horrors of the Islamic Republic.– Hamid Dabashi

These letters are punctiliously polite, written in an exceedingly genteel diction, never crossing the boundaries of propriety – and then quickly, they cut to the chase and expose the horrors of the Islamic Republic, its military and intelligence establishments, chapter and verse. For Mohammad Nourizad was, once, an insider.

Change of heart

Mohammad Nourizad (born on December 10, 1952) is an Iranian filmmaker and journalist. He studied engineering, but turned quickly to journalism and filmmaking, and put his talents at the service of the Islamic Republic. His journalistic career is tied with the arch-conservative daily Keyhan, where he was a columnist, making a name and reputation for himself as quite a prominent conservative supporter of Ayatollah Khamenei and a severe opponent of the Reform Movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s, as led by the two-term President Mohammad Khatami. But something happened to Nourizad in the aftermath of June 2009 presidential election – something that must have been brewing in him for a much longer time. When it emerged, it morphed into a principled critical judgment against the status quo – with a moral clarity impossible to ignore.

In three successive letters, written soon after the disputed presidential election of June 2009, Nourizad politely admonished Khamenei for taking sides with Ahmadinejad and not recognising presidential candidates Mir Hossein Musavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and the former president Mohammad Khatami as true friends and the true supporter of the Islamic Republic. He denounced the brutal crackdown of the people, and asked Khamenei to apologise to Iranians and call for a national reconciliation.

Soon after he published these letters to Khamenei, Nourizad was arrested in April 2010, sentenced and jailed. But from his jail, he continued to write letters, his tone even more adamant, his revelations even more damaging, but still polite, warning Khamenei that he had lost the confidence of the people, that Iranians were kept from revolting only by vicious and brutal military suppression and intimidation. He dared the Supreme Leader to cease the military rule and see what will happen.

While he was in jail, suffering in solitary confinement, Nourizad’s wife appealed for his release, as did scores of prominent Iranian filmmakers – all to no avail. Meanwhile, Nourizad was severely beaten in prison, in response to which he went on a hunger strike. His jailers asked him to repent and write to Khamenei for clemency. He did no such thing. He continued to write, until his pregnant daughter asked him to stop for her sake, which he did; his next public letter was to his daughter instead, continuing to expose the depth of corruption at the heart of the clerical, the military, and the security establishments of the Islamic Republic. He then asked other public figures to follow suit and write similarly polite, but admonitory letters to Khamenei, and some, such as the distinguished Iranian religious intellectual Abdolkarim Soroush, began to do so.

No response from Ayatollah Khamenei, but these letters became subjects of extensive public conversation among Iranians in and out of the country.

Upon being released from jail, Nourizad began making a film he had tentatively called Mahramaneh Bara ye Rahbarm (Confidentially For My Leader). The film was almost done when agents of the intelligence ministry invaded his home and confiscated it. A filmmaker of hitherto limited means and achievements who never made it to global or even national prominence, this film was to be his magnum opus – the visionary anger of a filmmaker whose best work ever has been taken away from him now informs the visionary precision of his diction when he writes his letters to his leader – whom he calls “father”.

The God who does not like the thieves

Direct public address has a peculiar power in Persian diction, otherwise prone to the anonymity of passive voice and indirection. Consider the fact that throughout his tumultuous days as the leading dissident voice in the aftermath of the June 2009 presidential election until his house arrest in February 2011, Mir Hossein Mousavi never ever in public addressed Ali Khamenei, and his addresses to him were always indirect. Nourizad’s letters are exactly the opposite of that anonymity of interlocutor. He speaks, directly, to the Leader, in public.

But that is not all. The direct tone of the letters gives them a distinct literary quality, akin to pages from a Latin American novel about a hideous dictator, omnipresent but absent, magical in its realist mode – real and unreal, deadly serious and yet politically frivolous, wherein the horizon crafted in between the lines of these letters, the ageing tyranny exposes itself. To be sure, these letters are not entirely new in modern Iranian political culture, and the late Ali Akbar Sa’idi Sirjani (1931-1994), a leading dissident, is now legendary for a powerful public letter of protest he once wrote to the same tyrant – and then paid for it with his life.

“In the Name of that God who does not Like Thieves”: that’s how he begins one of his most widely popular letters. He is always impeccably polite: “Greetings to Our Honoured Leader, His Highness Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.” In a letter he dedicated to “the thieves among the Intelligence forces and the thieves among the Pasdaran”, he first exonerates many among the Pasdaran whom he knows to be honest, dignified, never ever having stolen anything from the public wealth. He believes these forces have become increasing isolated, suffering in silence and isolation for what has happened to their Islamic revolution. Having made these exceptions, he is punctilious in accusing the Islamist military establishment of thievery.

He equally testifies that among the intelligence forces there are honest, polite and dignified people. But he then proceeds to say that these good ones are not in position of power and authority – and he accuses those who do have power and authority of stealing from what belongs to the public at large.

He informs Khamenei that fortunately the Supreme Leader’s home and the lives of his family members are immune from eavesdropping and surveillance, so he would not understand what it means for a phone to be tapped and a simple telephone conversation with the family members of a martyred friend can be taped and played back to him by way of intimidating interrogation.

 Talk to Al Jazeera – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Nourizad also informs the Leader that fortunately in his house there are no hidden cameras that record even the most private aspects of a person’s life, “if he were to caress his wife or laugh heartily at her jokes”.

Nourizad is specific, speaking from personal pain: “Please have the recorded interrogation of the monster who was my interrogator with my young daughter so that your highness with your own noble ears can hear the words of this sexual and psychotic monster.” These intelligence agents and the Pasdaran have stolen the dignity of their respective organisations, which were supposed to be “Islamic”.

He accuses the agents of the ministry of intelligence of taking obscene pleasure from listening to the most private conversations between husband and wives or between strangers. No one is immune from these agents – they invade the sacrosanct peripheries of people’s privacy and use what they gather to intimidate and denigrate people.

Nourizad speaks of secrets that were stolen from the intelligence ministry so that Ahmadinejad could not use them against his enemies. “Ahmadinejad was disposable, and he knew it very well. He knew we had raised him so that with his psychopathology we could bury the Reform Movement. He knew he must pack well from this unrepeatable mission and fill his bags with these poor people’s money. Bags that could have gathered power for him.”

Nourizad assures the Leader he is willing to confront the thieves amongst the Pasdaran and the Intelligence ministry and both prove their thievery and plead with them to stop destroying the revolution for which they have all fought. He warns that the US and Israel are now plotting to do with Iran what they did with Iraq and Libya, get rid of some people and bring some other people to power and get the control of Iranian oil. He warns the Leader not to trust these Pasdaran or be fooled by them and thus invite confrontation with the US and Israel. That war, he warns, will enable these thieves to get rid of all their internal critics. He warns the leader that these thieves will drag Iran into war and then gather their belongings and run away. “Instead of relying on these Pasdars, rely on God and rely on this people – light is here, blessing is here, salvation is here.”

How to read public letters

Iranians’ reactions to Nourizad’s letters are varied. Some consider him heroic and trailblazing in upping the ante and exposing the horrors of the Islamic Republic to unprecedented dimensions – even more so than the presidential candidates’ debates during the June 2009 election, which in turn resulted in even more revelations about the atrocious history of the theocracy. Others are appreciative of these letters, but consider them useless and believe at this stage, opposition to the Islamic Republic needs more substance, organisation, leadership and purpose than mere words. Still others dismiss Nourizad altogether and consider him a devotee of the leader of the Islamic Republic that he always was, and offer the polite and supplicant tone of his letters as evidence. The entire regime is corrupt and incurable, they believe, and at top of it, the very person of Khamenei. So these letters are useless and in fact, diversionary.

There is also a cogent criticism (in Persian) that the sorts of letters that Nourizad and others like him write to the Supreme Leader, in fact, perpetuate the cult of heroes and heroism, reducing collective political actions at a mass societal level to individual acts of defiance. They give a false fetishism to the Green Movement and refuse to recognise that it has died out, that they amount to a nasty attempt at prolonging the Reformist discourse, and that above all, they pre-empt the rise of a “collective subjectivity” (mardom suzhegi) among the people.

In the absence of the mass rallies and the rise of the new media to reflect their evolving aspirations, people like Nourizad and others are being in fact, recycled and the discourses of Reform reproduced, so that the more radical expansion of the movement is pre-empted. Not just in Nourizad but also in others who follow his model and keep writing letters, there is an endemic verbosity, a discursive formalism, that in fact recycles a medieval prose and as such, categorically aloof from the realities of our time.

To be sure, these letters are indeed all of the Nasihat al-Muluk genre, a medieval mode of political tract in which a vizier or a wise man guides, warns and even admonishes the king for his own sake – so while in their sentiments they denounce tyranny, in their form they in fact exonerate the tyrant and thus, paradoxically exacerbate his tyranny. The form dismantles the content, the rhetoric its logic.

But democratic discourse is not made out of the thin air in the occulted dormitories of the blogosphere – it will have to be made of the substance of public discourse, and thus not just in what prominent people write, but in how people read and react to them. Mardom-Suzhegi is generated as much by the readers’ response (“intentio lectoris“) as by the writers’ intentions (“intentio auctoris“) – for the intention of the text (“intentio operis“) is a reality sui generis. Some key elements of a democratic diction are evident and hidden in these letters – so their sentiments and thoughts must be salvaged from their form. The facts revealed and the sentiments celebrated must be read in a transigent mode, while their form remains categorically intransigent, recalcitrant, and even retrograde. Their good politics and bad form demand a superior hermeneutics.

Without the destruction of that form through a liberating hermeneutics, all these wise and worthy words will have been in vain, a courageous exercise in futility.

But how can that form be overcome despite itself? There are always unanticipated consequences to any political act. Instead of writing to Khamenei, officers of the Pasdaran began writing directly to Nourizad, as did former leftist political prisoners who had suffered in the dungeons of the Islamic Republic in the 1980s – two entirely unanticipated consequence of Nourizad’s act. How about that? The fear that the Reformist agenda is recycling itself is defeatist, false, and a sad and unseemly case of ressentiment.

The democratic movement in Iran is alive and well. It was called Green yesterday; it might be called Red tomorrow. Those who criticise the Green Movement and consider it hijacked by the Reformists are in fact the ones chiefly responsible for fetishising an amorphous democratic uprising, out of their legitimate frustrations with the discredited Reformists.

You cannot blame or censure the Reformists for recycling their discourse and posing to come back to power, nor can you take issue with the religious intellectuals for writing in a museum style prose and diction reminiscent of medieval tracts and purpose, and as such entirely out of tune with reality. There is more than one way to skin a cat. They can write their letters in any manner and style they like – the question is what do you do with those historical facts thus generated precisely in the direction of crafting a new subjectivity liberated from not just the Reformist discourse but from the entire calamity called the Islamic Republic.

A remarkable aspect of these letters … is that they are exquisite examples of constructing a character without ever seeing him.– Hamid Dabashi

A remarkable aspect of these letters, evident in the fact that we never read any response to them by Ayatollah Khamenei, is that they are exquisite examples of constructing a character without ever seeing him, a feat most recently best achieved by Mohammad Nourizad’s fellow filmmaker Jafar Panahi in his celebrated film Badkonak-e Sefid (The White Balloon) (1995) where we meet a young boy, Ali/Mohsen Khalifi, on whose face and shirt we see the signs of violence, but never see anyone perpetrating that violence. All we hear (but never see) is the repeated admonitory and angry utterances of a father taking a bath in the basement of the young boy’s house, incessantly screaming at him asking for one thing or another. From that subterranean dungeon, the father screams loudly and torments his family, ordering his wife and children around, as the entire household lives in the echoes of his ceaseless commands – and we might also surmise that the signs of violence on the boy’s face and shirt might in fact be related to his father and his subterranean howling. Every one of Nourizad’s letters too are like the sequences of a film he is making not for but about his tyrant “father” – just like Panahi in the Badkonak-e Sefid constructing a character without ever seeing, or in this case hearing, him respond.

In a remarkable reverse projection of interlocution, these letters, in a far more enduring sense, might in fact be read not to Nourizad’s figurative “father” Ayatollah Khamenei but to his own real children, to his grandchild about to be born, and by extension to all other young Iranians suffering the calamity called an Islamic Republic, publicly apologising to them for a lifetime of commitment to “the God that failed”. In reading that failure, Nourizad and his “father” might be trapped, but their “children” are free:

Pride you took, pride you feel
Pride that you felt when you’d kneel…
It clouds all that you will know
Deceit, deceive
Decide just what you believe

I see faith in your eyes
Never you hear the discouraging lies
I hear faith in your cries
Broken is the promise, betrayal
The healing hand held back by the deepened nail
Follow the god that failed…

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York. His edited volume, Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema was published by Verso in 2007. His forthcoming book, The Arab Spring: The End of Post-Colonialism, is scheduled for publication by Zed in April 2012. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Source

Israel ‘will launch significant Gaza offensive sooner or later’

Israel Defence Forces chief of staff speaks on third anniversary of start of a major three-week Gaza assault

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem · guardian.co.uk

Benny Gantz said there would be 'no escape from conducting a significant operation'. Photograph: Ariel Hermoni/EPABenny Gantz said there would be ‘no escape from conducting a significant operation’. Photograph: Ariel Hermoni/EPA

 

A new Israeli military offensive against Gaza will be launched “sooner or later” and will be “swift and painful”, Israel’s most senior military officer has warned.

Benny Gantz, the chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, was speaking on the third anniversary of the start of a major three-week assault on Gaza during which around 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

That offensive was “an excellent operation that achieved deterrence for Israel vis-a-vis Hamas”, Gantz told Army Radio on Tuesday. He added there were signs that the deterrent effect was wearing thin.

“Sooner or later, there will be no escape from conducting a significant operation,” he said. “The IDF knows how to operate in a determined, decisive and offensive manner against terrorists in the Gaza Strip.”

Within hours of Gantz’s comments, the Israeli military launched two airstrikes on targets in Gaza, killing one person and injuring around 10, according to local reports.

A spokesman for the IDF said direct hits on two “terrorist squads with global jihad associations” had been confirmed. According to security officials quoted by Israel Radio, one of the targets was a cell en route to Sinai with the intention of launching an attack on Israel from Egypt.

Since the end of the Gaza war in January 2009, Hamas has attempted to enforce a ceasefire among militant groups, although sporadic rocket fire has continued. Israel holds Hamas, as the de facto government, responsible for all rocket fire emanating from Gaza.

There have been suggestions in recent weeks that Hamas is ready to distance itself further from attacks on Israel as part of its reconciliation process with its rival faction Fatah.

“They have accepted popular [non-violent] resistance,” senior Fatah official Mohammed Shtayyer said, adding that Hamas would stop “these fireworks” being launched.

However, Hamas officials have also said they reserve the right to self-defence and the prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, pledged to continue “resistance” at a public rally this month.

Gantz’s comments were meant “to keep [Hamas] on their toes”, according to the Israeli analyst Yossi Alpher, who said: “He’s letting us know that another operation is possible and it would be successful.”

Alpher identified two constraining factors – moves towards Fatah-Hamas reconciliation “which may change the political nature of the Gaza regime”, and Egypt. “In the past, we could assume that if we launched an operation in Gaza, [former president Hosni] Mubarak would be largely sympathetic. That’s not necessarily the case now,” he said.

Hamas’s message was not unequivocal or comprehensive, he said, adding: “The question is, are we witnessing an evolutionary process in which Hamas follows the lead of Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia away from violence and into politics? My sense is we are, but it’s a slow process.”

Shlomo Brom, of the Institute for National Strategic Studies, said a new offensive on Gaza could be pre-empted by political developments, including the opening of a covert dialogue between Israel and Hamas.

“The developments of Hamas’s position taking into account the effects of the Arab spring could open different possibilities,” he said.

Source

Confronting intimidation, working for justice in Palestine

27 December 2011

Demonstration in commemoration of the killing of Mustafa Tamimi, Nabi Salih, West Bank (16 December 2011).

If we had a wish list for 2012 as Palestinians and friends of Palestine, one of the top items ought to be our hope that we can translate the dramatic shift in recent years in world public opinion into political action against Israeli policies on the ground.

We know why this has not yet materialized: the political, intellectual and cultural elites of the West cower whenever they even contemplate acting according to their own consciences as well as the wishes of their societies.

This last year was particularly illuminating for me in that respect. I encountered that timidity at every station in the many trips I took for the cause I believe in. And these personal experiences were accentuated by the more general examples of how governments and institutions caved in under intimidation from Israel and pro-Zionist Jewish organizations.

A catalogue of complicity

Of course there were US President Barack Obama’s pandering appearances in front of AIPAC, the Israeli lobby, and his administration’s continued silence and inaction in face of Israel’s colonization of the West Bank, siege and killings in Gaza, ethnic cleansing of the Bedouins in the Naqab and new legislation discriminating against Palestinians in Israel.

The complicity continued with the shameful retreat of Judge Richard Goldstone from his rather tame report on the Gaza massacre — which began three years ago today. And then there was the decision of European governments, especially Greece, to disallow campaigns of human aid and solidarity from reaching Gaza by sea.

On the margins of all of this were prosecutions in France against activists calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and a few u-turns by some groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Europe caving in under pressure and retracting an earlier decision to cede connections with Israel.

Learning firsthand how pro-Israel intimidation works

In recent years, I have learned firsthand how intimidation of this kind works. In November 2009 the mayor of Munich was scared to death by a Zionist lobby group and cancelled my lecture there. More recently, the Austrian foreign ministry withdrew its funding for an event in which I participated, and finally it was my own university, the University of Exeter, once a haven of security in my eyes, becoming frigid when a bunch of Zionist hooligans claimed I was a fabricator and a self-hating Jew.

Every year since I moved there, Zionist organizations in the UK and the US have asked the university to investigate my work and were brushed aside. This year a similar appeal was taken, momentarily one should say, seriously. One hopes this was just a temporary lapse; but you never know with an academic institution (bravery is not one of their hallmarks).

Standing up to pressure

But there were examples of courage — local and global — as well: the student union of the University of Surrey under heavy pressure to cancel my talk did not give in and allowed the event to take place.

The Episcopal Bishops Committee on Israel/Palestine in Seattle faced the wrath of many of the city’s synagogues and the Israeli Consul General in San Francisco, Akiva Tor, for arranging an event with me in September 2011 in Seattle’s Town Hall, but bravely brushed aside this campaign of intimidation. The usual charges of “anti-Semitism” did not work there — they never do where people refuse to be intimidated.

The outgoing year was also the one in which Turkey imposed military and diplomatic sanctions on Israel in response to the latter’s refusal to take responsibility for the attack on the Mavi Marmara. Turkey’s action was in marked contrast to the European and international habit of sufficing with toothless statements at best, and never imposing a real price on Israel for its actions.

Do not cave in to intimidation

I do not wish to underestimate the task ahead of us. Only recently did we learn how much money is channeled to this machinery of intimidation whose sole purpose is to silence criticism on Israel. Last year, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs — leading pro-Israel lobby groups — allocated $6 million to be spent over three years to fight BDS campaigns and smear the Palestine solidarity movement. This is not the only such initiative under way.

But are these forces as powerful as they seem to be in the eyes of very respectable institutions such as universities, community centers, churches, media outlets and, of course, politicians?

What you learn is that once you cower, you become prey to continued and relentless bashing until you sing the Israeli national anthem. If once you do not cave in, you discover that as time goes by, the ability of Zionist lobbies of intimidation around the world to affect you gradually diminishes.

Reducing the influence of the United States

Undoubtedly the centers of power that fuel this culture of intimidation lie to a great extent in the United States, which brings me to the second item on my 2012 wish list: an end to the American dominance in the affairs of Israelis and Palestinians. I know this influence cannot be easily curbed.

But the issue of timidity and intimidation belong to an American sphere of activity where things can, and should be, different. There will be no peace process or even Pax Americana in Palestine if the Palestinians, under whatever leadership, would agree to allow Washington to play such a central role. It is not as if US policy-makers can threaten the Palestinians that without their involvement there will be no peace process.

In fact history has proved that there was no peace process — in the sense of a genuine movement toward the restoration of Palestinian rights — precisely because of American involvement. Outside mediation may be necessary for the cause of reconciliation in Palestine. But does it have to be American?

If elite politics are needed — along with other forces and movements — to facilitate a change on the ground, such a role should come from other places in the world and not just from the United States.

One would hope that the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah — and the new attempt to base the issue of Palestinian representation on a wider and more just basis — will lead to a clear Palestinian position that would expose the fallacy that peace can only be achieved with the Americans as its brokers.

Dwarfing the US role will disarm American Zionist bodies and those who emulate them in Europe and Israel of their power of intimidation.

Letting the other America play a role

This will also enable the other America, that of the civil society, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the progressive campuses, the courageous churches, African-Americans marginalized by mainstream politics, Native Americans and millions of other decent Americans who never fell captive to elite propaganda about Israel and Palestine, to take a far more central role in “American involvement” in Palestine.

That would benefit America as much as it will benefit justice and peace in Palestine. But this long road to redeeming all of us who want to see justice begins by asking academics, journalists and politicians in the West to show a modicum of steadfastness and courage in the face of those who want to intimidate us. Their bark is far fiercer than their bite.

The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.

Pro-Israel Rally For Attacking Gaza, NYC, 1-11-09

[youtube http://youtu.be/FABqq_jjRRo?]

Gaza, never forget! Video by Max Blumenthal and Dan Luban. Full story here: http://www.alternet.org/story/119372

Syria’s torture machine

As shown on Channel 4

Part II

Part III (last)

Syria : Massacre of Kafr Uwaid

[youtube http://youtu.be/F3aOLxIy8J8?]

He says:
o Mercy upon our martyrs who fell in Syria and in Jabal Al-Zawiya in the massacre of Kafr Uwaid.
o Saturday 17 Dec, the army entered Jabal Al-Zawiya area including kafr Amim town, where the massacre took place.
o Sunday 18 Dec, they [the regime’s army] burned the homes and the motorcycles, targeting the homes of activists, and firing randomly during the day and the night.
o Monday morning, 19 Dec, they committed a massacre, around 80 army personnel of this group defected between the towns of KanSafra and Kafr Uwaid. We heard heavy gunfire and artillery shelling on a specific place where there were no civilians. Then we knew that around 80 army personnel defected and fled to a poultry farm between KanSafra and Kafr Uwaid, so the army shelled this farm, killed them all, and took their corpses to unknown destination. Of course this random shelling of defected army members caused deaths between civilians as well, 10 civilians were killed from the town KanSafra, as the shelling was close by their town.
o Tuesday, 20 Dec, the army surrounded more than a 100 civilians west of the village of Kafr Uwaid in a village called Abu Dmaya, around 12:00 noon, they [civilians] started to shout and cry out for help, they called us telling us they are surrounded. They were civilians…more than a 100, the army surrounded them when it entered the towns of Ayla Rouse, Al-Mouzara, and Kafr Uwaid. They had no safe place to go, they were activist demonstrators. Of course when they pled with us, we had no power or ability other than to plea to the world; I am one of the persons who called Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Syrian Center for Human Rights, and he told me that he called the head of the Arab League but sadly no one responded to our plea. For more than 4 hours, the shelling was continuous on those civilians. We pled through media outlet, we posted pleas on most of the outlets, and in 4 hours…it was possible that they did not have to be martyrs, they could have stayed alive…had anyone responded to us, but sadly no one responded to us, so all of them fell [dead]. We found some of them handcuffed and finished off; after being arrested, some were killed. More than 15 victims were finished off after they were arrested. We brought them back to the village’s mosque in Kafr Uwaid town. The scene was very frightening, and I am one of the witnesses on these massacres.
o 21 Dec, Wednesday, they [the regime’s army] committed a massacre in Jabal Shehshabo in the town of Nmir, they killed more than 15 civilians in a refugee camp; they were refugees fleeing the army, they fled their villages which the army occupied and turned into barracks, these also were shelled by heavy artillery.
o We ask …we plea and ask the whole world to stand with us, we are being killed in cold blood
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