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The BBC’s pact with Israel

January 27th, 2009

Special correspondent

Money and ideology behind BBC’s decision not to broadcast Gaza humanitarian appeal.

The BBC’s refusal to broadcast a humanitarian appeal for Gaza on behalf of a group of charities is motivated by a desire to appease US advertisers for its commercial TV channel and website, and by Mark Thompson’s own political proclivities.

Many people have been shocked and bewildered by the BBC’s refusal to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organization for 13 humanitarian aid agencies.

However, the decision by the BBC’s director-general, Mark Thompson, not to broadcast the appeal should have come as no surprise. In fact, media observers have been witnessing a steady tilt by the corporation towards Israel since the turn of the millennium.

Full story »

A Shameful War: Israel in the Dock

January 26th, 2009

Raymond Whitaker & Donald Macintyre

Did Israel – or its enemy, Hamas – commit war crimes during 22 days and nights of aerial assault, rocket launches and ground fighting in Gaza? In one sense the question is academic, because Israel will not recognise the conflict as an international one, and has not signed the 1977 Geneva protocol designed to apply to the victims of internal conflicts. But international lawyers say general principles can be drawn from the laws of war, which may have been violated in several ways. The main issues are these:

Proportionality

Up to 10 times as many Palestinians were killed as Israelis. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says 1,314 Palestinians were killed, of whom 412 were children or teenagers under 18, and 110 were women. On the Israeli side, there were 13 deaths between 27 December and 17 January, of whom three were civilians killed by rockets fired from Gaza. Of the 10 soldiers killed, four were lost to “friendly fire”.

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Going back to work

January 26th, 2009

Najwa Sheikh Ahmed, Nusierat Camp, Gaza Strip

The road was dreary, it was the second day after the cease fire was announced, and people started to leave their houses to see what has happened to the other places, I was on the taxi going to my work in Gaza, and all the way I was trying to prepare myself of what I am going to see, the destruction in the houses, the lands, the roads and every thing, but it seems that I was so humble on my expectations, every thing was different starting from Natzarim junction a long to Gaza city, to the destroyed houses, offices, streets, buildings, play grounds, even worship places, the mosques where we found peace and security.

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FOILING ANOTHER PALESTINIAN "PEACE OFFENSIVE": BEHIND THE BLOODBATH IN GAZA

January 26th, 2009

Norman G. Finkelstein

Early speculation on the motive behind Israel's slaughter in Gaza that began on 27 December 2008 and continued till 18 January 2009 centered on the upcoming elections in Israel. The jockeying for votes was no doubt a factor in this Sparta-like society consumed by "revenge and the thirst for blood,"[1] where killing Arabs is a sure crowd-pleaser. (Polls during the war showed that 80-90 percent of Israeli Jews supported it.)[2] But as Israeli journalist Gideon Levy pointed out on Democracy Now!, "Israel went through a very similar war...two-and-a-half years ago [in Lebanon], when there were no elections."[3] When crucial state interests are at stake, Israeli ruling elites seldom launch major operations for narrowly electoral gains. It is true that Prime Minister Menachem Begin's decision to bomb the Iraqi OSIRAK reactor in 1981 was an electoral ploy, but the strategic stakes in the strike on Iraq were puny; contrary to widespread belief, Saddam Hussein had not embarked on a nuclear weapons program prior to the bombing.[4] The fundamental motives behind the latest Israeli attack on Gaza lie elsewhere: (1) in the need to restore Israel's "deterrence capacity," and (2) in the threat posed by a new Palestinian "peace offensive."

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With friends like these

January 26th, 2009

Sherine Bahaa

KHALED AMAYREH, the Al-Ahram Weekly correspondent in the West Bank was arrested Sunday evening by the Preventive Security Forces (PSF) in Hebron. He was released after two days. Amayreh, 52, lives in Dura, 12 miles southwest of Hebron and has worked as the Weekly correspondent since 1997, as well as for a number of other media outlets.

He has a BA in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois. For a long time, he suffered, as do all Palestinians in the occupied territories, being confined by the occupation to his home village.

Not long ago, he was prohibited by Israeli forces from leaving Hebron at an Israeli checkpoint, detained and released only after being threatened for his courageous articles documenting Israeli crimes in the Weekly.

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Israel Killed Everything but the Will to Resist

January 26th, 2009

Stephen Lendman

" 'Freedom or death', is the popular Palestinian mantra," wrote Palestine Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Ramzy Baroud in his January 22 article titled "Breaking Gaza's Will: Israel's Enduring Fantasy."

Three weeks of Israeli terror caused about 1400 deaths, over 5500 injured (many seriously), vast destruction throughout Gaza, and Physicians for Human Rights warning that large numbers of wounded may die because hospitals are overloaded and lack basic supplies. Yet Palestinians endure. Their spirit is unbowed and unbroken. Hamas is more popular than ever, and world outrage sustains them.

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Obama, Guantánamo, and US hypocrisy

January 26th, 2009

Mickey Z.

Snapshots from the United States of Incarceration…

So, the Pope of Hope announced his (purported) objective of closing the military detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (“Gitmo”) within one year and we’re expected to herald this announcement as a drastic break from the past. But—as some of the regulars on my blog instantly declared—if President Obama were serious about hope and change, he’d close the prison tomorrow, apologize to the detainees, and offer them financial reparations. That could be promptly followed up with the immediate indictment of all government officials (including those in Obama’s administration) responsible for supporting torture, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, extrajudicial punishment, etc. And why not toss in the immediate closing of the US military base at Guantánamo Bay and the return of that land to Cuba? That, I submit, would be a minuscule first step upon which we could build.

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GAZA WAR SUMMARY

January 25th, 2009

B. Michael

Despite widespread praise, B. Michael unimpressed with military’s performance in Gaza.

Did the army draw lessons from its past performance? Unclear. The praise being lavished on the IDF still requires verification. This army participated in two wars: In Lebanon it was fired at and it emerged out of it by the skin of its teeth. In Gaza it was almost not fired at, and it immediately “won.” Therefore, the only learned conclusion we can draw from the Gaza events for the time being is that it is much easier to win without an enemy.

Did the Palestinians learn their lesson? No. Death and destruction do not educate nations. This is just the way it is. More than 1,000 Israelis were killed in the second Intifada, yet this didn’t quite turn us into peace-lovers. It also didn’t make us moderate or logical.

Full story »

FOR GAZA’S CHILDREN, THE WAY OF LIFE IS ACTUALLY THE WAY OF DEATH

January 25th, 2009

Steve Amsel

After an unexpected winter ‘vacation’, hundreds of thousands of children in Gaza returned to school yesterday. In some cases, the buildings were gone, completely destroyed by Israeli bombs. In most cases, classmates were missing, murdered by Israeli forces.

Can any of you imagine the trauma of these children, many of whom lost close relatives, including parents, brothers or sisters? For decades, this has been a way of life for the people living in the Occupied Territories of Palestine, Gaza in particular. In other words, the way of life is the way of death. The scars inflicted on these children by those horrors will never heal…. no form of therapy or counseling will alleviate the pain felt by these children…. they will be forced to live with it their entire life.

Full story »

Breaking Gaza’s Will: Israel’s Enduring Fantasy

January 25th, 2009

Ramzy Baroud

My three-year-old son Sammy walked into my room uninvited as I sorted through another batch of fresh photos from Gaza.

I was looking for a specific image, one that would humanise Palestinians as living, breathing human beings, neither masked nor mutilated. But to no avail.

All the photos I received spoke of the reality that is Gaza today - homes, schools and civilian infrastructure bombed beyond description. All the faces were either of dead or dying people.

Full story »

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