Archive for August, 2006

Venezuela: On Israel & Chocolate

Venezuela pulls out Israel ambassador

[Chavez] said: “The Israeli elite repeatedly criticise Hitler’s actions against the Jews, and indeed Hitler’s actions must be criticised, not just against the Jews but against the world. It’s also fascism what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people … terrorism and fascism.”

Meanwhile, undemocratic and corrupt rulers of Arab countries — nevertheless more democratic than Chavez according to the U.S. State Department — continued to fall over their faces to support Israel.

Venezuela’s chocolate revolution

They no longer sell their cocoa to local intermediaries, which have been priced out of the market, but straight to foreign chocolate manufacturers, which are willing to pay high prices for organic produce.

The farmers have joined forces to form an association of organic farmers consisting of 50 families.

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Much of the funding to kickstart this new wave of organic farming came from the Venezuelan government, which has injected some $10m on research and training, as well as from the European Union via a local non-governmental organisation called Tierra Viva.

[...]

The local cocoa producers are now making forays into the production of their own chocolate bars.

El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido never tasted better.

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Irony

Saudi activist held over solo protest

Wajiha al-Huweidar, 45, said she was arrested after walking across the causeway carrying a placard urging King Abdullah, ruler of Saudi Arabia, to grant more rights to women in the conservative kingdom.

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She said her brother later signed a pledge agreeing that she would not repeat her actions.

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I’m a fanboy…

I never denied it.

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If you can’t pronounce it…

… you probably know jackshit about it.

It’s “hizb-ullah” not “hez-buh-la” or “hez-bowl-a” or “khis-ba-la” — seriously, what the hell is “khis-ba-la”? Some morons spell it “hisbala” too — what?

It’s one thing for random joes to pretend to know this and that about Hizbullah, but it’s really annoying when commentators and politicians come on TV and can’t even pronounce properly the name of the country they’re invading or the group they’re fighting that they supposedly have massive intelligence and background knowledge on.

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Some facts on Hizbullah, a primer

Hizbullah is not a simple group to understand, here are some facts:

1. Hizbullah formed as a reaction to the Israel invasion and brutality toward Lebanon in 1982.

2. Hizbullah is not just a militia, but also has a political and social wing that provides social services (e.g., healthcare, education, etc.) for the traditionally marginalized Shi’ites of Southern Lebanon. Shi’ites form the plurality of Lebanese (perhaps the majority), but have been ignored by the political Sunni, Christian and Druze elites.

3. Hizbullah’s militia stays away from civilians. Contrary to Israeli and American propaganda, Hizbullah’s fighters do not hide behind civilians, it is dangerous and compromising — for them, nevermind the civilians. Hizbullah takes the utmost effort to evacuate civilians from battle sites.

4. Hizbullah has a great deal of support from Shi’ites, because of (2) but also because it drove out the Israeli occupiers who, through their own actions and their proxy fascist racist Christian South Lebanon Army (and others) were responsible for unimaginable brutalities against Lebanese and Palestinians.

5. Hizbullah has a great deal of respect from all sectors of Lebanese society because it drove out the Israelis. Hizbullah is a political party that has 14 seats in Lebanon’s 128 seat parliament. This may seem like it is a relatively marginal party, but Lebanon’s parliament and government operates weirdly along sectarian lines. Also first-past-the-post electoral systems are not representative of proportional voting. It is an integral part of the Lebanese government.

6. Hizbullah has been alleged to have been involved in terrorist operations, such as blowing up American marines in ’83 and such. This has never been proven.

7. Hizbullah’s capture of Israeli soldiers was not unprovoked. This idea of a random, nakedly provocative act is unfounded. For the past six years (since Israel’s exit from Lebanon in 2000), Israel and Hizbullah have been engaged in low-level warfare. Israel has violated the Blue Line on far, far more occassions (by air, land, sea) than Hizbullah. Probably by one or two orders of magnitude (that means, if Hizbullah has done it 100 times, Israel has done it 1,000 to 10,000 times). Israel has been kidnapping — from Lebanese soil, and also when they inadvertently walk into Israeli territory — Lebanese civilians (shepherds and fisherman), among others (including Hizbullah fighters) and holding many without charges. Israel also refuses to give up maps of landmines it planted in South Lebanon that kill people to this day. Hizbullah has been calling for a prisoner exchange, and access to those maps.

8. Hizbullah does rocket civilians in Haifa and other Israeli cities. This is unconscionable and just because we support Lebanese resistance does not mean we should blindly support all of Hizbullah’s activities. Israeli terrorist forces have no morals, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

9. The Lebanese Army is practically a joke, its Air Force consists of 30-odd helicopters — the types you see in 1970s films. If it were not for Hizbullah, Lebanon would not have any defence whatsoever against Israel. Not that it has much of one now.

10. Hizbullah’s militia is actually proving to be very costly, in terms of human and economic capital, for the Israeli Army. It is probably the most intelligent and formidable Arab army Israel has ever faced.

11. While many Lebanese were at first resentful at Hizbullah for seemingly having started this war, it becomes more and more clear that Israel had this in the cards for a long time. Now, it seems that most Lebanese are actually supporting Hizbullah, or, at the very least, not deciding to fight it but deciding to fight Israel. Israel and the U.S. are seen as the instigators, the perpetuators, the aggressors — and they are. It is not uncommon to hear, in Lebanon and in the Lebanese diaspora, “Labbaik, labbaik, labbaik, ya Nasrallah!” (Here we come, here we come, here we come, o Nasrallah!) and “Birroh, biddam, nafdeek ya Hizbullah/Nasrallah/Lubnaan!” (By our souls and by our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you o Hizbullah/Nasrallah/Lebanon!). Israel’s campaign is doing nothing to make people resent Hizbullah, it is increasing its popularity not only in Lebanon but across the Arab world.

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