Archive for July, 2006

Israeli logic.

Israeli logic is great. They can bomb indiscriminately, they argue, because they warned civilians to evacuate the areas. (Nevermind that they destroyed roads, bomb civilian refugee convoys, aid workers, and fuel storage sites.)

By this token, Hizbullah should be able to bomb where ever it wants in central Israel now that it has warned them in advance. Besides, people in Haifa have been warned for far too long. Therefore, any Hizbullah strike in Northern or Central Israel is a-okay, by Israeli standards, that is.

edit: Later saw this on Norman Finkelstein’s web site:

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Just the facts…

fact: Hizbullah does not hide among civilians.

>The “hiding among civilians” myth

Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths — the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far — on “terrorists” who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters — as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers — avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators — as so many Palestinian militants have been.

For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they’ll get some fighters, too. […] But other attacks seem gratuitous, fishing expeditions, or simply intended to punish anything and anyone even vaguely connected to Hezbollah. […] In the south, where Shiites dominate, just about everyone supports Hezbollah. […]

The Israelis are consistent: They bomb everyone and everything remotely associated with Hezbollah, including noncombatants. In effect, that means punishing Lebanon. The nation is 40 percent Shiite, and of that 40 percent, tens of thousands are employed by Hezbollah’s social services, political operations, schools, and other nonmilitary functions. The “terrorist” organization Hezbollah is Lebanon’s second-biggest employer. […]

Although Israel targets apartments and offices because they are considered “Hezbollah” installations, the group has a clear policy of keeping its fighters away from civilians as much as possible. […] “You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon,” a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. […]

So the analysts talking on cable news about Hezbollah “hiding within the civilian population” clearly have spent little time if any in the south Lebanon war zone and don’t know what they’re talking about. Hezbollah doesn’t trust the civilian population and has worked very hard to evacuate as much of it as possible from the battlefield.[…]

fact: Israel deliberately and indiscriminately targets civilians.

>Israelis withdraw from Hizbollah border stronghold

A field researcher from the American based Human Rights Watch (HRW), Lucy Mair, sent pictures to military experts at the organisation’s New York office of munitions being transported to Israel’s northern border and fired into Lebanon from howitzers. She was shocked to discover they were cluster munitions. […]

‘The overwhelming impression is that time and time and again civilians are attacked and only civilian infrastructure is targeted. In cases of civilian casualties our investigators have studied, they have not been able to find the presence of Hizbollah rockets or launchers – only civilian targets,’ she said.

fact: Hizbullah’s actions were not unprovoked or unreasonable

>Lebanon wants return of Shebaa Farms

[Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora] said: “Hezbollah has expressed many times that it has the following objectives: liberating Lebanese occupied land, getting maps of all landmines planted in southern Lebanon during the Israeli occupation, and securing the release of our detainees who are held in Israeli jails.”

Just the facts.

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Palast, go back to Florida

Just came across this comment piece by Greg Palast. He should stick to writing articles about vote fraud in the States and taking pictures in Venezuela, the guy comes across as an idiot when talking about the Middle East — and he admits it himself. There are things in this article that have merit, but the rest of it is utterly simplified and stupid. He ends up denying not just the Palestinians, but the Shi’ite Lebanese and the Israelis as well of agency and ignores the myriad motivations and distills everything down to oil (the chemical irony of this statement just hit me). Too tired to comment fully on it all.

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Sri Lanka’s genocide

On Monday, July 24, there was a memorial to commemorate Black July, 1983 — where the Sri Lankan government and Sinhalese ethnic nationalists massacred thousands of Tamils in Sri Lanka. The massacres continue to this day, and so this was also a rally of defiance and protest.

State terrorism in Sri Lanka is ignored by the international community

And it’s true. Most people largely ignore or are unaware of what’s going on in Sri Lanka.

Click here for more pictures from the memorial/rally.

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Banana memories

I was eating a banana and a flashback from when I was a toddler hit me. My mother was “boasting” to my siblings about how I ate a banana all the way to the bottom (there’s this part of the banana at the very bottom that, in normal eating, gets left untouched unless you specifically eat it), and how fantastic that was. I know it made me really proud.

Now I see my mother using similar tactics on my niece (who is three and a half). She “boasts” to me and others about how well she performs something (e.g., drinking milk), in order to encourage her to perpetuate that behaviour. This, of course, is positive social reinforcement.

It was just now that I actually realized and connected the tactics my mother used on me to the ones she’s now using on her granddaughter. Funny how I never really, fully connected that before. I don’t eat bananas all the way down to the very bottom anymore.

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Israel out!

There was a rally yesterday Downtown, starting from the Israeli Consulate and ending at the U.S. Consulate, against Israel’s aggression in Palestine and Lebanon.

Lebanon flag

Click here for more photographs from yesterday’s rally.

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Transformers and al-Coibra

The Transformers movie is coming out next July. It’s great to see all these cartoons of my boyhood come to the big screen. Next, I suppose, is G.I.JOE where, of course, the racially diverse and morally upright American soldiers triumph over irrationally evil terrorists (who hate peace and freedom) from the al-Coibra organization. Perfect.

And in an intelligence breakthrough in America’s War on Terror, al-Coibra’s dreaded Cobra Commander’s secret identity was recently revealed:

(I actually do have a life, I just spend most of my time trying to avoid it.)

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TMNT in March and bombing in the streets of Lebanon

Thanks to M. for this trailer of TMNT, apparently coming out in March.

No one outgrows the Ninja Turtles. Reminds me of this Lebanese guy I knew back in Saudi Arabia — we were both in the American Boy Scouts thing (don’t ask) — and he used to like the Ninja Turtles (it’s not like any of us didn’t). It was a while back, but I distinctly remember him wearing Ninja Turtles merchandise (a yellow shirt with the then cartoon version of TMNT, and I think matching shorts). I don’t remember his name or really anything else about him. I hope he’s okay, where ever he is.

I remember that my experience with the Boy Scouts wasn’t particularly fulfilling (I missed a lot of Cub Scout sessions and never graduated to Webelos, but I regularly got Boy’s Life magazine). I wonder how much it cost my father. This was back when I used to think Americans were the bomb. I still think Americans are the bomb, but in a different way. (I actually didn’t know the term “the bomb” as applied to good things. That applied to things Iraq and Saddam Hussein did, I thought Scud was pronounced “skirt” and then used to wonder why there were no “frock” bombs. All I know from that experience is that living under the constant threat of bombardment — nevermind actual bombardment — is mortifying and traumatic especially if you’re a five or six year old kid. And therefore I’m really happy that Israel is exercising — according to a Canadian military official — its utmost “restraint” in bombing Lebanon, and is only targeting civilians and children with its precision guided munitions and killing the odd Hizbullah militant here and there by mistake. They’ve only killed 300 in eight days, after all, the official said on live talk radio. Makes me proud to be a Canadian. If there’s anything about this conflict that’s ironical, it’s that Hizbullah’s losses are the “collateral damage” whereas the direct targets are the civilians and children of Lebanon. And then they wonder why the Arab “street” hates the West and its propped up “progressive” and “friendly” leaders. Go figure. I’m still trying to figure that one out.)

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Why doesn’t every critic of Hizbullah, Hamas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinians, etc. automatically become an anti-Arab, or a racist, or pro-evil? Why is it that when someone criticizes Israel, they automatically become anti-Semites, racists, or unbalanced and unfair? Why don’t the former have to “equally condemn” the hundreds, thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians who have been killed? Why is the onus on critics of Israel to also pause and “equally condemn” the Israeli civilians who have been killed? Why is it okay for Israel to act any which way it desires out of “self-defense” (or even when it isn’t defending itself), but not okay for Hamas to act against occupation?

I know you’d like to think your shit don’t stink
But lean a little bit closer
See that roses really smell like poo-poo
Yeah, roses really smell like poo-poo

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Look into my eyes, pt. 2

I just realized something about the video I posted below that didn’t strike me at first. The Outlandish video takes the occupation of Palestine and presents it through the familiar tale of Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. However, the Israelis (and by extension Jews) are presented as wolves, whereas Palestinians are presented as humans.

Even when the children are lined up at a checkpoint, a young Jew is presented as a young wolf (who passes through the checkpoint easily). When our protagonist is dreaming about a peaceful coexistence, the Jew is presented as a wolf.

Perhaps the reason this didn’t strike me at first is because I’ve spent a lot of time looking into the texture and diversity of opinion within not just the Jewish community worldwide, but also within the Israeli community. The wolves thus just struck me as particularly aggressive racist Zionists, and not being representative of all Israelis and Jews (e.g., representing George W. Bush as a monkey doesn’t mean I believe all Americans, or even all Republicans, or even any one but Bush is a buffoon). But, on watching the video again, the wolf is repeatedly attached to the Jews, and only to Jews (even those who live in peace). Essentially, framing Jews as inherently aggressive, rabid, carnivorous, etc.

Whether or not the makers of the video intended this so outrageously or even subtly, it does strike me as blatant anti-Semitism, and is inexcusable. Our job, our role is to actively prevent perpetuation of precisely these kinds of stereotypes that do disservice to everyone.

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