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Lebanon's Victory Day of National Resistance
by Stephen Lendman
Mexico's President Porfirio Diaz (1830 - 1915) reportedly once said "Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States."
Poor Lebanon. It borders Israel. It does so with Syria at the wrong time. It's affected by ongoing conflict. Its southern neighbor matters most.
By Gareth Porter, IPS
By Dave Lindorff
When it comes to mainstream press reports about a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, it’s time to check the bullshit detector.
At a time when the issue of civilian casualties in Libya has been dominating the international agenda, our Recording Casualties of Armed Conflict programme has launched Every Casualty.org, a website aiming to raise the profile of casualty recording worldwide and the organisations that undertake it. The site is a one-stop shop for information on casualties of conflict worldwide. It engages 22 of the organisations that record them in the International Practitioner Network convened by ORG.
By Kevin Zeese
Egypt is an alarm that highlights the urgent need for change in U.S. foreign policy. It provides President Obama an opportunity to transform a foreign policy that has often had the opposite effect that was sought and is undermining U.S. economic and national security.
The list of recent policy failures in the Middle East is quite astounding:
Lebanon's Hezbollah-Led Government - by Stephen Lendman
It's official, or nearly so, Haaretz, on January 25 headlining, "Hezbollah's PM pick wins majority backing as Hariri supporters hold 'day of wrath,' " saying:
Hezbollah-backed Najib Mikati, a Sunni billionaire, became new prime minister after getting 68 votes, a majority in Lebanon's 128-member parliament. Caretaker PM Saad Hariri got 60. As a result, Hezbollah "is now in position to control Lebanon's next government. The move has set off angry protests and drew warnings from the US that its support could be in jeopardy."
"Sunni blood is boiling," chanted protestors. Burning Mikati pictures, they said they won't serve in a coalition government, adding that anyone allying with Hezbollah is a traitor. After being appointed, he said:
"I extend my hand to everyone....This is a democratic process. I want to rescue my country....My actions (as PM) will speak for themselves."
Druze Leader Jumblatt Backs Hezbollah - by Stephen Lendman
Two recent articles discussed Lebanon's present turmoil in detail, accessed through the following links:
Conditions there remain fluid. Key was a Washington/French pressured UN-backed Special Tribunal's sealed January 17 indictment of those allegedly responsible for former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's February 14, 2005 killing, preceded by Hezbollah's January 12 pulling out of Lebanon's coalition government causing it to collapse. The above linked articles explain both events in detail, including who, in fact, likely killed Hariri, and implications going forward.
Two blocks comprised Lebanon's misnamed "national unity" government:
Heightened Tensions after Hariri Indictment Announced - by Stephen Lendman
A previous article addressed Lebanon's turmoil, accessed through the following link:
It discussed Israel's history of terrorizing Lebanon through decades of belligerent interventions as early as 1954, as well as thousands of terrorist acts against a nonviolent state whose misfortune is being Israel's neighbor. It also discussed false accusations against Hezbollah, a legitimate part of Lebanon's government, not a terrorist organization as Israel and America claim.
Targeted Killings, An Israeli Speciality
Turmoil in Lebanon - by Stephen Lendman
Reportedly, 19th century Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz once remarked: "Poor Mexico, So far from God, So close to the United States." His proximity comment applies to Lebanon. Bordering Israel, it experienced decades of belligerent interventions as early as 1954 when Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proposed supporting the establishment of a Maronite-dominated Christian mini-state.
In 1978, Israel attacked Lebanon and occupied the country up to the Litani River before withdrawing under US pressure, letting UN Blue Helmets (UNIFIL) replace its own forces.
Earlier, during Lebanon's 1975-76 civil war, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin reportedly spent $150 million equipping and training right-wing Maronite Phalange fighters. In September 1982, during Israel's invasion, they massacred thousands of Palestinian Sabra and Shatila camp residents, an appalling atrocity Israeli forces permitted when Ariel Sharon was defense minister.
In the beginning, chemicals collided and catalyzed, evolving a system of development from non-living to living things, proteins and nucleic acids interacting--greeting and meeting, dating and mating—in a metaphorical dance of romance. The recipe to make more was born. Now, chemicals portend the end. So much tells us so. An eye for an eye doesn’t just blind the world; it annihilates. The blueprint for reproduction becomes one of destruction.
I’m not relaxed.
Sen. Lindsay Graham advocates permanent military presence in Afghanistan, despite an objection from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government.
And despite the deaths of thousands of military men and women during Bush’s war—the War OF Terror that passed seamlessly to Commander Obama. Last week, two US troops died in Iraq where combat ENDED months ago. Because the president told us so, even announcing the improved name of the non-war: Operation New Dawn.
I am not going to try and defend the comments Helen Thomas made about getting the Jews out of Palestine and sending them to Germany and Poland; that was an unbelievably stupid thing to say, not just to a rabbi, but to anyone. Thomas is a Lebanese-American with very strong views on Israel, views to which she has every right, but in saying what she said, she abrogated two responsibilities: first, to treat others as she would want to be treated, and second, to avoid undercutting the legitimacy of her own views with incendiary, insulting and inappropriate vitriol. Thomas blew it on both fronts, and her words became torpedoes that struck the ship of her career at the waterline.
Perhaps, it is entirely just and appropriate that her comments have finished her as a journalist, but that is an argument for other people to make. In this space, I come to praise Helen Thomas, not to bury her. There are plenty of voices in the so-called "mainstream" media who gleefully shouted her down after her ill-advised tirade, a lot of whom are now very happy to see her gone. You see, Helen Thomas was and remains a mirror held up to the rest of the press, forcing them to see their own glaring flaws and faults, forcing them to see just how much blood is on their hands.
I refuse, I absolutely refuse, to let this one incident become the thing everyone remembers about Helen Thomas. That would be a sin equally as great as the one she committed with her words, and it would give cover to the mainstream press cretins who always wished she would go away, because she exposed them for what they really are.
Frauds. Mouthpieces. Dupes. Willing participants. Colluders. Conspirators. Traitors. That's what much of the press has become over the last ten years, but not Helen Thomas. Never Helen Thomas. Much of the outrage directed at Thomas today isn't based on her comments about Israel, but are, instead, a barbaric yawp from a pack of liars who are thrilled to see her gone, as it means they no longer have to look at themselves in that mirror she held up with her life, her career and her uncompromising way of speaking actual truth to power. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
For eight hellish years, Bush and Cheney ruled America by fear. Images of Osama Bin Laden were drawn on us like weapons. Terror. Terrorism. Terrorists. War. Fear. Warfare. This was the Bush/Cheney mantra that kept Americans in despair.
Today, because of their tactics, our nation is in tatters, with wars not jobs, bombs not books, and warfare not health care. America lacks the resources to confront immediate dangers that have nothing to do with bin Laden: hurricanes, oil spills, floods, tornadoes, unfunded education, decaying infrastructure, exorbitant health costs, corporate greed, and more. Because of partisan politics and hawks like California Congresswoman Harman, more dollars are spent on unending wars than are spent on education. Perhaps you've seen this expenditure chart based on our 2009 taxes:
Jordan's King Says Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanon War "Imminent"
By Steve Clemons | Huffington Post
Congressman Adam Schiff hosted a "Members Only" meeting of the 'Congressional Friends of Jordan Caucus' in the US House of Representatives this morning in the CVC Congressional Meeting Room with Jordan's King Abdullah II.
According to one attendee in the session, "the King's message was sobering."
King Abdullah seemed significantly concerned that conflict was about to break out again between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
One congressional source told me that the word the King used was 'imminent' with regard to the potential outbreak of war.
On many levels, this is extremely worrisome. Hezbollah is now integrated into Lebanon's parliament and interacting with countries like France at all levels of government. An Israeli-Lebanon War could preempt the normalization track the United States is pursuing with Syria. Read more.
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is No Role Model for Hawaii’s Women
By Ann Wright
A coalition of activists in Hawaii has asked Hawaii’s Governor Linda Lingle, currently the only Jewish governor of a U.S. state, to withdraw her invitation to former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to speak at Hawaii’s September 22, 2009 International Women’s Leadership Conference.
In its sixth year, the Leadership Conference brings to Hawaii “role models” for women of Hawaii. Because of her involvement in the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, the activists consider Livni as an inappropriate role model. The Governor has not responded to the coalition’s letter demanding that the invitation be rescinded. The letter was sent three weeks ago.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
In serious contention for Dumbest Washington Consensus for September is the idea of cutting off Iran's gas imports to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. A majority of Representatives and Senators have signed on to legislation that seeks to block Iran's gas imports, a top legislative priority for the so-called "Israel Lobby." But it's a stupid idea. Let us count the ways.
One: there is no indication that Russia and China will go along with it. Even Europe is split, Reuters reports. Turkey is also likely to be unenthusiastic - a country that has good relations with Iran, has a long border with Iran, and is currently on the UN Security Council. A U.S.-sponsored gas embargo on Iran isn't likely to have much impact if Russia, China, Turkey and half of Europe aren't cooperating - after all, it's not the U.S. that's exporting gas to Iran - unless it is imposed by force.
Israel yields to UN and Lebanese demands that it hand over data on the cluster bomb operations it conducted in Lebanon in 2006.
The United Nations peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, known as the UNIFIL, revealed Tuesday that Israel has handed over technical strike data and maps that detail its use of cluster munitions in its most recent war on Lebanon.
Israeli warplanes had dropped most of the cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the 33-day war when Tel Aviv had lost all hopes of winning the war and the Hezbollah movement rendered Israel unable to take control of the country.
It's 1 PM in Washington. Do you know where your foreign policy is?
President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are getting big praise around the world for their new Charm Offensive. As far as I'm concerned, the praise is justified. I heard our Secretary of State interviewed on the BBC a few weeks ago about our diplomatic outreach to Iran on Afghanistan. And the BBC was all, what makes you think Iran is going to help you on Afghanistan? And Hillary was all, you know, actually Iran helped us tremendously in Afghanistan after 2001. Our Ambassador in Afghanistan and the Iranian Ambassador were meeting practically every day. I just about fell off my chair. You'd have thought Hillary was applying for a job at the National Iranian American Council.
by Linda Milazzo
Certainly no person aware of Israel's blockade of goods and services to Gaza, or Israel's devastating bombing of Gaza, would consider Gaza a vacation haven. Gaza is not a place of joy. It’s an overcrowded war-zone populated by more than a million terrified men, women and children. They subsist amidst the rubble caused by Israel's missiles that crushed their homes and killed their loved ones. They inhabit a tiny strip of land that can be driven across in two hours. They have no space for recreation. They have no scenic boulevards and tony cafes. Even their beach is a danger. Their lives are a daily challenge of fear, illness, hunger, anguish, poverty, joblessness, homelessness and physical and emotional wounds.
Israel, on the other hand, which propagates its struggle for survival and its imminent danger as rationale for killing and imprisoning Palestinians, is promoted as a vacation oasis. Witness the glory of Israel from the video below that loops frequently on local Los Angeles TV. No fear, hunger, rubble or homelessness appear in this portrayal of Israel. Only beauty, riches and joy.
A pack of ravenous dogs, a nightmare, a visit from a war-haunted friend, this was how film director Ari Folman's period as an Israeli "grunt" in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon first returned to him. But when he began to search for his own memories of that war, what he found instead was a puzzling, disturbing blank.
Tentatively setting off in pursuit of those missing memories, horrors buried for almost a quarter of a century, he launched himself on a path that would lead to his award-winning, Oscar-nominated animated film, Waltz with Bashir, and to a stunning accompanying graphic memoir that will soon be in bookstores.
Its publisher, Metropolitan Books, has given TomDispatch the exclusive right to post two long excerpts just before official publication. The first of these appeared last Saturday (and can be viewed here).
Now, in part 2 of Waltz with Bashir, we pick up Folman's story just after he has managed to reconstruct his first days at war. In the stunning, unnerving 24 pages that follow, he begins to restore to memory his arrival in Beirut and the events that will ultimately lead him to the dark, shattering center of what he has forgotten: the horror of the massacre of Palestinians in Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
Like the film, this is a book that simply must be experienced. Unfortunately, given recent events, it also couldn't be more of the moment. When asked by a Washington Post reporter, how it feels to have his film released in the U.S. "just as Israel is at war again, this time in Gaza," Folman responded: "There is a constant conflict, you know, so it's always happening again. This film is always being updated. It is always relevant to current events."
He's right. It couldn't be more relevant or more thoughtful and penetrating on war trauma and memory.
As a 19-year-old Israeli soldier, Ari Folman took part in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and was on duty in Beirut during the notorious massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. Just a week ago, Waltz with Bashir, the animated documentary film Folman directed in which he explores his own nightmarish, half-suppressed memories of that period, was given its first underground screening in Lebanon -- not far, in fact, from Hezbollah headquarters in southern Beirut -- though the film is officially banned in that country. It has also been screened in Palestinian Ramallah and is reportedly soon to be shown in the Arab Gulf states. It has already won six Israeli Academy Awards, best foreign film at the Golden Globes, and is now nominated for an Oscar as best foreign film.
At this moment, when the Israeli assault on Gaza has ended in catastrophic destruction and death, director Folman's remarkable voyage -- he calls it a "bad acid trip" -- into the oblivion of war trauma and the horrific recent history of the Middle East is as stunning, moving, and unnerving an experience as anything you'll see this year, or perhaps any year. A no less remarkable graphic memoir, Waltz with Bashir, was developed in tandem with the film. It will be in your bookstores in a couple of weeks, but can be ordered in advance by clicking here. Not surprisingly, the book and film have some of the impact that the first "graphic novel," Art Spiegelman's MAUS, had when it came out in 1986, and that assessment comes from the fellow -- me, to be exact -- who published MAUS back then.
The single best piece on Waltz with Bashir and its relevance to the recent invasion of Gaza was written by Gary Kamiya of Salon.com. He concludes: "Of course, Israel's moral culpability for the 1982 massacre [in Sabra and Shatila] is not the same as its moral responsibility for the civilians killed in the current war. But there are painful similarities. Sooner or later the patriotic war fervor will fade, and Israelis will realize that their leaders sent them to kill hundreds of innocent people for nothing. And perhaps in 2036, some haunted filmmaker will release 'Waltz With Hamas.'"
Given the power and timeliness of this thoughtful, dreamlike memoir from a living hell, it's a particular honor for TomDispatch to be releasing two long excerpts, exclusively, over the next two Saturdays. Thanks go to Metropolitan Books, the book's publisher, for allowing it to happen. I hope what follows stuns and intrigues you. Keep an eye out for part 2 next Saturday. Tom
In nearby houses in Gaza's devastated Zeitoun neighbourhood, the team found another three corpses and 15 survivors, including several who were wounded, the Geneva-based agency said. It accused Israel of delaying ambulance access to the area and said the Israeli army must have been aware of the situation but did not help the wounded, in violation of international law. "This is a shocking incident," said Pierre Wettach, ICRC chief for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
by Linda Milazzo
I don't believe in god. I never have. I don't believe in religions. I study them, but I don't practice them. I try to understand them to be sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of others, and to attempt to appreciate the motivations behind religious thought and deed. But they are irrelevant to living my life.
Long ago as a freshman at CUNY's Queens College I was introduced to Taoism. Taoism began in ancient China as a religion, then morphed into a dogma free/deity free philosophy. Since my late teens I've tried hard to apply MY understanding of my Tao to my life. I have the freedom to choose my own path and not judge the paths of others. But since I have freedom of opinion, I fall prey to judge. I try not to. But I do.
Through the Tao, I'm both a peacemaker and a warrior since Taoism couples with the art of self-defense. I understand my right to protect myself when needed, and to protect the defenseless when they need me. Since I'm by nature protective, it suits my sensibilities to aid the weak, where I fancy myself absurdly as inordinately strong.