There is a war going on in the Middle East - the least we can do is stay well informed. Here are some messages we received recently and want to share with you: testimonies from the civilian front line, arab news updates and links for action and protest.
this page brings posts from july 26-27.
most recent posts are here .
follow these links for previous posts:
July 25 / 23 / 22 / 21 / 20 / 19 / 18 / 17 / 16 / 15 / 11 / 8 / 6
From : Emily Jacir
Date : Thursday 27 July 2006 18:28
Subject : terrorist donkey killed, ohio professor detained in israel , Ramallah diary from my sister, and 10,000 palestinian prisoners
While the world focuses on Lebanon , the Israelis work work work away in Gaza and the West Bank...
24 Palestinians were killed in Gaza yesterday. 70 were wounded.
Israeli troops killed on twenty-four Palestinians, including three children, on Wednesday, and injured at least 70 residents in Al Sha'af in Al Shijaeeya neighborhood, east of Gaza City
911 in Nablus
In Nablus last week 6 were killed and 80 wounded.
IDF kills 4 Palestinians in Jenin and Gaza
I heard that the Palestinians are going to release the Israeli soldier. The 1 Israeli (soldier!) who is being held prisoner by Palestinians, meanwhile 9,599 Palestinians (men, women, children, civilians, etc) are currently imprisoned by Israel . Oftentimes these prisoners are snatched from their homes in the middle of the night, or while cultivating their fields etc., or they are taken by undercover Israeli squads who invade cities and usually kill a civilian or two while making the arrest.They are tortured in these Israeli detention and interrogation prisons.
There are currently 425 children behind bars currently.
Children as young as FIVE years old have been detained.
and as I write this the Israeli army is kidnapping people left and right....here is the ticker.....
Army takes a child as prisoner from Azaria, near Jerusalem 15:47
Army invades Beit Furiq and takes three prisoners 15:46
Army takes four prisoners from Yatta and Hebron 15:45
Army takes one prisoner from Al Khader village
Palestinian detainees tortured, facing bad mental and health conditions
I refused and he hit me about 14 year old Taher Ouda
There were so many stories about children detained and tortured from the Defense for Children International Website that you should just go yourself to the list: http://www.dci-pal.org/english/doclist.cfm?categoryid=3
Speaking of detainees Akron University professor Ghazi Falah has been held since July 8th!
The following website has just been set up to draw attention to the plight of Prof. Ghazi Falah (geography professor at the University of Akron and the editor of Arab World Geographer), who has been detained in an Israeli prison without access to his lawyer since July 8.
Please take a moment to send a letter to the US and Canadian embassy officials in Israel as well as to the Israeli authorities (click on "You can help Ghazi here") to help ensure his fair and humane treatment. His friends, colleagues and family are very worried about him.
Two things you should check out on Electronic Intifada:
Ramallah to Rice "Screw your new Middle East !"
Huge demo in Ramallah against that war monger Rice! Go to and you will see a picture of my sister!!! : )
Terrorist Donkey Joins Family in Death
Palestine , 25 July 2006
And lastly here is a diary entry from Ramallah.....
Keef kum? I am exhausted we had a protest today because Condi Rice came to Ramallah today. Can you fucking believe that? She has the nerve to show her face here after all this shit the US has unleashed on the world once again. But it was amazing, there were 1,000 people there from all the different factions, political groups PFLP, DFLP, Fateh, Hamas, independents, communists, women's organizations, al Haq, Mubadara, ISM, students, etc. Of course all the journalists ran like lemmings to the one woman there whose face was totally covered and holding a photo of Nasrallah.
The CIA took over Ramallah with their security and blocked us from coming anywhere near the Muqata where she was. The Palestinian police were there in their role as police-dogs. Things actually got somewhat violent... very depressing.
We went up to visit friends in Haifa a few days ago to see them, make sure they are ok, etc. It was so strange. Haifa is a ghost town, totally dead. Every Israeli has hit the road and gone away to Jerusalem , Aqaba , New York . We felt like the only people still left were our Palestinian friends there, and the Russian immigrants.
Several times, the air raid sirens went off and people went for cover. To us, it was somewhat ridiculous. I know that must sound funny, maybe even insensitive. But compared to what's happening in Lebanon and Gaza , it's goddamn paradise up there in Haifa . I mean, every now and then the sirens go off and a rocket will hit somewhere. And it's scary because someone will probably be injured or die from it but it's so minimal. I mean, it's so..so nothing..so exaggerated in the news. We'd hide for a few moments, and then come out again and continue as normal. Can you imagine anyone in Gaza or Lebanon having that privilege? It just didn't feel dangerous there or unsafe to us. Even Ramallah on any given day of the week, is scarier than that with the Army entering, shooting and blowing up things, or under-cover Israelis kidnapping people from the middle of town. And you know Ramallah is the best place to be in the West Bank people still have food here, fuel, work...
It' summer the time of film festivals. Good news this week a few of us were invited to the Locarno Film Festival. I noticed the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs listed as a co-sponsor. They are carpet bombing Gaza and Beirut and then go and sponsor film festivals in Europe as if everything is normal. We of course protested to Locarno and said we would pull our films out if they chose to work with a government organization the same government that is carrying out ethnic cleansing, and suffocating and massacring our friends and family. Thankfully, Locarno took our concerns seriously and dropped them.
Ramallah is more or less quiet. While all eyes (or at least some eyes) are on Lebanon , the land confiscations continue, the Wall comes to completion and the checkpoints only grow more permanent. Kalandia was closed several times this week. Emily, you won't recognize it when you come. Nablus is under attack. A Five year old girl and a nine-month old baby were just killed in Gaza . The land shrinks. People are really, really depressed. They have managed to squash us into the ground and most people no longer have the energy to hope anymore.
I love you all.
Emily everyone misses you and constantly asks about you. Ta alee!!!
ps. Just got a call from a friend. The Army was in town last night - I didn't even know! - they went to his families house and blew up the door to their neighbors house and then ran amok all over the camp shooting and harrassing everyone.
From : Tom Penn (through jan ackenhausen)
Date : Jul 27, 2006 11:56 AM
Subject : FW: Israel's "new Middle East"
Israel's "new Middle East"*
Beirut is burning, hundreds of Lebanese die, hundreds of thousands lose all they ever owned and become refugees, and all the world is doing is rescuing the "foreign passport" residents of what was just two weeks ago "the Paris of the Middle East". Lebanon must die now, because " Israel has the right to defend itself", so goes the U.S. mantra, used to block any international attempt to impose a cease fire.
Israel , backed by the U.S. , portrays its war on Lebanon as a war of self defense. It is easy to sell this message to mainstream media, because the residents of the North of Israel are also in shelters, bombarded and endangered. Israel 's claim that no country would let such an attack on its residents unanswered, finds many sympathetic ears. But let us reconstruct exactly how it all started.
On Wednesday, July 12, a Hezbollah unit attacked two armored Jeeps of the Israeli army, patrolling along Israel 's border with Lebanon . Three Israeli soldiers were killed in the attack and two were taken hostage. In a news conference held in Beirut a couple of hours later, Hezbollah's leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah explained that their aim was to reach a prisoner exchange, where in return for the two captured Israeli soldiers, Israel would return three Lebanese prisoners it had refused to release in a previous prisoner exchange. Nasrallah declared that "he did not want to drag the region into war", but added that "our current restraint is not due to weakness... if they [ Israel ] choose to confront us, they must be prepared for surprises." 
The Israeli government, however, did not give a single moment for diplomacy, negotiations, or even cool reflection over the situation. In a cabinet meeting that same day, it authorized a massive offensive on Lebanon . As Ha'aretz reported, "In a sharp departure from Israel 's response to previous Hezbollah attacks, the cabinet session unanimously agreed that the Lebanese government should be held responsible for yesterday's events." Olmert declared: "This morning's events are not a terror attack, but the act of a sovereign state that attacked Israel for no reason and without provocation." He added that "the Lebanese government, of which Hezbollah is a part, is trying to undermine regional stability. Lebanon is responsible, and Lebanon will bear the consequences of its actions." 
At the cabinet meeting, "the IDF recommended various operations aimed at the Lebanese government and strategic targets in Lebanon ", as well as a comprehensive attack on southern Lebanon (where Hezbollah's batteries of rockets are concentrated). The government immediately approved both recommendatons. The spirit of the cabinet's decision was succinctly summarized by Defense Minister Amir Perertz who said: "We're skipping the stage of threats and going straight to action."
At 21.50 that same day, Ha'aretz internet edition reported that by that time Israel had already bombarded bridges in central Lebanon and attacked "Hezbollah's posts" in southern Lebanon .  Amnesty International's press release of the next day (13 July 2006) stated that in these attacks "some 40 Lebanese civilians have reportedly been killed... Among the Lebanese victims were a family of ten, including eight children, who were killed in Dweir village, near Nabatiyeh, and a family of seven, including a seven-month-old baby, who were killed in Baflay village near Tyre . More than 60 other civilians were injured in these or other attacks."
It was at that point, early on Wednesday night, following the first Israeli attack, that Hezbollah started its rocket attack on the north of Israel . Later the same night (before the dawn of Thursday), Israel launched its first attack on Beirut , when Israeli warplanes bombed Beirut 's international airport and killed at least 27 Lebanese civilians in a series of raids. In response, Hezbollah's rocket attacks intensified on Thursday, when "more than 100 Katyusha rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon in the largest attack of its sort since the start of the Lebanon War in 1982". Two Israeli civilians were killed in this attack, and 132 were taken to the hospital . When Israel started destroying the Shiite quarters of Beirut the following day, including a failed attempt on Nasrallah's life, Hezbollah extended its rockets attacks to Haifa .
The way it started, there was nothing in Hezbollah's military act, whatever one may think of it, to justify Israel 's massive disproportionate response. Lebanon has had a long-standing border dispute with Israel: In 2000, when Israel, under Prime Minister Ehud Barak, withdrew from Southern Lebanon, Israel kept a small piece of land known as the Shaba farms (near Mount Dov), which it claims belonged historically to Syria and not to Lebanon, though both Syria and Lebanon deny that. The Lebanese government has frequently appealed to the U.S. and others for Israel 's withdrawal also from this land, which has remained the center of friction in Southern Lebanon , in order to ease the tension in the area and to help the Lebanese internal negotiations over implementing UN resolutions. The most recent such appeal was in mid-April 2006, in a Washington meeting between Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and George Bush. In the six years since Israel withdrew, there have been frequent border incidents between Hezbollah and the Israeli army, and cease-fire violations of the type committed now by Hezbollah, have occurred before, initiated by either side, and more frequently by Israel. None of the previous incidents resulted in Katyusha shelling of the north of Israel , which has enjoyed full calm since Israel 's withdrawal. It was possible for Israel to handle this incident as all its predecessors, with at most a local retaliation, or a prisoner exchange, or even better, with an attempt to solve this border dispute once and for all. Instead, Israel opted for a global war. As Peretz put it: "The goal is for this incident to end with Hezbollah so badly beaten that not a man in it does not regret having launched this incident [sic]."
The Israeli government knew right from the start that launching its offensive would expose the north of Israel to heavy Katyusha rockets attacks. This was openly discussed at this first government's meeting on Wednesday: "Hezbollah is likely to respond to the Israeli attacks with massive rocket launches at Israel, and in that case, the IDF might move ground forces into Lebanon". One cannot avoid the conclusion that for the Israeli army and government, endangering the lives of residents of northern Israel was a price worth paying in order to justify the planned ground offensive. They started preparing Israelis on that same Wednesday for what may be ahead: "'We may be facing a completely different reality, in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis will, for a short time, find themselves in danger from Hezbollah's rockets', said a senior defense official. 'These include residents of the center of the country.'"  For the Israeli military leadership, not only the Lebanese and the Palestinians, but also the Israelis are just pawns in some big military vision.
The speed at which everything happened (along with many other pieces of information) indicates that Israel has been waiting for a long time for 'the international conditions to ripen' for the massive war on Lebanon it has been planning. In fact, one does not need to speculate on this, since right from the start, Israeli and U.S. official sources have been pretty open in this regard. As a Senior Israeli official explained to the Washington Post on July 16, "Hezbollah's cross-border raid has provided a 'unique moment' with a 'convergence of interests'." The paper goes on to explain what this convergence of interests is:
For the United States, the broader goal is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East, U.S. officials say.
For the U.S., the Middle East is a "strategic playing field", where the game is establishing full U.S. domination. The U.S. already controls Iraq and Afghanistan , and considers Egypt , Saudi Arabia , Jordan and a few other states as friendly cooperating regimes. But even with this massive foothold, full U.S. domination is still far from established. Iran has only been strengthened by the Iraq war and refuses to accept the decrees of the master. Throughout the Arab world, including in the "friendly regimes", there is boiling anger at the U.S. , at the heart of which is not only the occupation of Iraq , but the brutal oppression of the Palestinians, and the U.S. backing of Israel 's policies. The new axis of the four enemies of the Bush administration (Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran) are bodies viewed by the Arab world as resisting U.S. or Israel's rule, and standing for Arab liberation. From Bush's perspective, he only has two years to consolidate his vision of complete U.S. control of the Middle East, and to do that, all seeds of resistance should be crushed in a devastating blow that will make it clear to every single Arab that obeying the master is the only way to stay alive. If Israel is willing to do the job, and crush not only the Palestinians, but also Lebanon and Hezbollah, then the U.S., torn from the inside by growing resentment over Bush's wars, and perhaps unable to send new soldiers to be killed for this cause right now, will give Israel all the backing it can. As Rice announced in her visit in Jerusalem on July 25, what is at stakes is "a new Middle East ". "We will prevail" – she promised Olmert.
But Israel is not sacrificing its soldiers and citizens only to please the Bush administration. The "new Middle East" has been a dream of the Israeli ruling military circles since at least 1982, when Sharon led the country to the first Lebanon war with precisely this declared goal. Hezbollah's leaders have argued for years that its real long-term role is to protect Lebanon , whose army is too weak to do this. They have said that Israel has never given up its aspirations for Lebanon and that the only reason it pulled out of Southern Lebanon in 2000 is because Hezbollah's resistance has made maintaining the occupation too costly. Lebanon's people know what every Israeli old enough to remember knows - that in the vision of Ben Gurion, Israel's founding leader, Israel's border should be "natural", that is - the Jordan river in the East, and the Litani river of Lebanon in the north. In 1967, Israel gained control over the Jordan river , in the occupied Palestinian land, but all its attempts to establish the Litani border have failed so far.
As I argued in Israel/Palestine, already when the Israeli army left Southern Lebanon in 2000, the plans to return were ready. But in Israel's military vision, in the next round, the land should be first "cleaned" of its residents, as Israel did when it occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967, and as it is doing now in southern Lebanon. To enable Israel 's eventual realization of Ben Gurion's vision, it is necessary to establish a "friendly regime" in Lebanon , one that will collaborate in crushing any resistance. To do this, it is necessary first to destroy the country, as in the U.S. model of Iraq . These were precisely Sharon 's declared aims in the first Lebanon war. Israel and the U.S. believe that now conditions have ripened enough that these aims can finally be realized.
Tanya Reinhart is Professor Emeritus of linguistics and media studies at Tel Aviv University and a frequent op-ed writer for the Israeli evening paper 'Yediot Aharonot'. The second edition of her 2002 book Israel/Palestine - how to end the war of 1948 has appeared last year (Seven Stories), and her new book: The Road Map to Nowhere, will appear in September (Verso).
* Edited by Mark Marshall.
 Yoav Stern, 'Nasrallah: Only deal will free kidnapped soliders,' Ha'aretz July 13, 2006.
 Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Gideon Alon, 'Gov't okays massive strikes on Lebanon ,' Ha'aretz, July 13, 2006.
 Amos Har'el, ' Israel prepares for widespread military escalation', Ha'aretz internet edition, Last update - 21:50
 Amos Harel, Jack Khoury and Nir Hasson, Over 100 Katyushas hit north, Ha'aretz July 14, 2006.
'Lebanese PM to lobby Pres. Bush on Israeli withdrawal from Shaba', by Reuters, Ha'aretz, April 16, 2006 :
"Lebanon's prime minister [is] asking U.S. President George Bush to put pressure on Israel to pull out of a border strip and thus enable his government to extend its authority over all Lebanese land... ' Israel has to withdraw from the Shaba Farms and has to stop violating our airspace and water,' Siniora said. This was essential if the Lebanese government was 'to become the sole monopoly of holding weapons in the country'.., he added. 'Very important as well is to seek the support of President Bush so that Lebanon will not become in any way a ball in the courtyard of others or... a courtyard for the confrontations of others in the region,' Siniora said. Lebanon 's rival leaders are engaged in a 'national dialogue' aimed at resolving the country's political crisis, the worst since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war. One key issue is the disarming of Hezbollah... The Shi'ite Muslim group says its weapons are still required to liberate Shaba Farms and to defend Lebanon against any Israeli threats."
 Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Gideon Alon, 'Gov't okays massive strikes on Lebanon ', Ha'aretz, July 13, 2006.
 Robin Wright, 'Strikes Are Called Part of Broad Strategy', Washington Post, Sunday, July 16, 2006; A15.
 Tanya Reinhart Israel-Palestine - how to end the war of 1948, Seven Stories press 2002, 2005, p. 83-87. See 'How Israel left Lebanon ' http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart (Media articles section, as of Thursday).
From : Emily Jacir
Date : Wednesday 26 July 2006 15:31
Subject : Siege 9 + 10: no forgiveness for saudia, jordan,egypt+dahlan boy toy
"This said, I still cannot get over, or forgive the Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian actions vis-a-vis the Israeli war on Lebanon. There was a chance to stand upright, to redress from the hunch of servility. For a moment there was an opportunity to salvage dignity and turn the tables for good. They chose to cower, to protect US and Israeli interest and extend moral cover for Israel to destroy this country. The Arab League is complicit in the destruction of this country."
"Look at the pathetic story of Mohammad Dahlan. Once a proud young man from Gaza, once a hero of the Palestinian resistance, once a prisoner in Israel's gaols, once a popular leader in the streets of Gaza. He was so corrupted by power, he became the US Foreign Secretary's Boy Toy. His street smarts became thuggery, his humble origins fed his appetite for cheap thrills: nice suits that he never hung well on his shoulders, fancy cars that he never had a chance to drive on decent roads, fine cuisine that he never knew how to order and first class tickets to capitals where he flew to surrender more and more and more servility. The story of Dahlan, although small and borderline insignificant should be told to children. I look forward to the day when he will not be able to walk in the streets of Palestine. "
Date: July 26, 2006 9:02:00 AM EDT
Subject: Notes from the Siege 9&10
My siege notes are beginning to disperse. I write disjointed paragraphs but I cannot discipline myself to write everyday. Despair overwhelms me. A profoundly debilitating sense of uselessness and helplessness. Writing does not always help, communicating is not always easy, finding the words, deciding which stories should be included, and which should not. The experience of this siege is so emotionally and psychically draining, the situation is so politically tenuous...
I miss the world. I miss life. I miss myself. People around me also go through these ups and downs, but I find them generally to be more resilient, more steadfast, more courageous than I. I am consumed by other people's despair. It's not very smart, I mean for a strategy of survival.
My day started today (in effect it is Day 13 of the War, but just another morning under siege in my personal experience) with news from Bint Jbeil, reported on al-Jazira. Ghassan Ben Jeddo, the director of the Beirut office was analyzing the situation on the southern front in Bint Jbeil. He announced flatly that Hezbollah had conceded to the military surrender of Bint Jbeil, that the IDF had besieged the town, and that the town had been almost entirely flattened to rubble. My breathing became tight. I knew well, and had been told for days, that military defeats and victories were very tricky to determine in this type of unusual warfare, because a conventional army has clear retreats and advances whereas a band of guerrillas behaves in an entirely different way. The military defeat in itself did not really matter enough to cause tightness in my chest, although I was a little worried about the IDF feeling empowered to proceed with "scorched earth" plans or some other nightmarish fantasy. My breathing became tight because I immediately thought about some 1,500 people, making up some 400 families whom I had heard the day before were trapped in Bint Jbeil. Some were displaced from villages around Bint Jbeil. They were trapped there in two buildings, one of which was a government school. I could not imagine what they were living. As the al-Jazira showed footage from around Bint Jbeil, there was a continuous soundtrack of pounding from Israeli tanks. I could only see them and hear that pounding: were they huddled together? Were they laid down on the floor, their hands over their heads? How does one survive 2 days of continuous shelling like that? Had they any hope of fleeing?
They stayed with me, 1500 souls in Bint Jbeil. I went to the public garden where displaced people were now living, I went to the cooperative supermarket in Sabra, I went to an air-conditioned cafe with WiFi, and the 1500 souls were with me. I had lunch, tried to write, still with me. Until after sunset, a journalist friend told me he had interviewed the mayor of Bint Jbeil in the afternoon. The man had suffered a stroke this past Sunday and had been evacuated for treatment. By today he had recovered and was struggling to find a way to get the remaining 40 Lebanese-Americans trapped in Bint Jbeil. My friend allowed me to sigh with some relief, the trapped souls were 400 not 1,500 today... (Most of the residents of Bint Jbeil are Lebanese-Americans from Dearborn and Detroit Michigan.)
Is there a point to relaying on to you the events of the past few days? I am still stuck to the television. I am still living from breaking news to breaking news. I now get things from the second-tier horse's mouth, so to speak, journalists whom I have taken to hovering around.
Khiyam shall soon be rubble. As is Bint Jbeil. After Khiyam will be Tyre. The Beqaa has received pounding. Israelis targetted factories, some operational, others under construction. None were Hezbollah fortresses off course. They also hit a UNIFIL outpost last night killing UN international observers.
This will be a long note because it is a cluster from the past few days. It will most likely be a tedious read. It reflects my encounters these past few days, conversations and discussions with friends journalists and analysts as well as vignettes from Beirut under siege. As I attempt to tie all of these sections together, I am back at the Cafe with WiFi. Yesterday they played the soundtrack from Lawrence of Arabia. I don't know if they were aware of the "post-colonial" and "postpost-colonial" dimension. Condi was in Jerusalem. The Bedouins were firing rockets at Haifa. And Faisal spoke late into the night, promising the rockets would go further than Haifa.
Today, they have a Charles Aznavour playlist. Somebody with executive power in this cafe is a shameless sentimental. This is the first sign of a return to normalcy in my experience so far. I, an unrepentant sentimental as well, am very fond of Aznavour, this playlist has been the soundtrack to my convalescence from amorous setbacks, it is a first tangibe reminder that I had once a different life.
Hezbollah, now the symbol
It took a few days into this war for Hezbollah to acquire a new power of signification. The semiologists, the political sociologists, and hords of regional experts and policy advisors have to watch this carefully, they better at least, if they are to understand this moment and the new political idiom. And they have quite something to contend with, Hassan Nasrallah's pronouncements, al-Manar TV, the video productions, the manufacture of image and meaning.
Hezbollah have now become the only Arab force to have refused to accomodate, even slightly, Israel's missives and caprices. They are undaunted by the military might of the IDF, its awesome ability to bring wretchedness to a people and a country and its ability to shrug at international laws regulating warfare, conflict and non-aggression. They are also undaunted by the moral highground provided by the US, and presently the Arab League and the International Community (whoever this construct stands for). In that, they have won the hearts and minds of Arab masses. The so-called Arab street (that vague beguiling force at once vociferous and inept that the western media have reified into a pressure valve of the potential/appetite for Terror –or anti-western sentiment) has been won in heart and mind by Hezbollah's retaliation to the Israeli assault. The Arab world is mesmerized by this movement that has developped the ability to fight back, inflict pain and for the first time in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict pause a real threat to Israel. Hezbollah does not have the ability to defeat the Israeli army. No one in the region can and none of the Arab states is willing, in gest or merely using the power of suggestion, to challenge Israel's absolute hegemony. (I don't know whether Iran can or not, but in principle Israel's military abilities are superior to the Islamic Republic's conventional army.)
In its careful study of a military strategy for defense, conducted in full cognizance of the movement's weakness and strength and of Israel's weakness and strength, Hezbollah has achieved what all Arab states have failed to achieve. Since the war broke out, Hassan Nasrallah has displayed a persona and public behavior also to the exact opposite of Arab heads of states, he may be in the "underground" for security reasons, but he is not discheveled, he speaks in a cautious, calculated calm, a quiet dignity. His adresses have been punctuated with key notions that have long lapsed from the everyday political vocabulary in the Arab world: responsibility (for defeat, victory and the toll on Lebanon), dignity, justice, compassion (for the suffering inflicted on people and for the Palestinian Israeli victims of Hezbollah shelling in Nazareth and Haifa). A stark contrast with the political class in the Arab world that speaks of "calculated retreats", "compromises for peace", and the real politik convictions that induce Amr Moussa to cast himself as the gesticulating pantomime for the Saudis and the Americans. In an interview with al-Jazira, Ahmad Fouad Najm, the famous Egyptian popular poet quoted a Cairene street sweeper who said to him that Hassan Nasrallah brought back to life the dead man buried inside him. This is the "pulse" of the much-dreaded Arab street. This too is a measure of Israel's miscalculation. Moreover, at the moment when Sunnis and Shi'as have been blinded in murderous rage in Iraq, when Idiot-King Abdullah of Jordan and a handful Barbaric Wahabi pundits babbled on about the dangerous emergence of a "Shi'i crescent" in the region, Israel's assault has brought to the fore a solidarity that transcends the Sunni-Shi'a divide in the Arab world, and consolidated a front of those who reject Israeli hegemony and those who cower to it in fear.
This new symbolic power beyond the boundaries of Lebanon was willed by Hezbollah in the postwar, it peeked in 1996, when Israel conducted its notorious "Operation Grapes of Wrath". After the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon, Hezbollah claimed the credit for liberation. Some analysts saw the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied south as a strategic move to end the "Lebanon" file, and deprive Syria from a crucial hand in its negotiations with Israel (Hafez el-Assad died shortly after). Other analysts saw the Israeli withdrawal as Hezbollah's defeat of the IDF in a long, long war of attrition. Nevertheless, Hezbollah represented itself in its propaganda machine as the only armed force in the Arab and Muslim world to have in fact defeated Israel.
In this present crisis, and from Hassan Nasrallah's first pronouncement (the radio/audio adress he delivered), the "open" belligerance that Israel is conducting on Lebanon has been represented as a turning point battle in the saga of the Arab-Israeli conflict. A saga replete with humiliating defeats for Arab armies, a turning point because Hezbollah promised to deliver a victory (as it has achieved many victories in the past). In other words, he transformed this present conflict from a "Lebanese" question into an Arab and regional conflict.
The significance of defeat and victory is bearing a deep impact far and beyond the boundaries of Lebanon. This is one of the reasons Condoleeza Rice's notion of a "New Middle East" smacks of first rate hubris. The "New Middle East" is taking shape elsewhere, or the real new Middle East is here, and there is little the White House, Ehud Olmert, 23-ton shells autographed by the beautiful children of Israel (the pictures are quite astounding) dropped in the middle of refugee camps to unearth underground bunkers of "terrorism", can do about it.
In the first few days of the Israeli assault on Lebanon, there was barely any movement in Arab capitals. The Arab world seemed content watching us burn on TV, our fate seemed sealed with the Arab League meeting. I remember writing my rage in one of these dispatches. However, after Nasrallah's first adress, which ended with the spectacularly staged shelling of the Israeli warship, Hezbollah's sustained ability to hold its fort and to shell cities as far as Haifa and Nazareth, in addition to the sight of Israel's sustained massacres of civilians and destruction of Lebanon, turned the tide. Hezbollah's position in the region and in Arab consciousness is etched with an empowering, envigorating significance.
The New Middle East, Conspiracy and Hassan Nasrallah's televised adress
Condoleezza Rice showed up in Beirut two days ago. The message she carries is that the US will not enforce a ceasfire. Israel estimates it needs an additional week before the atmosphere is "conducive" to a ceasefire. This means they need a week to achieve their aims. Their aims have changed over the past two weeks, although they have formulated a set of demands to the White House and the G8.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora on his way to the Rome conference said he did not expect the meeting to produce a ceasefire. Only Kofi Anan seems to expect that from this high-profile meeting.
She did not speak of a New Middle East in Lebanon, in fact there were no public pronouncements made in Lebanon, but she did hold several press conferences in Israel, where reference was made to this new map. The "New Middle East" has not been officially unveiled by the Americans.
It emerges at a moment when Israel has failed at undermining Hamas with all the means the world has afforded to support it: diplomatic pressure from the US and EU, an effective paralysis of Hamas' ability to govern, an internal conflict between Hamas and Fateh, the incarceration of cabinet members and parliamentarians, a humanitarian siege, and a full scale military assault on Gaza. The Palestinian population has yet to unseat Hamas or question the legitimacy of its position.
This moment is also when Iraq seems to have effectively slipped into a civil war and the US and UK occupation forces are neck-deep in a quagmire with violence escalating to frightful scale. Civil conflicts and violence develop a momentum and logic of their own that create their own hell, and Iraq seems to be teetering at the precipice of this hell with no sign of decisive and effective intervention to bring it to a halt. This moment is also when the negotiations with Iran over the development of nuclear weapons are taking baby steps and in circles.
With the war in Lebanon, the "moment" in which the "New Middle East" is unveiled is a moment where Hezbollah has emerged as a force that is able to humiliate the Israeli military on the field of battle, and represent the Israeli civilan leadership as reckless, confused and bloodthirsty. Hezbollah define their victory as maintaining their ability to deter Israel from assaulting Lebanon, namely, deterring a ground attack (the battle in a cluster of villages has been going on for 5 days now) but mostly firing rockets and missiles into the Israeli interior. In that regard, they are so far victorious.
So the question is on what grounds are the US, Israel and the EU imagining the "New Middle East"? And how do they imagine its implementation?
Past midnight last night, al-Manar television announced they would broadcast a pre-recorded adress by Hassan Nasrallah. He wanted to present his views and reactions to the diplomatic activity that has been taking place in the past few days. He also wanted to send a message to the nation, Israel and the wider world regarding Hezbollah's strategy in this conflict. For Nasrallah the "New Middle East" was the final indication that Israel's assault was premeditated (and part of a greater US plan) and that Hezbollah's victory would be the principal bullwark to thwarting the conspiracy of this "New Middle East". He also revealed that Hezbollah had now received information that Israel had planned the assault on Lebanon and Hezbollah for September or October. Israel planned to roll a massive ground force across the borders, with a cover from the air targetting Hezbollah leadership and roads and bridges that aimed at crippling the movement from responding. The element of surprise was key to the success of that military strategy. With the present conflict, Israel had proceeded with its plans, but without the element of surprise. And that is one of the reasons Hezbollah have the upper hand so far. And finally, he reiterated the "surprises" that Hezbollah had delivered to Israel thus far: the warship, hitting as far into Israeli territory as Tabariya, hitting as far as Haifa. He announced that Hezbollah was now ready to hit targets "beyond Haifa", at a time of their choosing. Did he mean Tel Aviv? Would he hit Tel Aviv? Was it his retaliation at psychological warfare?
This morning, Olmert's office announced they had heard Nasrallah's threat and would respond accordingly.
More on Being a Proud Arab
Saudi Arabia pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and whatever to help Lebanon in these tragic times. I wish the political class of this country had the spine and intelligence to reject this fortune or negotiate its political cost from the position of the empowered. Hezbollah is changing the terms, and unfortunately the cabinet of Fouad Saniora, as well as the Hariri movement is still behaving in total subservience to Saudi Arabia, protecting Saudi hegemony in this country and the region.
The Jordanians sent us a plane load of emergency relief supplies. It just landed in our destroyed airport. The Israelis gave the Jordanian plane the security cover. Jordan and Kuwait are sending environmental experts to help us clean the sea from the oil and fuel spills that Israelis dumped. Did I mention this? Did I mention that after their warships retreated to a distance safe from Hezbollah's firepower, they spilled enough oil to cause an environmental disaster on our coastline? Did I mention that no one has been to fish a fish and that the shores are now pitch black?
This said, I still cannot get over, or forgive the Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian actions vis-a-vis the Israeli war on Lebanon. There was a chance to stand upright, to redress from the hunch of servility. For a moment there was an opportunity to salvage dignity and turn the tables for good. They chose to cower, to protect US and Israeli interest and extend moral cover for Israel to destroy this country. The Arab League is complicit in the destruction of this country. Fawwaz Traboulsi said it time and time again on television stations, they have a myriad means at their disposal to shake Israel and the US if only to impose red lines, to defend a notion of sovereignty. They could have withdrawn their ambassadors from Israel, they could have suspended the peace accords with Israel, they could have threatened a regional escalation during the Arab League meeting. Saudi Arabia could have used its hegemony over the oil market or its deposits in US banks. Instead, Amr Moussa opined that the road map for peace was defunct. This is servile complicity.
Imagine how much they would have gained in the eyes of their societies and as regional actors, had they simply stood in one line-up in the face of Israel. Obviously, it is hubris on my part to imagine these heads of states capable of any action beyond humiliating subservience. This is one of the meanings of defeat. The total relinquishing of agency and dignity.
The political culture that prevails in the Arab world has a very select cast of roles for officials (whether elected or not), at heart they are variations on three main roles: taxidermists, court-jesters and kitchen undercooks (the more accurate word is in French, "marmitons"). They resurrect dead effigies, brandish defunct ideologies, they gesticulate and throw fits to soothe, distract, and deter, or they slice and dice, pick-up the peels and clean-up in the "big kitchen" of regional politics. This too is a face of defeat.
There has been much, much ink spilled on the impact of "defeat" on Arab societies, identity, political culture, etc. The other meaning of defeat is the inability to imagine political alternatives beyond the debilitating bi-polar pathology (and I use the metaphor with the psychic disorder in mind) of US/Israel vs. fundamentalist political Islam. These simply cannot be the two options for citizenship, identity, governance and political representation. (Perhaps it is impossible in Palestine because occupation is war, and war creates situations in extremis –and yet the Palestinians, Moslems and Christians, did not cower from electing Hamas into government, in cognizance of the costs). And so far, that "third" option (obviously not Blair's "Third Way") is not yet clear or cogent.
In the present conflict, a secular egalitarian democrat such as I, has no real place for representation or maneuver. Neither have I and my ilk succeeded in carving a space for ourselves, nor have the prevailing forces (the two poles) agreed to making allocations for us. That is our defeat and our failure. In Lebanon, we are caught in the stampede and the cross-fire. As I noted in one of these siege notes, I am not a supporter of Hezbollah, but this has become a war with Israel. In the war with Israel, there is no force in the world that will have me stand side by side with the IDF or the Israeli state.
It was my foolhardy hope, that the Lebanese front that emerged after the mass mobilization on March 14th would rehabilitate its nearly depleted political capital (depleted down to its most base and vulgar sectarian constituencies) and refuse to meet with Condoleeza Rice. Out of principle that the US and Israel are waging a war on one of the chief agents in Lebanon's political landscape. Instead, all these handsome men and women showed up at the US embassy, smiling, wearing their Sunday suits, aping the display of servility that the Idiot-Kings and Senile-Presidents-for-Life display at the Arab league meetings. She showed up at the embassy and enjoyed this band of court-jesters and taxidermists society while the Depleted Uranium Smart Bombs were delivered from the US military base in Qatar to Israel.
Was I foolhardy to have once seen an opportunity for change when the March 14th mobilization swept the capital? Surely now, in light of this war. And you would think that by reading newspapers, this band of brothers (and sisters) would learn something. You would think that by watching what happened to their equivalent band of brothers in Fateh would inspire another behavior. To no avail. Look at the pathetic story of Mohammad Dahlan. Once a proud young man from Gaza, once a hero of the Palestinian resistance, once a prisoner in Israel's gaols, once a popular leader in the streets of Gaza. He was so corrupted by power, he became the US Foreign Secretary's Boy Toy. His street smarts became thuggery, his humble origins fed his appetite for cheap thrills: nice suits that he never hung well on his shoulders, fancy cars that he never had a chance to drive on decent roads, fine cuisine that he never knew how to order and first class tickets to capitals where he flew to surrender more and more and more servility. The story of Dahlan, although small and borderline insignificant should be told to children. I look forward to the day when he will not be able to walk in the streets of Palestine. Why do I single out Dahlan when so many others like him roam the unpaved roads of Palestine, because for a brief moment I believed he was a man. A time long ago that I cannot recall now.
In Lebanon, the Displaced, the Schizophrenia
Within Lebanon, the situation is different. The White House and Israel are hedging their bets on an internal rift. The most dangerous would be a Sunni-Shi'i divide. So far the country has been united, but warning signs are let out everyday. The sectarian polarization is still cut grossly along the lines of the pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian camps, they cut across the conventional sectarian rifts that polarized the country during the civil war, and to some extent in the postwar. In every speech, Hassan Nasrallah has hailed and expressed gratitude for the fantastic popular support that has rallied around the resistance. The council for sunni religious associations met yesterday, reiterating their support for the resistance and condemning the silence and cowardice of the Arab world.
It is compelling to see the hords of volunteers tend to the displaced. There are two main organizations channeling emergency aid and resources to the NGOs tending to the displaced, they are the Hariri Foundation and the National Relief agency. The management of relocating and lodging the displaced has been less than ideal, and I am of the opinion that the government has not really galavanized its full abilities to face up to the crisis. The Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health and other concerned public agencies are coordinating efforts to bring some order into the chaos. However, there is increasing critique that they are not marshalled as they were in the past. True the scale of displacement is harrowing and keeps increasing everyday and the government has never had to contend with a challenge so tremendous. We now count 800,000 people who are displaced. Access to shelters, schools and other sites of relocation has been uneven. Problems have begun to emerge. I have made an effort to collect as many anecdotes as possible, to get an overall sense of the situation. So far, I have not been able to. The overwhelming question seems to be managing the distress and frustration of the displaced and the exhaustion of volunteers. The crisis seems to drag, and longer term solutions will have to be implemented because immediate emergency solutions are usually not sustainable over time.
The anecdotes tell stories of everyday heroes and everyday greed and sectarian prejudice. It's a mixed bag. Unanimously however, the work that Bahia Hariri, sister of slain former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, and parliamentarian from Sidon (the northernmost first city in south Lebanon), has been stellar. Using the arm of the Hariri Foundation in Sidon, she is housing 12,500 displaced from the south (mostly Shi'ites) and tending to all their needs. There are ironic anecdotes too, for example schools in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Helweh have been opened to house Lebanese refugees.
The brunt of this war are felt unevenly in the country. The eastern suburb of the city and significant areas in the mountains have been more or less spared from shelling and violence. Occasional Israeli air raids spread fear. The targetting of the broadcast tower for the major Lebanese television stations that claimed the life of an employee at the LBC (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation) was a poignant reminder, but the astounding wretchedness inflicted on the South and the Beqa'a have not been inflicted elsewhere.
This is not atypical of Lebanon's exprience of its civil war and of the postwar occupation of south Lebanon. This dysynchrony in "experiencing" the Israeli assault translates sometimes to a schizophrenia. There are people sun-tanning, partying, taking it easy while others are displaced. This too is part of the political class's engagement in the war. They could inspire a different mindset.
In the Israeli invasion of 1982, I was in West Beirut. I was 13 years old. All my friends and classmates fled the siege of West Beirut. The political rifts were different then, but I remember that when I returned to school after the withdrawal of the Israeli forces that fall, I carried the burden of the trauma of the siege while my classmates had memories of fun and games of that summer spent in the mountains. While they recalled witnessing shells fall on Beirut from a distance, I recalled their sound as they exploded. I resented all the stories they told of that summer. They were all happy stories. I shut my ears when they recalled them. Until now, there are a set of songs that were popular then, that I cannot hear without feeling a pinch of anxiety in my stomach. It's the impact of that trauma. Part of the reason I cannot leave Beirut is that I don't want to become like them. It's like a pledge I made to myself. But this is happening again, on a smaller scale, because the shelling has reached beyond the southern suburbs of Beirut and the south.
These distances that separate the people of this country have to be bridged somehow. The "united" front has to find a more cogent gel. We have everything to win if we are able to meet that challenge. We have our country to win. If we remain hapless victims who beg, and who remain beholden to the "charity" of Arabs we will never have full sovereignty... Hezbollah's victory can be articulated to become Lebanon's victory (this too might be naive folly on my part, but I need to believe this, at least for the next few days, so just humor me). Particularly now that the Syrians are making noises about plans to roll their rusted tanks and army of underfed and illiterate soldiers with its thuggish command back in the country.
I am so weary of the return of Syrian control over Lebanon. The Syrian people, all those pictured cursing the Lebanese for their arrogance and lack of gratitude should protest against a re-entry of the Syrian military into Lebanon. And if the self-described "last fort of dignity of the Arabs" are inspired to fight Israel, they have the entire front of the Golan to do so. The Lebanese will not liberate the Golan, the Syrians will have to. You don't subcontract liberation. Moreover, Hezbollah has claimed time and time again that they are prepared for the long haul and don't need a bullet from any of the Arab states.This is another reason for the Lebanese political forces to band around the resistance and shield the country.We might have a chance to rebuild this country without owing a percentage of every contract to a thug from the Syrian junta, and that feels like humane relief.
I will end this siege note with another of the obsessions that taunt me. People caught under rubble. In describing the surreptitious commonplace horror of the civil war in a televised interview perhaps ten years ago, the famous Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury drew the following scene. While everyday life was taking place, traffic, transactions, just the mundane stuff of life, and as you walked passed buildings, you knew that in the underground of that commonplace building, there might be someone kidnapped, waiting to be traded or simply held in custody for money or whatever reasons militias kidnapped for. And you walked by that building.
I am haunted by the nameless and faceless caught under rubble. In the undergrounds of destroyed buildings or simply in the midst of its ravages. Awaiting to be given a proper burial.
From : Lydia Wilson (through jan ackenhausen)
Date : Wednesday 26 July 2006 11:50
Subject : Lebanon updates: Hoping you are OK
This is from an ex-supervisor at Cambridge - he got me interested in
medieval Arabic philosophy in the first place (a mixed blessing?!)...I
found it pretty moving.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Nader El-Bizri
Dear Lydia ,
Thank you for your message and kind words.
My parents are well, and I hope they will remain safe...
I phone them three times per day to check if they are fine.
I have a large extended family on the maternal and paternal side; and I know that most of my aunts and uncles, as well as cousins are well (though many already have damaged property and homes; besides the collective devastating destruction of our infrastructure as a modern state). It is harder to know how friends and their loved ones are doing. The siege is severe, and Saida ( Sidon ; my home town) is facing a difficult blockade and its inhabitants are barely coping with the influx of refugees from South Lebanon . Shortage of food supplies, of medication, of power, etc. There are no safe transport routes (or maritime connections) that could bring aid and relief; and this applies to most of the country, but particularly in the south. My parents like many other people are keeping safe as much as they can; deploying their experiences with many previous wars. They are also patiently waiting with dignity for an end to this ruthless militaristic cruelty and savage aggression. The destruction is catastrophic and the suffering is colossal. There are clear signs of violation of international conventions and humanitarian laws; and yet, world opinion hardly counts.
The G8 meeting confirmed the impotence of economic and political giants in the face of the American global hegemony and its bellicose spread as an Empire. Lebanon, like all the post-colonial states in the Middle East is still under threat from the Zionist military might since 1948 (not only technologically superior Israeli war machines, but a nuclear Israeli arsenal too).
July 2006 has been the month of a disastrous war that is not separate from what is happening with the collective barbaric punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza and across the occupied territories, it is also a continuation of a war of attrition that never ended since 2000, and as a result of the unfolding of the cruelties of the invasion of 1982. The series of battles and aggressions is long: 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1978, 1982, 1996, 2006... In each of these wars, the geopolitical regional powers changed in their dynamics, in their capabilities, and in the manner they engage with the Israeli military might or respond to it.
When Arab governments fail to protect their people through series of defeats of their organised armies in several wars with an American-backed Israel (and when I say American, NATO countries are implicitly implicated), and when these Arab governments do not honour the social contracts that bind them with the society as what constitutes the political and social foundation of the modern national state, then, communities, social groups, civilians at large, all are forced by their everyday misery to organise their civil forms of resistance to Israeli occupation, Israeli aggression and its enslaving oppression. Civilians were transformed into communal groups of resistance, into freedom-fighters, into organisations that replaced the state in sustaining the resilience and welfare of the people, and at times responding with desperate measures to the despair that faces their fate.
Palestine , Lebanon and Iraq , all are showing signs that the frontiers of the states of the Fertile Crescent , which emerged in the beginnings of the 20th century under the colonial Anglo-French power, may well be destined to being redrawn and reconstituted by the Americans, and in favour of Israeli interests. The more I contemplate these scenes of cataclysmic human disasters (which infiltrate in their agony my blood stream, blend with my whole nervous system) the more I become profoundly anguished from the rise of a single superpower, driven by a bellicose reductive ideology and myth that worships military might and the will to power; destining humans to being incinerated by technologically-advanced 'smart' killing machines, and imposing simplistic social-engineering experimental programmes on whole nations, particularly in societies that are very diverse and complex in their cultural, ethnic, religious and civilisational constitution.
I am angry, frustrated, helpless, hopeless, impotent, disoriented, yet in deep soul-searching times I soberly regather my sense of dignity, the clarity of my thinking, my pride, my resolve to recover, to heal, to rise, to reconstruct, to continue to resist.
I wish I was now in Lebanon !
I feel these days that I left a great part of my soul as a young teenager concealed deep in the past; hidden under the ashes of the inhumane destruction caused by the Israeli invasion of 1982. This time, July 2006, continues to be a month of collective as well as personal crisis; yet I see my broken self gradually rising from the rubbles of 1982 amidst the fires of 2006; and I guess this is an awakening that many others are experiencing; though the world looks truly very different now. I barely know where I am; yet, I know where I want to be...
Just to be focused in my everydayness, I am involved in solidarity campaigns in support of Lebanon ; though my effort so far has been solely aimed at humanitarian aid. The political question cannot be addressed now (at least openly; and certainly not in the UK) when also when many Lebanese are still in direct military confrontation with a ruthless invading cruel enemy; when loved ones are shielding the future with their flesh, and doing it alone ...
From : jan ackenhausen
Date : Wednesday 26 July 2006 0:47
Subject : thoughts from the side... part II
THE REAL aim is to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet government.
That was the aim of Ariel Sharon's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It failed. But Sharon and his pupils in the military and political leadership have never really given up on it.
As in 1982, the present operation, too, was planned and is being carried out in full coordination with the US .
As then, there is no doubt that it is coordinated with a part of the Lebanese elite.
That's the main thing. Everything else is noise and propaganda.
Uri Avnery also spelled Uri Avneri, born September 10, 1923 in Beckum ( Westphalia , Germany ) as Helmut Ostermann, is an Israeli journalist and peace activist. He was a member of the Knesset from 1965 to 1973 and again from 1979 to 1981. As a youth, he was a member of the Revisionist Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War he was a fighter in the Samson's Foxes jeep unit (and also wrote its anthem). Afterwards, he wrote a book about the war, called "In the Fields of Philistia ", Bi-Sdot Pleshet).
…just talking to a friend on the phones, believing the Americans wont come thru with this… this is what I vision and watching not to be manipulated. But I get shocked when next to war news in Lebanon there is report about the us military is using energetic/laser weapon in irak ('Star Wars in Iraq' by Maurizio Torrealta and Sigfrido Rannuci for Italy's RAI TV)…
It's my grandmothers birthday today, same generation with uri avery experiencing germany in their youth *san
In November, a documentary from Italy 's RAI Television accusing the United States of illegally white phosphorus during its attack on Fallujah. A new documentary says the United States is now using experimental laser weapons against Iraqi civilians.
follow these links for previous posts:
July 25 / 23 / 22 / 21 / 20 / 19 / 18 / 17 / 16 / 15 / 11 / 8 / 6
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