Devastation in the North East; Left Laments Israel; Right Laments Syria

Samir ‘Aita is writing a series of articles on the economic disaster befalling the North-East of Syria. They are published in Arabic on all4Syria’s daily newsletter that is sent out by email. For some reason they are not copied on the website.

Police checks the belongings of a migrant, 1940

‘Aita argues that the economic plight of the region is not merely a result of drought and natural bad luck. Rather, he suggests that drought has merely exacerbated the effects of a policy begun almost a decade ago – a policy to pull the plug on Syria’s socialist agriculture. He points out that Syria has lost some 40% of its agricultural manpower in an ongoing migration that has few parallels in the country’s modern history. ‘Aita makes the point that this migration began in 2003-2004, well before the drought had begun to make matters worse and speed up the exodus. The government is dismantling the country’s socialist infrastructure while neglecting to replace it with a social safety net that might protect the most vulnerable, who lose what land they have, are forced to sell off their few livestock, and ultimately join the flood of poor headed for the city slums. State services that might have softened the blow for Syria’s farmers are also deteriorating.  Starved for funds and with dwindling political commitment, Syria’s socialist agrarian institutions cannot keep up and are collapsing. As the political establishment adopts a liberal economy philosophy, Syria’s rural poor have little choice but to abandon less productive lands and head for the cities to build a new future.

From reading IFAD reports, the great engine of rural poverty is the population explosion combined with the absence of alternative job creation, brought about by a failing rural education system and no proper mechanisms for agricultural loans and micro-finance that could help the landless poor start small businesses.

Here are some rural poverty statistics provided by IFAD

In rural areas, almost 50 per cent of the labor force is employed in agriculture. Overall, about 25 per cent of young men (20 — 24 age group) are unemployed, with the result that many Syrians migrate to Lebanon to find work.

Syrian Women with their children in 1936

In 2004, the livelihoods of about 56 per cent of rural poor people depended on agriculture, a sector characterized by low productivity and an irregular demand for labour. More than 77 per cent of poor rural people were landless, though they had other assets such as cattle, sheep or other animals.

Poverty is prevalent among:

* tenant farmers and small-scale farmers
* small-scale herders
* labourers with no access to land
* unemployed young people
* rural women, particularly women who are heads of households

Households headed by women are often dependent on irregular or insecure sources of income, such as money sent home by migrant family members. They are particularly vulnerable to external economic shocks. Families with large numbers of children and widows with children are more likely to be poor.

The north-eastern region is the poorest and most deprived part of Syria. Poverty rates in other parts of the country declined between 1996 and 2004, but the incidence and severity of poverty increased in rural areas of the north-eastern and coastal regions. The numbers and proportions of landless people have increased steadily over the last three decades throughout the country, but the increase is particularly high in the north-east. Poverty is most severe and most concentrated in the three economically depressed eastern provinces of Deir Ezzor, Hassaka and Raqqa.

The main causes of rural poverty in Syria include:

small and fragmented nature of farms
water shortages and the drying up of groundwater wells, coupled with persistent droughts
lack of access to credit and markets
lack of appropriate technology

Other causes of poverty include:

* illiteracy, which affects about 28 per cent of rural adults
* large number of landless people, whose skills are limited
* high rate of rural population growth
* large proportion of young people and the growing number of new entrants to the job market
* lack of a suitable microfinance system responding to the needs of rural poor people; this limits employment opportunities and inhibits the development of on-farm and off-farm enterprises to create new jobs

‘Aita worries that recent Saudi investment in Syrian agriculture may create a new phenomenon of big estates run by agribusinesses that shifts land ownership out of the country.

قضايا اقتصاديّة واجتماعيّة (2)
هل هناك إشكاليّة زراعيّة في سوريّة؟
سمير العيطة* : (كلنا شركاء) 6/3/2010

تطرح التصريحات الحكوميّة عن الجفاف وتداعياته والمشاهدات العيانية في الريف (1) إشكالية ما إن كانت “الأزمة” التي تعيشها بعض المناطق في سورية (المنطقة الشرقية أو إقليم الجزيرة، وكذلك مناطق أخرى كسهل الغاب أو سهول حلب وإدلب)، مردّها المورد المائي أم عنوان أزمة تحوّل في قطاعٍ ما زال يشكّل جزءً ملحوظاً من الناتج المحلّي للبلاد ؟

صحيحٌ أنّ قيمة الإنتاج الزراعي (بأسعار 2000 الثابتة) قد انخفضت عام 2007 الذي تميّز بجفافه بنسبة 13% عن عام 2006؛ إلاّ أنّ هذه القيمة تزيد بنسبة 12% عمّا كانت عليه عام 2000 (1). وصحيحٌ أنّ بعض القطاعات الفرعيّة تعاني مشاكل تفاقمت بعد 2007؛ إلاّ أنّ سورية ما زالت (حسب منظّمة الأغذيّة والزراعة للأمم المتحدة) من بين الدول الأولى عالميّاً في بعض الصادرات الزراعيّة (2). إذاً، وبرغم الكثير الأمور، لا تكمن المشكلة الأساسيّة في الإنتاج.

..أمّا فيما يتعلّق بالعمل والتشغيل، فتبدو المشكلة أوضح: إذ انخفض عدد المنخرطين في القطاع الزراعي (مباشرةً أو بشكلٍ غير مباشر) من 1.4 مليون شخص إلى حوالى 800 ألف بين 2002 و2008؛ أي بنسبة 44%. ولم يطل هذا الانخفاض إقليم الجزيرة فقط (-50% مثلاً في محافظة الحسكة)، بل أيضاً محافظة السويداء (-67%) وريف دمشق (-60%) ومحافظتي إدلب (-59%) وحلب (-54%) وحتّى اللاذقيّة (-28%). وأكثر من الرجال (-30%)، طال الأمر خاصّةً النساء (-68%) اللواتي يشاركنَ عامّةً أكثر في العمل بالأرياف ممّا هو في المدينة

(continued)

Great Photos and interview with Kashi: on the NYTimes photo blog: “On Assignment: Syria Changes, to a Point”By ED KASHI AND JAMES ESTRIN

Militants vs. moderates
Robert Malley and Peter Harling
Washington Post

Shifting allegiances in Middle East mean opportunities for President Obama…..

Today, the relevant competition in the Middle East is not between a pro-Iranian and a pro-American axis but between two homegrown visions. One, backed by Iran, emphasizes resistance to Israel and the West, speaks to the region’s thirst for dignity and prioritizes military cooperation. The other, symbolized by Turkey, highlights diplomacy, stresses engagement with all parties and values economic integration. Both outlooks are championed by non-Arab emerging regional powers and resonate with an Arab street as incensed by Israel as it is weary of its own leaders…..

His administration must start by discarding a reading of the region in which “moderates” fight “militants,” and “moderates” prevail. That vision has no local credibility or local resonance. It has no chance.

Posted: 07 Mar 2010
Gideon Levy at his best: The Israeli peace camp didn’t die. It was never born in the first place. While it’s true that since the summer of 1967, several radical and brave political groups have been working against the occupation – all worthy of recognition – a large, influential peace camp has never existed here. It’s true […]

Once justice dwelled in Jerusalem, now settlers do
By Avraham Burg
HAARETZ, 07/03/2010

Greater, unified Jerusalem is being torn apart. The Israeli – Jewish and Arab – capital is becoming the capital of the hallucinatory, dangerous fanatics. This is not the city of all its residents nor the capital of all its citizens. It is a sad city that belongs to its settlers, its ultra-Orthodox, its violent residents and its messiahs.

The prophet asked, “How is the faithful city become a harlot! She that was full of justice, righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers” (Isaiah 1: 21). We haven’t had murders here yet, but the nation’s soul is dying here every day before our very eyes. The Israeli spirit of justice is being run roughshod by politicians, settlers and judges. The national soul is being slain with red tape and bureaucratic indifference.

Yes, the capital of the Jewish people – the people that always swore not to do to others what it would not have done to it – has become a harlot. Morally wanton, emotionally sealed-off. It is manipulated by its shepherds for their benefit and is full of law – everyone is suing everyone else, hiding behind the laws of injustice. And the judges – as though forced – issue rulings in accordance with discriminatory laws, unique to the “chosen people.” Once justice dwelled here. Now the settlers do, murderers of the nation’s soul.

And no one utters a word, but for a few patriots. People of truth and morals who refuse to stand idly by while the state of Jewish refugees repeatedly throws Palestinian families into the street and hands their miserable homes over to bearded, blaspheming thugs.

These people of integrity are the leftists of Jerusalem, who have been through countless clashes with the “Jerusalem syndrome” loonies. ….

Haaretz/ here

“… Israeli officials said that if the PA does not keep the protests and boycott campaign in check, Israel will reduce cooperation with the PA and increase its arrests in Palestinian-controlled areas, the Palestinian sources said.
The messages to the PA were delivered during several conversations between senior Israeli security officials and their Palestinian counterparts, as well as by political figures…..”

Gulf Finance House Plans to Form Islamic Bank in Syria
2010-03-07, By Shaji Mathew

(Bloomberg) — Gulf Finance House EC, the Bahrain-based investment bank, plans to form an Islamic bank in Syria with a capital of 15 billion Syrian pounds. Gulf Finance plans to sell 30 percent of Syria Finance House in an initial public offering after getting approval from the Central Bank of Syria, it said in an e-mailed statement.

Conservative critics of Syria are apoplectic about the State Department returning an ambassador to Syria and have been calling for congress not to confirm.

Obama Talks, Syria Mocks
The wages of appeasement.
BY Elliott Abrams
March 15, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 25

The Obama administration has from the start seen Syria as a leading case for engagement….. What is to be done? First, the United States should acknowledge that engagement has failed and end it. No more high-level visits, no ambassador, no WTO. If the Obama administration insists on crawling forward, the Senate should not confirm the nominee for ambassador, and Congress should by legislation prevent any further weakening of our economic sanctions against Syria. Second, the United States should loudly and frequently condemn continuing Syrian human rights violations; there are fish in this barrel and we should start shooting them. Third, we should raise in the United Nations Syria’s continuing violations of Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701 (barring violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty and arms supplies to Hezbollah).

Ytzhak Benhorin – Ynet – Senators to Obama: Don’t send ambassador to Syria

Republican senators demanded that the Obama administration cancel the appointment of a new US ambassador to Syria. In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the weekend, six senators asked for an answer before the nomination of career diplomat Robert Ford is sent to the floor for the consideration of the Senate….

Commentary Magazine: Syria Engagement, or How America Loses Its Soul

America’s founders fought an eight-year war that killed 25,000 of their countrymen — 1 percent of the total population of our fledgling republic — in order to be free.

Iraq has seen 9,400 men in uniform killed since the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime. That’s not even half of a 10th of a percent of the nation’s population of almost 24 million.

That’s because 4,379 American troops were killed and 31,693 more were wounded trying to rescue Iraq.

But it’s also because the civilian population of Iraq has absorbed so much of the blow. Estimating the number of Iraqi civilians killed by terrorists is difficult, but there is broad consensus that more than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed during the post-invasion insurgency.

American history has no parallel to that kind of civilian sacrifice.

Baghdad alone lost almost 30,000 of its 6.5 million civilian residents in the first three years of the allied occupation. Losing so many people so fast in a city the same size as the Dallas metro area means that every family paid part of the human price.

As for the financial price, we’ve footed the tab.

We have spent $700 billion on our Iraq democracy project — as much as the Bush-Obama bailout package.

We fought the entire Second World War and funded the Marshall Plan at a cost, in 2010 dollars, of about $3 trillion. So at least on a per-person-liberated basis, Iraq has been our most expensive nation-building project ever: about $30,000 per Iraqi.

We have spent more than $257 billion blowing up and rebuilding Afghanistan — about $22,000 per Afghan — and the administration will have to spend at least an additional $100 billion on the second Obama surge.

There are half as many Afghans as Iraqis, but they are spread out over a country that is 50 percent larger and has neither a middle class nor a history of central government. President Obama may yet take the title of most ambitious nation builder away from George W. Bush.

But for now, the Iraq project remains unparalleled. An increasing number of Americans believe that our commitment to Iraq has been worth the effort. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in December found that 57 percent of Americans thought the war had been at least somewhat successful, up from 43 percent in July 2008….

Flotilla sailing from Turkey to break the Siege of Gaza

Contact: IHH, Ahmet Emin +90 530 341 19 34
Free Gaza Movement, Eliza Ernshire +44 754 011 22 94

[Istanbul, Turkey]

Yesterday, the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH), announced a joint venture, sending 10 boats in the spring of 2010 to the besieged Gaza strip. Organizations from Greece, Ireland and Sweden have also promised to send boats to join the flotilla with the Free Gaza movement and Turkey.

Mr. Bulent Yildirim, chairman of the IHH said, “We sail in the spring to Gaza, and our last port is freedom; freedom for the 1.5 million Palestinians denied the right to rebuild their society. We will never stop sailing until Israel’s siege is lifted.”

Two cargo ships will be part of the flotilla, one donated by the Malaysia-based Perdana Foundation and one from IHH. Both will be laden with building supplies, generators and educational materials that Israel prohibits from entering Gaza since their brutal attack on the civilian population a year ago.

The many passenger boats accompanying the cargo ships will carry members of Parliament from countries around the world as well as high-profile journalists and human rights workers.

According to the chair of the Free Gaza Movement, Huwaida Arraf, “The illegal blockade on Gaza and Israel’s continued intransigence make a mockery of international law. If our governments will not take a stance to stop Israel’s abuse of the Palestinian people, global civil society is showing that we will.”

Comments (45)


1. trustquest said:

Unending Devastation policy:
Syrian’s authority continuous humiliation of people has not to do with their foreign policy and economic policy which I think there are none and working to cover the interior policy there is only a secrete service totalitarian state policy. Here is a friend of yours Joshua, on facebook, screaming from this policy of shutting people’s mouths of expression and discussing their country history. Suhair Attassi, the daughter of the founder of Attassi forum (montada attassi); has been called to security and told to close an internet forum has the same name created by group of opposition two months ago. They asked her to see them three times, they held her ID card and they placed fear inside her for daring to convey criticism of authority and government policies.
Here what she wrote:
اليوم كان تالت استدعاء لأمن الدولة… ساعات انتظار طويلة طويلة طويلة معلوم شو الغرض منها:
معلوم شو الغرض منها: الإذلال.. وساعة تحقيق.. وتهديد بالاعتقال في حال ما أغلقت المنتدى…
اليوم أخبروني الحكم: ممكن يكون سنتين ونصف.. وطلبوا مني كتابة تعهد بإغلاق المنتدى وأكثر وأكثر… تقريباً تعهد بالصمت…
بعتقد إنكن بتعرفوا شو كان ردّي لأنكن بتعرفوني وبتعرفوا أنه القضية أكبر من المنتدى وأكبر مني.. طلبوا إني أكتب تصريح برفضي التعهد بالإغلاق.. كتبت تصريح يتضمن تعريف بالمنتدى وأهدافه وحقنا المشروع حتى دستورياً بالتعبير عن رأينا.. واستمرارنا بالمحافظة على المنتدى.. لأننا كلنا معنيون بمشاكل وهموم البلد…
كنت آخدة معي شنطتي.. ومجهزة نفسي للاعتقال.. هويتي معهن..
قالولي: بترجعي الساعة 7 المسا…
وأنا كان قراري محسوم..
اتصلوا فيني الساعة 8 وثلث مساءً.. وينك؟؟ خبرتهن أنه أولاً أرهقتني ساعات الانتظار يللي القصد منها الإذلال، وثانياً أنا قلت يللي عندي وإنتوا قلتوا يللي عندكن وانتهينا.. ما بقا رح إجي..
طبعاً أعادوا الاتصال بعد مراجعة الجهة الأعلى بعد 10 دقائق.. أنه سلامتك بس تعالي بكرا الساعة 10 الصبح..
وكان ردي: لا بكرا ولا بعد بكرا.. موقفي واضح… وبقي 3 احتمالات:
1- تتصلوا فيني آخد هويتي معززة مكرّمة..
2- تحوّلوني إلى القضاء..
3- تجوا تعتقلوني من البيت..
وانتهت المكالمة…
وهلأ أنا مرتاحة
كتير مرتاحة
حسيت إني حابة شارككن كل شي صار..
وبتشكركن كلكن على المدّ المعنوي يللي غمرتوني فيه…
وأكيد بتمنى إني أبقى بيانتكن..

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March 8th, 2010, 12:57 pm

 

2. Akbar Palace said:

Pro-Baathist Professor and Useful Ha’aretz Idiots NewZ

Professor Josh opines:

Gideon Levy at his best: The Israeli peace camp didn’t die. It was never born in the first place.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak states:

“Our goal is to reach an agreement in which both states live side-by-side in mutual respect, with the recognition of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and the recognition of a Palestinian state. This is what is needed to end the conflict. This is a political statement, but is accepted by most of the political establishment in Israel.”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3859501,00.html

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March 8th, 2010, 1:01 pm

 

3. Shai said:

Ehud Barak – Leader of the Peace Camp. Hah! Israel hasn’t had a PM that built more settlements than this champion-of-peace. Gaza 2008/9 could not have been more “surgical” had it not been for this most-highly-decorated-officer-of-peace (the surgery succeeded, but 1,300 patients had to die… oh well.)

Here’s your Peace Camp Leader, Akbar:

Defense Minister approves 112 new housing units in West Bank
Move defies construction freeze, angers the Palestinians a day after they agree to resume talks.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1154876.html

You’d have to be a complete idiot not to realize just how badly Ehud Barak wants this Peace. My God, he said so himself just now, didn’t he???

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March 8th, 2010, 1:42 pm

 

4. Akbar Palace said:

More Inaccurate Anti-Israel NewZ from our Resident Israeli Liberal

Shai,

What “construction freeze” did the GOI agree to?

To my knowledge, building within EXISTING settlements is neither a “land grab” nor in violation of any agreement.

Moreover, the Israeli government, has agreed to stop building NEW settlements, and they are abiding by this agreement.

Camp David 2000 and the Taba peace talks OCCURRED under the very same environment, so the only difference now is that the Palestinians are not agreeing to direct talks anymore.

Holding up the same sign over and over again showing “Israeli Intransigence” gets boring when it is only the Palestinians who have changed their policy against peace. BTW – Betar Illit is about 2 km from the Holy Green Line.

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March 8th, 2010, 3:02 pm

 

5. Majhool said:

trustquest,

Check Mrs Imadi’s 2nd responce.

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March 8th, 2010, 4:24 pm

 

6. majedkhaldoun said:

A.P.
You are back to your deceiving habit,you are the most deceiver
You said”Moreover, the Israeli government, has agreed to stop building NEW settlements, and they are abiding by this agreement.”
Today Israel announcing new building of settlement near Ramallah.
Stop deceiving.

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March 8th, 2010, 4:54 pm

 

7. Ghat Albird said:

The costs to the American taxpayer of the Israeli-Palestenian conflict is estimated by a number of economists in Washington, DC at $ 3 TRILLION dollars. Israel’s share of that $3 TRILLION dollars is estimated at $1.8 TRILLION dollars. Leaving a $1.2 TRILLION dollars shared by Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, etc,.

Sanctions against Iran, Iraq, and Syria have also cost the US an estimated loss of 90,000 jobs a year due to trade losses in agri. and other products.

Hopefully at the next posting will share names and amounts received by members of the US Senate and the House from Pacs.

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March 8th, 2010, 5:04 pm

 

8. Akbar Palace said:

majedkhaldoun said:

Today Israel announcing new building of settlement near Ramallah.

Majed,

No disrespect intended, but to my knowledge Betar Illit is not a “new settlement”. Apparently Israel is only building additional units WITHIN existing settlements. Not one square meter more of land is being claimed or appropriated by the GOI.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3859746,00.html

Buiding within existing settlement does not go against any agreement the GOI has signed. Not now, and not since the Camp David 2000 or Taba proposals. If you can post a link showing that I am in error, I will be happy to review it with you.

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March 8th, 2010, 6:29 pm

 

9. Shai said:

April Fool’s Day isn’t for another 3 weeks Akbar.

It’s so funny to see you stand up for “the Peace Camp” all of a sudden. The Lieberman-led government is, according to you, ready to make that peace happen, if only the Palestinians and other Arabs really wanted it… (shame). Because Israel has been, again according to you, upholding every article from Taba, to the letter… Right? Right…

“An analysis of the data reveals that, in the vast majority of the settlements – about 75 percent – construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued. The database also shows that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents.”

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1060043.html

And this, by the way, is on what Israel considers “legal settlements”. This doesn’t mention the dozens of illegal settlements (even under Israeli law), which continue to exist, untouched by the same Peace Camp Leader, whose task it is (by law) to dismantle them.

If you’re an Arab, you’d be a fool to think Ehud Barak is sincere about Peace. The only thing I believe Barak is sincere about, is the price tag he put on his Tel-Aviv apartment – 40 million shekels (10 million dollars). This leader of Israel’s Social-Democratic Party, Labor, is interested in two things, and two things only… his ego, and his pocket.

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March 8th, 2010, 7:30 pm

 

10. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Dots.

Dot. Anti American movie Avatar loses.
Dot. A movie about the hated Iraq war wins, in a (previously thought) hostile Hollywood to Iraq war.
Dot. In this same day, Iraq concludes it’s courageous elections.
Dot. according to opinion poll, American’s support to Israel, and reject of Arabia, is highest since ’91 (Iraqi ‘Desert Storm’).
Dot. Americans (according to another poll), feel that Iraq war wasn’t that failure, after all.
Dot. one year of Obama’s engagement with Muslims ends in fiasco.

Now, connect the dots. Americans start to miss Bush.
When there is no Hope, why Change ?
.

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March 8th, 2010, 7:36 pm

 

11. almasri said:

I must thank President Ahmedinejjad for announcing to the whole world the thruth about 9/11. This man is amazing for his courage and faith. It is obvious, he has no fear except from Allah. It is clear, as President Nejjad said, 9/11 was engineered by the US under Bush and his team of Clean Break demagogues and their zionist stooges. The plan is very obvious which is to occupy Muslim countries and control the oil. However, their plan is doomed to fail as we have already seen in Iraq. Obama and the ordinary american must now pay for Bush’s evil deeds. Muslims never carried out evil plots. Evil is always the hallmark of zionists and their likeminded Bushes and Clean Brreak demagogues. This is becoming apparent day by day as most Israeli so-called officials are enlisting on the Interpol most wanted due to the Dubai investigation. They are becoming what they truly are: criminals subject to arrest if they dare to travel.
I am most certain that Nejjad already has the nuclear bomb and he’s just playing cat and mouse with the imperialists and their zionist midgets in Palestine. When the time comes Israel will find itself facing the moment of truth and its eventual destruction. I’ll have a huge celebration when it comes to pass.

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March 8th, 2010, 11:54 pm

 

12. Akbar Palace said:

Amir,

I hate to “toot my own horn”, but I predicted Obama’s failed policies way before he even took office.

Yes, I like the billboard with Bush waving, “Miss me yet?”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/08/bush-billboard-looms-over_n_454056.html

No matter, the liberals and the Leftists will still blame the usual suspects (the US and Israel) and let the jihadists and their supports off the hook.

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March 9th, 2010, 2:42 am

 

13. Shai said:

“… the liberals and the Leftists will still blame the usual suspects…”

That’s a bit of a funny statement, isn’t it? 🙂

Bush: “Miss Me Yet?”

Earth: “Nope. But we’ll never “misunderestimate” another U.S. President again!”

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March 9th, 2010, 5:43 am

 

14. Akbar Palace said:

The Illegal Israeli Settlements that aren’t really Illegal

Shai,

Thanks for the link to Ha’aretz’s looooong dissertation on Israeli settlement. But as long as the article was, it didn’t prove or show that the Israeli government did anything against any agreement.

Anyway, despite the whinning of you, Ha’aretz, Peace Now and the rest of the braindead Left, the US government has already acknowledged that Israeli actions (building WITHIN existing settlements) is not against any existing agreement.

Have a nice day,

AP

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8556786.stm

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March 9th, 2010, 12:49 pm

 

15. majedkhaldoun said:

A.p.
Are they going to build the new settelments on top of the previous buildings,or on new land?
you really are a deceiver.

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March 9th, 2010, 1:57 pm

 

16. Ghat Albird said:

The US/Israeli ‘mutt and jeff’ parodies have been co-joined by Mr. Biden and Mr Mitchell with Bebe and Avigdor on the “yellow brick road to nowhere”.

Why would any rational person believe that Israel is serious about “peace”. as the status quo has been on for decades. Israel, as the saying goes in West Texas, has and is making out like a bandit.

With “peace” there would be no more billions of US dollars; having the best military hardware; enjoying dual loyalties; as well as have the US continuesly killing Arabs/Muslims;and have their surrogates demand and implement sanctions as well as have their young American men and women die to protect israeli power over the Middle East.

The most troubling part of this series of parodies is that in real terms the biggest loser is the US. Its time for Americans to sit up and do the honorable and just actions.

One thing is historically certain the Arabs/Muslims are not going to go away.

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March 9th, 2010, 2:47 pm

 

17. Akbar Palace said:

Are they going to build the new settelments on top of the previous buildings,or on new land?

Majed,

If you can use your imagination a bit, I’ll explain. It isn’t very difficult.

For example, the city of Um-al Fahem in the Galilee region is a town with well-defined city limits. The same is true for all towns and cities within Israel as well as in the occupied territories.

Beitar Illit, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Nazereth, Safed, and all the other settlements have the same town/city limits. According to agreements, NO city limits within the occupied territories can expand and NO new land within the occupied territories can be set aside for any new settlement. However, building WITHIN settlements is permitted.

It’s not that difficult to comprehend if you free yourself from the Zionist bug we’ve infected most of the non-Jewish, goyishe world;)

Anyway, and believe it or not, the peace process is taking a step forward dispite Zionist crimes against humanity and the rest of the universe. Don’t ask me how, but apparrently VP Biden is involved with this never-seen-before miracle, especially with a Likud government in place.

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March 9th, 2010, 2:56 pm

 

18. jad said:

In Syria, the security system is done locking 20-90 years old Syrians and now it’s protecting the country from young girls.
When the security system get scared of a 19yo girl words and poetries, I think this country’s system is a big failure.
Give Syrian women their full rights first before you lock them up you idiots!
I think the Syrian jails have the highest educated community in the world, they should change the jail where they lock all those educated and smart people into a university.

نتيجة للخوف كما كل السوريين :الكشف عن اعتقال مدونة شابة ولكن بعد شهرين !

كلنا شركاء
09/ 03/ 2010
كشف بيان صادر عن المنظمة العربية لحقوق الإنسان في سورية أن المدونة السورية الشابة طل بنت دوسر الملوحي استدعيت إلى أحد الفروع الأمنية قبل أكثر من شهرين لكنها لم تعد إلى عائلتها حتى الآن، في حين لا زالت السلطات السورية ترفض الكشف عن مصيرها رغم سؤال أهلها المتكرر.
وقالت المنظمـة العربيـة لحقـوق الإنسـان في سوريا إن جهاز أمن الدولة استدعى الملوحي (19 عاماً) بتاريخ 27/12/2009 “لسؤالها عن مقال كانت كتبته ووزعته على الإنترنت. وبعد أيام حضر إلى منزلها عدد من عناصر الجهاز المذكور وأخذوا جهاز الحاسوب الخاص بها وكل ما يتعلق بذلك. ومنذ ذلك التاريخ وبعد مرور أكثر من شهرين لم تعد إلى بيتها وذويها.
ويذكر أن الملوحي تحضر لتقديم امتحانات الشهادة الثانوية وقد بدأت بكتابة الشعر والمقالات منذ عدة سنوات.
مدونة طل الملوحي:
http://talmallohi.blogspot.com

http://all4syria.info/content/view/22732/96/

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March 9th, 2010, 3:46 pm

 

19. majedkhaldoun said:

A.P.
next time you will say they are building it up in the air.
Listen they are new ,are they not?
they are seelements , are they not.
they are new settlements
this is not the freeze Neten promised.
please stop deceiving every one here.

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March 9th, 2010, 5:17 pm

 

20. Akbar Palace said:

they are new settlements

Majed,

I see you are still confused. To answer your question above:

NO, they are not new settlements, they are new homes/apts within “old”, existing settlements.

That is why the US government has said:

The US has said Israel’s authorisation of new building in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank does not violate a recently announced moratorium.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8556786.stm

Regards again,

AP

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March 9th, 2010, 5:57 pm

 

21. Off the Wall said:

AP
So, it all depends on what the meaning of is is. What a semantic BS. All settlements in the WB are illegal, must be dismantled, and continuing this land theft, with or without the approval of well-controlled US congress is a war crime. Just one added to the long-list, and you must be proud, you are an accomplice in this war crime. I do not care whether you see a trial or not, but you are, an accomplice.

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March 9th, 2010, 6:10 pm

 

22. Observer53 said:

Before anyone starts to claim victory here is some sobering reading for you.
One more important thing: Israel to start 1600 new homes in E Jerusalem just as Biden is visiting and re committing to the security of Israel.

Go the website and read those two articles.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LC10Ak01.html

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LC10Ak02.html

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March 9th, 2010, 6:37 pm

 

23. norman said:

Syria and Israel agree on something ,

Rivals Israel, Syria Want to Build Nuclear Power Plants
Tuesday , March 09, 2010

Mideast rivals Israel and Syria on Tuesday each announced ambitions to develop nuclear energy, with Israel facing the prospect that its plan could bring new attention to its secretive nuclear activities.

The countries laid out their hopes at an international conference in Paris on civilian nuclear energy — which contributes far less to global warming than burning of fossil fuels but still evokes many concerns about long-term safety issues.

Also on Tuesday, Egypt announced it would aim for four nuclear plants by 2025, with the first starting in 2019, Reuters quoted an Egyptian minister.

The announcements raise the prospect that the countries’ nuclear programs could come under the microscope of international inspectors to ensure that they don’t cross the forbidden line into weapons programs. Iran, for example, has come under intense pressure to show its nuclear program is peaceful.

Iran and North Korea, whose nuclear program has also drawn international scorn, were not invited to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development conference.

Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said nuclear plants built in Israel will be subject to strict safety and security controls, and even said his country would like to build them in cooperation with scientists and engineers from “our Arab neighbors.”

“Israel has always considered nuclear power to partially replace its dependence on coal,” Landau said.

The program aims to help Israel secure its energy supplies and battle global warming. Israel currently uses coal and natural gas to produce electricity.

The effort by Israel, which has long been suspected to have a secret nuclear weapons program, runs the risk that its nuclear energy program will draw the eyes of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The construction of a nuclear reactor could draw international attention to Israel’s nuclear activities. Asked if Israel would allow IAEA inspectors to supervise any new project, Landau aide Chen Ben Lulu said only that Israel would follow all the relevant rules.

Israel has not signed the Nonproliferation Treaty, which aims to limit the number of countries capable of developing nuclear weapons.

Separately at the conference, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad his country is looking at “alternative energy sources, including nuclear energy” to meet its growing demands for energy.

“The peaceful application of nuclear energy should not be monopolized by the few that own this technology but should be available to all,” Mekdad said, noting Syria’s growing population.

He did not elaborate on specific nuclear plans.

Between the two countries, Israel is seen as closer to actually developing nuclear energy in terms of know-how and infrastructure.

The idea of generating nuclear energy has been floating around for years in Israel. In 2007, one of Landau’s predecessors said he was working on a plan to build a nuclear power plant in Israel’s southern Negev desert.

Landau met several months ago with the French Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, and raised the idea of French-Israeli-Jordanian cooperation in developing a nuclear power plant.

Borloo was enthusiastic about that idea, Landau said. France derives more of its electricity from nuclear power than any other country and has a highly developed civilian nuclear industry — and Paris sees export potential.

It was France that, beginning in the 1950s, helped Israel build its nuclear reactor at Dimona. Israel is believed to have used that reactor to construct a stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Israel has never acknowledged being a nuclear power, following a policy it calls “nuclear ambiguity.” Israel also has a smaller nuclear reactor for research at Nahal Soreq, not far from Tel Aviv.

Landau’s office says no specific plans to set up a third nuclear power plant have been drawn up so far.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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March 9th, 2010, 6:47 pm

 

24. Shai said:

Akbar,

I find it funny that you mention “agreements”. In no agreement does it say Israel is allowed to build settlements, existing or not, legal (by Israeli law) or not. You’re attempting to suggest that “natural growth” and, therefore, “natural building” within existing settlements is legal. Unfortunately, the only ones who ever defined this crime as “acceptable” are, shockingly enough, Israel itself and her closest ally the United States. But even the U.S. doesn’t consider the Occupation legal. Nor does ANY OTHER NATION ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET!

The final status of the West Bank, the settlements Israel built there illegally over the past 43 years, and the ones it continues to allow to pop-up continuously (even against its own law), will all be decided upon WITH the Palestinians, not without them. Planting a tiny bush, on what was and IS Palestinian land, is, was, and forever will be, illegal.

Please don’t insult the intelligence of the people on this forum, by attempting to throw in West Bank settlements with Tel-Aviv and Haifa. I know to some Jews on the East Coast the 1967 lines are meaningless, but to most of us in Israel they still are relevant. One side of it is called Israel. The other side isn’t.

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March 9th, 2010, 6:50 pm

 

25. Akbar Palace said:

OTW said:

Just one added to the long-list, and you must be proud, you are an accomplice in this war crime. I do not care whether you see a trial or not, but you are, an accomplice.

OTW,

If I am an accomplice, so is Obama and the US congress. I am proud to be in that company. The question for you is, how can you live in a country that you view as ruled by war criminals?

As for being an accomplice to crimes, I actually view you as an accomplice to all the human rights violations of the Asad regime. By tacitly supporting Asad and his lovely wife, and fawning over his foreign policy, you are allowing this ruthless regime to continue its human rights violations. I also hold you as an accomplice to Hamas suicide bombers because Asad hosts Hamas in Damascus. You are also an accomplice in the targeting of civillians by Hezbollah for the same reasons.

Unfortunately, you will never be brought to trial, but your true nature is clear. You are part of the “intelectuals” that provide support to Arab dictators and give them the power to continue with their ruthless behavior.

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March 9th, 2010, 7:39 pm

 

26. almasri said:

Mr. Erdogan has once again proven his superb statesmanship, courage and principled resolve by warning the US that it is standing to lose tremendously if it insists on its foolishness by accusing Turkey of responsibility to allegations of atrocities against Armenians. He also did not forget o point out that such US foolishness is driven by the manipulation of few zionist lobbyists who are driving the US into acting against its interests. Mr. Erdogan made his remarks in Riyad, Saudi Arabia in the presence of the King. If courage is contagious we certainly hope it is so in this case and that its symptoms somehow migrate to and show on Mr. Erdogan’s host. Let’s also hope that the host has not been inocculated against such ‘affliction’ of courage.
Mr. Erdogan further made clear his countries rejection to any sanctions against Iran by citing Iran’s right to acquire and use nuclear technology as any other country.
It is also important to mention that Turkey recently spurned Israeli attempts to win a PR case after a small earthquake hit Eastern Turkey. The Turks honorably rejected Israeli offers of any help coming from this outlawed criminal state of Israel.

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March 9th, 2010, 7:59 pm

 

27. Ghat Albird said:

And so it goes.

Israeli government announces the construction of 1600 new/old settlemnts during the visit of Mr. Biden to Tel Aviv today.

The word on the street in Baghdad, now that they have become democratic as a result of the US military’s implementation of parts of the plan ordered by Bebe Netanyahu in 1998 and titled a Clean Break, is that the new settlements are intended to house incoming migrants from Moldova. Many of them its rumored are friends and or relatives of Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman who was born in Moldava.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/

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March 9th, 2010, 8:19 pm

 

28. Off the Wall said:

AP
spare me the old cracked record of challenging my loyalty to the US and my love of it. I will not fall for your trap.

I am angry that my adoptive country throws its own interest aside to satisfy 200,000 thugs who because of their religious craze jeopardize peace and security not only of one region, but of the entire world. They are your own alqaida and taliban combined no difference whatsoever. How can you claim to love the US and Israel and continue to put the interest of such a group above the interest of both countries. It seems that most of Syrians on this site care more about both countries, and their long-term interest than you do.

Obviously you have not been reading my comments about Syrian internal affairs. Or better yet, you probably read them but, as we are accustomed to, chose to lie about them. To you any Arab intellectual who does not follow Ajami’s neocon masters is a dictator lover. Do I care, not a bit mainly becasue your attempts to discredit us by continuously calling us a mouthpiece for the Syrian regime are laughable. There is no single Syrian commenter on this site who has not criticized the regime for its human rights record. But truth and realities matter nothing to you as long as lies, labels, and libels serves your old, tired, cracked, and disingenuous style of discrediting all who oppose you. Keep at it, it is exposed and its value is becoming less and less by the day. The more you twist, the less credible you become,and the more absurd you sound, and in both cases, that suits me rather well.

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March 9th, 2010, 8:59 pm

 

29. Akbar Palace said:

I am angry that my adoptive country throws its own interest aside to satisfy 200,000 thugs who because of their religious craze jeopardize peace and security not only of one region, but of the entire world.

OTW,

OK, so now its OK to live in a country that supports “war criminals”. You’re words were so strong and convincing!

And you’re saying the US will “jeopardize peace”, while just today the US announced peace talks for the first time in years?

It is the interest of the US and Israel to make peace. That is why we have the announcement bewtween the US, Israel and the PA. The announcement didn’t come in Damascus, Gaza, or Tehran.

OTW,

You’re just not making any sense. But if you want to celebrate the new peace talks, let me know;)

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March 9th, 2010, 9:10 pm

 

30. Off the Wall said:

AP

You keep avoiding the real issue,
Are you saying that blessing new-old settlements is conducive to peace? are settlements illegal? or since all settlements in the west bank are on internationally recognized Palestinian land are you one of those who like to take others’ land just because you can?

BTW
your new found love of Obama is heart warming, can we count on your vote in 2012?

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March 9th, 2010, 9:17 pm

 

31. Shai said:

Akbar says: “… while just today the US announced peace talks for the first time in years…”

Joe Biden says: “Israel’s decision to approve 1,600 new homes in an ultra-Orthodox East Jerusalem neighborhood is undermining Middle East peace talks.”

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1155171.html

That’s funny… Maybe the U.S. doesn’t understand something Akbar does.

OTW,

It is said that sometimes even the deaf cannot see.

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March 9th, 2010, 9:24 pm

 

32. Alex said:

Akbar,

I think the American Vice President was so humiliated that he used the C-word for the first time in decades against Israel

“I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance
planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem,”

the “substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel.”

Amazing! … what a lovely leadership you have in Israel.

Remember what the previous leadership did to Erdogan? … few days after Olmert met him, he invaded Gaza!

Turkey, Dubai, … Joe Biden …

Who is next?

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March 9th, 2010, 9:56 pm

 

33. Off the Wall said:

Shai
My dear friend, why did you have to post Biden’s condemnation, we did not want to lose AP’s valuable vote in 2012. OK, you are forgiven, just because you are my friend 🙂

It turns out i was wrong, the US is not supporting settlements, only enabling them!… But i welcome Biden’s comment nonetheless.

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March 9th, 2010, 10:03 pm

 

34. Ford Prefect said:

Shai,
The US that Akbar understands is the twisted one that is articulated by the ape-descendants, badly-shaped species of Pat Robertson, Glen Beck, and Rush Hamburger.

The rest of us are all Commies doing the devil’s work.

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March 9th, 2010, 10:13 pm

 

35. Off the Wall said:

Dear Shai
Is this true?, i wonder if we can lump you know who in the group of lovers of totalitarianism ?

Totalitarian Democracy?

From Counterpunch

http://www.counterpunch.com/hallinan03092010.html

The Crackdown on Israeli Dissidents

By CONN HALLINAN

A heavy-handed crack down on Israeli dissidents is drawing sharp criticism by human rights organizations and at least a mild judicial slap on the wrist for the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The authorities are targeting such groups as B’Tselem, New Israel Fund (NIF), the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), as well as foreign activists in the occupied West Bank.

“There is an attempt to silence and crack down on dissent,” B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli told the Tobias Buck of the Financial Times. “Since [the Gaza war], the political climate in Israel has become extremely polarized. And this polarization has reached a level where anyone who is critical is presented as a traitor.”

The Netanyanu government has endorsed a bill that, if passed, will apply onerous registration conditions on NGOs and subject violators to up to a year in prison.

“These are classic McCarthy techniques, portraying our organizations as enemies of the state and suggesting we are aiding Hamas and terror groups,” ACRI head Hagai Elad told the Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook.

On Jan. 15, police broke up a peaceful ARCI demonstration in East Jerusalem, arresting 16 people. The rally was protesting the eviction of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and their replacement with settlers. Demonstrators were held for 36 hours until a judge from the Jerusalem Magistrates Court released them without charge. The judge also refused a police request to ban the demonstrators from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Armored personnel carriers and a squad of heavily armed soldiers surrounded the West Bank Ramallah apartment of Czech national Eva Novakova, forced her to dress at gunpoint, and deported her to Prague for overstaying her visa. Soldiers also seized an Australian and a Spanish member of the International Solidarity Movement in Ramallah, but the Israeli Supreme Court ordered their release.

Jared Malsin, a Jewish-American English language editor at the Palestinian news agency was arrested at Ben Gurion airport and detained by Israeli authorities for deportation. The arrest and deportation order were blasted by the International Federation of Journalists as an “intolerable violation of press freedom.”

Israeli human rights lawyer Omar Schatz says the arrests are, “all about fixing the mirror, not fixing the reflection Israelis see in the mirror.”

The crackdown has even fallen on a group of women fighting ultra-orthodox Jews for the right to pray at the Jerusalem’s Western Wall. In November, Nofrat Frenkel of Women of the Wall (WW) was arrested for carrying a Torah and wearing a tallit at the site.

A week before the Sheikh Jarrah arrests, Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, was detained, fingerprinted, and questioned about the organization’s support for WW protests.

Naomi Chazan, the Israeli president of the U.S.-based organization NIF, has been subjected to a campaign of vilification, including posters depicting her with horns. A government press agency distributed an article to the foreign press accusing her of “Serving the agenda of Iran and Hamas.” She also lost her job as a columnist at the Jerusalem Post.

The attempt to smother any challenge to the Netanyahu government is a reaction to the worldwide criticism Israel is harvesting in the aftermath of the Gaza War. Tel Aviv’s continued refusal to allow any reconstruction of the more than 3500 homes destroyed in the Israeli invasion drew a letter signed by 53 U.S. Congress members calling for an end to the “de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wa) suggested taking forceful action to end the Gaza blockade. “We ought to bring roll-on, roll-off ships and roll them right to the beach and bring the relief supplies in, in our version of the Berlin airlift.”

But there are internal tensions behind the crackdown as well. The long occupation of the West Bank has begun to fray the Israeli military. According to the head of the Israeli military’s Personnel Directorate, Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, increasing numbers of Israelis are refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories. Three years of military service is compulsory for men, 21 months for women.

“Taking into consideration Israeli Arab youth, we’re facing a situation in which 70 percent of youths will not enlist in the military,” the general told UPI.

The “Courage to Refuse” movement has long supported soldiers who won’t serve in the Occupied Territories, and now there is an organization—Shministim— that advises young people on how to become a conscientious objector and supports “refuseniks” as well. Police have also detained several activists for New Profile, a group dedicated to demilitarizing Israeli society.

A new law makes it a crime for Palestinians to observe “Nakba,” or “Catastrophe,” Day commemorating the loss of their land when Israel was created in 1948.

According to human rights groups, the polarization is a serious threat to freedom of speech. A recent poll found that 57 percent of Israelis think “national security” is more important than human rights. The country, says Tel Aviv University politics professor and author Amal Jamal, is headed toward what he calls a “totalitarian democracy.”

Conn Hallinan can be reached at: ringoanne@sbcglobal.net

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March 9th, 2010, 10:46 pm

 

36. Off the Wall said:

AP

This is the US I strive for, it is coming despite of AIPAC, or is this congressman Un-American? and should pack and leave the country, like you want me to do, so that you and AIPAC can continue to drive the country into more disastrous foreign policy stances?

Israel and Gaza Deserve Better than a Misguided Resolution

Before House Members vote on H.Res. 867, regarding the U.N. Goldstone report on the Gaza conflict, there are a few questions worth asking.

First, why are we bringing this resolution to the floor without ever giving former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone a hearing to explain his findings? Have those who will vote on H.Res. 867 actually read the resolution? Have they read the Goldstone report? Are they aware that Justice Goldstone has issued a paragraph by paragraph response, available on my Web site at http://www.baird.house.gov, to H.Res. 867 pointing out that many of its assertions are factually inaccurate or deeply misleading?

Since scarcely a dozen House Members have actually been to Gaza, what actual first-hand knowledge do the rest of the Members of Congress possess on which to base their judgment of the merits of H.Res. 867 or the Goldstone report?

What will it say about this Congress and our country if we so readily seek to block “any further consideration” of a human rights investigation produced by one of the most respected jurists in the world today, a man who led the investigations of abuses in South Africa, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Kosovo and worked to identify and prosecute Nazi war criminals as a member of the Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina?

As one of the first two American officials, along with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), to enter Gaza shortly after the conclusion of major bombing from “Operation Cast Lead,” then again several months later, I have seen firsthand the devastating destruction of hospitals, schools, homes, industries and infrastructure. Much of that devastation was wrought using U.S. manufactured and paid for weaponry. I have also spoken with health workers, average Gazans, NGO relief workers and many others.

In addition, I have been to the Israeli town of Sderot, which has been the target of repeated rocket attacks, and to a number of Palestinian towns and Israel settlements in the West bank. Colleagues who have not been to the region may wish to view some of the images and interviews from these visits on my Web site.

With the information from these personal visits and on the ground knowledge, I read with care and interest the Goldstone report in its entirety and my firm conclusion is that, although the findings may be unpleasant and troubling, they are, unfortunately, consistent with the facts and evidence. In my judgment, far from meriting the obstruction called for in H.Res. 867, the Goldstone report is without question worthy of further investigation.

I know this conclusion is not easily accepted and I know it raises serious charges against entities and individuals on both sides of this conflict, Israel and Hamas. But if our own country is truly to stand for human rights and the rule of law, and if facts matter, how can we do other than insist that legitimate questions and evidence are followed by further investigation and, if necessary and warranted, appropriate consequences?

H.Res. 867 is very serious business. If, as Goldstone asserts and the evidence I have seen supports, there were in fact gross violations of international law and human rights on all sides, we cannot in good conscience support H.Res. 867.

This is about much more than just another imposed political litmus test that we are all too often asked to perform. This is about whether we as individuals and this Congress as an institution find it acceptable to drop white phosphorous on civilian targets, to rocket civilian communities, to destroy hospitals and schools, to use civilians as human shields, to deliberately destroy non-military factories, industries and basic water, electrical and sanitation infrastructure. This is about whether it is acceptable to restrict the movement, opportunities and hopes of more than a million people every single day.

At the end of the day, this is also about our own domestic security. If we are seen internationally as condoning violations of human rights and international law, if our money and our weaponry play a leading role in those violations, and if we reflexively obstruct the findings of someone with the credentials, history and integrity of Justice Goldstone, it can only diminish our international standing and our own security.

Rep. Brian Baird (D) represents Washington’s 3rd district.

Also See this

Congressman Baird’s Statement on Gaza (February 19 2010)

Washington, D.C.— I call for the United States to break the Gaza blockade, provide immediate humanitarian aid, and urge Special Envoy Mitchell to visit Gaza. In thepast year I have been to Gaza three times and was the first US Government official to visit Gaza after the Israeli Cast Lead operation. I recently visited Gaza for two days to assess aid shipments and humanitarian conditions.

These are the facts:

There is an Israeli blockade around Gaza, on land and along the coast. This blockade was established so that contraband weapons and equipment used for rockets to shell Israel will not enter Gaza. While there are food stuffs entering Gaza, the shipments are tightly controlled and items such as tomato paste and pasta are sometimes restricted by the Israelis. Palestinians cannot rebuild their homes, their schools, or their hospitals because they cannot import the cement needed to complete the projects. They cannot build sewage systems and prevent 55 million metric meters of sewage flow into the Mediterranean because the Israelis limit the amount of construction materials into Gaza.

A tunnel system has developed in South Gaza which circumvents the Israeli blockade. This system is creating a new power base in the society which is based on criminal activity and not the rule of law. Hamas is reaping the benefits and is becoming more powerful. President Obama’s June 2009 Cairo address, Secretary of State Clinton’s numerous statements, and the international community’s promises have all pledged to help the Palestinians. What I have concluded on my recent visit is that those pledges have not materialized and the Palestinian people have little hope for the future. One year after the bombing stopped, and five years after the wall was erected around Gaza, the people have little hope in the future. This lack of hope will eventually foment into radicalization. Radicalization will breed terrorists which will threaten the security of not only Israel but also the United States. We need to reverse this spiral of despair.

Here is what I propose:

Special envoy Mitchell should visit Gaza to determine first hand humanitarian needs. The blockade should be circumvented by the United States; much like we did when we circumvented the Berlin Blockade. We would accomplish this using roll-on/off ships supplying the needed material for Palestinians to rebuild their society. We must find a just and lasting peace not only with words, but actions. This will provide the people of Gaza hope and fulfill the commitment made by President Obama.

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March 9th, 2010, 11:03 pm

 

37. almasri said:

The US is fast becoming like a child who can only behave when threatened with punishmnet. It is obvious that in order for a country to be able to punish the US it must have huge oil reserves that the US needs. This is exactly what happened with Libya over the last couple weeks. The US (David Crowley) criticized Qaddafi for calling for Jihad against Switzerland. Libya only had to call the US oil execs operating in the country and threatened their expulsion along with their entourage. Today the US offered a formal apology by the same David Crowley who earlier made the remarks. Despite his many irrationalities, one must admit that this is an ace well played by Qaddafi and a good lesson for those midget monarchs and presidents who seem not to tire from prostrating to the so-called ‘all-mighty’ US at the rising and setting of the sun everyday.

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March 9th, 2010, 11:28 pm

 

38. Akbar Palace said:

Poets in Paradise

OTW,

Spare me. Are you for replacing Bashar? No you are not. Therefore you are an accomplice to his human rights violation.

Yes, you are critical of some of his policies, but on the whole, you support him. For some reason known only to you, only in the case of Bashar you accept his human rights violations as a necessarry evil worth the price. Would you ever have the same attitude towards any American politician? Would you ever say something like “it is ok that Obama puts poets in jail as long as he gets a healthcare bill”? Would the end justify the means for you except in the case of Bashar?

I’m tired of the double-standard and the hypocrisy. It’s hollow. I’m tired of the anti-Israel finger-pointing. Go fix you own home first before you have the chutzpa to tell someone else what to do.

It is time you reflected deeply on your position and come to the understanding that you have lost your way because of your misplaced pride.

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March 10th, 2010, 3:49 am

 
 

40. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

What the Middle-East needs now, is more development, more education, more infrastructure and more freedom.

The ME doesn’t need one more failed theocratic and revolutionary Arab state, which will be a source of trouble and murderousness to itself and to it’s neighbors.

We have plenty of those already.
.

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March 10th, 2010, 3:14 pm

 

41. Ghat Albird said:

AMIR IN TEL AVIV said:

What the Middle-East needs now, is more development, more education, more infrastructure and more freedom.

The ME doesn’t need one more failed theocratic and revolutionary Arab state,

Amir must be thinking of all those Moldavians who want to move to the UN 1948 mandated Palestenian state.

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March 10th, 2010, 3:50 pm

 

42. Shai said:

OTW,

Parts of the article are exaggerated, but much of it is true. The situation, certainly for a while there, seemed very reminiscent of McCarthyism. The statement about a “new law” making it a crime to observe the Nakba is false.

Despite the attacks on many groups’ “patriotism”, the courts are still going to uphold freedom of speech and, therefore, not allow anyone to be silenced.

Personally, I’m actually happy to see these attacks take place. They finally show the true face of all those “patriots” who, instead of taking a good look in the mirror, prefer to blame others for the situation Israel is in. We do know of one or two like them, not too far from here, don’t we?

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March 10th, 2010, 7:11 pm

 

43. Off the Wall said:

Dear Shai
Thank you for the kind response. It is encouraging that the courts tilt towards upholding freedom of speech. Let us hope that not far in the future, Syrians can say the same.

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March 10th, 2010, 9:50 pm

 

44. Akbar Palace 2 said:

My first post got censored. I am trying again after re-editing.

Alex, Shai, Ghat Albird, majedkhaldoun:

What constructive debate are we acheiving here when we are all wasting our energy and most of our time trying to refute one lone commentator – AKBAR PALACE? Those various statements lack substance and are at most baseless lies; sort of like dart practice without any aim. It is best to ignore people like that who’s agenda and strategy seems to me nothing more than flooding this blog and rendering “tit for tat”.

I would not be surprised if he is on payroll as an “army of bloggers” by Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.

Here is the article:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1056648.html

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March 13th, 2010, 7:07 pm

 

45. Akbar Palace said:

Akbar Palace 2,

I’m not on any “payroll”. I just happen to be one of the millions of staunch supporters of Israel.

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March 16th, 2010, 11:50 am

 

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