i’ve been thinking far too much about hawa or wind, air this week. mostly because of these insane winds that have created a kind of orchestra that i heard for the last 48 hours outside my home. ironically as i learned this new arabic vocabulary word i encountered it in a stanza of one of suheir hammad’s amazing new poems, “break (water)”:
trust only stars habibi a mirage a gold tree on chain sparks trees on lips
smoke hawa over sunrise hennessy under pillow batata okra dawn
clave iron clove fist silver oasis oriki bata cinnamon offering ana
break into language insurgent
but i have also been thinking about hot air–both the kind i wish were blowing on the hills of nablus now and the type emanating from lebanese politicians’ lips. an nahar has carried a series of comments by various lebanese officials about the possibility of entering into negotiations with the zionist state. here is the first one that appeared two days ago:
Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh on Tuesday indicated that Lebanon might go into negotiations with Israel if French President Nicolas Sarkozy guaranteed withdrawal of Israeli troops from occupied Lebanese territory.
In answering a question as to whether Sarkozy’s forthcoming visit to Beirut on Jan. 6 could facilitate Lebanon’s engagement in negotiations with Israel, Salloukh said: “If President Sarkozy can guarantee to us Israel’s withdrawal from Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shouba Hills and the Lebanese sector of Ghajar village, then why not.”
“Lebanon is cautious regarding negotiations with Israel, be they direct or indirect, fearing they might lead to collapse of UNSCR 1701,” Salloukh explained.
He said “no serious discussion” of the Middle East crisis is expected before the second half of 2009.
thankfully, hezbollah responded immediately to this ridiculous proposition:
Minister of Labor Mohammed Fneish, a ranking Hizbullah member, told reporters after talks with Premier Fouad Saniora “direct negotiations with Israel are out of the question and totally unacceptable.”
“Going into negotiations reflects readiness to make concessions. We are not prepared to make concessions regarding our rights,” Fneish added.
National Dialogue under President Michel Suleiman with the aim of agreeing on a defense strategy is “essential and should not be linked to a timeframe. What is important is for dialogue to persist,” Fneish added.
and now, uncharacteristically, siniora seems to be echoing the sentiment that negotiations won’t happen–though the phrase “at the moment” makes one pause:
“I see no interest for us right now to discuss direct negotiations or indirect negotiations with Israel,” Saniora said in an interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation broadcast on Wednesday.
“No one has challenged our claim of authority and ownership of the land that Israel occupies. So we see it as premature to take a decision in this regard as yet,” he added.
Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000 after more than two decades of occupation, but Lebanon claims it is still occupying land on the border, including Shebaa Farms, a mountainous sliver of land rich in water resources.
Lebanon’s former power broker Syria began Turkish-mediated indirect peace talks with Israel in May, eight years after the previous negotiations broke down over the fate of the strategic Golan Heights plateau.
friends tell me that this is a bunch of hot air. i hope they are right. lebanese should know better than to enter into negotiations or any sort of recognition of a zionist state that has treated lebanon as its own private battleground since 1948. moreover, the reports about possible continuing negotiations between the zionist state and syria make this prospect of lebanese negotiations even more troubling as it would be akin to putting the nail in the coffin for palestinians. all we need to do is look to egypt and jordan’s so-called “peace” treaties with the zionist state and we can see what the fate for palestinians would be as a result of such an agreement. after more than sixty years it should be painfully obvious that the zionist state has never understood anything other than aggression whether stealing land or massacring people.
it doesn’t matter what their rhetoric is because in their colonial discourse what they means the opposite (i.e., peace means war). take the zionist state’s asking for a new “truce” with gaza a week ago. they did this while firing missiles on innocent people in gaza. here is what tzipi livni had to say to hosni mubarak in cairo today:
“We cannot tolerate a situation in which Hamas continues to target Israel, Israel’s citizens, and this situation is going to be changed,” Livni told the Egyptian leader.
The pair met in Cairo shortly after the cabinet approved a military response to escalating rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Mubarak, for his part, told Livni that Egypt expects Israel to exercise restraint in the face of Gaza rocket fire.
Livni added: “Hamas needs to understand that our desire to live in peace doesn’t mean we will allow the ‘[rocket] fire to continue – Israel will do everything necessary to protect its citizens.”
notice how quickly “truce” becomes war for zionists. and of course they’ve never stopped bombing people in gaza before, during, or after the “truce.” and apparently other egyptian officials have no problem with a new invasion of gaza:
The paper claimed that Egyptian Intelligence chief, Omar Suleimann, met last week with Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry’s diplomatic-security department, and rejected Gilad’s request that Cairo use its influence to persuade Hamas to extend a truce with Israel that expired last Friday.
At the same time, the paper said, Suleiman told Gilad that Egypt would not object to a limited Israeli operation in Gaza aimed at toppling the Hamas government.
this is precisely the sort of thing that i fear if lebanon entered into negotiations with the zionist state. to see egyptians condoning an israeli invasion of gaza is, i suspect, what we could expect from lebanon and syria if things were to change. of course this is ironic given that all of these countries have been subjected to the israeli terrorist forces (itf) aggression themselves so they should know better. and even before seeking support of egypt the zionists already voted yesterday to begin a new war on gaza:
The electronic website of the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz quoted an Israeli official as saying, “Our response will be substantial and painful to Hamas.”
Before the military measures were announced Israeli warplanes targeted a Palestinian group of activists in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip killing Hamas militant Yahya Ash-Sha’ir in his twenties, and injuring three others.
A fourth Palestinian was injured, photojournalist Mustafa Bakir, as he documented the shelling in Rafah. Bakir works for the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa satellite TV station.
what should be realized in all of these clips from newspapers above is that the focus is on hamas. this is a really distorted view of what is actually happening on the ground. there are many resistance groups using their legitimate right to resist under international law and only one of those groups is hamas. any given week if you read through ma’an news, for example, you will find that al aqsa martyr’s brigade (which is fatah) or pflp or dflp (both communist) are also engaged in resistance operations against the zionist state. and yet journalists continue to fixate and focus on hamas. here are a few such examples from this week:
An armed group affiliated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) launched two homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot on Tuesday afternoon, it said in a statement.
The attacks were claimed by the DFLP’s National Resistance Brigades, as well as the National Resistance Committees’ Salah Ad-Din Brigades, in a statement.
The military wing affiliated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the National Resistance Brigades, claimed responsibility on Tuesday morning for firing two mortar shells at the Kissufim military post east of Al-Qarara in the southern Gaza Strip.
Twenty minutes earlier, according to a statement the group released, they fired a homemade projectile at Kerem Shalom crossing.
the above items are just from this week, but you can also find from previous weeks similar pflp and fatah actions. and, yes, of course, hamas is also engaged in resistance as is their right:
The military wing affiliated to Hamas, Al-Qassam Brigades released a statement on Thursday morning briefing the group’s military activities over the first twenty four hours of an operation they called “Oil Stain” which started Wednesday morning.
According to the statement, a total of 87 shells have been fired at Israeli targets bordering the Gaza Strip including 54 mortar shells, 31 homemade projectiles which Hamas calls “Qassam”, and two Soviet-made Grad missiles.
Al-Qassa Brigades threatened to enlarge the “Oil Stain” to get more thousands of Israelis “under fire”. The group asserted that its fighters are “far greater than surrendering to Israeli threats and that they became much more prepared to counter Israeli aggression and to defend themselves than in the past.”
In a different regard, Hamas announced death of six of its activists on Tuesday and Wednesday in Israeli airstrikes.
i find this isolating of one particular group, when many others participate in/support the same acts, troubling for so many reasons. it reminds me, for instance of the israeli invasion of lebanon in the summer of 2006 when israel’s rhetoric was all about its war against hezbollah, but of course all the people were subjected to their brutal bombings. moreover, there are many sunnis, christians, communists, and druze who support hezbollah’s resistance so framing this as some sort of isolated group not connected to the society is deeply problematic whether you’re talking about hezbollah or hamas. not incidentally, israel’s partner in crime in all of their war crimes, the united states, decided to send a new york man to jail for broadcasting al manar television on satellite dishes (n.b.: israelis have al manar on their satellite dishes).
equally problematic is the bulls*&^ olmert was peddling on al-arabiya television yesterday. i mean, who does he expect to believe his double speak? viewers of al arabiya know better: they know that to interpret all of this crap all they have to do is invert it to its opposite to find some semblance of the truth. they are smarter than that. they know that it’s not just hamas but palestinians in general involved in armed resistance. they know it is the right of palestinians to engage in this resistance. they know that it is the zionist regime and not palestinians–hamas or otherwise–who is intent on murdering innocent civilians. nevertheless, this is the bunch of hooey that olmert was attempting to sell the viewing audience:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appealed to the Gaza Strip’s residents on Thursday, urging them to stop Hamas. “We don’t want to fight the Palestinian people, but we won’t let Hamas hurt our children. We have a lot of power, which we are not eager to use. Gaza’s residents, don’t let the Hamas murderers, who are acting against the values of Islam, put you in danger,” Olmert said in an interview with the UAE-based al-Arabiya television news channel.
The prime minister went on to say that Israel left Gaza about three years ago, not in order to return.
He turned to the Strip’s residents and added, “I’m talking to you as a father, as a grandfather, and I know there’s nothing I want less than putting my children and grandchildren in danger.
“Is killing innocent children the spirit of Islam? Is it firing missiles at kindergartens and on civilians? I don’t think this is the spirit of Islam. Hamas is the main reason for your suffering, for the suffering of all of us.”
Olmert told the residents that this was “a last call” to stop the rocket fire.
“I know how much you want to wake up in the morning in peace, take your children to the kindergarten or to school, just like we want to, just like people in Sderot and Netivot want to,” he said.
“Hamas is the residents’ enemy – not only in Israel but in Gaza too. I think about the tens of thousands of children and innocent people who will be put in danger as a result of Hamas’ activities.”
He directed a rhetorical question to the viewers as the Israeli prime minister, saying, “Can I afford more missiles on Israel’s residents? Seeing children and civilians get hurt and doing nothing? Of course not.
“Hamas is firing at us and at the power station providing electricity to Gaza. Stop them. Stop your enemies and ours. Tell them to stop firing at innocent people.
“I’m not here to declare a war. I’ve said this in the past: As long as I’m prime minister I plan to reach peace, not to fight the Palestinians. But Hamas must be stopped, and this will happen.”
As for the humanitarian situation in the Strip, Olmert said Israel won’t let Gaza’s residents sink into a crisis and that they would not suffer from a shortage of food or medications.
meanwhile, the zionist regime started dropping leaflets along the border telling palestinians that their only lifeline–the tunnels along the rafah border–are about to be bombed:
Leaflets dropped by Israeli warplanes on the border lines read that all those working on tunnels must leave the place in 24 hours, before the Israeli air crafts destroy the tunnels.
This is the first time in the past few years that Israel declares so, as the tunnels trade on the border lines has flourished over the past 18 months, with Israel closing all Gaza’s border crossings, allowing limited quantities of commodities from time to time.
and of course in all of these zionist threats against people of gaza, made through the cloak of threats against hamas, palestinian christians in gaza are not faring any better:
The Gaza Strip is home to about 4,000 Palestinian Christians, many of whom will not be celebrating Christmas this year. Gaza Latin Church pastor Manuel Musalam said yesterday he was canceling midnight mass prayers in protest against Israel’s siege of Gaza. It was also a protest against the Israeli decision not to grant permission to Gaza Christians who sought permission to visit the holy city of Bethlehem, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Thousands of pilgrims from around the world have flocked to the West Bank town of Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas, Al Jazeera said.
The Palestinian ministry of tourism said it expected about 40,000 people to visit Bethlehem over the next week and the Palestinian Authority deployed hundreds of security forces in the area to safeguard the celebrations.
“The Catholic leader in the Holy Land Thursday prayed for Mideast peace, telling the faithful at the traditional birthplace of Jesus the silent night of Christmas overpowers the voice of guns,” AFP reported.
all gazans, whether they are christian or muslim, whether they are from gaza or refugees from 1948 palestine fare the same fate just as when israel bombs lebanon whether you are a member of hezbollah or not you suffer the same fate. and one of the repercussions of the zionist siege on gaza is that palestinians have had to return to the “stone age” in order to do simple tasks like cooking:
In their struggle for survival amid Israel’s on-going economic blockade, people in Gaza have found a new weapon. In the absence of electricity or cooking gas, families have gone back to the age-old cooking fire—burning whatever they can get their hands in order to feed themselves and their children.
Restaurants in Gaza too have gone back to Stone Age techniques to keep their business from failing. And even the Food Bank, Gaza’s only food charity, is now cooking on makeshift fires to be able to feed Gaza’s poor and homeless.
Om Osama is a 40-year-old housewife and mother of 12 children living in Northern Gaza. In order to cook the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner, she says she took some of her children’s clothes to throw on the fire.
“It is the only way I can manage to cook anything these days”, she says. “My kids need food and my husband is doing his best to provide it. I am not ashamed of doing this—I’m only trying to feed my family. How am I supposed to do so with no cooking gas or even wood?”
Wood for cooking has in fact become a luxury item in the Gaza Strip. “Rich people can buy wood,” says Om Osama. “Even more lucky people can afford to buy gas, but that is not the case for us.”
and yet christmas or not the world does nothing. it goes on without thinking or feeling about or with the people in gaza or in refugee camps or in 1948 palestine. worse: the united nations in spite of all the ways in which the zionist regime has consistently thwarted, since its inception, any attempt at justice for palestinians. in electronic intifada ali abunimah and hasan abu nimah explain this in the context of the recent un security council resolution 1850 and the damaging effect it may have:
The resolution “Calls on all States and international organizations to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations and to support the Palestinian government that is committed to the Quartet principles and the Arab Peace Initiative and respects the commitments of the Palestinian Liberation Organization …”
This translates as a call to continue boycotting the democratically-elected Palestinian government that is now caged in the Gaza Strip, while the so-called international community continues to grant legitimacy and money to the “government” headed by Salam Fayyad and appointed by Abbas in violation of Palestinian law, after the failed US-sponsored attempts to overthrow the elected government in June 2007. Abbas’ own term as Palestinian Authority president expires on 9 January. By all indications he will simply remain in his chair illegally. Lacking all democratic legitimacy, Abbas will now be able to point to the UN resolution as his basis for clinging to power just because he, unlike the elected government, has capitulated to the Quartet’s one-sided conditions.
In short, the Security Council has decided that it, not the Palestinian people, has the right to choose Palestinian leaders. This is not only a usurpation of a fundamental aspect of Palestinians’ right to self-determination, but an assault on democracy everywhere.
While masquerading as an attempt to support peace, resolution 1850 is replete with other cynical gestures. Corrupt Palestinian Authority officials and external peace process industry consultants and non-governmental organizations will no doubt be thrilled by the Security Council’s call on “States and international organizations” to “maximize resources available to the Palestinian Authority,” and to continue to fund the failed “Palestinian institution-building program.” This is also an indirect way to legitimize the efforts of outside powers to arm and train the militias loyal to Abbas whose purpose is to crush Palestinian resistance to the occupation.
The Arab League’s irrelevance is confirmed when the resolution merely notes in passing “the importance of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.” And, the declaration that “the two-state solution” is the “only” possible solution is an effort to cover up decades of failure, and silence the growing debate about democratic alternatives.
It is disappointing that Russia, after it was subjected to the same kind of arbitrary and illogical decisions from the West after Georgia’s surprise attack on South Ossetia last August, should collude in the further erosion of Palestinian rights and UN authority. But that was probably the price Russia had to pay for a petty reward: the resolution promises yet another sterile “international meeting” of the Quartet in Moscow next year. It is not the first time that Palestinian rights have been traded for such insignificant benefits for others.
With its latest intervention, the Security Council sought to bestow legitimacy on Israeli occupation, colonization and those who abet its oppression. Instead it simply exposed ever more shamelessly its own illegitimacy and subservience to powers who have no regard for international law and for the rights of those it is supposed to protect.
is this really what we have to expect in the coming year(s)? more of the same? worse? or is it all hot air?