Back in Beirut

The plan was to write another couple of blog entries about Cairo, but the photographs that would have amplified the story are being held hostage on my computer that won’t let me log on any more. So for now I’m just reporting that I arrived back in Beirut, for a brief week, before returning to the U.S. for a visit (see speaking link above for dates of my upcoming speaking engagements in California). The plan was almost interrupted when the airport road into Beirut was shut down the night before I left. Here is a video from Al Jazeera:

I found it all a bit odd, especially because of the U.S. embassy warning that As’ad AbuKhalil posted on his blog just two days earlier:

“The U.S. Embassy has received reports of an increased possibility of attacks against U.S. citizens in Lebanon.  Possible threats include kidnapping, the potential for an upsurge in violence, the escalation of family or neighborhood disputes, as well as U.S. citizens being the target of terrorist attacks in Lebanon. U.S. Embassy personnel remain under strict travel restrictions, and all U.S. citizens are urged to take additional security precautions.”  I would love to see the sources for those reports, would you not?  And don’t you like the reference to “escalation of family or neighborhood disputes”??

It is almost as if the Americans were predicting the attacks. Of course, the kidnapping predicted is not at all targeting Americans, although it should given the logic being used (it is targeting Syrians who are against the Asad regime in Syria as well as regional powers assisting them like Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia). It certainly makes me wonder what role the Americans are playing Syria and Lebanon right now.

These kidnappings are not the work of militias or political parties. They are the work of Lebanese families seeking revenge for their family members  who have been kidnapped in Syria. But it got quite out of hand the other night with journalists–even those on the same political side–were beaten up. Fortunately things seem to have calmed down now, but there are still threats about what may happen after Eid in the coming days.

Here is some more writing on the topic

“Al-Moqdad Republic” in al-Akhbar

“Armed Lebanese Kidnap 11 Syrians” in al-Akhbar

“Second Turkish Citizen Kidnapped” in al-Akhbar

“Families of Kidnapped Lebanese in Syria Cut Off Access to Airport in Beirut” in Jadaliyya

And for the humorous take on all this, check out this new Twitter account, Moqdaddy.

the latest on gaza

a few weeks ago there was a very important post on kabobfest entitled “stop saying free gaza.” it began like this:

Gaza is not a different country than Palestine; its plight is not isolated from that of the West Bank, Palestinian-Israelis, or Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora. So stop changing your banners and placards from “Free Palestine” and “End Apartheid” to “Free Gaza.”

Palestinians and their supporters alike have fallen in a simple trap set in the sideshow of Israel’s Attack on Gaza earlier this year. Israel has consistently tried to separate segments of the Palestinian society and find ways to foster distrust among them.

you should read the whole post, but it ended like this:

So, next time you carry a “Free Gaza” sign, think. Are you taking the side of one of the segments Israel forced? Has the rest of Palestine been freed? How much of the story are new solidarity recruits learning from you pushing this new branding campaign? What are you going to do next time Israel commits a massacre in different city? Are you going to print new placards? What if the city name is hard to pronounce?

Talk about Gaza as only the latest example of Israel’s atrocities, not as if it’s a separate conflict. Soon it will be a year (seemingly eternity) without Israel attacking Gaza, the border with Egypt get’s opened and food flows, What will be your slogan for the cause du jour?

Unless we keep our eyes on Israel’s apartheid, Israel’s racism, and colonialism, we will not be able to drive a successful strategy. Israel will keep playing and toying with us with its distraction tactics, and we will happily follow without realizing the impact our emotional and myopic acts have on the larger picture.

i think it is important not to separate gaza from any other part of the struggle to free palestine. the struggle is the same. it is anti-colonial. it is about refugees and their right of return. period. but the struggle in gaza looks different to the outside world. and so they carry the banner of free gaza. this is why palestinians got together and released a statement critiquing norman finkelstein’s march on gaza, the thrust of which is as follows:

1- The statement fails to give any political context to this abstract siege, avoiding to even condemn Israel’s military occupation! The siege is not just about suffering and humanitarian needs. It is about occupation and denial of Palestinians refugees in Gaza , as well as everywhere else, their fundamental right to return. That is also illegal. 80 per cent of Gazans are refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948.

2) We feel that the statement ostensibly addresses internationals and urges them to perform this non-violent act in solidarity with Palestinians under siege in Gaza, but it also lectures us, indirectly, about non-violence. Obviously, no Palestinians have been involved in writing it!

3) Everyone who wants to breach the Erez checkpoint from the Gaza side, as this purports to do, must first enter Gaza ! And how do they plan to do that? Egypt , the most important local collaborator with the siege will have none of that.

4) The statement ignores THE most effective non-violent means of resistance to date: BDS! This intentional omission and focus on Gandhi non-violence as a “new” form of resistance that must be taught to us smacks of naiveté and presumptuous colonial pompousness. Forms of resistance are not mutually exclusive. The writers of the statement could have supported the growing BDS campaign in parallel to endorsing this idea of a non-violent march.

5) Such a march must be first explicitly led by the Palestinians in Gaza, as represented by political forces and other civil society organs, and second explicitly advocated by Palestinians. Before organizing international brigades of Gandhian activists to come to Gaza to march “alongside the people of Gaza,” how about asking us Palestinians in Gaza what we want!

6) Palestinians in Gaza as referred to twice as “the people of Gaza,” further entrenching the Israeli division of the Palestinians into THE Palestinians, meaning those in the West Bank, Israeli Arabs, some abstract refugees, and “the people of Gaza .” Jerusalemites are, of course, Israelis with some special problems! The people in Gaza are only indirectly referred to as part of the Palestinian people. Again, no people, no right to self determination. Only a humanitarian issue.

We, therefore, will endorse the statement only if these serious concerns are taken into consideration.

Signed by:

The One Democratic State Group

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information

Friends for the Visually Impaired

Al-Aqsa University-Academic Cooperation Dept.

while gaza is not separate from the rest of palestine nor is its struggle for justice different, it is important to understand the different context in which colonization and ethnic cleansing occur in gaza. here is a recent video from journalist jordan flaherty and lily keber that gives some idea to the ongoing siege there:

because it has now been three years since the zionist entity’s siege on gaza began, the united nations ocha office recently released a report documenting how this extreme form of ethnic cleansing is affecting palestinians in gaza. a summary of the report reads in part (and full summary can be read here):

Following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Israel has imposed an unprecedented blockade on all border crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip. The blockade has ‘locked in’ 1.5 million people in what is one of the most densely populated areas on earth, triggering a protracted human dignity crisis with negative humanitarian consequences. At the heart of this crisis is the degradation in the living conditions of the population, caused by the erosion of livelihoods and the gradual decline in the state of infrastructure, and the quality of vital services in the areas of health, water and sanitation, and education.

The blockade, now in its third year, has taken place alongside recurrent cycles of violence and human rights violations, stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Hamas’s rule over Gaza. The denial of Palestinians’ right to leave Gaza, or to move freely to the West Bank, particularly when their lives, physical integrity, or basic freedoms are under threat, is another key component of the current human dignity crisis. This denial had a devastating impact during Israel’s “Cast Lead” military offensive, launched on 27 December 2008, contributing to the significant loss of civilian life and the large number of seriously injured and traumatized people as a result.

The three week-long Israeli offensive also involved the widespread destruction of homes, infrastructure and productive assets. The ongoing restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through the crossings has limited the ability of all relevant actors to address the immense needs and challenges that emerged as a result of the most recent military offensive.

Over the past three months, Israel has allowed entry into Gaza of a small number of truckloads carrying goods previously prevented from entering, including limited construction, water, sanitation and education materials. While these are welcome steps, their actual impact when compared to the current level of needs in Gaza remains negligible.

This blockade has been characterized by the UN’s most senior humanitarian official, John Holmes, as a form of collective punishment on the entire Gazan population. The UN, the ICRC, many states and humanitarian organizations have repeatedly urged the Government of Israel to remove the restrictions on Gaza’s borders; to allow free access to agricultural areas within Gaza, and to allow unrestricted fishing in Gaza’s territorial waters. These are the urgent first steps needed to start the reconstruction of homes and infrastructure, the revival of the economy and the restoration of human dignity in Gaza.

and it has been just over six months since the intensity of the zionist savagery ended, and yet, of course, the zionists controlling the prison that is gaza have made it impossible to remove rubble and to rebuild, as sherine tadros reported on al jazeera a couple of weeks ago:

a story from irin news this week illustrates just one of the many palestinian casualties of this siege:

Arafat Hamdona, 20, has been confined to the cancer unit of As-Shifa, Gaza’s primary hospital, since he was diagnosed with maxillary skin tumours in June 2008. Red lesions protrude from his face, his features are distorted and his eyes swollen shut.

In April, Arafat was permitted to travel to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem where he received three series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. He was scheduled to return for further treatment, but has not been granted permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza.

“He is only given pain killers,” said Arafat’s father, Faraj Hamdona, explaining that that is all As-Shifa has to offer.

According to a July 2009 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Jerusalem, Gaza doctors and nurses do not have the medical equipment to respond to the health needs of the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip.

Medical equipment is often broken, lacking spare parts, or outdated.

WHO attributes the dismal state of Gaza’s healthcare system to the Israeli blockade of the territory, tightened in June 2007 after Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the West, seized control. The poor organization of maintenance services in Gaza compounds the problem, reports WHO.

and the medical issues are compounded by the problems related to the imposed malnutrition according to a recent electronic intifada article by eva bartlett:

According to the UN and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the trickle of goods entering Gaza now is just a quarter of that prior to the siege, the majority of which is limited to basic food aid items. The aid-dependent families have moved from a balanced diet to one consisting mainly of sugar and carbohydrates, lacking in vitamins and proteins.

The World Health Organization (WHO) cites an increase in growth-stunting malnourishment, now at over 10 percent of children, attributed to a chronic lack of protein, iron, and essential vitamins. The WHO further warns of increasing anemia rates: 65 percent among children below 12 months of age, and 35 percent among pregnant women.

The United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Gaza’s Ard al-Insan center for nutrition, among various bodies, note the link between malnutrition and a deficiency of protein and vegetables in the diet.

An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) June 2009 report notes that the effects of a restricted diet also include “difficulty in fighting off infections, fatigue and a reduced capacity to learn.” The ICRC warns of the long-term ramifications on Gaza’s malnourished children.

while the zionist entity and its american collaborators are chiefly responsible for this siege, the regime in egypt is also responsible for collective punishment of palestinians. kabobfest had another important post on the ways in which egypt profits from the siege on gaza:

As The president of Egypt tours the States talking about many issues including the Palestinian question. And I’m getting into my second month of my visit to Gaza and cannot deny the sad effects of the siege on Gaza. Most aspects of life in Gaza have been negatively affected by this unfair siege. The price of food especially, vegetables and fruits have now surpassed prices in the United States, same thing for clothing, shoes and electronics. While the cost of living in Gaza soared due to the sanction and limitations on the movement of goods, wages and salaries are nowhere near the States. Yes, there are tunnels in Gaza, and they smuggle all sort of things through these tunnels. Items as large as fridges and as small as birthday candles flow through the tunnels to Gaza. But those tunnels only can bring so much and smuggling isn’t the cheapest way to supply a market. Thirty to Forty dollars is the charge to smuggle a bag of goods. While the people of Gaza struggle, the two Palestinian governments watch from the sidelines but claim to be there for the people. The guys in Ramallah help their people in Gaza and the guys in Gaza take care of their own, while the common man is left with nothing. In the meantime the Arab and Muslim nations stand by the people of Gaza but have done little to break the siege. This post does not come easy, in fact this subject I hope to be wrong on. Egyptians have led the fight to break the siege on Gaza but from where I stand the blockade is helping the Egyptian government on so many levels, here is how:

Economically: Goods in Gaza mainly come from Egypt and since Palestinians do not have many choices because the Israelis allow only humanitarian goods into the Strip (flour, sugar, milk, rice…etc.). That leaves plenty of needed material that has a market in Gaza. Items like fans, shirts, razors, shampoo, appliances, certain medications, cookies, potato chips, pencils and school bags, chairs, kitchen ware…etc. In the past these goods used to be imported from various countries such as China and India. Thanks to the embargo, Egypt now is the main supplier of these goods; Egyptian factories are now earning plenty of cash as they provide the needed goods. Egyptian businesses are also making a profit by playing the broker role between the Palestinian buyers and the international vendors. There are those who move the goods to Rafah and those who push it through the tunnels to the Palestinian on the other end. Did I also mention that all those transactions are paid in cash?

It’s Good for Business: If a Palestinian wants to leave Gaza the can be smuggles through a tunnel for the bargain price of two to three hundred dollars. But there is another way. A two thousand dollar pay off to an Egyptian General through his Palestinian front man and you’re on VIP list to get through the gate at the Rafah crossing; even if the crossing point is closed, one will be allowed into the land of milk and honey. This travel clearance even overrides a Hamas veto because they cannot risk angering the Egyptians. I guess this is sort of like the American service offered in select airport for busy travelers where they can skip long security lines by using the express lane for a fee. This is funny because when a Palestinians pointed out this corruption to an Egyptian official, the official suggested he too take advantage of it. Politically, the mess in Gaze serves as a model for not choosing the Islamist oriented policies. For sometime Egypt has tried to convince its people that Islamists are bad for business and bad for regional stability. But most of those arguments fell flat until the Hamas takeover in Gaza in June 2007. Obviously many parties have an interest in seeing Hamas fail to make the point “We might be bad, but they are worse”. Also by playing the broker between the Palestinaina Authority on the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza and Israel, Egypt gains regional credit for their active role in promoting “peace” and Arab unity.

and here is one of the many ways in which egypt’s complicity bears responsibility for palestinians in gaza who are forced to use tunnels to bring in much needed goods for their survival. ayman mohyeldin’s report on al jaeera highlights this complicity and the problem of the zionist-egyptian siege:

although there has not yet been enough significant international outcry over the complicity of egypt and the u.s. with respect to war crimes committed in gaza, there has been ongoing and persistent writing and reporting on the zionist entity’s role in those war crimes, the most recent of which is human rights watch’s report documenting how zionist terrorist colonist soldiers murdered palestinians carrying white flags. the report is important, because it is yet another piece of evidence, but at the same time it is problematic given the 1,400 murders the zionist entity committed in gaza. what is a bit more promising is the news that in zionist colonists who also hold south african citizenship are going to be prosecuted for committing war crimes in gaza:

Two South African organizations have called for 70 South Africans to be prosecuted for involvement in war crimes allegedly committed by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December and January.

The Palestinian Solidarity Alliance and the Media Review Network are also urging the immediate arrest of IDF Lt.-Col. David Benjamin, who is in South Africa attending the Limmud-SA educational conference this week.

The two NGOs are listed as complainants in an affidavit, called the Gaza Docket, which was handed last week to the South African National Prosecuting Authority and the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation.

It is supported by approximately 3,500 pages of evidence, including some submitted by Human Rights Watch on the “brutal military onslaught on Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force.”

Some 70 South Africans are listed in the affidavit for prosecution as they had served in the Israeli army. Their names are withheld due to the fact that they are suspects. It is unclear if these people served in the IDF during Cast Lead and whether they retain their South African citizenship.

such reports and developments are clearly a threat to the zionist entity as jonathan cook reveals in an article in electronic intifada:

In a bid to staunch the flow of damaging evidence of war crimes committed during Israel’s winter assault on Gaza, the Israeli government has launched a campaign to clamp down on human rights groups, both in Israel and abroad.

It has begun by targeting one of the world’s leading rights organizations, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), as well as a local group of dissident army veterans, Breaking the Silence, which last month published the testimonies of 26 combat soldiers who served in Gaza.

Additionally, according to the Israeli media, the government is planning a “much more aggressive stance” towards human rights groups working to help the Palestinians.

Officials have questioned the sources of funding received by the organizations and threatened legislation to ban support from foreign governments, particularly in Europe.

Breaking the Silence and other Israeli activists have responded by accusing the government of a “witch hunt” designed to intimidate them and starve them of the funds needed to pursue their investigations.

“This is a very dangerous step,” said Mikhael Mannekin, one of the directors of Breaking the Silence. “Israel is moving in a very anti-democratic direction.”

The campaign is reported to be the brainchild of the far-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, currently facing corruption charges, but has the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Early last month, Lieberman used a press conference to accuse non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, of replacing diplomats in setting the international community’s agenda in relation to Israel. He also threatened reforms to curb the groups’ influence.

A week later, Netanyahu’s office weighed in against Human Rights Watch, heavily criticizing the organization for its recent fund-raising activities in Saudi Arabia.

HRW has pointed out that it only accepts private donations, and has not accepted Saudi government funds, but Israeli officials say all Saudi money is tainted and will compromise HRW’s impartiality as a human rights watchdog in its treatment of Israel.

what i haven’t seen a full report on, including implications of ongoing war crimes, another to add to the list is the ongoing assault on palestinian farmers who live and farm the land near the ever-expanding “buffer zone” where zionist terrorist colonists use palestinian people for their target practice. sherine tadros report on al jazeera last month documented this:

but the farmers keep farming the land as yet another form of resistance in a space where so few options for resistance exist. likewise, this video which i keep meaning to post is a moving story about one of the rappers from the group palestinian rapperz (p.r.) whose father was murdered by palestinian terrorist colonists. here is casey kauffman’s report on al jazeera:

on meddling and hypocrisy in iran

i’ve been reading the selected writings of eqbal ahmad this week. there are some excellent, insightful essays about palestinian politics and resistance strategies in this volume, which are especially interesting given ahmad’s history–as someone who lived in algeria and tunisia during the algerian revolution that kicked out the french colonists and although he was born in bihar, india his family had to move lahore after the 1947 partition of india and his family was split by the new border. so he has a particularly interesting take on things. but he also has an essay entitled “iran’s landmark revolution: fifteen years later.” the essay was published in 1994 and given the situation in iran right now and all the comparisons i see people making between the current situation in iran and previous events in iranian history i find the essay a useful read. ahmad starts by reminding us that it was “the first fully televised revolution in history” (81). He opens the essay by comparing the french and iranian revolutions in the sense that both marked a new era regionally. he says:

…the Iranian was like the French a unique and perhaps seminal revolution for the postcolonial era as the French had been for the industrial age. The uprising that began in January 1978 and ended successfully on February 11, 1979, was the first major break in the postcolonial world from the revolutionary model of protracted armed struggle experienced in China, Algeria, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau. Iran’s, by contrast, was a mass insurrection, by far the most popular, broad-based, and sustained agitation in recent history. During a single year–1978–some thirty thousand protestors were killed in Iran while its economic institutions and public services were intermittently shut down. The movement was quite unparalleled for its militant but nonviolent character and for its discipline and morale in the face of governmental violence. As such, it deserves to be studied for its lessons in mass mobilization and agitational politics.

The Iranian Revolution pointed toward a shift in the focus of revolutionary struggle in the so-called Third World from the rural to the urban sector. Until 1978, almost all Third World revolution had been primarily peasant revolutions, centered in rural areas and involving guerrilla warfare. Even in those countries (e.g., Algeria and Cuba) where support of the urban population held great importance in revolutionary strategy, the rural population was from the outset viewed as being central to the revolutionaries’ success.

The Iranian Revolution represented the first significant departure from this pattern. It was predominantly urban in composition and entirely so in its origin and initiation. Its cadres came from the middle, low middle, and working classes. Its following was swelled by the lumpenproletariat, mostly rural migrants driven to the cities by the shah’s “modernization” of agriculture. The capital-intensive commercial farm strategy of economic development which the shah initiated in the 1960s–and which Ms. Bhutto’s “agricultural task force” has now recommended for Pakistan–led to rapid urbanization, cultural dislocation, and grossly augmented and visible inequality. These conditions created the mass base for the uprising, and increasingly they are appearing in other Third World countries, especially in those which are seeking links with the commercial market as uncritically as they once sought to imitate socialism.

Iran yielded a textbook example of the general strike as a primary weapon in revolutionary seizure of power. The strike, which lasted nearly six months in Iran, was one of the longest and by far the most effective in history. The turning point in the struggle against the shah came during September and October 1978, when the oil workers in Abadan and Ahvaz proved the weapon of the general strike to be powerful beyond the dreams of the nineteenth-century Marxists and syndicalists, who had viewed it as the lynchpin of revolutionary strategy. Subsequently, events in South Korea, South Africa, Nicaragua, and Brazil, among others, suggested that what we witnessed in Iran was a trend….

The fall of the shah revealed that, in the Third World, deployment of advanced weapons promotes internal contradictions and subjects the state apparatus to unbearable strains. When confronted by a sustained popular uprising, Iran’s 450,000 strong, superequipped military establishment disintegrated. Significantly, the noncommissioned officers and technicians, whose numbers had swelled since 1972 as a result of large infusions of sophisticated arms, were the first to defect en masse; their defection proved crucial in the disintegration of Iran’s armed forces. The military’s open and mass defections, which began in December 1978, were spearheaded by technicians and cadets of the air force and armoured divisions. They sealed the Pahlavis’ fate.

Herein lies an extraordinary irony. In terms of intensity, scope, and the social forces which were involved in it, the Iranian was by far the most modern and objectively advanced revolution in the Third World. Yet revolutionary power in Iran was seized by a clerical leadership of theocratic outlook, medieval culture, and millenarian style. Most scholars have attributed this remarkable phenomenon to the shah’s repression (only in the mosque one found the freedom of association and speech…) and to Iran’s Shia traditions (of martyrdom and clerical power). (81-84)

the events of 1979 is, of course, one of the flashpoints being used as a point of comparison right now. so is the 1953 american coup which led to the overthrow of mohammed mossadgh, and the installment of the shah as the american puppet in iran, which of course led to the 1979 events that ahmad discusses above. here is chris hedges reminding of the american coup in 1953:

Iranians do not need or want us to teach them about liberty and representative government. They have long embodied this struggle. It is we who need to be taught. It was Washington that orchestrated the 1953 coup to topple Iran’s democratically elected government, the first in the Middle East, and install the compliant shah in power. It was Washington that forced Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a man who cared as much for his country as he did for the rule of law and democracy, to spend the rest of his life under house arrest. We gave to the Iranian people the corrupt regime of the shah and his savage secret police and the primitive clerics that rose out of the swamp of the dictator’s Iran. Iranians know they once had a democracy until we took it away.

Picture 1

in all of the news going on in iran i have been thinking about one of the most insightful statements i read on as’ad abukhalil’s blog early on in relation to a statement barack obama made:

You need to read Obama’s statements on Iran carefully. There is one particular statement in which he said that the US (for historical reasons) can’t “appear to be meddling”. The statement does not say that the US is not meddling, but that it does not want to appear to be meddling. Similarly, the US in 1953 meddled but it did not appear to be meddling.

here is obama’s original quote from the los angeles times by paul richter:

“It’s not productive, given the history of the U.S.-Iranian relationship, to be seen as meddling,” Obama said Tuesday.

the image above is a screenshot i took of the white house website. if you click on the link you can watch a video of obama’s press conference and read a transcript in english, farsi, and arabic. if obama did not want to seem to be meddling last week, this week he is blatantly meddling. what i find most hypocritical about his remarks are on the subject of justice:

The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That’s precisely what’s happened in the last few days. In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to peaceful protests [sic] of justice. Despite the Iranian government’s efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers, and so we’ve watched what the Iranian people are doing.

This is what we’ve witnessed. We’ve seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence. We’ve seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and that their voices are heard. Above all, we’ve seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we’ve experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.

part of what has been unnerving about the situation in iran is the zionist entity’s press over the protests. they seem to be foaming at the mouth over the post-election protests. indeed, the majority of the articles in ha’aretz and ynet have been on iran, which is unusual. there have also been many rumors spread on the internet which are difficult to verify at this point with respect to zionists meddling in iran. in the guardian rory mccarthy, martin chulov, hugh macleod, and ian black report precisely why the zionist entity is up in arms about the protests:

In private, Israeli officials appeared to be hoping for an ­Ahmadinejad victory even before the polls opened, despite his vitriolic ­criticism of Israel, his denial of the ­Holocaust and his apparent eagerness for a nuclear weapons programme.

but there does appear to be evidence of the united states meddling in iran as jeremy scahill reported today:

As violence continues on the streets of Tehran, RebelReports has learned that former US National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft has confirmed that the US government has spies on the ground in Iran. Scowcroft made the assertion in an interview to be broadcast on the Al Jazeera program “Fault Lines.” When asked by journalist Avi Lewis if the US has “intelligence operatives on the ground in Iran,” Scowcroft replied, “Of course we do.”

While it is hardly surprising that the US has its operatives in Iran, it is unusual to see a figure in a position to know state this on the record. New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh and Former Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter both have claimed for years that the US has regularly engaged in covert operations inside of Iran aimed at destabilizing the government. In July 2008, Hersh reported, “the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded.”

In the Al Jazeera interview, Scowcroft defended President Obama’s position on Iran, which has been roundly criticized by Republicans as weak and ineffective with some characterizing Obama as a “de facto ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.”

Scowcroft tells Al Jazeera: “We don’t control Iran. We don’t control the government obviously. There is little we can do to change the situation domestically in Iran right now and I think an attempt to change it is more likely to be turned against us and against the people who are demonstrating for more freedom and, therefore, I think we need to look at what we can do best, which is to try to influence Iranian behavior in the region, and with nuclear weapons.”

the video footage of the interview can be seen here (though it is josh rushing and not avi lewis doing the interview as scahill claimed):

and why exactly might the u.s. be meddling? to what end? here is abukhalil’s “abcs of iranian developments”:

Let me explain the ABC of Iranian developments to you. Rafsanjani (the wealthiest and most corrupt man in Iran) represents reform, and Moussavi (who led one of the most repressive eras in the Iranian revolutionary era and who sponsored Hizbullah in its most horrific phases) represents democracy. Did you get that? Write that down NOW.

but it is not just the meddling that is disturbing. it is also the hypocrisy. obama goes off about people fighting for justice being on the right side of history. the palestinians have been doing this for over 61 years and yet where is obama when it comes to speaking about their rights and justice here? abukhalil’s takes this a step further with some important observations:

The hypocrite in speech is invoking an argument that he himself so blatantly ignores and will continue to ignore to the last day of his presidency. Does he really believe in that right for peoples? Yes, but only in countries where governments are not clients of the US. Will he invoke that argument, say, in Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Morocco or Tunisia or Libya or Jordan or Oman, etc? Of course not. This is only an attempt to justify US imperial policies. And even in Iran, the Empire is nervous because it can’t predict the outcome. But make no mistake about it: his earlier statement to the effect that the US can’t for historical reasons “appear to be meddling” sets the difference between the Bush and the Obama administration. The Bush administration meddled blatantly and crudely and visibly, while the Obama administration meddles more discreetly and not-so-visibly. Tens of thousands of pens equipped with cameras have been smuggled into Iran: I only wish that the American regime would dare to smuggle them into Saudi Arabia so that the entire world can watch the ritual of public executions around the country.

my friend matthew cassel also commented on the western media coverage of the protests in iran in electronic intifada today as compared to other parts of the world this week–namely georgia and peru–as well as to palestine to unveil this american hypocrisy:

However, Iran is different than both Georgia and Peru. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has probably overtaken Osama Bin Laden as the most hated individual in the US. Over the past several years, many officials in Washington have called for more aggressive actions to be taken against Iran. More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave US President Barack Obama an ultimatum that the US president better take care of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, or else Israel would. It’s no coincidence then that the protests in Iran are receiving around-the-clock media coverage and are also one of the only examples in recent years where US government officials have showed support for demonstrators like Obama did when he called on Iran to “stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.” They are certainly not the only protests that have been met with violent government repression.

For years, Palestinians have organized weekly nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank. Each week protestors face the heavily-armed Israeli military and are beaten and shot at with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters, sometimes fatally. Yet, during his recent speech in Cairo to the Muslim world, Obama made no reference to these protests and instead called on Palestinians to “abandon violence” and adopt nonviolent means. Days after the speech a Palestinian was killed and a teenager wounded during the weekly protest, yet there has been no call by the US administration for Israel to “stop all violent and unjust actions” against the Palestinian people. And the media has followed and remained silent, even though covering the demonstrations would be as easy as a 30-minute drive from most Jerusalem-based news bureaus on any given Friday.

and here is another important moment of hypocrisy that abukhalil pointed out on his blog:

“(Editors’ note: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.)” Did Reuters use that disclaimer when reporting on the Israeli massacres in Gaza?

i do not claim to be an expert on iran. but post-1979 revolution i found my home town of los angeles suddenly populated with iranians. these iranians, many of whom i went to school with and some of whom i was friends with, were decidedly pro-shah. this community gave me a very distorted view of iran growing up. but as i got older and met other iranians in the u.s., and the later around the world, and then began reading more i started to understand more. in the u.s. i hear about media reports on the mainstream news that feature the shah’s family members as abukhalil noted:

The media coverage went from crazy to insane this week. Now, they are–KID YOU NOT–reporting on the reactions of the Shah’s family. Some of them at CNN in fact think that the Iranian people are demonstrating to restore the Shah’s son to power. I heard that the Shah’s widow–taking time from enjoying the wealth of the Iranian people which was embezzled with full American cooperation and complicity–was tearing up on national TV. The plight of the Shah’s family will be similar to that of the descendants of the Iraqi Hashemites after the overthrow of Saddam. The royal dude went back to London when he discovered–against Amerian neo-con assurances–that he has no chance on earth.

aside from this american media distortion machine there are a number of bloggers and scholars speaking about iran from a variety of perspectives. there are some good tweeters out there who are reporting responsibly, but the fact that new media is one of the vehicles for getting information out about iran means that there is all sorts of noise one must filter out. maximillian forte has a great long post on the use of twitter that is worth reading. forte offers some important analysis including on the subject of tweeters from the zionist entity:

It may be wrong to single out Americans here, since there is every likelihood, given the current geopolitical context, that Israeli Twitter users (among the heaviest Twitter users one can find) have a vested interest in manipulating the discussion to serve the ends of the Israeli state, as do many Americans. One thing to do is to try to foment a division between Iran and Hezbollah, thus one posted: “large number of armed forces are lebanese/arab hired to beat down the brave iranians” — completely without substance. Another Twitter user I spoke to chose to quote the Talmud to the Iranian protesters. Interestingly, the Jerusalem Post was immediately “aware” of three “Iranian” bloggers (who post only in English), almost as soon as they joined, claiming without support that their Twitter feeds were from Iran (see here and here).

That the U.S. government has an active interest in the unfolding of the “Twitter revolution” for Iran, is an established fact. The U.S. State Department intervened to ask Twitter to delay a scheduled maintenance break so as to not interrupt tweets about Iran — “Ian Kelly, a state department spokesman, told reporters at a briefing that he had recognized over the weekend the importance of social media ‘as a vital tool for citizens’ empowerment and as a way for people to get their messages out’. He said: ‘It was very clear to me that these kinds of social media played a very important role in democracy – spreading the word about what was going on’” (see “US urges Twitter to delay service break,” by Chris Nuttall and Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 17 June 2009, and “U.S. State Department speaks to Twitter over Iran,” Reuters, 16 June 2009). What the U.S. State Department is also doing, of course, is reinforcing the unproven claim that this is important to Iran, while careful not to specify whose citizens are being empowered, whose word is being spread, and “out” from where. At the same time, the Obama regime claims that it is not meddling in Iranian affairs.

forte also has a really important blog entry on the necessity of sharing accurate sources when using social media that i think is necessary reading for anyone active on the internet in general, not only in relation to iran. blogger mo-ha-med has a different take on the subject of sourcing that is equally important and interesting in the current climate.

scahill has been particularly annoyed by the discourse of the so-called “twitter revolution” that even al jazeera has used. here is his entertaining rant on the subject:

I’m really sick of people in the US talking about the “twitter revolution” in Iran. I especially hate when it’s US liberals who would NEVER get off their asses and away from their computers to protest anything in their own country. They’d never face down tear gas or baton-wielding thugs at home. Some of these liberals (you know who you are) were poo-pooing activists protesting at the Republican and Democratic Conventions and scorn activism in general. This whole commentary about the “twitter revolution” when it comes from these lizards is narcissistic crap.

but even more importantly, i love scahill’s short post on this phenomenon i’ve seen on facebook and twitter with people turning their avatar green to support iran:

Seeing some of these people online turning their profile pictures green “for Iran” makes me want to create a Facebook and Twitter application that turns profile pictures blood red, in solidarity with all of the Afghans and Iraqis and Pakistanis being killed by US wars today; wars that people in the US failed to stop and whose representatives continue to fund to the tune of $100s of billions.

the is the essential thing about bloggers: they point out the points that most journalists cannot or will not point out–the hypocrisies, the context (of course scahill is an exception to the rule). m. monalisa gharavi’s blog south/south has had a number of important observations and posts on post-election iran, including with the help of journalist alireza doostdar, a full breakdown of the iranian elections by the numbers. on the protests gharavi has this to say:

It is becoming clear that the events in Iran are no longer about actual behind-the-scenes political machinations but about manifestations of built-up (and real) public grievance and emotion, a Carnival in the best and most political use of that word. When I use the word ‘Carnival’ I am not talking about the naked, topless women in the Sambodramo, but about the Portuguese verb ‘desabafar’ for the venting of political anger about social and economic grievances that people exercise in sequins and costumes for three days a year. It is an affirmation, not a dismissal, of grievances.

On a personal angle, that the perception of fraud has become much more important than the actual existence of fraud has revealed some major complexities about solidarity. Now as ever I’m with the people of Iran: not only with cousins, friends, and fellow Tehranis facing enormous consequences to their protests and arrests, but also the people who voted for the incumbent, people who cannot butter their bread and face even graver livelihood injustices in other regions of Iran.

How could anyone dismiss the protests, especially in the past few days when there have been deaths? Who is not revolted by riot cops? (The majority of the violence against unarmed protesters–and many of them women, who are leading so many of the protests–are by the armed and plain-clothes Basiji militiamen.) The right of assembly got suspended (and again, the dance: reinstated) many times and in reactive and preventative fashion. I am extremely glad people are openly disobeying permit orders: they should be disobeyed anywhere in the world where they are illegitimate.

But in the U.S. almost every protest large and small requires a permit, and in my own participation at anti-capitalist demos like the World Economic Forum in New York or the FTAA meeting in Miami, military riot gear/tear gas/tanks/undercover officers were unleashed on ‘permitted’ protests to zero accountability. The Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, where I shot video for Steve Stasso’s film Situation Room #2, saw almost 2000 people arrested, beaten, and jailed (the highest number at a political convention to date) with the near-total silence of the favorite ‘non-governmental’ liberal newspaper, the New York Times.

on the monthly review zine website there is another interesting take on the protests by arshin adib-moghaddam which picks up where the ahmad bit i quoted at the beginning of this post left off:

Iran’s civil society is fighting; it is giving blood for a just cause. It is displaying its power, the power of the people. Today, Iran must be considered one of the most vibrant democracies in the world because it is the people who are speaking. The role of the supporters of the status quo has been reduced to reaction, which is why they are lashing out violently at those who question their legitimacy.

In all of this, the current civil unrest in Iran is historic, not only because it has already elicited compromises by the state, but also because it provides yet more evidence of the way societies can empower themselves against all odds. These brave men and women on the streets of Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and other cities are moved by the same utopia that inspired their fathers and mothers three decades ago: the utopia of justice. They believe that change is possible, that protest is not futile. Confronting the arrogance of the establishment has been one of the main ideological planks of the Islamic revolution in 1979. It is now coming back to haunt those who have invented such slogans without necessarily adhering to them in the first place.

And yet the current situation in Iran is profoundly different from the situation in 1978 and 1979. First, the Islamic Republic has proven to be rather responsive to societal demands and rather flexible ideologically. I don’t mean to argue that the Iranian state is entirely reflective of the will of the people. I am saying that is it is not a totalitarian monolith that is pitted against a politically unified society. The fissures of Iranian politics run through all levers of power in the country, which is why the whole situation appears scattered to us. Whereas in 1979 the bad guy (the Shah) was easily identifiable to all revolutionaries, in today’s Iran such immediate identification is not entirely possible. Who is the villain in the unfolding drama? Ahmadinejad? Those who demonstrated in support of him would beg to differ. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei? I would argue that he commands even stronger loyalties within the country and beyond. The Revolutionary Guard or the Basij? Mohsen Rezai, one of the presidential candidates and an opponent of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is contesting the election results, used to be the head of the former institution.

The picture becomes even more complicated when we take into consideration that some institutions of the state such as the parliament — via its speaker, Ali Larijani — have called for a thorough investigation of the violence perpetrated by members of the Basij and the police forces in a raid of student dormitories of Tehran University earlier this week. “What does it mean that in the middle of the night students are attacked in their dormitory?” Larijani asked. The fact that he said that “the interior ministry . . . should answer for it” and that he stated that the “parliament is seriously following the issue” indicate that the good-vs-bad verdict in today’s Iran is more blurred than in 1979.

There is a second major difference to 1979. Today, the opposition to Ahmadinejad is fighting the establishment with the establishment. Mir Hossein Mousavi himself was the prime minister of Iran during the first decade of the revolution, during a period when the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, was president. Mohammad Khatami, one of the main supporters of Mousavi, was president between 1997 and 2005. Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, another political ally, is the head of the Assembly of Experts and another former president. They are the engineers of the Islamic revolution and would never devour their project. When some commentators say that what we are witnessing is a revolution they are at best naive and at worst following their own destructive agenda. The dispute is about the future path of the Islamic Republic and the meaning of the revolution — not about overthrowing the whole system. It is a game of politics and the people who are putting their lives at risk seem to be aware of that. They are aware, in other words, that they are the most important force in the hands of those who want to gain or retain power.

Thus far the Iranian establishment has shown itself to be cunningly adaptable to crisis situations. Those who have staged a revolution know how to sustain themselves. And this is exactly what is happening in Iran. The state is rescuing its political power through a mixture of incentives and pressure, compromise and detention, due process and systematic violence. Moreover, when push comes to shove, the oppositional leaders around Mousavi would never question the system they have built up. As Mousavi himself said in his fifth and most recent letter to the Iranian people: “We are not against our sacred regime and its legal structures; this structure guards our independence, freedom, and Islamic Republic.”

and an iranian reader of abukhalil’s blog had this to say about the reactions to the elections early on, which is also revealing on a number of levels:

Alexander sent me this (I cite with his permission): “As an Iranian and avid reader of your blog, I wanted to share my thoughts on your “Iranian developments” post with you. First of all, your point about Western coverage of Iranian democracy vis-a-vis other countries in the region is spot-on. I think you are right to criticize the impact of Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric on Palestine, and I would like to explain a little about that. In the past, Palestinian liberation was a cause championed by the Iranian secular left, but nowadays it is strongly associated with the religious right. This is not due only to Ahmadinejad (every Iranian leader since Khomeini has expressed the idea that Palestine is a “Muslim issue” that Iranians should be concerned about) but it has gotten worse under Ahmadinejad. It’s not just the statements he makes in international settings, but more importantly the way the issue is used domestically in order to distract people from their own issues. People are told not to protest economic stagnation, repressive government, etc. because they shouldn’t complain when Palestinians have it so much worse. “Pray for Gaza” is shoved down their throats in the same breath as “fix your hijab.” In addition, many people resent the fact that the Iranian state spends so much money on Palestinian and Lebanese affairs when there is such poverty and underdevelopment at home. Incidentally, one of the popular (and hyperbolic) chants at the protests that are going on right now is “mardom chera neshastin, Iran shode Felestin!” (People, why are you sitting down? Iran has become Palestine!”).

Finally, I am glad that you are defending neither Ahmadinejad nor Mousavi. It is frustrating that everyone I talk to from Pakistan to Egypt loves Ahmadinejad and is shocked to hear that many Iranians think he is ineffective and embarrassing. Meanwhile every Westerner seems to think that Mousavi is a great reformist or revolutionary, and some kind of saintly figure beloved by all. He’s an opportunist crook. That being said, I support the students and protesters in Iran, even the ones chanting Mousavi’s name. I believe they are putting their lives on the line to fight for greater freedom, accountability, and democracy within the Islamic Republic, and they have to couch that in the language of Islam and presidential politics in order to avoid even greater repression than that which they already face. A friend who is in Iran right now confirms: “half the kids throwing rocks at the police didn’t even vote.” To me, that means that they are not fighting for a Mousavi presidency, but for more freedom, which they must hide under a green Mousavi banner in order to have legitimacy in the eyes of the state.”

on democracy now! today amy goodman spoke with professor hamid dabashi about his take on the situation in iran, which he frames in a civil rights context:

It’s based on my reading of what I believe is happening in Iran. This, in my judgment, is a post-ideological generation. My generation was divided into third world socialists, anti-colonial nationalists and militant Islamists. These are the three dominant ideologies with which we grew up. But if you look at the composition of Iranian society today, 70 percent of it is under the age of thirty—namely, born after the Islamic Revolution. They no longer are divided along those ideological lines.

And if you read their newspapers, if you watch their movies, if you listen to the lyrics of their underground music, to their contemporary arts, etc., which we have been doing over the past thirty years, this, to me, is a civil rights movement. They are operating within the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. They don’t want to topple the regime. If you look—come outside, from the right of the right, in the US Senate to the left, is waiting for yet another revolution to happen. I don’t think this is another revolution. This is a civil rights movement. They’re demanding their civil rights that are being denied, even within the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. From their chants that they are doing in the streets to their newspapers, to their magazines, to their websites, to their Facebook, to their Twitters, everywhere that you look, this is a demand for civil liberties and not—

There are, of course, underlying economic factors, statistically. The unemployment in the age cohort of fifteen to twenty-nine is 70 percent. So this is not a class warfare. In other words, people that we see in the streets, 70 percent of them, that a majority of them are young—70 percent of them do not even have a job. They can’t even rent a room, let alone marry, let alone have a family. So the assumption that this is a upper-middle-class or middle-class, bourgeois, Gucci revolutionaries on the side of Mousavi and poor on the side of Ahmadinejad is completely false.

finally one of the most brilliant posts i’ve seen online over the last week or so comes from mo-ha-med’s blog in which he responds directly to meddlers who become “experts” overnight and begin to write about iran entitled “to you, the new iran expert”:

Yes, you.

Who, until this morning, thought that ‘Shiraz’ was just the name of a wine

Who’s beaming with pride you can now write ‘Ahmadinejad’ without copy-and-pasting it from a news website

Who only heard of Evin prison when Roxana Saberi was there (Roxana who?)

Who changed your Facebook profile picture to a green rectangle saying “Where’s my vote?” even though you don’t actually vote in Iran

Who actually thinks that Mir-Hossein Mousavi is a secular
And that his election means that Iran will give up its nuclear claims
And allow you to visit Tehran for Christmas

Who joyfully makes Azadi/Tiananmen square comparisons
Who first heard of Azadi square last Sunday

Who’s quick to link to articles you haven’t read, debunking other articles you’ve barely heard of

Who has just discovered that Iran has a (quasi-)democracy, and elections, and the like

Who blinked in disbelief at the images of women – oh, they have women! and they’re not in burkas! – demonstrating

Who has never heard of Rezai or Karroubi before (hint: they ran for election in a Middle-Eastern country last Friday)

Who staunchly believes that the elections have been stolen – either by ballot box stuffing, (14 million of them!) or by burning some ballots, or both (somehow?), regardless of the absence of any proof (yet)

… But who nevertheless

Has been tweeting, and re-tweeting, and polluting cyberspace with what is essentially hearsay, rumours, and unconfirmed truncated reports or falsification coming from people who actually know about the realities of Iran’s political world and have an agenda:….

I hear your objection though:

Yes, you are entitled to an opinion, to formulating it, to blog it, and to discuss it. I do that too. (this my blog after all).

But do everyone, and you first and foremost, a favour.
Learn from the people who know a thing or two about the issue at hand.
Be selective about you read, listen to, and watch. A simple way is to follow an Iranian friend’s updates and the links they put up.

(Even the State Dept is reading tweets from Iranians.)

Ask questions more than you volunteer answers.

And when you get a tweet that says UNCONF or ‘can anyone confirm?’, for Pete’s sake, that says “This is potentially bulls&^%”. Don’t spread nonsense. Don’t spread unconfirmed or unsourced information.

And rather that getting all excited following live some current events taking place in a country you probably cannot place on a map, read analysis of what it means, what the candidates actually stand for, and what the result will mean for the Iranians and the world.

Then, I would be delighted, truly, to read what you have to say.
Until then, please, pretty please – SHUT UP.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

As for what I think? I don’t know. I think the results could be fake – and they also could be real. We probably will never know.

And I don’t think we’re watching a Ukraine ’04 redux or a ‘Green revolution’.
And I think that the people on the street will tire of getting beaten up by a government that is currently revoking foreign media licenses and will forfeit. We’re – well, Iran is – likely stuck with Ahmadinejad for four more years.

And while the troubles on the street are unlikely to lead to a change of government, they’d have had the benefit of showing the Iranian people in a new light – they’re normal people, only with more courage than most of us have.

de-railing zionism

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a couple of good days ago i received an email from omar barghouti with excellent news about the success of the boycott campaign against the zionist entity. the monthly review zine published the email that highlighted the success against the french company veolia:

In the first smashing and convincing victory of the global BDS movement in the field of corporate responsibility and ethical compliance, Veolia is reportedly abandoning the Jerusalem Light Rail project, an illegal project that aims at connecting Israeli colonies built on occupied Palestinian territory to the city of Jerusalem.

As the Haaretz article below* admits, the BDS campaign’s success in costing Veolia some $7 billion worth of contracts is the key behind this decision by the troubled company to pull out of the project.

It is worth mentioning that Le Monde has recently published an expose, revealing to French readers and, crucially, to Veolia’s stock holders the fact that the company is losing a lot of money because of its complicity in a project that constitutes a major violation of international law, if not a war crime.

This great victory came as a result of years of hard, principled, meticulous and persistent work by French solidarity groups, particularly AFPS; by the growing French BDS movement which was instrumental in making Veolia lose a huge contract in Bordeaux; by Dutch activists who achieved the first success in convincing a Dutch bank to divest from Veolia and applied pressure on other banks to follow suit; by Swedish peace and justice groups, mainly connected to the Church of Sweden, particularly Diakonia, and Swedish Palestine solidarity groups who cost Veolia the heaviest, $4.5 billion contract in running the Stockholm metro; by British solidarity groups and activists, particularly affiliated with PSC, who contributed tremendously to excluding Veolia from a lucrative contract in the West Midlands; and of course by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, BNC, which partnered with all the above in the now famous Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign to pressure the company to abandon this illegal project.

The Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, which involves activists and groups in many countries all working to pressure the two French giants to quit the JLR project, was officially launched at the Bilbao Initiative conference in the Basque city last November.

Now is the time to pressure Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Gulf states, among others, to kick Alstom out due to its complicity in this illegal project. Solidarity with Palestine means almost nothing if it cannot be translated into BDS action that can truly cost the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime dearly.

This is the time to DERAIL ALSTOM!

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the original ha’aretz article to which omar refers to was reposted on the us campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel website which seems to be the first source to have released this good news:

The light rail projects for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are both facing difficulties. In a body-blow to the future Jerusalem light rail, the French company Veolia, which was supposed to run the train system after its construction, is abandoning the project.

Moving on to Tel Aviv, the city can’t even get a response to the compromise it offered MTS, the consortium supposed to build an urban train system, in order to settle issues in dispute. It’s waited a month and gotten no answer, causing not a little consternation in government circles.

As for the Jerusalem system, Veolia not only wants out of running the future train; it’s trying to sell its 5% stake in Citypass, the light rail consortium.

In recent days Veolia has been sending feelers to the Egged or Dan bus consortiums, to potentially replace it as project operator.

Any change in the ownership structure of Citypass, or in the identity of the project operator, requires the permission of the state. Also, the attempt to add Egged to the consortium could arouse opposition at the Antitrust Authority.

Veolia has had to contend not only with the delays and difficulties in building the light rail project itself, but with political pressure at home as well. Two months ago a French court heard a lawsuit by a pro-Palestinian group, demanding that the light rail project be halted.

The organization based itself on an article in French law that allows the court to void business agreements, signed by French companies, that violate international law.

The political pressure on Veolia has been mounting in another direction. According to various reports abroad, the French firm had been losing major projects in Europe because of its involvement in the Jerusalem job. Observers claim that’s the real reason Veolia opted out.

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this is a huge victory for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. at the same time there is still much work to be done. the photographs posted here are those i took today between beit hanina and the old city of al quds. i had lunch with a friend in beit hanina this afternoon and then we drove back to his house in the old city and i decided to take a few photographs of the apartheid train system that cuts through palestinian neighborhoods in order to connect zionist terrorist colonies. but i really had no idea how extensive this train really was until today. i mean, i’ve seen it going up in beit hanina and near the old city before. but tonight two friends of mine from deheishe refugee camp, who went to see a film with me, wanted to drive around “west” al quds to see old palestinian houses there. i called my friend in the old city to see if he would come with us because he knows much more about the history and geography of the area, plus it is a scary place to be lost, especially when you have people in our car who are not “legally” allowed to be there. the last two night shots of the train here are from this part of the trip. usually when i go between al quds and beit lahem i travel on the service which takes the tunnel under the old city so i never knew that this light rail train is snaking up and around the new gate of the old city and then all over “west” al quds, which is what that last photograph shows. and it goes way deeper into and all around that part of the city.

towards the end of our drive we were in deir yassin, where my friend who lives in the old city is from. he’s taken me there many times before, but this time he gave me a better sense of where the original borders are of the village–i never realized how huge it is. in particular what is shocking is that on the land of what was deir yassin is the zionist museum yad vashem (on the nazi holocaust), the grave of the father of zionism theodor herzl, and a huge cemetery for zionist terrorist colonist soldiers. it is as if the zionist colonists want to prove their domination by spitting on the graves of those palestinians they massacred on this land six decades ago. and it was on this land of deir yassin, too, that we saw the train snaking around yet again.

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while it seems that we’ve won a victory over the french company, the arab zionists are the ones we need to tackle next, starting with a saudi company that seems to think it is perfectly fine to partner with alstom, the company helping israeli terrorist colonists to steal land and create an apartheid transportation system to connect their colonies:

Saudi Arabia awarded French company Alstom a multi-million dollar contract for the construction of Haramain Express Railway, to link the holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Alstom is in violation of international law for its part in the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail, which will link illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem) with the city of Jerusalem. The construction of the light rail is part of a wider Israeli policy to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from Jerusalem and turn permanent the illegal occupation of the city.

The decision by the Saudi Arabian authorities is in violation of its own international commitments. The Arab League barred member states from dealing with companies involved in the construction of Jerusalem Light Rail project. The Saudi contract sends a signal of approval for Alstom’s actions in Jerusalem and highlights the lack of integrity of the Haramain project: the Saudi Arabian government has chosen to link two of Islam’s holiest cities by sponsoring the colonization of another.

Across the world a divestment campaign is taking pace against Alstom and its partner company Veolia, with victories in Sweden and France. In 2006, Dutch ASN Bank took the responsible decision to divest from the project. Alstom and Veolia are accused by Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee, BNC, of complicity in grave violation of international law and Palestinian rights for their role in the JLR project. Despite the pressure, the two companies have refused to end their participation in the project. With construction at an advanced stage, Alstom and Veolia are guilty of actively colluding with Israeli apartheid.

1. Write to the Saudi Railway Organization and to the Saudi Arabian diplomatic representation in your country demanding immediate cancellation of the contract with Alstom.

* Saudi Railway Organisation contact details (http://tiny.cc/llcfC)

karni [at] saudirailways.org (Vice President)
shafqatrabbani [at] sro.org.sa (Project Manager)
salim [at] sro.org.sa (Project Manager)
sohail [at] sro.org.sa (Project Engineer)

* Saudi Arabian diplomatic representations worldwide: http://tiny.cc/NvtOd

Please bcc us on your correspondence: saudialstomdivestment [at] gmail.com

2. Sign the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/BDSaudi/petition.html

3. Write about this issue in your local media. Discuss it in your local mosque and community centers. Participate in actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.

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but there is one more bit of good news to share today that originated from kabobfest on boycott success stories:

Motorola is looking to divest itself from its Israeli cell phone division, MIRS, according to a report in Israeli business newspaper, Globes. The announcement comes only two months after the US-Telecom firm announced it had sold a controversial unit that produced bomb fuses and other equipment for the Israeli military.

Motorola’s dealings with Israel and its army has made it the subject of boycott campaigns by human rights activists in Europe and North America over the past few years. The boycott campaign’s impact was especially felt by Motorola after Israel’s aggression against the Gaza Strip in December and January in which more than 1400 Palestinians were killed the massive bombardment of the densely populated strip.

MIRS, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Motorola is the sole provider of wireless services for the Israeli Occupation Forces. Despite the divestment of two Israeli divisions, Motorola maintains several operations in Israel, including several R&D facilities and joint ventures with Israeli businesses.

The divestment announcement coincides with another by Veolia Transportation that it is looking to sell off its share of the project to construct and operate a light rail system between predominantly Jewish neighborhoods and settlements around Jerusalem. The French firm had lost over $7 billion in EU contracts as a result of pressure by human rights activists in a coordinated campaign that sought to end its relationship with Israel.

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on the lebanese elections, or a parliament of civil partition

in blue is written future movement (leader of the march 14 coalition) and the orange sperm represent Aoun's FPM
in blue is written future movement (leader of the march 14 coalition) and the orange sperm represent Aoun's FPM

so big surprise. march 14th/mutaqbal won the lebanese elections. my friends in lebanon either boycotted the elections or they voted for march 8th/opposition. while in many ways this is a big disappointment, in other ways there is a silver lining as my dear friend rami pointed out: the looming economic crisis created by sa’ad hariri will now force him to clean up the mess he has made of lebanon rather than forcing the opposition to that dirty work. historian fawwaz traboulsi offers some great analysis into the lebanese elections prior to the event on kpfa’s “voices of the middle east and north africa.” you can click here to listen to the interview with historian bishara doumani. unfortunately, like the lebanese media, lebanese bloggers are just as sectarian and so it is necessary to read quite a bit of various sources to get a sense of where things stand. here are a few qifa nabki, angry arab, friday lunch club, mxmlsm. my friend matthew cassel has some interesting photographs (like the one below) and commentary on his blog.

green t-shirt translation: "eat my dick" (march 14th victory rally)  (image matthew cassel)

but my favorite writings came from two of my dear friends, one of whom voted yesterday. here is an excerpt of rania’s reflection on voting:

I voted today. I have a purple smudge on my left thumb to prove my “participation in this civil responsibility,” as it is called. (And, contrary to what Ziad Baroud said, the purple smudge does not last a few weeks. It lasts as long two hand-washes and one hot shower.)

i drove up to the Zahle region yesterday to avoid the anticipated traffic, but it seems that most folks from Beirut had already left on Friday, so there was no traffic. Less traffic than a usual week-end. On the way there, I saw a handful of cars with orange flags, a few with yellow flags, and another handful with Lebanese flags. Yes, the Lebanese flag itself had morphed into a representative of a particular party.

This morning, I followed Saad Hariri’s instructions: I woke up early, had coffee, then breakfast, and then voted. I made sure not to vote on an empty stomach. By the time I had my breakfast, it was around 11 am, and I walked down to the small school in the village with my uncle, my uncle’s wife, and a friend from another district who was so repulsed by these elections that she opted out of even a blank vote. The mood in the school was easy going. Representatives — actually, no — volunteers from the political parties were enjoying themselves in the school courtyard. Lots and lots of orange. A bit of blue. A bit more red. And a bit of black shirts with red letters. And two, yes, two men with t-shirts declaring themselves to be “friends” of the candidate from the Lebanese Communist Party.

There was only one small entrance into the school. (And this same entrance was also the only exist.) At the bottom of the 8 steps of the entrance stood an ISF officer.

“One christian male,” he yelled. “We have room for one christian male. One Christian male!”
Inside the school, the village was divided not alphabetically by family, not numerically by identification number (’raqm el sijil’), but rather, by sectarian denomination.

For the first time in my life — and hopefully for the last time — I walked according to the sectarian affiliation of my birth. I was disgusted. In voting for representatives — or, more accurately, in voting against those I don’t want to represent me more than the others — the government was reminding me, yet again, that my affiliation is first to this arbitrary sectarian affiliation, an affiliation that I had rejected all my life.

Inside this small, little-used school, I walked to the end of the hallway to await my turn in the small classroom. The ISF officers inside the school were frustrated at the levels of noise, and at the constant ‘hellos, stop by for coffee afterwards’ greetings.

I walked into the voting booth, after some 30 minutes, and found a small room filled with witnesses.
“Your name?”

“Rania Rifaat el-Masri” I said.

“Rania Rifaat el Masri” he said and I heard my name echoed a few times as the witnesses each checked off my name from the list of constituents.

“Are votes written in red ink acceptable?” I asked.

“No.”

“Use my blue pen,” one election-staffer suggested.

“No, use my blue pen,’ said the ISF officer at the door.

I wondered: what if I had not asked? Would that small white sheet on which I had carefully written 7 names have been rejected? How many small white sheets with red ink would be rejected?

I walked into the covered voting booth and heard someone in the room say, “ah, it seems she will cancel out of a few names. “tshaTeb”.’ In that little blue voting booth was listed the names – and the sectarian affiliations – of each candidate. There was also a bunch of small, square blank white sheets. But no pen or pencil inside. Because I felt that all would be happier if I were to hurry up, I did not take my time reading each name and contemplating the list. I pulled out the three tiny – truly tiny – sheets of paper that each political coalition had given me (one from “Zahle bel ‘alb’, another from ‘ketlet zahle el sha3bieye’ and one from the LCP with only the name of the LCP candidate and with space – allegedly – to write in the other 6 names.) Truly – the coalition’s sheets are teeny. Anyway, I put those teeny sheets away, and wrote my own list, put that small sheet of paper in the envelope, and walked out.

Walking out of the small school, I squeezed by way out of the still crowded entrance/exit. My friend – Perla – had tried, unsuccessfully, to engage opposition political party supporters into conversation. But, they refused. “We don’t talk politics today,” they told her.

The drive back to Beirut was just as uneventful as the drive to el-Bekaa on Saturday.

Contrary to some rumors, some restaurants and cafes in Beirut are open. Perla and I were looking for those open places since both our kitchens are empty. I had been envisioning living off wine and chocolate – all that I have in my kitchen – until Monday evening.

Now, in my apartment in Beirut, I hear Ziad Baroud congratulating Lebanese on the elections, considering that these elections were “in this part of the world.” How wonderful to hear patronizing and orientalist comments made by our Minster of the Interior! (On a technical note, he also said that 58% voted, 20% more than 2005, and most voted in the first two hours.)

I listen to the news now. Following the latest vote-counts. For this evening, I want to put aside my rationality, I want to ignore that whoever wins, the difference will not be grand for this country. Most of the seats have been already been selected, chosen by the coalitions. On the resistance front, there is a difference between the two coalitions. However, on the domestic agenda, all sides have only small differences, quite small. All support the neo-liberal economic agenda – but to varying degrees. All are sectarian – to varying degrees.

I would be all the more excited were there real domestic differences between the two coalitions, particularly if one were of a socialist, secular agenda.

But, for now and for tomorrow, I shall put all those thoughts aside and simply look upon these elections as many other seem to do: to see which color shall win, the orange or the blue, with a bit less excitement than I followed the Soccer World Cup, the Italian or the Brazilian.

And, more fundamentally, I am hoping to see a few losses in these elections.

Good-bye Seniora? Good-bye Murr? Good-bye Fatoush?

and here are rania’s reflections as the results came in late last night:

What do these results tell us?

Seniora, a man who has shown this country (further) economic ruin, who failed to even present a strong face for Lebanon during the July 2006 war, a man who barely knows Saida, has won in Saida. Why? Money.

Zahra, a man who fought in the civil war, who killed in the civil war, has won in Batroun.

And then we have more people who have won on the sole reason that their relative was killed. Nayla Tueni – what does she have to offer other than her father’s memory? (hmm – kind of like Saad Hariri). And Nadim?

And then in Zahle, could it possibly be that Zahle has chosen a man who is one of the grandest and most corrupt thieves, a man who has $4 million on purchasing live lions to decorate his palace, a man who is known for destroying Lebanon’s mountains with his illegal quarries while he was Minister of Tourism, could it be that Zahle has chosen the worst candidate – Fatoush – again?

What does it mean when people are willing to sell their votes?

What does it mean when people are willing to close their minds and allow their bodies to be filled with fear? What does it say about them when they so easily accept scare-tactics about fellow Lebanese? To have such levels of fear, there has to be high levels of ignorance.

And here in lies a larger problem. What kind of a country do we have when we continue to look upon ourselves as a bunch of sects forced to live alongside each other, forced to “co exist” – this destructive rhetoric of “ta-ya-ush”? What kind of a country do we have when we continue to live for the short-short-short term, continue to look upon our history as one of defeat, – ‘hayda lubnan, ma beyet ghayar’, when too many leaders fail to present real programs and real visions (not all, but too many): we have a country whose citizens – wait, we have no citizens, only sects — are more willing to sell their vote to the highest bidder. And what about the political tourism? All those thousands of people that took that free ticket and visited Lebanon and supported their ticket-giver and then turned around and left? What country are they building? A hotel or a country?

The struggle continues.

Or, perhaps, it will begin anew.

wait: i entitled this post “Lebanon’s elections” – but where these elections really Lebanon’s – or where they also Saudi and US and all those other governments that continue to spend millions upon millions of dollars – all in terrible ways

an interesting analysis from Fadi Youssef

“the problem is that people look up to Hariri as an idol as someone who was able to make money which they want to do themselves so they vote for him, the son or the father, voting for the rich person they want to be. To be able to make money, they are willing to sell their souls. Every Lebanese dream of leaving this country and comeback loaded with money. Every Lebanese dreams of leaving this country and comeback loaded with money. It’s our concept of colonialism. It’s a part of our chauvinism”

and here is dear rami’s analysis after the results came in (he boycotted the elections):

The results of the Lebanese elections are out. March 14 won by a comfortable margin. I had predicted this win, but I didn’t think they would win by such a margin. However, the real winners of the Lebanese elections were:

1. Sectarianism. Electoral turn-out was very large because people voted in small districts dominated by one sect. It is likely that people felt that this scale of elections represents them better. In other words, voting for one’s sect is more important than voting for one’s nation.

2. Money. Sectarian money showed that it can really sway elections. Massive amount of money was spent on the electoral campaigns, on buying votes and on flying people in so that they can vote fpr one group or another. On a per capita basis, this must be one of the most expensive election ever. Just like Lebanon’s debt: one of the highest on a per capita basis.

3. Inherited parliamentarism. A large number of “political families” are represented in this parliament: Frangieh, Karameh, Gemayyel, Murr, and the newest addition: Tuwayni, a family which in record time has sent 3 generations to the parliament.

4. Ultra liberal economics. Both sides subscribe to this creed, but the March 14 people have a more formal, structured approach to its implementation. Rough days ahead for the poor.

Now it is all wait and see: will the winners invite the other side, especially the Shi`a block, to take part in the cabinet? Will they give them veto power as in the last government? What will the role of the President, who aligned himself with the March 14 in Jubayl and lost in his own district, be? Will he get the veto power in government? Will the new government avoid the issue of disarming Hizbullah or will it raise it again? How will this be done? To what extent will it allow itself to be manipulated by regional and global powers such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the US, who have been actively promoting March 14? Things might totally get out of control if wrong steps are taken. After all, as As Safir put it, the elections re-created the type of Parliament that brought Lebanon to Civil War in 1975. They called it: the Parliament of Civil Partition.

but at least you gotta be entertained by the various election campaign images that matthew blogged and remarkz blogged a few of them as well.

taking the struggle into our own hands

ann’s recent post on pulse media reminded me of the beirut-based “never before campaign,” which is one of the most inspirational collectives i’ve seen recently. their videos are amazing and remind us of why resistance is so necessary. they have one new video and two more that must have slipped passed me in the last month or so. here are all three (and here are the others which i blogged about when they were first uploaded on to youtube click here and here).

these videos do such an excellent job of exposing zionist propaganda and revealing the reality on the ground for palestinians. they are really brilliant. and this is the sort of energy that beirut and the people i love there feed my soul. one of my dear friends, rami, often keeps me grounded when we talk about the anti-colonial struggle in this region. these are some words he sent me a few months ago that i return to when i want to be reminded of this struggle in larger terms:

1. We know we are right because we read the facts objectively and dispassionately

2. We also know that the road is long and arduous and that the struggle is difficult

3. We also know that we-I mean our class- are irrelevant, and that the real struggle is between the rulers and the ruled

4. We know which side we are on.

And this is what gives us the desire to wake up, what makes our souls tremble, what replaces food and water and sleep. As for the others, the Mitchells, the Obamas, we should NEVER expect anything from them. NEVER.

exactly. and this goes for those who support or put their faith in such people, too. because those people are part of the colonial/imperial regional problem in the first place. and this goes for those who continue to think that normalization with zionist colonist terrorists will somehow benefit palestinians. as the above videos make clear: there is no partner for so-called “peace.” even the other day when there was a so-called protest against the law criminalizing the commemoration of an nakba, only about 40 zionist colonists showed up. there was an equally abysmal number of americans protesting the “israel day parade” in new york city the other day as mondoweiss reported. in any case, i choose not to put my energy into collaborating with such people, i think there are bigger fish to fry.

but there are others who we can expect to continue this struggle and who are doing just that: palestinian refugees. rami almeghari recently published an interview in electronic intifada with abdullah al-hourani and here is what he had to say about continuing the struggle:

RA: As a veteran Palestinian politician and a refugee, what do you say to upcoming refugee generations?

AH: I would like to apologize to these generations because we failed to achieve any results after these prolonged years of the Nakba [catastrophe], but I would like to emphasize that we have succeeded to keep our people steadfast on their lands and persistent in seeking their inalienable rights. Also, we have succeeded in maintaining the Palestinian identity and convincing the international community that there is a Palestinian people and there are rights for this people, and we succeeded in gaining the recognition of more than 100 countries for our rights. Even though we have not achieved those rights we kept those rights alive. The next generations should continue the struggle and achieve what we have failed to realize.

of course, the struggle is not just about palestine. it is regional. and in iraq dahr jamail has been reporting on increasing iraqi resistance to american imperialism and occupation of their land, which is, tellingly, connected to the salaries of the sahwa, the u.s. method of coopting iraqis away from resistance:

At least 20 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq in May, the most since last September, along with more than 50 wounded. Iraqi casualties are, as usual – and in both categories – at least ten times that number.

Attacks against US forces are once again on the rise in places like Baghdad and Fallujah, where the Iraqi resistance was fiercest before so many of them joined the Sahwa (Sons of Iraq, also referred to as Awakening Councils), and began taking payments from the US military in exchange for halting attacks against the occupiers and agreeing to join the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq. In early April I wrote a column for this website that illustrated how ongoing Iraqi government and US military attacks against the Sahwa, coupled with broken promises of the Sahwa being incorporated into the government security apparatus or given civilian jobs, would likely lead to an exodus from the Sahwa and a return to the resistance.

Slowly, but surely, we are seeing that occur. While US liaison Col. Jeffrey Kulmayer has called this idea, along with the ongoing controversy from the Iraqi government – led by US-pawn Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – not paying most of the Sahwa members, while continuing government arrests of and attacks on Sahwa members “overblown,” this does not change reality. Let us recall the telling words of the reporter Caud Cockburn, father of journalist Patrick Cockburn, “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied.”

Not surprisingly, in direct contradiction to Kulmayer’s comment, the Sahwa have warned the Iraqi government not to disregard its commitments to the fighters as far as providing them jobs and payment. On May 28, the independent Saudi-owned United Kingdom-based newspaper, al-Hayat, reported:

“A number of the leaders of the awakening councils called on the Iraqi government to honor its commitments towards the members of the awakening councils by paying their salaries which are three months late. They warned that their fighters might rebel against the government if their demands for their financial rights continue to be disregarded which might have an adverse effect on the security situation. Sheikh Masari al-Dulaymi, one of the leaders of the council in Falahat al-Taji to the north of Baghdad, announced that the committee supervising the national reconciliation process warned the leaders of the councils in and around Baghdad that their salaries would be paid and that a form of cooperation will be agreed upon with the tribes to preserve the security in Baghdad.”

The paper added that al-Dulaymi also pointed out that many council fighters abandoned their duties in protecting their areas because of the delays in receiving their salaries, and “we don’t want the crisis to grow any worse because the council members already distrust government promises.” Al-Hayat also reported that Sheikh Khaled Yassine al-Janabi, a leader of the council in al-Latifiyah in southern Baghdad, warned that the “government’s disregard for the issue of the councils and their demands will have an adverse effect on the security situation.”

Simultaneously, the Iraqi Resistance, whose ranks are growing with disenfranchised Sahwa along with other Iraqis joining for the usual reasons: their countrymen and women being detained, tortured, and raped by occupation forces and their Iraqi collaborators, the destroyed infrastructure and the suffering that accompanies this, among a myriad of other reasons (like the fact that one in four Iraqis lives in poverty), are, at least verbally, preparing to resume full operations.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a commander in the Iraqi Resistance, who is also a member of the currently besieged Sahwa, said, “If we hear from the Americans they are not capable of supporting us … within six hours we are going to establish our groups to fight against the corrupt government. There will be a war in Baghdad.”

indeed there is a lot to resist in iraq as jeremy scahill reports given the rise on mercenaries in iraq and in afghanistan:

According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of “Private Security Contractors” working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which “correlates to the build up of forces” in the country. These numbers relate explicitly to DoD security contractors. Companies like Blackwater and its successor Triple Canopy work on State Department contracts and it is unclear if these contractors are included in the over-all statistics. This means, the number of individual “security” contractors could be quite higher, as could the scope of their expansion.

Overall, contractors (armed and unarmed) now make up approximately 50% of the “total force in Centcom AOR [Area of Responsibility].” This means there are a whopping 242,657 contractors working on these two US wars. These statistics come from two reports just released by Gary J. Motsek, the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Program Support): “Contractor Support of U.S. Operations in USCENTCOM AOR, IRAQ, and Afghanistan and “Operational Contract Support, ‘State of the Union.’”

a parallel american imperial project in the region is right here in the west bank of palestine under the command of american lieutenant general keith dayton who recently delivered a lecture at the washington institute in which he laid out the so-called security apparatus he is building in palestine:

The U.S. administration and Congress provided an additional $75 million last year, bringing to $161 million that the USSC has been able to invest in the future of peace between Israel and Palestinians through improved security. So what have we done? At the risk of boring you, we did it in four major areas. First: Train and equip. Although we work closely with the Presidential Guard even now, we have focused on transforming the Palestinian national security forces into a Palestinian gendarmerie—an organized police force or police units, as it were— to reinforce the work being done by the civilian police advised by the European Union.

The training is a four-month program at the Jordan International Police Training Center—we abbreviate it as JIPTC for short—outside of Amman. It features a U.S.-Jordanian police training cadre and a U.S.-developed curriculum that is heavy on human rights, proper use of force, riot control, and how to handle civil disturbances. The training is also focused on unit cohesion and leadership.

Now, you might ask, why Jordan? The answer is pretty simple. The Palestinians wanted to train in the region, but they wanted to be away from clan, family, and political influences. The Israelis trust the Jordanians, and the Jordanians were anxious to help. Our equipping is all nonlethal and it is fully coordinated with both the Palestinians and the Israelis. Make sure you understand that. We don’t provide anything to the Palestinians unless it has been thoroughly coordinated with the state of Israel and they agree to it. Sometimes this process drives me crazy—I had a lot more hair when I started—but nevertheless, we make it work.

We don’t give out any guns or bullets. The equipment ranges from vehicles to socks. We have also graduated, now, three battalions—an average of five hundred men each—from JIPTC and another battalion is currently in training.The graduates have also been extensively schooled by the Jordanians, who have really stepped up to this task, on loyalty to the Palestinian flag and the Palestinian people.

of course, it is clear from recent events in qalqilia this week that the palestinian police do have bullets. but dayton must remind us that only zionist terrorists are allowed to be supplied not just with bullets, but with cluster bombs, apache helicopters, f16s, and lots of other material to aid them in their massacres. but palestinians get socks. not bullets.

mel frykberg reported for ips on the incident of the american-zionist-palestinian collaborationist authority’s attack on two palestinian men in qalqilia, which, of course, can be considered the work of dayton’s so-called “training”:

A bloody gun battle broke out Sunday morning in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilia between a group of Hamas gunmen and security forces from the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority (PA).

The PA had tried to arrest and flush out a group of Hamas gunmen who were hiding in a building in the northern city, just over an hour’s drive north-west of Ramallah.

The exchange of gunfire left two Hamas members and three PA police officers dead. The owner of the building where the Hamas fighters had taken refuge also succumbed to his wounds.

The PA placed Qalqilia under curfew as they searched for additional gunmen in the areas surrounding the building where the clash had taken place.

Palestinian security forces were put on a state of high alert with throngs of soldiers and jeeps surrounding PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s government compound, the Muqata, in Ramallah.

Each side blamed the other for instigating the violence. According to the PA, the Hamas men had refused to surrender or identify themselves, and had opened fire on PA forces first.

However, Hamas spokesmen said the cornered men only returned fire after the PA men refused to back off.

indeed the palestinian information center rightly views this incident as a collaborationist one and highlights the severe, criminal problems of american military involvement in palestine:

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated Sunday that the assassination of two Qassam fighters in Qalqiliya is a translation of earlier remarks made by former PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in Washington about his commitment to the roadmap plan that criminalizes the resistance against the Israeli occupation.

In a statement to the Aqsa satellite channel, spokesman Abu Zuhri charged that Abbas’s security apparatuses try to repeat the Gaza experience in the West Bank, highlighting that his Movement would study its options for dealing with this crime.

For its part, the Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya held Abbas fully responsible for the consequences of the Qalqiliya crime, considering that the assassination of Qassam fighters Mohamed Al-Samman and Mohamed Yassin is natural extension of the crimes committed by the PA security apparatuses against the Palestinian resistance in Al-Khalil.

The PLC’s presidency also held Abbas as well as his unconstitutional government and security leaders responsible for the repercussions of this “heinous crime”, stressing that it is high treason against the Palestinian people and a stab at the back of the Arab and Muslim nation.

In a statement received by the PIC, the PLC warned that this crime which was committed at the behest of Abbas and US officer Keith Dayton cannot be tolerated or goes without punishment.

it is this collaborationist regime that is leading some palestinians to call for dual resistance against the zionist entity and its collaborating palestinian authority partners:

A Palestinian civilian and five security officials – three from the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority security services and two from Hamas’ military wing – were killed in clashes between the two groups in this West Bank city Sunday, as Damascus-based Hamas spokesman Talal Nasser called on Palestinians to fight the PA as though they were fighting the Israeli occupation.

Ismail Radwan, a top Hamas official in Gaza, called on members of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank not to surrender to PA forces and to defend themselves against the aggression of the security services.

who’s got the nukes? (don’t ask, don’t tell)

last week after blogging about his appearance on al jazeera’s “inside story,” i received this email from israeli terrorist colonist dan diker:

I saw your blog in which you refer to me as an “Israeli Terrorist Colonist”. That would be OK if you were simply honest enough to call yourself an angry activist that simply hates Jews and Jewish State. But to call yourself a scholar? You have no command of the dispute between the sides nor do you understand the hatred between Hamas and Fatah. Have you met with the 400 Fatah members in Gaza who have been tortured and tossed off of buildings by Hamas members or the 1,500 fatah families that have had their knees shot through by Hamas. I trust you have not spoken with the Hamas activists that have been equally tortured by Fatah warlords in Gaza and the West Bank.

I’ll be sure to share your blog with my friends in the Fatah in Ramallah who share my assessment of Hamas and Iran. You must hate them too, as well as Egyptian and Jordanian friends who disagree with you, but I am not sure that will absolve you of the ignorance and hatred you express for anything that does not fit your worldview to a tee.

of course, blogging about palestine means that one often receives hate e-mails. i am posting this one for a couple of reasons. first, given the ongoing crackdown on journalists and academics in palestine by the palestinian authority as part of its collaborationist regime, i see this email as an implicit threat. second, the e-mail is a classic case of zionist propaganda and as such i find it instructive. of course, if one reads my blog it is obvious that i have a great deal of anger and rightfully so. when one sees the ongoing ethnic cleansing and brutality that i see every day it is difficult not to be outraged and enraged. also, as is typically zionist he inverts and distorts the truth. if you read the post that i wrote linked at the top of this paragraph you would know that fatah is equally responsible for its brutality against palestinians and other journalists who speak out against the collaborationist regime in ramallah, but of course he would have you believe it is only hamas. and, of course, he would never admit that the divide and rule in palestine that has led to fatah-hamas fighting is the result of an american-zionist scheme. i also find it highly ironic that he accuses me of hating jews and the jewish state when the post he is responding to was in fact entitled “anti-semitism” and all about its mis-uses by zionists and palestinians alike. of course, this is the problem with zionists: they see those of us who hate the jewish state (which i do) and who hate zionists and zionism (which i do) as hating jews (which i don’t). as for me being an academic, one must to read my academic writing before they can make such an assessment; clearly he didn’t read the post i wrote (otherwise he would not be able to claim that i am anti-semitic, though this is not a surprise given that on “inside story” he made it clear he cannot listen either or answer questions posed to him for that matter) and i’m fairly certain that he also chose not to read any of my academic articles or books. to be clear, this blog is an outlet for me. i do not consider it a part of my academic body of work, although some of what i write here is related to my current academic writing. but this is an outlet for me to release my rage, make others aware of what is going on in palestine and other places that are fighting colonial and imperial rule on their soil. and, finally, i’ve never made any attempt to hide that i am an activist. but unlike zionist propagandists i put my agenda out there and up front for the world to see rather than hide behind a veneer of lies and mythologizing.

interestingly diker claims to have friends in egypt, jordan, and ramallah who agree with him. and i have no reason to doubt him; of course the regimes in those three places would befriend colonists on palestinian land; indeed as i have often written here, they are a part of the problem. however, the regimes in ramallah, amman, and cairo do not speak for the masses of arabs in the region when it comes to the colonial zionist entity or the imperial american one. indeed, this week shibley telhami, a professor at the university of maryland and james zogby of zogby international did an opinion poll of arab opinions about barack obama in relation to his so-called promises of change. here was the most interesting result from both polls as reported in howard lafranchi’s article in the christian science monitor:

Among the two polls’ notable findings ahead of Obama’s speech:

•When asked which countries pose the biggest threat to their well-being, Arabs by and large name the same two they have for years: the US and Israel.

of course, diker also had to make sure his anti-iranian bit was front and center given the news about iran’s missile testing this week. zion-nuts are going ballistic, though they didn’t need this news to set them off. check out this hyperbole from dershowitz last week:

Leading American Jewish attorney and civil libertarian Alan Dershowitz on Friday called for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be prosecuted for “incitement to genocide.”

Dershowitz presented his case in a post published Friday on the Weblog of Canadian newspaper the National Post.

Dershowitz, who is well-known as a defender of free speech, argued – using the example of Ahmadinejad – that incitement to genocide should be criminalized because it is an instruction rather than an idea to be debated.

“It is closely analogous to the incitements to genocide that have been punished in Rwanda,” Dershowitz wrote of the Iranian president’s continuous references to Israel’s destruction.

as’ad abukhalil, another “angry” academic had the most concise and apt thing to say about iran in relation to zionist propaganda on the subject:

So Zionist and Saudi media are insisting that people of the world should feel threatened by the Iranian missile test. Saudi media (echoing as usual the Zionist handlers) are citing “experts” (typically in Zionist bastions in the West) to the effect that the missile test is a threat “not only to Israel.” Of course, I don’t trust the Iranian regime–especially on the Palestinian question, but on any other question. But I am a 49-year old Arab and in my own life time Israel has bombed–BOMBED not missile tested–Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq. And you think that you can convince Arabs that Israel is not a threat? I don’t care how much money House of Saud has, it won’t fly. Try again and again and again.

and bill fletcher had a similar point to make in his open letter to obama on black commentator:

I don’t want to push this too far, Mr. President, but when Prime Minister Netanyahu asked you to join forces with him to threaten Iran, why didn’t you ask him when was the last time that Iran invaded and occupied someone else’s territory? When Prime Minister Netanyahu asked you about the alleged nuclear threat from Iran, perhaps you could have fleshed out your answer to the question regarding nuclear threats in the Middle East that you were asked by Helen Thomas in one of your first press conferences after the November election, when you failed to mention – perhaps it was an oversight – that the only nuclear power in the Middle East/Western Asia is Israel?

personally, i am having an unusual reaction to the notion of nuclear weapons in iran (as someone who is normally opposed to them) given the news in ha’aretz that 1 in 4 zionist colonists would leave if this were to happen (now that is what i call deterrence!):

Some 23 percent of Israelis would consider leaving the country if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Some 85 percent of respondents said they feared the Islamic Republic would obtain an atomic bomb, 57 percent believed the new U.S. initiative to engage in dialogue with Tehran would fail and 41 percent believed Israel should strike Iran’s nuclear installations without waiting to see whether or how the talks develop.

and on those zionist nuclear weapons, dan williams’ report on common dreams reveals that the united states is now going to have a “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy about the zionist entity’s nuclear weapons arsenal:

The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama will not force Israel to state publicly whether it has nuclear weapons, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

He said Washington would stick to a decades-old U.S. policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Obama’s bid to curb Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy has stirred speculation that, as part of a regional disarmament regimen, Israel could be asked to come clean on its own secret capabilities.

and on a regular basis–at least several times a week from what i can tell from what i hear in the skies above me–the zionist entity conducts all sorts of military training tests such as this one:

The Israeli Air Force concluded Thursday a three-day drill which simulates a comprehensive regional war; the drill included interception, attack aircraft, helicopters, refueling aircraft, in addition to testing the air force system and ground force readiness.

Israeli media sources reported that the details of the testings are classified but it was revealed that one of the tested scenarios includes combats on multiple fronts, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

Although the performed tests were part of an annual drill, but this year’s included what Israel described as “current threats” the country is allegedly facing.

Air Force personnel were also briefed on the Iranian Sijjil-2 new missile as Israel says that this missile poses a threat to the country.

The drill reportedly went well, but officials stated that some vulnerabilities still need to be corrected.

Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, described the drill as very important, and the outcome boosted Israel’s confidence.

During the drill, the army set practice targets representing Iranian nuclear sites.

and it’s funny that no one in the u.s.–or anywhere else for that matter–is outraged that the zionist entity is conducting such tests or making such plans. last week obama’s colleague in congress, representative jane harman publicly called for a strategy of divide and rule in iran to help her zionist friends with their divide and rule plans over the region as the national iranian american council reported, though she has since retracted that statement:

Rep. Harman calls ethnic separation of Iran “a good strategy”

UPDATE: NIAC is pleased to announce that Congresswoman Jane Harman has, after discussions with NIAC, retracted her statement and expressed regret for the concern it has caused. Below is NIAC’s press release welcoming the Congresswoman’s retraction.

Rep. Harman’s swift response is a testament to her openness and to the increasing political engagement of the Iranian-American community.

of course, all of this intensification of anti-iran rhetoric has emerged in the shadow of benjamin netanyahu’s meeting with barack obama last week in which instead of discussing a palestinian state (the so-called two-state solution which is, in reality, an intensified colonization solution) netanyahu wanted to divert attention and talk about iran. mondoweiss blogged about this, picking up on netanyahu rhetoric that has abandoned the language of “statehood” in exchange for “side-hood”:

On Tuesday, Benjamin Netanuyahu left his ambiguous meeting with President Obama behind him for greener pastures – the US Congress. There has already been speculation that Netanyahu is planning on using the Congress to block any challenge from the Obama administration and we may have seen the first salvo. It seems congressional leaders are already adopting Netanyahu’s language to distance themselves from the two-state solution.

it is in the video on mondoweiss’s blog where we see this new language of a “side-by-side” scenario instead of two states:

what is interesting about this above video of netanyahu with nancy pelosi is the way that netanyahu seems to be pitting obama against congress.

 President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, 18 May 2009. (Pete Souza/White House Photo)
President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, 18 May 2009. (Pete Souza/White House Photo)

on electronic intifada ali abunimah offers this analysis of the more-of-the-same obama meeting with netanyahu last week:

But Obama offered little new, reaffirming well-worn US positions that view Palestinians, particularly Hamas, as the aggressors, and Israel as the innocent victim. While calling for Israel to halt settlement construction (as US presidents have done for decades), Obama offered no hint that he would back those words with action. Quite the contrary, the president said he would urge Arab leaders to normalize relations with Israel, rewarding it in advance of any renewed peace talks.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Obama applies unprecedented pressure to force Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians. What would such a deal look like? The outlines were suggested in the recent report sent to Obama by a group of US elder statesmen headed by former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. The document, warning that there was only a “six to twelve month window” before all chances for peace evaporated, called on the US to forcefully advocate the creation of a Palestinian state. But this would be a demilitarized truncated state “based on” the 1967 borders. Israel would annex large West Bank settlements and there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees. This “state” would be occupied indefinitely by a NATO-led “multinational force,” which the Scowcroft group suggests could also include Israeli soldiers (see “A last chance for a two-state Israel-Palestine agreement, 2009).

Of course the Scowcroft proposal does not necessarily represent Obama administration thinking, but it expresses the pervasive peace process industry consensus that views such an outcome as “reasonable,” “pragmatic” and all but inevitable, and it accords with Obama’s own statements opposing the right of return and supporting Israel’s demand to to be recognized as a “Jewish state.”

In other words, what the vast majority of Palestinians would view as a horrifying plan to legitimize their dispossession, grant Israel a perpetual license to be racist, and turn the apartheid regime set up by the Oslo accords into a permanent prison, is now viewed as bold and far-reaching thinking that threatens to rupture American-Israeli bonds.

there are lots of other reasons to see business as usual in washington when it comes to the zionist entity. jonathan cook has a terrific article in electronic intifada this week on uzi arad which is essential reading to get a sense of the obama administration’s complicity in the zionist regime at the expense of american interests (as usual):

As might be expected of a former senior official with Israel’s spy agency Mossad, Uzi Arad — the most trusted political adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister — has become used to being in the shadows as he exerts influence.

But that is fast changing. Arad was prominent in preparing Netanyahu’s tough positions as he headed for Washington this week to meet Barack Obama, the US president, who is seeking to advance a Middle East peace plan.

Arad, recently appointed the head of Israel’s revamped National Security Council, will oversee an organization that Netanyahu regards as the linchpin of the new government’s security and foreign policy.

One military analyst, Amir Oren, has noted that, given Netanyahu’s unstable coalition, Arad “is likely to emerge as a strong adviser to a weak government.”

Arad has been outspoken both in rejecting Palestinian statehood and in promoting the military option against Iran, positions believed to be shared by the Israeli prime minister and that will be at the root of a possible confrontation in the coming months with the Obama administration.

Arad is also one of only a handful of senior figures on Netanyahu’s Iran Task Force, charged with devising a strategy for dealing with Tehran and its supposed ambitions to attain nuclear weapons.

That will make some in Israel uneasy. The hawkish views that have made Arad indispensable to Netanyahu have also earned him several high-profile opponents.

Arik Carmon, founder of the Israel Democracy Institute, has described Arad’s proposal to arrange “territorial exchanges” to strip some of Israel’s Palestinian minority of their citizenship as “racist.”

Alon Liel, a former director-general of Israel’s foreign ministry, has called Arad’s efforts to derail recent talks with Syria by demanding the continuing occupation of the Golan “ridiculous and nasty.”

In 2007, before his rise to public prominence, Arad also fueled worried speculation about Israel’s plans for a military strike on Tehran, after he described it as “easier than you think.” A wide range of non-military Iranian targets were legitimate, he added.

But despite Arad’s espousal of opinions that in many respects accord with those of Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu Party and Netanyahu’s foreign minister, few doubt the prime minister’s fierce loyalty to him.

In a sign of that commitment, Netanyahu pushed through Arad’s appointment as national security adviser, a post in which he will need to be in almost continual consultation with the US, at the risk of provoking a diplomatic crisis with the Obama White House.

He had been barred from entering the US by the Bush administration after implication in a spying scandal. A Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, jailed in 2006 for passing secrets about Iran to the Israel lobby group AIPAC, was reported to have met Arad frequently.

When the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, arrived in Jerusalem in April for meetings with Netanyahu, then prime minister-designate, her staff quietly suggested he remove an official — a hint that Arad’s presence was not welcome. Netanyahu instead sent out Sallai Meridor, the ambassador to the US, who resigned soon afterwards.

The Obama administration has since restored Arad’s visa and agreed to his political rehabilitation, not least so that he will be able regularly to meet his US opposite number, Gen. James Jones.

Arad spent more than 20 years in Mossad, much of it working in the intelligence section, before being appointed as Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser in his first government in the late 1990s.

He was also closely associated with a leading neoconservative think-tank in New York, the Hudson Institute, in the 1970s.

But paradoxically, his influence on Israeli thinking — both among policy-makers and the public — may have actually increased during his years in political opposition, after the fall of the first Netanyahu government in 1999.

It was then that he established an influential think-tank, the Institute for Policy and Strategy, at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.

The institute stages an annual conference, dedicated to the “balance of Israel’s national security,” that has become the most important event in the Israeli calendar for politicians, generals and diplomats, as well as attracting high-profile US guests.

Since the first meeting in 2000, the conferences have defined the major security issues supposedly facing Israel, closely mirroring Arad’s own key obsessions.

Chief among these have been fears about the demographic threat to Israel’s Jewishness from Palestinian birth rates both in the occupied territories and among Israel’s own Palestinian citizens, and the danger posed to Israeli hegemony in the region from Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb.

In an indication of his implacable opposition to a Palestinian state, Arad recently told an interviewer: “We want to relieve ourselves of the burden of Palestinian populations, not the territories.”

He has suggested that the Palestinians be required to become economically self-reliant, in the hope that their leaders will be forced to promote family planning methods to reduce the population. His motto is that the Palestinians need “one man, one job” before they need “one man, one vote.”

He has also promoted a complex territorial exchange involving Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt that would see many Palestinians relocated to the Sinai so that Israel could take control of chunks of the West Bank.

But his greatest vehemence is reserved for Iran — an antipathy apparently shared by the Israeli prime minister. In the past he has called for “maximum deterrence,” including threats to strike “anything and everything of value” in Iran, including its “holiest sites.”

As Netanyahu’s plane touched down in Washington on Sunday, Arad briefed reporters that Tehran posed an “existential” threat to Israel and that “all options are indeed on the table.”

there are many ways that zionism infects the american body politic. jeremy scahill reveals a new one that is unfolding in as at least one american military leader is now advocating the adoption of media censorship:

A new report for a leading neoconservative group which pushes a belligerent “Israel first” agenda of conquest in the Middle East suggests that in future wars the US should make censorship of media official policy and advocates “military attacks on the partisan media.” (H/T MuzzleWatch) The report for JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, was authored by retired US Army Colonel Ralph Peters. It appears in JINSA’s “flagship publication,” The Journal of International Security Affairs. “Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight,” Peters writes, calling the media, “The killers without guns:”

Of course, the media have shaped the outcome of conflicts for centuries, from the European wars of religion through Vietnam. More recently, though, the media have determined the outcomes of conflicts. While journalists and editors ultimately failed to defeat the U.S. government in Iraq, video cameras and biased reporting guaranteed that Hezbollah would survive the 2006 war with Israel and, as of this writing, they appear to have saved Hamas from destruction in Gaza.

[…]

Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.

The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. Our victories are ultimately in humanity’s interests, while our failures nourish monsters.

It is, of course, very appropriate that such a despicable battle cry for murdering media workers appears in a JINSA publication. The organization has long boasted an all-star cast of criminal “advisors.” Among them: Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, John Bolton, Douglas Feith and others. JINSA, along with the Project for a New American Century, was one of the premiere groups in shaping US policy during the Bush years and remains a formidable force with Obama in the White House.

the way that the u.s. follows the lead of the zionist regime and its american lobbyists is always dangerous regardless of where we see it–media, military, congress. but news today that obama is following in the footsteps of george bush and actually taking netanyahu’s lead in all of this bogus anti-iran rhetoric and planning was revealed today:

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Friday that President Barack Obama had asked him to update the plans for the use of military force against Iran which were prepared during former President George W. Bush’s term.

In an interview to NBC television’s Today show, the American defense secretary explained that “presidents always ask their military to have a range of contingency plans available to them. And all I would say is that, as a result of our dialogue with the president, we have refreshed our plans and all options are on the table.”

Asked whether the military plan for a strike in Iran was not updated, Gates responded that every president wants to be sure that the military plans are up to date.

It should be noted that Gates himself has opposed a strike in Iran since his days in the Bush administration and continues to firmly object to military action against the Islamic republic under the Obama administration as well. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, also opposes such a move.