Tibet and Palestine By Uri AVNERY (Gush Shalom)

Click here: Bellaciao – Tibet and Palestine by Uri Avnery

LIKE EVERYBODY else, I support the right of the Tibetan people to independence, or at least autonomy. Like everybody else, I condemn the actions of the Chinese government there. But unlike everybody else, I am not ready to join in the demonstrations.

Why? Because I have an uneasy feeling that somebody is washing my brain, that what is going on is an exercise in hypocrisy.

I don’t mind a bit of manipulation. After all, it is not by accident that the riots started in Tibet on the eve of the Olympic Games in Beijing. That’s alright. A people fighting for their freedom have the right to use any opportunity that presents itself to further their struggle.

I support the Tibetans in spite of it being obvious that the Americans are exploiting the struggle for their own purposes. Clearly, the CIA has planned and organized the riots, and the American media are leading the world-wide campaign. It is a part of the hidden struggle between the US, the reigning super-power, and China, the rising super-power – a new version of the “Great Game” that was played in central Asia in the 19th century by the British Empire and Russia. Tibet is a token in this game.

…No, what is really bugging me is the hypocrisy of the world media. They storm and thunder about Tibet. In thousands of editorials and talk-shows they heap curses and invective on the evil China. It seems as if the Tibetans are the only people on earth whose right to independence is being denied by brutal force, that if only Beijing would take its dirty hands off the saffron-robed monks, everything would be alright in this, the best of all possible worlds.

…THERE IS no doubt that the Tibetan people are entitled to rule their own country, to nurture their unique culture, to promote their religious institutions and to prevent foreign settlers from submerging them.

But are not the Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria entitled to the same? The inhabitants of Western Sahara, whose territory is occupied by Morocco? The Basques in Spain? The Corsicans off the coast of France? And the list is long.

Why do the world’s media adopt one independence struggle, but often cynically ignore another independence struggle? What makes the blood of one Tibetan redder than the blood of a thousand Africans in East Congo?

But the Palestinians are suffering from several cruel strokes of fate: The people that oppress them claim for themselves the crown of ultimate victimhood. The whole world sympathizes with the Israelis because the Jews were the victims of the most horrific crime of the Western world. That creates a strange situation: the oppressor is more popular than the victim. Anyone who supports the Palestinians is automatically suspected of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Also, the great majority of the Palestinians are Muslims (nobody pays attention to the Palestinian Christians). Since Islam arouses fear and abhorrence in the West, the Palestinian struggle has automatically become a part of that shapeless, sinister threat, “international terrorism”. And since the murders of Yasser Arafat and Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the Palestinians have no particularly impressive leader – neither in Fatah nor in Hamas.

The world media are shedding tears for the Tibetan people, whose land is taken from them by Chinese settlers. Who cares about the Palestinians, whose land is taken from them by our settlers?


Charges dropped against last of ‘Los Angeles Eight’

Click here: Information Clearing House – Charges dropped against last of ‘Los Angeles Eight’

For the last 20 years, the U.S. government has accused me of being a terrorist. Along with six other Palestinians and a Kenyan, we were dubbed the “Los Angeles Eight” by the media. Our case even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Oct. 30 – 20 grueling years after the early morning raid in which armed federal agents barged into my apartment, brutally arrested me before my 3-year-old son’s eyes, incarcerated me in maximum security cells in San Pedro State Prison for 23 days without bond, and attempted to deport me – the government dropped all charges fabricated against me. The charges involved accusations of aiding a member group of the Palestine Liberation Organization that the government alleged aided terrorism. But Los Angeles immigration Judge Bruce J. Einhorn had ordered an end to the deportation proceedings against us last January because the government failed to comply with his order to disclose evidence that supported our innocence. He called their behavior “an embarrassment to the rule of law.”

Why did the U.S. government spend 20 years trying to ban us from this country? Because we tried to educate Americans about the situation facing millions of Palestinians living in apartheid-like conditions under Israeli military occupation. Because we organized fundraisers to provide Palestinians with humanitarian support. And because we attended demonstrations to urge a shift in U.S. policy away from unconditional financial and diplomatic support of Israel.

The government robbed us and our families of the best and most productive years of our lives. For more than 20 years, they vilified us in public without recourse. We’ll never be able to entirely erase the negative words and images they manufactured about us. Our case is a stark example, and is different only in degree, from what routinely befalls those who call for equal rights for Palestinians and press for a fair Middle East U.S. policy consistent with international law. In February of this year, two others who advocated equal rights for Palestinians – Mohammed Salah and Abdelhaleem Ashqar – were found not guilty of terrorism charges based in part on evidence provided by Israel and obtained through the use of torture…

Blame it on the Balfour Declaration

Click here: Gulf News – Blame it on the Balfour Declaration

By Linda S. Heard, Special to Gulf News

ews in Israel and Britain have been celebrating. This month marks the 90th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a letter of intent sympathising with Zionist aspirations that arguably changed the fate of the entire Middle East.For Palestinians, that blood-soaked letter signifies decades of dispossession, humiliation, victimisation, repression and struggle.

Dated November 2, 1917, the 129-word long missive was addressed to Lord Walter Rothschild for onward transmission to the Zionist Federation and signed by the then British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour. Approved by the British Cabinet and the US president Woodrow Wilson the main thrust of its text was this:

“His Majesty’s government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

…In 1931, the government of Neville Chamberlain issued a white paper placing strict quotas on Jewish immigration, restricting the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs. It stated “His Majesty’s government now declares unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish state”. David Lloyd George called this “an act of perfidy”. Churchill voted against it in parliament. Zionists saw this as a betrayal and launched attacks against the British.

…The question remains what prompted Britain to pursue a Jewish homeland on populated territory that wasn’t Britain’s to give away?

On this there are various trains of thought.

Some historians believe Britain viewed Palestine as the gateway to its empire in the east and thought a grateful Jewish state would serve its interests in the long run and help protect the vital Suez Canal from predatory big powers. Others contend Britain was desperate to keep Russia fighting on the side of the allies in the First World War and thought placating Russian Jews by promising a Jewish homeland would ensure the latter’s valuable influence over the Bolsheviks to that end. Similarly, they say, it was hoped American Jews would be grateful enough to persuade their government to join the conflict.

USA: Drop war talk, cut off Iran’s gas, Kirk urges

Click here: LeaderCall.com – Drop war talk, cut off Iran’s gas, Kirk urges

… Co-chairman of the bipartisan House Iran Working Group, Kirk for three years has been advocating cutting off Iran’s gasoline supplies to supplement other economic sanctions and weaken President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hold on power.

Kirk also is trying to persuade the Bush administration to block $870 million in World Bank loans to Iran, including one for a water-treatment facility near the Islamic republic’s nuclear facility at Natanz. As co-chairman of another bipartisan ad-hoc House panel, the China Working Group, he has been pushing for creation of a multinational fund to develop alternative sources of energy for China in order to weaken Chinese diplomatic support for Iran. And as a Naval Reserve intelligence officer, he is advocating inclusion of Israel and Bahrain in the U.S. national anti-missile defense system against Iran.

…As to war threats by the Bush administration, Kirk said, “I don’t think it’s necessary. A president should always be ambiguous as to what he would do or not do to protect the U.S. and its allies. And war planning should go on behind closed doors, which is the work of the Pentagon anyway. “But my recommendation is, it’s far more productive to advance the cause of effective sanctions because this is a big step for our allies,” who may be reluctant to participate in a run-up to war.

Sanctions on Gaza Strip: Real Aims

Click here: Arab News – Sanctions on Gaza Strip: Real Aims

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized Thursday a plan for disrupting electricity supply to the Gaza Strip as well as significantly shrinking fuel shipments. This is supposed to reduce the number of Qassam rockets fired from the Strip by Palestinian armed groups against Israeli targets.

…As such, the real aim is something else: To attempt a new form of “escalation” as a response to attacks from Gaza, before Israel embarks on a major military operation there; and to prepare the ground for a more clear-cut isolation of the Gaza Strip — limiting to an absolute minimum Israel’s obligations toward the Palestinians living under the Hamas rule there….Israeli defense sources say the sanctions will lead the Palestinian armed groups to intensify their attacks to show that they do not succumb to Israeli pressure.

Several weeks ago, Barak said Israel “is getting closer” to a major operation in the Strip. Like Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Israeli Army’s Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Barak is not excited about this possibility. He knows that it will not be easy, and there are no guarantees it will produce positive results. Many Israeli soldiers will be killed and so will many innocent Palestinians, because the Israeli forces will employ massive artillery bombardments before it sends infantry into the most crowded area in the world. This will be a “dirty war,” very aggressive, that will leave scenes of destruction similar to those in southern Lebanon in 2006. The only difference is that unlike in Lebanon, the Palestinians living in the coastal area has nowhere to run….The decision on sanctions is also an attempt to give expression to the inclination to completely disengage from Gaza. In this way Israel is sending a message to the Palestinian leadership in the Gaza Strip that it must seek alternatives, however minor, to goods and services coming from Israel.

The United States and the Kurds: A Brief History

Click here Forign Policy In Focus(FPIF.org) – The United States and the Kurds: A Brief History

…At the 1919 Versailles Conference, in which the victorious allies of World War I were carving up the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, President Woodrow Wilson unsuccessfully pushed for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan. Since that time, however, U.S. policy toward the Kurds has been far less supportive and often cynically opportunistic.

For example, in the mid-1970s, in conjunction with the dictatorial Shah of Iran, the United States goaded Iraqi Kurds into launching an armed uprising against the then left-leaning Iraqi government with the promise of continued military support. However, the United States abandoned them precipitously as part of an agreement with the Baghdad regime for a territorial compromise favorable to Iran regarding the Shatt al-Arab waterway. Suddenly without supply lines to obtain the necessary equipment to defend themselves, the Iraqi army marched into Kurdish areas and thousands were slaughtered. Then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dismissed concerns about the humanitarian consequences of this betrayal by saying that “Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.”…

Why Muslim nations trail the West

Click here: The Jakarta Post – Why Muslim nations trail the West
By Sayuti Hasibuan (Dean of Dept of Econ. Al Azhar University, Indonesia) One striking fact about the state of human development in the world today is that Muslim countries rank generally low on the human development index. No Islamic country comes anywhere near the industrialized countries in terms of human development…n 1999, out of 165 countries, the highest-placed Islamic country was Brunei Darussalam, at No. 32. The lowest was Niger, at No. 161. Islamic countries with larger populations, such as Indonesia, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan and Bangladesh, failed to make the top 100.

…The latest UNDP Human Development Report, in 2006, revealed that developed economies still led the pack, with Norway perching on top. There was a slight improvement made by five Islamic countries compared to their 1999 rankings, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Tunisia. But overall the relative positions did not change significantly….The governments of these Islamic countries have taken on systematic development efforts in the form of a series of five-year development plans. These efforts have been going on for decades, often with strong support in the form of funds and ideas from international donors such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and USAID. And yet, as we have seen, the results are far from satisfactory. Why?

The short answer is that the economic and political elites of these countries operationally idolize the materialistic and individualistic ideologies of neoclassical economics. Such idolization can hardly be conducive to the full utilization and development of human resources. Such idolization comes in many manifestations but the most well-known ones are economic growth and high per capita income.

…That material achievement is not wanted for its own sake but as a means to something else has been known since Aristotelian times and the Muslim holy book is full of injunctions against such idolization. So why do Muslim leaders and elites idolize material achievement? This is because they follow the precepts of neoclassical economics literally.Not that all the precepts of such economics are wrong. As part of the human legacy of wisdom and knowledge, such precepts cannot all be wrong. But the practical precepts of neoclassical economics need to be cast in the framework of the basic aims of the societies in these countries and the basic methodologies to be pursued.