Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday Bloody Sunday

There is a war that must be stopped.

It is yours.

It is mine.

It is ours.

Now is time to act!

The second massarcre of Qana is a turning point in this intolerable war being waged by Israel and her Anglo-American bed-mates. There can be no longer be any fence-sitting; as I have always said, the problem with sitting on the fence is that you get slashed to bits by the razor wire.

This is a war by Israel, the US and the UK to dominate the oil and water of the Middle East. It is a war that is designed to establish Israel as a hegemon in the Middle East, acting as a proxy for Anglo-American interests in a region in which they have actually have no say, other that their neo-colonial interests. It is up to the people of the region to determine their future without the meddling of these rogue states.

The real aim of this war is to provoke Syria and Iran to joining this war by the unconscionable Israeli actions. I commend the Syrians and Iranians for not having thus entered into the conflict in a direct way. Without their restraint we would already be on the brink of a major disaster. That is why we must act now to stop this war.

We have to take sides - you are either for this war or not. I am not. The calculated bombing and destruction of Palestine and Lebanon, with the collusion of the US and UK is reprehensible, and must stop now!

There is no military solution to this conflict and the political solution to this situation demands a true honest broker. Neither the US or the UK can be involved in this as they have already sullied their role in this conflict by their partisanship.

I hereby issue an International Citizen Arrest Warrant for Ehud Olmert, George W. Bush and Tony Blair for crimes against humanity. Furthermore, this International Citizen's Arrest Warrant applies to the entire political and military leadership of Israel, the US and the UK, most notably including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz.

Under this International Citizen's Arrest Warrant, I hereby declare that we, as citizen's of planet have right to demand the immediate arrest of warmongers and genocidal maniacs. The transfer of the aforementioned state's leadership must be carried out to the Hague for immediate processing by the International Court of Justice forthwith.

This Arrest Warrant is concomitant to the demand that the state of Israel is declared as a failure by the UN and the immediate reversal of all UN resolutions regarding the state of Israel must be nullified by a superseding resolution that declares that the state of Israel is unable to live in peace with it's neighbours, and must therefore be declared a failure.

The immediate dissolution of of the state of Israel must be the highest order of business on the agenda of the UN General Assembly. The only UN resolution that would count right now is the re-establishment of the original state of Palestine as determined by the pre-1946 boundaries of Palestine as a single, democractic state.

Anything less is a crime a against humanity.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What needs to be done

Above all else I am a loyal South African citizen. I believe that South Africa has achieved through struggle a unique place in world, where truth and justice is of the highest order in all civil affairs. In this, I believe there is a moral burden that all South Africans must assume. For this reason I want to make clear what it is that I expect from my elected representatives by way of the following:

  • I call on the South African Government to recognise only one State of Palestine in it's Pre-1948 boundaries.
  • I call on the South African Government to demand an immediate cease-fire between all parties involved in the Middle East.
  • I call on the South African Government to demand the total nuclear disarmament of the current State of "Israel".
  • I call on the South African Government to immediately withdraw our ambassadors from Tel Aviv, Washington D.C. and London. Furthermore, the expulsion from South Africa, of the ambassadors and all diplomatic staff, of the afore-mentioned states to their countries of origin must happen with immediate effect.
  • I call on the South African Government to impose a strict regime of sanctions and a blanket boycott against Israel, the US and the UK and to deny and to interdict by force if necessary, all trade with the afore-mentioned states.
  • I call on the South African Government to use its influence in the African Union, United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement to encourage other countries to do the same.
  • I call on the South African Government to demand the immediate closure of the UN Security Council and the transfer of decision making entirely to the UN General Assembly, where a simple majority decision must be binding on all members of the UN with no veto allowed.
  • I call on the South African Government to demand the immediate cessation of hostilities in the Middle-East and to assist in the facilitation of negotiations between all concerned parties.
  • I call on the South African Government to censure, sanction and prosecute any South African citizen who assists the military forces of Israel, the US and the UK , either directly or indirectly, under the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act. This must apply globally and with specific reference to Iraq and Israel.
  • I demand that Israel immediately withdraws all Israeli Occupation Forces from Gaza, Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Syrian (Golan) Heights, the Sheeba Farms and Lebanon to the pre-1946 boundaries of Palestine, until such time as an internationally monitored and enforced peace process determines the boundaries of a ONE state of "PALESTINE". For obvious reasons the US and the UK should not be a party to this peace process.
  • I demand that all previous UN resolutions relating to Israel are implemented with immediate effect and that the UN ensures that Israel fulfils its obligations in terms of international law.
  • I demand that Israel abides by the provisions of international humanitarian law and human rights law, and refrains from imposing collective punishment on Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.
  • I call on Israel to release all detained Palestinian ministers and legislators and to release all political prisoners with immediate effect.
  • I call on the EU to stop the severe sanctions imposed by Europe on the Palestinian Authority as a penalty for exercising their democratic right and electing a government of their choice.
  • I call on the United Nations to implement the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s Apartheid wall.
Amandla! Ngawethu! All Power! To The People!

Please note that I have changed this post to demand that we actually do away with UN Resolution 242 and declare that Israel is a failed state. We need a UN Resoultion that recognises that Israel is failure as a state, and that we must return to the orginal state of Palestine, under a democratic order in which all refugees are allowed to return to their homeland.

Anything less is a crime agaisnt humanity.

Friday, July 28, 2006

And the lies come tumbling down

It's a cyberwar and the front lines are right here on the net too. The Israelis have launched a propaganda war on the net and an army of shills is invading the net:

Israel backed by army of cyber-soldiers
From Yonit Farago in Jerusalem
WHILE Israel fights Hezbollah with tanks and aircraft, its supporters are campaigning on the internet.

Israel's Government has thrown its weight behind efforts by supporters to counter what it believes to be negative bias and a tide of pro-Arab propaganda. The Foreign Ministry has ordered trainee diplomats to track websites and chatrooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages.

In the past week nearly 5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) have downloaded special "“megaphone" software that alerts them to anti-Israeli chatrooms or internet polls to enable them to post contrary viewpoints. A student team in Jerusalem combs the web in a host of different languages to flag the sites so that those who have signed up can influence an opinion survey or the course of a debate. Read More ...

No matter how much counter spin gets posted, Truth and Justice will prevail. Israel has already lost this war. Hamas and Hizbollah have already been strengthened by the outrageous Israeli aggression in their drive to crush the Palestinians and shatter Lebanon.

George Bush and Tony Blair have blood on their hands by actively supporting this genocide and must be indicted for war crimes, along with the enitire political and military leadership of Israel.

Enough is Enough! It is time to stand up for Human Rights and to stop this barbarity.

Rassemblement Samedi 29 juillet à place Jean Moulin, Bordeaux

La ligue des droits de l'homme de Talence appelle à un rassemblement de solidarité avec le peuple Palestinien et Libanais le samedi 29 à 18H Place Jean-Moulin.






- LA LIBERATION DE TOUS LES PRISONNIERS : les soldats israéliens enlevés, comme les libanais et palestiniens détenus en Israël (en premier lieu les ministres, députés et élus palestiniens kidnappés par l'armée israélienne),

- L'APPLICATION DE TOUTES LES RESOLUTIONS DE L'ONU CONCERNANT LE LIBAN ET LA PALESTINE, notamment par la convocation d'une conférence internationale de paix.

Les résolutions de l'ONU exigent notamment la fin de l'occupation israélienne en Palestine, la création d'un Etat palestinien indépendant et viable, le désarmement des milices au Liban, le respect de l'indépendance et de l'intégrite territoriale du Liban.

Seule l'application du droit international peut garantir la paix et la sécurité au Proche Orient.


Boycott Israeli Goods

Visit BIG :: Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign

Feeling sickened as I am by the outrageous atrocities being committed by Israel and the US? Well now more than ever it is time to boycott Israeli and US goods. There is a list of products and companies on the BIG Campaign website that gives one a good place to begin.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A despicable war

It is disgusting to watch the behaviour of Israel and the US at the moment. The bombing of a UN Observer Post in Lebanon yesterday was a cowardly atrocity by Israel, who has the gall to call it an "accident", after having shelled the position throughout the day, and then finally flattening it with a (US supplied) precision guided bomb. Mark Regev's petulant lies in front of the world is truly sickening; the Israelis were well aware of the position of the Observation Post and there can be no doubt that it was a deliberate attack and any statement to the contrary is a flat out lie.

While we are on the subject of deliberate actions, the brutal position of Condi Rice and the US government in blocking an immediate cease-fire in Rome today, in order to allow the Israelis to wage their war of attrition against Lebanon and Gaza, is perhaps one of the most cynical and horrifyingly duplicitous political stands in known history.

This is NOT OK Now!

Demand a cease-fire immediately and that the US is prevented from particpating in these discussions, because the are no longer on the side of peace.

Is Pretoria shadow-boxing above its diplomatic weight?

Richard Calland's piece on the Mail & Guardian asks some pertinent questions about what South Africa's role is, and perhaps, should be in the current conflict. In many ways, South Africa does have a role to play. South Africa also needs to nail her colours to the mast and take a firm stand. There is a moral duty here, and South Africa can lead by example.

Pity the Nation. The title of veteran Middle East reporter Robert Fisk’s seminal 1990 book, subtitled Lebanon at War, is resonant again.

After a difficult period of reconstruction -- having finally attracted a steady flow of export business and tourism, and having rebuilt its infrastructure and social cohesion -- Lebanon once again looks into the abyss. New bridges bombed; the port attacked and the airport disabled; tourists fleeing and its people terrorised. Weep again for the nation.

The outrage committed by Israel to its north comes hard on the heels of the terror perpetrated against Palestinians in the preceding weeks. And as Israel escalates the conflict, families are being destroyed, from Gaza to Haifa to Beirut.

We know that the United States generally grants Israel a blank cheque in the Middle East, that Britain long ago ceded an independent policy position to Washington, and that continental Europe is unable to present a united front.

But what of South Africa? Has it become “just another country”, as Professor Jack Spence suggested it might in 1995 -- as the initial contest between the realists and the idealists raged in the Union Buildings -- scrabbling for its slice of influence? Is the government famed for punching above its weight in world diplomacy just shadow-boxing?

Pretoria claims that its baseline position is solidarity with the Palestinian people. Why, then, will it not join the majority of voices around the world who recognise Israel for what it is -- the primary perpetrator -- and who are resolved to apply maximum pressure? Why does it continue to resist the calls made by Palestinian activists for boycotts and sanctions? Surely, South Africa should be able to offer a voice that speaks clearly and calmly for the majority analysis of the Palestinian question.

Instead, there is apparent obfuscation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is the Congress of South African Trade Unions that offers the clearer public assimilation of the facts. Its joint July 10 statement with the South African Council of Churches was an exemplary exposition of the asymmetry of the conflict and of the reality of Israeli terror in Gaza.

Is it too harsh to ask if Pretoria has lost its voice? Or is it rather a case of an inflated sense of its own importance that prompts muddled thinking?

Certainly, the government has worked hard in recent years to open new channels of engagement with all sides of the Palestinian conflict, including hosting various delegations from Israel.

But if this has allowed Pretoria to think that it can play the role of mediator, as some have suggested, then it is living in fantasy land. The Israeli government would sooner relocate to Mars than permit a “black” government with a history of solidarity with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) to play such a role, let alone one whose political solution -- one state, majority rule -- is so fundamentally at odds with the Zionist ethos.

Perhaps it is the government’s foreign policy groupies rather than its professional diplomats that encourage such distended thinking. I heard one on the radio the other day suggesting that South Africa has “a unique role to play” in the North Korean case.

In reality, South Africa’s policy-making is premised on two main considerations. First, to offer solidarity to the Palestinian cause based on what the PLO regards as useful. “They lead and set the agenda, and we follow,” as one senior government official close to the Presidency put it to me, balanced by recognition of the inherent problem with this approach: the PLO no longer represents a homogeneous expression of the Palestinian viewpoint.

Second, South Africa aims to be a “niche player”, based on a sound strategic understanding of what is going on, aided by its own experience and a concomitant moral weight.

Thanks to this approach, “our principals can now talk to everyone, and we do”.

Excellent. But to what effect? Where is the evidence of progress, of recalibrating global understanding of a problem that one way or another affects us all?

Is it the best use of South Africa’s “moral weight”? With the South African struggle, the core question was always whether the tide of history had turned against apartheid. The global anti-apartheid movement was crucial to proving that it had, as were economic sanctions.

The realpolitik approach that Pretoria apparently now favours in the case of Israel, was, ironically, precisely the attitude that in exile the African National Congress so fervently opposed. Would South Africa not be better to deploy another strand of its potent experience, namely, its capacity for mobilisation, to help channel the tide of history in favour of the Palestinians?

As Israel prosecutes the Sharon doctrine of unilateralism, the Palestinian cause faces its greatest crisis. The advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice will be ignored by Israel and its apartheid wall will soon mark a border.

Palestine will get its “state”, but on Israel’s terms. Sustaining the global movement for Palestinian justice will be much harder.

As Israel imposes its military might on the region, under cover of a spurious Syrian-Iranian threat, now is the time for mobilisation. South Africa should play its part in isolating Israel. The time for waging peace has sadly passed.

Source: Mail & Guardian

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Media Wars

As we all are aware, or should be aware, there is an extreme propaganda war taking place at the moment. In that light I thought it might be interesting to repost the Israeli Military Censorship Guidelines here. Bear in mind that all foreign and local news coverage emanating from Israel is subject to these guidelines, under the threat of expulsion from Israeli territory if they are violated.

That literally means that if Reuters, AP, CNN, BBC et al. want to remain in Israel to cover the story, they have to conform to these guidelines. That means that every single Main Stream Media report that we receive from reporters based in Israel are filtered through this military censorship.

Caveat Emptor! Buyer Beaware!

23 July 2006
Subject: Military Operations in the North -- Censorship Guidelines Regarding Ground Operations.

1. Following are the main censorship guidelines regarding the continuation of military operations in the north, with emphasis on ground warfare on the northern border.

2. The guidelines in this document are comprehensive and refer to the option of large-scale military activity. The relevant guidelines should also be applied to the current ground operations.

3. Please brief editors, producers, broadcasters, correspondents with emphasis on field correspondents and other network employees on these guidelines in order to avoid any misunderstanding.

4. Due to the frequent broadcasts and the many live updates considerable attention should be given to what is said by the correspondents in the field. Please make sure that any correspondent/analyst in the field knows the censorship guidelines. The potential error during a live update is very high and you are held responsible for everything broadcast during a live update.

5. This document has been sent to local news agencies as well.

6. This document is the follow-up to the former document "The Fighting In The Northern Arena".


Col. Sima Vaknin-Gil
Chief Censor

The Censorship Guidelines Regarding Ground Operations In The North For Reports And Live Updates.

1. This document will detail the main guidelines regarding operations on the northern border by the Censor.

2. This document contains three main topics: general guidelines for news coverage, coverage of activity leading to the ground operation and the coverage of the combat itself.

3. Any news item that is not within these boundaries must be submitted to the Censorship before it is published.
General guidelines

4. Coverage of any kind, that states intent, specific/general abilities and/or any operational activity (in a live broadcast) is not authorized by the Censorship. In principle, analysis based on matters that were approved for publication is allowed.

5. In a case where a news item is not within the boundaries given by the Chief Censor, the issue should be dealt with by the two censorship bases either in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

6. There is a special emphasis on matters regarding the activity of special forces and the use of unique kinds of ammunition and weaponry.

7. In principle, news items on the intelligence abilities / lack of abilities during the operation will not be authorized.

Coverage of activity leading to ground operation

The censorship does not approve any verbal information or visual photography that attest to:

8. The military order-of-battle.

9. The type of force, the forces' special abilities and warfare equipment.

10. Movement routes.

11. Assembly areas and deployments.

12. Information on forces transferring from one area to another (thinning of forces).

13. Locations of command posts.

14. It is strictly forbidden to mention the time and location in which the army forces might enter the enemy's territory.

15. The codename of the operation will be approved for publication only from the moment it begins.

16. Pictures of the army forces will be approved as long as the location in which they were taken is not disclosed.

The live coverage of the combat itself

17. It is strictly forbidden to show a picture of the full battle coverage, with an emphasis of identifying the location (long shot pictures).

18. It is strictly forbidden to mention military targets while these targets are being pursued.

19. It is strictly forbidden, until the information is cleared by the censorship, to publish information concerning missing personnel and captives (from both sides).

20. Coverage of aerial accidents in Israeli territory can only be approved by the censor. In hostile territory, this information will not be approved until the evacuation of the staff and equipment from that area is completed.

21. It is strictly forbidden to conduct real time coverage on visits of officials. Interviews and photography will be approved later, after the end of the visit.

22. During an incident authorization for coverage of the reasons for the incident will be given as long as there is no breach of Israeli security concerns (thus personal opinions and analyses for the reasons of the incident are allowed).

23. Coverage of an incident with casualties as always, must be submitted to the censorship.

Source :


Steve Landman's blog entry on the threats against Syria and Iran SteveLendmanBlog: THE CRIME OF LEBANON AND PALESTINE - ARE IRAN AND SYRIA NEXT?, provides an excellent analysis of where and how the total war against the Palestinians and the Lebanese is one step closer to war on Syria and Iran.

The next phase of this war has been planned out already - it's a question of when, not if.

This war is already happening in 5 different countries; Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Israel - are you really ready to see it escalate further?

It is all the same war, just that battles are taking place on different fronts, and the aggressors who are driving this war are one and the same: the alliance of Israel and the US.

And here's another question for you - how many countries involved or theatres of war does it take for a war to be classified as a World War?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Rassemblement Lundi 24 juillet à place Jean Moulin, Bordeaux

Today's gathering of solidatity with the people of Palestine and Lebanon took place on a hot July afternoon. A number of speakers from trade unions and political groups reiterated the points that were made last Saturday at a similar gathering, calling for an immediate cease-fire and real action from the International Community.

It was a small gathering of about 250 people, and while the summer holiday season has kicked off in a big way and many people have already decamped from the city, the vast majority of people who are around don't seemed to be too concerned about the war in the Middle East. Have people become numb to the issues? Are they happy to just be consumers of the distorted propoganda that passes for news here in France? Where is the outrage?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Leila Khaled in Johannesburg

By Sean Badal

Leila Khaled came to town and darn well near tore the place down. On Saturday 22nd July she packed out the JISS centre in Mayfair, Johannesburg, and had there been Kalashnikovs on the way out, we all would have gladly taken up arms and followed her to the ends of the earth.

‘The pope prays for peace in the Middle East,’ she said acerbically, ‘but it is not enough. We must fight.’

After receiving a rousing welcome, the likes of which I have never seen before, Khaled launched into a brutally succinct account of the horror of the Nakhba, condensing over forty years of brutal Zionist occupation into a searing personal account of the trials and tribulations of her family.

She’d phoned her brother that morning, she told us. He was a doctor in Tyre city, and as she spoke to him from Johannesburg, she could hear the bombs falling in the background. He was refusing to budge.

All we could do was impotently observe a moments silence for the victims of Israeli aggression. In the background, the Lebanese singer, Fairouz sang plaintively about her beloved Beirut, after it was destroyed by the same Zionist Nazis in 1982.

Peace to Beirut with all my heart, and kisses to the sea and the clouds…

FA statement on the current situation in the Middle-East

Here is a statement from the FA on the current situation - excuse the bad english (it's not mine) but I thought it would be interesting to re-publish here:

The francophone Anarchist Federation denounces and condemns the latest military attacks currently underway in Palestine and in the occupied territories following the kidnapping of a young Franco-Israeli soldier.

It is once again the civilian population, directly affected, who is paying with its blood, living conditions, and freedom for the conflict between two nationalist, capitalist, military, and religious logics in the ongoing war between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

It is indeed Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, voted to power by taking advantage of the corruption and discredit in Yasser Arafat’s Fatah party and the decay of the PLO, who are manipulating the anger and frustration of the majority of Palestinians by transforming the struggle against colonial oppression into a religious fight and an apogee of anti-Semitism.

Israeli governments have always sought out this religious conflict and as such encouraged the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in order to legitimate their colonial policies of domination and ethnic apartheid to the West.

As anarchists we know that States separate peoples by erecting borders. Just as creating the State of Israel did not settle anything in this region or for the exiled Jewish peoples, themselves in a desperate situation in another era, the creation of a real Palestinian State cannot satisfy us. Indeed, how would a more formal State help Palestinians? What would this State do? Maintain the status quo with increasing Islamic influence and leave social struggle aside on the pretext that Israel is the enemy. What about social emancipation? Where is the social and economic equality in all this? The hatred between peoples barricaded behind the barbed wire borders of their respective states would crystallise around “national” groups (a vague, misleading, and interclassist concept) if even more borders are drawn up.

We propose anarchist federalism, fundamentally egalitarian and adapted to a Middle East composed of a mosaic of peoples, favouring the free association and federation on egalitarian bases of the individuals and groups of individuals making up this federalism.

Redistribution of wealth and generalised self-production are indispensable in this region as elsewhere, where there are rich and poor people, and States vying for access to the sea, water, fertile lands, and oil.

An alternative is possible in the Middle-East if both Israeli and Palestinian peoples reject the artificial barriers which separate and oppose them in order to unite against their common enemies, political, economic, religious, and military power to together build the bases of a society which guarantees peace and harmony.

The existence of collectives made up of Palestinian and Israeli individuals, for example struggling together against the Wall or supporting military deserters and opponents, proves once again that that which unites us, mutual aid and solidarity, is stronger than that which divides us.

The francophone Anarchist Federation calls all forces in the social movement and all individuals who hold justice, peace, and freedom dear to protest by all means possible for the intolerable situation faced by workers, civilians, women, men, and children in this region of the world to be put to an end as quickly as possible.

Fédération anarchiste, 05/07/06

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Samedi 22 juillet rassemblement à 17h30 place Jean Moulin prés de la Mairie de Bordeaux, avec la participation des étudiants libanais et de la FA

There were a number of demonstration in support of the Palestians and Lebanese organised in Bordeaux today. A demonstration was organised by the Lebanese community on the steps of the Grand Theatre, and while there seemed to be sympathy for the demonstrators, most people in town today seemed to be more concerned with shopping. It was also very sad to see the reaction of some of the demonstrators when a group of Palestian activists and supporters unfurled a banner expressing support for both the people of Palestine and Lebanon.

One Leb went crazy and started shouting at the Palestinian supporters to basically fuck off. This is precisely the kind of division that the common enemy wants to foster, and the strategy of divide and conquer is designed to prevent any united voice from emerging. Both the Palestinians and the Lebanese are under attack, and unity is essential right now.

I attended the gathering organised by Fédération Anarchiste (FA) and the Comité Action Palestine (CAP) in place Jean Moulin, which I felt was an appropriate place as Jean Moulin was a hero and martyr of the French Resistance in WW2.

It was a very small gathering of about 150 - 200 people. A number of speeches were made and there was a sense of indignation with the lack of an appropriate response to the situation by the French government and the International Community. There was also a demand that the city of Bordeaux suspends it's Twin City realtionship with the city of Ashdod in Israel. I fully agree with the proposition and will try to find out more about the proposal.

There are going to be some more demonstrations occuring in Bordeaux, and I will hopefully be able to attend some of them:

* Lundi 24 juillet rassemblement organisé par le PCF, la LCR, AC Gironde, la CGT à 18h place Jean Moulin
(Monday 24 July gathering organised by the PCF, the LCR, AC Gironde, CGT at 18h place Jean Moulin)
* Monday 24 July gathering in support of Lebanon at 21h place de la Victoire
* Saturday 29 July European Day of Action - details to be confirmed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lebanon : Voices from within

I have access to CNN and BBC World here in France, and I channel hop to stay on top of the current events throughout the day, but I am now bored to tears with stories of how well the evacuation of foreigners is going. Even though I take everything I watch with a pinch of salt, ok ok, a truckload of salt, which doesn't help my blood pressure any, I still want to know what the people of Lebanon are thinking and doing. I rely on online sources for a far wider range of news, analysis and opinion from outside the Main Stream Media (MSM) than within.

Sean sent through a link to Ya Libnan which was born out of the "Cedar Revolution" of 2005, and provides and independent view from Lebanon. The site is well-worth a squizz and make sure you stop by the Politics section.

Another site to keep an eye on the moment is The Daily Star which is one of Lebanon's leading newspapers.

Stay tuned for more links.

Dog days in Bordeaux

We are sweltering under another heatwave in France. Here in Bordeaux, the temperature is rising into the 40 degree C range, and is topping the themometer for the entire country. It might make for a fine vintage, but we are not all grapes. Usually the temperature is taken or forecast for the local airport, but in the center of town, things get a whole lot hotter.

People have already started pegging off because of the heat, and memories of the Canicule of 2003 are flooding back. This time round the government is far better organised after the flak they got in 2003 when some 15,000 people died. We now have a heatwave warning system and over the past few days we have been deeply into the Orange Level.

France is entering into it's traditional July / August shutdown when everyone goes on holiday and nothing much happens for 2 months. If you want to see a doctor, you have to make an appointment now to be seen in September . Under new emergency heatwave measures though, doctors and medical personnel can be re-called from holiday. In 2003, the government had to commandeer cold storage facilities to act as temporary morgues.

This year the heatwave is happening about 2 weeks earlier than the historic 2003 canicule, which really only got going in August. If it continues like this into August though, the current death toll of 9 might be much higher.

Who needs global warming anyway? Deconsume!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Plan B : What Does Israel Want?

I think what convinced me that Plan B is now operational, has been the remarkable void that is George Bush's grasp on International Relations over the last few days. If I had dared to display such ignorance and profound lack of comprehension in a Politics 101w essay, I would surely have been awarded a big fat round zero, if not a negative mark.

It is truly frightening to behold, in this day and age, a US President who cannot think for himself and merely utters pre-rehearsed talking points. George, I am sure, has no clue as to what the real objectives and tactics of Plan B are; he has obviously been told to stick with the program and repeat the simple phrases like "Israel has a right to defend itself" and "Lebanon must implement UN Resolution 1559".

When I say that Ehud received the go-ahead for Plan B at the end of May in Washington, I reckon he was very spare with the actual details for George, as it would be dangerous for George to be out in public and blabbing his mouth off as is his habit. George is undoubtedly a Mushroom President (more in the sense of being kept in the dark and fed bullshit than the cloud sense, I hope) and Plan B calls for a calculated escalation of tension that prepares the battlefield in Israel's favour whilst being cloaked in "victimhood" - there can be no hint at all of this being a pre-planned setup to take down Syria and Iran.

To understand better how Israel is opening the war up, front by front, I highly recommend reading the following article which gives an enormous insight into how the military planners have approached the operational aspects of Plan B. They have been itching to use their accumulated military might for years now and if this were simply just a "defensive action", we would not have seen the destruction that has been meted out over the last few weeks.
"Even the most partial reports in the Israeli press of what was proposed by the army to Ehud Olmert’s government as possible operations in the coming days, indicate clearly what enthuses the Israeli generals these days. Nothing less that a total destruction of Lebanon, Syria and Tehran."

Read the full article here
The key point made in the article is the Israeli Generals have been gunning for a high-intensity conflict for years now, and that may well have been unleashed at the beginning of June. Whether it is sooner rather than later though, the attacks on Syria and Iran also form part and parcel of Plan B. More analysis on Plan B comes from and article on; while it is hard to actually find any evidence or desire on the part of Iran to goad the Israelis into attacking, reasoning it all out indicates that there is a lot more strategic advantage for the Israelis to take down Hamas and Hizbollah now with their larger objective being regional domination:
"Accusing Israeli officials of using the Lebanon crisis to find new reasons to attack Iran, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies writes that "There is no evidence that [Iran] dominates the Hezbollah or has more control than Syria. … Until there are hard facts, Iran's role in all of this is a matter of speculation, and conspiracy theories are not facts or news."

On the contrary, the one state that may have a strategic interest in expanding the conflict is Israel itself. Numerous Western states have condemned Israel's actions as disproportionate and inflammatory. "One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon," France's President Jacques Chirac told reporters. "I find, honestly, like most Europeans, that the reactions are completely disproportionate."

Tel Aviv seems to have – with a potential future showdown with Iran in mind – sought an opportunity to neutralize Hezbollah and Hamas in order to weaken Iran's deterrence and retaliation capabilities. Over the last few months, Israel's policy on Iran has been reassessed, partly due to Iranian warnings that it would retaliate against Israel if the United States targeted its nuclear facilities.

Through Hamas and the Hezbollah, Iran could bring the war to Israeli territory, a scenario that has further accentuated Israel's vulnerability to asymmetric warfare. By preemptively attacking Hamas and the Hezbollah now, Israel can significantly deprive Iran of its capabilities to retaliate against the Jewish State in the event of a U.S. assault on Iran. Once Iran obtains a nuclear capability, however, this option may no longer be available to Israel."

Read the full article here

OK Now.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Plan B

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (CNN) -- An open microphone caught President Bush in an unguarded moment Monday as the escalating crisis in the Middle East prompted him to use an expletive in a conversation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Bush and Blair were aware that an event at the Group of Eight summit was a photo opportunity, with media representatives present. Blair later turned off the microphone.

The president was expressing frustration at the United Nations' stance on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon. (Watch Bush use the 's' word during a chat with Blair -- 1:31)

Apparently not expecting an open mic to pick up his remarks, Bush told Blair: "See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over." More...

The real irony of what George said is that it is Israel who needs to "stop doing this shit". If anyone needs to call anyone, its George to Ehud telling him to stop his shit stirring. That's the only way out of this mess.

But then we already know that the 3 amigos of Bush, Blair and Olmert are part of the problem and not the solution. They want a wider war and they want to destroy what's left of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. The current offensive is Plan B - Plan A was the ludicrous ploy to attack Iran on the basis of it's entirely legal nuclear program, which has got bogged down in negotiations at the UN. It was never really going to fly as a Casus Belli and thus we are now witnessing the fall-back option.

Plan B is about neutralizing Palestinian and Hizbollah resistance before turning the gunsights on Syria and Iran. Israeli military planners may be mad dogs, but unfortunately they are not stupid. An earlier direct attack on Syria or Iran (who share a mutual defense pact), would have seen Hamas and Hizbollah resistance being aided by Iran and Syria to move the frontlines closer to Israel. What Israel is now doing, which makes strategic sense for them, is that they are preparing the battlefield on their terms, while proclaiming to be the "victim".

We should assume that Olmert's trip to the US and Europe at the end of May was about consolidating the final planning and getting the go ahead for Plan B from George and Tony. Shortly after getting back to Tel-Aviv, Plan B was activated. With a few, but calculated incidents to get the ball rolling in Phase 1, Israel began to provoke Hamas. The June 8 assassination of SamHadana and the June 9 bombing of Palestinian beach goers
were designed to undermine the fragile Hamas truce.

When these provocations finally had the desired effect, and resitance fighters captured a Israeli soldier, Plan B was made fully operational and Phase 2 was launched on June 25. The ongoing lockdown of Gaza was elevated to a siege, and through merciless bombing the Israelis have sought to degrade all Palestinian resistance. Knowing that this would in turn provoke a response by Hizbollah, Phase 3 was activated when Hizbollah captured 2 Israeli soldiers on July 12 and Israel opened up a second front in Lebanon.

The current objective is to degrade Hizbollah and blockade Lebanon in the hope of wearing down the resistance before launching the next Phase. Subsequent Phases will probably follow the same pattern, of provocations intended to draw in Syria and Iran once it is determined that Hamas and Hizbollah have been sufficiently destabilized. The Lebanese people are having to endure yet more Israeli aggression because, ultimately Israel is intent on annexing vast swathes of the region to establish a greater Israel. The Litani River has always been desired by Israel as it's northern border.

Through genocide, ethnic cleansing and state terror the project here is to establish a regional power that dominates the Middle-East and controls the oil and water resources of the region. To realise that goal, Israel needs to subjugate both Syria and Iran and they believe that they have the backing of Team America to do that.

Plan B is in full swing - if we can't stop this now then we are all going to be confronted with a major conflict in the Middle-East that is going to threaten the very fabric of civilisation as we know it. This conflict has all the ingriedients for spinning out of control and it will affect everyone on the planet.

So yes, let's "stop doing this shit" but not the way George sees it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

22 juli: Luid de noodklok: Stop de oorlog tegen de Palestijnen

My fellow blogger Rooieravotr in Holland forwarded me a mail about this coming Saturday's Demonstration in Amsterdam "Sound the Alarm: Stop the War against the Palestinians". My Afrikaans is rusty but I can follow the article, just don't ask me to translate it. I wish I could go the demo in Amsterdam as here in Bordeaux there is not much happening. I am looking for information on local events and will post anything I come across.

Demonstratie zaterdag 22 juli
Luid de noodklok: Stop de oorlog tegen de Palestijnen
Beursplein Amsterdam 13.00 uur

De wereld houdt z'n hart vast. Israël voert al weken een grootschalig offensief uit in Gaza over land, zee en lucht en heeft alle grenzen van Gaza afgesloten. Na deze opgevoerde koloniale bezettingspolitiek is Israël nu ook Zuid-Libanon binnengevallen. Er dreigt een verder escalerende oorlog in het Midden-Oosten. Wat begon met de eis tot vrijlating van een Israëlische korporaal, wordt misbruikt om met zwaar militair overwicht een hele bevolking te terroriseren – en volgens de Geneefse Akkoorden staan collectieve straffen gelijk aan een oorlogsmisdaad.

Ondertussen is de berichtgeving eenzijdig en gaan de media voorbij aan de systematische gijzeling van de Palestijnen. Bovendien heeft het bombarderen van civiele doelen – zoals centrale water-, brandstof- en voedselvoorzieningen – al vele doden en gewonden tot gevolg gehad.Ziekenhuispatiënten verkeren in levensgevaar, hongersnood is inmiddels een reëel probleem en hulporganisaties waarschuwen zelfs voor epidemieën.Israël blijft politiek gesteund worden door Bush, terwijl de EU het laat bij een mondelinge veroordeling. Ook de oorverdovende stilte van de Nederlandse regering is schandalig. Op dit moment geldt: wie zwijgt stemt toe. Waar het nu op aankomt zijn concrete maatregelen tegen het
gewelddadige optreden van Israël. We moeten de noodklok luiden voor de humanitaire ramp die op dit moment plaatsvindt. Daarom roepen we de Nederlandse regering op zich krachtig uit te spreken tegen de oorlog tegen de Palestijnen, door het eisen van een onmiddellijk einde aan de Israëlische invasies en bezettingspolitiek.

Ondersteund door onder anderen:
Paul Aarts (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
Miriyam Aouragh (Samen Tegen Racisme)
Naima Azough (GroenLinks)
Mohammed Benzakour (publicist)
Lily van den Bergh (Vrouwen in het Zwart)
Jacqueline de Bruijn (politicologe)
Rene Danen (coördinator Keer het Tij)
Bart Griffioen (Internationale Socialisten)
Jaap Hamburger (Een Ander Joods Geluid)
Wim Lankamp (Nederlands Palestina Komitee)
Ahmed Marcouch (PvdA)
Anja Meulenbelt (Socialistische Partij)
Mohamed Rabbae (Genoeg is Genoeg)
Tariq Shadid (Palestijnse Gemeenschap Nederland)
Martin Siepermann (UCP)
Zaid Tayem (Palestijnse Gemeenschap Nederland)
Henk Wichard (SP)

Demonstreer mee op 22 juli! Steun en verspreid deze oproep!
Informatie: Meld je aan als je de oproep steunt en lokaal wilt helpen mobiliseren:

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is one of the largest and most active campaigning organisations in the UK and the rest of the world, on the issue of Palestine. They aim to build an effective mass campaign, organising protests, political lobbying and raising public awareness.

Sign-up now:

"Here come the Hizbollah"

I am reproducing the lyrics to Doctor Jeep here because I have a theory, which is "my theory that I have, that is to say, which is mine" and mine alone, which is that Andrew Eldrtich is actually a prescient bugger, in the modern prophet sense of the word prescient.

Doctor Jeep
is but one example of his lyrics which pertain to the current situation, but as an oeuvre, his entire body of work conveys a dark foreboding that provides an alternative soundtrack to all the crap we we are forced to listen to at the moment. Track down Jihad and you'll know what I am on about. The entire song is just about repeating off and on some of the specifications for an AK-47.

Resistance is not futile. It is necessary.

Doctor Jeep

Everybody shouts on I Love Lucy
Pee Wee reads the evening news
A pre-owned song or a second-hand Uzi
Everybody got a job to lose
Here come the golden oldies
Here come the Hizbollah
Businessmen from South Miami
Humming AOR


I like Cal and his dog Napalm
I like Ike and his itty-bitty A-bomb
Everybody got one, I want mine
You can order it up on Channel Nine
Meanwhile, in the Sheraton,
Doctor Jeep plays on and on and on
There was a time but it's long gone
Janie got a crush on the Viet Cong
Burning through downtown Saigon
Me, I'm sold - down the Mekong
Meanwhile, in the Sheraton,
Doctor Jeep plays on and on and on
Guns and cars and accidents
The threatened witness my defence
You can sell one another for fifteen cents
Well bye-bye mother, it's common sense
Meanwhile, in the Sheraton,
Doctor Jeep plays on and on and on

Everybody shouts on I Love Lucy
Pee Wee reads the evening news
A pre-owned song or a second-hand Uzi
Everybody got a job to lose
Here come the golden oldies
Here come the Hizbollah
Businessmen from South Miami
Humming AOR
Meanwhile, in the Sheraton,
Doctor Jeep plays on and on and on

Doctor Jeep by The Sisters of Mercy
Tags: , , ,

South African Council of Churches/COSATU/PSC push for sanctions against Israel

Media Statement

Media Conference convened by Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa), Cosatu House, 10th July 2006: 14H30

The conference was packed to capacity. Speakers at the conference included : Willie Madisha (president of COSATU), Eddie Makue (general secretary of the South African Council of Churches), Ali Halimeh (Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa), Virginia Tilley (academic and author), Na¹eem Jeenah (chair), Salim Vally (Palestine Solidarity Committee and Patrick Craven (spokesperson for COSATU).

We, delegates of organisations and movements that represent and have the support of the majority of South Africans, oppose and condemn the Israeli atrocities in Palestine and we make the following call:

· We call on the South African government to immediately recall the South African ambassador from Tel Aviv and to begin the process of ending diplomatic relations with Israel;

· We call on all South Africans to establish a strong, forceful and determined boycott and sanctions campaign against the Israeli apartheid state until the end of the occupation.

· We call on South Africans to identify a national day of action in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to observe it with rolling mass action around the country.

· We call on the South African government to ensure that no South African serves ­ in any capacity ­ in the Israeli Occupation Forces and that any South African citizen doing so will be prosecuted under the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act;

· We demand that Israel immediately withdraws all Israeli Occupation Forces from Gaza and ends the occupation of Palestinian lands;

· We demand that Israel abides by the provisions of international humanitarian law and human rights law, and refrains from imposing collective punishment on Palestinian civilians (as per the UN Human Rights Council declaration issued on 6 July 2006);

· Call on Israel to release all detained Palestinian ministers and legislators and to release all political prisoners ­ including hundreds of women and children;

· We call on the EU to stop the severe sanctions imposed by Europe on the Palestinian Authority as a penalty for exercising their democratic right and electing a government of their choice. This by itself is a brutal intervention on behalf of the occupation

· We call on the United Nations to implement the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel¹s Apartheid wall;

· We call on the United Nations to ensure that Israel fulfils its obligations in terms of international law.

The latest round of bloodletting in Palestine started on the 9th June when Israel shelled a beach in Gaza, gruesomely killing eight civilians and injuring 32. Four days later, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in an extrajudicial assassination of two Palestinians in Gaza City. A second barrage of missiles fired shortly afterward killed nine Palestinian bystanders. Last Tuesday, Israeli warplanes fired air-to-ground missiles at a university in Gaza City, causing extensive damage. This was the second time in less than a week that Israeli warplanes targeted the largest institute of higher education in the occupied territories, with more than 15,000 students. A few days earlier, an Israeli F-16 fighter dropped a large bomb on the campus. The bombing of Gaza¹s main university was part of a campaign of war crimes against the Palestinian people ­ especially in Gaza ­ including the bombing of the office of the democratically-elected Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the destruction of Fatah offices, the destruction of Gaza¹s only power plant, the bombing of boarding schools, orphanages, charity committees, clinics, the capture and detention of more than 120 lawmakers, officials and government ministers.

Many of the detained politicians were kept in solitary confinement and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tacitly admitted that the democratically-elected officials were hostages to be used as bargaining chips for the release of an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by Palestinian liberation fighters near Gaza. Israel also, in a letter to Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, warned that it would consider assassinating Prime Minister Haniyeh.

The destruction of the power station in Gaza plunged the world¹s most densely populated region into total darkness, forcing 1.3 million Gazans to be without cooking, lighting or cooling facilities. Hospitals, including prenatal wards, suffered because of the power outage.

These attacks followed a Palestinian resistance operation and the capture of an Israeli soldier. Let us be clear: the Palestinian operation was not a 'terrorist attack'; its target was not civilians; it was deliberately planned against a military target. And the soldier is not an Israeli child kidnapped off an Israeli street; he is a soldier with the fourth largest army in the world, engaged in a war against a civilian population and captured while he was in active duty in that war. In terms of international law, he is a legitimate target; in terms of the Geneva Conventions, the Palestinians ­ as an occupied people ­ have a right to resist the occupation with any and all means necessary. Let us also be clear that until this resistance action, most Palestinian groups had maintained a unilateral 18-month ceasefire, not attacking any Israeli targets even when provoked by the murder of Palestinian civilians, including a large number of children. And, let us note that the Palestinian resistance groups have made it clear they are willing to release the soldier if Israel would release hundreds of Palestinian women and children who are languishing in Israeli dungeons.

Israel has been emboldened by the meek international response against its atrocities in Gaza and has threatened to step up the obliteration of Palestinian civil infrastructure and the Palestinian people. Statements by Israeli political and military officials indicate that the next phase could likely be the deliberate bombing of schools, water installations, media outlets, public transportation systems and hospitals. One Israeli army general was quoted as saying, This time, there will be no red lines, and all aspects of Palestinian life will be under attack. The number of Palestinian martyrs in the past 72 hours, mostly civilians, is almost 60. Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, also made the astounding statement that ³the lives and well-being of Sderot's [Jewish] residents are more important than the deaths of dozens of Palestinian innocents. The Associated Press quoted Olmert as saying, I want no one to sleep at night in Gaza. I want them to know what it feels like. For Israel, the life of a Palestinian is barely worth consideration in comparison to the life of a Jew. Their value belongs to a different order of magnitude. A number of Israeli rabbis question the very humanity of Palestinians. While attempting to apologize for the recent deaths of 14 Palestinian civilians by Israeli shelling, Mr. Olmert reportedly asserted that 'threatened' Israeli lives are ³even more important.

Israel¹s refusal to negotiate the release of its soldier, coupled with threats to assassinate Palestinian officials, has prompted even the soldier¹s father to accuse the Israeli government of seeking to ³achieve deterrence at the expense of my son².

Journalist Graham Usher says one of Israel's aims in this invasion is to force the Palestinian government from office via a rising curve of pre-emptive strikes. The ouster, he says has little to do with the government¹s refusal to recognise the legitimacy of the Jewish state -- a rejection that suits Israel since it frees it from having to deal with an elected Palestinian Authority. It has more to do with Hamas's success not only in surviving the siege but in enshrining resistance as a central policy in its and any future National Unity Palestinian government, courtesy of the recently agreed Prisoners¹ Document.²

Another aim, Usher adds, is to repair the battered status of Israel deterrence. It is now clear to most Israelis that the relative quiet they enjoyed for the last year or so was not due to their army's military prowess. It was due to the Palestinian ceasefire, observed above all by Hamas's military arm, Izzeddin El-Qassam. Since it was renounced, 200 mortars have been fired into Israel, four soldier abductions have been attempted or carried out and two soldiers and one settler have been killed.²

Particularly concerning is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert¹s statement that, It is going to be a long war. Clearly, Israel will stop short of nothing less than the complete destruction of Gaza and the enslavement of its 1 million inhabitants.

The day after Olmert¹s statement, Zeev Boim, a close aide to Olmert and former deputy-defence minister, urged hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in northern Gaza to start packing or else! As far as I am concerned, he said, the inhabitants of Beit Lahya and Beit Hanun should start packing right away. Avigdor Lieberman, another Israeli parliamentarian, called on the Israeli air force to carry out a carpet-bombing of Palestinian residential areas. Can one imagine the response if such threats of genocide or ethnic cleansing were made against Jews or any other community? But, it seems, when directed against Palestinians, the international community accepts threats of genocide as normal.

Israeli columnist, Gideon Levy, said in the Haaretz newspaper last week: It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament. A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organisation.

Israel is fighting the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people; it is fighting the Palestinian Authority; it is fighting the Palestinian people as a whole. Its actions and atrocities are all a part of its collective punishment of the Palestinians. Such collective punishment is illegal under international law, as per Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed) and Article 75 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. Israel forgets that you cannot bomb a people into submission, and that moral right is ultimately stronger than the executioner's menace. As South Africans we know this only too well.

Media present included SABC TV, ETV, Al Jazeera, , SABC Radio, Kaya FM, Citizen, Indymedia, ITV, SA Press Association, Jacaranda FM, Business Day, The Star, Sunday Times, Sunday Independent, Sowetan, Independent Newspapers.

Stop Terrorism. Stop "Israel".

I had to take some time out for Bastille Day, but I am amazed how the spin has been spun, especially on CNN, over the last few days. No longer is Mr. Big Ears (otherwise known as Mark Regev) prattling on about Hamas, but the "new" specter of Hizbollah who are allegedly supported by Iran. No proof is offered for this in any way whatsoever. Supposedly, "Israel" is now under attack "without provocation" by a bunch of "rag-heads" with a couple of super-duper rockets. In the last 48 hours we now have a new so-called "blameless-victim".

And for this reason, Mr Big Ears is polluting my TV again.

But Mark, will you please speak to your bosses and get out of the program. Tell them that you are sick of blowing smoke up everyone's arse and you can't deal with it anymore. The barbarism is just not assceptable anymore. Stop talking their crap will you and just speak the truth china: "Israel" has embarked on a campaign to launch WW3. Just be honest about it will you.

The scariest part is that "Israel" is now intent on winding up the whole situation, and the biggest thing that freaks me out, is that some other major-big fuckers are pretty damn close to saying that "enough is enough" because they are so pissed off with "Israel". Like we all are.

Lebanon, and the Hizbollah, have had very little to do with the current situation, other than how "Israel" has become intent on roping everyone else in the Midlle-East into their crazed one-way ticket to Armageddon.

Right now, "Israel", does have a choice, and she can still stand down - because if she doesn't, she will go down in history as the cause of one of the most destructive wars on the planet.

For my part, I don't need this shit in my life ok.

I really do have enough to deal with already, and WW3 just isn't on my list of things to get into right now.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Review : The Golden Warrior

The Golden Warrior: The life and legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Lawrence James
Reviewed by Sean Badal

Although this book was first published in 1990, it was revised and updated in 2005, with new material uncovered on Lawrence’s personal life - but most importantly, there is a kind of coda by the author on the 2003 invasion of Iraq, hence this review.

Even as a disinterested reviewer Lawrence is an infuriating subject. In a way it is ironic that so substantial a biography (500 odd pages) should be devoted to a man who was, in so many ways, so insubstantial. Lawrence was a fey creature both physically and intellectually. In the cold harsh of daylight his accomplishments are slight He wanted to be a great revolutionary, leading the Arabs to freedom, except that the Arabs he liked were a particular kind of Arab (the Bedouin) and the freedom promised was naturally within the confines of the British Empire. He saw Arabia as the first “brown” dominion.

He wanted to be a great writer but in the end, all he managed was one major work – Seven Pillars of Wisdom – a largely florid exercise in sulky petulance in which he, the hero, is always right.

And how utterly perverse that Lawrence was fighting alongside the Arabs for their “freedom” from the Turks whilst their Muslim brethren were being so ruthlessly crushed in nearby India.

Lawrence’s Arabism comes into clear focus here. As the author points out, there was only a certain type of Arab that Lawrence cared about, those Arabs who were nomads, who lived by their ancient codes of “honour”, the “clean” Arabs as Lawrence referred to them. He hated town types, those who were considered clever, or were tainted by contact with western ideas, especially western ideas about freedom. It is vastly different from say, the Arabism of Burton, who lived amongst the Arabs and spoke Arabic fluently and who delighted in the philosophical experience of Islam.

Lawrence’s ideas then were no different to the usual construct of the noble savage so beloved by colonial types – the Sikh in India, the Pathan in Afghanistan, the Zulu in South Africa – all singled out and hero-worshipped for their “warrior” qualities.

There was a certain cinematic fluidity to Lawrence, so it is perhaps natural that the moving pictures played such a pivotal role in establishing the legend of Lawrence of Arabia – and no, it’s not that picture. The American film-maker Harry Chase first presented Lawrence on screen in 1919 – and at least a million British people watched the shows in London – an astonishing number for that period. With the connivance of a number of powerful people – John Buchan, Robert Graves, Winston Churchill, the Lawrence legend was born. (Glad to say that my hero George Orwell saw through his theatrics). It reached an apotheosis of sorts in David Lean’s 1962 epic, with Peter O’ Toole seemingly inhabiting the skin of the real Lawrence (in his diaries, Noel Coward tartly observed that if the real Lawrence had been half as pretty as O’ Toole, he would have been buggered by a lot more Turks).

The legend has been chugging along fairly steadily since then.

It is mostly myth. All he managed to do was blow up a few trains and bridges. The Arabs loved him - mostly because he paid them timeously with gold sovereigns from the government purse. And ah, Damascus, well, it was liberated by the Aussies.

And so to Iraq. The author points out the striking similarities between the Mesopotamian campaign of 1914-1918 and the Iraqi insurrection of 1920 to the invasion by “coalition” forces of Iraq in 2003. Lawrence was a great proponent of what he called “aerial policing” i.e. bombing the shit out of the natives, and then riding in heroically with the cavalry. Churchill, then in charge of some office or the other, loved him for it, and enthusiastically sanctioned the gassing of Kurds from a great height. Yup, the wheel keeps turning.

Anyway, here’s a nice quote from Seven Pillars.

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

Title: The Golden Warrior: The life and legend of Lawrence of Arabia
Author: Lawrence James
ISBN: 0297810871

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pride and Prejudice

Finally, I'm getting some hate mail, because I dared to quote Ismail Haniyeh, the only person who is imparting any sense at the moment. Apparently I am an "anti-semitic french asshole" [sic]. The only thing insulting about that is calling me French. Doos.

In the true style of hate mail though, the objective reality and facts are ignored, to push a greater subjective agenda of unreasoned fear and hate.

You see, the fact is I am not an "anti-semite". I have no prejuidice against the semites (both Arab and Jew) of the Middle-East. But I will tell you what I am: I am a militant "anti-arsehole" who is categorically against stupid dooses. I am also virulently "anti-racist" and extremely "anti-neocon". I also believe that people have the right to defend themselves when they are attacked by arseholes, racists and neocons.

I grew up under Apartheid and I have a first hand experience of arseholes, racists and other assorted fascists. I fought them then and I will fight them now, because I have witnessed good and evil in people and I decided a long time ago to be on the side of truth and justice.

I have no prejudice against Jews or the Jewish faith, but I have a major issue with the Israeli State and the Zionist project. I fail to see how lobbing heavy artillery shells at civillians on a beach while they are having a picnic is meant to resolve the problems in the Middle-East.

Destroying civillian infrastructure in the latest incursion into Gaza cannot be construed as an "counter-terrorist" operation. Peace does not come through superior fire-power, it comes from the true desire for Peace. This is not something the Israeli State is demonstrating at the moment.

A violent military occupation will never bring Peace to the region. In his article, Ismail Haniyeh provides a far clearer path to Peace, but it is a route that the Israeli State is patently not prepared to accept. The shocking part of all of this is that they have been supported by successive US adminstrations and taxpayer money.

Peace could have been established in the Middle-East a number of years ago, but all genuine attempts at a Peace Process have been consistently sabotaged by the Israeli State, and that is why I now regard the Israeli State as a failed project. The Israeli State does not want Peace. It is time that they folded up their tent and left the Middle-East for good.

Sense and Sensibility

Ismail Haniyeh, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, was published by the Washington Post today. Rare as it is though, to encounter the Palestinian view in the western media, Haniyeh presents a sensible arguement, even while under threat of extermination by Israel, recalling as he does the American Independence from British Colonial rule.

Aggression Under False Pretenses

By Ismail Haniyeh
Tuesday, July 11, 2006; Page A17

GAZA, Palestine -- As Americans commemorated their annual celebration of independence from colonial occupation, rejoicing in their democratic institutions, we Palestinians were yet again besieged by our occupiers, who destroy our roads and buildings, our power stations and water plants, and who attack our very means of civil administration. Our homes and government offices are shelled, our parliamentarians taken prisoner and threatened with prosecution.

The current Gaza invasion is only the latest effort to destroy the results of fair and free elections held early this year. It is the explosive follow-up to a five-month campaign of economic and diplomatic warfare directed by the United States and Israel. The stated intention of that strategy was to force the average Palestinian to "reconsider" her vote when faced with deepening hardship; its failure was predictable, and the new overt military aggression and collective punishment are its logical fulfillment. The "kidnapped" Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit is only a pretext for a job scheduled months ago.

Read his full article here.

The scale of the double standard is beyond stupefying. As a first step, the aggressive state of Israel must be forced to withdraw to the pre-1967 boundaries immediately. Her rampant military thugs must be demobilized and the process of nuclear disarmament must begin in earnest. All Palestians refugees must be allowed to return to their lands right now and be provided with compensation and restitution.

Nothing less should be acceptable to the International Community. It is clear, that after more than 50 years, the Israeli-Zionist project has failed and should be consigned to the trash can of history.

'Zizou is still one of us'

The butt that ended his career will never dilute Zidane's iconic status for the 'scum' of the suburbs

Naima Bouteldja
Tuesday July 11, 2006


How could he do it? How could Zinédine Zidane, captain of the French football team, regarded as the best player of his generation and in the final match of an illustrious career, head-butt an opponent and hand victory to an Italian side playing for penalties? "A moment of madness," ventured Alan Shearer. "Materazzi must have said something, but whatever it was, there's no excuse for what Zidane did," opined another. His career, they said, had ended in inglorious failure.

But what Marco Materazzi said clearly did matter to Zidane. The speculation yesterday was that he may have insulted Zidane's family or made some kind of racial slur. If the latter, it would hardly be a shock. Racism in football has a long history and, despite campaigns such as Kick it Out, remains ingrained in the beautiful game. Think of the monkey chants directed at England's black players in Spain, after the description of Thierry Henry by Spain's coach, Luis Aragonés, as a "black shit"; Paolo Di Canio's fascist salute in Italy; or, in Britain, Ron Atkinson's vicious racist jibe at Marcel Desailly.

The question is not what made Zidane throw away the final chapter of his career, but why he has become such an iconic figure around the world, in particular in his country of birth. The politics of race and football in France are particularly revealing of French society. The predominantly African make-up of the French team and its unimpressive early World Cup performances had the National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, fuming at the French coach, Raymond Domenech, for having "exaggerated the proportion of players of colour" in the team. Le Pen claimed that they did not show enough passion when singing the Marseillaise. To the great disgust of Le Pen, France's only emerging white star of the World Cup, midfielder Franck Ribéry, is a convert to Islam.

Despite Le Pen's xenophobic outpourings, the great majority of the French population were behind the team. The victory against Brazil saw people celebrating across the country, including the black youth from the banlieues. After the semi-final, more than half a million people gathered in the Champs-Elysées, waving French tricolours alongside Algerian and other African flags. It was a reminder of how France greeted its 1998 World Cup victory, with commentators, politicians and intellectuals suddenly celebrating "multicultural" France.

However, the millions who have supported this predominantly black team and consider Zidane a hero will have no problem voting for Nicolas Sarkozy, the rightwing politician who called the youth of the suburbs "scum" last November, or even for Le Pen. The players epitomise the "good Africans" who have integrated and rarely speak about politics. Instead of setting cars on fire or feeding jobcentre queues, they chose the right path.

In 1998, an anti-racist organisation close to the Socialist party launched a patronising campaign on the theme "Tonight, all French people have dreamt about kissing a Beur" (Beur is slang for Arab) - implying that Zidane was not a French citizen. It is easy to understand why he commands such respect among black and North African people in France. He is the working-class son of migrants who came from Algeria in the 60s. He grew up in an impoverished suburb, and finds difficulty expressing himself in the glare of the media spotlight.

For the past three weeks, the "scum" from the banlieues have been celebrating the genius of one of their own. As Bouziane, a social worker from Toulouse, told me yesterday: "In defeat or victory, the attitude of France to us remains the same - but Zizou, more than ever, remains one of us."

· Naima Bouteldja is a French journalist and researcher for the Transnational Institute.

Monday, July 10, 2006

David, Goliath and the F-16

The "apartheid Israel state" is worse than the apartheid that was conducted in South Africa, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Willie Madisha said on Monday.

He said Palestinians were being attacked with heavy machinery and tanks used in war, which had never happened in South Africa.

Cosatu and other organisations supporting Palestine have called on government to end diplomatic relations with Israel and establish boycotts and sanctions such as those against apartheid South Africa. More...

Why do we have such a double standard when it comes to dealing with Israel? The sickest part of all of this is the way in which the Israelis use the Holocaust to justify their own atrocities. The state of Israel is riddled with discrimination and extreme violence is used to support their democracy-only-for-jewish-Israelis. Without the support of the US, Israel would have folded up it's tent and gone down in history as a bad idea.

Now we are living with a real rogue state in our midst and no one is willing to stand up for what is right and just in the International Community.

An ignominious defeat

The sense of disappointment was palpable in France last night. Zizou's loss of control for a split second, in the dying minutes of the game, shattered the dream of a world cup victory for France.

I watched the game with my neighbours in an impromtu street party. Some people put their TV's outside and we all gathered in the road to cheer on France. The nail biting penalty shootout could have been very different if Zizou was still on the pitch, and the end of the match came as an anti-climax. Everyone tried to convince themselves that "it's only a game", but the disappointment was real. Although, if France had won the street party that would have ensued would have been an event to witness.

A sad end it is to Zizou's brilliant football career, but an end that proves him human, just like the rest of us.

Next up, World Cup 2010 in South Africa!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Review : Persian Fire by Tom Holland

Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West by Tom Holland
Reviewed by Sean Badal

Tom Holland’s last book, Rubicon: The triumph and tragedy of the Roman Republic, was an extraordinary tour de force through Pax Romana, compellingly mapping Roman history from Julius Caesar to Octavian. His was an invigorating and authoritative voice, presenting a take on the fall of the Roman Empire like nobody else. For anyone who’s ever waded through (or been forced to) Gibbons’ Decline and Fall, it was a breath of fresh air.

Holland does more or less the same in this sequel. To cut a (very) long story short, Cyrus the Great ascended the Persian throne in 550 BC, thereby establishing what came to be known as the Persian Empire. His son Cambyses II conquered the Egyptians in 525 BC. Darius I, who ascended the throne in 522 BC, extended the borders of the Persian Empire even further east to the Indus River. Later to be known as Darius the Great, he crushed a rebellion by the Ionian Greeks (499-494 BC) and then led an attack on the European Greeks. His forces were defeated by the Greeks in 490 BC. Ten years later his son Xerxes I launched an attack on Athens (It will be interesting to see what the film adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300, looks like. Slated for release in 2007, it is about the battle of Thermopylae, where once again, a small group of plucky westerners (this time the Spartans! And no, Michael Douglas isn’t in it) hold out against Asiatic hordes).

The city was sacked and the Persians burned all the buildings on the Acropolis, including the beginnings of a new temple constructed (ironically enough) to celebrate the defeat of the Persians ten years previously. The ruins are what you see when you climb the acropolis.

Now, allow me to digress a little. Many years ago, when I was at school, that whole Dunkirk thing was shoved down our throats. Plucky Englanders in their bobbing boats rowing across the channel to rescue stranded soldiers, whilst shaking their fists at the marauding Luftwaffe. It was, in my mind, a celebration of a great victory. Imagine my horror then, to later discover that it was actually a shambles in the wake of what was a pretty brilliant victory by the Germans.

Well, I kind of experienced the same sensation here when I got to the part where the Persians are actually in Athens.

Persians in Athens! In all my years of reading, I’d never actually come across this little-known fact. Marathon, yes. Thermopylae, yes. But the Persians actually stomping around the Acropolis, never (or if I did, it must have been in really small print). Try it, check out Encarta, or any other encyclopedia (except for Wikipedia!) and see if you can find the bit where the Persian soldiers are tucking into their pilaus against the backdrop of the smoldering ruins of the acropolis.

In Rubicon, Holland drew on historical parallels (sometimes quite brilliantly) to explain how the political world currently functions. Excuses for starting wars, unholy alliances, territorial ambitions, all rooted in the crazy world of Bush and Blair. In Persian Fire, he does something similar, although less successfully. As hinted at in the title, Holland explains how the delineations between east and west were actually defined, how our currents notions of oriental barbarism, indulgence and excess are rooted in the propaganda of that era. The problem is he doesn’t have much balanced material to go on, which is kind of paradoxical, since all our sources of reference are drawn from westerners like Herodotus, hence the anti-Asiatic slant in the first place.

Still, it’s a brilliant book and I can’t wait for Holland’s next, The Poison in the Blood – something about Troy.

Title: Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West
Author: Tom Holland
ISBN: 0385513119