Archive for May, 2006

The Palestinian Case Against Israel

This post is neither an excerpt from Michael Neumann's The Case Against Israel, nor a critique of Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel. Rather, it is a mirror copy of the page located at For a long time I have wanted to write about the contention between Israel and Palestine, but, as I researched, I found the issue to be of far more depth and complexity for me to cover in a post or two. Therefore, I have to rely on this excerpt from Michael Hoffman and Moshe Lieberman's The Israeli Holocaust Against the Palestinians.

Did you know?

1 – THAT, when the Palestine Problem was created by Britain in 1917, more than 90% of the population of Palestine were Arabs, and that there were at that time no more than 56,000 Jews in Palestine?
2 – THAT, more than half of the Jews living in Palestine at that time were recent immigrants, who had come to Palestine in the preceding decades in order to escape persecution in Europe?… And that less than 5% of the population of Palestine were native Palestinian Jews?
3 – THAT, the Arabs of Palestine at that time owned 97.5% of the land, while Jews (native Palestinians and recent immigrants together) owned only 2.5% of the land?
4 – THAT, during the thirty years of British occupation and rule, the Zionists were able to purchase only 3.5% of the land of Palestine, in spite of the encouragement of the British Government?… And that much of this land was transferred to Zionist bodies by the British Government directly, and was not sold by Arab owners?
5 – THAT, therefore, when British passed the Palestine Problem to the United Nations in 1947, Zionists owned no more than 6% of the total land area of Palestine?
6 – THAT, notwithstanding these facts, the General Assembly of the United Nations recommended that a "Jewish State" be established in Palestine?… And that the Assembly granted that proposed "State" about 54% of the total area of the country?
7 – THAT, Israel immediately occupied (and still occupies) 80.48% of the total land area of Palestine?
8 – THAT, this territorial expansion took place, for the most part, before 15 May 1948: i.e., before the formal end of the British forces from Palestine, before the entry of Arab armies to protect Palestinian Arabs, and before the Arab-Israeli war?
9 – THAT, the 1947 recommendation of the General Assembly in favor of the creation of a "Jewish State" was outside the competence of the Assembly under the Charter of the United Nations?
10 – THAT, all attempts by the Arab States and other Asian countries to have the Assembly submit 3the question of constitutionality" of its recommendation to the International Court of Justice for an "advisory opinion" by the Court were rejected or ignored by the Assembly?
11 – THAT, when the Assembly began to experience "second thoughts" over the matter and convened for its second special session in 1948, it failed to reaffirm the 1947 recommendation for the partition of Palestine-thus destroying whatever dubious legality that recommendation for the establishment of a "Jewish State" had had?
12 – THAT, that original 1947 recommendation to create a "Jewish State" in Palestine was approved, at the first vote, only by European, American and Australian States…for every Asian State, and every African State (with the exception of the Union of South Africa) voted against it?…And that, when the vote was cast in plenary session on 29 November 1947, urgent American pressures (which a member of the Truman cabinet described as "bordering onto scandal") had succeeded in prevailing only upon one African country (Liberia), both of which had special vulnerability to American pressures, to abandon their declared opposition?…And that, in other words, the "Jewish State" was planted at the point-of-intersection of Asia and Africa without the free approval of any Middle Eastern, Asian or African country except that Union of South Africa, itself ruled by an alien minority?
13 – THAT, Israel remained, ever since its inception, a total stranger in the emerging world of Afro-Asia; and that Israel has been refused admission to any inter-state conference of Asian, African, Afro-Asian, or Non-Aligned States ever held?
14 – THAT, since the General Armistice Agreements were signed in 1949, Israel has maintained an aggressive policy of waging military attacks across the Armistice Demarcation Lines, repeatedly invading the territories of the neighboring Arab States…And that Israel has been duly rebuked, censured, or condemned for these military attacks by the Security Council of the General Assembly of the United Nations on eleven occasions-five times by the Security Council and six times by the General Assembly?
15 – THAT, no other country in the world, whether member of the United Nations or non-member, has been so frequently condemned by the United Nations?
16 – THAT, no Arab State has ever been condemned by any organ of the United Nations for military attacks upon Israel?
17 – THAT, besides expelling the bulk of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine, and besides constantly attacking the neighboring Arab States, Israel has also consistently harassed the United Nations observers and other personnel stationed along the Armistice Demarcation Lines: It has assassinated the first United Nations Mediator and his military aide; it has detained some truce observers; it has militarily occupied and illegally searched the Headquarters of United Nations personnel; and it has boycotted meetings of the Mixed Armistice Commissions?…
18 – THAT, Israel has additionally imposed a system of apartheid upon the Arabs who stayed in their homeland? More than 90% of these Arabs live in "security zones;" they alone live under martial law, restricting their freedom to travel from village to village or from town to town; their children are denied equal opportunities for education; and they are denied decent opportunities for work, and the right to receive "equal pay for equal work?"
19 – THAT, notwithstanding the foregoing facts, Israel has always been, and still is, widely portrayed in the Western press as the "bastion of democracy" and the "champion of peace" in the Middle East?
20 – THAT, the Western Powers have persisted in declaring their determination to ensure a so-called "arms balance" in the area, as between Israel, on the one hand, and the one-hundred million inhabitants of the thirteen Arab States, on the other hand?… And this unilateral Western doctrine of so-called "arms balance" is no more reasonable than the suggestion that, in the Cuba-U.S.A conflict, there should be "arms balance" as between Cuba and the United States… or that the whole Continent of Africa should not be allowed to acquire more arms than South Africa… or that Mainland China should not be permitted to have more arms than Taiwan… or that the military allowed to acquire more arms than South Africa… and that only thus can peace be safeguarded in the Western Hemisphere, in Africa, in Asia, or in Europe?…
21 – THAT, Israel allots 85% of the water resources in the occupied territories for Jews and the remaining 15% is divided among all Palestinians in the territories? For example in Hebron, 85% of the water is given to about 500 settlers, while 15% must be divided among Hebron's 120,000 Palestinians?
22 – THAT, The United States awards Israel $3 billion in aid each year, more than to any other country in the world: US aid to Israel exceeds the aid the US grants to the whole sub-Sahara Africa?
23 – THAT, GDP, per capita, and consumption per capita in the Occupied Territories have dropped about 15 percent in the West Bank and Gaza since 1993 – that's even with large foreign assistance pouring in, from Europe, mostly?
24 – THAT, Up until 1993, the U.S. and Israel permitted humanitarian aid to come into the territories. UN humanitarian aid was permitted into the West Bank and Gaza. In 1993, that was restricted?
25 – THAT, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?
26 – THAT, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and bars international inspections from its sites?
27 – THAT, Israel currently occupies territories of two sovereign nations (Lebanon and Syria) in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions?
28 – THAT, High-ranking military officers in the Israeli Defense Forces have admitted publicly that unarmed prisoners of war were executed by the IDF?
29 – THAT, Israel refuses to prosecute its soldiers who have acknowledged executing prisoners of war?
30 – THAT, Israel routinely confiscates bank accounts, businesses, and land from Palestinians and refuses to pay compensation to those who suffer the confiscation?
31 – THAT, Israel stands in defiance of 69 United Nations Security Council Resolutions?
32 – THAT, Israel's current prime minister, Ariel Sharon, was found by an Israeli court to be "personally responsible" for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in Lebanon in which thousands of unarmed Palestinian refugees were slaughtered in 1982?
33 – THAT, Today's Israel sits on the former sites of more than 400 destroyed Palestinian villages, and that the Israelis renamed almost every physical site in the country to cover up the traces?
34 – THAT, Ariel Sharon's coalition government includes a party — Molodet — which advocates expelling all [of the over two million] Palestinians from [their homes in] the occupied territories?
35 – THAT, Israel's illegal settlement-building in the Occupied Palestinian territories more than doubled in the eight years since the Oslo agreements?
36 – THAT, Illegal settlement building under Prime Minister Barak doubled compared to settlement building under Prime Minister Netanyahu?
37 – THAT, More illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories were built under Prime Minister Barak than at any other time in the history of Israel's occupation of Palestinian land?
38 – THAT, Despite a ban on torture by Israel's High Court of Justice, torture has continued by Shin Bet interrogators on Palestinian prisoners?
39 – THAT, Palestinian refugees make up the largest refugee population in the world?
40 – THAT, Israeli military checkpoints surround every Palestinian population center in violation of the Oslo Accords?
41 – THAT, The right of self-determination is guaranteed to every human being under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December, 1948), yet Palestinians were/are expected to negotiate for this right under the Oslo Accords?
42 – THAT, Palestinians have the highest ratio of PhDs per capita in the world?

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The Rewards of ‘Democracy’ in Iraq

Bush went to war in Iraq to purge it of ‘WMDs’, which he and his allies like the UK and Germany had bestowed unto Saddam in the Gulf War. Back then, Saddam was a friend and was considered the legitimate ruler of Iraq. But after the Kuwait invasion, and particularly in 2003, somehow he turned into a ‘tyrant dictator’, and a ‘threat to democracy’. Resultantly, it was deemed ‘absolutely necessary’ to oust Saddam and to let the Iraqis reap the rewards of ‘democracy’.

Three years on, however, the ‘rewards of democracy’ have been bitter for most ordinary Iraqis. The country still lacks a government which has the support of all factions in the country. Security is still a very grave concern for many. The economy has seen a recession.

For those of you who believe an ordinary Iraqi is better off than before, here are some statistics to help us to understand the ground realities of this war.

  • Almost all indicators of the economy show that it is worse than the pre-war era.
  • Oil Production now is around 1.7 million barrels a day as compared to 2.5 million barrels in 2004. Iraq has a capacity to produce 6 million barrels a day.
  • In 2005, inflation rate was 20%.
  • Electricity production has hardly gone up from the days of the pre-war era. Baghdad homes only get 4 hours of electricity. This is less than 25% percent of what the city got before the invasion.
  • Unemployment rate is between 27 to 60% when curfew is not in effect.
  • Around 80 Iraqi journalists and media assistants have been killed in the past three years out of which 14 were killed by US forces.
  • Sixty-seven percent of all Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation.
  • On average, 120 police officers are killed every month.
  • Some unofficial studies project the total deaths among civilian Iraqis to be between 17,000 and 38,000 while others put this figure close to 100,000.
  • Twenty-five percent of the people in Iraq depend on the food and rations distributed by charity organizations.
  • Consumer goods have poured into Iraq, with car ownership reported to have doubled since 2003 and mobile phones and satellite television spreading rapidly. However, in a 2004 UN survey, only 20% of households said they had any savings.
  • An estimated 25% of primary-age children do not attend school, according to the World Bank, although US figures show primary school enrolment up 20% since 2000.
  • Out of the 34,000 doctors before the invasion, 12,000 have left the country while 2,000 have been murdered.
  • Daily insurgent attacks increased form 14 in February 2004 to 70 in July 2005 to 75 in May 2006.
  • Cancer mortality as a result of depleted uranium ammunitions usage in Iraq has increased by 1200%. Depleted uranium used in a weapon makes it a weapon of mass destruction. Such weapons are suspected to have been used in Iraq during the invasion.

The only good thing I came across while researching for this post was the fact that the spread of disease has slowed. Also, that compared to the $16 million spending on health in the pre-war era, $1 billion is spent now. However, an overwhelming majority of this spending goes to refurbishment and rebuilding of hospitals destroyed during the invasion.

These statistics are enough to prove that the war on Iraq, apart from being illegal and a total failure, has been a total devastation too. It can reasonably be inferred that the rise in insurgency and sectarian violence is a direct upshot of the invasion and that it wouldn’t have happened had the US and its allies not invaded Iraq. Also, ordinary Iraqis were much better off in dictatorship than they are now in ‘democracy’.

Nonetheless, the fact worth mentioning here is that all the responsible citizens of the countries contributing troops to the war on Iraq must know that if their troops leave Iraq now, it is going to turn into a sectarian and ethnic battleground. Because the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police officials trained are not well trained and well equipped to handle the security of the country.

What legacy is going to be left in Iraq and Afghanistan is what is going to define the necessity, efficacy and popular support for wars on terrorism in the future.

Update: Revealed: How US Marines Massacred 24 (May 28, 2006)

Sources Used and Suggestions For Further Reading:

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The Myth of Moderate Islam?

By Molly McCarroll

In the past week, I have received far more feedback than usual from readers in response to an article suggesting that there is another dimension to the war on terror beyond the confrontation between the West and radical Islamists. There is also a tug-of-war between the radical and moderate factions within Islam and, if the wrong side wins, our efforts may never be successful.

In response, several readers have indignantly suggested that the idea of moderate, peaceful Islam is a myth. They argue that, at its heart, Islam is a religion bent on violence and domination. They are eager to cast the war on terror as a fight without subtlety and an unqualified contest between the West and Islam. They believe that statements by researchers, commentators, and politicians asserting that Islam is a religion of peace are only misguided attempts at politically correct avoidance of the real problem.

Such people are not alone. There is a collection of writers who argue that the visions of Islam represented by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or the Saudi-funded Wahhabis are glimpses into the heart of the religion. Their ideas and arguments find ready supporters in individuals who compare the recent track record of Islam with other world religions, tally up the number of suicide bombers in each, and then make blanket assumptions about the ideologies behind the actions. They feel that attempts to present an Islam with a human, moderate face are little more than avoidance tactics.

It is not difficult to understand how these beliefs can begin. Countless people have been hurt in the name of Islam. They have seen loved ones killed by terrorism, they have had their psychological sense of safety shattered, and they have fled their native lands, fearing persecution for their beliefs or actions if they stayed. There can be no doubt that something frightening and dark is happening in the heart of the Muslim world, geographically and ideologically defined, and that this phenomenon endangers all who stand before it.

But it is inappropriate, inaccurate, and insensitive to suggest that this is the face of Islam. In the 21st century, the barriers that once kept cultures apart have crumbled. The United States is not the homogenous place it once was and we all know a Muslim family down the street or coworker in the next cubicle. Our Muslim neighbors work hard at their jobs, struggle to raise a happy and well-adjusted family, and contribute to their community. They love and trust in their faith and strive to live a life that will lead them to salvation. They work to fulfill Islam’s Five Pillars, which do not include jihad or war against infidels. They live in all the world’s countries, including both the United States and the most fundamentalist of nations. They want only to be good people and would never consider raising a hand against another in anger.

Will we ignore these millions? It does not matter whether they are the majority or the minority, only that they exist. We must defend ourselves – as must they – against the forces of fundamentalism that would fight in fits of frustration against all who stand against them. But to deny the presence of the quiet multitudes who live lives of respectability and peace is to silence their voices. It is impossible to know the relative percentages of Muslims on either side of the fundamentalist divide, but we can know, with empirical certainty, that the divide exists.

The history and reality of Islam is complex and unquantifiable, as is that of every other historical force or community. Atrocities have been and will be committed in its name. But Muslims are the ones who know their religion best and their example should be far more instructive than our own suspicions. If we deny the example of all those Muslims who truly are peace-loving people, who live down the block and around the world, we deny reality and harm ourselves, our neighbors, and our future all at once.

This article excerpted form the Family Security Matters Website

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Afghan Government Unable to Pay Teachers

Thousands of teachers in the Northern province of Balkh protested against a delay in their pays yesterday. They boycotted classes to demonstrate for not having been paid in three months.

The protest, which started at the Shahabuddin High School, soon spread to all schools in the province. Reports also suggest that there have been protests in other provinces in the North too.

The protests come at a time when the government is trying to get its proposed budget approved by the parliament. The approval has been subject to fierce discussions for more than 45 days.

Many teachers and other government employees were expecting a pay rise in the new budget. However, no rise has been planned for them: Only a two-dollar rise in the stipends of the hadicapped and the martyrs' families has been proposed.

The salary for an Afghan teacher is $76 a month–an amount far less than what is required to lead a decent life. And with the government's inability to pay it for three months, many teachers have been forced to go under the burden of debt. Ironically, many "experts" working in the government have salaries in thousands of dollars while ordinary employees get no more than what a teacher does.

There has been no explanation to the delay by the government. Analysts link the problem to a financial crisis in the Karzai administration.

Related Articles:

  • "Life Is Hope": A report about a woman teacher, her financial struggles, and her school.

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Perspectives on the Iranian Equivalent of the French No-Headscarf Law

In a move "reminiscent of the Nazis", the Iranian parliament has reportedly passed a bill requiring religious minorities to wear badges for identification. The bill is yet to be rattified by the "Supreme Leader", Ali Khamenei, before it takes effect.

This reminds me of the French no-heascarves-at-school law. The French law, which requires students from a Muslim background to take off thier headscarves while at schools, was aimed at creating homogeneity among students. However, it ended up creating more differences by bringing drastic changes in the clothing styles of a considerable number of students. Furthermore, It was a blow at the personal freedom of Muslim girls. It stopped them from observing their religious practices properly, as it is required of ladies in Islam to wear headscarves. It was also a very good indicator of the French definition of democracy..

The Iranian law, which is passed to help identify religious minorities, requires Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians to wear yellow, red and blue stripes of cloth on their dresses respectively. It too, if passed, will end up creating differences among Iranians and would make the religious fragmentation more visible. It too is a blow at the personal freedoms of the "religious minorities". It too is a good indicator of the Iranian model of democracy, which is very much on a par with the French one.

However, the fact worth mentioning here is that this is a move by the Iranians and should not be construed as in line with the Islamic ideology. This is analogous to the fact that the banning of headscarf from schools is strictly a French move, which can and should not be construed as representative of the Western democracy. This is a fact which is very often misunderstood: Many phenomena rampant in Muslim societies like forced marriages, honor killings, etc are not Islamic; they are construed by many as Islamic because they have been widespread among Muslims for a long time.

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Afghanistan Clinches Four-Nation Soccer Tournament

The Kabul-based team, Arman-e-Kabul, nailed a convincing two-nil victory over the team from Iran to clinch the four-nation soccer tournament organized by the National Olympic Committee of Afghanistan. Teams from Iran, Tajikistan, Pakistan and the host country, Afghanistan, participated in the tournament. Attended by over 30,000 spectators, the final was a symbol of national pride for Afghanistan as they won their first international tournament since the 1930s.

The first goal was scored by Ali Hazara in the first half. The second half saw a more aggressive play due in part to the rough physical contacts between the players which led to Iran protesting and stopping play for a short time. They resumed, however, only to concede another goal, this time from the Afghan captain, just a few minutes before finish. Shams Amini, the Afghan goalkeeper, was able to successfully thwart all attacks from the Iranian ranks till the end.

The victory whistle brought a boisterous ovation to the milieu which continued until the prizes were given away by Kareem Khalili, deputy to President Karzai. Despite the blast in Kabul which killed four that day, it was hard for the commentators to calm the excited crowd down in respect to the Afghan national anthem.

In a TV interview jut after the whistle, Ali Hazara, the key Afghan player, said in an excited tone, “I feel very happy about this achievement. The credit goes to the entire nation. Congratulations to all!” He was speaking in Hazaragi, a regional language spoken primarily by the historically repressed Hazara ethnic group.

The Chairman of National Olympic Committee of Afghanistan, Anwar Jigdalek, congratulated the nation for the victory and praised their support. He attributed the victory to the players’ hard work. He further said, “This tournament was a call for peace among the neighbors of Afghanistan. It was also a call for national unity and solidarity among the people of Afghanistan.”

Ali Rawazi, the Iranian captain, thanked the National Olympic Committee of Afghanistan for holding the event. He said, “We are happy to have been invited to this tournament. We are satisfied by the way it was organized. We would like to have the Afghan team visit Iran in the future.”

Another team participating from Afghanistan, Omed-e-Kabul, stood fifth followed by Pakistan’s NWFP while Tajikistan stood third.

Related Links:

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The Afghans Must Be Crazy

Last week a traffic accident in Turkey killed 39 immigrants mostly Afghans, on their way to Europe. In the same week, more than 40 Afghan immigrants staged a protest in an Irish cathedral threatening the authorities they would commit suicide if they were returned home. In 2002 and 2003, similar threats were given by other Afghan immigrants in Australia. Some even committed suicides, many sewed their lips in protest to the government's decision to deport them.

These immigrants travel illegally. Despite paying handsome amounts of money to traffickers, they face very dangerous situations. Facing thirst, hunger, cold, sleeplessness, long walks, they are often caught by authorities, tortured for illegal entry and deported.

You must be thinking, “These Afghans must be crazy; why, even after Afghanistan has a government and is relatively peaceful, are these people immigrating in such dangerous conditions?” The answer, as I have already pointed out in a previous post, lies in the economic, political and social conditions of Afghanistan. (See the State of Afghanistan)

With a high unemployment rate, inflation, low earnings, lack of suitable infrastructure, and a general feeling of insecurity, the people don't feel inclined to stay in that country. They can hardly support their families with their earnings in Afghanistan. Above all, they are disappointed. In my last year’s trip to Afghanistan, Abdul Qayoom, a returning refugee, told me, “We are treated like refugees in our own country,” speaking of the government’s neglect and inability to provide them shelter and other basic necessities. He continued, “We are disappointed.”

The hope that was built up in the Afghans after the Taliban’s ouster of a free, prosperous country with a better standard of living is now fading away as they realize that the Taliban and other armed groups are still at large in almost all parts of the country outside the capital Kabul and that they are increasing their control. The government they looked up to abounds with corruption and nepotism. The ISAF and American forces once considered by some as ‘friends’ are becoming abominable because of their ubiquitous tanks, patrolling on the streets causing road blockages and annoyance. Other incidents of mistreatment, rape and misuse of interpreters, villagers and other citizens are contributing towards this hard feeling and disappointment.

Consequently, a considerable number of repatriated refugees from Iran and Pakistan are now obtaining visas to go back to those countries to earn a livelihood for their families. Some, like those mentioned above, are risking their lives in a bid to earn citizenships in Europe for better lives, despite all the risks involved in the process and the prospect of deportation.

They are not crazy. They are desperate.

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