08 Jul 2010

Babar Ahmad, 35, is the longest-serving prisoner held without charge or trial in the UK.
Six years and counting in the farcical “war on terror”.
 08 Jul 2010

In case you were wondering what Benjamin Netanyahu ate with the entire Obama administration team a few days ago in Washington (fine journalism, indeed):

The kosher lunch menu included chopped White House garden salad with honey-apple cider dressing, thyme-roasted chicken with spring peas, leek puree and potato croutons, with apricot torte with White House honey ice cream for dessert (dairy-free, of course).

 08 Jul 2010

An Israeli finds some people in South Africa during the World Cup who love his country.
The irony alert was clearly malfunctioning when this was written:

Well, as it turns out, the South Africans who suffered so terribly under the apartheid regime – which some in the world compare to Israel – happen to like us.
I don’t know why we think the whole world hates us, but if there is one thing I learned in South Africa, it’s that our problem is our image. At the end of the day, we need to continue being who we are – smiling, intelligent, and warm, without trying to change. Those who didn’t like us before the blockade, or the flotilla, or some battle, will continue to object to us. Yet for most people, Israel is just Israel.

08 Jul 2010

Breaking the Silence is an Israeli group made up of former soldiers who detail the horrendous acts in the West Bank under occupation.
One of the founders, Yehuda Shaul, 27, tells Haaretz that the IDF rarely has any intention of seriously investigating itself:

What’s really disturbing about Operation Cast Lead is not the ordinary soldiers. The true problematic situation is the general policy, that they tell soldiers ‘Go in and shoot, you’re at war – whatever moves should be taken down.’ They were also told ‘Don’t fire on women and children,’ but when you tell the the air force that before entering a neighborhood you survey the area and any man, even if he’s unarmed, is a legitimate target, that’s problematic.

07 Jul 2010

The latest Dahr Jamail reports on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, including the increasingly restricted media access to the affected areas.
Welcome to the charming collusion between BP and the Obama administration.
07 Jul 2010

A leading British former counter-terrorism official says that his country’s “war on terror” has been an abject failure, alienated Muslims and increased the chances of terrorism.
The CIA’s former top counter-terrorism official claims that the use of contracting in the “war on terror” is a good thing and Washington’s post 9/11 posture has been one of allowing the CIA to run riot across the world.
So what’s on Masterchef tonight?
John Pilger on the sick culture that allows such revelations to slip into the memory hole:

The TV anchorwoman was conducting a split-screen interview with a journalist who had volunteered to be a witness at the execution of a man on death row in Utah for 25 years. “He had a choice,” said the journalist, “lethal injection or firing squad.” “Wow!” said the anchorwoman. Cue a blizzard of commercials for fast food, tooth whitener, stomach stapling, the new Cadillac. This was followed by a reporter in Afghanistan sweating in a flak jacket. “Hey, it’s hot,” he said on the split screen. “Take care,” said the anchorwoman. “Coming up” was a reality show in which the camera watched a man serving solitary confinement in a prison’s “hell hole”.
The next morning I arrived at the Pentagon for an interview with one of President Barack Obama’s senior war-making officials. There was a long walk along shiny corridors hung with pictures of generals and admirals festooned in ribbons. The interview room was purpose-built. It was blue, ice cold, windowless and featureless except for a flag and two chairs: props to create the illusion of a place of authority. The last time I was in a similar room at the Pentagon, a colonel called Hum stopped my interview with another war-making official when I asked why so many innocent civilians were being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then it was in the thousands; now it is more than a million. “Stop tape!” he had ordered.
This time there was no Colonel Hum, merely a polite dismissal of soldiers’ testimony that it was a “common occurrence” that troops were ordered to “kill every motherfucker”. The Pentagon, says the Associated Press, spent $4.7bn in 2009 alone on public relations: that is, winning the hearts and minds not of recalcitrant Afghan tribesmen, but of Americans. This is known as “information dominance” and PR people are “information warriors”.
American imperial power flows through a media culture to which the word imperial is anathema. Colonial campaigns are really “wars of perception”, wrote the present commander, General David Petraeus, in which the media popularise the terms and conditions. “Narrative” is the accredited word because it is postmodern and bereft of context and truth. The narrative of Iraq is that the war is won, and the narrative of Afghanistan is that it is a “good war”. That neither is true is beside the point. They promote a “grand narrative” of a constant threat and the need for permanent war. “We are living in a world of cascading and intertwined threats,” wrote the celebrated New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, “that have the potential to turn our country upside down at any moment.”
Friedman supports an attack on Iran, whose independence is intolerable. This is the psychopathic vanity of great power that Martin Luther King described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”. He was then shot dead.
The psychopathic is applauded across popular, corporate culture, from the TV death watch of a man choosing a firing squad over lethal injection to the Oscar-winning Hurt Locker and a new acclaimed war documentary, Restrepo. The directors of both films deny and dignify the violence of invasion as “apolitical”. And yet, behind the cartoon façade is serious purpose. The US is engaged militarily in 75 countries. There are said to be as many as 900 US military bases across the world, many at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels.
But there is a problem. Most Americans are opposed to these wars and to the billions of dollars spent on them. That their brainwashing so often fails is America’s greatest virtue. This is frequently due to courageous mavericks, especially those who emerge from the centrifuge of power. In 1971, the military analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked documents known as the Pentagon Papers, which put the lie to almost everything two presidents had claimed about Vietnam. Many of these insiders are not even renegades. I have a section in my address book filled with the names of former CIA officers who have spoken out. They have no equivalent in Britain.

07 Jul 2010

An editorial in Haaretz that speaks some sense (and will therefore be ignored by the Israeli government and its global support base):

The writer David Grossman called on the government of Israel in these pages yesterday to cease its preoccupation with the number and identity of Palestinian prisoners who would potentially be swapped for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Grossman believes Israel should make Hamas a broader offer that would involve “a total cease-fire, an end to all terror activities from Gaza and a lifting of the siege.” The start of such negotiations would see Shalit and the prisoners exchanged.
The proposal deserves serious consideration as the basis for a new policy. It is unfortunate that four years have been wasted and something along these lines was not adopted soon after Shalit’s abduction in 2006. There is no certainty, however, that Hamas would have agreed to the proposal then, or that it will do so now. It is also worth examining the impact such a deal would have on the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan. But the point of departure is that there is no sense in allowing the existing situation to continue.
A few days after the abduction and the failure of operation “Southern Shalit” to locate and rescue the soldier, astute voices from the top ranks of the Israel Defense Forces reached the conclusion that if Shalit was to be brought back, a new policy was necessary. These voices, which apparently reflected the position of GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant and then chief of staff Dan Halutz, sought to recognize the reality that had been created in Gaza following the Hamas victory in the PA elections four months earlier, and the establishment of the Ismail Haniyeh government (Hamas’ violent takeover of the Strip only took place in June 2007 ).
The IDF wanted to pose the following option to Hamas: Preserve your rule of power or continue your violent struggle against Israel. A proposal to seek a broad agreement on Israel-Hamas relations was drafted – which was to include a cease-fire, an end to terrorist attacks and the launching of Qassam rockets, an end to efforts to acquire more weapons for use against Israel and the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. A report on this attitude held by the IDF, published by Haaretz, angered then-prime minister Ehud Olmert, who opposed a prisoner exchange deal. He shelved the idea and subsequently rejected similar ones raised during Operation Cast Lead.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not bound by Olmert’s objections. He should revive the idea and challenge Hamas. Israel needs to embark on an initiative that would fundamentally alter the situation along the southern border, without fearing dialogue with Hamas. It must not regard the current situation as simply fate.

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