A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter


I mean, what would Desmond Tutu know about apartheid anyway?

Posted: 07 Jun 2011


He’s compared the situation in Palestine today to those suffered by blacks under apartheid in South Africa.
But comically, Murdoch’s Australian newspaper – always a wonderful defender of the underdog as long as they have solid business or media contacts – thinks Tutu should shut up about Palestine. It’s not like has any clue what he’s talking about:

Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu played an outstanding role in opposing apartheid in South Africa and helping reconcile the nation after majority rule. But such experience in his own country does not qualify him to meddle in other complex conflicts. In praising the Greens-controlled Marrickville Council in Sydney’s inner west for its boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, the Nobel laureate has lent unwarranted credibility to an absurd, unjust policy. His interference promotes the falsehood that life in Israel is akin to South Africa under apartheid. In reality, the 20 per cent of non-Jewish Israeli citizens, including 1.1 million Muslims, enjoy the same voting, property and employment rights as the Jewish majority, with whom they live side by side. Such equality was unheard of for the black majority under apartheid in South Africa and few Muslim women enjoy the same freedoms elsewhere in the Middle East.
The Australian opposes construction of settlements on the West Bank that take further Palestinian land. But until the Palestinians, including the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas that controls Gaza, recognise Israel’s right to exist and stop seeking its destruction, it is unreasonable to expect concessions. In recent decades, serious attempts by Israel to find a peaceful two-state solution have been rebuffed, often with hostility. In 2000, then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat, unwilling to be seen to give up the fight with Israel, foolishly rejected an offer by Ehud Barak to set up an independent state in Gaza and 95 per cent of the West Bank, and territory from Israel proper to compensate for the remaining 5 per cent. An even more generous offer, including much of East Jerusalem, was made by Ehud Olmert in 2008 and rejected by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Recently, Mr Abbas claimed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise of “a far-reaching compromise” if the Palestinians recognised Israel’s right to exist was a “declaration of war”.
The Marrickville campaign, which was opposed by all political leaders including senator Bob Brown and which would have cost ratepayers dearly, was thankfully dumped. On the ABC’s Q&A on Monday, Greens senator-elect Lee Rhiannon made a fool of herself talking up the boycotts and claiming Palestinians were subject to apartheid. Archbishop Tutu should be wise to such nonsense.

Your Iraq war is soon to be even more privatised for freedom

Posted: 07 Jun 2011

Wars are increasingly about profit and have nothing to do with freedom or liberation or human rights:

The State Department is preparing to spend close to $3 billion to hire a security force to protect diplomats in Iraq after the U.S. pulls its last troops out of the country by year’s end.
In testimony Monday before the Commission on Wartime Contracting, Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary of state for management, said the department plans to hire a 5,100-strong force to protect diplomatic personnel, guard embassy buildings and operate a fleet of aircraft and armored vehicles.
Underscoring the security risks in Iraq, five American troops were killed Monday in an attack in Baghdad, the largest single loss of life for the U.S. military there since April 2009.
Fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq. Under a 2008 U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, all U.S. troops are supposed to leave the country by the end of the year, leaving behind only a small military office to oversee arms sales.
While U.S. officials have expressed a willingness to station a small residual force in the country, it is unclear if the Iraqi government will make the request, which faces strong opposition in Iraq.
A large U.S. diplomatic presence will remain, however, and the departments of state and defense are wrestling with how to provide security for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad—which is a target of rocket attacks—and diplomatic outposts in the provinces.
As the military withdraws, Mr. Kennedy said, the State Department will rely on contractors to carry out a range of military-style missions that he said were “not inherently governmental,” including providing emergency medical evacuation, operating systems to detect and warn against incoming rocket or artillery fire, or rescue diplomatic personnel under attack.
The contract security force slated for Iraq would far outstrip the State Department’s in-house diplomatic security force. Mr. Kennedy said the State Department currently employs around 1,800 diplomatic security personnel around the world.

This is how Fatah and Hamas reconciled

Posted: 07 Jun 2011

Robert Fisk has the story:

Secret meetings between Palestinian intermediaries, Egyptian intelligence officials, the Turkish foreign minister, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal – the latter requiring a covert journey to Damascus with a detour round the rebellious city of Deraa – brought about the Palestinian unity which has so disturbed both Israelis and the American government. Fatah and Hamas ended four years of conflict in May with an agreement that is crucial to the Paslestinian demand for a state.
A series of detailed letters, accepted by all sides, of which The Independent has copies, show just how complex the negotiations were; Hamas also sought – and received – the support of Syrian President Bachar al-Assad, the country’s vice president Farouk al-Sharaa and its foreign minister, Walid Moallem. Among the results was an agreement by Meshaal to end Hamas rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza – since resistance would be the right only of the state – and agreement that a future Palestinian state be based on Israel’s 1967 borders.
“Without the goodwill of all sides, the help of the Egyptians and the acceptance of the Syrians – and the desire of the Palestinians to unite after the start of the Arab Spring, we could not have done this,” one of the principal intermediaries, 75-year old Munib Masri, told me. It was Masri who helped to set up a ‘Palestinian Forum’ of independents after the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and Hamas originally split after Hamas won an extraordinary election victory in 2006. “I thought the divisions that had opened up could be a catastrophe and we went for four years back and forth between the various parties,” Masri said. “Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) asked me several times to mediate. We opened meetings in the West Bank. We had people from Gaza. Everyone participated. We had a lot of capability.”

Tutu salutes the brave Marrickville council backing Palestinian rights

Posted: 06 Jun 2011


The Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu has penned a letter of praise to Marrickville Council over its support for a boycott of Israel, almost two months after the policy was abandoned amid an angry political backlash.
The Nobel peace prize recipient and critic of Israel wrote that he wanted to extend his respects to the mayor, Fiona Byrne, and her fellow councillors ”for taking a stand to isolate the Israeli state”.
”We in South Africa, who both suffered apartheid and defeated it, have the moral right and responsibility to name and shame institutionalised separation, exclusion, and domination by one ethnic group over others,” Archbishop Tutu said in the letter, which will be formally presented to Cr Byrne tonight.
”Sometimes taking a public stand for what is ethical and right brings costs, but social justice on a local or global scale requires faith and courage.”
Ten Marrickville councillors – five Greens, four Labor and one independent – voted to support the boycott campaign against Israel last December, provoking condemnation from federal and state politicians, Jewish groups and media commentators.
The motion was overturned in April, when all the Labor and two Green councillors withdrew their support.
Cr Byrne, who narrowly lost her bid to unseat Carmel Tebbutt at the state election in March, welcomed the archbishop’s support.
”I am proud that Marrickville Council was able to support and highlight the human rights violations suffered by many Palestinian people,” she said.

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