Piracy On The High Seas!

February 6, 2009

This post by British blogger Dangerous Creation shows the desperate situation of the besieged people of Gaza as more of their life-saving  supplies are cut off:

Friends, you may think that this is a scene from off the coast of Somalia but in fact it’s not! It’s off the coast of Gaza and the Israeli Navy has boarded this vessel and is taking it to their port in Ashdod.

Was this vessel bulging with weapons of mass destruction you may ask? No, it was filled with humanitarian supplies for the besieged Gazans, things like food and medical supplies like blood plasma.

Were the people on board terrorists? No, 20 in number, they were peace activists and half were journalists.

Read the rest of this post here.

Correction: The author of Dangerous Creation
is Australian, not British as I mentioned above.


Tomgram: Waltz with Bashir, Part 1

January 26, 2009

January 24, 2009

As a 19-year-old Israeli soldier, Ari Folman took part in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and was on duty in Beirut during the notorious massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. Just a week ago, Waltz with Bashir, the animated documentary film Folman directed in which he explores his own nightmarish, half-suppressed memories of that period, was given its first underground screening in Lebanon — not far, in fact, from Hezbollah headquarters in southern Beirut — though the film is officially banned in that country. It has also been screened in Palestinian Ramallah and is reportedly soon to be shown in the Arab Gulf states. It has already won six Israeli Academy Awards, best foreign film at the Golden Globes, and is now nominated for an Oscar as best foreign film.

Waltz With Bashir

At this moment, when the Israeli assault on Gaza has ended in catastrophic destruction and death, director Folman’s remarkable voyage — he calls it a “bad acid trip” — into the oblivion of war trauma and the horrific recent history of the Middle East is as stunning, moving, and unnerving an experience as anything you’ll see this year, or perhaps any year. A no less remarkable graphic memoir, Waltz with Bashir, was developed in tandem with the film. It will be in your bookstores in a couple of weeks, but can be ordered in advance by clicking here. Not surprisingly, the book and film have some of the impact that the first “graphic novel,” Art Spiegelman’s MAUS, had when it came out in 1986, and that assessment comes from the fellow — me, to be exact — who published MAUS back then.

The single best piece on Waltz with Bashir and its relevance to the recent invasion of Gaza was written by Gary Kamiya of Salon.com. He concludes: “Of course, Israel’s moral culpability for the 1982 massacre [in Sabra and Shatila] is not the same as its moral responsibility for the civilians killed in the current war. But there are painful similarities. Sooner or later the patriotic war fervor will fade, and Israelis will realize that their leaders sent them to kill hundreds of innocent people for nothing. And perhaps in 2036, some haunted filmmaker will release ‘Waltz With Hamas.'”

Given the power and timeliness of this thoughtful, dreamlike memoir from a living hell, it’s a particular honor for TomDispatch to be releasing two long excerpts, exclusively, over the next two Saturdays. Thanks go to Metropolitan Books, the book’s publisher, for allowing it to happen. I hope what follows stuns and intrigues you. Keep an eye out for part 2 next Saturday. Tom

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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Tomgram: Tony Karon, Obama’s Gaza Opportunity

January 26, 2009

January 22, 2009

[Note for TomDispatch readers: Saturday is usually a dead zone for this site, but no longer. For the next two Saturdays, TomDispatch will be offering sizeable excerpts from a soon-to-be-published graphic memoir, Waltz with Bashir, created alongside the remarkable new Israeli animated movie of the same title about the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, which has just received an Oscar nomination for best foreign film. Keep your eyes out for it. Tell your friends. It’s a must read.]

Yes, we now know the ever grimmer statistics: more than 1,400 dead Gazans (and rising as bodies are dug out of the rubble); 5,500 wounded; hundreds of children killed; 4,000 to 5,000 homes destroyed and 20,000 damaged — 14% of all buildings in Gaza; 50,000 or more homeless; 400,000 without water; 50 U.N. facilities, 21 medical facilities, 1,500 factories and workshops, and 20 mosques reportedly damaged or destroyed; the smashed schools and university structures; the obliterated government buildings; the estimated almost two billion dollars in damage; all taking place on a blockaded strip of land 25 miles long and 4 to 7.5 miles wide that is home to a staggering 1.4 million people.

On the other side in Israel, there are a number of damaged buildings and 13 dead, including three civilians and three soldiers killed in a friendly-fire incident. But amid this welter of horrific numbers, here was the one that caught my eye — and a quote went with it: Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of the Israeli Army, told Parliament on January 12th, “We have achieved a lot in hitting Hamas and its infrastructure, its rule and its armed wing, but there is still work ahead.”

Work? The “work” already done evidently included a figure he cited: more than 2,300 air strikes launched by the Israelis with the offensive against Hamas still having days to go. Think about that: in a heavily populated, heavily urbanized, 25-mile-long strip of land, 2,300 air strikes, including an initial surprise attack “in which 88 aircraft simultaneously struck 100 preplanned targets within a record span of 220 seconds.” Many of these strikes were delivered by Israel’s 226 U.S.-supplied F-16s or its U.S.-made Apache helicopters.

In addition, the Israelis evidently repeatedly used a new U.S. smart bomb, capable of penetrating three feet of steel-reinforced concrete, the bunker-busting 250-pound class GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb. (The first group of up to 1,000 of these that the U.S. Congress authorized Israel to buy only arrived in early December.) In use as well, the one-ton Mk84 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and a 500-pound version of the same. These are major weapons systems. Evidently dropped as well were “Dime (dense inert metal explosive) bombs designed to produce an intense explosion in a small space. The bombs,” reported Raymond Whitaker of the British Independent, “are packed with tungsten powder, which has the effect of shrapnel but often dissolves in human tissue, making it difficult to discover the cause of injuries.”

Keep in mind that Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups are essentially incapable of threatening Israeli planes and that the Israelis were using their airborne arsenal in heavily populated areas. Though the air war was only one part of a massively destructive assault on Gaza, as a form of warfare, barbaric as it is, it invariably gets a free pass. Yet, if you conduct an air war in cities, it matters little how “smart” your weaponry may be; it will, in effect, be a war against civilians.

Whatever the damage done to Hamas, what happened in Gaza was, simply put, a civilian slaughter. And yet, as Tony Karon, TomDispatch regular and TIME.com senior editor, who runs the Rootless Cosmopolitan blog, indicates below, the very scale of the Israeli assault on what was essentially a captive population wiped away many illusions, tore up the Middle East playbook, and potentially created the basis for a new Obama era approach to both Israelis and Palestinians. Whether that opportunity will be taken up is another matter entirely. Tom

Change Gaza Can Believe In
Tearing Up Washington’s Middle East Playbook
By Tony Karon

Lest President Barack Obama’s opportunistic silence when Israel began the Gaza offensive that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians (more than 400 of them children) be misinterpreted, his aides pointed reporters to comments made six months earlier in the Israeli town of Sderot. “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that,” Obama had said in reference to the missiles Hamas was firing from Gaza. “I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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ICH: Face the Facts About Israel?

July 29, 2008

These are some of the latest, continually updated news items on one of my favourite sites, Information Clearing House (ICH):

Time To Exit The Empire Game
By Patrick J. Buchanan
As any military historian will testify, among the most difficult of maneuvers is the strategic retreat. Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, Lee’s retreat to Appomattox and MacArthur’s retreat from the Yalu come to mind. The British Empire abandoned India in 1947 – and a Muslim-Hindu bloodbath ensued.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20358.htm
===
If Iran is Attacking It Might Really be Israel
By Philip Giraldi
There are a number of possible “false flag” scenarios in which the Israelis could insert a commando team in the Persian Gulf or use some of their people inside Iraq to stage an incident that they will make to look Iranian, either by employing Iranian weapons or by leaving a communications footprint that points to Tehran’s involvement.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20364.htm
===
Are You Ready to Face the Facts About Israel?
By Paul Craig Roberts
I had given up on finding an American with a moral conscience and the courage to go with it and was on the verge of retiring my keyboard when I met the Rev. Thomas L. Are.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20359.htm
===
Guarantee Healthcare for All
By Malinda Markowitz
The United States spends more than twice as much per person on healthcare as most other industrialized countries – but it has plunged to last among those nations in preventing deaths through timely and effective medical care.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20361.htm
===
We’re a Nation of Lemmings
Screw The Climate! We Want Our Cheap Gas!
By Dave Lindorff
What the hell happened to any sense of shared responsibility, not just for society, but for our own offspring?
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20362.htm
===
Who Are We?
One World, One Humanity, One Family
Must Watch Video
Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one. An astonishing story.
Click to view
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html
===
As “Surge” Ends, How Many US Troops Will Remain in Iraq?:
Barack Obama, says he wants U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2010, but he is careful to specify that he’s talking about combat troops
http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-07-24-voa10.cfm
===
Former Iraqi PM Says Surge Not So Great:
Allawi describes security gains from the U.S military surge as fragile and possibly not sustainable. Calls fo “a time frame for reduction of U.S. forces”.
http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-07-24-voa1.cfm
===
The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers:
The Iraq war is many things to different people. It is called a strategic blunder and a monstrous injustice and sometimes even a patriotic mission, much to the chagrin of rational human beings. For many big companies, however, the war is something far different: a lucrative cash-cow.
http://www.businesspundit.com/the-25-most-vicious-iraq-war-profiteers/
===
The killing of 78 Afghan civilian by US occupation forces probed:
More than half of those killed in the three recent U.S.-led airstrikes — which occurred in a three-week span in three provinces in eastern and western Afghanistan — were women and children, according to Afghan and Western officials. 78 have died in three separate incidents this month alone, officials say
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25844505/
===
2 NATO occupation force soldiers killed, 9 wounded in Afghanistan:
A British army dog handler was fatally shot by insurgents in southern Afghanistan, where a Danish soldier died in a separate roadside bomb attack, officials said Friday.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-07-25-Afghanistan_N.htm
===
Brzezinski: Surge In Afghanistan Risky, Some McCain Backers Want World War IV:
Brzezinski now doubts the that the answer to what ails Afghanistan is more troops. “I think we’re literally running the risk of unintentionally doing what the Russians did.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/25/brzezinski-warns-against_n_114999.html
===
Gilani, Bush to discuss rise of Taliban in Pak:
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani will discuss with US President George W. Bush at the White House on Monday the rising Taliban-led militancy in areas bordering Afghanistan, officials said on Friday.
http://tinyurl.com/6g4sh3
===
‘Iran will keep cooperating with IAEA’:
“I categorically reject the misleading information by western media. We are not reducing our cooperation with the IAEA,” Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh told Press TV on Friday.
http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=64729§ionid=351020104
===
Bolton: U.S. should help Israel hit Iran:
Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton said the United States should assist Israel in any strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The ex-U.S. envoy in an op-ed in the July 15 Wall Street Journal said the United States must consider what assistance to extend to Israel before and after an airstrike.
http://www.jewishledger.com/articles/2008/07/23/news/news11.txt
===
Report: Ex-Mossad chief says strike on Iran could ‘affect us for 100 years’:
Halevy, who currently heads the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, added that an Iranian attack on Israel would probably have little impact, because Iranian missiles would largely be intercepted by Israel’s advanced anti-missile defense system.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1005579.html
===
Obama puts new presure on Iran:
Obama said that he and Sarkozy agreed that Iran poses “an extraordinarily grave situation.” He said the world must send “a clear message to Iran to end its illicit nuclear program.”
http://tinyurl.com/5jompb
===
Two die in Gaza bomb blast:
The attack was the third of its kind on Friday, making for one of the biggest flare-ups in internal violence since Hamas routed the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah faction to seize control of Gaza a year ago.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKL525244820080725?rpc=401&
===
Obama: Jerusalem will not be capital of Palestinian state:
Recent years have seen Obama’s position on Israel/Palestine shift dramatically towards the Israeli side. He previously stated that the issue of Jerusalem should be on the table of any peace negotiation, but after criticism of his ‘naïve’ stance, Obama dropped this position.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=30771
===
Poll: Israelis favor Barack Obama:
A new poll shows that US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has more Israeli supporters than his Republican rival John McCain.
http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=64738§ionid=3510203
===
Iran: US seeks to keep public in dark:
Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) said the US has rashly proposed a resolution that would blacklist Iranian satellite networks, Al-Alam and Press TV, since Washington dreads their role in informing the world of global developments.
http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=64725§ionid=351020101