Category Archives: Rahim

Aim to the face and shoot.

In which an Israeli instructs his fellow soldier that you don’t aim away from the body, you aim to the face and shoot. 

Something tells me the shooting of Tristan Anderson was not an accident. 

Saw this video from the amazing blog palestinevideo.blogspot.com. They also have a twitter.

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Ellison and Baird in Gaza

They played this video to a packed room in DC. Change is coming, albeit slowly.

See two other amazing videos here, and more coverage from the amazing Philip Weiss here.

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Chas Freeman on the Israel Lobby

I hope Obama reads Chas Freeman’s comments:

“You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council. 

I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office.  The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue.  I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country.  I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.

As those who know me are well aware, I have greatly enjoyed life since retiring from government.  Nothing was further from my mind than a return to public service.  When Admiral Blair asked me to chair the NIC I responded that I understood he was “asking me to give my freedom of speech, my leisure, the greater part of my income, subject myself to the mental colonoscopy of a polygraph, and resume a daily commute to a job with long working hours and a daily ration of political abuse.”  I added that I wondered “whether there wasn’t some sort of downside to this offer.”  I was mindful that no one is indispensable; I am not an exception.  It took weeks of reflection for me to conclude that, given the unprecedentedly challenging circumstances in which our country now finds itself abroad and at home, I had no choice but accept the call to return to public service.  I thereupon resigned from all positions that I had held and all activities in which I was engaged.  I now look forward to returning to private life, freed of all previous obligations.

I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy.  These issues had little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration.  Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society.  It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.  

The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful  lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East.  The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.  The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors. 

There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel.  I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel.  It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so.  This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States. 

The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues.  I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.  

In the court of public opinion, unlike a court of law, one is guilty until proven innocent.  The speeches from which quotations have been lifted from their context are available for anyone interested in the truth to read.  The injustice of the accusations made against me has been obvious to those with open minds.  Those who have sought to impugn my character are uninterested in any rebuttal that I or anyone else might make.  

Still, for the record: I have never sought to be paid or accepted payment from any foreign government, including Saudi Arabia or China, for any service, nor have I ever spoken on behalf of a foreign government, its interests, or its policies.  I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic.  I am my own man, no one else’s, and with my return to private life, I will once again – to my pleasure – serve no master other than myself.  I will continue to speak out as I choose on issues of concern to me and other Americans.

I retain my respect and confidence in President Obama and DNI Blair.  Our country now faces terrible challenges abroad as well as at home.  Like all patriotic Americans, I continue to pray that our president can successfully lead us in surmounting them.”

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John Legend – Lay Your Head Down

Legend drops some new material:

John Legend – Lay Your Head Down

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This Week in Palestine

A war on 3 fronts:

1. Jerusalem and the West Bank:

 

2. Gaza:

Amira Haas (Haaretz) provides further chilling reporting on the brutalization of Gazans by IDF soldiers during the ground invasion.  

 

3. Israel:

Netanyahu appears ready to cave to the demands of Avigdor Lieberman. Most importantly, he will give Lieberman the Foreign Ministry, and will give him control of the Justice ministry. 

 
Also,

 

Palestine Podcast: 

Crossing the Line: Life in Occupied Palestine - The best Palestine podcast available. Weekly shows, approximately 45 mins long. Search Itunes for Crossing the Line, or visit website.

 

BDS News:

 

Palestinian Unity News:

 

Blogs to check out:

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My correction on “On The Media”

I regularly listen to On The Media, its a fantastic public radio show that critically analyzes journalism and the state of the media. But recently I was taken aback by a flippant comment made by the usually accurate Bob Garfield. Here’s what he said:

BOB GARFIELD: Houdaiby, like Danish imam Chendid, takes pains to distinguish between free speech and insults, which he says are inexcusable. This prompts me to inquire about a double standard: What of the insults routinely hurled by Muslim clerics, politicians and mobs towards Christians and Jews?

What does he think, for instance, of Palestinian schoolchildren being taught that Jews are apes and pigs?

This claim about Palestinian textbooks has been thoroughly disproven using impartial sources. So I wrote to correct him, using a post from Lawrence of Cyberia as reference, and to my great happiness, he acknowledged the error

BOB GARFIELD: In response to our story, War of the Worlds, about free speech, xenophobia and a clash of cultures when it comes to Muslim immigrants in Western society, Rahim Kurwa from California wrote to point out a mistake. What I said in the piece was that Palestinian schoolchildren are taught that Jews are apes and pigs, and I was wrong about that. While we’ve read media reports about isolated instances in which that insult has appeared in Saudi textbooks, we could find no evidence of that in Palestinian ones, which I’d have discovered if I’d only bothered to check. My apologies.

Needless to say, it was pretty cool.

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Thoughts on Zasloff and Palestine

I read Jonathon Zasloff’s recent post regarding the People’s Voice plan with some dismay. Its not just that I disagree with the plan on several fronts (specifically demilitarizing Palestine, a unilateral move that effectively strips the future country of sovereignty and ignores the fact that its neighbor is a military superpower), what really bothers me is that anyone can envision or support a political future for Abbas. If one thing is clear in the aftermath of the Gaza slaughter, it is that Mahmoud Abbas’s career is effectively over, and the degree to which it is not is only a measure of continued American and Israeli undemocratic influence on the political representation of Palestinians. I’ve pasted my email to him below, but before that I also have some comments on his latest piece, “Parole the Palestinian Refugees.

This post deals with the population of Palestinian refugees in countries neighboring Israel/Palestine. Mostly this is about Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, who have lived as second class citizens and suffered from attacks both by Israelis (their occupation fo Southern Lebanon lasted until 2000) and the Lebaneses (the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, enabled by the IDF, was carried out by Lebanese Christian Phalangists).  

Claiming that the US should actively participate in the peace process by “providing a home for thousands of Palestinian refugees” strikes me as manipulative and opportunistic. It is aimed to curry favor with the Palestinian disapora by alleviating the ongoing pain of refugees in a totally indirect manner. But it also helps Israel by removing the legal right of return for those Palestinian refugees who end up in the US. This move would also further isolate Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Fundamentally, this plan shows disregard for the emotions and humanity of Palestinian refugees. Yes they want to live under better physical conditions, but that doesn’t mean that sweeping them under the rug is appropriate, or even that they would accept it. It only means that the illegal actions that created their situation need to be remedied fairly, in a process that actually considers their desires. While many would jump at the chance to emigrate to the US (even cultural isolation and losing the last shred of hope for a return to your homeland is better than nothing), I’m sure that if you simply asked them what remedy they desired, they would put US citizenship far below returning to their homelands (or even to the occupied territories), if they even thought of it at all. And that’s why the claim that “this would be a humanitarian step of the highest order” really rings false to me. It reminds me of the kind of thinking that Western Europe and the United States engaged in after World War 2 when dealing with the issue of Jewish refugees (oh lets just send them here, or there, just Not In My Back-Yard). The humanitarian thing to do would be to fix their problem in a manner that reflects their desires and entails equal compromise on both sides. The fact is that you can’t just move Palestinians around on a map like you would pawns in a chess game, and you can’t assume that peace can be achieved without listening to the Palestinian side, and legitimately considering what they want. They don’t want to go to the US, they want to go home. 

Anyways, what I wrote to him about the People’s Voice accord (and politicians running on it to jumpstart peace talks) is after the jump.

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10 Israel-Palestine News Updates

“This is a monumental and historic step in the struggle for Palestinian equality, self-determination and peace in the Holy Land by non violent means. I see what these students have accomplished as a replica of the support of their College of our struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Hampshire College’s decision to divest should be a guiding example to all institutions of higher learning.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s statement in support of Hampshire’s divestment. 
 
 
 
British MP George Galloway on the blockade: “Almost every window has been broken but Israel refuses to allow glass across the border. So, in the bitter winter, 61,000 families whose homes have been destroyed are living among the rubble and the rest are freezing because they’ve got no windows.”
 
Statement by US Congressmen Keith Ellison and Brian Baird after visiting Gaza: “Inquiring about the status of relief efforts, the Congressmen learned that some aid material has been allowed in since the intensity of the attacks lessened a month ago, but much is still being blocked by the Israeli defense forces. Examples of aid that has been banned by the Israeli Government include: macaroni, tomato paste, lentils and other food. Basic building materials, generator fuel and parts to repair damaged water treatment equipment have also been kept out.”
 
Juan Cole accuses Olmert of continuing war crimes and collective punishment: “Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has ruled out allowing needed goods into Gaza, which Israel has virtually surrounded from land and sea, until Hamas releases captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit. Olmert is thereby committing a war crime. You can’t collectively punish the general Gaza population if you are the occupying authority. It is not allowed to torture that wailing child in the video above by keeping out painkillers, just because some adult somewhere from the same territory captured an Israeli soldier.” 
 

“If this had happened in our own country, there would be national outrage and an appeal for urgent assistance…the arbitrary and unreasonable Israeli limitations on food and repair essentials is unacceptable and indefensible. People, innocent children, women and non-combatants, are going without water, food and sanitation, while the things they so desperately need are sitting in trucks at the border, being denied permission to go in”

“It’s hard for anyone in our country to imagine how it must feel to have a sick child who needs urgent care or is receiving chemotherapy or dialysis, then be forced to take a needlessly lengthy route, walk rather than drive, and wait in lines as long as two hours simply to get to the hospital. As a health care professional myself, I found this profoundly troubling, no, actually it’s beyond that, it is outrageous,” said Baird.

5. Next Israeli Government likely to be formed by Likud and Yisrael Beteinu (led by outright racist Avigdor Lieberman ). Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, does not recognize the Palestinian state’s right to exist. Netanyahu has stated that he would like to see the West Bank divided into a collection of disconnected economic zones with dedicated business projects.” 

6. Mustafa Barghouti speaks at Columbia University and publishes an opinion in The Nation. 

7. Stephen Walt writes about the prospect of a 2 state solution dying

 
9. LA Times publishes editorial asking “Is it possible to be both a Jewish state and a democratic state?”and openly deploring the treatment of Israeli Arabs. 
 
10. NYU student group calls for divestment from the occupation and increased efforts to allow students in the occupied territories to come study at NYU.
 

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Israel’s Response to Non-Violent Protest in Palestine

Jayyous is the focal point of non-violent demonstrations against the separation wall crawling across the West Bank. In response to the ongoing weekly protests against the construction of this aparthied wall (which appropriates 8% of the West Bank) have been met with a swift and brutal Israeli response. From a report by Mohammad Ethman posted on Mondoweiss (and with additional reporting from the Palestine News Network):

In the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, Occupation forces raided the village of Jayyous and arrested at least 65 people. Both entrances to the village have since been blocked off with mounds of dirt and stones, and an indefinite curfew has been imposed. Soldiers have also occupied 10 homes throughout Jayyous, and have erected Israeli flags on each of these houses. 

Just after midnight, 25 Jeeps and 75 soldiers on foot entered the village and began conducting house-to-house raids, forcing their way into homes at gunpoint and arresting dozens of youth, including the son of the mayor of Jayyous. The soldiers beat whoever tried to prevent them from breaking into the houses, including at least one elderly woman. 

After conducting the raids, the Occupation forces brought a bulldozer into the village to seal off the two entrances to the village with mounds of dirt and stone. They then began shouting in loudspeakers throughout the village that Jayyous had been placed under curfew, and they proceeded to occupy 10 houses, enabling them to control the village from strategic rooftops. 

For several weeks now, Jayyous has been the site of intense repression at the hands of Occupation forces, who have not hesitated to enter the village and indiscriminately fire live bullets and tear gas. However, this operation conducted by the soldiers is the most large-scale crackdown to date. On Sunday evening, soldiers entered the village and destroyed a newly-painted mural on the Jayyous municipality building, for no other reason than to harrass and anger the people. The aim of the Occupation forces is to threaten and intimidate the entire village, in order to stop the strong weekly demonstrations that have been held in Jayyous for the past several months. 

Despite this repression, however, the people of Jayyous refuse to end their resistance. On Friday, Jayyous will hold its demonstration as usual, and activists from surrounding areas will come to the village as well to join in the protest, making it even larger and stronger than in past weeks. 

The people of Jayyous urge you to come to the village today to see the occupied homes, the ongoing intense repression, and the massive military presence. The media is also urged to come to the village on Friday to cover the demonstration, as well as the repression and clashes that are sure to take place.

This isn’t an isolated case. International Solidarity Movement provides footage and a journalistic account of the occupation of Nil’in, which has also been a center for non-violent protest against the wall. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are three major obstacles to non-violent resistance in Palestine:

1. Palestinians don’t have access to the mainstream Israeli citizens who need to see what their country is doing,

2. Their efforts are met with brutal military repression (I’m not sure you can call teargassing children and shooting at ambulances anything but brutal), and

3. The media is largely silent on this repression.  

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The Problem with 2 States

It won’t fix the discrimination/oppression/aparthied (depending on how open your eyes are) against Arabs in Israel. 

In fact it seems like it would make legitimate reforms central to a true democracy (equal access to roads, building permits, education, loan access, etc etc) less likely and ethnic cleansing (via Lieberman’s loyalty oaths / lack of roads, education, building permits, all Israeli parties’ house demolitions, etc etc) to New Palestine all the more enticing and practical.  

Remember, if your democracy is predicated on evicting people of different faiths, then what you really have is a theocracy. 

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