Saturday, November 3, 2007

As the world forgets Gaza

Palestinian workers demonstrate in Gaza against the increased cost of living (Photo: AFP)

by Saleh Al-Naami - Nov 3, 2007

Hyper-inflation and 80 per cent unemployment are the real target outcomes of Israel's siege on Gaza

It was an emotional scene. Relief was apparent on the faces of Mohamed Al-Masri and his wife Rania as they followed the nurse transferring their firstborn, 12-year-old Ahmed, from the operating room in Dar Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The medical team had finally been able to perform surgery in Ahmed's ear to recover his hearing after Israel had temporarily barred the import of nitrous oxide, which is used as anaesthesia and is necessary for surgery to be performed. Israel had given permission to import this vital gas to Gaza Strip hospitals only the day prior to Ahmed's operation last week.

The suspension on imports of nitrous oxide to Gaza Strip hospitals had forced their administrations to close down surgery departments and halt operations, except for those absolutely vital. Following resumption of the importation of this gas, medical crews worked additional hours to perform surgeries that had been delayed due to its shortage. Yet Bassem Naim, health minister in Ismail Haniyeh's dismissed government, says that the danger of Israel barring imports of nitrous oxide again remains. "There is a possibility of a health disaster occurring here anew, with patients dying because our hospitals are unable to conduct surgeries," he told Al-Ahram Weekly. "There is a need for international intervention to prevent this catastrophe from happening."

Naim adds that the crisis the health sector is undergoing in the Gaza Strip is not limited to the possibility of nitrous oxide running out. It extends, rather, to the depletion of a number of medicines used in the treatment of patients with chronic illnesses. According to Naim, around 30-50 types of medicines have almost entirely run out. Perhaps the most important of these are medicines used by cardiac patients. Mariam Aliyan, 45, works in a civil institution in Rafah, the most southern point of Gaza, and was forced to take a month's vacation in fear that her health condition might worsen. Mariam has heart disease, and although her health condition is currently stable, her family members did not want her to risk deteriorating due to exhaustion and work while her heart medicine is depleted. This meant that she had to stay in hospital.

Cardiology departments in Gaza Strip hospitals have begun to only accept cardiac patients who suffer badly from the medicine shortage and the lack of appropriate equipment. Mazen Al-Tatar, head of the cardiology department in Dar Al-Shifa Hospital -- the Strip's largest, located in Gaza City -- says that the Israeli siege has had an incredibly negative effect on cardiac patients because it has caused a severe shortage in many vital medicines that are difficult to obtain. He suggests that the siege has also affected medical equipment that has become unusable. The cardiology department that he heads, for example, has five monitoring devices, all of which are dysfunctional since they have been in use for over 17 years. Under normal conditions, he explains, they would be put out of use following a much shorter length of time.

One of the glaring signs that health conditions in the Gaza Strip have severely deteriorated is the fact that Al-Wafa Medical Hospital, which specialises in the rehabilitation of patients with movement impairments, has halted most of its rehabilitation programmes. According to a statement issued by the hospital, the siege, including closure of commercial crossings, has "contributed significantly to obstructing and precluding a number of health programmes that serve the injured and disabled. It has also prevented necessary medicines and medical supplies from reaching hospitals, and barred patients from travelling abroad for treatment." As well as focussing on mobility, Al-Wafa Medical Hospital is the only hospital in Gaza that is specialised in cognition impairment resulting from accidents, neural conditions, and injuries incurred as a result of occupation army operations conducted in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The siege and the shrinkage of commercial transactions between Gaza and the outside world have also led to a sharp rise in the prices of foodstuffs. By way of example, the price of a bag of flour has risen 80 per cent; because of the 680,000 tonnes the Gaza Strip needs daily only 90 tonnes are permitted to enter. Similarly, the price of sugar has risen 60 per cent, in addition to various increases in the prices of other staple foodstuffs. Palestinians in Gaza cannot even dream of some other products, such as soft drinks, which are no longer imported. And the cost of tobacco has risen drastically, its price increasing by 150 per cent.

As for building materials, their prices have risen astronomically after Israel has barred their import. A bag of cement, for example, has increased in price 10-fold. In practical terms, this lack of building materials due to the siege has exacerbated the unemployment problem to an unprecedented level. Unemployment has risen to over 80 per cent of the labour force, and it is no longer possible to practise many of the professions that depend on the existence of building materials. As for industry, it has also halted due to the lack of raw materials.

Yet the worst for Palestinians in Gaza is yet to come. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has approved a series of collective punishments, ostensibly to force Palestinian resistance movements to stop firing homemade missiles on Israeli settlements surrounding the Strip. Israeli Deputy Minister of Defence Matan Vilnai, who headed the security committee that recommended the imposition of collective punishment, told Israeli television Channel One last Friday that this internationally outlawed form of state behaviour is a "legitimate means of placing pressure on Palestinian civilians to move against the factions that are targeting Israel." The Israeli government has approved the Vilnai recommendations, meaning that the humanitarian situation in Gaza will again and imminently be purposely worsened by Israel.

Among the collective punishments the Israeli government has approved is a clause related to reducing the electricity supply into Gaza. This means that swathes of Gaza will be plunged into darkness with the onset of winter. The Israeli government has also decided to reduce the quantity of fuel that the Palestinian electricity generation station in central Gaza is allowed to import. According to statistics issued by the Popular Committee for Resisting the Siege (PCRS), cutting electricity will have a negative impact on water pumping stations, which means that water to homes will also be cut off for numerous hours every day. The quantity of fuel used for transportation and gas allocations for home use will also be limited. Wide sectors of the Palestinian population in Gaza are in a state of alarm, and gas distribution centres are extremely crowded with people filling gas canisters in expectation of supplies being cut off.

Also among the collective sanctions approved by the Israeli government is the imposition of major restrictions on the movement of Palestinian citizens to and from the Gaza Strip.

Representative Jamal Al-Khadri, who heads the PCRS, considers the Israeli sanctions as "violating the most basic of human rights and international conventions that allow humans to live in freedom and dignity." He told the Weekly that, "these measures will increase the suffering of the Palestinian people, and especially the ill and children. It will have negative ramifications on all fronts." Al-Khadri stressed that punishment of the Gaza Strip "would not contribute to the stability of the region or life in peace and security, and will increase suffering and aggravate the situation."

Israeli journalists Avi Yesiskrof and Amos Heril have referenced top Israeli army leaders as saying that they recommended the imposition of collective punishment even while realising that this will not contribute to moving Palestinians to place pressure on the resistance to stop firing on Israeli settlements. The two journalists have pointed out that the collective punishment plan is aimed to prepare public opinion for a large-scale and lengthy military operation that Israel intends to conduct in Gaza. They also seek to convince the residents of Siderot settlement, which has been the target of most Palestinian resistance fire, that the Israeli army is doing everything that it can to protect them.

Israeli writer and political analyst Uzi Benziman published an article in Haaretz newspaper stating that in addition to the fact that such punishments are unethical, they will certainly reap the opposite results, widening the circle of hatred for Israel among Palestinians and increasing the recruitment of young Palestinians to resistance activities. Benziman asserts that experience has shown that collective punishments imposed by Israel upon Palestinians have failed. "On the contrary, this approach has increased the motivation of Palestinian organisations to strike at Israel and increase the number of suicide bombers who want to take revenge," he wrote in Haaretz last Sunday.

Source: Al-Ahram Weekly

A Case for Arab Dignity

by Ramzy Baroud - Nov 3, 2007

The ongoing socio-economic and political ills that mar potential progress in Middle Eastern countries can largely be attributed to the ill-defined foreign policy of the United States. Utterly desperate situations have arisen whereby US clients rule with an iron fist, making prospects for a meaningful democracy sit at an all-time low. However it would be nothing less than self-deception to elucidate Arab social, economic and political ailments exclusively on US-Israeli military and political belligerency; there needs to be an element of self-reflection and responsibility to make viable any pragmatic steps towards improvement and justice.

The Arab Human Development Reports list political and economic regressions, rampant corruption, utter inequality, oppression of women, and indeed men, lack of cohesion, planning, and forward thinking as significant problems in Arab countries. The 2005 report laboured to put a positive spin on negative situations, choosing to focus on the empowerment of Arab women, who, in some Arab societies are denied access to schools, economic independence and political representation.

The oil boom of the 1970’s, and the wave of neo-liberalism in the 1990’s has turned most Arab countries into class societies, either creating new disparities or deepening already existing ones. But there is little class ‘conflict’ to speak of today; the poor are , in many cases, literally struggling to survive on day-to-day basis, while the rich have surpassed, in arrogance and attitude, the positions assumed by the elites of Central America. Their access to political power, economic wealth, and total control over most media channels has significantly deepened the divide. Many of Morocco’s poor are braving the tumultuous Mediterranean waters to make it to Europe, to secure meagre jobs with meagre pay, and an uncountable number of Egyptians are in constant hunt for opportunities elsewhere. The situation everywhere is getting more dire, opening the doors for even greater corruption and nepotism to permeate.

The media cannot be counted on to represent the reality on the ground. Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya remain the exception, but they too are receptive to political and economic pulls. And even without these, it takes more than couple of TV stations to cater to the local and national needs of hundreds of millions of people whose cultures, immediate realities and economic and political challenges are too varied to be encapsulated in a few news bulletins, erratic TV debates and passing slogans.

Saddest of all is the fact that Arab masses lack the ability to even vent their frustrations, having lived under a tight grip for decades and crushed mercilessly whenever they dared to march for their rights.

While the ruling elites lavishly spend to set themselves apart from those at the bottom, the latter are forced to learn the language of power, to cater to the elites’ every whim. No wonder many turn to the most immediate ways of escaping such reality. The Internet is thriving in major Arab cities, not so much as a tool of meaningful communication, but mostly for purposes of chatting and pornography. Both of these create alternate realities. Chatting could also represent the start of new opportunities, that of premeditated ‘love’, or, just maybe, a green card or its equivalent in some European country.

The situation is particularly dismal for Palestinians caught between a brutal Israeli occupation and their own corrupt elites. While many live under various regimes with an almost impossible legal status as stateless people, rich Palestinians in the Gulf (and elsewhere) seem blissfully far-removed; the immense Palestinian wealth abroad is yet to benefit the 1.4 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 80% of whom are dependent on international aid for their survival.

The US and various European countries are contributing to the chaos, compounding neoliberalism with neo-imperialism, controlling the former colonial outposts via economic dependency in the form of aid, political and military posturing, and NGOs. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID are two prominent examples. NED, funded mostly by a Congressional annual allocation, was founded in 1983 to serve US foreign policy. It claims to be “guided by the belief that freedom is a universal human aspiration that can be realized through the development of democratic institutions, procedures, and values.” Considering NED’s role in the coup against Venezuelan democracy in April 2002 and other instances of soft intervention, one cannot help but question the organization’s democratic values.

The Arab peoples are in a situation that warrants little envy. In countries like Iraq, a functioning socioeconomic and political structure – despite its shortcomings – was simply written off in May 2003, with the signature of L. Paul Bremer, the first US ruler of Iraq. The disbanding of the army was followed by the country’s de-Baathification (undermining Sunnis for merely being the favored sect of Saddam), showing utter disregard for the welfare of the Iraqi people.

The Iraq scenario has set a dreadful precedent. Those not content by their current rulers were forced to rethink their priorities when they saw the US-induced chaos in Iraq in action. Those who giddily capitalized on the democracy window were mercilessly crushed. Palestinians were subdued and democracy was snatched away from its proper owners, the majority of the people, and was handed back to the corrupt few. In Egypt, coercion and corruption during elections has managed to maintain the status quo.

There are no easy answers here, no snappy recommendations or full-proof solutions. The task is truly overwhelming. But it is clear that the true interests of the Arab peoples can only be served by Arabs themselves; reforms can not be imposed, true, but that is impossible to achieve under the current power relations - rulers setting themselves up as unquestionably superior to their people, TV channels promoting rampant consumerism and providing endless distraction, and uncountable multitudes seeking deliverance, escapism and, often, falling prey to extremism. For Arab countries to have some hope of a meaningful future (and indeed present), grassroots work must replace intellectual detachment, wealth must be invested in building self-sustained societies, and, most importantly, the dignity of Arab women and men must be preserved above all else.

Restoring Rights

by John F. McManus - Nov 2007

If leading spokespersons of both the right and the left in America enthusiastically back passage of any piece of legislation, there should be headlines in the various elements of the mass media. Anything attracting that kind of bipartisan support must certainly be dramatically important — so weighty that all conscious Americans ought to examine it. Claiming to be among the “conscious,” we hereby provide a serious look at H.R. 3835, the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007. It was introduced in the House of Representatives by Texas Republican Ron Paul on October 15, 2007.

If enacted, H.R. 3835 would:
  • repeal the 2006 Military Commissions Act that denies habeas corpus (the right to face criminal accusations in a court of law);
  • ban confessions gained through torture or coercion;
  • insist on adherence to the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to gain intelligence;
  • challenge the president’s practice of disregarding portions of laws with presidential “signing statements”;
  • ban torture and arbitrary kidnapping or imprisonment;
  • protect journalists who receive information from the executive branch from prosecution for airing it “unless the publication would cause direct, immediate, and irreparable harm” to our national security; and
  • put a stop to any use of secret evidence against any individual or organization.
    In short, the act would cancel numerous executive branch attacks on the types of civil liberties that have uniquely marked our nation.

H.R. 3835 has earned support across our nation’s political spectrum because the abuses addressed or alluded to in it have indeed been committed. If this type of extra-constitutional activity isn’t stopped, and if the reigning powers in the executive branch aren’t required to submit to traditional restraints, the United States could be transformed into a police state. Both aliens and U.S. citizens could find themselves targeted with no appeal to the rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

The Military Commissions Act (MCA), one of H.R. 3835’s chief targets, became law late in 2006 after House approval by 250-170 followed a 65-34 vote in the Senate. President Bush eagerly signed it after having insisted it was necessary “as part of making sure that we do have the capacity to protect you,” meaning the American people. He also said it was needed “to insure that those questioning terrorists can continue to do everything within the law to get information that can save American lives.”

In what is surely its most fundamental — though far from its only — undermining of rights, MCA grants power to the president to suspend habeas corpus. Traceable to its inclusion in the Magna Carta of 1215 and frequently termed “The Great Writ,” habeas corpus literally means “you have the body.” It is a legal protection that allows any person to seek relief from unlawful detention of either himself or another. It is as basic a right as can be imagined. Using it prevents arbitrary and lawless action such as incarceration without any reason being given and denial of legal assistance if apprehended. And it applies not only to the citizens of this nation but to all persons dealt with by U.S. authorities.

The Founding Fathers understood the importance of habeas corpus. Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” Our nation is not in rebellion and the kind of invasion envisioned by the men who wrote the Constitution has not occurred. Hence, there is no justification for suspending the privilege.

In its attack on habeas corpus, MCA states that “no court, justice or judge shall have jurisdiction to consider any claim or case of action, including an application for a writ of habeas corpus … brought by or on behalf of any alien detained by the United States as an unlawful enemy combatant.” As clearly pointed out in the October 30, 2006 issue of this magazine, MCA’s attack on habeas corpus is not aimed solely at aliens. That this is so can be seen in the MCA’s definition of “unlawful enemy combatant” as a “person who has engaged in hostilities” against our country or a “person who … has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant” by a tribunal established “under the authority of the president or the secretary of defense.” If federal authorities designate someone as an “unlawful enemy combatant,” such as a journalist or speaker who opposes the administration’s war or anti-terrorism policies, habeas corpus could be suspended.

As NEW AMERICAN analyst Joe Wolverton has pointed out, the definition found in MCA “throws the blanket over citizen and alien alike by using the word ‘person’ rather than ‘alien.’” American citizen Jose Padilla was arrested in Chicago in May 2002 as he returned from Pakistan. He was labeled an enemy combatant and accused of planning to set off a dirty atomic weapon in a major U.S. city. His lawyer filed a habeas corpus petition seeking to discover the evidence backing up the charge. A court denied the petition and Padilla remained in a military prison for more than three years until November 2005.

Even though Padilla was a U.S. citizen, his rights to know the charges against him, to have legal assistance, and to receive a speedy trial were not honored. During his three years and eight months of incarceration in a military prison, Padilla claims to have been tortured and drugged. Video footage likely demonstrating the treatment he allegedly received “mysteriously disappeared” according to Bush administration attorneys. Eventually brought to trial, Padilla was not convicted on the original charges made against him but on such evidence as a highly questionable request he made to go to Afghanistan and a 10-year-old videotape of Osama bin Laden. On the other hand, the government dropped the very serious charge that Padilla was planning to set off a dirty nuclear device; that charge, which shocked the nation when the government snatched Padilla amidst great media fanfare, was dropped down a memory hole.

Padilla is not the only American citizen who has been treated in such a fashion. Louisianan Yaser Esam Hamdi was working in Afghanistan when he was captured by the Northern Alliance, turned over to U.S. authorities, accused of being a member of the Taliban, sent to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and later transferred to a military prison in South Carolina before being freed. And what happened to Padilla and Hamdi has also been the fate of hundreds of prisoners languishing for years in that same special U.S. military compound at Guantanamo. Their incarceration occurred prior to passage of MCA. Joe Wolverton explains that heavy support for the act “was pushed by the Bush administration in a bid to get congressional approval of all the illegal action it had already been taking.”

MCA’s attack on habeas corpus is not its only invitation to home-grown tyranny. It allows “pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions” and gives legitimacy to “statements … obtained by coercion.” Defining these frightening terms is left to the discretion of the president or someone he designates. That it was approved by Congress, many of whose members likely never read it beforehand, indicates dereliction of duty and disdain for the Constitution by a majority of its members.

Gonzalez and His Successor

The Bush administration’s attitude regarding the revolutionary powers contained in MCA was clearly expressed on January 19, 2007 by then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. Under questioning regarding the measure’s powers, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away.” A stunned Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) interrupted and stated, “Now, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can’t take it away except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right to habeas corpus unless there is an invasion or rebellion?”

Alberto Gonzalez sought to explain his outrageous assertion: “I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say ‘Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas corpus.’ It doesn’t say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by...” The Pennsylvania senator interrupted again and told the soon-to-resign attorney general that he was “violating common sense.” True enough, but he was also violating the most fundamental of all rights protected by the still-existing though regularly discounted Constitution of the United States — habeas corpus.*

No one should believe that because Alberto Gonzalez recently resigned his post that his attitude has been dethroned. It still prevails as the policy of the Bush administration. Mr. Bush’s nominee to replace Gonzalez, Michael Mukasey, essentially seconded what Gonzalez had stated when questioned about the administration’s disputed antiterrorism policies during Senate confirmation hearings. He claimed that the president had authority as commander in chief to supersede laws written by Congress. He is, therefore, another believer in an imperial presidency. His commentary provides another sound reason for enacting H.R. 3835.

Support From Left and Right

For much of the year 2007, the concerns addressed by H.R. 3835 attracted the attention of both conservatives and liberals concerned about the unconstitutional accumulation of powers by the executive branch. Last March, a group of nationally recognized conservatives announced formation of the American Freedom Agenda (AFA), a campaign seeking restoration of the Constitution’s protections against the Bush administration’s attacks on civil liberties. Led by former Reagan administration Deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein, the group includes former Congressman Bob Barr, legal scholar John Whitehead, and several other conservative activists.

AFA’s mission statement claims that “the executive branch has chronically usurped legislative and judicial power, and has repeatedly claimed that the President is the law. The constitutional grievances against the White House are chilling, reminiscent of the kingly abuses that provoked the Declaration of Independence.” The group’s 10-point agenda has largely been reproduced in Congressman Paul’s H.R. 3835. (See text of the measure in "A Bill That Protects Rights.")

In addition, AFA compiled its American Freedom Pledge, a pledge for presidential candidates to sign. Its 10 points follow:

1. No Military Commissions (military panels to try war crimes) Except on the Battlefield
2. No Evidence Extracted by Torture or Coercion
3. No Detaining Citizens as Unlawful Enemy Combatants
4. Restoring Habeas Corpus for Suspected Alien Enemy Combatants
5. Prohibiting Warrantless Spying by the National Security Agency in Violation of Law
6. Renouncing Presidential Signing Statements
7. Ending Secret Government by Invoking State Secrets Privilege
8. Stopping Extraordinary Renditions
9. Stopping Threats to Prosecuting Journalists Under the Espionage Act
10. Ending the Listing of Individuals or Organizations as Terrorists Based on Secret Evidence

Rep. Paul was the first presidential candidate to sign the AFA Pledge, and he drew from its points to create his H.R. 3835.

In July, prominent liberals launched the parallel American Freedom Campaign (AFC), founded by liberal activist Naomi Wolf and backed by prominent leftists from Human Rights Watch and A Yale graduate and a Rhodes Scholar, Wolf labored for Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection and Al Gore’s run for the presidency in 2000. She maintains that she “is not a voter on [Congressman Ron Paul’s] side of the ballot, but I will move heaven and earth to support the passage” of his bill.

The liberal AFC has produced its own “American Freedom Pledge” which parallels the AFA pledge. It reads in part:

We are Americans, and in our America we do not torture, we do not imprison people without charge or legal recourse, allow our phones and emails to be tapped without a court order, and above all do not give any President unchecked power. I pledge to fight to protect and defend the Constitution from assault by any President.... Yet today, under the pretense of the “war of terror” the White House is dismantling the Constitution, concentrating power in the President, and undermining the rule of law. This is un-American. [Emphasis in the original.]

If you have the opportunity to speak to a candidate for the nation’s highest office, be sure to ask him or her to sign one of these pledges. Additionally, all liberty-cherishing Americans should approach incumbents and candidates for House and Senate seats about this incredibly important matter. House members should be asked to cosponsor H.R. 3835. Senators should be requested to introduce and support a companion piece in their chamber.

A massive calling of attention to H.R. 3835, and to either of the pledges noted above, will have a dampening effect on any continuance of the ongoing trashing of civil liberties. The very healthy joining of forces by the left and the right in America on this issue could pave the way for further togetherness in restoring the entire U.S. Constitution.

Readers are encouraged to contact their representative in favor of the American Freedom Agenda Act. To send a letter online, go to [1].

* In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Nelson that “the writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.” The principle in this case has been repeated in numerous instances both before and after the 1969 statement.
What’s Left of the Bill of Rights?

Television commentator Keith Olbermann hosts Countdown on MSNBC. Well known for his liberal views, he is one of many on the left who consider the Military Commissions Act as an enormous infringement of fundamental rights.

On October 10, 2006, not long after Congress passed the administration-backed Military Commissions Act, Olbermann began his program as follows: “The president has now succeeded where no one has before. He’s managed to kill the writ of habeas corpus.”

He continued the broadcast with several quotes resurrected from lawmakers such as the following from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), another liberal: “The bill before us would not only suspend the great writ — the writ of habeas corpus — it just eliminates it permanently. Conditions for suspending habeas corpus have not been met.”

Olbermann then displayed an enlarged copy of the Bill of Rights and proceeded to show how the destruction of habeas corpus affected nine of its 10 amendments to our nation’s Constitution. These amendments, of course, were added to prohibit government from attacking and destroying fundamental rights. Pointing to his blown-up copy of the first 10 amendments, he proceeded to X-out one after another of the articles as follows:

OK, number one is gone. If you’re detained without trial, you lose your freedom of religion and speech, press, assembly, all the rest.... And, you know, you can’t petition the government for anything.

Number two, while you’re in prison, your right to keep and bear arms might be infringed upon even if you’re in the NRA....

Number three [quartering of troops] is all right.

Number four, you’re definitely not secure against searches and seizures … so forget the fourth.

Number five, grand juries and due process? Obviously out....

Number six, well trials are gone too, let alone the right to counsel. Speedy trial? You want it when?

Number seven, I thought we just covered trials and juries earlier, so forget the seventh.

Number eight, well bail’s kind of a moot point isn’t it?

Number nine, other rights retained by the people. Well, you know, if you can name them during your water boarding, we’ll consider them.

Number ten, powers not delegated to the United States federal government. Well, they seem to have ended up there anyway.

So as you can see … at least one tenth of the Bill of Rights — I guess it’s the Bill of Right now — remains virtually intact. Number three is still safe.

We can rest easy knowing that we will never, ever have to quarter soldiers in our homes as long as the Third Amendment still stands strong. The president can just take care of that with a signing statement.

Jewgenics: Jewish intelligence, Jewish genes, and Jewish values.

by William Saletan

Are Jews a race? Is Jewish intelligence genetic?

If these notions make you cringe, you're not alone. Many non-Jews find them offensive. Actually, scratch that. I have no idea whether non-Jews find them offensive. But I imagine that they do, which is why Jews like me wince at any suggestion of Jewish genetic superiority. We don't even want to talk about it.

Actually, a bunch of us did talk about it, three days ago at a forum at the American Enterprise Institute. The main speaker was Jon Entine, an AEI fellow and author of a new book, Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People. He was joined by fellow AEI scholar Charles Murray and by Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at Northwestern University. Entine and Zoloth are Jewish. Murray isn't but talks as though he wishes he were. "One of my thesis advisers at MIT was a Sephardic Jew," he announced proudly, turning the old "some of my best friends" cliché upside down.

Entine laid out the data. The average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews is 107 to 115, well above the human average of 100. This gap and the genetic theories surrounding it stirred discomfort in the room. Zoloth, speaking for many liberals, recalled a family member's revulsion at the idea of a Jewish race. Judaism is about faith and values, she argued. To reduce it to biology is to make it exclusive, denying its openness to all. Worse, to suggest that Jews are genetically smart is to imply that non-Jews are inherently inferior, in violation of Jewish commitments to equality and compassion. My friend Dana Milbank, who's a better (if I may use that word) Jew than I am, watched the discussion, went back to his office, and wrote a column in the Washington Post poking fun at all the talk of superior Jewish intellect. The column, as usual, was really smart.

But what if Judaism as a genetic inheritance is compatible with Judaism as a cultural inheritance? And what if the genes that make Jews smart also make them sick? If one kind of superiority comes at the price of another kind of inferiority, and if the transmission of Jewish values drives the transmission of Jewish genes, does that make the genetics and the superiority easier to swallow?

Apparently so.

According to Entine, the rate of Jewish "outbreeding"—procreating with non-Jews—is half a percent. That's the lowest rate of any population in the world today. What drives this phenomenon? Culture. Ten years ago, my childless Orthodox uncle came up to me and said, "I hear you're dating a Jewish girl." When I replied in the affirmative, he added, "If you marry her, I'll come to the wedding." That was pretty much the whole conversation. A year and a half later, he was at my wedding. Today, he's got a grandniece and grandnephew living in my house. I'd like to think he had no influence, but maybe I'm kidding myself. Explicitly and implicitly, Jews have been getting this message for millennia. As Murray pointed out, the Bible is full of instructions to marry within the faith.

A culture that trains its young people to procreate only with one another becomes, over time, a genetically distinct population. And if that culture glorifies intelligence to such a degree that it drives less intelligent people out of the community—or prevents them from attracting mates—it becomes an IQ machine. Cultural selection replaces natural selection. For example, Jews have long emphasized male literacy. For this reason, Murray argued, anyone who was Jewish and stupid 2,000 years ago found "it was a lot easier to be a Christian." Entine called this kind of process a "bio-cultural feedback loop."

The theory still sounds arrogant, until you hear the IQ machine's possible costs. Some scholars now hypothesize that the genes that make Jews smart also give some of them nasty diseases such as Tay-Sachs. Entine finds this plausible. He pointed out that some genes associated with brain growth are also associated with breast cancer, including in his own family. During the question-and-answer session, someone brought up another tradeoff: Supposedly, Jews are deficient in visio-spatial skills, possibly because their brains allot extra space for verbal intelligence. That might explain the average Ashkenazi Jewish score of 122 on verbal IQ tests.

Pondering these nuances and tradeoffs, Zoloth reconsidered her aversion to the idea of Jewish genes and Jewish intelligence. What should we do, she wondered, if we find genes that predispose children both to genius and to early death? And should Jewish biological differences be minimized if they're expressions of—and vehicles for—Judaism as a value system?

Zoloth didn't have answers to those questions. Neither do I. Part of being Jewish, after all, is talking in questions more than answers. Whether that habit is cultural or biological, I don't know. But this much I can tell you: I walked out of the AEI conference room that day with a cut on my nose because, in an attempt to pick something up off the floor, I whacked my face on the chair in front of me. Probably I'm just a moron. But maybe visio-spatial deficiency really is a sign of intelligence, in which case, I'd like to thank my ancestors for making the trade. Including my uncle, who, come to think of it, may not be childless after all.


Pressure, Self-Censorship, and the Israel Lobby

Source: DesertPeace - Nov 2, 2007

What do we, as a society, lose by allowing, year after year, the stifling of open, critical discussion of Israeli policy and U.S. support for it?

By The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine CJPIP

When the Chicago Council on Global Affairs cancelled a scheduled talk by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt on the topic of their new book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, the Council was accused of capitulating to pressure from The Israel Lobby itself. The Council’s President Marshall Bouton denied that the action was due to external pressure, or even that a cancellation had, in fact, happened. Bouton says a Council event with Mearsheimer and Walt will occur at a date in the future, but that the authors will be joined in a panel format by other speakers with contrasting views.

The Chicago Council on Global Relations is not the first institution to experience the force of controversy generated by criticism of Israeli policy and the U.S. government’s long-standing support of it. Nor is the Council alone in trying to calculate how to maneuver around the heated controversy that these topics generate.

Less than two months after the cancellation of Mearsheimer and Walt’s talk at the Chicago Council, administrators at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, cancelled a scheduled talk by the Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The cancellation came, university administrators explained, because some past statements by Tutu about Israeli policy were "hurtful to some members of the Jewish community." Julie Swiler, an employee of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, was consulted by university administrators, along with a few rabbis teaching within St. Thomas' Center for Jewish-Christian Learning. Swiler explained, "I think there’s a consensus in the Jewish community that [Tutu’s] words were offensive."(1)

Swiler was referring to remarks allegedly made by Tutu comparing Israel to Hitler. In the weeks after the University of St. Thomas cancelled Tutu’s appearance, it came to light that those comments attributed to Tutu were a fabrication. In paraphrasing remarks by Tutu in Boston conference, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, distorted Tutu’s remarks in a ZOA press release.(2) The distorted version worked its way into the media and, in the words of the Jewish Daily Forward, "over time it acquired the status of a factual account."(3)

Like many of the most visible organizations that claim to represent American Jewish interests and to speak for American Jews, the Jewish Community Relations Council for Minnesota and the Dakotas is, among other things, a pro-Israel advocacy organization. Its "Stand Up For Israel" project exists for the purpose of "advocating for peace and security for Israel through education, information and community action."(4) Jewish community organizations like the JCRC, along with numerous conservative and Christian Zionist organizations, form what Mearsheimer and Walt call The Israel Lobby. According to Mearsheimer and Walt, as well as the many sources they cite in their research, The Lobby acts as an intimidating and coercive force pursuing a mission to suppress criticism of Israeli policy.

Mearsheimer and Walt’s study of The Israel Lobby has been met with both cheers and sharp criticism. Even many critics of the book’s methodology praise the authors for having broached an important, underexamined topic. In a largely critical review, Walter Russell Mead, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes:

"One must also commend the two authors for their decision to focus on an important topic that has not received the attention it merits. The politics of U.S. policy in the Middle East is a subject that is not well understood. Pro-Israel organizations, political action committees (PACs), and individuals do play significant roles in the U.S. political process, and they do influence politicians and journalists. Given the importance of the Middle East in U.S. foreign policy and world affairs, these actors and their influence should be explored. Even if The Israel Lobby is in the end not as helpful as they hope, Mearsheimer and Walt have admirably and courageously helped to start a much-needed conversation on a controversial and combustible topic. There should be no taboos among students of U.S. foreign policy—no questions that should not be asked, no issues that should be considered too hot to handle, no relationships or alliances, however deep or enduring, that should not be regularly and searchingly reviewed."(5)

Naturally, the taboos that constrain discussion of U.S. foreign policy affect non-governmental organizations as well. Most organizations—whether in the media, education, business, or nonprofit sectors—are risk averse, seeking to avoid controversy and internal dissension. The consequences of negative publicity can be disastrous for organizations reliant on subscriptions, advertising revenues, financial contributions, and sales. While some censorship is, indeed, externally imposed, proactive self-censorship also occurs to avoid the controversy that embroils individuals and organizations airing views critical of Israeli policy.

In the two episodes mentioned here, in which forums featuring speakers known to be critical of Israeli policy were cancelled, the host institutions deny unwelcome intrusion or pressure by outsiders. Certainly there are many reasons for institutions to deny intimidation even when it exists. Institutions vulnerable to external pressure would not wish to risk further retribution by naming its source. Institutions promoting themselves as bastions of academic freedom and open public discourse would be loath to admit that they capitulated to outside pressure from special interest groups.

The stated rationale for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ cancellation of the Mearsheimer and Walt talk changed dramatically in the weeks thereafter. An early rationale, reported by Mearsheimer himself, was provided during a phone call from Council President Bouton to Mearsheimer, reported in the New York Times. Walt and Mearsheimer related the contents of that conversation in a four-page letter to the board of the Council: "On July 24, Council President Marshall Bouton phoned one of us (Mearsheimer) and informed him that he was canceling the event," and that his decision "was based on the need 'to protect the institution.’ He said that he had a serious 'political problem,’ because there were individuals who would be angry if he gave us a venue to speak, and that this would have serious negative consequences for the council."(6)

In more recent statements about the cancellation, however, Bouton doesn’t attribute the Council’s action to a desire to avoid angering individuals hostile to Mearsheimer and Walt’s thesis or to possibly negative consequences for the Council in allowing them to be heard. "The Council had an obligation," Bouton wrote in response to inquiries about the cancellation, "to deepen the discussion rather than simply to add to the heated atmosphere that was developing around the book’s release." The panel format used by the council for controversial topics, Bouton says, allows the Council to "contribute to the public debate in a more inclusive fashion that brings context and contending viewpoints together in the same event." Members are attracted to the Council, Bouton continues, because "we present the important issues in a way that is designed to inform thoughtful discussion, not simply to provoke.(7) [emphasis added]

A letter-writing campaign protesting the University of St. Thomas’ cancellation of Desmond Tutu’s appearance was initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace’s Muzzlewatch Project and generated 2,700 letters in a matter of days. [The JVP campaign is widely seen as instrumental in prompting the university’s president, Father Dennis Dease, to reverse the decision later and reinvite Archbishop Tutu.] JVP created Muzzlewatch ( in January, 2007, because incidents such as the cancellations at the Chicago Council and the University of St. Thomas are not isolated events, but part of a much larger trend of censorship and self-censorship. Muzzlewatch tracks efforts to stifle open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy. Groups like JVP work to counteract the perception that high-profile Israel-advocacy groups represent all American Jews and to illuminate the dangers of this broad pattern in which people critical of Israeli human rights violations are attacked and silenced.

Is there a problem with the University of St. Thomas’ president trying to avoid hurting the Jewish community? Is Council president Bouton in error when he seeks to not provoke? Jewish Voice for Peace co-directors Plitnick and Surasky see hazard in the institutional self-censorship that follows from these apparently good intentions: "Dease seems to have been motivated by a genuine desire to avoid hurting Minnesota’s Jewish community. However, he ended up...making a wrong and unethical decision..."(8)

When organizations are motivated by a determination to avoid controversy and negative publicity, they are easy targets for pro-Israel advocacy organizations and individuals who work tirelessly to generate controversy and negative publicity. Well-intentioned persons wary of being accused of being hurtful, provocative, or anti-Semitic are easily manipulated and exploited by pro-Israel advocacy organizations and individuals that are expert at whipping up orchestrated expressions of hurt—at being provoked—often baselessly. When institutions use the response from pro-Israel advocacy organizations as a gauge of the controversial nature of information, they leave it to those organizations to determine what is controversial, provocative, and hurtful.

What do we, as a society, lose by allowing, year after year, the stifling of open, critical discussion of Israeli policy and U.S. support for it?

Some observers see tremendous risk for Jews. The Jewish Daily Forward warns of "the shrinking credibility and good name of American Jewish public advocacy." Of "the supposedly bullying power of the Jewish lobby," The Forward further warns, "we are following an old model of Jewish advocacy in a world where the rules have changed. We give free rein to our most alarmist instincts—defend Israel unquestioningly, accept on faith any accusation of antisemitism, believe the worst of everyone—and in so doing we permit the most extreme and cynical elements in our community to set our agenda."(9)

Plitnick and Surasky see Dease’s misguided, although well-intentioned, cancellation of Tutu as "hurting Jews everywhere," but also "harming hopes for a more-enlightened American attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."(10)

American organizations that are accused of anti-Israel bias are often forced to direct vast amounts of time and energy to public relations damage-control in response to orchestrated smear campaigns initiated by those seeking to suppress open discussion of U.S. and Israeli policy. The local hysteria generated by many of Israel’s American advocates is deafening and preoccupying. Meanwhile, the distant sounds of despair and rage from Palestinians—impoverished, isolated, brutalized, and facing relentless dispossession by Israeli occupation—are, by contrast, barely audible.

A recently-published study of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers by a psychologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem recounts numerous incidents of unprovoked violence and sadism toward Palestinians in the occupied territories, as reported by the soldiers who perpetrated them.(11) While the report is "provoking bitter controversy and has awakened urgent questions" in Israel, the report has gotten no attention in the U.S. The Palestinian experience exists apart from Israel’s and the world’s willingness to see and hear it. As Israel's primary diplomatic and financial backer, the U.S., by its historic unwillingness to reckon and openly discuss the Palestinian experience of the Israeli occupation, creates grave consequences, not only for Jews, Israelis, and Palestinians, but for the world.

Juan Cole, the University of Michigan history professor who authors the Informed Comment blog, warns of these consequences. Referring to the IDF study, he writes, "The U.S. political elite and media that conceals the brutality of the Israeli occupation for sectional political gains are accomplices to this sadism, and their silence endangers the security of the United States. When we cannot understand why Arab audiences, who are perfectly aware of what the Israeli army has been doing to Palestinians for decades, are outraged, it leads us into policy mistakes in dealing with the Middle East."(12)

University administrators, media professionals, religious leaders, public servants, and others who avoid the hot-button issue of Israel/Palestine for fear of hurting, provoking, or stirring up controversy should remember that the road to hell is, indeed, paved with good intentions. By suppressing free and open public discussion of an issue of major concern, we maintain a dangerous status quo in Israel/Palestine for which, as Americans, we are largely responsible. For how long will we prolong suffering and postpone peace?

The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (, based in Oak Park, Illinois, was founded in 2002 to develop and support activities that further the cause of peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. Steering Committee: Roxane Assaf, Jennifer Bing Canar, Dean Blobaum, Gerri Brauneis, Michael Levin, Rebekah Levin, Mark Pickus, Martha Reese, Janet Settle, Caren Levy Van Slyke


(1) Matt Snyders, "Put off by his controversial words on Israel, the University of St. Thomas snubs a Nobel Laureate: Banning Desmond Tutu," Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages, October 3, 2007.


(3) "The Tutu Heave-Ho," editorial, Jewish Daily Forward, October 10, 2007.

(4) Website of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

(5) Walter Russell Mead, "Jerusalem Syndrome," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2007.

(6) Patricia Cohen, "Backlash Over Book on Policy for Israel," New York Times. August 16, 2007

(7) Letter from Marshall Bouton, President, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, to the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, September 11, 2007.

(8) Mitchell Plitnick and Cecilie Surasky, "A disservice to Jews, with best intentions," StarTribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota), October 10, 2007.

(9) "The Tutu Heave-Ho"

(10) Plitnick and Surasky

(11) Conal Urquhart, "Israel shaken by troops' tales of brutality against Palestinians," The Observer (UK), October 21, 2007.,,2195924,00.html/

(12) Juan Cole, "The Sadism of the Israeli Occupation," Informed Comment, October 21, 2007.

THIS essay by Ramzy Baroud: A Case for Arab Dignity, is also a must read.


by Malcom Lagauche - Nov 2, 2007

If you look at the current travesties occurring in the Middle East, one may be hard pressed to describe how the present scenario occurred. It did not happen overnight, but in 1990, Saddam Hussein gave various accounts of what could happen to the Arab world. One was optimistic, and the other pessimistic. It is uncanny that he talked of resisting the U.S. military and how it could be accomplished.

On February 24, 1990, at the Amman Summit in Amman, Jordan, Saddam gave the following speech to delegates from the Arab world. It’s a pity they did not listen.

Since it is difficult in a meeting such as this to deal with all that is negative or positive in international developments during 1989 and prior to then, and during the period from the beginning of 1990, you might share my opinion that discussions should deal with the most urgent and important of these issues and within the limits of time allowed us.

Among the most important developments since the international conflict in World War II has been the fact that some countries which used to enjoy broad international influence, such as France and Britain, have declined, while the influence and impact of two countries expanded until they became the two superpowers among the countries of the world—I mean the United States and the Soviet Union. Of course, with these results, two axes have developed: the Western axis under the leadership of the United States, with its known capitalist approach and its imperialist policy; and the East bloc under the leadership of the Soviet Union and its communist philosophy.

Among the results of World War II: The Zionist state has become a reality, and the original owners of the land, the Palestinians, have become refugees. While the imperialist Western world helped the expansionist scheme and aggression of the Zionist entity in 1967, the communist bloc sided with the Arabs in the concept of balance of interests in the context of the global competition between the two blocs, and sought to secure footholds for the East Bloc against the Western interests in the Arab homeland. The East bloc, led by the USSR, supported the Arabs’ basic rights, including their rights in the Arab-Zionist conflict. The global policy continued on the basis of the existence of two poles that were balanced in term of force. They are the two superpowers, the United States and the USSR.

And suddenly, the situation changed in a dramatic way. The USSR turned to tackle its domestic problems after relinquishing the process of continuous conflict and its slogans. The USSR shifted from the balanced position with the United States in a practical manner, although it has not acknowledged this officially so far. The USSR went to nurse the wounds that were inflicted on it as a result of the principles and mistaken policy it followed for such a long time, and as a result of the wave of change it embarked on, which began to depart from the charted course. It has become clear to everyone that the United States has emerged in a superior position in international politics. This superiority will be demonstrated in the United States readiness to play such a role more than in the predicted guarantees for its continuation.

We believe that the world can fill the vacuum resulting from the recent changes and find a new balance in the global arena by developing new perspectives and reducing or adding to this or that force. The forces that laid the ground for filling the vacuum and for the emergence of the two superpowers, the United States and the USSR, after World War II at the expense of France, Britain, and Germany can develop new forces, which we expect will be in Europe or Japan. America will lose its power just as quickly as it gained it by frightening Europe, Japan, and other countries through the continuous hinting at the danger of the USSR and communism. The United States will lose its power as the fierce competition for gaining the upper hand between the two superpowers and their allies recedes.

However, we believe that the United States will continue to depart from the restrictions that govern the rest of [the] world throughout the next five years until new forces of balance are formed. Moreover, the undisciplined and irresponsible behavior will engender hostility and grudges if it embarks on rejected stupidities.

We all remember, as does the whole world, the circumstances under which the United States deployed and bolstered its fleets in the Gulf. Most important of these circumstances: The war that was raging between Iraq and Iran; Iranian aggression had extended to other Arabian Gulf countries, most notably the sisterly state of Kuwait. At the time, beyond the conflicting views regarding the presence of foreign fleets in Arab territorial waters and foreign bases on their territory and their repercussions for pan-Arab security, that excessive deployment was somehow comprehensible. But now, and against the background of the recent world developments ments and the cessation of hostilities between Iraq and Iran, and with Kuwait no longer being the target of Iranian aggression, the Arabian Gulf states, including Iraq, and even the entire Arabs would have liked the Americans to state their intention to withdraw their fleets.

Had they said that under the same circumstances and causes they would have returned to the Gulf, it might have been understandable also. But U.S. officials are making such statements as if to show that their immediate and longer-term presence in Gulf waters and, maybe, on some of its territory, is not bound to a time frame. These suspect policies give Arabs reason to feel suspicious of U.S. policies and intentions as to whether it is officially and actually interested in a termination of the Iraq-Iran war and thus in contributing to much needed regional stability.

The other side is the immigration of Soviet Jews to the occupied Palestinian land. How can we explain the Americans’ support and backing for Jewish immigration to the occupied Arab territories, except that the United States does not want peace as it claims and declares? If it really and actually wants peace, the United States would not have encouraged Israel and the aggressive trends in it to adopt such policies, which enhance Israel’s capability to commit aggression and carry out expansion.

We the Arabs, proceeding from a long-standing friendship with the Soviet Union, did not expect that the Soviets would give in to this U.S. pressure in such a way that it would lead to these grave consequences for the Arabs and their pan-Arab security. As we tackle these challenges, it would be just as compromising to the destiny and cause of the Arabs to feel fear as it would be to be lax in our evaluating and working out a reaction to them. Therefore, there is no place among the ranks of good Arabs for the fainthearted who would argue that as a superpower, the United States will be the decisive factor, and others have no choice but to submit. At the same time, there is no place in our midst for those who fail to take note of recent developments that have added to U.S. strength, thus prompting it to the possible commission of follies against the interests and national security of the Arabs—either directly or by fanning and encouraging conflicts detrimental to the Arabs, irrespective of their source. We are only making the point that the Arabs seek peace and justice throughout the world and want to forge relations of friendship with those who show respect to what friendship is all about—be it the United States or any other nation. It is only natural that the Arabs take a realistic approach to the new posture and power of the United States that has led the Soviet Union to abandon its erstwhile position of influence. However, America must respect the Arabs and respect their rights, and should not interfere in their internal affairs under any cover.

Against the backdrop of the vital issue related to the substance of national Arab security, the question arises as to what we the Arabs have to do.... It has been proven that Arabs are capable of being influential when they make a decision and set their minds to it for actual application purposes. We have much evidence of how effective they can be; for example, the joint Iraqi-Saudi resolution of August 6, 1980, and the warning the two countries issued together that embassies must not be moved to Jerusalem, one of whose direct results in less than a month—the duration of the warning—was not only that the concerned countries did not transfer their embassies to Jerusalem, but also that embassies that had already long been transferred to the city returned to Tel Aviv.

The reason the United States stays in the Gulf is that the Gulf has become the most important spot in the region and perhaps the whole world due to developments in international policy, the oil market, and increasing demands from the United States, Europe, Japan, Eastern Europe, and perhaps the Soviet Union, for this product. The country that will have the greatest influence in the region through the Arab Gulf and its oil will maintain its superiority as a superpower without an equal to compete with it. This means that if the Gulf people, along with all Arabs, are not careful, the Arab Gulf region will be governed by the United States’ will. If the Arabs are not alerted and the weakness persists, the situation could develop to the extent desired by the United States; that is, it would fix the amount of oil and gas produced in each country and sold to this or that country in the world. Prices would also be fixed in line with a special perspective benefiting U.S. interests and ignoring the interests of others.

If this possibility is there and it is convincing, those who are convinced by it must conclude that peace in the Middle East is remote from the United States point of view because U.S. strategy, according to this analysis, needs an aggressive Israel, not a peaceful one. Peace between Iraq and Iran could be far off as long as Iran does not react favorably from an aware and responsible position and with the peace initiatives proposed by Iraq. The region could witness inter-Arab wars or controlled wars between the Arabs and some of their neighbors, if tangible results are not achieved on the basis of the principles of noninterference in others’ internal affairs and nonuse of military force in inter-Arab relations.

Agreement should be reached over clear and widespread pan-Arab cooperation programs among Arab countries in the economic, political, and educational fields, as well as other fields. Love and peace of mind will take the place of suspicion, doubt, mistrust, and giving in to information and speculation propagated by rumor-mongers, such as prejudiced Westerners and some rootless Arabs.

Brothers, the weakness of a big body lies in its bulkiness. All strong men have their Achilles’ heel. Therefore, irrespective of our known stand on terror and terrorists, we saw that the United States as a superpower departed Lebanon immediately when some Marines were killed, the very men who are considered to be the most prominent symbol of its arrogance. The whole U.S. administration would have been called into question had the forces that conquered Panama continued to be engaged by the Panamanian armed forces. The United States has been defeated in some combat arenas for all the forces it possesses, and it has displayed signs of fatigue, frustration, and hesitation when committing aggression on other peoples’ rights and acting from motives of arrogance and hegemony. This is a natural outcome for those who commit aggression on other peoples’ rights. Israel, once dubbed the invincible country, has been defeated by some of the Arabs. The resistance put up by Palestinian and Lebanese militia against Israeli invasion forces in 1982 and before that the heroic Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal in 1973 have had a more telling psychological and actual impact than all Arab threats. Further, the threat to use Arab oil in 1973 during the October war proved more effective than all political attempts to protest or to beg at the gates of American decision-making centers. The stones in occupied Palestine now turn into a virtual and potentially fatal bullet if additional requirements are made available. It is the best proof of what is possible and indeed gives us cause to hold our heads high.

Just as Israel controls interests to put pressure on the United States administration, hundreds of billions invested by Arabs in the United States and the West may be similarly deployed. Indeed, for instance, some of these investments may be diverted to the USSR and East European countries. It may prove even more profitable than investment in the West, which has grown saturated with its national resources. Such a course of action may yield inestimable benefits for the Arabs and their national causes. Our purported weakness does not lie in our ideological and hereditary characteristics. Contemporary experience has shown our nation to be distinguished and excellent, just as our nation’s history over the centuries has shown this to be the case. Our purported weakness lies in a lack of mutual trust among ourselves, our failure to concentrate on the components of our strength, and our failure to focus on our weaknesses with a view to righting them. Let our motto be: All of us are strong as long as we are united, and all of us are weak as long as we are divided.

Emergency imposed in Pakistan - Nov 3, 2007

General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, has imposed emergency rule in the country.

State-run television reported on Saturday that the country's constitution has been suspended.

Reuters news agency also said that Iftikhar Chaudhry, the supreme court chief justice, has been told his services are no longer required.

Musharraf is to address the nation later on Saturday, a presidential aide said.

The decision to impose emergency on Saturday came after an extraordinary meeting chaired by Musharraf which was attended by senior government and security officials.

'Cracking the whip'

Pakistan Television said General Musharraf, who is also chief of army staff, had issued a provisional constitutional order declaring emergency.

Justice Chaudhry and eight other judges of the supreme court refused to endorse the provisional constitutional order issued by the president, and Chaudhry was then told his "services are no longer required", private news channels said.

Private Geo TV said the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association has been arrested.

Several Pakistani television channels earlier reported the move to impose emergency, before being taken off the air.

Witnesses said paramilitary troops had been deployed at state-run television and radio stations.
They also reported seeing dozens of police blocking the road leading to the supreme court where judges remain inside.

Residents said all telephone lines have been cut in the capital Islamabad.

The Pakistani cabinet is scheduled to meet at 7.00pm (1400 GMT) and is expected to ratify Musharraf's decision.

Benazir Bhutto's husband has meanwhile said that the former prime minister was on her way back to Pakistan from Dubai where she had gone to see her family.

"[She's flying back] tonight, yes of course," Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari said.
A spokesman for Bhutto's Pakistan's Peoples' Party (PPP) had earlier said that she would not return to the country from Dubai.

'Black Day'

Kamal Hyder, reporting for Al Jazeera from Islamabad, said the imposition of emergency rule would dismay Pakistanis.

"There will be a sense of gloom tonight across Pakistan. People will not be happy because they were looking forward to a smooth transition towards democracy," he said.

"Instead what they will see is more draconian measures from a government which is losing support among ordinary people and the legal fraternity."

Amjad Malik, member of the Supreme Cour Bar association, told Al Jazeera that the imposition of emergency showed Musharraf's desperation to hold on to power.

"I think this shows how General Musharraf is willing to extend his rule. Since the military coup [in 1999] he has tried to intimidate the judiciary.

"He has now resorted to emergency which will mean human rights will be suspended and there will be further attempts to intimidate the judiciary. I think it is another black day for Pakistan."

The development comes amid increasing violence across Pakistan by pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked fighters and growing political uncertainty over Musharraf's continued rule.

Large sections of Pakistani society, including lawyers, are opposed to Musharraf's rule and want him to step down.

His recent re-election has also been challenged in the supreme court.

Emergency rule could lead to the postponement of national elections, which are scheduled to take place in January.

Talat Massoud, retired Major General in the Pakistani military, said the emergency ruling would harm relations with other political groups in the country.

"What he has done today has destabilised Pakistan. We need dialogue as there is too much polarisation."

Bush Is Right to Worry If Waterboarding Is Defined as Torture

By Jane Smiley, Posted November 3, 2007.

We should take the criminality of the Bush administration's torture policy seriously, and that means making sure they are not above the law.

There is an article in Thursday's New York Times about the way Michael Mukasey has been hedging on waterboarding. The difficulty, according to many experts is, as "Jack L. Goldsmith, who served in the Justice Department in 2003 and 2004, wrote in his recent memoir, The Terror Presidency, that the possibility of future prosecution for aggressive actions against terrorism was a constant worry inside the Bush administration." Another expert points out that future prosecutors "... would ask not just who carried it out, but who specifically approved it. Theoretically, it could go all the way up to the president of the United States; that's why he'll never say it's torture."

I have to say that I am both glad and amazed that the Bush administration is with it enough to worry. That is a good sign. And they should worry, because they should be indicted, at least. I hope that they are, and that, indeed, it does "go all the way up to the president." One of the Attorney General's jobs should be making sure not only that the laws are enforced, but also that the laws are actual laws -- not opinions by John Yoo or David Addington or some other administration apologist. There is an exact definition of what a law is in this country, and it is not the same as a partisan legal opinion.

One of the enraging things about the Bush administration is the way that they have consistently written their own rules, as if governing the nation is like playing a game of stealing the flag, where the stronger team, when it finds itself losing, simply changes the score or the rules until they either technically "win" or wear out the other side (and in fact, George W. Bush, according to Gail Sheehy, was well known among his friends for changing the rules of a game until he could engineer a win -- and isn't that how they won in 2000?). To do such things is not "courage" or "resolve," it is tyranny.

Mukasey and other Bush administration officials clearly believe that they are going to put over the idea that they "might have gone too far", but that their "intentions were good" and they "just wanted to protect the country." In such a way, they plan to avoid paying the price for their choices and decisions. The law deals with this sort of defense. Someone whose car hits another person in a crosswalk might have been too frightened to stick around or might not have even realized he had hit someone, but the law still prosecutes these crimes, because a responsible citizen is expected to conform to the laws no matter what his emotional state. Same with Cheney and Bush.

You or I may suspect that they were indifferent to the idea of torture in their names, or possibly relished it, but we will never know that. We do, however, know that they explicitly and knowingly allowed torture. The law has no meaning if they don't have to pay for these crimes.

The number of times the Bush administration has skirted or broken or changed the laws to suit themselves is enormous and outrageous. We cannot hope to correct what they have done to our country without addressing their lawlessness. If this means retroactive prosecution, I say bring it on. The fact that they are worried means they know that they should have known better -- in fact, they did know better. All of them.

The following is a photoseries simulating what waterboarding looks like narrated by David Corn, excerpted from an article

Below are photographs taken by Jonah Blank [last year] at Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The prison is now a museum that documents Khymer Rouge atrocities. Blank, an anthropologist and former Senior Editor of US News & World Report, is author of the books Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God and Mullahs on the Mainframe.

He is a professorial lecturer at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and has taught at Harvard and Georgetown. He currently is a foreign policy adviser to the Democratic staff in the Senate, but the views expressed here are his own observations.

His photos show one of the actual waterboards used by the Khymer Rouge.

Here's the first:

How were it used? Here's a painting by a former prisoner that shows the waterboard in action:

In an email to me, Blank explained the significance of the photos. He wrote:

The crux of the issue before Congress can be boiled down to a simple question: Is waterboarding torture? Anybody who considers this practice to be "torture lite" or merely a "tough technique" might want to take a trip to Phnom Penh. The Khymer Rouge were adept at torture, and there was nothing "lite" about their methods. Incidentally, the waterboard in these photo wasn't merely one among many torture devices highlighted at the prison museum. It was one of only two devices singled out for highlighting (the other was another form of water-torture -- a tank that could be filled with water or other liquids; I have photos of that too.) There was an outdoor device as well, one the Khymer Rouge didn't have to construct: chin-up bars. (The prison where the museum is located had been a school before the Khymer Rouge took over).

These bars were used for "stress positions"-- another practice employed under current US guidelines. At the Khymer Rouge prison, there is a tank of water next to the bars. It was used to revive prisoners for more torture when they passed out after being placed in stress positions.

The similarity between practices used by the Khymer Rouge and those currently being debated by Congress isn't a coincidence. As has been amply documented ("The New Yorker" had an excellent piece, and there have been others), many of the "enhanced techniques" came to the CIA and military interrogators via the SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] schools, where US military personnel are trained to resist torture if they are captured by the enemy. The specific types of abuse they're taught to withstand are those that were used by our Cold War adversaries. Why is this relevant to the current debate? Because the torture techniques of North Korea, North Vietnam, the Soviet Union and its proxies--the states where US military personnel might have faced torture -- were NOT designed to elicit truthful information. These techniques were designed to elicit CONFESSIONS. That's what the Khymer Rouge et al were after with their waterboarding, not truthful information.

Bottom line: Not only do waterboarding and the other types of torture currently being debated put us in company with the most vile regimes of the past half-century; they're also designed specifically to generate a (usually false) confession, not to obtain genuinely actionable intel. This isn't a matter of sacrificing moral values to keep us safe; it's sacrificing moral values for no purpose whatsoever.

These photos are important because most of us have never seen an actual, real-life waterboard. The press typically describes it in the most anodyne ways: a device meant to "simulate drowning" or to "make the prisoner believe he might drown." But the Khymer Rouge were no jokesters, and they didn't tailor their abuse to the dictates of the Geneva Convention. They -- like so many brutal regimes -- made waterboarding one of their primary tools for a simple reason: it is one of the most viciously effective forms of torture ever devised.

Army Takes Control In Pakistan

Sky News - Nov 3, 2007

President Pervez Musharraf has invoked emergency rule in Pakistan amid mounting violence in the country.

Paramilitary troops were reported to be deployed inside state-run television and radio stations in Islamabad.

Others were said to be blockading the road to the Supreme Court.

Pakistan state television said General Musharraf, who is also chief of army staff, had issued a provisional constitutional order declaring an emergency.

Sky News' Alex Crawford said the US and other Western allies had urged him not to take steps that would jeopardize the country's transition to democracy.

"This will be very, very disappointing to America and spells a very uncertain future for Pakistan. The country is going through a state of very, very real upheaval," said Crawford.

The opposition party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the move.

"The whole nation will resist this extra-constitutional measure," said Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for his PML-N party.

In September, General Musharraf barred Mr Sharif from returning to exile to Pakistan to mount a campaign against military rule.

Speculation had been rife for days that the president would impose emergency rule or martial law.

He is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on whether he is eligible to run for re-election last month while still head of the military.

An official at a cable TV news provider said the authorities were blocking transmissions of private news channels in Islamabad and neighboring Rawalpindi.

State TV was still on the air.

During previous emergencies in Pakistan, a provisional constitutional order has led to the suspension of some basic rights of citizens and judges told to take a fresh oath of office.

Rapture rescue will airlift you to safety. If you can afford it

The booming business of privatised disaster services in the US goes against the principle that every life is of equal value

by Naomi Klein, The Guardian - November 3, 2007

I used to worry that the US was in the grip of extremists who sincerely believed the Apocalypse was coming and that they and their friends would be airlifted to heavenly safety. I have since reconsidered. The country is indeed in the grip of extremists who are determined to act out the biblical climax - the saving of the chosen and the burning of the masses - but without any divine intervention. Heaven can wait. Thanks to the booming business of privatised disaster services, we're getting the Rapture right here on earth.

Just look at what is happening in southern California. Even as wildfires devoured whole swaths of the region, some homes in the heart of the inferno were left intact, as if saved by a higher power. But it wasn't the hand of God; in several cases it was the handiwork of Firebreak Spray Systems. Firebreak is a special service offered to customers of insurance giant American International Group - but only if they happen to live in the wealthiest zip codes in the country. Members of the company's Private Client Group pay an average of $19,000 to have their homes sprayed with fire retardant. During the fires, the "mobile units", racing around in firetrucks, even extinguished fires for their clients.

One customer described a scene of modern-day Revelation. "Just picture it. You are in that raging wildfire. Smoke everywhere. Flames everywhere," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Here's a couple of guys showing up in what looks like a firetruck who are experts trained in fighting wildfire, and they're there specifically to protect your home."

And your home alone. "There were a few instances," one of the private firefighters told Bloomberg News, "where we were spraying and the neighbour's house went up like a candle." With public fire departments cut to the bone, gone are the days of rapid response, when everyone was entitled to equal protection. Now, increasingly intense natural disasters will be met with the new model: Rapture response.

During last year's hurricane season, Florida homeowners were offered similarly high-priced salvation by HelpJet, a travel agency launched with promises to turn "a hurricane evacuation into a jet-setter vacation". For an annual fee, a company concierge takes care of everything: transport to the air terminal, luxurious travel, bookings at five-star resorts. Most of all, HelpJet is an escape hatch from the kind of government failure on display during Katrina. "No standing in lines, no hassle with crowds, just a first-class experience."

HelpJet is about to get some serious competition from some much larger players. In northern Michigan, during the week that the California fires raged, the rural community of Pellston was in the grip of an intense public debate. The village is about to become the headquarters for the first fully privatised national disaster response centre.

The plan is the brainchild of Sovereign Deed, a startup with links to the mercenary firm Triple Canopy. Like HelpJet, Sovereign Deed works on a "country club-type membership fee", according to the company's vice-president, the retired general Richard Mills. In exchange for a one-time fee of $50,000 followed by annual dues of $15,000, members receive "comprehensive catastrophe response services" should their city be hit by a man-made disaster that can "cause severe threats to public health and/or wellbeing" (read: a terrorist attack), a disease outbreak or a natural disaster. Basic membership includes access to medicine, water and food, while those who pay for "premium tiered services" will be eligible for VIP rescue missions.

Like so many private disaster companies, Sovereign Deed is selling escape from climate change and the failed state - by touting the security clearance and connections its executives amassed while working for that same state. So Mills, speaking recently in Pellston, explained: "The reality of Fema is that it has no infrastructure, and a lot of our National Guard is elsewhere." Sovereign Deed, on the other hand, claims to have "direct access and special arrangements with several national and international information centres. These proprietary arrangements allow our emergency operations centre to ... give our members that critical head start in times of crisis". In this secular version of the Rapture, God's hand is unnecessary. Not when you have retired CIA agents and ex-special forces lifting the chosen to safety - no need to pray, just pay. And who needs a celestial New Jerusalem when you can have Pellston, with its flexible local politicians and its surprisingly modern regional airport?

Sovereign Deed could soon find itself competing with Blackwater, whose chief executive, Erik Prince, wrote recently of his plans to offer "full spectrum" services, including humanitarian aid in disasters. When fires broke out in San Diego county, near the proposed site of the controversial Blackwater West base, the company seized the opportunity to make its case. Blackwater could have been the "tactical operation centre for East county fires", said the company's vice-president, Brian Bonfiglio. "Can you imagine how much of a benefit it would be if we were operational now?" To show off its capacity, Blackwater has been distributing badly needed food and blankets in Potrero, California. "This is something we've always done," Bonfiglio said. "This is what we do." Actually, what Blackwater does, as Iraqis have learned, is not protect entire communities or countries, but "protect the principal" - the principal being whoever has paid Blackwater for its guns and gear.

The same pay-to-be-saved logic governs this entire new sector of country-club disaster management. There is, of course, another principle that could guide our collective responses in a disaster-prone world: the simple conviction that every life is of equal value. For anyone out there who still believes in that wild idea, the time has urgently arrived to protect the principle.

In praise of Putin

For too long the west has rested on an assumption of superiority. The Russian president should be praised for exposing this old fallacy.

by Edward Pearce - Oct 31, 2007

There is a plague afflicting casual commentary on foreign affairs today, and it is the survivor of cold war assumptions. We talk a great deal too much about "the west," and by implication we mean the good, civilised west facing its enemies. Stalin has been dead for 54 years but across that time "the west" has acquired any number of new enemies. Such thinking or dumb assumption-making has glazed over every act of meddling or aggression by the United States. The rest of us on the western list may hint at doubt and make reservations, but official commentary, the government and increasingly the new, tamed BBC, think systemically of a common western interest.

Accordingly we never understood and do not now understand Russia. At the most crass level there is Donald Rumsfeld, snarling at the French and Germans, calling them "the old Europe." Rumsfeld's "new Europe" comes in the form of Baltic states serving western interests - supplying troops in American wars. Some part of the hatred for the EU with which the Murdoch press salts the earth derives from this "new Europe's" potential insufficient loyalty to the United States. American-led, American-commanded westernism is the true sacrament, one which Tony Blair and Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar took on their knees, giving full support to the Iraq invasion in the Azores in 2003.

We may yet come to see the America's rise over last 20 years as a kind of convulsion, with triumph leading to calamity, and hubris meeting its nemesis. It may be, and let's candidly hope that it is, the Spanish Empire moment of United States history. But the glory comes first. The fall of the Soviet Union had to signal American triumphalism, and it did, with neoconservative paranoia turning into neoconservatism on a drunken glass-breaking high. Robert Kagan caught the mood with a little pamphlet rationalising an American duty to intervene wherever it chose in order to reshape the world in a better American way. Such is the amazing want of historical memory that there actually was talk about "a new world order".

Like the last one, it doesn't seem to be working. Banking movements and investment diversifications now suggest an insufficient loyalty more important than any words, any argument. But in 1989 and across the 1990s, with the US embassy in Moscow effectively controlling a western leadership of Russia, the US presidency had its Philip II decade.

Was there ever a more despicable figure than Boris Yeltsin? Drunk and incapable in charge of a nation, he waved through the plunder of national assets by a pack of corrupt skimmers. He approved an abolition of food subsidies instituting an overnight destitution of ordinary people. His function in terms of Russian pride and self-respect was to play collaborator, quisling, self-enriched and wrapped in the consolations of drink and a church gaudily and expensively restored. People ate out of dustbins, but Boris Yeltsin was a westerner, a splendid thing, evidence of western triumph. Somehow American and British governments have never felt the same way about Vladimir Putin. But then neither have the Russians.

Putin is enormously popular. The device by which he is continuing his leadership, behind a competent but happily subordinate technician, is accepted there as good news. I suggest that we should agree with the Russian people. They are getting what they want and they want it because Putin has governed Russia for Russia and Russians, has put back self-respect in a country whose nadir reflected an American zenith.

There has been luck involved. The rising price of oil has made non-compliance and international truculence pleasantly practicable. Russia behaves badly (from a western point of view)

Consider the implications of the coming bombardment of Iran: reinforced terrorist impetus, diminished security of pro-American governments in the Middle East; consider the people who will die, the open and rolling road of imminent contingency, and Vladimir Putin's words seem pretty temperate.

He is making a stand which Brown, Merkel and Sarkozy should be making and which long, hungover assumptions about western-hood make psychologically impossible. The leader of Russia, with his people behind him, speaks for his country and speaks clear, obvious sense. It is a sense which our western complex denies us.

Let's not go full circle

One "semi-enlightened" Zionist attended a meeting of Zio-Nazis and came face-to-face with the true face of Zionist race hatred and didn't like it. Now what?

by Seth Freedman - Nov 3, 2007

The despicable baying mob at the Kahane memorial earlier this week were the closest thing we Jews have to home-grown fascists.

"WARNING!" screamed the flyer being thrust into my hand by a concerned-looking young religious man as I entered the hall. "American Jews are in danger!" it continued. "Countless Neo-Nazi groups are spreading their venemous [sic] message ... at public demonstrations calling for violence against Jews ... and praising Hitler as a 'true hero'!"

Fair enough, I thought - that's a pretty sobering prospect, and something worth taking heed of as a Jew who cares about his brethren, and who hates to think of them in danger. That the same boy was then in the midst of a 500-strong crowd yelling "Arabs out! Arabs out!" less than an hour later, and screaming deliriously at footage of the late Meir Kahane, was as ironic as it was despicable.

"Who is wise ... those who see the future," was written halfway down the same flyer, quoting Pirkei Avot in an attempt to exhort the endangered American Jews to make aliyah to Israel and escape the Nazis' evil clutches. The wise man also sees the present though, I think - and knows when to call a spade a spade. Which is why I have no qualms whatsoever about describing the baying mob at the Kahane memorial earlier this week as the closest thing we Jews have to home-grown fascists.

For those unfamiliar with the odious, late Rabbi Kahane, he was the leader of the now-outlawed Kach party in Israel, and his politics included advocating the forcible expulsion of all Arab citizens of Israel. A former member of Knesset - until his party was banned in 1988 - he was gunned down after giving a speech in the United States in 1990. His followers have been responsible for numerous terror attacks against Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, most notably Baruch Goldstein's bloody massacre at a Hebron mosque in 1994.

At the memorial service, the mere mention of Goldstein's name received thunderous applause from the audience - all of whom were ultra-orthodox, and all of whom had not the slightest remorse at singing the praises of Israel's most notorious mass-murderer. Dozens of men wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Now everyone knows ... Kahane was right", a message every bit as repulsive as a group of German neo-Nazis wearing similar attire with Hitler's name replacing that of Kahane's.

Because, make no mistake, the politics of Kach and those of the National Socialists are chillingly similar in their vicious racism and call to arms. Footage of Kahane's more incendiary speeches were shown throughout the ceremony, as he ranted and raved to his enraptured acolytes, fists clenched and raised in triumph whilst he spat his venomous message of hate.

"There is no such thing as an Arab village in Israel," he thundered from beyond the grave, "only a Jewish village that is temporarily inhabited by Arabs." The crowd went wild, stamping their feet and giving piercing whistles, regardless of the fact that most of them had seen the footage countless times before. An impromptu chant of "Kahane still lives" was started by a boy in the row behind me, and soon the entire hall was singing as one, from the youngest schoolchildren to the most gnarled and wizened old men in the room.

The women, on the other side of the curtain mechiza (divider), were no casual bystanders to the furore. The delirium was just as fervent amongst them in response to the various speakers at the dais whipping the audience into a frenzy. One rabbi, well-known in Kach circles, took to the stage with a huge orange Star of David pinned over his heart, to the delight of those looking on. (In a sick send-up of the Yellow Star that the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust, the far-right, anti-disengagement settlers have adopted the emblem for themselves, in protest at the detested IDF and Israeli government's evacuation of Gush Katif).

The service went on for nearly two hours, and showed no sign of abating when I'd had my fill and headed for the exit. Interspersed with the speeches were video montages put together by Kach propagandists designed to reinforce the feeling that their underground movement was the victim of obscene oppression on the part of the authorities. Like something out of A Clockwork Orange, film of riot police beating settlers and religious youths was juxtaposed onto a soundtrack of plaintive Jewish song, as children looked on in horror and their fathers shook their heads mournfully.

"But we're not beaten," cried the next speaker up. "We've got to mobilise better - every one of you here must spread the word of Kahane, and only in this way will we bring about the true Jewish State that he dreamed of." That same state, according to Kahane when he was in parliament, would have included a ban on all sexual activity between Jews and non-Jews, and seen only Jews eligible as citizens of Israel.

His assassination, and the subsequent murder of his son and daughter-in-law at the hands of Palestinian terrorists, only strengthened the resolve of his die-hard followers, who formed the Kahane Chai offshoot which is currently listed as a terrorist organisation by the FBI. It is similarly viewed in Israel too, although the blurred boundaries between Kahane Chai and the original party mean that the police are powerless to ban events such as tonight's memorial.

For my part, I'm glad they didn't, since the opportunity to witness the fascist hordes for myself was massively instructive as to how low certain elements of Israeli society have sunk. By hailing Baruch Goldstein as a latter-day saint, they're every bit as repulsive as the Hamas supporters who revere Sheikh Yassin, or the far-right Europeans who mourn Hitler's passing every year on his birthday.

As much as I sang the praises of the OneVoice volunteers in my last piece, so do I just as passionately hate each and every one of those sitting alongside me at tonight's event. These are our extremists, these are our terrorists - and this is our dirty secret that is a stain on the state that was founded as a refuge from similarly-minded fascists. If the likes of the Kachniks get their way, then the wheel will truly have come full circle, when the hunted becomes the hunter and history repeats itself once more.