Category Archives: Palestine

Shifting Limelight: Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Nuclearless Iran, Congressional Wildcatters……..

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Where is Benyamin Netanyahu?
Where is the Iranian “threat”?
Where is the nuclear watchdog IAEA (Amano who?)?
Where is Waldo?
Accelerating and competing events in far-flung places like Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Hong Kong, and the regional mayhem caused by the well-financed wild Salafi Abus, possibly others, have sucked the air out of these normally reliable stealers of limelight and world attention.
For Netanyahu, it can be a double-edged sword. He likes the attention being diverted from Israel and its illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem (annexation, including East Jerusalem is illegal according to international law and the UN, regardless of what the wildcatters in the U.S Senate and Congress think).
All these shifting world headlines have emboldened Netanyahu, enough to, yet again, poke a finger in Barack Obama’s eye even as he visits with him. That finger came in the from of reports about new plans for more illegal settlements in East Jerusalem while he was visiting in New York and Washington.
Yet Netanyahu does not like attention moving away from Iran and toward his landgrab. He professes loudly that he worries they will move closer to the nuclear weapons they do not have, the weapons they swear they do not want to develop. Unlike Israel. He also wants any attention on the Middle East to focus on Iran and not on the Palestinian land issue. To have his cake and eat it too (or vice versa).
At the UN, there was not much extensive coverage of his annual speech (I assume he gave his usual speech). Clearly there were no funny Looney Tunes cartoon drawings and amusing graphs of the type he used in past years. The same cartoons the anchor ladies on CNN and MSNBC and Fox had swooned over in the past.

Yet he is stirring again, pulling his many strings in Washington, warning against complacence. Complacence is a dangerous thing, be it about nuclear proliferation or illegal annexation.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Palestinians Welcome Israeli Settlers in East Jerusalem…….

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Israeli police guarded Jewish settlers as they moved into seven homes in a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Tuesday while stunned and angry Palestinians looked on, aware that there was little they could do. The homes in Silwan, which sits in the shadow of Jerusalem’s Old City, were purchased by Elad, a pro-settlement group that uses funds from Jewish supporters in the United States and elsewhere to buy properties in Palestinian districts……….”This is a government by the settlers for the settlers,” said Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief peace negotiator, calling the move an attempt to erase Palestinian identity…………..”

It says here the Palestinian properties were purchased by the Israeli pro-settler group. So, they were bought and paid for. That means someone in Jerusalem, some Arabs, got paid, and no doubt generously, for the properties. It is not the first time. They are selling these properties to the pro-settler groups. Unless I am missing something, some facts, here. It takes two to tango, no?

Okay, in this case maybe it takes at least two to tango.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

So, Who Won the Gaza War? Bil Mishmish to Jerusalem………

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“After a 50-day conflict in Gaza that ended with inconclusive results, leaders of Israel and Hamas are struggling to convince their war-weary constituents that the costly campaign has brought them real achievements. But analysts say that the ultimate outcome of the fighting is yet to be determined, with talks on substantial points of contention deferred for up to a month as an indefinite cease-fire takes hold. At a news conference on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel had emerged from the campaign with “a great military achievement and a great diplomatic achievement.”………..”

“Poll: Israel didn’t win Gaza war, Netanyahu still best choice for PM” Haaretz Headline (8/27/14)

Palestinians did not hesitate to call the Battle of Gaza a victory. One militia leader was even talking about reconquering Jerusalem yesterday. Israelis, if they could respond in Arabic, would have been excused for saying in Arabic Bil Mishmish (بالمشمش = in the apricot (lol) = ForgetAboutIt). Many Arab potentates from the Nile to the Persian Gulf would love to agree with that Israeli assessment. Not because they are patriotic Zionists or Likudniks, but because they want Hamas of the Muslim Brotherhood dislodged from Gaza at any price. Just as they dreamed wildly a few years ago of Israeli help in dislodging Hezbollah from Lebanon, an even more unrealistic goal.
Arab leaders seem like an overly optimistic lot. They have rarely hesitated to call a battle a victory, no matter what the actual outcome. Saddam Hussein famously claimed victories after his wars with Iran (1980-88) and with the international community (1990-91). At the beginning of the 1967 War, Arab governments were famously proclaiming that their forces were approaching Tel Aviv even as the IDF were smashing their armies on all fronts. And let’s not revisit the 1973 War.

But then again, this was not a conventional battle in Gaza. In such a murky semi-urban warfare, if a regular better-armed force does not achieve its goals, then it can be seen as the loser. If the Israelis are seen as having “not won” and Hamas is seen as having “not lost”, then the balance tips to Hamas. It is probably too early to make that judgment, assuming we know what the initial goals were. But it is telling that some Israeli politicians are already criticizing Netanyahu for conceding too much in Cairo.

The next few weeks will tell.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

When a PLO Representative Dissembles for Hamas………


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Speaking of Hamas and Israel. Saeb Erekat of the Palestinian Authority was on MSNBC this morning. He was asked about potential Israeli negotiations with Hamas and its refusal to recognize the existence of Israel. He responded by claiming that: Hamas is part of the Palestinian government, “the PLO, as he put it”. Since PLO recognizes Israel, therefore so does Hamas. No problem there, is there? Clearly that was bullshit; even Erekat himself did not look to believe what he was saying. Once the dust of this Gaza battle settles, there is no certainty that Hamas and the PLO will be on speaking terms. Not if the Saudis and Generilisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi have anything to do with it.

Just to make the point that dissembling is part of the war. This does not justify the destruction and massacres being committed against the Palestinian civilians of Gaza by the Israeli IDF (which is not exactly very ‘D’ these days).

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Human Shield Theory, Axis of Evil Theory, and other Propaganda Tools………


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Yesterday I watched former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on CNN dutifully repeating the usual claim that Hamas is using Gaza civilians as human shield. She was giving the usual bi-partisan spiel, or spin, about the newest Gaza war. But then that is the exact opposite of the spin or spiel we get from Hamas and its supporters.

Usually whatever Mr. Netnayahu claims is initially accepted, before the other side starts its own PR machine. It is taken for granted to be true in most media here, unless otherwise claimed or proven. Apparently Hamas has learned this lesson, a fact that caused a frustrated Netanyahu to grumble recently about “telegenically dead Palestinians“.

I am not sure about the claim that Hamas is deliberately placing rocket launchers amid civilian areas. I doubt it. But it is telling that nobody, not even Arabs, believe that Israel is using its civilians as human shield. That tells me something about certain national perceptions.

So, we are to believe that Palestinians don’t love their own people, their children, and use them as human shield, and that Israelis love their people and don’t use them as human shield.

But hasn’t this same ‘human shield’ story been used against other countries as well? Or the similar idea that some regime, Cuba or Iran, is impoverishing its own people, holding them as human shield, because it invites a Western economic blockade by not succumbing to the will of Western powers? The idea that the countries of an Axis of Evil would use their people as cheap fodder while the Axis of Goodness would not. Some might say that the numbers of war veterans wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq and then neglected by their own countries would refute that.

This “human shield” charge is largely based on Western notions that other peoples do not care for their citizens as much, that human life is cheaper in Palestine than it is, say, on the streets of Chicago on a Saturday night, or in Compton (Calif), or in parts of the Bronx or in Detroit on any night. Which is obviously untrue.

During WWII, the Germans could have claimed that Churchill was using civilians as human shields. And vice versa. And while we are talking old wars and human shields, think of Stalingrad and London under the Blitz.

Stay tuned…………
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Two-Front War on the Gaza Ghetto: Role of the Bloody Arab Hands ………


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Gaza is facing a two-front war, and the people of Gaza are facing two determined enemies. This has been the case for years. World media is pre-occupied with only one front of this newest Gaza-Israeli war. But this has always been a two-front war, with the people of Gaza and their Hamas fundamentalist rulers facing two hostile enemy fronts. We all know about the northern-eastern front with Israel, but the other front helps weaken the Gazans and directly helps the Israeli assault. 

The second front, the southern front with Egypt should be considered worse from an Arab point of view. Egypt has always been part of the strategy to defeat Hamas by starving out the people of Gaza in their ghetto, a ghetto created largely by Arab regimes collaborating with the Israeli government blockade. Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi, new Mubarakist leader of Egypt, is tightening the screws on Gaza even as his Israeli allies are bombing and shelling the hell out of them. Even as much of Arab media, mostly controlled by Persian Gulf princes and potentates, focus on the northern front with Israel, preferring not to shed any light on the role of the Likudnik Egyptian regime in the Israeli strategy.

When it comes to the suffering of the Palestinian people of Gaza and shedding their blood, the culprits with bloody hands are not only Israeli forces, but Arab dictators and tribal princes from Cairo to Riyadh.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Birth Pangs of a New Middle East? American Delusions about Gaza as a Turkey Shoot…….


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This new Israeli war against the people of Gaza is reminiscent of an earlier Israeli war and of the delusions of the US political classes regarding its outcome.

In July 2006, two Israeli soldiers were captured near the Lebanese border. The Israeli military waged a fierce war on selective parts of Lebanon. It became a major incursion back into a land that the IDF had been forced by Hezbollah to leave six years earlier. The Litani River was crossed and parts of Beirut were bombed, including with Cluster Bombs. Many Arab regimes, from Egypt through to the Saudi princes, not-so-secretly supported the Israeli case against the Lebanese Arabs. Not only that, there have been indications that some Arab regimes shared intelligence with the Mossad and the Israeli military. In fact some Lebanese factions and militias of the pro-Saudi March 14 bloc also sided with the Israelis: public figures among them even gave some advice on how to defeat Hezbollah.

As the attack on Lebanon continued for days and weeks, there were calls for a ceasefire. George W Bush’s Secretary of State Condi Rice responded to those calls with her famous statement that the sounds of bombs and exploding Lebanese buildings were “the birth pangs of the new Middle East”. Rice did not want to “return Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante“. Well, it did not: that war created what I called ‘a balance of terror’ with both Israel and Hezbollah militarily stronger. We all know what happened: that war was stopped, the IDF withdrew after another failed mission unaccomplished. Hezbollah became politically and militarily even stronger than before. Most Lebanese, if not all of them, looked on that war as their second victory over invading Israelis.

Now this new Gaza assault has similar roots, although it is questionable who was responsible for the three killings near Hebron, an area controlled by the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority. Otherwise it resembles the attack on Lebanon, but with its own set of goals. A similar attack on Lebanon nowadays would be prohibitively costly for the Israeli population centers and with doubtful military and political results, but apparently the assessment is that Gaza is “do-able” and at a much lower cost. Early reports of the casualty ratio seem to support this for now: too many Palestinian deaths and casualties and destroyed buildings but hardly any on the Israeli side. Regardless of some propaganda statements from Hamas and others.

So far it is shaping as what Americans would call “a turkey shoot”. There are again some reports that the Obama administration hesitates to push forcefully for a cease-fire before certain political and/or military goals are achieved. That can only be done with a ground invasion, a new quagmire. Even if the Al Sisi regime in Cairo and the Saudi princes cooperate more closely, and perhaps more openly, with the invaders of Gaza, the results would still be in doubt.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Israeli Blitz of Gaza in U.S. Headlines, What Arab Potentates Want………


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A fake targeted headline in the Los Angeles Times this morning reads “Deaths mount as Israeli jets respond to Gaza rockets
This makes it sound as if the Israelis have responded to Hamas rockets when they started and continued their blitz of Gaza. That is the type of headline that dominates in almost all U.S. newspapers. It is false and possibly deliberately designed to give the impression that this war started from Gaza (not that Hamas would not start a war if it could guarantee the results). This war started with Mr. Netanyahu claiming he was responding to the still-unsolved killings of three young Israeli settlers near Hebron. He blamed Hamas but has shown no evidence, since it is Israel and the PLO that control the West Bank. This war was allegedly a response to punish Hamas for those killings, allegedly. 

In reality this new Gaza battle seems to have two goals: (1) To kill the doomed new accord between Hamas and the PA/PLO. That was not necessary, since I have assumed that this accord was DOA (Dead On Arrival) from the beginning, like others before it; (2) To drastically reduce the missile supplies of Hamas, based on the assumption that they are mostly imported.

Interesting but not surprising that like the previous Gaza war and the war on part of Lebanon (2006), the Arab establishment from Cairo to Riyadh is pretending reluctant outrage, but the potentates are “relaxing and enjoying the experience”. Not-so-secretly cheering this blitz as they did the others before it, hoping that Mr. Netanyahu will do “the job” for them in Gaza. His military has been consistent in Lebanon: it has always failed in Lebanon even as it easily crushed all regular Arab armies. In Gaza he probably will achieve at least one of the goals I mentioned, but it is unlikely that he will achieve the goals of the Arab potentates ruling Cairo and Riyadh and a few other places. 

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Pop-History? the Invention of Jews and Ashkenazi Arabs…………

      


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This writer, Jihad Al Khazin writes for Al-Hayat, the Saudi daily newspaper owned by Prince Khaled Bin Sultan (funny how Western media call it an ‘independent pan-Arab’ daily). He refers to Arthur Koestler’s Thirteenth Tribe (a book I have not read) and speculates that the Ashkenazi Jews did not originate in historic Palestine, but were converts, originally a people of the Caucasus who claimed they were Jews in order to avoid persecution. (I must admit that is a cute one, a first, a real change, claiming to be Jewish to AVOID persecution). He also says there are no monuments or traces of any ‘fake’ Jewish prophets or kingdoms in Palestine. Then he oddly adds that he heard all the details from a student at Georgetown University, which presumably makes it like some sort of a gospel.

All this about the origins of some Jews may be of some historic interest, but it is of course quite irrelevant as far as the politics and facts (and fiction) of the Palestinian-Israeli issue are concerned. It is not the ‘race’ that matters. Many current Iraqis and Syrians and Egyptians and other “Arabs” including Palestinians are not of Arab origin either. Many Arab tribes were originally foreigners who emigrated to places like Iraq and Syria and Egypt after the Muslim conquests. It is not the blood, stupid; it is the culture and belonging, stupid.

This interesting piece was reproduced in Alarabiya (Arabic) website from al-Hayat.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


Will the Really Dead Yasser Arafat Please Stand Up, If He is Really Dead……..

      


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“French investigators have concluded in a report that Yasser Arafat died of natural causes and ruled out the possibility that he was poisoned, a source told Al Jazeera. “The analysis cannot lead us to affirm that Arafat died of polonium 210 poisoning,” reads the report, according to the source, who has seen it. The report comes to the same conclusion the French reached in 2004 – that Arafat died of a brain hemorrhage and an intestinal infection. According to the forensic report presented in Paris to Suha Arafat, the widow of the late Palestinian leader, and her lawyer, Saad Djabbar, French investigators found traces of the radioactive element polonium 210, but concluded that Arafat died of natural causes. The French tests, conducted independently and in secret as part of a murder investigation, appear to contradict Swiss findings …………..”

Confusing, n’est-ce pas? I know, it is possible to ‘buy’ test results, especially in Europe. Still, if I have to choose in this case, I would tend to believe the Swiss institutions over the French institutions (and government officials for that matter). Some misguided people suspect that corruption, like interesting sex, was a French invention.
I shall file this under category: WTF.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com