Tag Archives: Palestine

Egypt Permanently Opens Gaza Border Crossing

Hooray! Dignity for Palestinians. I hope it lasts.

Story here.

The reopening of the Rafah border crossing eases an Egyptian blockade that has prevented the vast majority of Gaza’s 1.5 million people from being able to travel abroad. The closure, along with an Israeli blockade of its borders with Gaza, has fueled an economic crisis in the densely populated territory.

After two hours of operation, Hatem Awideh, director general of the Hamas border authority in Gaza, said 175 people had crossed. None were forced to return, a departure from the past when Egypt had rejected passengers found to be on “blacklists.”

“Today is a cornerstone for a new era that we hope will pave the road to ending the siege and blockade on Gaza,” Awideh said. “We hope this facilitation by our Egyptian brothers will improve travel and will allow everyone to leave Gaza.”

One woman, who gave her name as Aisha, was headed for a long overdue medical checkup in Cairo. She said she underwent surgery for blocked arteries at a Cairo hospital in October, but Egyptian authorities had prevented her from returning for checkups because a distant relative was caught — and killed — operating a smuggling tunnel on the Gaza-Egypt border.

(I just excerpted the good parts. All the parts about how dangerous Palestinians are are in the article if you want to read it. But this post is about the good news).

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Organ Snatching; WSJ Thinks Arabs are Iranians

Here are a couple of stories to look into. The Arab News reports:

RAMALLAH: The chief Israeli pathologist and director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir, professor Yehuda Hiss, has admitted harvesting organs from the bodies of dead Palestinians without the consent of their families.

You can read more at the link. And the other story, found at BoRev.net, is about a Wall Street Journal article conflating Iranians with Venezuelans of Arab descent. To make it more scary.

From the penultimate paragraph of the WSJ article:

What do Fadi Kabboul, Aref Richany Jimenez, Radwan Sabbagh and Tarek Zaidan El Aissami Maddah have in common? The answer is that they are, respectively, executive director for planning of Venezuelan oil company PdVSA; the president of Venezuela’s military-industrial complex; the president of a major state-owned mining concern; and, finally, the minister of interior. Latin Americans of Middle Eastern descent have long played prominent roles in national politics and business. But these are all fingertip positions in what gives the Iranian-Venezuelan relationship its worrying grip.

From BoRev:

Wow, was your mind just blown? Iran is infiltrating the highest levels of the Venezuelan oil sector using…Christian immigrants from Lebanon! I don’t mean to add fuel to the fire or anything, but I think I saw a Sikh cab driver in Caracas once too.

The commenters at BoRev are pretty sure that all those guys are of Lebanese Christian descent, but I can’t verify it. After all, most people don’t have to declare their ethnic descent and religion to the world. A google search on their names mostly brings up dozens of blog posts about this WSJ article. Plus the dismaying realization that attempts to link Iran to Venezuela through Arab Christians has been going on for a while.

There are several sites out there linking Venezuelan Minister of the Interior Tarek El Aissami to Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime in the sense that his great uncle was a Baathist, and I can’t figure out if that’s true or not, but I can pretty much guarantee that a tie to the Iraqi Baathist party is pretty much the opposite of a tie to Iran.

Plus, why did the WSJ writer, Bret “They All Look Alike to Me” Stephens, include Tarek El Aissami’s middle name and maternal last name? He doesn’t go by them, and his name is plenty scary-Arab-sounding without them.

See more mocking of Bret here. I only regret that there isn’t a lot more mocking.

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Map of Palestine as Archipelago

I’ll be back to this map again later, but in the meantime, here’s the post from another WordPress blog where I got the map.

Excerpt:

What Mr. Bousac’s imaginary map does quite neatly is illustrate that while there are countries in the world made up of pieces of land as divided as those parts of the West Bank currently under Palestinian control, there are none that are not real archipelagos, surrounded by water, rather than by parts of another state.

Since some degree of fragmentation is a feature of many of the maps proposed by Israeli governments in recent years for the shape of a Palestinian state, it seems important to ask what chance a country with this landlocked archipelago shape really has of becoming a viable nation-state. Mr. Bousac’s illustration, like the real map it is based on, also puts some of the failure of the Palestinian Authority to function more like a state since the Oslo Accords were signed into context.

This leaves aside the more obvious problem that the biggest island in a Palestinian archipelago is the Gaza Strip, which is completely cut off from the West Bank. In a fascinating essay in the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National, the Indian writer Pankaj Mishra looked at parallel in the recent histories of Israel and India, and that prompts the thought that we have seen an attempt to create one country out of two isolated territories in the past — in the form of Pakistan, which originally included the mass of territory that eventually broke away to become the separate country of Bangladesh. That history, unfortunately, does little to support the idea that a similarly divided Palestinian state will have an easy time developing into one country.

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Heartening News

Mike Huckabee’s trip to Israel has led to some thoughtful blog posts at various blogs I read. Polls are showing Huckabee, Palin, and Romney as all leading contenders for the next Republican primary. I found this here:

Mike Huckabee just told CBN: “One of the things I find most interesting is that generally Evangelicals are so much more supportive of Israel than the American Jewish community.”

In case you were wondering, CBN is the Christian Broadcasting Network.

This is what I find heartening:

I don’t know that Huckabee’s assertion is true, and I think it would depend on how one defines being “supportive,” but I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong either. It’s clear from my own personal experience that during the last 25 or so years, the number of American Jews in my circle who think that Israel holds the moral high ground and is a vulnerable but righteous democratic state surrounded by a sea of bloodthirsty Arab barbarians has declined dramatically, even as the pro-Israeli right has actively courted the conservative Christian community with those very same claims.

Well thank goodness. I think it’s true, too. And I sure hope it is. To paraphrase a comment I saw on a blog somewhere a while ago,

They say Israel is America’s only friend in the middle east. Before the creation of Israel, America didn’t have an enemy in the middle east.

Uh-oh, just found this, and it’s not good:

HUCKABEE: Basically, there really is no such thing as — I have to be careful in saying this, because people will really — but there’s no such thing as a Palestinian.

As a former governor of Arkansas, does Mr Huckabee also think there is no such thing as a Cherokee, a Chickasaw, a Chocktaw, or an Osage, and if so, does he say it out loud?


Since formatting may prevent you from reading the whole thing, here’s the link to the comic.

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Huckabee for Ethnic Cleansing

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is in Israel, visiting those brave Israeli settlers who, like our own pioneer ancestors, are moving in on other people’s land and kicking them out by any means necessary.

What he says doesn’t actually make sense, which is either a canny move to lend plausible deniability, or just the typical failure to think which has become all the rage among conservative Americans.

In his affable way, he insists that he isn’t against a Palestinian state — he just wants it somewhere else. “The question is,” he said, “should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes. I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be assessed as virtually unrealistic.”

“Virtually unrealistic”? Any guesses what that means? I think he started out to say “virtually impossible,” then caught himself, afraid he might be going too far, and bobbled it to “virtually unrealistic.”

Actually, Mr Huckabee, I don’t think the question is “should the Palestinians have a place to call their own?” Nice one, you almost put it past me.

He went on to praise Israel for allowing Muslims to visit Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, which is a holy site for Islam as well as for Judaism. But should a mosque be allowed? Nope. It would be an “affront.” “Israel is a place where they’re going to allow other cultures and religions,” he explained, “but don’t ask the Jewish people whose homeland it is to completely yield over their ability to live within the context of their country.”

What a weird world. By the way, Mike Huckabee earned himself a spot on my Fanaticism page with this doozy of a quote: “I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that’s what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.”

Amjad Atallah responds in the Huffington Post. Excerpts:

Both my parents immigrated to Indiana from the Palestinian town of Ramallah in the early 1960s, before Israel’s occupation in 1967. Like many Palestinians in the Diaspora, they would have been happy with a secular democratic state in the entirety of historic Palestine/Eretz Israel with equal rights for both Jews and Arabs. But also like many Palestinians, convinced that Israelis would never agree to granting equality to all Palestinians, they have supported attempts to create a rump Palestinian state in the parts of Palestine occupied by Israel in 1967 where Palestinians could exercise their right to self-determination.

Having been uncomfortable with the idea of immigrants from Europe displacing the native inhabitants of Palestine, Palestinians have never seriously entertained the idea that they should go somewhere else and displace another people to create a “Palestinian” state. But now that a prominent American politician is making the offer, I have some ideas on a locale.

Dream big:

I haven’t yet conducted a poll of Palestinians on the Huckabee-Solution, but it seems that California – at least everything from San Francisco and south would be most preferred, no offense to Huckabee’s home state of Arkansas. The landscape is very similar to historic Palestine with various Mediterranean climates, lots of orange and fig trees, beautiful vistas, and lots of ocean front property. California even has its own fault lines, just like Israel/Palestine which makes for good wrath of God sermons. It wouldn’t matter if you were originally from Haifa, Ramallah, or the Gaza Strip, there would be something to remind you of home.

Amjad Atallah

Amjad Atallah

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UPDATE: found this Huckabee-in-Israel quote in another article:

“I have not bashed America! I haven’t even bashed Obama’s anti-Israel and promise breaking policy, and I have certainly had the opportunity,” he continued. “I have expressed my view consistently wherever I am and don’t say different things depending on who I am talking to.”

Bolding mine.

Greenwald directed readers to a story in the Jerusalem Post quoting Huckabee as saying: “It concerns me when there are some in the United States who would want to tell Israel that it cannot allow people to live in their own country, wherever they want.”

Mr Huckabee, it’s not that Israel desperately wants to allow people to live in their own country wherever they want, it’s that Israel wants to prevent people from living in their own country wherever they want.

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Miguel Sabah, Team Mexico

It turns out I’m more interested in soccer than I realized. First it was just the Iraqi national team, and then the Palestinian team, and now I’ve watched the big World Cup qualifying match between the US and Mexico.

And what a game!

Anyhow, I went into it knowing nothing about either team and quickly noticed, “Hey, that guy has an Arab name!” That’s Miguel Sabah, who it turns out is a Mexican of Palestinian descent. And in my research I found some cool sites, People’s Geography, another WordPress blog, and Football Palestine, the unofficial site of the Palestinian national football team. I’m learning so much.

Not wanting to spoil anything for anybody who maybe hasn’t read/heard/seen the results of the game yet, I’ll just say that Miguel Sabah did his country proud.
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Now that days have gone by and I’m not spoiling it for anyone: Mexico beat USA, 2-1. Miguel Sabah scored the winning goal in the second half.

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Amnesty Intl Report on Gaza Blitz

Reported in BBC News:

Israel committed war crimes and carried out reckless attacks and acts of wanton destruction in its Gaza offensive, an independent human rights report says.

Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed using high-precision weapons, while others were shot at close range, the group Amnesty International says.

Israel has attributed some civilian deaths to “professional mistakes”, but has dismissed wider criticism that its attacks were indiscriminate and disproportionate.

Amnesty says some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the 22-day Israeli offensive between 27 December 2008 and 17 January 2009, which agrees broadly with Palestinian figures.

More than 900 of these were civilians, including 300 children and 115 women, it says.

In March, Israel’s military said the overall Palestinian death toll was 1,166, of whom 295 were “uninvolved” civilians.

The 117-page report by Amnesty International says many of the hundreds of civilian deaths in the conflict “cannot simply be dismissed as ‘collateral damage’ incidental to otherwise lawful attacks – or as mistakes”.

It says “disturbing questions” remain unanswered as to why children playing on roofs and medical staff attending the wounded were killed by “highly accurate missiles” whose operators had detailed views of their targets.

Lives were lost because Israeli forces “frequently obstructed access to medical care,” the report says. It also reiterates previous condemnations of the use of “imprecise” weapons such as white phosphorous and artillery shells.

The destruction of homes, businesses and public buildings was in many cases “wanton and deliberate” and “could not be justified on the grounds of military necessity”, the report adds.

The document also gives details of several cases where it says people – including women and children posing no threat to troops – were shot at close range as they were fleeing their homes in search of shelter.

The Amnesty report says no evidence was found that Palestinian militants had forced civilians to stay in buildings being used for military purposes, contradicting Israeli claims that Hamas repeatedly used “human shields”.

In the cases it had investigated, Amnesty said civilian deaths “could not be explained as resulting from the presence of fighters shielding among civilians, as the Israeli army generally contends”.

However, Amnesty does accuse Israel of using civilians, including children, as human shields in Gaza, forcing them to remain in houses which its troops were using as military positions, and to inspect sites suspected of being booby trapped.

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