Israel and Hizbullah: A quick round up

This is a summary of the latest events between Israel and Hizbullah. It starts when Hizbullah’s SG Hassan Nasrallah engaged in a long description of Hizbullah’s readiness to fight Israel even if involved in the Syrian quagmire, on Mayadeen TV. Obviously, I would be simplifying if I started the story then, as it is involved in a general buildup of coalitions in the regional arena. Israel’s actions are partly a result of freaking out when Nasrallah boasts about Hizbullah’s capabilities and partly to test if the new regional situation can work on its favor.

There seem to be no doubt that this preemptive strike comes as a direct reaction to this interview. It is also possible that this interview was pushed for in order to send clear messages to Israel based on intelligence reports that Hizbullah must have been getting around the Israeli military brewing something. But then military initiatives bring to light new possible alliances. Israel finds in Jabhat al-Nusra (it’s ugly like ISIS but with a different costume) a reliable ally or at least someone who wouldn’t stand in its way.

Hizbullah’s retaliation is then inevitable, if anything in order to avoid war: thus, today’s attack on what Hizbullah’s media characterized as being Israel’s “Golani” troops. This also mean that enemies have tested each other’s capabilities. The success of Hizbullah’s operation will determine the likelihood of escalation. As of now it looks quite successful. Then, the balance of power has been restored after having been tested, and given the regional situation, it seems doubtful that there will be more escalation in the very short term. But let’s see what the spring or the summer brings.

France and antisemitism: It’s the politics stupid!

The recent events in France betray the primacy of the political (and not religious) dimension in the way different communities, groups, and states have handled (and have been handled in) this affair.

One facet is Israel’s urge to profit from the situation and attract a few more Jews to the promised homeland to which France has answered through Holland’s “Holocaust day speech” that urges Jews to reconsider and reflect on the fact that they are, after all, French.

Now one wonder in this case how truly wonderful are the various ironies of the politics in the age of Nation-State: Jews who have been in France for centuries have no problem going to Israel and adopt a completely different “nationality” yet deterritorialized Muslims who came there for less than a century because of economic imperatives have no place to go.

And another interesting highlight of the speech is a change of emphasis over what antisemitism really means. Although I profoundly disagree with the way the word is used in 99% of cases in contemporary social and political affairs since the end of WWII, Holland did seem to acknowledge that representations of Jews do change over time and come to reflect the concerns of ones time, namely here the politics of Israel and the general politics unfolding in the Middle East. Unfortunately, he acknowledged it through the worst wording ever: “hatred of Israel” (as if the reverse means anything in the first place) and, “imports the conflicts of the Middle East” (conflicts that in large part is fueled by your politically moribund foreign policies Mr Holland). Nobody is importing, it is you (and your predecessors) who is exporting!

And come to think about it, “antisemitism” does not mean much today (except for a very few “white” nostalgics) as it refers to a particular political discourse that is part of a specific period of time that sees the consolidation of national projects in nineteenth century and beginning twentieth century Europe. Today hatred against Jews is mostly similar “politically” to any other form of group hatred, racism or forms of xenophobia that occurs in any heterogenous society.

In any case, to go back to Holland’s speech, I don’t know what others think, but this is a huge improvement: moving from an atemporal abstract concept of antisemitism to one that may have some political historically situated logic (again not that “antisemitic” to describe these acts is in any way a useful term), in official western state discourse. It took the French to start it, who would have known!

The War with Images

My article at Opendemocracy on the use of images in war situations.

Raï in Jerusalem

Maronite-Cardinal-Beshara-Rai-Getty-1The new Christian maronite patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros el Rai, has been making some bold moves since the beginning of his mandate. First his visit to Syria in the midst of the conflict degenerating, and now his decision to visit Jerusalem as the Catholic pope has schedule a Middle East tour, all show that Rai wants to re-assert some form of power for Christians in the Middle East. Now I don’t know why everyone on the left side of the political spectrum (whatever that really means nowadays) lashed out at Rai, I think this visit is deemed to be considered as involving novel strategies that inscribes Rai as the most Arab of Christian Maronite authorities since the coming of the French in the region.

Rai kept on repeating, as he defended his controversial trip to Jerusalem, that he was going strictly for religious reasons. But then Rai added “I am going there to say this is our city, I am going home, and I am going to see my people. We have been present in Haifa and Galilee long before Israel.” Now that’s cleverly said as it contributes in a way to challenge the sovereignty of Israel over this chunk of land. Holy land is not to be possessed by nation-states. But that’s the Khomeinist rationale as explicited by his Jerusalem Day commemoration. That’s probably why Hizbullah was not so vociferous about Rai’s visit, opposing it publicly but quickly silencing the subject at the media level.

In the land where “non-state actors” prosper with or without the support of official states, what better way of producing political leverage than to use the various institutional tools at one disposal. Rai seems here to have learned from Hizbullah who uses Iran to further the interest of their community in Lebanon, producing political actions that can spill over outside of Lebanon.

Rai’s power material and symbolic springs from two different directions. His constituency and the various implications of the confessional system in Lebanon, and his institutional affiliation to the Catholic church based in the Vatican. This means that if Rai wants to bolster his position he can act on both these fronts. His recent visit to Jerusalem is clearly an attempt at gaining leverage through the organizational hierarchy of the Catholic Church especially now that the latter elected somewhat of a “third world” oriented pope. And in so doing, Rai can gain more independence as a figure representing a community that is not delimited by nation-states (Maronites in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, etc).

By using the “religious” card, his institutional affiliation to the Church, Rai reminds contemporary societies that communities are still represented by institutions that transcend State boundaries (in this case Israel and Lebanon). Most importantly, they remind us that where State fail to provide solutions for communities, other institutions can be used. Given the type of power the Catholic Church has, this is probably the best political move they can do. And by saying that his motivation are non-political and strictly religious, these are religious motivations that are strictly political.

It remains to be seen the extent to which Rai’s move manifest an action that transcends the State, it is still framed by State-related political calculations, in this case, the power leverage Christian can get in Lebanon.

Ramadan “made in Israel”!

20130808_195648I know it is a bit late now, but I forgot to add this picture I took in a Sainsburys supermarket in Dalston, London, a week or so ago. If you zoom in on the photograph, you’ll be able to see that the dates offered come from Israel. A nice way to celebrate Eid! I wonder what the Sainsburys management team was thinking when they put that stuff out there. Don’t they know that Muslims are generally allergic to something called Israel? At least, for the festivities, include a couple of dates from somewhere else! Out of all countries that can sell you dates, why choose to bring them from that tiny place that calls itself Israel!? This is another example why the claim that UK or Europe adopt policies of “Free Trade” is complete bullocks, to use an expression dear to a British audience. There is always a bit of political logic behind any policy to trade “freely”.

Nasrallah with Assange on Russia Today

There are several points to remember from Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s televised interview conducted by Wikileaker Julian Assange two days ago. Though as it was geared to a Western audience, most of what was said was already known by the local population from Nasrallah’s various televised speeches in Beirut, there is, I think, a very important point that Nasrallah made when Assange asked him how, when, and in what circumstances would the conflict with Israel end.

For the first time, to my knowledge, an official from Hizbullah (and not any official), formally acknowledged that “the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is establishing a democratic state on Palestinian land where Muslims, Jews and Christians live in peace”.

Now that’s quite something, rhetorically and substantially. It gives a bit of perspective to this fashionable notion that Arabs have commercialized, namely that “Israel should cease to exist”. I’ve already offered a specific reading of this claim and though I am not sure Nasrallah read my post before making his statement, what he says does read the same way.

That in a way should be more alarming to the average Israeli than the more literal take on the claim that states that Jews should be thrown to the sea. More alarming, because it is realizable through diligence and perseverance that started almost 30 years ago…

What is meant by “Israel should cease to exist”

This magnificently visionary passage of Fanon’s “Les damnés de la terre” nails cleverly what is at stake when the colonized decides to effectively fight the colonizer. What has been the slogan of the Palestinian resistance for decades and is now preserved by the “Islamist” resistance (that is still Palestinian but also Lebanese.. and beyond) grouping Hamas and Hizbullah that Israel should cease to exist could be well understood in this particular way:

« La violence qui a présidé à l’arrangement du monde colonial, qui a rythmé inlassablement la destruction des formes sociales indigènes, démoli sans restrictions les systèmes de références de l’économie, les modes d’apparence, d’habillement, sera revendiquée et assumée par le colonisé au moment où, décidant d’être l’histoire en actes, la masse colonisée s’engouffrera dans les villes interdites. Faire sauter le monde colonial est désormais une image d’action très claire, très compréhensible et pouvant être reprise par chacun des individus constituant le peuple colonisé. Disloquer le monde colonial ne signifie pas qu’après l’abolition des frontières on aménagera des voies de passage entre les deux zones. Détruire le monde colonial c’est ni plus ni moins abolir une zone, l’enfouir au plus profond du sol ou l’expulser du territoire. » (Fanon, Les damnés de la terre, p.44)

My translation:

The violence that has shaped the arrangement of the colonial world, has unrelentlessly paced the destruction of indigenous social structures, demolished without restriction economic system of references, modes of appearance, dress codes, will be claimed and endorsed by the colonizer when, deciding to his own history in action, the colonized mass would engulf itself in the forbidden cities. Blowing up the colonial world is henceforth a very clear image of action that can be used and understood by every individual consituting the colonized people. Dislocating the colonial world does not signify that after the abolition of borders, tracks of passages would be arranged between the two zones. Destroying the colonial world is not more nor less than abolishing a zone, bury it in the deepest ground or expel it of the territory. (Fanon, Les damnés de la terre, p.44, my translation)

Priceless quotes

Every time I come here, I get so supercharged with energy,” she said. “I truly believe that Israel is the energy center of the world. And I also believe that if we can all live together in harmony in this place, then we can live in peace all over the world.


So now don’t make a fuss
if you hear Madonna could not make it to Baalbeck or Beiteddine. Seriously… Supercharged! Did she mean nuclear energy?i

Rome to Beirut or Tel Aviv

The airport of Rome sticks the gate of the plane going to Beirut to the one going to Tel Aviv. Every single time I use Italian airports for flight connections it is the same story. It could be taken as a lesson of ill-directed pride. It could be read as something like: for us you are the same, chunks of lands juxtaposed, bunch of brown people with similar attributes, so your gates should be just like Paris and Brussels, gates next to each other. Or it could be read as laziness to separate both gates just because there is a conflict between the two post-colonial countries even tough ironically enough, the actual planes are separated because of “security issues”…

I usually go and sit between the Israeli crowd. As I am early, only one Rabbi sits there with his usual big belly eating a sandwich. I take out my laptop and starts listening to Bach’s art of the fugue (blabla). Try that, listen to Bach gently setting a serene almost mystical atmosphere while seeing Israelis arrive. Slowly emerge out of nowhere passenger after passenger and this weird feeling of being surrounded by something different, hostile but exiting overtake me. “Khkhkh” that’s all I can hear. I try to rationalize things thinking that these are individuals, mostly harmless “civilians” as prevailing political legal structures would have it, but my mind seem to evade my will. I always play this game actually. Every time I travel and the occasion presents itself I do that, I go and sit with the Israelis, and each time, I try to feel somewhat differently, this overbearing feeling of irritation but struggle to understand and subliminally ‘reach out’.

This time I listen to a conversation next to me, and it is in Lebanese Arabic. At first, it seems like these two men are Lebanese, like me, and thought of playing this stupid game of “sitting between the Israelis.” But it turns out these are Lebanese who live in Israel. Later on, I sat between the Lebanese, the ones sitting for the plane leaving to Beirut, and I watched the other Lebanese board on the plane to Tel Aviv. I want to wave them goodbye, do something, anything. And then the brouhaha of spoken Lebanese slowly embraced me and gradually tame my ardors. There were more pressing voices bursting into my thoughts. Our own divisions is the subject of the day. The recent armed clashes in Beirut, the various political squabbles following the election of the new parliament, the appointment of Saad Hariri as prime minister, the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict, the increasingly scared Christians and their ill-understood liberty, and so on, and so on…

I give a couple of clicks to my computer and listen to Zaki Murad, that great Jewish Egyptian singer of the early 1900s: Yes’ed layalik, laya…alik, ya…a…a…amar! Akh ya Zaki…

The same Caspit revealed last week that Obama’s chief of staff and resident Israel expert in the White House, Rahm Emanuel, referred to Netanyahu in closed conversations as a “bullshitter.

Rome, avocados, and post colonial thoughts

Today we went to the ‘ethnic’ market (the place where liberal States frame their acceptance of the ‘other’, and let him sell his goods). Avocados looked nice at one particular stand but I was quickly repulsed by an etiquette saying that they came from Israel. Call it an ‘Arab’ reflex, this little chill down your spine when you something or someone baring the mark of ‘the Israeli’, but hey, can’t help it. How many countries produce avocados around the world? And its Israel who gets to have its avocados on the lucrative EU markets. I don’t think this is what economists call ‘competition’…

So why oh why do the Europeans import their avocados from Israel? Because of something called a ‘preferential trade agreement‘. There seems to be a petition to suspend the EU-Israel agreement (not that I believe in petitions but you could go sign it).

Anyway so I quickly stepped away from this vegetable/fruit place and went to another one whose avocados looked nicer. As I could not find a country of origin displayed, I asked the guy if he knew where these avocados were from. The guy diligently started looking between boxes until he finally claimed triumphantly pointing his finger to one label that they were from South Africa. I couldn’t help but think of the once prevalent Apartheid regime and all that, but then I’m like, the hell with it, it is still better than buying Israeli, and as I am paying the guy, he asks me where I am from, I answer him and return the question to which he answers: Bengladesh. And so being a bit surprised, judging from his light color of skin (forgive my quick stereotype here), I tell him that I thought he was Spanish or something. He immediately screams with a huge smile: Thank you!

Ok so what was this all about? Bengladeshis wanting to be Spaniards or anything else European for that matter. This is what it was all about. The ‘colonized’ wants to be like the once ‘colonial’ and today ‘European’. Antonio Gramsci (being in Rome I should refer to Italians) once explained that Marxist revolution in terms of the appearance of working class consciousness was not going to work just like that because ‘the poor’ wants to become ‘the rich’, to emulate him, to identify to the image he makes of ‘the rich’. This could be extended to any type of social distinguishing group (so instead of class we could thing of any ‘type’ of social group). The colonized/colonizing, first world/third world, us/them basically, given that ‘them’ looks more afluent or powerful, more at ease etc.

Zionism’s symbolic struggle

I always find the best stories in Forward. Check this article telling the story of Israeli far-right political parliamentary members trying to push for a law that would actually strip Arabic of its official language status (alongside Hebrew).

Some thoughts on Hizbullah since Mughnieh’s assassination

Don’t ask me exactly why but I changed my mind. I woke up this morning thinking about the blog. I thought that the beast could probably heal. For those who know me personally, they have seen how lunatic I can be. So I will start with Ms Levantine’s note. I will summarize what I think should be remembered following Mughnieh’s assassination. There are several events that need to be taken into consideration:

1- Hizbullah’s reaction to the assassination
2- Hizbullah’s reaction to how the assassination was reported, and how Mughnieh was represented in the press and through other producers of information
3- Israel’s reaction and US reaction

First of all, it is with few hesitations that I think that Israel carried out the assassination. By that I mean secret service cells working for the Israeli or Mossad in one way or another. Syria killing a guy of that stature for some hypothetical deal with the Americans especially with the given power configuration is just absurd. But let’s leave this consideration as an open question so that I am not taxed of dogmatism. However, trying to answer this question distances us from the more important political and social development happening on the ground, post-assassination.

1- Hizbullah has focused on its likely constituency. What the party calls its Mujtama’ el Muqawama, its “the society of resistance” (an interestingly changing discursive construction that scholars on Hizbullah mistakenly read literally, at its face value, more on that later). Mughnieh was quickly transformed into the greatest hero in the line of Ragheb Harb and Abbas Musawi. Billboards, ceremonies, and an elaborate discourse on martyrdom and how important it is to the community, was quickly deployed in all directions. This formidable production of meaning for events is in a way fascinating. It is not much different from any type of media production although here the narratives and the issues at stake are specific to the particular geography of the party. Dying for the cause becomes a triumph, a victory for the community. “the more you kill of us the stronger we become and the weaker you show yourself to be”. This is what Hizbullah constantly tries to elaborate. The blood of the Shahid is imagined to feed into this organic whole that nurtures the bond of the community. That is the modern elaboration and practical political use of the concept of Shahada. And although it is translated as “martyrdom” I don’t think it refers to the same political dynamics. Just check the recent history of state formation in Europe, nowhere is there something resembling this culture of the Shahid. This I think is one of the particularities of Post-Colonial State-formation, i.e. in the backdrop of occupation and prolonged oppression. But the end-result of these political discursive articulations are probably the same in the age of the “nation”-State (again nation here is not in its European meaning): Strenghtening the sense of belonging to the same imagined community.

This is why, most importantly, the campaign of Hizbullah is geared towards its own constituency, and here it gets tricky because Hizbullah is trying to maneuver between a discourse aimed at the Shi’a constituency and one that targets all the “Lebanese”. So now Hizbullah adds a “nationalistic” dimension to its construction of the community. If you read the (constantly proliferating) publications of party members, intellectuals, etc. Like the vice-secretary general Naim Qassem, or simply the last couple of speeches of Hassan Nasrallah then you can clearly see that (and especially post july 2006 war) the resistant society is not just the ‘downtrodden’ but all the segments of the “Lebanese people” (on these discursive shifts I will write more later on). The party is trying by all means to push forth this ‘unitarian’ version of resistance. There is this idea that “we lived it this way. we know it is possible to lift ourselves from the opressed state, and so you can do the same”. Although resistance is based on Shi’ite idioms, the cause now encompass all those who think that Israel is not the invincible enemy that it was once supposed to be. Hizbullah wants to spread this idea also as a fighting force against ‘confessionalism’. People come from different religious backgrounds, but everyone should be concerned with the political problems this country is facing, and understand the big issues being played out in the region.

2- Western representation (and through that other “Lebanese” representation) have been stupidly concerned with the question of whether Mughnieh was a “terrorist” or not. Hizbullah has been arguing vehemently the contrary making the argument that there was no centralized Hizbullah organization in the beginning of the 1980s, which is totally true (although Hizbullah ideologues try paradoxically to push forth a very coherent image of the organization across time, so it really depends on the situation). What’s truely remarkable is that Hizbullah is not justifying as much as it was doing before. Probably for the simple reason that it has lost interest in what “the west think”. So the focus is completely on the ‘national’ constiuency, the region (Arabs and others), and the Israelis. This whole discussion is making Hizbullah loose a lot of time and Western medium to stay biased and wrongly moralistic. I participated as a discussant at a conference that was supposed to ‘shed light’ on who the hell was Mughnieh (in vain, nobody said anything new amongst the brilliant speakers we had which is rather promising for those who want to write about Hizbullah!). Moreover, the debate turned to be focused on these ideological concerns, geared for a western audience that needs to distinguish between the bad guys and the good guys, or probably help their policy makers define the bad guys in order to aim better next time they shoot.

3- Hizbullah quickly entered in a psychological war with Israel. It does not mean like many have said, that Hizbullah will attack Israel. It just means that it tried to quickly achieve a symbolic position of strength in the face of a hypothetical US, Israeli attack. This comes at a time when Cheney was arriving in the Middle East, the Gaza murderous adventure was a total failure, and in the advent of the Arab summit. Hizbullah is always trying to convince the rest of the Arab States that Israel is not the threat it was, that Israel can be beaten or at least neutralized politically and diplomatically, that Israel could be forced to compromise and accept a fairer settlement of the Palestinian question. The most important way this was done at the symbolic level (the most virulent and for me the most interesting) is to elaborate the argument that Israel as it is today cannot last. Nasrallah makes sure in his last speech to say that beating the “Zionist project” is not a “Lebanese responsibility” but that it should be its “culture”, that Lebanese “awareness” should be geared towards this evidence. In all his last speeches, Nasrallah argued this idea forcefully. Many Hizbullah members and people around the party are avid readers of Israeli politics and society. Nasrallah speeches contained a wrap up of these analyses. I will write more on Nasrallah’s recent speeches, and other key party members’ discursive articulations.

Sadness

An illustration of colonialism internalized:

The Israel Prison Service on Friday separated Palestinian security prisoners affiliated with Fatah from those linked with Hamas, after receiving intelligence information indicating that factional violence could break out among the prisoners in the wake of the bloody clashes in the Gaza Strip that led to the Hamas takeover there.

Ouch, Frankie-Baby…

“Filth is bad but this kind of American filth is the worst.”

Hamas doomed dreams

So Fatah asks for permission to Israel to get arms from other Arab states to neutralize Hamas, and the latter’s leader Ismael Haniyeh wants to integrate its militia to the Palestinian security forces. Do you get it? Hamas lives in Alice’s wonderland… Can somebody tell Haniyeh despite all the efforts deployed, purely ‘Palestinian’ decisions will never be possible?

Fatah is not Palestinian anymore, people should wake up and scrap the last decades of history of Palestinian resistance.

Le toupet des Kurdes

If you were a Turk in an executive political position what would you do with a statement like this one:

The president of Iraq’s Kurdish region on Thursday rejected Ankara’s declaration that it was ready for dialogue with Iraqi Kurds provided they took measures against Turkish Kurd rebels holed up in the autonomous enclave.
“We do not accept the conditions laid down to deal with the PKK. We have always said that we would help Turkey if it chooses the path of dialogue and we confirm this,” Massoud Barzani told a news conference alongside Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, also a Kurd.

You know I wonder what Israelis were thinking when they started training Kurds and giving them military aid. Maybe they thought that selling weapons to Turkey on one side and to Kurds who just found themselves with the presidency of Iraq on the other, is something that could pay off eventually. Maybe they thought this would help the Americans… I mean what is the logic behind all these moves?
See, this is why I don’t believe much in grand conspiracy theories. People conspire don’t get me wrong, but people cannot accommodate for the desires/interests (depending on which terminology you want to use) of every ally.

Colonization continues

Do you know why there are constant Jewish settlements being built in the West Bank? Because these dudes find much more security and material comfort to live surrounded by ‘angry arabs’ then in the US:

Settlements near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have become a suburban paradise for North American religious Jews. They offer large homes with yards, lawns and swimming pools, and prices are low compared with those of the cramped apartments not only of Israel’s main population centers but also of such smaller cities as Beit Shemesh and Modi’in.

In short, that’s how you buy ‘religious extremism’. And that’s how you provide a market for ‘religious extremism’. Just to echo with the discussion on ‘capitalism’ in the earlier comment section.

Security-wise, we can thank Abbas and co. who make sure these settlers get everything they need. No capitalistic structures without the provision of the number one public good: Monopoly over the means of coercion (By protecting the structures you create the market). No wonder how perceptions of the West Bank and Gaza are more and more ‘growing apart’. I remember this conversation I had with a colonel from Ramallah who told me that people in Gaza are from ‘another creed’: “they don’t think like us” he used to tell me.

And to add insult to injury, Fatah is busy asking from Israel the permission to get arms from other Arab states in order to neutralize Hamas.

So on the one hand, you have a mini-civil war in Palestine between those who have been won over by the colonizers cause and those who still try to resist, and on the other, you have a colonizer that makes sure that colonies are expanding and that constituencies of ‘colonizees’ are much better off living here than in their home town.

Colonization succeeds when it is effectively internalized. When West Bank and Gaza will be perceived as two different ‘countries’, then Israelis would have succeeded in their deepest ambitions. When people will think of themselves mostly through their projected differences, then exploitative structures are well entrenched.

An incident in the 6-day war

Here is an interesting (and long) blog entry discussing the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. (Aqoul is a great blog in general.)

Defining a state …

Avraham Burg, former Knesset speaker and former head of the Jewish Agency says “to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end. A Jewish state is explosive. It’s dynamite.” In an interview in Haaretz Weekend Magazine, he said that he is in favor of abrogating the Law of Return and calls on everyone who can to obtain a foreign passport.

(Thanks Hassan)

I would also add that defining Lebanon in terms of a confessional state is also (one of) the key(s) to its end. But as to whether the major players care depends on the losses or gains that will come their way.

Turks enter Iraq

That is it, the moment that has been feared for quite some time finally happened, Turkish troops entered Kurdish Iraq yesterday to tame guerrillas ardor. This adds a new variable to the already explosive situation in the Middle East. Overlapping contradictory political agendas are multiplying. How will the US deal with this while preserving Turkey as a strategic ally? What is going to happen to Turkish-Israeli relations especially that it is Israel that has been training these Kurdish troops.

Because Rapture Ain’t Kosher …

A group of Christian Zionist students at a California university, will be trained this week in how to defend Israel in the face of campus attacks.

Dershowitz’s Chutzpah

Last night, although having stayed home all weekend because of the darned flu, I decided to attend a campus event with Alan Dershowitz as a speaker. I must admit – this guy has some Woody Allen like humor (partly due to his accent) – but although the title of the talk was “The Case for Peace” (anyone familiar with his book of the same name knows the type of case he makes), he spent an hour making “The case for Israel.” Now, I am not familiar with his academic scholarship, and for sure it must be substantial for him to be the youngest professor to obtain tenure at Harvard Law School, but his arguments on this topic resemble the type of discourse I have heard the last few years on campus (and I’m ingoring a his ten-minute tirade on his fetish with Norman Finkelstein), such as the reasoning that (and i’m paraphrasing) because Israel manufactures and exports a large percentage of the world’s medicine, it thus saves many non-israeli lives, and therefore is a moral democracy that is not capable of anything its opponents accuse it of. The highlight of the night though was this woman who came up to me – obviously not liking the question I had asked – and ecstaticly screamed “Don’t you find him straight?” My face must have been contorted in confusion, so she explained “Don’t you think he believes what he says? It’s amazing. He believes what he says. We need more people like that.” Obviously I still looked confused at what she said, since believing in something doesn’t make that thing right, and she walked off in disappointment.

Anyways, the point of this is to express my disappointment with people like Dershowitz. These people are smart and well-spoken. But watching their speeches always makes me wonder if they are aware of the possible damage they actually inflict on Israel. Any change within Israel will come from inside (with some possible external triggers), but this change will only bloom when an honest critique (including the good and the bad) is possible. However, such critique does not always exist, because people like Dershowitz state that the motivation for this criticism “cannot be understood without realizing that Israel is a Jewish state” (he actually said that line yesterday). This absurd generalization, which is used by students as well, sets tight parameters for discourse, that in effect, stifle any opportunity for dialogue. And without dialogue, there tends to be war.

More on Israel’s Heartthrob …

(Hezbollah leader) Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah drives everybody crazy in Israel. He sits there with this very calm voice. He is never angry, he doesn’t curse, in a way he even looks gentle. For that, our political leaders and the military wanted to take revenge.

فعلاً يأتي النصر من الله، فمفهوم الله كناية عن فكرة الوطن إذا صحّ التعبير

Ok everybody got the adrenaline rush of these eloquent statements:

In an unprecedented move, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah yesterday praised the Winograd Committee’s report on the Second Lebanon War.
Nasrallah said he respected Israel’s “verdict of failure.” During an appearence in Beirut, Nasrallah said: “I will not gloat. It is worthy of respect that an investigative commission appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert condemns him,” Nasrallah said. “When the enemy acts honestly and sincerely, you cannot but respect it.

But I would argue that this is the most interesting part quoted from Nasrallah’s speech:

“Even though they’re our enemies, it is worthy of respect that the political forces and the Israeli public act quickly to save their state, entity, army and their existence in the crisis,” Nasrallah added. “When it comes to survival, the Zionists are prepared to sacrifice Olmert and a thousand more like him.”

Ambivalent admiration? All this smells fishy at best… So I guess you were right Apo, there are more similarities to be found between the Zionist movement and Hizbullah than I was ready to concede at first.

Other vassals and an interesting information

Apart from the despicable attitude of Egypt prevalent in this information, notice something else in this lead:

Egypt has imposed severe restrictions on Hamas officials crossing into the country, sources close to Hamas told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

I wonder who are the sources close to Hamas that speak to the right wing Israeli rag.

The overzealous vassal

So when you wake up in the morning and you read something like this,

Jordan’s King Abdullah II yesterday told a delegation of Knesset members that “we are in the same boat, we have the same problem. We have the same enemies.” The king reiterated the comments a number of times, which those at the meeting said referred to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Abdullah also emphasized that he spoke not only for Jordan but for a group of states in the region. The king asked at one point: “Do you want Iran on the banks of the Jordan?”

You seriously start wondering how come we arrived at having to read such radical statements. Saudi officials are anti-imperialist militants compared to this guy!

That is not it. Aparently King II has also suggested (he likes to give intelligent advices) that Palestinians refugee should settle in host countries (specifically Lebanon) against remuneration. Fortunately for us, he informed Israel of his plan. You seriously don’t need americans in the area with this guy around. He can just do the job for them and keep things tidy enough while they’re out conquering new spaces.

The show must go on

A Holocaust survivor gunned down trying to save his students from the Virginia Tech shooting rampage was buried in Israel Friday to the sobs of his grieving family.
Engineering Professor Liviu Librescu’s body was wrapped in a prayer shawl according to Jewish tradition, and his two sons intoned the Kaddish, the Hebrew prayer for the dead.

Even more freaky:

A representative of the Romanian government posthumously awarded the Romanian-born Librescu the country’s highest medal for his scientific accomplishments and heroism. Romanian officials laid a wreath at the grave.

Play by the discursive rules allowed and you will be rewarded.

Welcome to Kurdistan …

It was, in other words, a story about influence-building, buying, and profit, albeit with subplots that were equal parts John le Carre and Keystone Kops, and a cast of characters ranging from ex-Mossad head Yatom to a former German superspy, with Israeli counterterrorism commandos, Kurdish political dynasties, powerful American lobbyists, Turkish business tycoons thrown in—not to mention millions of dollars stashed in Swiss bank accounts.

Wobble On …

In a special statement of clarification, the bureau stressed that Olmert had told Pelosi that Israel continued to regard Syria as “part of the axis of evil and a party encouraging terrorism in the entire Middle East.”

It’s hard to believe how shaky Ehud Olmert’s standing must be that he must declare immediate and total fidelity to Bush Administration policy vis-a-vis Syria. Protecting his right flank to be sure, but it is fun to watch the Israelis and certain Lebanese parties try and out-Bush Bush. I guess they don’t get US polling data in the Levant. Either that, or they get their reports on Iraq from John McCain.