Friday, December 31, 2004

A Home of Our Own

December 31, 2004
"We're Still Waiting for a Home of Our Own
A View from Syria on the Palestinian Right to Return
"We travel in the chariots of the Psalms, sleep in the tents of the prophets, and are born again in the language of Gypsies/Ours is a country of words: Talk. Talk/Let me see an end to this journey."
Mahmoud Darwish, "We Travel Like All People," from Fewer Roses, 1986 The 21st Century began as a world filled with war and refugees, words that can deaden one's emotion. Occasional newspaper stories refer to refugee camps, the plight of refugees, and obscure issues like "the right of return." I, like most young people who become gradually insensitive to suffering when the words to describe it anesthetize rather than sensitize the reader, could not picture how refugees really lived, what their "camps" looked like and what the right of return actually meant.
Then I realized my own "right to return." I visited Syria, my father's birthplace, in 2003. It took a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus to bring to my mind the agonized voice of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish-whose village of birth the Israeli Army destroyed in 1948: "we travel like everyone else, but we return to nothing" ("We Travel Like All People").
He captured the unresolved abyss of the weary-eyed, long-time inhabitants of Palestinian refugee camps scattered throughout the Middle East and their more energetic, but equally dejected offspring. I returned home to a place where generations of my family had retained the culture and traditions; indeed, it showed me that there was merit in striving to maintain a "Syrian-American" life.
It also dramatized the significance of Article 13 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the one that sanctions my freedom of movement. I admit this didn't cross my mind while I visited the ancient Roman ruins at Bosra, south of the Jordan border, or drove past the Aleppo home where my mother grew up. Then I visited the Jaramana refugee camp near Damascus, housing around 5,000 registered Palestinian refugees (of the total 500,000 that reside in Syria), mostly displaced after the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars and some one thousand who fled southern Lebanon in 1982 following the Israeli invasion. Instantly, the euphoria associated with returning to Syria to meet new relatives, savor syrupy baklava and carry on a conversation in Arabic disintegrated into shame.
Shortly after I entered one of the country's ten official camps, an elderly Palestinian woman originally from Jericho reminded me of how I took for granted what for her epitomizes the core of human patience: "we're still waiting for a home of our own." Rows of decaying "homes" slightly larger than the size of office cubicles lined the streets, juxtaposed by the newly constructed roads and oncoming traffic traversing the camp. The flurry of young children playing tag, teenage boys riding rusty bicycles down the cramped streets and the commanding shriek of babies channeled some brightness into Jaramana, a camp otherwise dominated by the grayish hues of the stone edifices and smoke emanating from the burnt trash. An aging man with deep set, expressive eyes talked to me in front of his home.
His covered wife and three children surrounded him, framed by light and dark shadows that invoked a Rembrandt portrait. "I'm from Hebron," he informed me. "I haven't seen my brothers and sisters who had to stay behind since 1948. Other members of my family have already passed away." "How do you expect me to feel?" Mohammed snapped. He paused, lit up a cigarette and then widened his eyes. "This separation makes me feel very angry and bitter." Across the street, a middle-aged woman who wore a white hijab sat on the doorsteps of her residence to take advantage of the light breeze, a rare break from the sweltering July heat that felt exaggerated at the densely populated camp and that emphasized the prevailing scent of burnt trash, cigarettes and cooking oil. Her young daughter leaned against her and seemed pacified by the piece of candy that she quietly chewed.
The mother managed to muster some optimism about being a Palestinian refugee in Syria. "Here, we live fine, but we'd be more comfortable living in our own homes," she said, alluding to the fact that Palestinians in Syria are still able to enjoy more or less the same rights as other Syrians, including attending schools and universities, competing for the same jobs and owning businesses. Jaramana's residents, however, mainly find work as street sellers or in the informal sector, as drivers, cooks and domestic workers.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which provides education, healthcare, social services and emergency aid, 1.3 million of the over 4 million registered Palestinian refugees still live in 59 recognized refugee camps across the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In an early effort to respond to the Palestinian refugee crisis following the establishment of Israel, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 194 on December 11, 1948-a day after the world body approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights "as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations."
Article 11 of Resolution 194, likened by one Jaramana man as "the heart of our legal defense" despite its repeated rejection by Israel, declared that the Palestinian refugees "wishing to return to their homesshould be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property." Supplementing GA Resolution 194 and carrying the force of law, Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967 reaffirmed "the necessityfor achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem" (Article 2b), although the political will to do so on the part of Israel, the US government and other Middle East peace brokers still remains elusive. "What's the use of having international law on our side when it's not upheld by the ruling powers?" questioned one man in his early 20s, wearing a traditional Islamic white robe and matching kufi (prayer cap).
A small group of elderly men gathered around this new face of the 21st Century Palestinian refugee, some nodding in agreement and others looking wistfully at the impassioned young man whose generation would inherit their decades-long struggles for justice. "I'm just as cynical about the Roadmap peace process that your president supports. Will it allow me to return back to Palestine?" he chuckled. Certainly, the majority of refugees I met that day viewed the latest Roadmap initiative backed by the so-called Quartet (U.S., UN, EU and Russia) as an empty effort, so long as their "right to return" remained left off of the negotiating table and reduced to a "final status issue"-as obscurely phrased in the 1993-94 Oslo Accords and the stagnant Roadmap agreement.
As I departed the camp, I asked Ibrahim, a gray-haired refugee from the 1967 war selling colossal-sized watermelons, if he had a message for President Bush. "I'd like Bush to examine the Palestinians' plight without spinning lies into truths and truths into lies. We are living in pain," he implored, raising his tired-looking hands into the air in vain. Less than a year after my Jaramana visit and realization of my "right to return," President George W. Bush turned a blind eye to the refugees' own dreams of returning back to their former homes and the international laws that protected their right, not to mention longstanding US policy.
He declared in an April 14, 2004 letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, "a just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel." Complicating matters for Palestinian refugees, the continued Israeli settlements built throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in violation of the Oslo Accords and the construction of a 650 kilometer long wall-declared "contrary to international law" by the World Court in July 2004-deviating from Israel's 1967 Green Line border beg the same question that one despondent Jaramana refugee had contemplated, "in reality, would we ever return back to historic Palestine?" Indeed, upon completion of the wall itself, which Sharon has justified as a "means to assist in the war against terror," the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including around 1.5 million refugees, will live on only 12% of historic Palestine (Al Ahram, April 16, 2004). After PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat died on November 11, the Palestinian refugee issue made a brief return to the newspaper headlines.
On December 9, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and the new PLO chairman and presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas met with thousands of Palestinian refugees on a campaign-like visit to the Al-Rashidiah camp in southern Lebanon. Ahead of the January 9 Palestinian elections, Qurei reassured the crowd-who have no say in the upcoming election-that the post Arafat PLO leadership would "never abandon" their right to return, reported Agence France Presse. This rhetoric flew in the face of more serious words by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at a December 16 conference. Sharon, who has steadfastly refused to even open the right of return as an issue in the peace talks, nevertheless called 2005 "the year of a great historic opportunity" in the Middle East. Addressing the Palestinians, Sharon simply lied. "We do not want to rule over you, or to run over your lives," the 'man of peace' said as Israeli troops continue to occupy Palestine and run Palestinians' lives, such as by enforcing draconian checkpoints and according to the UN, demolishing at least 1,686 Palestinian homes in the Rafah refugee camp during the past four years.
Palestinian leaders cannot address the right of return issue by themselves. Indeed, Arafat bore responsibility for sacrificing the right of return by signing the 1993 Oslo Accords. The ink on that document speaks louder than words to the disheartened refugees at Jaramana and their counterparts. In September 2004, I again exercised my right to return to Syria. A middle-aged Palestinian man named Nabil, who worked as a driver for a well-to-do family, taught me how to use Damascus' tricky version of a public transportation system. Like the other Syrians that I met, he relied on humor to deal with the daily realities of life, which I needed while we waited on a street curb under an unforgiving sun for the white microbus (a small van) to arrive. "Does it normally take this long for the bus to arrive?" I wondered aloud, after waiting for what seemed like an eternity. "Remember, we're on Syrian time," he smiled. "The trick here is to be patient. Take it from me, I'm a Palestinian!" he joked, instantly reminding me of the Jaramana refugees that I had met a year earlier and their patient-defying wait to experience their own right to return.

Once we boarded the packed microbus, Nabil practiced the few words of English he knew to make us forget about the bumpy, stomach-churning ride through the mid-day traffic. "Welcome to Syria," he liked to declare, as the other passengers watched in amusement, followed up by "Have you questions?" When I reached my stop, I thanked Nabil for helping me become more "Syrian" in his adopted home and not willing to reconcile with the improbable, assured him that I'd show him around California if he ever visited. "Sure," he winked, "I'll take the first flight out from Palestine." Farrah Hassen, a Political Science graduate from Cal Poly Pomona University, was the associate producer of the 2004 documentary, "Syria: Between Iraq & And A Hard Place," with Saul Landau. She recently spent 2 months working for the United Nations Development Programme in Syria. She can be reached at: 

Monday, December 27, 2004

Please Stop the Missiles

Life in Israeli settlements. First-hand report. Intifada keeps the battle going unabated No way for Israel to subdue Palestinians Please G-d: Stop the missiles! By David Wilder December 27, 2004

Where to start? Yesterday afternoon I attended a demonstration in the heart of Tel Aviv, joining hundreds of others protesting the continued bombardment of Gush Katif. In truth, we weren't protesting the attacks -- rather we were protesting the lack of reaction. The Israeli armed forces are doing nothing, absolutely nothing, to stop the Arab Kassam missile and mortar attacks on Gush Katif's 8,500 Jews.
Why? According to Gush Katif spokesman Eran Sternberg, not too long ago, Defense Minister Shaul Mufaz ordered Chief of Staff, General Moshe Ya'alon, "Don't hit back until after the palestinian elections (on Jan. 9th). In other words, the Israelis will just have to suffer for a while -- this is the cost of peace. At the demonstration I met Mrs. Debbie Rosen, ([ ] - 972-8-68408470) who is working with Eran and Dror Vanunu in the Gush Katif spokesperson's office. Interviewing her for today's show, I asked Debbie, a resident of Neve Dekalim, about the situation in Gush Katif. She told me that not too long ago, following another rocket attack against them, speaking with a senior officer in the area, she asked him why the army doesn't shoot back, in the same fashion that the Jews are attacked?
"Just like they shoot mortars at us, let's shoot mortars back at them." The officer looked at her, stunned, and replied, "What, shoot at them, just like that? It's not ethical to shoot mortars or missiles at innocent people." Debbie's response: "What about us -- aren't we innocent people too?"
The officer didn't answer -- he just looked at her and walked away. I also asked her to describe to our listeners what happens when a bomb falls on your house, or next to it. Debbie attempted, for a few minutes, to express in words the inexpressible. We parted ways, and a couple of hours I was back in Hebron. I came into the office to pull down some the pictures from the event, when my cell phone rang. It was Debbie. In a voice choked with emotion, she related to me the following account: "You asked me to describe how it feels when a mortar or a Kassam rocket hits.
Well, you just cannot imagine. Listen, tonight, while we were at the demonstration, there was a Bat-Mitzvah party for one of the girls here in Neve Dekalim. My daughter was there. The girls were outside in the yard when suddenly they saw an approaching missile. Running inside the house, well, they made it just in time. The missile exploded in the garden of that very same yard, where only seconds before, they had been playing." She added, "it's just like the boy who was playing basketball last week when a bomb exploded on the basketball court, very close to him." I sat, listening, not being able to speak. What can you say?
We decided that I'd call Debbie back in the morning and let her repeat the story again, so I could record it and play it on my weekly radio show, later today ( Late last week there was a general meeting of activists from around the country, in Jerusalem. Initiated by the Yesha council, the meeting introduced the organization's new campaign to prevent the abandonment of Gush Katif and the northern Shomron.
The basic element of the program is a huge sit-down strike next to the Knesset, commencing next Tuesday. People from around the country will be asked to participate, irregardless of the rain and cold, and hopefully, the crowds will grow and grow, eventually reaching tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people. The goal: to convince the Knesset that the Israeli public will not accept expulsion of people from their homes, that the Israeli public will not accept abandonment of Eretz Yisrael to our enemies, that they -- our representatives in the Knesset, must vote against legislation called 'the pinui-pitzui(eviction-compensation) law" when it reaches the Knesset floor. MK Uri Ariel of the National Union party, speaking at the conference, claimed that the only way to stop the eviction is via the Knesset -- convincing them to vote against the law, and if necessary, bringing the issue to the people, either in the form of a national referendum, or regular elections.
According to Ariel, there is a very strong probability that Sharon will not receive his party's nomination for the premiership, and that the eviction plans will draw to a complete halt. Other ideas are springing up. I receive an email from a reader in the United States, who (rightly) claimed that the 'Wallerstein proclamation' petition ( is not enough, that action must be taken. He suggested organizing a general strike throughout Israel, either in conjunction with the Yesha council campaign, or separately.
Last night this person called me, and after some discussion, offered to try and organize such a strike. My own idea, sort of hidden within the petition, is very simple. Certainly I hope that the eviction plan will be thwarted long before Sharon attempts its implementation. However, should it come down to it, we are going to need hordes of people to stop the horror. We need thousands and thousands of people to drop what they're doing, board the planes, come over here, and do what has to be done. It's as simple as that. Simple, you ask? Simple? Work, family, etc etc -- how can we leave all and just?come over? So ask you . But I ask you -- what about Eretz Yisrael -- what comes first -- Eretz Yisrael, or work, or? etc?
Remember, we're not just talking about Gush Katif and the northern Shomron. We're talking about all of Judea and Samaria. We're talking about Hebron. We're talking about Jerusalem. We are talking about the fate of the Jewish people in Israel. So, what comes first? You tell me. Basically, what it comes down to, is that we are going to have to close down the country. Not everybody is going to be able to get to Gush Katif, or even close to Gush Katif. However, Israel isn't a one-road country -- I'm sure you understand what I mean. There are those who might recoil at such a suggestion. And to an extent I agree -- under normal circumstances. However, these are not normal circumstances.
This government, led by Ariel Sharon, is intentionally abandoning thousands of citizens, Israelis who serve in the army, citizens who pay taxes, citizens who are people, just like you and me -- to their fate, like sheep surrounded by wolves. Ariel Sharon, together with Mufaz and Ya'alon, have adopted a policy of 'live and let die' -- leave the Arabs alone, even at the price of Israeli lives. There is a difference between Arab blood and Jewish blood -- Arabs are, in the words of the above-mentioned officer, 'innocents.' The Israelis are 'settlers,' and we all know what that implies. Last night, speaking at the protest, Bentzi Liberman, secretary-general of the Yesha council said, 'if three mortars hit Tel Aviv, the army would spare no efforts. But when it comes to Gush Katif, nothing is done -- the people are abandoned.' After I had, more or less, finished writing this article, I had the second above-mentioned conversation with Debbie from Gush Katif.
As we were talking, I couldn't help but think: this morning the Israeli media is drenched with yesterday's disaster in India-Thailand. It really is an awful calamity, tens of thousands dead; hundreds of Israelis traveling in that part of the world are still missing. We hope and pray that they are all safe and well. But what I have trouble understanding is that daily, almost hourly, Israeli citizens here, in Israel, not in India, not in Thailand, but here, an hour from Tel Aviv, are facing enemy attacks, their lives are threatened and some lives are destroyed. Where is Israeli radio? -- where is Israeli television? -- where is public opinion? Fine, talk about India, but what about our back yard?
Debbie Rosen also told me about a woman whose home has come under direct enemy fire nine times. Do you have any idea what that does to a person? It has left this woman in permanent shell shock. Last night I came upon the Barat family from Kfar Darom. Hannah Barat was seriously injured during a terror attack and left paralyzed, living permanently in a wheelchair. Hannah is a very special person, and about a year ago gave birth to another child, a little boy, despite her disabilities. Her husband, Eliezer Barat, told me how, a few days ago, a rocket hit their home, destroying part of the roof. Thank G-d, no one was injured. But don't let anyone tell you that lightning doesn't strike twice. One final story. Debbie told me how her youngest son, in kindergarten, hearing thunder outside, told her, "Mommy, ask G-d to stop the mortars and missiles." The present administration can only be labeled as a 'memshelet shmad' -- a government of annihilation -- a government willing to sacrifice its own people -- and for what -- for what? For absolutely nothing. Please G-d -- stop the missiles.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Full Text, Bin Ladens letter to America

Full Text, Bin Ladens letter to America
Online document: the full text of Osama bin Laden's "letter to the American people", reported in today's Observer. The letter first appeared on the internet in Arabic and has since been translated and circulated by Islamists in Britain .

Sunday November 24, 2002 
The Observer
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,
"Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they have been wronged and surely, Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory" [Quran 22:39 ]
"Those who believe, fight in the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Taghut (anything worshipped other than Allah e.g. Satan). So fight you against the friends of Satan; ever feeble is indeed the plot of Satan."[Quran 4:76]
Some American writers have published articles under the title 'On what basis are we fighting?' These articles have generated a number of responses, some of which adhered to the truth and were based on Islamic Law, and others which have not. Here we wanted to outline the truth - as an explanation and warning - hoping for Allah's reward, seeking success and support from Him.
While seeking Allah's help, we form our reply based on two questions directed at the Americans:
(Q1) Why are we fighting and opposing you?
Q2)What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?
As for the first question: Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple:
(1) Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.
a) You attacked us in Palestine :
(i) Palestine , which has sunk under military occupation for more than 80 years. The British handed over Palestine, with your help and your support, to the Jews, who have occupied it for more than 50 years; years overflowing with oppression, tyranny, crimes, killing, expulsion, destruction and devastation. The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals. And of course there is no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel . The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased. Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its*price, and pay for it heavily.
(ii) It brings us both laughter and tears to see that you have not yet tired of repeating your fabricated lies that the Jews have a historical right to Palestine , as it was promised to them in the Torah. Anyone who disputes with them on this alleged fact is accused of anti-semitism. This is one of the most fallacious, widely-circulated fabrications in history. The people of Palestine are pure Arabs and original Semites. It is the Muslims who are the inheritors of Moses (peace be upon him) and the inheritors of the real Torah that has not been changed. Muslims believe in all of the Prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all. If the followers of Moses have been promised a right to Palestine in the Torah, then the Muslims are the most worthy nation of this.
When the Muslims conquered Palestine and drove out the Romans, Palestine and Jerusalem returned to Islaam, the religion of all the Prophets peace be upon them. Therefore, the call to a historical right to Palestine cannot be raised against the Islamic Ummah that believes in all the Prophets of Allah (peace and blessings be upon them) - and we make no distinction between them.
(iii) The blood pouring out of Palestine must be equally revenged. You must know that the Palestinians do not cry alone; their women are not widowed alone; their sons are not orphaned alone.
(b) You attacked us in Somalia ; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya , the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir , and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon .
(c) Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis;
(i) These governments prevent our people from establishing the Islamic Shariah, using violence and lies to do so.
(ii) These governments give us a taste of humiliation, and places us in a large prison of fear and subdual.
(iii) These governments steal our Ummah's wealth and sell them to you at a paltry price.
(iv) These governments have surrendered to the Jews, and handed them most of Palestine , acknowledging the existence of their state over the dismembered limbs of their own people.
(v) The removal of these governments is an obligation upon us, and a necessary step to free the Ummah, to make the Shariah the supreme law and to regain Palestine . And our fight against these governments is not separate from out fight against you.
(d) You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of you international influence and military threats. This theft is indeed the biggest theft ever witnessed by mankind in the history of the world.
(e) Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands, and you besiege our sanctities, to protect the security of the Jews and to ensure the continuity of your pillage of our treasures.
(f) You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day. It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down.
(g) You have supported the Jews in their idea that Jerusalem is their eternal capital, and agreed to move your embassy there. With your help and under your protection, the Israelis are planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque. Under the protection of your weapons, Sharon entered the Al-Aqsa mosque, to pollute it as a preparation to capture and destroy it.
(2) These tragedies and calamities are only a few examples of your oppression and aggression against us. It is commanded by our religion and intellect that the oppressed have a right to return the aggression. Do not await anything from us but Jihad, resistance and revenge. Is it in any way rational to expect that after America has attacked us for more than half a century, that we will then leave her to live in security and peace?!!
(3) You may then dispute that all the above does not justify aggression against civilians, for crimes they did not commit and offenses in which they did not partake:
(a) This argument contradicts your continuous repetition that America is the land of freedom, and its leaders in this world. Therefore, the American people are the ones who choose their government by way of their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies. Thus the American people have chosen, consented to, and affirmed their support for the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, the occupation and usurpation of their land, and its continuous killing, torture, punishment and expulsion of the Palestinians. The American people have the ability and choice to refuse the policies of their Government and even to change it if they want.
(b) The American people are the ones who pay the taxes which fund the planes that bomb us in Afghanistan , the tanks that strike and destroy our homes in Palestine , the armies which occupy our lands in the Arabian Gulf , and the fleets which ensure the blockade of Iraq . These tax dollars are given to Israel for it to continue to attack us and penetrate our lands. So the American people are the ones who fund the attacks against us, and they are the ones who oversee the expenditure of these monies in the way they wish, through their elected candidates.
(c) Also the American army is part of the American people. It is this very same people who are shamelessly helping the Jews fight against us.
(d) The American people are the ones who employ both their men and their women in the American Forces which attack us.
(e) This is why the American people cannot be not innocent of all the crimes committed by the Americans and Jews against us.
(f) Allah, the Almighty, legislated the permission and the option to take revenge. Thus, if we are attacked, then we have the right to attack back. Whoever has destroyed our villages and towns, then we have the right to destroy their villages and towns. Whoever has stolen our wealth, then we have the right to destroy their economy. And whoever has killed our civilians, then we have the right to kill theirs.
The American Government and press still refuses to answer the question:
Why did they attack us in New York and Washington ?
If Sharon is a man of peace in the eyes of Bush, then we are also men of peace!!! America does not understand the language of manners and principles, so we are addressing it using the language it understands.
(Q2) As for the second question that we want to answer: What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?
(1) The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.
(a) The religion of the Unification of God; of freedom from associating partners with Him, and rejection of this; of complete love of Him, the Exalted; of complete submission to His Laws; and of the discarding of all the opinions, orders, theories and religions which contradict with the religion He sent down to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Islam is the religion of all the prophets, and makes no distinction between them - peace be upon them all.
It is to this religion that we call you; the seal of all the previous religions. It is the religion of Unification of God, sincerity, the best of manners, righteousness, mercy, honour, purity, and piety. It is the religion of showing kindness to others, establishing justice between them, granting them their rights, and defending the oppressed and the persecuted. It is the religion of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil with the hand, tongue and heart. It is the religion of Jihad in the way of Allah so that Allah's Word and religion reign Supreme. And it is the religion of unity and agreement on the obedience to Allah, and total equality between all people, without regarding their colour, sex, or language.
(b) It is the religion whose book - the Quran - will remained preserved and unchanged, after the other Divine books and messages have been changed. The Quran is the miracle until the Day of Judgment. Allah has challenged anyone to bring a book like the Quran or even ten verses like it.
(2) The second thing we call you to, is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you.
(a) We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest.
We call you to all of this that you may be freed from that which you have become caught up in; that you may be freed from the deceptive lies that you are a great nation, that your leaders spread amongst you to conceal from you the despicable state to which you have reached.
(b) It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind:
(i) You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator. You flee from the embarrassing question posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation, grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge of the laws which govern their lives?
(ii) You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on Usury. As a result of this, in all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense; precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned you against.
(iii) You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants. You also permit drugs, and only forbid the trade of them, even though your nation is the largest consumer of them.
(iv) You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object.
Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the official Oval office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that he 'made a mistake', after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?
(v) You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms. The companies practice this as well, resulting in the investments becoming active and the criminals becoming rich.
(vi) You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools calling upon customers to purchase them. You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins. You then rant that you support the liberation of women.
(vii) You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all its forms, directly and indirectly. Giant corporations and establishments are established on this, under the name of art, entertainment, tourism and freedom, and other deceptive names you attribute to it.
(viii) And because of all this, you have been described in history as a nation that spreads diseases that were unknown to man in the past. Go ahead and boast to the nations of man, that you brought them AIDS as a Satanic American Invention.
(xi) You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and*industries.
(x) Your law is the law of the rich and wealthy people, who hold sway in their political parties, and fund their election campaigns with their gifts. Behind them stand the Jews, who control your policies, media and economy.
(xi) That which you are singled out for in the history of mankind, is that you have used your force to destroy mankind more than any other nation in history; not to defend principles and values, but to hasten to secure your interests and profits. You who dropped a nuclear bomb on Japan , even though Japan was ready to negotiate an end to the war. How many acts of oppression, tyranny and injustice have you carried out, O callers to freedom?
(xii) Let us not forget one of your major characteristics: your duality in both manners and values; your hypocrisy in manners and principles. All*manners, principles and values have two scales: one for you and one for the others.
(a)The freedom and democracy that you call to is for yourselves and for white race only; as for the rest of the world, you impose upon them your monstrous, destructive policies and Governments, which you call the 'American friends'. Yet you prevent them from establishing democracies. When the Islamic party in Algeria wanted to practice democracy and they won the election, you unleashed your agents in the Algerian army onto them, and to attack them with tanks and guns, to imprison them and torture them - a new lesson from the 'American book of democracy'!!!
(b)Your policy on prohibiting and forcibly removing weapons of mass destruction to ensure world peace: it only applies to those countries which you do not permit to possess such weapons. As for the countries you consent to, such as Israel , then they are allowed to keep and use such weapons to defend their security. Anyone else who you suspect might be manufacturing or keeping these kinds of weapons, you call them criminals and you take military action against them.
(c)You are the last ones to respect the resolutions and policies of International Law, yet you claim to want to selectively punish anyone else who does the same. Israel has for more than 50 years been pushing UN resolutions and rules against the wall with the full support of America .
(d)As for the war criminals which you censure and form criminal courts for - you shamelessly ask that your own are granted immunity!! However, history will not forget the war crimes that you committed against the Muslims and the rest of the world; those you have killed in Japan , Afghanistan , Somalia , Lebanon and Iraq will remain a shame that you will never be able to escape. It will suffice to remind you of your latest war crimes in Afghanistan , in which densely populated innocent civilian villages were destroyed, bombs were dropped on mosques causing the roof of the mosque to come crashing down on the heads of the Muslims praying inside. You are the ones who broke the agreement with the Mujahideen when they left Qunduz, bombing them in Jangi fort, and killing more than 1,000 of your prisoners through suffocation and thirst. Allah alone knows how many people have died by torture at the hands of you and your agents. Your planes remain in the Afghan skies, looking for anyone remotely suspicious.
(e)You have claimed to be the vanguards of Human Rights, and your Ministry of Foreign affairs issues annual reports containing statistics of those countries that violate any Human Rights. However, all these things vanished when the Mujahideen hit you, and you then implemented the methods of the same documented governments that you used to curse. In America , you captured thousands the Muslims and Arabs, took them into custody with neither reason, court trial, nor even disclosing their names. You issued newer, harsher laws.
What happens in Guatanamo is a historical embarrassment to America and its values, and it screams into your faces - you hypocrites, "What is the value of your signature on any agreement or treaty?"
(3) What we call you to thirdly is to take an honest stance with yourselves - and I doubt you will do so - to discover that you are a nation without principles or manners, and that the values and principles to you are something which you merely demand from others, not that which you yourself must adhere to.
(4) We also advise you to stop supporting Israel , and to end your support of the Indians in Kashmir , the Russians against the Chechens and to also cease supporting the Manila Government against the Muslims in Southern Philippines .
(5) We also advise you to pack your luggage and get out of our lands. We desire for your goodness, guidance, and righteousness, so do not force us to send you back as cargo in coffins.
(6) Sixthly, we call upon you to end your support of the corrupt leaders in our countries. Do not interfere in our politics and method of education. Leave us alone, or else expect us in New York and Washington .
(7) We also call you to deal with us and interact with us on the basis of mutual interests and benefits, rather than the policies of sub dual, theft and occupation, and not to continue your policy of supporting the Jews because this will result in more disasters for you.
If you fail to respond to all these conditions, then prepare for fight with the Islamic Nation. The Nation of Monotheism, that puts complete trust on Allah and fears none other than Him. The Nation which is addressed by its Quran with the words: "Do you fear them? Allah has more right that you should fear Him if you are believers. Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of believing people. And remove the anger of their (believers') hearts. Allah accepts the repentance of whom He wills. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise." [Quran9:13-1]
The Nation of honour and respect:
"But honour, power and glory belong to Allah, and to His Messenger (Muhammad- peace be upon him) and to the believers." [Quran 63:8]
"So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be*superior ( in victory )if you are indeed (true) believers" [Quran 3:139]
The Nation of Martyrdom; the Nation that desires death more than you desire life:
"Think not of those who are killed in the way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive with their Lord, and they are being provided for. They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them from His bounty and rejoice for the sake of those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind (not yet martyred) that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve. They rejoice in a grace and a bounty from Allah, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers." [Quran 3:169-171]
The Nation of victory and success that Allah has promised:
"It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad peace be upon him) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it victorious over all other religions even though the Polytheists hate it." [Quran 61:9]
"Allah has decreed that 'Verily it is I and My Messengers who shall be victorious.' Verily Allah is All-Powerful, All-Mighty." [Quran 58:21]
The Islamic Nation that was able to dismiss and destroy the previous evil Empires like yourself; the Nation that rejects your attacks, wishes to remove your evils, and is prepared to fight you. You are well aware that the Islamic Nation, from the very core of its soul, despises your haughtiness and arrogance.
If the Americans refuse to listen to our advice and the goodness, guidance and righteousness that we call them to, then be aware that you will lose this Crusade Bush began, just like the other previous Crusades in which you were humiliated by the hands of the Mujahideen, fleeing to your home in great silence and disgrace. If the Americans do not respond, then their fate will be that of the Soviets who fled from Afghanistan to deal with their military defeat, political breakup, ideological downfall, and economic bankruptcy.
This is our message to the Americans, as an answer to theirs. Do they now know why we fight them and over which form of ignorance, by the permission of Allah, we shall be victorious?
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Who Served

Who Has Served
I don't think we can determine the character of our 'leaders' by whether they served in the armed forces or not, but we can certainly see who the hypocrits are who have sent us off to this terrible war. Please read and post  Greta

November 2004


Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971, army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
Chuck Robb: Vietnam for two years
Howell Heflin: Silver Star
George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII
Jmmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam, Purple Heart, Silver Star. Retired 4-star
John Dingell: WWII vet
John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received 311
John Edwards: did not serve


Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve.
House Whiip Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve
Douglas Feith: did not serve
Eliot Abrams: did not serve
Richard Shelby: did not serve
Jon Kyl: did not serve
Tim Hutchison: did not serve
Christopher Cox: did not serve
Newt Gingrich: did not serve
Phil Gramm: did not serve
JC Watts: did not serve
Antonin Scalia: did not serve
Clarence Thomas: did not serve
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight instructor
George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (incomplete)
Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies
Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross
Bob Dole: an honorable veteran from WWII
Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam
Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986
G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese
Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam

Pundits and Preachers 
Sean Hannity: did not serve.
Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
Michael Savage: did not serve.
George Will: did not serve.
Chris Matthews: did not serve, joined the Peace Corps
Paul Gigot: did not serve.
Bill Bennett: did not serve.
Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
Bill Kristol: did not serve.
Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
Michael Medved: did not serve.

Raise your voice against House Demolitions in Gaza

Raise your voice against House Demolitions in Gaza
From ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions)

During the Second Intifada alone, Israel has demolished more than 4,500 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories . Most of these homes were not demolished during combat but rather as part of Israel 's pro-active policy of asserting its control over the Territories.
Rafah in Gaza has received special attention due to Israel 's unilateral decision to disconnect it from the border with Egypt . For this reason Israel has already demolished about 1,500 homes in this tiny but densely populated area -- an area whose inhabitants have been made refugees and left homeless by Israel time and time again-- this time leaving 15,000 persons displaced and without a home. Israel 's policy of house demolitions is an act of war against non-combatant Palestinian civilians, a fundamental violation of international law and the ethics of war.

All of you reading this take coming home as a commonplace and routine act. For most Palestinians this is not the case. More than 40,000 Palestinians have lost their homes in the past four years. Some 11,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories since 1967. Thousands of innocent families live under the constant threat of the destruction of their homes and lives.

We ask you to help us in our struggle to stop the continuing policy of house demolitions and to compensate those who have already lost their homes. We ask you to contact Israeli government officials, your ministry of foreign affairs and your parliamentary or congressional representatives, asking for the immediate halt of this illegal policy and compensation for the victims.

Following is a sample letter addressed to Israeli officials (addresses supplied). You can adapt it to your own political representatives.

To the Minister of….
Subject: Demolition of homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Over and over again I hear of the tragedy of the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories . I understand that in the Second Intifada alone already 4,500 homes have been demolished, leaving over 40,000 Palestinian civilians homeless and displaced. These figures are horrific and shocking. Have these innocent people received alternative housing or have they just been thrown out of their homes? After you already demolished around 1500 houses in Rafah, I am also concerned over reports of the imminent demolition of dozens of additional Palestinian homes in the Rafah area.

Rather than giving security to Israeli public, this policy is sowing seeds of hatred and revenge.

This is a war against a civilian population and is a clear violation both of military war ethics and international law.

I ask you to immediately implement the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians in occupied territories. I demand the immediate cessation of house demolitions and compensation to the victims.

PM Ariel Sharon, ,
Fax: +972-2-5664838
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sylvan Shalom: ; Fax: +972-2-5303506
Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz: ; Fax: 972-3-697-6990
Minister of Justice, Yosef Lapid: , Fax: 972-2-6285438

Israeli Committee against House Demolitions
7 Ben-Yehuda St., PO Box 2030, Jerusalem 91020, Israel
Tel: 972-(0)2-624-5560 Fax: 972-(0)2-622-1530 Mobile 972-(0)546-314471
Email: Web:
Map of Palestine during Camp David 2000
On Camp David : “The Camp David Hoax”

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Abu Gharaib Female Prisoner Reveals Her Ordeal

Huda Alazawi was one of the few women held in solitary in the
notorious Iraqi prison, Abu Gharaib. Following her release, she
revealed her ordeal and whatever she experienced there while talking
to LUKE HARDING of The Guardian

In November last year 39-year-old Huda Alazawi, a wealthy Baghdad
businesswoman, received a demand from an Iraqi informant, who was
working for the Americans in Adhamiya, a Sunni district of Baghdad.
His demand was simple: Madame Huda, as her friends and family know
her, had to give him $10,000. If she failed to pay up, he would
write a report claiming that she and her family were working for the
Iraqi resistance. He would pass it to the US military and they would
arrest her.

`It was clearly blackmail,' Alazawi says. `We knew that if we gave
in, there would be other demands.' The informant was as good as his
word. In November 2003, he wrote a report that prompted US soldiers
to interrogate Alazawi's brother, Ali, and her older sister, Nahla,
now 45. Wearing a balaclava, he also led several raids with US
soldiers on the families' antique-filled Baghdad properties.
On December 23, the Americans arrested another of Alazawi's
brothers, Ayad, 44. It was at this point that she decided to
confront the Americans directly. She marched into the US base in
Adhamiya, one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. `A US captain told
me to come back with my two other brothers. He said we could talk
after that.' On Christmas Eve she returned with her brothers, Ali
and Mu'taz. `I waited for four hours. An American captain finally
interrogated me. After 10 minutes he announced that I was under
arrest.' Like thousands of other Iraqis detained by the Americans
since last year's invasion, Alazawi was about to experience the
reality of the Bush administration's `war on terror'.

`They handcuffed me and blindfolded me and put a piece of white
cloth over my eyes. They bundled me into a Humvee and took me to a
place inside the palace. I was dumped in a room with a single wooden
chair. It was extremely cold. After five hours they brought my
sister in. I couldn't see anything but I could recognise her from
her crying.'

Alazawi says that US guards left her sitting on the chair overnight,
and that the next day they took her to a room known by detainees
as `the torturing place'. `The US officer told us: `If you don't
confess we will torture you. So you have to confess.' My hands were
handcuffed. They took off my boots and stood me in the mud with my
face against the wall. I could hear women and men shouting and
weeping. I recognised one of the cries as my brother Mu'taz. I
wanted to see what was going on so I tried to move the cloth from my
eyes. When I did, I fainted.'

In November last year 39-year-old Huda Alazawi, a wealthy Baghdad
businesswoman, received a demand from an Iraqi informant, who was
working for the Americans in Adhamiya, a Sunni district of Baghdad.
His demand was simple: Madame Huda, as her friends and family know
her, had to give him $10,000. If she failed to pay up, he would
write a report claiming that she and her family were working for the
Iraqi resistance. He would pass it to the US military and they would
arrest her.

Like most Iraqi women, Alazawi is reluctant to talk about what she
saw but says that her brother Mu'taz was brutally sexually
assaulted. Then it was her turn to be interrogated. `The informant
and an American officer were both in the room. The informant started
talking. He said, `You are the lady who funds your brothers to
attack the Americans.' I speak some English so I replied: `He is a
liar.' The American officer then hit me on both cheeks. I fell to
the ground.

Alazawi says that American guards then made her stand with her face
against the wall for 12 hours, from noon until midnight. Afterwards
they returned her to her cell. `The cell had no ceiling. It was
raining. At midnight they threw something at my sister's feet. It
was my brother Ayad. He was bleeding from his legs, knees and
forehead. I told my sister: `Find out if he's still breathing.' She
said: `No. Nothing.' I started crying. The next day they took away
his body.'

The US military later issued a death certificate, citing the cause
of death as `cardiac arrest of unknown etiology'. The American
doctor who signed the certificate did not print his name, and his
signature is illegible. The body was returned to the family four
months later, on April 3, after the Abu Gharaib torture scandal
broke. The family took photographs of the body, also seen by the
Guardian, which revealed extensive bruising to the chest and arms,
and a severe head wound above the left eye.

Alazawi says that US guards left her sitting on the chair overnight,
and that the next day they took her to a room known by detainees
as `the torturing place'.

After Ayad's body had been taken away, Alazawi says that she and 18
other Iraqi detainees were put in a minibus inside the military
compound. `The Americans told us: `Nobody is going to sleep
tonight.' They played scary music continuously with loud voices. As
soon as someone fell asleep they started beating on the door. It was
Christmas. They kept us there for three days. Many of the US
soldiers were drunk.'

Finally, after a US guard broke her shoulder as she left the
lavatory, Alazawi and her surviving siblings were transferred –
first to a police academy in Baghdad's interior ministry and then,
on January 4 2004, to Abu Gharaib prison.

Alazawi, who has a 20-year-old daughter, Farah, and a four-year-old
granddaughter, Safat, spent the next 156 days in solitary
confinement. Along with five other Iraqi women, she was held in Abu
Gharaib's infamous "hard site" – the prison block inside the
compound where photographs of American guards sexually humiliating
Iraqi prisoners had been taken two months previously. The women were
kept in the upstairs cellblock; male detainees regarded
as `difficult' were held downstairs. The vast majority of inmates
lived in a series of open tents surrounded by razor wire and US
guard posts.

In her first weeks at Abu Gharaib, before the US military launched
its internal investigation into prisoner abuse, torture was
commonplace, she says. `The guards used wild dogs. I saw one of the
guards allow his dog to bite a 14-year-old boy on the leg. The boy's
name was Adil. Other guards frequently beat the men. I could see the
blood running from their noses. They would also take them for
compulsory cold showers even though it was January and February.
From the very beginning, it was mental and psychological war.'

Alazawi is reticent about the question of sexual abuse of Iraqi
women but says that neither she nor any of the other women in Abu
Gharaib at the time were sexually assaulted by US guards. In his
subsequent report into the scandal, however, Major General Antonio
Taquba found that at least one US military policemen had raped a
female inmate inside Abu Gharaib; a letter smuggled out of the
prison by a woman known only as `Noor', containing allegations of
rape, was found to be entirely accurate. Other witnesses interviewed
by the Guardian have said that US guards `repeatedly' raped a 14-
year-old Iraqi girl who was held in the block last year. They also
said that guards made several of the women inmates parade naked in
front of male prisoners.

Alazawi says that she was held in a two-metre-square cell, initially
with no bed and a bucket for a toilet. For the first three weeks she
was entirely `mute' after being told that talking was forbidden. The
US guards gave her only one book, a Koran. She managed to steal a
pen, and recorded incidents of abuse, with dates, in its margins.
During her first few months in custody, the US soldiers were brutal,
petty and tyrannous, she says.

`Because I could speak a bit of English I was given the job of
emptying the rubbish. There was never enough food and one day I came
across an old woman who had collapsed from hunger. The Americans
were always eating lots of hot food. I found some in a packet in a
bin and gave it to her. They caught me and threw me in a one-metre-
square punishment cell. They then poured cold water on me for four
hours.' She wrote the date down in her Koran: February 24 2004.
For the first four months, apart from frequent interrogations, she
was not allowed out of the block. Alazawi says she was repeatedly
asked whether she was in the Resistance and whether she had fired
rockets at US soldiers (she is 5ft 3in tall). `It became a running
joke. The other women began to nickname me the Queen of the RPG
[rocket-propelled grenade]. The American interrogators were entirely
ignorant and knew nothing about Iraqi people. The vast majority of
people there were innocent.'

After the Abu Gharaib scandal broke in April, Alazawi was allowed to
exercise in the scrubby yard outside for 10 minutes a day. She got a
bed. She was also assigned a new female guard, `Mrs Palmer', who
helped the women with their English and in turn tried to learn
Arabic. In May, Major General Geoffrey Miller, assigned to Abu
Gharaib by Washington in the aftermath of the torture scandal,
escorted a large group of journalists around the prison for the
first time. The previous night, Alazawi says, US guards evacuated
all the juveniles and male detainees from her cellblock, leaving
only her and a handful of other women upstairs.

`Mrs Palmer told us that during the inspection we had to lie quietly
on our beds. She said that if we behaved we would be allowed to
spend more time out of our cells in the sun. The following day
General Miller turned up with a huge number of journalists. I heard
him telling them that some of the people kept in here were
murderers. I shouted out: `We are not the killers. You are the
killers. This is our country. You have invaded it.' After that they
didn't let me out of my cell for an entire month. A US officer came
to me and said: `Because of you we have all been punished'.'

Alazawi says she was unimpressed by Miller. `It was obvious he liked
having his photo taken,' she says. Over the next few weeks, the US
military began releasing hundreds of Abu Gharaib detainees as part
of a damage limitation exercise. Alazawi and her sister were moved
from their cells to a tent. Three generals also came to interview
her and asked her to describe what had happened to Ayad, her
brother. They did not, however, offer an apology. The other women
were gradually released, including her sister. Finally, on July 19,
a helicopter took Alazawi to Al Taji, a military base just north of

`After eight months in prison they suddenly treated me like a queen.
It was weird,' she says. `They offered me some Pepsi. I could take a
shower. There was air conditioning. There were four female soldiers
to look after me. The doctor came to see me four times in 24 hours.
They made me sign a piece of paper promising not to leave the
country. And then I was free.'

A US military spokesman said that Alazawi was known to him, but
disputed her claim to have been held in solitary for 157 days:'She
and her sister, which [sic] were the last two females we detained at
Abu Gharaib, were separated from the male detainees in keeping with
the cultural sensitivities.' He added, `The fact that abuses
occurred isn't really news any more. We know they did and those who
are accused are being prosecuted for it.'

Now Alazawi is trying to piece her life back together. She is back
at work in Baghdad, where she runs businesses importing foreign cars
and electrical goods, surrounded by respectful staff who bring
endless cups of sweet Iraqi coffee. Business appears to be
flourishing. Friends of the family in Arab dish-dash – many of whom
come from Iraq's Sunni elite – drop in and exchange gossip on her
white leather sofas. But after her release, her millionaire husband
announced that he was divorcing her.

Several of the other former women detainees in Abu Gharaib are
believed to have disappeared; others have husbands who have also
disowned them. Alazawi's surviving brothers, Ali – prisoner number
156215 – and Mu'taz – 156216 – are still inside Abu Gharaib. The US
military continues to detain them and 2,400 other prisoners without
charge or legal access, in contravention of the Geneva Convention.
Alazawi says that she has hired lawyers to pursue the Iraqi
informant who she blames for her brother's death.¨

Monday, November 15, 2004

Edward Said: A Contrapuntal Reading

Edward Said: A Contrapuntal Reading
By Mahmoud Darwish
New York / November/ Fifth Avenue

The sun a plate of shredded metal
I asked myself, estranged in the shadow:
Is it Babel or Sodom ?
There, on the doorstep of an electric abyss,
high as the sky, I met Edward,
thirty years ago,
time was less wild then...
We both said:
If the past is only an experience,
make of the future a meaning and a vision.
Let us go,
Let us go into tomorrow trusting
the candor of imagination and the miracle of grass/
I don't recall going together to the cinema
in the evening. Still I heard Ancient
Indians calling: Trust
neither horse, nor modernity
No. Victims do not ask their executioner:
Am I you? Had my sword been
bigger than my rose, would you
have asked
if I would have acted like you?
A question like that entices the curiosity
of a novelist,
sitting in a glass office, overlooking
lilies in the garden, where
the hand
of a hypothesis is as clear as
the conscience
of a novelist set to settle accounts
human instinct... There is no tomorrow
in yesterday, so let us advance/
Advancing could be a bridge
leading back
to Barbarism.../
New York . Edward wakes up to
a lazy dawn. He plays
Runs round the university's tennis
Thinks of the journey of ideas across
and over barriers. He reads the New York Times .
Writes out his furious comments. Curses an Orientalist
guiding the General to the weak point
inside the heart of an Oriental woman. He showers. Chooses
his elegant suit. Drinks
his white coffee. Shouts at the dawn:
Do not loiter.
On wind he walks, and in wind
he knows himself. There is no ceiling for the wind,
no home for the wind. Wind is the compass
of the stranger's North.
He says: I am from there, I am from here,
but I am neither there nor here.
I have two names which meet and part...
I have two languages, but I have long forgotten
which is the language of my dreams.
I have an English language, for writing,
with yielding phrases,
and a language in which Heaven and
Jerusalem converse, with a silver cadence,
but it does not yield to my imagination.
What about identity? I asked.
He said: It's self-defence...
Identity is the child of birth, but
at the end, it's self-invention, and not
an inheritance of the past. I am multiple...
Within me an ever new exterior. And
I belong to the question of the victim. Were I not
from there, I would have trained my heart
to nurture there deers of metaphor...
So carry your homeland wherever you go, and be
a narcissist if need be/
The outside world is exile,
exile is the world inside.
And what are you between the two?
Myself, I do not know
so that I shall not lose it. I am what I am.
I am my other, a duality
gaining resonance in between speech and gesture.
Were I to write poetry I would have said:
I am two in one,
like the wings of a swallow ,
content with bringing good omen
when spring is late.
He loves a country and he leaves.
[Is the impossible far off?]
He loves leaving to things unknown.
By traveling freely across cultures
those in search of the human essence
may find a space for all to sit...
Here a margin advances. Or a centre
retreats. Where East is not strictly east,
and West is not strictly west,
where identity is open onto plurality,
not a fort or a trench/
Metonymy was sleeping on the river's bank;
had it not been for the pollution
it could have embraced the other bank.
- Have you written any novels?
ï I tried... I tried to retrieve
my image from mirrors of distant women.
But they scampered off into their guarded night.
Saying: Our world is independent of any text.
A man cannot write a woman who is both enigma and dream.
A woman cannot write a man who is both symbol and star.
There are no two loves alike. No two nights
alike. So let us enumerate men's qualities
and laugh.
- And what did you do?
ï I laughed at my nonsense
and threw the novel
into the wastepaper basket/
The intellectual harnesses what the novelist can tell
and the philosopher interprets the bard's roses/
He loves a country and he leaves:
I am what I am and shall be.
I shall choose my place by myself,
and choose my exile. My exile, the backdrop
to an epic scene. I defend
the poet's need for memories and tomorrow,
I defend country and exile
in tree-clad birds,
and a moon, generous enough
to allow the writing of a love poem;
I defend an idea shattered by the frailty
of its partisans
and defend a country hijacked by myths/
- Will you be able to return to anything?
ï My ahead pulls what's behind and hastens...
There is no time left in my watch for me to scribble lines
on the sand. I can, however, visit yesterday
as strangers do when they listen
on a sad evening to a Pastorale:
"A girl by the spring filling her jar
"With clouds' tears,
"Weeping and laughing as a bee
"Stings her heart...
"Is it love that makes the water ache
"Or some sickness in the mist..."
[until the end of the song].
- So, nostalgia can hit you?
ï Nostalgia for a higher, more distant tomorrow,
far more distant. My dream leads my steps.
And my vision places my dream
on my knees
like a pet cat. It's the imaginary
the child of will: We can
change the inevitability of the abyss.
- And nostalgia for yesterday?
ï A sentiment not fit for an intellectual, unless
it is used to spell out the stranger's fervour
for that which negates him.
My nostalgia is a struggle
over a present which has tomorrow
by the balls.
- Did you not sneak into yesterday when
you went to that house, your house
in Talbiya, in Jerusalem ?
ï I prepared myself to sleep
in my mother's bed, like a child
who's scared of his father. I tried
to recall my birth, and
to watch the Milky Way from the roof of my old
house. I tried to stroke the skin
of absence and the smell of summer
in the garden's jasmine. But the hyena that is truth
drove me away from a thief-like
- Were you afraid? What frightened you?
ï I could not meet loss face
to face. I stood by the door like a beggar.
How could I ask permission from strangers sleeping
in my own bed... Ask them if I could visit myself
for five minutes? Should I bow in respect
to the residents of my childish dream? Would they ask:
Who is that prying foreign visitor? And how
could I talk about war and peace
among the victims and the victims' victims,
without additions, without an interjection?
And would they tell me: There is no place for two dreams
in one bedroom?
It is neither me nor him
who asks; it is a reader asking:
What can poetry say in a time of catastrophe?
and blood,
in your country,
in my name and in yours, in
the almond flower, in the banana skin,
in the baby's milk, in light and shadow,
in the grain of wheat, in salt/
Adept snipers, hitting their target
with maximum proficiency.
and blood
and blood.
This land is smaller than the blood of its children
standing on the threshold of doomsday like
sacrificial offerings. Is this land truly
blessed, or is it baptised
in blood
and blood
and blood
which neither prayer, nor sand can dry.
There is not enough justice in the Sacred Book
to make martyrs rejoice in their freedom
to walk on cloud. Blood in daylight,
blood in darkness. Blood in speech.
He says: The poem could host
loss, a thread of light shining
at the heart of a guitar; or a Christ
on a horse pierced through with beautiful metaphors. For
the aesthetic is but the presence of the real
in form/
In a world without a sky, the earth
becomes an abyss. The poem,
a consolation, an attribute
of the wind, southern or northern.
Do not describe what the camera can see
of your wounds. And scream that you may hear yourself,
and scream that you may know you're still alive,
and alive, and that life on this earth is
possible. Invent a hope for speech,
invent a direction, a mirage to extend hope.
And sing, for the aesthetic is freedom/
I say: The life which cannot be defined
except by death is not a life.
He says: We shall live.
So let us be masters of words which
make their readers immortal -- as your friend
Ritsos said.
He also said: If I die before you,
my will is the impossible.
I asked: Is the impossible far off?
He said: A generation away.
I asked: And if I die before you?
He said: I shall pay my condolences to Mount Galilee ,
and write, "The aesthetic is to reach
poise." And now, don't forget:
If I die before you, my will is the impossible.
When I last visited him in New Sodom,
in the year Two Thousand and Two, he was battling off
the war of Sodom on the people of Babel ...
and cancer. He was like the last epic hero
defending the right of Troy
to share the narrative.
An eagle soaring higher and higher
bidding farewell to his height,
for dwelling on Olympus
and over heights
is tiresome.
farewell poetry of pain.
Translated by Mona Anis


American military hopes to end the insurgency by turning to Iraqi tribal traditions.   By Abdel Karem al-Hashemy in Baghdad

Taxi driver Satar Majeed Suleiman walked out of Abu Ghraib prison this June, after spending nearly a year behind bars. Like many of his fellow prisoners, Suleiman says he had no involvement in the anti-Coalition insurgency for which he was detained. "I was shooting in the air to frighten thieves, when an American patrol passed by," he said.
As a result, he spent months in a harsh place where, though he was not beaten, he had little protection against the cold of the desert winter and the heat of summer.   US forces do not "arrest anyone without a reason", said Lieutenant Colonel Tim Ryan, US military commander responsible for the area west of Baghdad , which includes Suleiman's home of Bab al-Sheikh.   Ryan agreed to release Suleiman after the taxi driver's local tribal leader, Sheikh Abdul Rida al-Aweili, agreed to vouch for the detainee's good behaviour.
Similar assurances are being sought across the region, one of the centres of Iraq 's insurgency.   They have led to the release of elderly men in poor health, tribal elders, and at least two women, whose detention, Aweili said, had been a cause of tension.   "We are sure that some were arrested because of false accusations," the sheikh said.   He also said the assurances were being made to enable tribal leaders to reassert their authority, and to restrain their followers, angry at intrusive raids and what they consider to be unjustifiable detentions.   While not conceding the innocence of those detained, the US military acknowledged that it erred in ignoring the role of the sheikh as mediator between the population and the central authority.   "It was a mistake for us to ignore the tribal customs of the Iraqi culture," said Captain Joseph James, public affairs officer for Ryan's 2-12 Cavalry, in an email to IWPR.
Now, the unit has begun to release prisoners if their sheikh will guarantee that they will not participate in attacks.   "Sheiks should submit a list of names for prisoners that they guarantee not to conduct future attacks against Coalition forces," James said.   "If the agreement is breached, Sheiks will be notified and that they should either bring the person to the Coalition or show us his whereabouts.   "In return, the US troops are committed not to arrest any person without notifying the tribal council, not arresting women, not raiding houses and mosques, and to respect Iraqi tradition and customs."   If the attacks cease, James continued, the US military can "move forward" in developing the region, saying that, altogether, some 336 detainees have been released through the policy in the Abu Ghraib region.   "We hold to the agreement [with the American troops] and we must respect it. Any one who breaches it will be held accountable by his tribe leader," said Sheik Hashem Najem al-Hasen al-Mohammadi, head of the region's Iraqi tribes association.
Still, many of the released detainees remain angry over their detentions.   "They treat dogs better than us," said Abd al-Wadood Katab, 40, a professor of psychology at the University of Tikrit .   Katab said he was held 14 months in the southern detention centre of Bucca for possessing weapons and inciting violence.   "They used to leave us with no cold water, they shouted and struck us. I haven't done anything to be arrested - all Iraqis possess weapons," he said.   Abdel Karem al-Hashemy is an IWPR trainee.

Prisoner Abuse covered up

LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. general formerly in charge of Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison said on Tuesday abuse of Iraqi captives was hidden from her in a cover-up that may reach all the way to the Pentagon or White House.
Speaking on the same day a U.S. soldier at the center of the prisoner abuse scandal is due to face a military court, Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski said she was deliberately kept in the dark about abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners.

"A very reliable witness has made a statement indicating that, not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogation at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else," Karpinski told Britain 's BBC radio.
Karpinski, responsible for the military police who ran prisons in Iraq when pictures were taken showing prisoners being abused, has been suspended from her post but not charged with any crime.
She said that those with "full knowledge" of what was going on in Abu Ghraib worked to keep her from discovering the truth.
Asked if a cover-up meant involvement of the White House or Pentagon, she said: "I have not seen the statement but the indication is it may have."
Photographs of U.S. military police abusing hooded prisoners in Abu Ghraib and accusations of abuse by British and other troops have fueled Arab and international anger, shaking President Bush 's efforts to stabilize Iraq.
In Britain , an Iraqi witness alleged at a court hearing last week that UK soldiers had tortured detainees by beating and kicking them and pouring freezing water over them.
U.S. Private First Class Lynndie England , the 21-year-old military police officer who became the public face of inmate abuse at Abu Ghraib, faces a hearing on Tuesday to determine whether she will be tried on charges of abuse and committing indecent acts.
Karpinski told the BBC she never personally witnessed abuse at Abu Ghraib or at any of the prisons she commanded.
She has also said she was told by a military intelligence commander that detainees should be "treated like dogs."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Why I fear for the dream of my life

Why I fear for the dream of my life
Abdul Bariatwan
Sunday November 14, 2004
The Observer,6903,1350959,00.html

I was born 54 years ago in a refugee camp in Gaza. My parents were illiterate and, like thousands of others, were forced to leave their home town in 1948 to create space for the Jewish immigrants pouring into Palestine from Europe.

My parents' abiding dream was to go back to the farm and mud-brick house in Ashoud, their sleepy home town on the Mediterranean. But they spent their lives in transit, waiting for this dream to come true. Their dream lives on in me and in my children, too.
Yasser Arafat worked very hard for 40 years towards the independent Palestinian state he longed for, yet never saw. Despite his mistakes, he brought this dream closer. He brought the Palestinian cause into the global arena and the resolution of this struggle is now of enormous significance in determining the security of the world, not only the Middle East.
I was deeply saddened by Arafat's death, not only because I knew him personally, but also because Arafat, like my parents, spent his life in transit, from Amman to Beirut to Tunisia and thence to Palestine. What an irony it is that, even in death, his coffin is in transit, awaiting his final transfer to Jerusalem.
Last Friday, George W Bush and his closest ally, Tony Blair assured us that we would see such a state within the next four years - but we have heard this story before. Before the invasion of Iraq, Bush assured the world that an independent Palestinian state would be in place before the end of 2005.
The American project in Iraq is a fiasco. The war which was supposed to be over on 9 April 2003 has started all over again.
This is the climate in which Bush and Blair have revived the notion of an independent Palestinian state - without a single indication of how this will be achieved.
Bush asserts that an independent Palestinian state must be a democracy. But what constitutes democracy in this lexicon? Will this concept simply become a useful tool, replacing Arafat as justification for Israeli atrocities, delays to the peace process and the establishment of a Palestinian state? In 1996, Arafat was elected leader in an election supervised by US and Israel, yet how easily he was written off three years ago when those same powers found him insufficiently yielding in the peace process.
The US insists it is enabling democracy in Iraq - a benefit that has cost 100 000 lives. If this is the kind of democracy Bush wishes to impose on the Palestinians, we have every reason to be afraid. Very afraid.
· Abdul Bariatwan is editor of al Quds

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Yasser Arafat (1929-2004)

Yasser Arafat (1929-2004)
Rotem and Gal 11.11.2004
Palestinians mourn Arafat but struggle for liberation will continue Many Palestinians will view the death of Yasser Arafat with a mixture of sadness and a wish that the Palestinian Authority he led, had done much more to end the poverty and oppression that blights their lives.
Whatever doubts some Palestinians may have had about his leadership they will see in his death, a snapshot of the brutal oppression and tenuous existence they face on a daily basis. Arafat remained a virtual prisoner in his compound for three years, a situation which undoubtedly contributed to the illnesses from which he died. Yasser Arafat is seen by most Palestinians as a symbol of the longstanding Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation. His past as a guerilla leader since the 1960s as one of the founders of the Fatah organization and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organisation) gave him a special status among the Palestinian masses. It is hard for many Palestinians to think who could play the same role or have the same authority as Yasser Arafat. But while respect will be shown for the role he played amongst many Palestinians, there will be others who rightly question Arafat's (and the other PLO leaders') tactics and strategy in attempting to win Palestinian national liberation. In the earlier years of Fatah and the PLO this was armed attacks by secretive guerilla groups as opposed to mass action by the working class and peasantry armed for self-defence. Later on Arafat and other leaders attempted to form diplomatic alliances with corrupt Arab regimes and negotiate with imperialist powers. Black September When Arafat was faced with a revolutionary situation, he unfortunately betrayed such movements. September 1970 in Jordan was one such example where large sections of Palestinians and Jordanians rose up against the corrupt regime of King Hussein. Arafat and the PLO leaders could have led a revolutionary struggle for power which would have changed the whole face of the Middle East. Instead Arafat made concessions to King Hussein and tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed in the retribution by the Jordanian army that followed. After the war and the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s, Arafat and most of the PLO leadership escaped to exile in Tunis. Exile meant that they no longer had the same intimate connection with the Palestinians and also alienated them from the conditions that the majority of Palestinian faced. The distance between the Palestinian masses and the leadership based in exile was clearly demonstrated at the beginning of the first Intifada. The PLO leadership in exile was completely taken by surprise by this event, as was the Israeli regime. The first Intifada provided the basis for the growth of a new leadership from below in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. After the signing of the Oslo agreement brought the Tunis leadership back to the Occupied Territories, tensions and disagreements developed between it and the local leadership which have remained in different forms up to the present day. At the beginning of the 1990s the pace of the Intifada had slowed as a consequence of years of struggle without the defeat of the Israeli military occupation of the territories. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the support of the Fatah for Sadam Husain during the first Gulf War left the PLO isolated and financially bankrupt. Under the pressure of US imperialism, which feared future upheavals in the region, the Israeli ruling class took advantage of the PLO's weakened position to force it into negotiations and to accept the Oslo agreement. This deal was never meant to give the Palestinians national liberation. It was designed to grant a Bantustan-type prison existence to the Palestinian masses with the Palestinian Authority acting as guards and the Israeli state as prison governor. The Israeli ruling class preferred to deal with the old weak leadership from Tunis which was not as militant as the leadership on the ground. Arafat's regime represented the capitalist interests of the Palestinian elite and was totally dependent on the Israeli ruling class for its existence. As such it could not and never intended to solve the problems of the Palestinians. The standard of living under the PA regime declined severely hand in hand with the continuing oppression by the Israeli Defence Forces. At the same time a small elite enriched itself on the expense of the masses. Without any solution to the problems of daily life the peace process couldn't last for long. This was the basis for the second Intifada. Second Intifada The second Intifada was aimed against both the Israeli regime and in a distorted way the PA. The first reaction of the PA leadership was to condemn this outburst of the Palestinian masses. Only after they saw they could not hold back the movement, they tried to take the lead of the intifada. Over the last few years the Israeli blockade on Arafat in Ramallah, gave him back the status of a symbol of the Palestinian resistance. However, despite the fact that for many years Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, yearned for Arafat's death, the news about Arafat's life-threatening illness came at a very inconvenient time for him. In addition to the fear of being blamed for his death, and the affect it might have on the Palestinian street, the death of Arafat actually poses serious questions concerning the strategy of the Israeli ruling class. For the last few years the main claim of the Israeli regime was that Arafat is an obstacle to any negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This was one of the main arguments Sharon used to justify the disengagement plan. The death of Arafat could lead to events which dramatically change the situation in Israel and he PA. Many names have been mentioned as candidates to replace Arafat as the PA president and the leader of the PLO and Fatah: Abu Alla, Abu Mazen, Muhamad Dahlan, even Faruq Kadumi (who opposed the Oslo agreement at first) and Marwan Baraguti who has sat in an Israeli jail for more than 2 years and holds credit for that in the Palestinian street. But none of them have the credit Arafat had as a symbol and a guerilla fighter. Even during Arafat's life we saw early struggles over the future control of the Gaza strip, when last summer Dahlan's faction in Fatah challenged the control of Arafat's armed forces. More complicated Now the situation has became more complicated, since Hamas have also laid a claim for a share in governing the PA. Hamas enjoy mass support in Gaza, but if it became part of the PA this might change over the long run and could cause enormous pressure to be exerted on the PA by the imperialist powers who could oppose its inclusion. Other issues might bring clashes quite quickly – even before his death there was a demand by the PA for him to be buried at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem which was ruled out by the Israeli authorities. Whatever the eventual decision on this issue, the main question will be that the funeral will be accompanied by a mass presence of Palestinians on the streets in a situation which will not be fully under the control of the PA. At the end of October Sharon won the vote on the disengagement plan in the Knesset (Israeli parliament). The Israeli ruling class wants to withdraw from the Gaza strip, but many of the Likud MPs from Sharon's party are opposed which has exerted huge pressure on the Prime Minister. Four of Likud's ministers tried to ambush Sharon during the voting. Sharon suffers from a lack of support inside his party, and his governmental coalition includes less than half of all MPs and therefore the government is unstable. At the moment he claims that nothing has changed since the death of Arafat, but there is strong pressure from inside the Likud for canceling the disengagement plan and going back to negotiations with a new future partner. The option of a government of national unity is still open but it seems like the next general elections in Israel are only a matter of a short time away. The death of Arafat has released forces of instability that were hidden beneath the surface, building up for a long time. These pressures did not develop because of the personality of Arafat but because of the inability of capitalism and imperialism to solve the daily problems of Palestinian and Israeli workers. The solution is way beyond the hands of capitalism and its agents. The problems of the masses can only be solved by the organisation of society under a socialist plan to reconcile national differences by establishing two socialist states as part of the struggle to build a socialist federation on the basis of equal rights in the Middle East.