Crowds attack diplomatic missions in Syria-residents

AMMAN Nov 12 (Reuters) – Crowds armed with sticks and knives attacked the Saudi embassy in Damascus and the French and
Turkish consulates in the city of Latakia on Saturday after the Arab League suspended Syria, residents said.

A diplomatic source in Damascus confirmed the attacks, which took place hours after the Syrian suspension by the Arab League to condemn an eight-month crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces on pro-democracy demonstrations

(af.reuters.com / 12.11.2011)

Demo condemns extremism in Israel on Rabin anniversary

TEL AVIV (AFP) — Around 20,000 demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday on the anniversary of former Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin’s murder to condemn a rise in far-right extremism in Israel, an AFP correspondent said.

“Yes to peace, no to violence,” read their placards, which also denounced the far-right settler movement.

Yossi Sarid, a former leftist MP and minister, condemned in a speech what he called a campaign by the extreme right to have a crime forgotten for which it has never asked forgiveness.

Rabin was assassinated in Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995 by a far-right Jewish extremist opposed to his efforts to implement a peace deal.

The ex-prime minister is revered as a national hero in Israel, both for his career as army chief and for peace efforts in the 1990s that earned him a Nobel peace prize shared with Shimon Peres and late President Yasser Arafat.

The agreements engineered by Rabin, Arafat, and Peres, who is now president of Israel, have largely been undone by the violence of the past decade and failures in keeping to the terms.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip since 1967, in violation of international law.

( www.maannews.net / 12.11.2011)

Does the 99% support freedom for Palestine? The twitter debate

A deleted tweet from the OccupyWallStreet account, offering support to the “Freedom Waves to Gaza” flotilla, sparks a controversy as to where the 99% stands on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
A sign showing support to Palestine at an American “Occupy” protest.
As the “Freedom Waves to Gaza” headed towards the Gaza Strip, which is under Israeli blockade, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement posted a surprising and exhilarating tweet:“We support and would like to express solidarity to FreedomWaves.”

Moments later, the Twitter representative of the  Canada Boat to Gaza posted an appreciative response, “We are thrilled to receive the support of  OccupyWallStreet  Looks like only the 1% support the Israeli blockade of Gaza.”

The Twitter-sphere flared up with expressions of praise and affirmation, suggesting that some in the 99% naturally link the struggle for the Occupation of Wall Street with the struggle against the Israeli occupation as two related causes.

Approximately four hours later, however, Occupy Wall Street’s tweet mysteriously disappeared from its home page on Twitter. The Twitter-sphere was taken aback- “didn’t realize #OWS is non-political!!” remarked one tweeter.

Another insisted that “If OWS can not support FreedomWaves and Gaza then they should not compare themselves to ArabSpring or Tahrir”.

Canada Boat to Gaza simply offered a few words from Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Many tweeps asked why OWS had deleted the tweet. The closest official answer came from Daniel Sieradski, a new media activist who has been central to the OccupyJudaism activities, who explained, the “FreedomWaves tweet was unauthorized, did not have reflect OWS community consensus and was subsequently deleted.”

He added, “OWS does not have a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” and “OWS is a consensus based movement. The GA has never discussed the I/P issue & even if it did, it would never reach consensus.”

Sieradski acknowledged he was not speaking as a spokesperson from Occupy Wall Street but he had “heard what happened from people close to it.”

As the controversy blazed across Twitter, it opened a space for the 99% to discuss the connections between the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the global dominance of the 1%:

“OWS is inseparable from#Gaza. The 1% diverts resources from the 99% by Israel’s blockading and shelling 100% of Gaza”;

“The Tear Gas used in #Oakland is the same tear gas used in#Palestine, when protesters demonstrate non violently”

Hours later, OccupyFortWorth expressed its support for Freedom Waves for Gaza- “Our support for Gaza and Freedomwaves is limitless. It emanates and echoes from the deepest purest regions of our heart. Love. Solidarity”, asserting, in contrast to OccupyWallSt’s hesitancy, that “we don’t mind losing followers who are uncritical or unwilling to engage the issues (Or who are reflexively pro-Zionist.)”.

A day later, when the Occupy Wall Street movement was questioned regarding this incident, it replied in an email:

Many people involved in OWS support the liberation of Palestine and many other freedom movements around the world. However, since we have grown very quickly as an organization, we have not been able to come to consensus on certain issues that are outside the scope of the original message of OWS, which has dealt with the American financial crisis, democracy and wealth inequality.  The flotilla actions are something that we have not had time to discuss or come to a cohesive policy on, but that does not mean that we do not fundamentally support it…the tweet was erased because there was discussion about how it was not appropriate to address this issue on these large public social media accounts until we had agreement from the group on our exact stance on these kinds of international conflicts.


(www.alternativenews.org / 12.11.2011)

Begint de toverdrank van de PVV uit te werken?

Het had de comeback van Dion Graus moeten worden. Hij was het lachertje van de Tweede Kamer geworden. Mister Caviapolitie. Wife beater. De commissie-De Wit moest Dions eer herstellen, hem zijn prestige teruggeven. Keihard had Dion gewerkt. Twee jaar van zijn leven had hij gegeven. Hij had zichzelf geen vakantie gegund. Maar tijdens het verhoor van voormalig ABN-Amro-topman Jan Peter Schmittmann ging hij de mist in.

Op zo’n moment kun je door de grond gaan. Graus had ervoor kunnen kiezen om met stille trom te vertrekken. Maar Dion verkeerde in een staat van ontkenning. Hij is de laatste Limburgse ridder en PVV’er, dus koos hij de vlucht naar voren. Want hoe leg je de zaak anders uit in de documentaire die je over je grote verdiensten als Kamerlid laat maken? Dion Graus wrong zich in steeds krommere bochten om zijn echec te ontkennen. Eerst gaf hij als reden voor zijn plotselinge opstappen dat hij geen kritische vragen mocht stellen. Wat nogal implausibel is voor een parlementaire enquête naar de financiële crisis die wordt geleid door een socialist.

Iedereen had zijn gestuntel kunnen zien. Dus besloot Graus een andere kaart te spelen: de NOS had het gedaan! Want die hadden het verhoor ‘lullig gemonteerd’ zodat hij een ‘halve gare idioot’ leek. Een bekende en beproefde truc van de PVV: als iemand je aanvalt op bijvoorbeeld ernstige vergrijpen als geweldsdelicten en zedenmisdrijven, roep je de toverwoorden ‘linkse hetze’ en iedereen bevriest. Einde discussie.

Deze week gebeurde er echter iets geks. Dion Graus dacht eenvoudig de aandacht af te leiden, maar dit keer kraaide niemand in het PVV-kamp de toverwoorden ‘linkse hetze’. Het bleef oorverdovend stil. Waar PVV-sympathisanten en -tegenstanders op internetfora elkaar altijd in de haren vlogen en de PVV’ers alles goedpraatten, waren vriend en vijand het er nu over eens dat Graus had geblunderd. Het onfeilbare PVV-wapen had dienst geweigerd. In plaats van de aandacht af te leiden, vestigde Graus met zijn bombarie juist de aandacht op zijn misser.

Niet voor niks schitterde Wilders door afwezigheid. Stond hij dinsdag nog achter Raymond de Roon toen Egypte hem een visum weigerde, Geert liet Graus voor het overstaan van de natie spartelen. Hij had nu eens niet zijn woordje klaar om iedereen het zwijgen op te leggen. Het leek Geert beter om onzichtbaar te zijn. Hij wist dat hij dit niet kon winnen, en dat is niks voor Geert.

Het gaat de PVV al niet voor de wind. Het wordt steeds duidelijker dat de PVV bar weinig heeft binnengehaald. De partij moest al zijn handtekening zetten onder forse bezuinigingen die vooral Henk en Ingrid treffen. Wat de eurocrisis betreft heeft de PVV helemaal niks in te brengen. De animal cops worden een caviapolitie die de laagste prioriteit krijgt van de korpsbeheerders. Deze week bleek ook nog eens dat de immigratie het hoogste in tien jaar is. Het stokpaardje van de PVV dreigt ook al te mislukken. En dat nota bene onder Wilders’ rechtse droomkabinet dat beloofde korte metten te maken met de massaimmigratie. Auw. En weer liet Wilders zich niet zien, hij liet Sietse Fritsma zacht grommen, maar niet bijten.

De keizer blijkt geen kleren aan te hebben. Iedereen dacht dat Wilders de minderheidscoalitie in de houdgreep had, dus dat had direct een psychologisch effect. Premier Rutte leek vrijdag de zwakke plek in het pantser van de PVV te hebben gevonden. Voorheen paste hij wel op om zijn gedoogpartner niet tegen de schenen te schoppen, maar voor het eerst durfde Rutte de spot te drijven met de partij. Rutte juichte schertsend het PVV-onderzoek naar de terugkeer van de gulden toe, want economen weten de uitkomst allang: het afschaffen van de euro is enorm riskant en kostbaar en de euro levert ons ook heel veel op. Kan de PVV zich daarna mooi aansluiten bij het kabinetsbeleid, jubelde de premier. Dodelijk.

Zijn dit de eerste tekenen van het verval van de PVV? Begint de toverdrank uit te werken?

(www.depers.nl / 12.11.2011)

Hamas: Unity for elections, not to emulate Fatah

Maan News Agency – Nov 12, 2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas will not become a carbon copy of rivals Fatah after their reconciliation deal, but welcomes the prospect of Palestinian elections, senior party official Mahmoud Zahhar said Saturday.

Hamas will not negotiate with Israel, Zahhar said in an Eid al-Adha celebration in Gaza City.

The May deal between Hamas and Fatah sought to end years of animosity between the parties that split Palestinians into rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel refuses to have dealings with any government that includes Hamas, and slammed President Mahmoud Abbas for reconciling with his political adversaries.

The international community has called for Hamas to renounce violence and explicitly recognize Israel’s right to exist, formulations adopted by Fatah under late leader Yasser Arafat.

“Those who believe we are seeking reconciliation with Fatah to become a reproduction of Fatah are mistaken,” Zahhar said Saturday.

“Our only choice is the path of Islam, and the liberation of Palestine is closer than any time in the past after the many victories we have been achieving.”

But Hamas wants elections for the people to be able to choose their representatives, Zahhar said.

The unity deal envisaged the formation of an interim unity government of technocrats with a view to holding presidential and legislative elections within a year. It has yet to be implemented, with Abbas saying he will meet with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal before the end of November.

Zahhar noted the significance of this year’s Eid festival, coming at a time when countries across the Arab world have “defeated their oppressors,” and after Hamas secured the release of more than 1,000 prisoners in a swap deal with Israel.

“Several Arab and Islamic delegations visited Gaza from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and France” during the holiday, Zahhar added.

Speaking to London-based Al-Hayat newspaper on Saturday Zahhar said Hamas “does not negotiate with Israel directly nor indirectly, however, there were indirect negotiations over the prisoner swap deal for a specific purpose.”

Hamas would only hold indirect negotiations with Israel over humanitarian issues such as a bird flu outbreak, Zahhar added.

“What can we negotiate over? Should we repeat Abu Mazen’s unsuccessful experience?” Zahhar asked, referring to the president.

He described reports of possible negotiations between Hamas and Israel as “insane voices and worthless trial balloons.”

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 12.11.2011)

Abbas awarded Morocco magazine leadership prize

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Morocco’s Diplomatica Magazine has awarded President Mahmoud Abbas its General Diplomacy Award, the Palestinian embassy to Morocco told official media on Saturday.

Amb. Ahmad Soboh received the award on Abbas’ behalf during the magazine’s annual dinner attended by Moroccan, Arab and international officials and society figures, the Wafa news agency reported.

The selection says Abbas “is distinguished for his integrity and sincerity in leading his people towards liberation and an independent state, and he is a man of peace and dialogue,” according to the report.

(www.maannews.net / 12.11.2011)

CIA is watching tweets, Facebook

In the first report of its kind, the Associated Press has learned that the Central Intelligence Agency is following tweets, up to 5 million a day.

“In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building… a team known affectionately as the ‘vengeful librarians’ also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms – anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly,” the AP reports.

The agency’s Open Source Center, as it is called, gathers information, often in a country’s native language, to get a picture of the good of a region after a world event, or a prediction of what might come.

The center followed Chinese-language tweets to find out China wasn’t pleased with Osama bin Laden’s death, for example, and knew months before that an uprising in Egypt was coming, though they couldn’t predict when.
The center was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission; its focus was to be on counterterrorism and counterproliferation. But the AP reports that its several hundred analysts (the actual number is classified) have since begun to track a broad range of information, which goes into President Obama’s daily intelligence briefing almost every day.

The center’s director, Doug Naquin, says the most successful analysts at the center have library science degrees (hence the ‘vengeful librarians”), speak multiple languages, and are like the computer hacker heroine of the crime novel “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” because he or she “knows how to find stuff other people don’t know exists.”

(mytechnologyworld9.blogspot.com / 12.11.2011)

Israelis must stop attacking Palestinians

In a symbolic move, UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, overwhelmingly voted last Monday to grant membership to the Palestinians. Predictably, Israel and the United States voted in opposition to the international consensus.

Jonathan Rich

Palestine’s diplomatic success at the United Nations has not gone unpunished.

In addition to cutting funding to UNESCO, Israel announced the construction of 2,000 new “Jewish only” settlements in the occupied territories. Israel has also frozen tens of millions of dollars in payments owed to the Palestinian Authority for customs duties levied on goods sold in Palestinian markets, according to AFP.com.

And the Israeli navy has intercepted and detained peace activists aboard a flotilla known as “Freedom Waves to Gaza” that were attempting to bring humanitarian aid to the people living in the Gaza Strip, according to Democracy Now.

The Israeli government’s actions constitute collective punishment of the Palestinian people. We should remember these actions the next time someone claims the Israeli government wants peace.

It is tragically ironic that Jews, once considered “rootless cosmopolitans” — citizens of the world with universal values — are increasingly isolating themselves from the consensus of the international community.

The vast majority of Jews living in Israel and in the Diaspora want peace. But the actions of Israel’s government are pushing the nation down a path of perpetual war and self-destruction.

By thumbing its nose at the international community, Israel is undermining its security. And by upholding a brutal occupation of three million Palestinians, Israel is antagonizing its Arab neighbors and fanning the flames of hatred in the Muslim world.

Military occupation can never bring peace. Fighting hatred with violence is like trying to put out a fire by dousing it with gasoline.

Palestinian acts of violence — in the form of suicide bombings and rocket attacks — are a persistent obstacle to peace. But we must ask ourselves: why are Palestinians attacking us? Palestinians are not inherently violent people motivated by blind hatred of Jews. It is far more likely that Palestinian violence is a symptom of life under military occupation for 44 years.

When we force people to live in cruel and inhumane conditions, how do we expect them to respond to us?

Occupation breeds hatred and violent extremism. People living in desperate circumstances are driven to extreme measures.

Of course, this is not an excuse or justification for violence. It is necessary for us to understand the causes of Palestinian violence in order to prevent it. It is true that anti-Semitism may always be with us, but our own actions can help create the conditions in which anti-Semitism thrives or is marginalized. By perpetuating the occupation, the Israeli government is playing into the hands of the anti-Semitic extremists and helping them recruit new followers to their cause.

Each new rocket attack in Israel prompts a retaliation in kind, and the violent cycle perpetuates. Are we forever to be stuck in this cycle of endless hatred and death?

Fortunately, there is a solution: non-violence. If we want peace, both sides of the conflict must follow the example of Martin Luther King, Jr., and utilize the weapon of non-violence — the sword that heals.

Non-violence is not a utopian fantasy. It is the most effective form of conflict resolution.

This is why Rabbi Hillel famously said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” If we treat people hatefully, they will respond in kind. But if we treat people with compassion, they will open up their hearts in return. We must treat people the way we wish to be treated.

Let us return to the notion of Jews as cosmopolitan people who are the torch for universal values and equal rights for all human beings. It is time for Palestinians and Israelis to see one another not as enemies, but as neighbors.

 

— Jonathan Rich is a senior from Alpharetta majoring in sociology

(redandblack.com / 12.11.2011)

Arabische Liga: Schorsing en sancties voor Syrië

Demonstranten in Caïro verbranden het portret van al-Bashar.

De Arabische Liga legt economische en politieke sancties op aan het bewind in Syrië. Dat meldde de premier van Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassim, vandaag vanaf een spoedbijeenkomst in Egypte. De regionale landenbond heeft Syrië bovendien geschorst als lid. De sancties zullen ingaan per 16 november.

Achttien lidstaten steunden het schorsingsvoorstel. Libanon, Jemen en Syrië zelf stemden tegen, Irak onthield zich van stemming.

Het regime van president Bashar al-Assad beloofde de liga vorige week dat het zou stoppen met het doden van betogers en dat het zijn leger zou terugtrekken uit de steden. Dat is niet gebeurd.

Oproep tot stoppen

De Arabische Liga roept al haar leden op om de ambassadeur terug te trekken uit Syrië. Ook heeft de Liga het Syrische leger opgeroepen om te stoppen met aanvallen op onschuldige burgers.

‘We hebben kritiek gekregen, omdat we te lang hebben gewacht met sancties, maar dat was omdat we ons ernstige zorgen maakten. We hadden een meerderheid nodig om tot deze beslissing te komen’, aldus Hamad Bin Jassim, die verder alle oppositiepartijen opriep om met elkaar te overleggen over een machtsoverdracht.

Mensenrechtenorganisatie Human Rights Watch (HRW) had de Arabische Liga vrijdag opgeroepen Syrië te schorsen. De groepering zei aanwijzingen te hebben dat het Syrische regime misdaden tegen de menselijkheid pleegde in de stad Homs. Tussen half april en eind augustus telde HRW 587 gedode burgers in de stad. Sinds begin november zouden meer dan honderd inwoners van Homs zijn omgebracht.

Syriërs gaan sinds maart massaal de straat op. Deze week becijferde de VN nog dat sinds het begin van de opstand in Syrië meer dan 3.500 burgers zijn gedood. Al-Assad heeft tot nu toe maar één antwoord op de protesten tegen zijn regime en dat is harde repressie.

(www.parool.nl / 12.11.2011)

The Shari’ah Spring: media gets it backwards

In Egypt, with elections around the corner, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Party plans to contest over fifty percent of the seats—up from its more modest position a few months ago. In Tunisia, the long-suffering Ennahda Party looks to be the biggest winner of that country’s first free elections. And in Libya, the interim leader of the National Transitional Council has called for a Libya founded on Islamic tenets and respectful of the country’s Muslim identity, with a place for Islamic institutions such as Shari’ah-compliant finance.

Considering our role in Libya’s revolution, that last speech raised eyebrows and elicited concern—never mind that Tunisia, long a bastion of Arab state secularism, seems to be witnessing the return of political Islam. It seems as if Islamic politics is the main victor come this Arab Spring. What are we to make of all this? Will a geographically contiguous stretch of one hundred million Arabs and Berbers choose authoritarian Islamists, enact Islamic law, and snuff out whatever democratic potential might have existed only months ago?

“Secular” Does Not Equal Democratic

Sadly, we’re reading the Islamic side of the Arab Spring through an outdated lens. Thus, the New York Times is reading things precisely backwards when it describes Tunisia’s Ennahda as aiming to “reconci[le] Islamic principles with Western-style democracy.” As far as Ennahda and others might put it, there is no contradiction between Islam and democracy. Democracy is part of the Islamic tradition, converging with core Islamic values of consultation, humility, a strong interest in social justice, and the sacredness of human life, property, and intellect.

When journalists discuss Islamic politics, they often reach for Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Afghanistan. But that form of Islamic politics, authoritarian and draconian, has been discredited. Mostly by itself, without much need for foreign intervention (but, keep in mind, that doesn’t mean America’s stock has risen). Most of the popular Islamist figures in the Arab world today are all about democracy, although they articulate their interest in democracy by way of religious language. Which, of course, rouses our suspicions and confusions: When we think secularism, we think democracy. Because of Western history—not Muslim history.

It’s important to remember that “secularism,” as a political ideology, did not exist when America was born. Rather, our rather religious society evolved different ways to prevent religion and power from coalescing dangerously, and in the years since, we identified this arrangement as “secularism.” But in the Muslim world, secularism has often been identified with authoritarianism. In response, Islamic politicians do not seek one-party states, but rather articulate, defend, and promote a democratic form of government whose roots are believed to lie in their Islamic values.

In part, they’ve done so to empower themselves—as the most organized parties on the ground, Islamic groups know democracy will usually work to their benefit. In part, they’ve done so against the Iranian model, because that model has widely discredited many Muslim thinkers and movements and has served as an excuse for authoritarian governments to refuse elections. There is of course genuine Muslim opposition to Iranian Islamist authoritarianism, found most obviously in Iran itself: the Green Movement, led by clerics, among others.

But they also do so because they cannot impose their will on their societies, a lesson that’s been learned after the failure of the Iranian model—especially seen in contrast to Turkey’s recent growth and attractive political model. Because there are other social currents, sometimes personally religious but politically liberal, secular, or nationalist, the only way to get rid of authoritarian leaders is to create a common, non-ideological front. The one thing everyone can agree on isn’t secularism, or Islamism. It’s democracy: Human rights, rule of law, and elections with alteration of power. A great and pragmatic compromise.

Not a Zero-Sum Game

But this doesn’t mean more sophisticated Islamic thinkers don’t believe democracy isn’t worth having, in and of itself. The relationship between Islamic values and a democratic form of government shouldn’t be unfamiliar to many Americans, for whom Christianity and democracy are assumed to go hand in hand: A democratic society is based on Christian principles (however historically tenuous that argument is, the fact is, many believe it). Some dynamic thinkers in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood advocate—if we take them at their word—a dawlah madaniyyah, a civil state, democratic but not secular, affirming religious values without imposing religious opinions. This shift, from religion as pure politics to religion as ethics and principles, is a subtle one, and it is of course unclear how it will play out in actual democratic politics.

Nevertheless, Arab democracy can only be the product of existing social realities, where religion is very often far more public and important than in many Western societies, but exists alongside strong liberal, nationalist, and secular currents: Egypt has a significant Christian minority; Tunisia is overwhelmingly Muslim with a strong tradition of state secularism; while Libya is a culturally conservative, nearly fully Muslim country, whose recently deposed tyrant frequently promoted Islamic practices and pieties.

If we read the Arab Spring as a zero-sum game between Islamists and secularists, we’re going to miss what’s happening; if we imagine Arab democracy will look like secular Western democracy, we will likely be disappointed. And if we assume reference to Islam and democracy reveals only hypocrisy, insincerity, or ideological confusion, we’re likely to be surprised.

The Arab world has to figure out what its democracies will look like, but in the meanwhile, we can find a clue a bit closer to our American home. Most Americans would never want an institutional church running this country. But many of those would, all the same, want their president to be a church-going, God-fearing Christian. In that tension lies a better understanding of the latest Islamist politics, and a sober explanation for how Libya’s new government can call for a democracy that nevertheless converges with Islamic values.

(www.balkanchronicle.com / 12.11.2011)