It is not the Goldstone report that has opened another painful phase in the erosion of Israel's credibility, but rather the cavalier attitude here toward the heavy Palestinian losses. In broad circles of Western European and American intelligentsia - in the universities and among cultural and media figures - Israel arouses ever-deepening hostility.The London Review of Books' Adam Shatz writes about the "mobile phone wars" behind Mahmoud Abbas' early decision to postpone consideration of the Goldstone report:
In the Western press, Abbas’s blunder was widely described as an act of realpolitik that backfired in the court of public opinion, but the real story may have more to do with a mobile-phone company called Wataniya, a joint venture set up by a group of investors from Kuwait and Qatar (57 per cent share) and the Palestine Investment Fund (43 per cent), whose head is Abbas’s chief economic adviser, Mohammad Mustafa. In July 2008, Tony Blair brokered a deal between the PA and Israel that would have allowed Wataniya to become Palestine’s second mobile-phone operator, with a bandwidth of 4.8 MHz; the launch date was meant to be 15 October this year. In divided Palestine, economic development is factional politics: Wataniya had to succeed, if only to provide proof that Palestinians are better off under the PA in the West Bank than in Hamas-controlled Gaza. It’s an argument Netanyahu has also been keen to make, in the hopes that middle-class West Bankers can be bought off, the Gazans forgotten, and statehood consigned to oblivion. But on 15 September, Richard Goldstone released his findings. According to Jonathan Cook in the National, Israel warned Abbas that unless the Palestinian Authority withdrew its draft resolution on the report, it would deny Wataniya all of its radio frequencies; the PA promptly fell into line, requesting a six-month delay on the resolution. It isn’t hard to imagine what Abbas and his associates were thinking: if the deal collapsed, the PA would have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties, and would also suffer a major loss in investment and jobs (more than 2000). Why should war crimes in Gaza get in the way of the West Bank telecommunications industry? Couldn’t this wait another six months? The PA made its second U-turn, in response to Palestinian public opinion, on 6 October: the resolution on the Goldstone Report wouldn’t be postponed after all. On 15 October, the day Wataniya was set to launch, Israel ‘re-awarded’ it 3.8 MHz of airwave frequency spectrum. This was still 1 MHz shy of the 4.8 MHz it needs to be fully operational – Israel’s three major mobile-phone firms each have between 20 and 46 MHz. Why the shortfall? Israeli officials say it’s because the PA has failed to honour certain unnamed ‘commitments’; one of those commitments may have been deferring to its wishes on Goldstone.Harpers' Ken Silverstein interviews Desmond Travers, one of the four members of the UN fact-finding mission led by Goldstone:
4. Critics have also said that Hamas deliberately inserted its fighters among civilians and that doing so increased the civilian toll. Did you find that to be the case? We found no evidence that Hamas used civilians as hostages. I had expected to find such evidence but did not. We also found no evidence that mosques were used to store munitions. Those charges reflect Western perceptions in some quarters that Islam is a violent religion. Gaza is densely populated and has a labyrinth of makeshift shanties and a system of tunnels and bunkers. If I were a Hamas operative the last place I’d store munitions would be in a mosque. It’s not secure, is very visible, and would probably be pre-targeted by Israeli surveillance. There are a many better places to store munitions. We investigated two destroyed mosques—one where worshippers were killed—and we found no evidence that either was used as anything but a place of worship. There is a sinister and foolish notion among certain proponents of insurgency warfare that to fight an insurgency means that civilians will inevitably be killed. But if you give the state authority to be indiscriminate with the lives of civilians in pursuing insurgents, it plays into the hands of the insurgents. Dead bodies are grist to the insurgents’ mill: if the dead are on your side they represent insurgent victories and if the dead are on their side then they have martyrs. 5. What is your view of the claim by Israeli officials that the IDF is the most “moral” army in the world? Given the tactics, the weapons used, and the indiscriminate targeting, I think this is a dubious claim. 6. What other issues do you think need to be addressed? We were disturbed by the lethality and toxicity of weapons used in Gaza, some of which have been in Western arsenals since the Cold War, such as white phosphorous, which incinerated 14 people, including several children in one attack; flechettes, small darts that are designed to tumble upon entering human flesh in order to cause maximum damage, strictly in breach of the Geneva Convention; and highly carcinogenic tungsten shrapnel and dime munitions, which contain tungsten in powder form. There is also a whole cocktail of other problematic munitions suspected to have been used. There are a number of other post-conflict issues in Gaza that need to be addressed. The land is dying. There are toxic deposits from all the munitions that have been dropped. There are serious issues with water—its depletion and its contamination. There is a high instance of nitrates in the soil that is especially dangerous to children. If these issues are not addressed, Gaza may not even be habitable by World Health Organization norms.I have to say that while I appreciate Judge Goldstone's professionalism (as shown in various interviews), I find it rather inappropriate for him to keep on repeating that he is a Zionist and loves Israel (as he has done on occasion.) Not just because, for me, Zionist is a dirty word that implies racism and the denial of the existence of a Palestinian people. But rather because Goldstone and his peers are meant to be professional assessors of the recent conflict in Gaza; they should keep their political views to themselves.
Dubai – Arab societies need nurturing institutions and supportive policies to experience a significant boost in knowledge production and creation, according to The Arab Knowledge Report 2009. The report, launched today, maintains that political, institutional, cultural and intellectual reforms, as well as reform of the media and information technologies are vital if Arab societies are to bridge the knowledge gap. The Arab Knowledge Report 2009: Towards productive intercommunication for knowledge, emphasises two central and mutually dependent premises. The first is the connection between knowledge, development and freedom. The second is the close relationship between the demands of development and the building of the knowledge society. “With solid commitment and long-term vision, the route to the knowledge society will not be impossible,” asserted Adel El Shared, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation. “This is what we have sought to achieve over the past two years, emphasizing our commitment to the purpose and objectives for which the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation was established – strengthening the knowledge economy in the Arab world, which can only be achieved through close cooperation with serious partners who share our vision and objectives. Today we are happy to launch the fruit of such a collaborative effort with UNDP: the Arab Knowledge Report 2009: Towards productive intercommunication for knowledge,” he elaborated. The Report addresses the factors that impede the establishment of a knowledge society in the Arab world and assesses the state of education, information and communication technologies, research and innovation in the region. It concludes with a roadmap for action so that the Arab world can integrate itself in a rapidly globalising knowledge society.via Brian Whitaker. Here's the link to the full 300+ page report in PDF. Glancing quickly through the report, and as the PR blurb above shows, much of the report is about creating a "knowledge society" and developing ICT. It contains a lot of turgid language about moving towards that. I would have liked to see (but may very well have missed in the report) a section looking at syllabus content, teaching techniques, and why so many countries that have expressed a need for primary and secondary educational reform have thus far done so little (and also the politics of teachers and reforming teachers' training, a big issue in Morocco and Egypt and I'm sure elsewhere.)
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Exclusive - Anna Baltzer & Mustafa Barghouti Extended Interview Pt. 1|
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Exclusive - Anna Baltzer & Mustafa Barghouti Extended Interview Pt. 2|
Anna Baltzer: Daily Show needs letters of support for having Barghouti & me on Dear friends, Last night Dr. Barghouti and I were on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart talking about Palestine. The show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. During the taping the show had it's only heckler in 11 years. The entire staff was very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired. That is why it is CRUCIAL that the show receive letters of support from anyone who appreciated the interview.Once again, kudos for Jon Stewart for having these people on. Update: Angry Arab writes that Anna Baltzer had large chunks of the interview edited out:
The show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. During the taping the show had it's only heckler in 11 years.The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired..Many of you who watched the show on TV noticed that everything of real substance that I said was edited out. The major issues cut out were (1) the US role in aiding Israel, (2) the lack of adequate coverage in mainstream US media, and (3) the Palestinian-led movement for Boycott / Divestment / Sanctions (BDS) to nonviolently pressure Israel to comply with international law."Stewart has done a lot in the past to get a sane view of the conflict on the air, in his modest way (after all he is on Comedy Central and never claims to be a serious news journalist.) It's a shame if one of the most daring shows on mainstream US television is really this terrified of talking about the US-Israel relationship and BDS.
"From the beginning--and even long before the beginning--we have had to put our faith in the fact that fish dwell in water, bats in ruins, teachers in schools, peace of mind in death, foxes in fields, monks in monasteries, falsehood in books, seeds in cracks, poison in menstrual blood, and wisdom in the aftermath of events; and the best of you, good gentlemen, is the one who is spared either the wisdom or the events."
But in making the opening to Anglicanism, Benedict also may have a deeper conflict in mind — not the parochial Western struggle between conservative and liberal believers, but Christianity’s global encounter with a resurgent Islam. Here Catholicism and Anglicanism share two fronts. In Europe, both are weakened players, caught between a secular majority and an expanding Muslim population. In Africa, increasingly the real heart of the Anglican Communion, both are facing an entrenched Islamic presence across a fault line running from Nigeria to Sudan. Where the European encounter is concerned, Pope Benedict has opted for public confrontation. In a controversial 2006 address in Regensburg, Germany, he explicitly challenged Islam’s compatibility with the Western way of reason — and sparked, as if in vindication of his point, a wave of Muslim riots around the world. By contrast, the Church of England’s leadership has opted for conciliation (some would say appeasement), with the Archbishop of Canterbury going so far as to speculate about the inevitability of some kind of sharia law in Britain. There are an awful lot of Anglicans, in England and Africa alike, who would prefer a leader who takes Benedict’s approach to the Islamic challenge. Now they can have one, if they want him. This could be the real significance of last week’s invitation. What’s being interpreted, for now, as an intra-Christian skirmish may eventually be remembered as the first step toward a united Anglican-Catholic front — not against liberalism or atheism, but against Christianity’s most enduring and impressive foe.My question is: would the NYT tolerate an op-ed describing any other religion like this? Would it not condemn, say, a Christian who describes Judaism's as Christianity's foe because of the old "Jews-killed-Jesus" trope some anti-Semites and Christian ultra-conservatives like to dish out?
A Sudanese man used a plastic knife from the in-flight meal to threaten flight attendants after the plane left Turkish airspace and demanded that the flight be diverted to Jerusalem, the official said. Guards on the flight were able to detain the man and no one was hurt, he said. The flight landed safely at Cairo airport. The man was arrested and was being questioned by state security, the official said. The Boeing aircraft was carrying 87 passengers, a Cairo police official said. He identified the suspect as Mohammed Hamad Nourain, 26, and said he used a passport with a phony name to board the flight. The man told flight attendants he wanted to "liberate Jerusalem," the police official said.
It's great to see that someone has written an analysis piece about the protests against the E-Agrium plant in Damietta, and put it in the context of Egypt's diffused wave of social protest. Where else but MERIP:
The Damietta protests may well mark a watershed for environmental mobilization in Egypt. The coalition that emerged to oppose the EAgrium plant crossed class and occupational lines, and included representatives of voluntary associations, members of Parliament, businessmen, university professors, landowners, and members of unions and professional syndicates. These groups employed a diverse repertoire of protest tactics and mobilizing strategies, including coordinated statements, petitions, marches, vigils, litigation and strikes. The coalition also framed its concerns in ways that resonated with the vast majority of Egyptians struggling to cope with the rapidly deteriorating conditions in the Delta. Mobilization against the factory emphasized the health threats posed by polluting industries, the subsidy of foreign investors, pervasive government corruption and the lack of environmental enforcement. These concerns were diffused through Egypt’s increasingly lively public and media sphere, including new independent newspapers, private TV stations and well-known regional satellite channels such as al-Jazeera.
The diverse protest tactics employed in Damietta are part of a larger wave of social protest that has washed over Egypt in recent years. Strikes, sit-ins, petitions, road closures and demonstrations of all kinds are increasingly employed by a dizzying array of actors, including textile workers, ambulance drivers, public sector employees, syndicate members, farmers and others. Egypt’s authoritarian regime has responded with a mixture of repression and accommodation. While the regime has ringed striking workers with security personnel, often leading to arrests and skirmishes, it has also sought to placate them with wage increases, bonuses and other economic benefits. In stark contrast, protesters making political demands have invariably been met with force.
The Damietta protests proved effective in part because they did not simply pit civil society against the state. Local economic elites and politicians played key roles in articulating a different developmental vision for the city and its environs than that promoted by the central government. To wit, they argued that the area’s economic development should rest on its natural advantages of sun and surf, capitalizing on the traditional status of Damietta and Ra’s al-Barr as premier summer resorts for Egyptians. This case was bolstered by the input of respected environmental scientists, whose opinion was solicited as part of a broader government commission of inquiry. And the movement was not merely local. When the idea of relocating the plant to Suez or Port Said surfaced in the press, protests erupted in these cities as well.
For reporting on the E-Agrium, see this BT piece.
واستولت بلطجية امن الدولة على جهاز لابتوب خاص بالدكتور ايمن وجهاز عرض كما قامت بتحطيم السماعات الموجودة بالمقر State Security Forces about 50-60 pigs stormed into a seminar at Ayman Nour Culture Center in Bab Al-Sha’riya, Cairo. The seminar was to discuss succession, the security thugs confiscated the all devices in the center especially the laptop of Dr ayman nour in addition to destroying the all things in the place they arrested some of El-Ghad party activists as the journalist ahmed abd-elgawad who was taken to the police station then released update:- Ayman Nour went to Bab Al-Sha’riya police station to file aclaim about the incidentSomeone else emailed:
Reports are beginning to flow in, including directly from former Egyptian presidential candidate Ayman Nour, regarding an assault which occurred this evening in Cairo on one of Nour's offices in the Bab El Shairiya neighborhood by state security forces. Reportedly, 40-50 state security "thugs" stormed the office this evening (Cairo time), assaulted Al Ghad members within, and confiscated equipment, including Dr. Nour's personal computer. They reportedly arrested Nour's press secretary, Ahmed Abdel Gawad, among others. This incident took place immediately before a conference entitled "Poets Against Succession," a subgroup of the "Egyptians Against Succession (Mayohkomsh)" movement, was to take place.
The exercise will test the Arrow (Hetz) system, the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence), the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System, as well as Patriot and Hawk anti-aircraft systems, media said. It will simulate the firing of long-range missiles from Israel's foes Iran, Syria and Lebanon, and towards the end it will include a "live" missile interception, reports said.✪ Matthew Yglesias » Bernstein on Human Rights Watch | A good retort to the latest silly attack on HRW (by one of its former chairman) "or having the temerity to hold Israel to the same standards of international humanitarian law to which it holds every other country." But this just points to the problem of bias in the higher echelons of HRW - among former and current staffers. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | No Fly Zone | Nice story looking at the recent airport detentions of various kinds of activists. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | Pope Shenouda: "I Support Gamal Mubarak" | What a nasty little man, and what disservice he does to his flock. I hope Copts flee the Orthodox Church en masse over this. ✪ Arab states consider joint counter-terror police unit | "Arabpol." Oh Lord Have Mercy. ✪ Egyptcarpoolers | A carpooling connecting website for Cairo. ✪ Saddam Interview | Transcripts of interviews with Saddam Hussein during his captivity in 2004.