The Salon II

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Israel as Apartheid South Africa?

So, we all saw the drama of the last Durban II conference in Geneva, because some countries wanted to cast Israel as a racist, Apartheid-generating state. Those statements were excessive for sure, but not entirely without basis. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to read this piece from Tony Karon that I recommend to you:
Rootless Cosmopolitan - By Tony Karon:

"In a remarkable interview last November, the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert cautioned that unless it could achieve a two-state solution quickly, Israel would “face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished”. The reason, he said, was that Israel would be internationally isolated. “The Jewish organisations, which are our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.”"

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Starsky & Hutch, Sarkozy & Bush?

(written in October 2007, x-posted on African in America)

There has been much talk around the MSM and the blogs, especially the francophone ones, about the new relationship between France and the United States, since the election of President Nicolas Sarkozy in France. Only last weekend, here in the US, several talk shows and Sunday forums continued to comment on this new affinity between the leaders of the two countries. From Bill Maher, to the France 2 journal (on PBS), to Chris Matthews on his show, to Wolf Blitzer on Late Edition – his guest was “French doctor” and French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner – all marveled and/or sneered at the apparent 180 turn of France, and the – really unfortunate – apparent similarities between the policy and ideology positions between the two. I will therefore not spend too much time going over this again (some may argue I already have).

I must however note that there is one particular policy-setting method, long-mastered in the US, which Sarkozy seems to have borrowed, and implemented dexterously from Bush: I call it “bill packing”. Sarkozy is trying to overhaul the immigration policies of the mighty French Republic, land of welcome… well not so much anymore. In fact Sarkozy has been adamant it seems, to rethink the whole concept of immigration in France. We’ll talk about the oddness of his policy another time. But on this particular legislation, Sarkozy has proposed a total package, making it extremely hard, even for those opposed to him, to object to the law altogether. He has packed the bill with elements that pander to his far-right/center-right base – like the requirement of DNA testing to prove the paternity of the children that accompany immigrants, while also attempting to pander the immigrant rights groups, by including a measure to – this is a first in the history of France – create statistics on the ethnic/racial diversity of France. I was watching a program called “Arret sur Info” (“Pause on the News”), on 3A TeleSud, the French/African channel dedicated to Africa and the French-Caribbean, and the topic was this new legislation; the activists opposing DNA testing – like the representative of CRAN – were contrived in their remarks, because they had to be extremely careful to only reject those specific amendments, while the person defending the bill – Christophe Nana, a Frenchman of Cameroonian origin – had the easier task of simply pointing out all the positives, and the irrefutable leaps forward, that are ALSO included in the bill. Add to bill packing a majority in Parliament, the appointment of the two or three first ethnic minority cabinet members, and you have a recipe for near absolute rule by an arrogant and self-important man, who seems adamant to transform France into the US-redux. This man’s fascination with the US reminds me that the French have never really gotten over their Napoleon “grandeur” complex, and that Sarkozy is simply the latest form of that.

Do not get me wrong: Ségolène Royal would not have been much better. She is also self-important. The difference, however, is that she supports other issues, that include a reduction in the powers of the all powerful French “King-President” – which, one might argue, is not such a bad thing. But Royal would have imposed her vision in much the same way as Sarkozy, should she have had the same majority in Parliament. It seems to be the new attitude in this generation of political elites in France: I am right, I know that I am right, you’re wrong, we’ll do it my way, and if I can help it, I won’t give you any viable avenue to even attempt to prove me wrong, before I do it my way. Napoleon tried that, and we know what happened to him. Bush is still feeling the effects of that. I don’t know why Sarkozy would want to follow such dismal beacons…

I wonder…

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

This is why I miss John Paul II

BBC NEWS | Europe | Pope's speech stirs Muslim anger: "Muslim religious leaders have accused Pope Benedict XVI of quoting anti-Islamic remarks during a speech at a German university this week.

Questioning the concept of holy war, he quoted a 14th-Century Christian emperor who said Muhammad had brought the world only 'evil and inhuman' things.

A senior Pakistani Islamic scholar, Javed Ahmed Gamdi, said jihad was not about spreading Islam with the sword.

Turkey's top religious official asked for an apology for the 'hostile' words.

In Indian-administered Kashmir, police seized copies of newspapers which reported the Pope's comments to prevent any tension.

A Vatican spokesman, Father Frederico Lombardi, said he did not believe the Pope's comments were meant as a harsh criticism of Islam."

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

From the blogosphere...

A short, simple and honest piece on present day imperialism:

"With the United States and Britain running Iraq and Afghanistan; while anxiously waiting for Fidel Castro to die so they can meddle in Cubas business, I would say imperialism is alive and well. My main concern is not where Britain and the United States are currently exerting their powers, but rather where they will go next. I remember in Bushs first presidential run, in a debate against Al Gore, he was asked what would he do different from what Bill Clinton did. His reply was that he wouldnt have send the troops to Haiti (In 2004 Clinton send troops to Haiti to restore President Aristide's government to power after a coup) and he would not have sent troops to Africa (Clinton also send troops to Rwanda). Bush did not stay truth to his word; in 2004 he sent troops to Haiti to keep the peace after the so-called resignation of Aristide. Aristide later denied he resigned and blamed the United States for kidnapping and shipping him to the Central African Republic. So if he did not keep his word about Haiti, who is to say, he will keep it about Africa.

I think it is safe to say the United States wont go to Africa to offer help where it is needed like the Democratic Republic of Congo. I cant help but to wonder however, if the Bush administration won't soon come up with a plan to go to Africa under the disguise of helping the continent, when their real intentions will be to get more or total control over Nigerias oil. What if Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were nothing but pawns in the Bushs administrations schemes? What if not to make it look like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were raging war against the browner people of the earth, they added a little diversity. We know now that apart from lying to the United Nations, Powell did not really play any major role in the Bush administration. As a matter of fact, his best advice to the administration that more troops were needed in Iraq was ignored. To be blunt Powell was not much more than a puppet or as Bookman said in Stepping Razor, You went from a strong Black man to George Bushs little slut.

So please tell me if I am being paranoid. Can you see the United States in Nigeria soon? Is that too far fetched? I mean Nigeria have all the elements. They have lots of oil. They have a large Muslim population, so the United States could always justify their actions by saying it is the global fight against Islamist terrorist threat. I really do hope I am too paranoid, but knowing the pain the greed for gold, diamond and free labor have caused Africa in the past, I am concern what pain her oil may cause her."

I wonder...

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Breaking News: Another temporary patch

As if there hasn't been enough temporary fixes to conflicts in the Middle East, here comes another imperfect, and very pro-Israeli UNSC resolution:
UN calls on Israel, Hizbollah to stop fighting | World News |

"UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council adopted unanimously on Friday a resolution calling for an end to fighting between Israel and Lebanon's Hizbollah and authorising up to 15,000 new peacekeepers to enforce it.

The vote capped weeks of anguished negotiations on a plan to halt the war that began when Israel attacked Lebanon after the July 12 abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah guerrillas in a cross-border raid. Hizbollah then rained rockets on northern Israel."
And it's not even like it is really making a difference on the field. The Lebanese government is hesitant to accept it, and Israel is almost ignoring it, as it organized further strikes this saturday, on Lebanese territory:
JERUSALEM -- Long columns of Israeli tanks, troops and armoured personnel carriers streamed over the Lebanese border early today as Israel pressed ahead with its military offensive, hoping to inflict as much damage as possible on Hezbollah before a proposed ceasefire deal comes into effect.

Israeli officials said the military would push forward with the expanded offensive, ordered yesterday by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, despite a UN Security Council resolution that calls for an end to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

The campaign will continue at least until tomorrow when Olmert will bring the resolution to his government for discussion, said Gideon Meir, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, adding Olmert intends to urge the cabinet to approve it.

The resolution authorizes the deployment of 15,
I am sorry to repeat myself, but I must scream: DOUBLE-STANDARDS, DOUBLE-STANDARDS, DOUBLE-STANDARDS!!! I am not a defender of Hizbollah, because I do not believe in religious fundamentalism, in any form, and Islamic fundamentalist practices are something that I abhore. But I also see Tzahal and the other Shin Bet, Mossad and the Israeli government, as being every bit as fanatic, and every bit as responsible for the current situation. Israel is always portrayed in the media, as a democratic state (which it is), that is oh so liberal, and oh so benevolent (which could not be further from the truth). Everybody seems to forget that it is a state created on the premise that a piece of INHABITED land, was theirs by a God-given right. In this context, and considering that Israel has "chronical invasionitis", I cannot help but see that Hezbollah is, in this particular case, justified, or at the very least, IMHO, at par with Israel.

And all this activity in Lebannon, is masking the other big Israeli incursions, this time in Gaza, Palestine. I say it like that (Gaza, Palestine), because it seems as though Israel has been working these past 30 years to exhaust the Palestinians into abandoning their hopes for statehood, so Israel can get bigger territory. This is, of course, a personal impression. That said, it seems the only logical explanation for the policies that encouraged the implantation of kibbutz-colonies all over Palestinian territories. It made no other sense strategicaly, as they were putting some of their own population at obvious risk, in the middle of hostile, occupied land. However it did give them an excuse to invade and/or retaliate, every single time there was the smallest attack from the occupied Palestinians. All this gives me the impression that the dream of Eretz Israel dies hard really hard. I was thinking about this, and then I found this piece (granted, by pretty liberal people), and I really, really wonder...

Moreover, I find it rather interesting that when the Palestinians or the Lebanese militant groups attack civilians, everybody is offended, but when Tzahal kills civilians, everybody lets them get away with calling it collateral damage. Furthermore, when the groups finally leave the civilians alone, and kidnaps soldiers, all hell breaks loose. What are these people to do to get back their dignity, and at least some of their land? Because you know Israel is never going to give in peacefully...

In any case, Terror as a weapon, whether carried-out by an organised group, or a recognized state, is still Terrorism, and should be equally punished. Colonization, whether by the prejudiced Europeans in the past 500 years, or by the formerly-oppressed Jews in the past 50, is still colonization, and should be equally punished. Kidnapping of civilians (or anyone), whether by Arab militants, or by Israeli soldiers, is criminal, and should be equally punished. And if Israel says it does not kidnap innocent civilians, only people with blood on their hands, the Arabs can make the very same arguments about the Tzahal soldiers they have kidnapped, and it will be equally ridiculous.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Conservatives and... YouTube!

You have got to love our friends in the right-wing, here in the US. And who would have thought that my favorie site right now, YouTube, would be the source of yet another blunder by our oh so conservative groups out there?:
Al Gore YouTube Spoof Not So Amateurish : SF Indymedia: "Aug. 4, 2006 — - A tiny little movie making fun of Al Gore, supposedly made by an amateur filmmaker, recently appeared on the popular Web site

At first blush, the spoof seemed like a scrappy little homemade film poking fun at Gore and his anti-global warming crusade.

In the movie, Gore is seen boring an army of penguins with his lecture and blaming global warming for everything, including Lindsay Lohan's thinness.

But when the Wall Street Journal tried to find the guy who posted the film 'Al Gore's Penguin Army' -- listed on YouTube as a 29-year-old -- they found the movie didn't come from an amateur working out of his basement.

The film actually came from a slick Republican public relations firm called DCI, which just happens to have oil giant Exxon as a client.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

On perspective... and the brink of World War III

It seems somewhat surreal, yet not really surprising. The round-up speaks for itself: Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel are are up to their little lethal games again; Iran is promising support to Syria if it were invaded by Israel; Israel is threatening preemptive strikes against nuclear sites in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan have evolved into unpredictable quagmires; North Korea is threatening a second Korea war, Japan is considerng preemptive strikes; the desolation in Sudan/Darfur, Somalia, Congo and other African countries, has left Africa vulnerable to many crises; Nature is not giving us a break, with hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and a second tsunami in Indonesia today; We are not giving nature a break with global warming; etc, etc, etc... World War III, anyone?

Newspapers from my country - Congo - often have so much to cover with the internal chaos, that the International pieces tend towards perfunctory platitudes. Imagine my surprise at reading this article from Le Potentiel[fr] on the new crisis in the Middle East. The author comments on the fact that since Arabs are the ones suffering the greater amount of casualties, World leaders at the G8 treated the question with much less than if Israel was the one suffering the greater number of deaths, the US would probably already be on the ground, as they value Israeli lives more than Arab lives.

Here, in the United States, it has become suicidal for any politician to express even the smallest blame towards Israel. As a result of decades of Israeli/Jewish political influence on US politics, the perspective of the average American is VERY biased in favor of Israel. That is not true outside ot the US. I used my country's newspaper because in Congo, there is no particular love lost for the Lebanese, and/or Arabs in general. The average Congolese tend to resent the fact that Lebanese families own a great portion of the food and electronics market in their country, and the fact that some Lebanese business-owners treat their workers in a very racist way. But despite this, they still sympathize with the Lebanese in this conflict, because there seems to be a fundamental injustice in the situation.

At the end of the day, the whole crisis comes down to the conflict between the Jewish and Arab inhabitants of the Holy land, that we know as Palestinians and Israelis. It is all a matter of perspective. If one wishes to defend Israel, one points out the fact that she is surrounded by Arab and Islamic countries, that do not - let's say - particularly like them. If one wishes to defend the Palestine - and yes I said Palestine - and the Palestinians, one points out that the very process of the creation of the very Jewish state of Israel (Arab Israelis are second-class citizens), on a territory that was inhabited, resulting in a refugee crisis, was the root cause of what we are now living.

Do not get me wrong, I am not one of those who thinks that the State of Israel should disappear. Most of the young Israelis know no other country as home. I am a big proponent of the right of the land: you are born there, it's your home. But I want the almighty UK, to admit that the current crisis is as much the fault of their ill-conceived plan of relocation of the Jews - that they did not want by the way - to the Holy land, as it is the fault of the reaction to that by the Palestinians.

I do not, and indeed will never, caution terrorism. But I find it curious that for once that instead of attacking civilians, the militant movements (Hamas and Hezbollah) attacked soldiers, the response by the Israelis is to fall in the trap of an all out war. And worse: Israel attacks the entire country of Lebanon, and kills civilians, in punishment for a militant group's actions. In other words, they are frightening the Lebanese people into rejecting Hezbollah, the one group that succeeded in kicking Israel out of South Lebanon 6 years ago. Isn't that the very essence of terrorism?

The Israeli government, Hezbollah, Hamas... terrorist organizations. Their victims: The Jewish and Arab populations of the Middle East. The one contry that has the leverage to change the situation: The United States, by adopting a more even-handed approach to the conflict. Until the US politicians start thinking of justice and equity, instead of campaign dollars, there is very little hope of this mess not ending in World War III.

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