28 October 2014

Lebanon’s Marine Corps renaissance

Middle East Eye

Last week, the Marine Corps Times ran the following headline: “Beirut mission renewed: Marines take pride in returning to guard embassy.”
According to the article, the reinstatement of US Marines as full-time guards at the US embassy in Beirut after more than 30 years “is a notable milestone for those who fought to maintain stability in Lebanon, a country oft-wracked with religious and ethnic tensions.”
“Stability,” of course, is the perennially stated objective of US policy vis-à-vis Lebanon. In practice, said policy includes things like annual multibillion dollar donations and rush shipments of weapons to the state of Israel, which intermittently uses its presents to batter Lebanon and other Arab territories.
The Marines’ previous full-fledged fight to allegedly “maintain stability” over 30 years ago occurred in the context of US military intervention in the Lebanese civil war under the guise of peacekeeping—a guise that was difficult to maintain when US warships started shelling select ethno-religious groups. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

23 October 2014

Fearmongers are us: The Worldwide Caution

Middle East Eye

Earlier this month, the US State Department announced that it was “updating the Worldwide Caution to provide information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against US citizens and interests throughout the world.”
The update appeared in the “Travel Alerts & Warnings” section of the department’s website, which regularly advises Americans of possible international existential perils ranging from jihadist militants to pernicious diseases to severe weather patterns.
The website specifies that the new warning has been issued in replacement of the Worldwide Caution of April 2014 - after all, God forbid US citizens be permitted to go for more than six months without being reminded that the whole world is out to get them.
The threats are arranged geographically (Europe, Africa, Central Asia, and so on), and - as you might expect - consist primarily of Islamic extremist groups, with some non-extremist ones and pirates thrown in, as well. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

20 October 2014

Cuba's war on Ebola

Al Jazeera

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported: "In the medical response to Ebola, Cuba is punching far above its weight."

While the world stood accused of "dragging its feet" following the onset of the epidemic, the Post noted, the diminutive island had "emerged as a crucial provider of medical expertise in the West African nations hit by Ebola".

One hundred and sixty five health care professionals had already been dispatched to Sierra Leone - the largest team thus far sent by a foreign nation - and nearly 300 additional doctors and nurses were being trained for deployment to Liberia and Guinea.

Cuba's response to the Ebola crisis is in keeping with its tradition of accruing international brownie points via contributions to global health. Back in 2009, the New York Times mentioned that, over the past 50 years, Cuba had "sent more than 185,000 health professionals on medical missions to at least 103 countries".

Obviously, this has created many opportunities for pointed comparisons between the Cuban system and that of its imperial neighbour to the north, which prefers a destruction-based foreign policy. A female Cuban doctor based in Venezuela once commented to me on the discrepancy: "We also fight in war zones, but to save lives." READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

19 October 2014

Fanning the anti-Syrian flames in Lebanon

Middle East Eye

On 14 October, a dispatch appeared on the website of Lebanon’s prominent MTV television channel: “Dear HRW, I Don’t Want to Be Assaulted!!”
It has since been removed but is still accessible via the Google cache option.
Written by Maria Fellas, the piece takes issue with a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report criticising the curfews for Syrian refugees that have been implemented in at least 45 municipalities across Lebanon. The nation officially hosts about 1.2 million refugees from Syria, a figure that doesn’t take into account unregistered people.
According to HRW, the curfews “violate international human rights law and appear to be illegal under Lebanese law” - with the uncertainty perhaps stemming from the fact that Lebanese “law” can often be ambiguous at best. The report notes that such measures restrict human movement on the basis of nationality and “contribute to a climate of discriminatory and retaliatory practices” against refugees. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

14 October 2014

Fighting for the right to be elite in Beirut

Middle East Eye

A recent Vice headline, “Fighting for the Right to Party in Beirut,” puts the reader in an interesting position: you can’t tell if you’ve read it before or simply always knew it was destined to one day materialise on the Vice website.
Mary von Aue, the author of the piece, introduces the “juxtaposition of political tension and flagrant partying” as seen in “bars [that] offer coke-fueled benders down the street from Hezbollah headquarters.”
A party scene plus Hezbollah, all in one city - what better fodder for sensational non-insight into the region could we possibly want?
According to von Aue’s version of Lebanese history, “nothing has survived civil war, foreign invasion, 800,000 refugees [a substantial underestimate], and a regular stream of targeted bombings like Beirut’s club scene.” Lest her audience accuse the partiers of political apathy, von Aue contends that nightlife has simply “become yet another medium in the culture of dissent.”
To be sure, one is hard-pressed to think of a nobler example of “dissent” and resistance to the status quo than frequenting opulent establishments known for rejecting customers based on physical appearance. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

08 October 2014

Dismantling public space in Beirut

Middle East Eye

On the final Saturday in August, Horsh Beirut - the Lebanese capital’s largest park and pine forest - was open to the public for three hours.
This should have been anti-climactic news; after all, what is public space if not space intended for public use? But the park, which is practically the only green spot that catches one’s eye when looking at maps of Beirut, has in fact been closed to the majority of the city’s residents for over 15 years.
The park was devastated during the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990, with much of the damage inflicted by the invading Israeli army in 1982. It was subsequently rebuilt in collaboration with the Île-de-France region, which comprises Paris and surrounding areas, and remained closed to allow replanted trees to grow.
Nagi El Husseini, previously a coordinator for the French municipality’s urban planning and development activities in Beirut, described to me the scenario that followed the completion of the park in the 1990s. At first, he said, only French citizens were permitted entry - a fitting tribute, no doubt, to Lebanon’s former colonial masters.
The list of permitted park patrons gradually expanded to include all foreigners, or at least all foreigners meeting the definition of human being as conceived of in Lebanese society. Ethiopian housemaids and Bangladeshi sanitation employees, for example, need not apply. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

04 October 2014

The mental costs of cost cutting in Spain

Al Jazeera

This summer, various Madrid residents met their demise in a rather unusual fashion: They were killed when rotten tree branches fell on top of them.

In June, a 38-year-old man was wiped out while visiting Retiro park with his two young children. A 72-year-old man was the victim of a falling branch in September. As Spain's English-language publication The Localnotes, the period in between these two incidents played host to "20 other tree-related accidents that have injured Madrid residents in central city streets - including a seven-year-old girl … and [have] smashed cars, terraces and other property".

The article mentions that Madrid's right-wing mayor Ana Botella had come under fire from opponents "for slashing public spending on street and park maintenance", although the fatalities have prompted a different kind of cuts: Botella has now dispatched "a team of specialists and foresters to chop down 'suspicious' trees in Madrid's emblematic [Retiro] park".

Of course, tree branches are far from the only existential hazard facing the inhabitants of austerity-afflicted Spain. Pervasive public spending cuts have spelt acute insecurity for the non-elite - a typical byproduct of the process of securing countries for foreign capital. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

03 October 2014

3 Questions About the Malta Shipwreck

TeleSUR English

Last month, a shipwreck off the coast of the island nation of Malta dispensed with a large quantity of asylum seekers from various nations who were attempting to migrate to Europe. The media put fatality estimates as high as 500.
According to reports from survivors, the vessel was deliberately rammed and sunk by the traffickers in charge of the operation — who, having already collected the requisite fees for passage from the migrants, apparently saw no further need for their human cargo.
Numerous Palestinians were on board, having made the near-seamless transition from existing under Israeli bombs this summer to existing at the mercy of seawater. An NBC News article tells the post-shipwreck story of a 27-year-old man named Khamis from the Gaza Strip, who managed to survive both events:
Khamis was able to cling to a life-ring along with six others. "But one after the other, over the next day and a half, the group began to slip beneath the waves," according to IOM [International Organization for Migration] cultural mediator Ahmed Mahmoud…
Soon it was just Khamis and a 14-year-old boy clinging to the life-ring, and the pair told each other their life stories in a desperate bid to keep awake. The teenager was trying to get to Europe to meet his mother who suffered from a severe heart problem. But eventually he also slipped under the water.
I recently wrote to Neil Falzon, director of the Malta-based human rights NGO aditus, with some brief questions related to the shipwreck. As Falzon makes clear, the inhumanity of human smugglers is merely one by-product of a fundamentally inhumane system. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.

02 October 2014

Maryam al-Mansouri in imperial context

Middle East Eye

Last week, Maryam al-Mansouri became - at least temporarily - the face of the international coalition that is bombing sections of the Middle East in accordance with Barack Obama’s alliterative pledge to “degrade and… destroy” the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL.
The 35-year-old native of Abu Dhabi and the first female pilot in the United Arab Emirates air force, Mansouri was reported to have led F-16 airstrikes against IS targets in Syria.
Following this revelation, social media entered into a fit of ecstasy; the Associated Press noted “many users taking delight in the rebuke [Mansouri’s leading role] implied toward the militants’ ultraconservative ideology.”
On 24 September, Oula Abdulhamid, a research assistant at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), tweeted: “Take that #ISIS!” The attendant image was a meme featuring the text: “Hey ISIS. You were bombed by a woman. Have a nice day.”
A formidable Zionist think tank that cooks up such thoughts as that of“using covert means” to provoke a war with Iran, WINEP’s concern for women’s rights is, you might say, strategically limited. For example, thewanton Israeli slaughter of women in the Gaza Strip is not a form of female oppression that is generally recognised by the organisation. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

21 September 2014

Gaza's children paint a grim future

Middle East Eye

In the wake of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s latest onslaught on the Gaza Strip, I acquired a series of photographs of drawings by children in the town of Khuza’a in southern Gaza.
Khuza’a had played unwilling host to one of the Israeli army’s many attempts to outdo itself in terms of brutality, with success measurable, perhaps, in the amount of rubble and massacred bodies left behind. The photographs were passed along to me by the Barcelona-based psychoanalyst Lluis Isern, whose colleague in Gaza had sent them to him.
The drawings share many of the features of typical children’s artwork: house, sun, clouds, grass. The scenic similarities come to an abrupt end, however, when one’s eye starts to register additional elements of the landscape -  tanks, missiles, fighter jets, and bulldozers.
In a drawing titled Aggression against Palestine,  a child has drawn an orange, red, blue, and brown house with five similarly multicoloured people standing outside smiling. Two are holding hands. Above them, four projectiles from a green aircraft descend toward the group, while three from a different aircraft head for the house.
Another depicts a variety of tanks, planes, and guns, interspersed with lines of text such as “Gaza will be victorious”, “Palestine resists”, and a tribute to the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.
Obviously, the prominence of the house in children’s pictures across the globe reflects the centrality of the home to a child’s universe. So imagine the mental upheaval that ensues when one’s universe comes under regular attack by the Israeli military - or is destroyed altogether. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

Neoliberal rape in Spain

Al Jazeera

While being interviewed on Spanish radio last month, Francisco Javier Leon de la Riva - the mayor of Valladolid, northwest Spain's largest city - announced that he was wary of getting into elevators with women because you never know when they might "tear off their bras or skirts" and then run out of the elevator claiming sexual assault.

In response, Twitter exploded with creativity (see, for example, memes featuring images of women in elevators and the words "Waiting for the mayor of Valladolid"), and Leon de la Riva protested that his statement had been taken "out of context". One is hard-pressed, of course, to think of a context in which such an utterance would not be terribly inappropriate.

As it turned out, the "context" was just as absurdly offensive, and had to do with a list of guidelines for females that had just been issued by the Spanish interior ministry. The subject? How to avoid being raped.

The document reads a bit more like a list of instructions for creating a nation of paranoid recluses. Suggestions include acquiring a whistle, "leav[ing] the lights in two or more rooms on [at night] to make it look like two or more people are at home", and conducting a thorough inspection of the interior of the car before getting in: "An intruder might be crouching in the back." READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

11 September 2014

Islamic State in the US

Middle East Eye

No sooner had the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) become the latest global obsession than it turned up - where else? - in the United States.
particularly brutal jihadist organisation and the keepers of a new caliphate in the Middle East, IS apparently already maintains sleeper cells in the US. At least, this is what former CIA operative Bob Baer says current intelligence-gatherers have told him.
Now a national security analyst for CNN, Baer remarked in a recent interview: “The people who do this for a living are very alarmed.”
The threat is thus far a bit nebulous, and Baer explains that IS designs for the homeland are unknown. But intelligence professionals “think [the jihadists have] come across the Mexican border in some cases. Some are American citizens that have come back from [fighting in] Syria.”
While making notes for this article a few days ago, I wrote: “Wouldn’t be surprised if we soon learn that IS is in cahoots with Mexican drug cartels.” Sure enough, Fox News produced the following headline on 8 September: “Security Expert: ISIS Could Pay Drug Cartel to Attack U.S. Power Grid.” READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

06 September 2014

Israel’s New Favorite Christians

TeleSUR English

On 3 September, a Haaretz headline proclaimed: “Israeli Christian community, neither Arab nor Palestinian, are fighting to save identity.”
Datelined Baram National Park, Israel, the article is structured around the Aramean Heritage Camp, a late-summer camp in the Upper Galilee for kids from Israel’s Aramean community.
All you need to know about this community, apparently, can be boiled down to two points:
1. They are neither Arab nor Palestinian, although they speak Arabic.
2. They all want to join the IDF.
The article begins: “One camper here says she plans to join the Israel Defense Forces and become a ‘fighter’ after she graduates high school. The boys relaxing in the grass nearby nod their heads to indicate that they plan to do the same.” READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.

03 September 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge for a frigid society

Al Jazeera

A recent Forbes article poses the question-and-answer: "Think The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Is Stupid? You're Wrong".

The Ice Bucket Challenge is one of the modern era's greater marketing coups: a social media-based campaign to raise awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease. The premise is that you either donate money to ALS charities or have a bucket of ice water dumped over your head; some people do both. The dumping is filmed and videos are posted on the internet, while their soaked protagonists nominate others to accept the challenge.

The operation has been celebrity-heavy, drenching the likes of US business magnate Bill Gates and Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima. According to Forbes, the Ice Bucket Challenge "is awesome" and criticisms of it are unfounded, because what ultimately matters is the monetary accumulation (over $100mwas donated in 30 days).

The article concludes that "the people trying to throw cold water on the Ice Bucket Challenge "simply need to warm the icy cockles of their own hearts" - although the predicate of the sentence has been crossed out and replaced with the tamer suggestion that critics "should stop".

An examination of various aspects of the campaign, however, reveals it doesn't exactly merit cockle-warming. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

Book review: The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising

Middle East Eye

A standard feature of imperialism is that empire-induced disasters are deemed to require imperial solutions, one effect of which is, inevitably, further disaster.
Take the case of al-Qaeda, a force whose development was encouraged by US policy and military machinations. Even the imperial apologist Thomas Friedman has admitted: “It seems likely that some of the Saudi [September 11] hijackers first came in contact with al-Qaeda and went through Terrorism 101 when they signed up for the jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviets.”
The hijackers’ practical application of the lessons from their terrorism course was, obviously, 9/11. In response, the US government prescribed the War on Terror. Thanks in part to that effort, we’ve now got ourselves a caliphate in the Middle East, proclaimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), formerly al-Qaeda in Iraq. The new territorial entity is being attended to by US  drone strikes and other schemes by the empire and its friends.
In his just-released book The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn sets the record straight with regard to the ongoing fiasco and the advance of ISIS - now called simply the Islamic State (IS) - and other jihadist groups. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

30 August 2014

Reappearing the disappeared of Operation Condor

Al Jazeera

In September 1976, ten high school students were kidnapped in the city of La Plata, Argentina, in an operation coordinated by Argentine police and military intelligence. All were between the ages of 16 and 18.

Secretly imprisoned in abominable conditions, the ten were subjected to torture and abuse. Four were eventually released - following years of torment - while the other six make up but a small fraction of the estimated 30,000 persons disappeared during the Argentine military junta's so-called "Dirty War" of 1976-1983.

What, pray tell, were the magnificent crimes that merited such punishment? It's quite simple: The leftist inclinations of these ten individuals made them a clear threat to the public order. Transgressions included agitating for reduced bus fare for students.

The apocalyptic threat was hardly confined to La Plata.Operation Condor - a collaborative effort of right-wing dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay to combat the communist menace allegedly imperilling the hemisphere - lasted from the 1970s until the early 1980s and dispensed with some 80,000 people .

Anyone with less than far-right convictions was fair game, while dissent was criminalised but made inevitable by the state's own criminal behaviour. Human disposal methods included dropping sedated victims from airplanes into the sea. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.

28 August 2014

Fighting Palestinian flower-terror

Middle East Eye

In his seminal book Orientalism, published in 1979, the late Edward Said describes the portrayal of Arabs in Western films and television: “[T]he Arab is associated either with lechery or bloodthirsty dishonesty. He appears as an oversexed degenerate, capable, it is true, of cleverly devious intrigues, but essentially sadistic, treacherous, low.”
Elsewhere in the manuscript, Said documents common stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims as “hordes of hated barbarians,” “camel-riding, terroristic, hook-nosed, venal lechers,” purveyors of “licentious” and “dangerous sex,” “neurotic sexual being[s].”
Little progress, it seems, has been made since the 1970s - though the Israelis have managed to obtain honorary Western status despite the small matter of their geographical location. The formidably Orientalist website of the Israeli-American organisation Learn and Return (also known as Learn and Live) exposes the latest incarnation of the Arabs’ treacherous sexuality: “a new terrorism fought with roses instead of guns.”
According to Learn and Return’s calculations, “[m]ore than 1000 [Jewish] girls a year are trapped in Arab villages,” lured in with “gifts and flattery” by “Arab men, often pretending to be Jewish.” (For a mere $1000 donation, you can sponsor the rescue of one girl.)
As evidence of the alarming trend, the site directs us to a 2012 “Knesset Report on the Welfare of the Child” - which in addition to not being an official report also happens not to corroborate the organisation’s claims.
Anxious to find out more about flower-based terror, I did what any normal person would do: set up a fake email address and contacted Learn and Return with a concern about Jewish women being kidnapped to the Gaza Strip for use as human shields. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

27 August 2014

GROSS OLD MEN ARE HOT AND BOTHERED BY WAR

Vice

In a scene near the beginning of David Burr Gerard’s acclaimed debut novel Short Century, journalist Arthur Hunt attends the assassination-by-drone-strike of "Little Brother," a dictator in a Muslim-African country referred to only as REDACTED. A 1960s leftist-turned-warmongering scribe, Hunt is invited to press the "kill" button by Sheila, a CIA source who has just given him an erection.
“The very model of the modern moral warrior, every inch of her," he recounts. "I imagined lifting her up on to her control panel, spreading her legs, and pushing her clit into the button before impaling her on the joystick, all while I readied my sleepy dick.”
The obliteration of Little Brother ends up taking out a burqa-clad civilian, but Hunt gives the collateral damage a feminist spin, congratulating himself for freeing other, still-breathing women in burqas from the grasp of tyranny. His support for imperial bloodletting doesn’t simply emerge from the humanitarian depths of his soul, however: he’s seeking atonement for a past incestuous relationship with his sister.
It may be a novel, but it's more than just fiction. READ MORE AT VICE.

23 August 2014

Pavlov in Israel

Middle East Eye

Imagine your news intake was restricted to Israeli media outlets and Zionist-friendly international ones. You’d most likely develop the notion that a life intermittently punctuated by air raid sirens is by far the worst fate to befall anyone on the planet.
The fact that the siren alerts never correspond to much in terms of human casualties or property damage is inconsequential. According to Israeli-dictated reality, living with annoying background noises is far more difficult than, say, living under indiscriminate bombardment.
As was the case with previous Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip, the essentially unilateral slaughter currently taking place has been accompanied by a steady stream of articles and other media output detailing the unique suffering of the inhabitants of Israel. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

21 August 2014

Peru's dangerous environmental regression

Al Jazeera America

This December, Peru will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, during which representatives from 194 countries will convene in Lima to set the stage for a comprehensive international climate change agreement in 2015. The agreement would succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on carbon emission reductions, which is set to expire in 2020.
Ironically, in the run-up to the conference, Peru has substantially pared domestic environmental regulations — arguing that this is necessary to attract investment. The Associated Press summarizes the terms of a new law enacted by Peruvian President Ollanta Humala in July:
The law … strips Peru’s six-year-old Environment Ministry of jurisdiction over air, soil and water quality standards, as well as its ability to set limits for harmful substances. It also eliminates the ministry’s power to establish nature reserves exempt from mining and oil drilling.
Also, the measure slashes fines for environmental violations, limits the duration of environmental impact assessments and enhances tax incentives for mining corporations. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA AMERICA.

20 August 2014

Introducing the Deathright Program

Since the year 2000, the Taglit-Birthright Israel program has brought over 400,000 young Jewish people on 10-day, all-expenses paid trips to the Holy Land. The requirements for being young and Jewish involve being between the ages of 18 and 26 and having at least one Jewish grandparent.
To briefly illustrate the injustice of the arrangement: among the multitude of trip veterans is a former acquaintance of mine who was adopted into a mind-bogglingly wealthy part-Jewish family and was therefore deemed more deserving of a “birthright” and a funded trip than Palestinians literally born in the territory in question.
The point of the program is to cultivate a love affair between the Jewish state and members of the global Jewish community whose enthusiasm for Israel may not be sufficiently fanatical. This is often done by encouraging individual amorous relationships and hook-ups between participants on the excursion, which has led to a boost in Jewish “inmarriages” and in some cases immigration to Israel.
As journalist Kiera Feldman noted in her 2011 exposé for The Nation, titled “The Romance of Birthright Israel”: “Many groups pass a night in a fake Bedouin tent, where participants sleep crowded together, a setup conducive to first kisses.” READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.

19 August 2014

Oh empty land, where art thou?

Middle East Eye

As we all know, the old Zionist canard that Palestine was “a land without people” greatly facilitated the usurpation of said land by the state of Israel.
A new version of this mantra has now been introduced by ex-Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, who regularly volunteers his expertise in criminal law to defend Israel’s war crimes. Recent efforts include hallucinating a plot by Hamas “to kill and kidnap” 57 Israeli babies and children.
In an article for the Gatestone Institute this month, Dershowitz put forth the theory that the Gaza Strip in fact encompasses a great deal of land without people. Titled “The empty spaces of Gaza”, the article begins:
“How many times have you heard on television or read in the media that the Gaza Strip is ‘the most densely populated area in the world’? Repeating this statement, however, does not make it true.”
This, of course, is a classic case of Dershowitzian projection; after all, repeating a million times that Israel only targets terrorists doesn’t change the fact that it regularly slaughters civilians. Dershowitz invites readers to explore the empty spaces of Gaza: “Just look at Google Earth, or this population density map.”
Never mind that the population density map to which he links comes complete with the explanation that Gaza is “one of the most densely populated tracts of land in the world”. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

16 August 2014

Mission imprecision: the unexploded ordnance war

Middle East Eye

In September of 2006, Haaretz quoted the head of an Israeli Army rocket unit on his military’s performance during the recent 34-day war on Lebanon: “What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs.”
As the article explains, the United Nations estimated at the time that approximately 40 percent of cluster rounds fired by Israel had failed to explode. This is why, despite intensive and ongoing cleanup efforts by Lebanese and international organisations, we still continue to see headlines like: “18-year-old Lebanese killed by Israeli cluster bomb.”
The Lebanese in this particular case was a shepherd who stepped on an unexploded bomb on a farm in south Lebanon, but aside from shepherds and farmers, other popular casualties of belatedly exploding munitions include sheep, goats, and children who often mistake the deadly items for toys.
Haaretz also quoted the response of the Israeli military spokesperson to the allegation that Israel had violated international law by saturating Lebanon with cluster bombs: “International law does not include a sweeping prohibition of the use of cluster bombs.” READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

10 August 2014

What the Gaza Slaughter and the U.S. Border Crisis Have in Common

AlterNet

When my friend and I used to hitchhike around Mexico some years ago, truck drivers would occasionally ask to see our passports to verify that we were not Latin Americans trying to smuggle ourselves into the United States. Aside from improvised passport control, obstacles to travel were quite minimal, and the worst thing that ever happened was that I was once trampled by a small bull after drinking too much tequila and deciding to participate in a village bullfight.
Obviously, things aren’t so easy for a lot of folks transiting Mexico. Earlier this year, Amnesty International reported that as many as 20,000 Central American migrants are abducted in the country annually while en route to the U.S. border, often riding atop trains. As many as six out of 10 migrant women are raped.
Crossing the desert into the U.S. on foot, an untold number of migrants perish from dehydration and exposure to the elements. Additional hazards occur in the form of right-wing vigilante groups that have taken it upon themselves to augment the anti-immigrant services offered by the Homeland Security Department. READ MORE AT ALTERNET.

05 August 2014

No Cocoa Pebbles for Corpses

TeleSUR English

On the first day of August, The Times of Israel published a blog post advocating for the genocide of Palestinians.
People complained and the post was deleted. According to a Jerusalem Post article that has now also inexplicably disappeared, the Times editors had declared themselves “angry and appalled” by the post and sworn that they would “not countenance blog posts that incite violence or criminal acts.”
Judging from Israeli media content since the debut of Operation Protective Edge last month, it’s perfectly fine to cheerlead for Israel’s genocidal policies—you just shouldn’t use the G-word itself.
The Times has meanwhile restored its reputation as a source of sophisticated and considerate commentary with the publication yesterday of a blog post titled “Does this war make me look fat?
The essay has emerged from the brain of Brooklyn native Rachel Weinstein, who now resides in Israel and is the cofounder of a Facebook weight support group called “Honey, I Ate The Fridge.” READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.

02 August 2014

What we talk about when we talk about genocide

Middle East Eye

On 1 August, a Times of Israel blog entry titled “When Genocide is Permissible”  suddenly disappeared from the website. The Jerusalem Post explains that the entry had “provoked an avalanche of criticism and outrage on social media, prompting the news outlet to dismiss its author,” Yochanan Gordon, son of the founder of the New York-based 5 Towns Jewish Times, where the problematic dispatch also ran. The elder Gordon recently objected to the notion that there are “innocent civilians” in Gaza.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, it seems. In his own post, Gordon junior suggests that all Palestinians maintain terror tunnels and store rocket launchers in their homes, and deftly converts the call for genocide into a he-started-it kind of a thing: “We are at war with an enemy whose charter calls for the annihilation of our people.”
Never mind Gordon’s own assessments regarding the enemy’s “propensity to lie” and the fact that “falsehood and deceit is [sic] part of the very fabric of who they are and that will never change.” READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.

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