18 February 2016

No, Israel Should Not Flatten Beirut

TeleSUR English

This week, the prominent Israeli newspaper Haaretz ran an opinion piece by Amitai Etzioni, titled “Should Israel Flatten Beirut to Destroy Hezbollah's Missiles?”

The short answer is yes—but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Who, you may ask, is the fellow who has taken it upon himself to ponder this important matter? As it turns out, Etzioni is not some random internee at a psychiatric institution but rather a professor at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., having formerly taught at other prestigious U.S. universities including Columbia and Harvard. Also on his CV are stints of service in the Palmach militia, which fought for Israeli “independence” until 1948, and the Israeli military.

Etzioni begins his philosophy session with a claim from an anonymous “Israeli representative” in D.C. that Hezbollah’s alleged stockpile of “100,000 missiles [is] now Israel’s number two security threat,” second only to a nuclear-armed Iran.

He then jumps across the ocean to a previous conference in Herzliya, Israel, where he says the Israeli chief of staff “revealed that most of these missiles are placed in private homes,” raising another question on top of the to-flatten-or-not-to-flatten one: “If Hezbollah starts raining them down on Israel, how can these missiles be eliminated without causing massive civilian casualties?”

Never mind that Hezbollah has never started raining anything on Israel without serious provocation—or that civilian casualties generally haven’t been at the top of that country’s list of concerns. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.

17 February 2016

The final Cuban exodus?

Al Jazeera English

Last April, the prominent accommodation rental website Airbnb took out full-page advertisements in The New York Times and other US newspapers, featuring Cuban and US flags side by side on a spherical surface under the statement "One giant leap for man's kindness" - a play on the famous moon-landing quotation.
The cause for celebration, in this case, was the launch of rental listings in Cuba.
The campaign came in the wake of the 2014 US-Cuban rapprochement and the announcement that the two nations were on track to "normalise" relations, which had been frozen more than half a century earlier on account of the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro's slighting of US business interests in the country.
Now, the US government has eased travel restrictions to Cuba as well as certain obstacles to investment, while the Cubans have become ever more accommodating vis-a-vis private-sector activity and property ownership.
It's not clear, of course, how "normalisation" is even an option - or what "man's kindness" has to do with anything, for that matter - when the US penal colony of Guantanamo Bay continues to be illegally operated on occupied Cuban territory. A "giant leap for man's bank accounts" might have better described the occasion. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA ENGLISH.

07 February 2016

A Spanish right of return for Sephardic Jews?

Al Jazeera English

For many of Lebanon's estimated half-a-million Palestinian refugees, life consists of confinement to squalid camps, where they are barred from performing most jobs, owning property, and accessing basic civil liberties. 
The Lebanese government's excuse for condemning the Palestinians to such inhumane limbo is that any integration into society would jeopardise their right of return to Palestine.
This right has, of course, been categorically denied by the Israelis since the forcible establishment of the state of Israel on Palestinian land in 1948.
Interestingly, a new twist on the "right of return" concept is now being pursued by the Kingdom of Spain, which has decided to award Spanish nationality to descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, provided they meet certain criteria.
The Associated Press reports that "no one knows how many people might be eligible [for the citizenship], though some estimates run into the millions". READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA ENGLISH.

04 February 2016

Washington and Its Media Allies Hype Narco-Jihadi Threat, Again

TeleSUR English

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced this week the achievement of “significant enforcement activity including arrests targeting Lebanese Hezbollah’s External Security Organization Business Affairs Component (BAC).”

If you’ve never heard of this particular mouthful, you’re not alone; try Googling it and see how many results predate the publication of the DEA press release.

But no matter. According to the agency, the BAC is “involved in international criminal activities such as drug trafficking and drug proceed money laundering,” with the proceeds “used to purchase weapons for Hezbollah for its activities in Syria.”

With assistance from a host of European countries, the DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection—part of the Homeland Security Department—have now scored their latest victory in the crusade against the “dangerous global nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism”: the arrest of the “top leaders” of the BAC’s “European cell.”

The victorious press release specifies that BAC members “have established business relationships with South American drug cartels.” Never mind that the exact same thing can be said of the U.S. government; recent examples that come to mind include collaborative efforts with Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa cartel.

A bit further back in time, the United States’ war on leftism in Latin America provided various opportunities for partnership with the underworld, with many of the proceeds funneled toward the right-wing Contra force committed to terrorizing the population of Nicaragua.

At one point, the Contra supply airline SETCO—owned by top Honduran drug lord Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros—was known as the “CIA airline.”

But this history, of course, can hardly be contained within the Good-Versus-Evil narrative propagated by the U.S., so we don’t talk about it. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.