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Islam and the West ( 29 Dec 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

The War Against Palestine; What, Exactly, is Israel's Mission?

Exception From Humanity: The War Against Palestine

By GEORGE SALZMAN and MANUEL GARCIA, Jr.

December 29, 2008

 

The war against the Palestinians arises from the merging of the Zionist view of Jewish exceptionalism with the view in the United States of American exceptionalism, which have focused their common root ambitions for domination and possession as a hostility to Islam, and this is the leading crusade in the "clash of civilizations," proclaimed by just-deceased Harvard historian Samuel P. Huntington, which is the war against the world's poor and dark-skinned people, the war of conquest carried out to enforce a rule of worldwide apartheid by a culturally Euro-American, racially white, highly industrialized capitalist elite.

 

The Zionist view of Jewish exceptionalism is critically examined, and demolished, in the book Overcoming Zionism, by Joel Kovel. This mind-set boils down to 'any victimization of Jews we Zionists can remember, historically, justifies all our aggression, persecution and even genocide of Palestinians; we are, and will always be, the exceptional victims of world history and so are forever blameless; to disagree is to be one with our historical persecutors.' The Jewish religion is quite incidental to the actual intent of the exceptionalism; Zionism is a criminal conspiracy drawing participants through a Jewishness filter, in the same way the Mafia exploits Sicilian heritage to filter its recruitment and promotion.

 

The operation of Zionist exceptionalism in Palestine mirrors that of the white Christian exceptionalism Jews had suffered under for centuries, and which was described in the book The Destruction Of The European Jews, by Raul Hilberg. I (MG, Jr.) was made aware of the insights of the Kovel and Hildberg books by Professor Emeritus (of physics) George Salzman. The three stages of development of racial-religious labeled exceptionalism are: conversion, expulsion and extermination. Hilberg summarizes "the three successive goals of anti-Jewish administrators. The missionaries of Christianity had said in effect: You have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed had proclaimed: You have no right to live among us. The Nazis at last decreed: You have no right to live."

 

The arc for European Jews between the years 400 and 1940 was first to be pressured to convert to Christianity or face employment discrimination, then from the 13th to the 16th century Jews resisting conversion were expelled from many countries, and finally the Nazis devised industrialized extermination. The arc for Palestinians seems to be compressed to a time scale measured in decades rather than centuries. Conversion was never an option, and many forms of exclusion were enforced from the first days of the State of Israel (which, couldn't we see as just the earliest Zionist-occupied section of Palestine?). Wars of territorial conquest since 1967, and the continuing invasion of "unoccupied" territory by "settlers" and their protective cavalry, the IDF -- or land rushes into Indian Reservations, as we knew them in the U.S. -- bend the arc from exclusion to extermination. In the logic of Zionist exceptionalism, there is nowhere within the limits of their territorial vision where Palestinians have "a right to exist." What other kind of mentality could inflict modern aerial bombardment of essentially unarmed, corralled masses of people? Our world remains at Guernica, the Stukas and Heinkels are now F-16s and Lavi jets.

 

If the world does not rise up in unison to halt this slaughter in Palestine, and the relentless and hypocritical land theft motivating it, who could then blame the descendants of the victims -- for there will be children who survive to remember -- if they are well satisfied with the collapse of our own society in the future, and in fact help in its destruction through some great catastrophe, which we may be too arrogant and self-assured to envision now just like the self-satisfied elites of the 1930s. Time and the pressure of increased impoundment always breach dams, and resolve unnatural imbalances by a leveling flood. Time and the unrelieved resentments of increasing world poverty will ultimately breach our separation walls of control and drown our luxuriant indifference under a leveling tsunami. This is not a biblical type of prediction, just a matter of logic. If we, in the nations with the power to discipline the Israeli Zionists -- most especially the United States, do not act soon and consistently thereafter for self-evident justice, we will pump up oppositional energies to our national progress. If we continue to act like conquerors apart from the rest of humanity, whom we view in purely utilitarian terms -- as slaves -- we must inevitably drown under a Red Sea of our own making.

 

Mere appeals in internet publications can do little, but in our capitalist, hierarchical world, each person can act to a degree commensurate with their level of political and financial power. And, the best application of that agitation is to influence those above you to take action commensurate with their power. Yes, this is the opposite of doing what is good for your career by doing what is necessary to advance the careers of your bosses. I leave to you the delicacy of striking a balance between your particular career and your brotherly and sisterly duty to humanity; but I will irritate you as I can, to choose the more rebellious path, because ultimately career is a personal war against humanity and a defilement of self-respect, which is exchanged for lucre and an illusion of power. Rebel against exceptions to your sympathies. Rebel against indifference to suffering.

 

There are many, many injustices and tragedies underway in our world, which cry out for immediate attention, and no one can really rank them as to deserving more or less help. Nevertheless, many currents of history have been distilled into what we see today as the war against the Palestinians, and it is keenly observed throughout the world. For this reason, we could say that the fate of the Palestinians is the measure of the world's conscience, and will mark our level of civilization in the pages of time.

 

Manuel Garcia, Jr. can be reached at mango@idiom.com.

George Salzman can be reached at george.salzman@umb.edu.

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Violence and Lies: What, Exactly, is Israel's Mission?

 

By NEVE GORDON

December 29, 2008

 

The first bombardment took three minutes and forty seconds. Sixty Israeli F-16 fighter jets bombed fifty sites in Gaza, killing over two hundred Palestinians, and wounding close to a thousand more.

 

A few hours after the deadly strike, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened a press conference in Tel-Aviv. With Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni sitting on his right and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on his left, he declared: “It may take time, and each and every one of us must be patient so we can complete the mission.”

 

But what exactly, one might ask, is Israel’s mission?

 

Although Olmert did not say as much, the “mission” includes four distinct objectives.

 

The first is the destruction of Hamas, a totally unrealistic goal. Even though the loss of hundreds of cadres and some key leaders will no doubt hurt the organization, Hamas is a robust political movement with widespread grassroots support, and it is unlikely to surrender or capitulate to Israeli demands following a military assault. Ironically, Israel’s attempt to destroy Hamas using military force has always ended up strengthening the organization, thus corroborating the notion that power produces its own vulnerability.

 

The second objective has to do with Israel’s upcoming elections. The assault on Gaza is also being carried out to help Kadima and Labor defeat Likud and its leader Benjamin Netanyhu, who is currently ahead in the polls. It is not coincidental that Netanyahu’s two main competitors, Livni and Barak, were invited to the press conference – since, after the assault, it will be more difficult for Netanyahu to characterize them as “soft” on the Palestinians. Whether or not the devastation in Gaza will help Livni defeat Netanyhu or help Barak gain votes in the February elections is difficult to say, but the strategy of competing with a warmonger like Netanyhu by beating the drums of war says a great deal about all three major contenders.

 

The third objective involves the Israeli military. After its notable humiliation in Lebanon during the summer of 2006, the IDF has been looking for opportunities to reestablish its global standing. Last Spring it used Syria as its laboratory and now it has decided to focus on Gaza. Emphasizing the mere three minutes and forty seconds it took to bomb fifty sites is just one the ways the Israeli military aims to restore its international reputation.

 

Finally, Hamas and Fatah have not yet reached an agreement regarding how to proceed when Mahmoud Abbas ends his official term as President of the Palestinian National Authority on January 9th, 2009. One of the outcomes of this assault is that Abbas will remain in power for a while longer since Hamas will be unable to mobilize its supporters in order to force him to resign.

 

What is clearly missing from this list of Israeli objectives is the attempt to halt the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel’s southern towns. Unlike the objectives I mentioned, which are not discussed by government officials, this one is presented by the government as the operation’s primary objective. Yet, the government is actively misleading the public, since Israel could have put an end to the rockets a long time ago. Indeed, there was relative quiet during the six-months truce with Hamas, a quiet that was broken most often as a reaction to Israeli violence: that is, following the extra-judicial execution of a militant or the imposition of a total blockade which prevented basic goods, like food stuff and medicine, from entering the Gaza Strip. Rather than continuing the truce, the Israeli government has once again chosen to adopt strategies of violence that are tragically akin to the one’s deployed by Hamas, only the Israeli ones are much more lethal.

 

If the Israeli government really cared about its citizens and the country’s long term ability to sustain itself in the Middle East, it would abandon the use of violence and talk with its enemies.

 

Neve Gordon is the chair of the Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, and is the author of Israel’s Occupation, University of California Press, 2008. His website is www.israelsoccupation.info

http://www.counterpunch.org/gordon12292008.html

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Before Our Very Eyes: Israel's Attempted Endgame in Gaza

 

By JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN

December 29, 2008

 

The intensity of the bombings on Saturday, which left over 230 people dead and 800 wounded, many seriously, was what struck one witness, R., who claimed never to have heard so many explosions so close together and for such an uninterrupted period of time inside the Gaza Strip. One after another, the explosions sounded, most of them near heavily populated areas; and in one case only 30 meters away from his daughter’s elementary school.

 

The bombings were timed to cause the maximum number of “enemy” casualties. They occurred at approximately 11:20am on a bustling Saturday morning, just as schools were changing shifts and many children were either leaving for home or coming to afternoon classes; when offices were filled with their employees, and streets busy with the late morning crowds out getting lunch or on quick errands of one sort or another. The day before, Israel had opened some of the crossings into Gaza to let in another trickle of humanitarian aid. ‘See how generous we are to our enemy!’ they exclaim with straight faces to the international media. Each time Gaza reaches the brink of starvation and ruin, they let in just enough food and supplies to silence potential critics. Then the next round begins. It is hardly surprising. After all, this policy was outlined publicly by Dov Weisglass not so long ago when he promised that Israel would put Gaza on a punishing “starvation diet” until it saw reason and evicted its democratically elected government. Many people, including members of the Hamas government, believed that reopening the crossings to international aid signaled another brief lull in military activity, as it usually had, while the IDF General staff prepared its next offensive. In this way were the people and government of Gaza unprepared for the next day’s slaughter

 

The deliberate ploy to strike at midday when the collective population of Gaza had let down its guard for a few short hours had its intended effect. One of the deadliest massacres in the history of Israel’s occupation of Palestine followed as  F-16 fighter jets, helicopter gun ships, tanks, armored vehicles and pilot-less drones closed in on the Gaza Strip.  By Monday morning over 300 people were dead and 1000 injured. Hospitals were overflowing with the seriously wounded; the morgues with the dead for whom they had insufficient refrigeration. Insufficient medical personnel, equipment, supplies and services raised the likelihood of many more dying in their overused beds waiting for the help and attention they would never get. The taxi driver R. hailed to get him to his daughter’s school as quickly as possible after those first strikes had begun initially refused, staring in shock as columns of smoke rose from brand new layers of debris.

 

The sound of F-16s flying overhead dropping bombs is not a sound one ever forgets. In other words, 750,000 children –or half the population of Gaza—have it ingrained in their memories for the rest of their lives. Another equally unacceptable percentage of this group will have had images burned into their minds’ eyes of the devastation and death wrought by these sounds as well, a factor that partially explains why more than 50 per cent of Gaza’s three-quarters of a million children suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: it isn’t easy to see piles of the dead or their blown apart body parts without some kind of reaction. Violent, action-packed Hollywood war and terror films may provide us with virtual reality, but when the severed jaw of a woman is lying at your feet only a few inches away from her bloody and disfigured head, or when the bare leg of a man is lying by itself in a room, the rest of the body blown outside the house, the illusory atmosphere of the virtual world is quickly replaced by the raw, heavy emotions that accompany real world sequences. This is when paralyzing fright grips you so firmly that your legs forget how to move; how to flee the gruesome nightmare scenarios. You can’t run away.

 

In the course of a few short hours American-made, Israeli-flown fighter jets had successfully blotted out the lives of more than 230 people and by the end of the weekend over 300, the rough equivalence of two fully packed IMAX theaters. At least 70 of the victims were civilians, a number of them young children. A mother in Rafah bent over the corpses of her three dead children screaming, unable to stop, horrified eye witness T., who wrote up the day’s events as if the formal documentation of an overpowering human event could serve as a form of catharsis.

 

Most of the dead were young men training to become police officers, or newly on the job, because it is one of the only ways left to acquire paid work today in the Gaza Strip. With the siege of Gaza and the subsequent withering of its civil society and infrastructure, its industries, shops and restaurants, banks and social services, came the skyrocketing unemployment figures and the controlled collapse of an economy kept ‘alive’ by the slow drip of international humanitarian aid allowed in on that generous whim of the occupation officer:  perhaps one more time so that the wasting body of Gaza can take in another breath. Just the right place to build a Dubai on the Mediterranean, an American journalist once put it, just as the ‘disengagement’ phase of the siege kicked in.

 

That same journalist and his buddies in the overseas Western press offices will have been the first to confirm for you in today’s ‘respectable’ news Israel’s interpretation of the events, mentioning as if in a footnote to the weekend’s activities, Israel’s recently announced Public Relations’ push intended to make any major military offensive into Gaza palatable to the outside world by sucking the humanity out of the 230+ bodies before they were even dead: the strikes on Gaza were taken as necessary ‘security measures’ after repeated attempts to maintain a ‘ceasefire’ had failed when ‘Hamas operatives’ fired rockets into ‘civilian areas’ in Israel. This myth will be left unchallenged because there is too much power behind it to jeopardize whole careers; and because it is much easier to accept the fact that your government just backed the pre-meditated murder of over 200 terrorists –and a few wannabes—than it is to realize that the overwhelming number of dead were completely innocent; that they had died for wanting a job, a paycheck and a sliver of dignity.

 

“HAMAS”… the word that, in this case, renders any action taken by the other side, no matter how barbaric or sadistic, legitimate. Couple any noun with the preceding adjective “Hamas” and it will be immediately quarantined as if tainted by some infectious bacteria. This is how to dehumanize a million and a half people overnight; how to render them different from us and dangerous to us.  While it is true that a poll showing what the average American knows about Hamas might be cause for concern; a poll showing what the average elite-educated American knows about Hamas would reveal immediately how effective voluntary indoctrination in democratic societies has become and why those with the power to stop crimes against humanity overnight refuse to do so even after they understand that what they’re doing is wrong.

 

From the 7th floor of his high-rise apartment building looking out over Gaza City on Saturday night, S. describes the view as “a sea of blackness”. The familiar twinkling of lights that defines the contours of a city after dark is missing, as if the place itself had been erased from the earth.  Without electricity, without cooking gas or automobile fuel; without heat to warm the winter-chilled flats across this stretch of land, or generators to back up the hospitals and clinics; without supplies for schools and universities, for personal and collective health and hygiene, or for repairing any part of this broken down hovel of a strip; without water to drink or cook with or bathe in, without reading lamps and, lately, without the candles or other substitutes used for light, people are making haste to adjust yet again to the latest set of conditions imposed upon them as the US-backed siege of Gaza closes in on another dying December day.

 

Their resilience is inspirational but painful. Tomorrow S. will head down to Rafah, to the border city, where kerosene is still available albeit for quadruple the normal price –or more: A system of nearly 800 smuggling tunnels running from Rafah, Gaza to Rafah, Egypt, controlled by a few savvy black-marketeer families and up to now tacitly supported by Israel, appears to be nearing collapse as well as everything else. Rumors of an Israeli Air Force strike that would doom the last remaining big business venture in the Strip have helped shut them down, even the ones licensed by the Hamas government, which got its share of goods for the best prices as the once-illegal smuggling industry turned for a brief period of time into Gaza’s only reliable all-purpose supply-line. On Sunday the rumors caved in on the tunnels as bulldozers and bomber jets blasted them flat. Now the supply line has been cut, the siege persists, the US condemns Hamas, refusing to ask for Israeli restraint. In Rafah, the demise of the tunnels – like the recently re-fortified border closure on the Egyptian side of the Crossing—has an ominous finality about it that should give us pause before we turn our faces away.

 

Major General Yoav Galant of the Israeli Southern Command declared Saturday that an attack on the Hamas regime must ‘send Gaza decades into the past’ militarily and must cause the “maximum number of enemy casualties” (Haaretz, 12/28/08; by Uri Blau, By “enemy” he means “Palestinian” as the evidence overwhelmingly shows; and if Galant is to be taken seriously according to his own perceptions of the “enemy” and of the time frame within which an operation of this sort is possible, we have reached a milestone in the history of the Palestinian National Movement and in the life of Gaza that bodes ill for the dream of Palestine while sharpening the regional fault lines that have crystallized beneath the Rafah sands.

 

Jennifer Loewenstein is Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She can be reached at amadea311@earthlink.net

http://www.counterpunch.org/

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CounterPunch Diary: The Medusa's Head

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

December 26-28, 2008

 

Conspiracism is raising its Medusa’s head again, her lethal visage wreathed with hissing absurdities, immobilizing judgement, melting intellect to pumice.

 

Journalist Russ Baker suggests in a new book, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It In The White House, And What Their Influence Means for America, “the strong possibility” (I quote from a respectful resume of his conclusions) that the 41st president, G.H.W.Bush, father of the present resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, “was involved in assassinating President Kennedy, and that Bush was involved in staging the Watergate break-in (and the break-in at Dan Ellsberg's psychiatrist's) with the purpose of having these break-ins exposed and the blame placed on President Nixon.”

 

We’re back with the old notion of a secret, all-powerful permanent government, engendered in the WASP-nest of Skull and Bones, headquartered in Langley and locked in alternate collusion and combat with another permanent secret all-powerful government, headquartered in Zion and, if we are to believe the conspiracists, exultant at this hour at the tremendous coup of Bernie Madoff’s supposed victims.

 

Coup? I refer you to a scenario circulating the internet, titled “The Madoff Double Bluff” and credited to Muhammad Rafeeq, who makes the fatal presupposition – very common among conspiracists – that things work in the fashion advertised by the manufacturer on the outside of the box. As many children and parents learn at this time of year, this is not always the case.

 

In Rafeeq’s case, he assumes that fund managers and bankers invariably exercise due diligence on behalf of their clients, subjecting each proposed investment vehicle to merciless scrutiny. In the mighty backwash of the Fall of the House of Madoff, we are learning once again that many fund managers and bankers did no such thing. Whether in Switzerland, London or New York, they established themselves as feeders for Madoff and rushed him the money entrusted to them by their eager customers without a qualm, winning handsome commissions from Madoff for so doing.

 

But since Rafeeq thinks that Madoff’s operations were under conscientious scrutiny, he concludes that “there is no way Madoff could have been pulling a scam.” Having established his initial erroneous assumption as the foundation of his conspiracy, Rafeeq then raises a Gothick folly on this sand, claiming that the dirty work afoot here was not a Ponzi scheme (impossible because of zealous scrutineers) but an insurance fraud, led by Madoff to cover genuine losses from Madoff’s trades by claiming a Ponzi scheme and taking full responsibility:

 

Rather than saying this hedge fund has gone bust, due to its choice of investment assets and investment methologies, a scenario which is highly probable in the current financial paradigm, since all the professionals are predicting that at least 30% of all hedge funds are about to fail, more than 700 of them, the CEO [Madoff]  chooses to fess up to fraud. If the CEO admits the fund has gone bust, then all those wealthy members of the Jewish community get nothing, but if the CEO admits to fraud they get their money back as compensation from the US taxpayer, just as they are also drawing money back from the taxpayers with the other hand.

 

In other words, it’s a vast Jewish conspiracy, rather flattering to the Jews, as such conspiracy theories often are. (For such reasons Benjamin Disraeli, for one, liked to foster the notion that indeed the Jews are all-powerful.) Just as he assumes that all fund managers are conscientious, Rafeeq obviously thinks Jews are too smart to lose money.

 

I sent Rafeeq’s reflections along to CounterPuncher Pam Martens, a former Wall Street stockbroker who really did exercise due diligence on behalf of her clients and who was on to Madoff’s game back in the early 1990s. I strongly recommend her recent piece on the Madoff affar on this site, which we ran last Monday.

 

Martens wrote me back as follows:

 

The author [i.e. Rafeeq] is missing a few important points. First of all, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) will only cover a maximum of $500,000 per account owner; some accounts had tens of millions in them. Secondly, the account owner would have to show beyond a shadow of doubt that they actually gave money to Madoff in order to seek a SIPC refund and would be subject to jail time themselves if they lied. Since Madoff never owned a bank, all records of incoming funds and outgoing funds, along with the name of the beneficial owner, would be easily accessible at his clearing banks, two of which are listed in court documents as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of New York Mellon. And, finally, the author neglects the most important point: why would Madoff be willing to spend the rest of his life in jail to make others rich from SIPC refunds. I'm not buying this story. My guess (and it's just a guess at this point) is the following happened: the people who had been with Madoff since the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s had multiplied their original investment (on paper) many times over at the fictional annual rate of 10 to 13 per cent. Many wanted out once the market was down over 40 per cent. Once he paid them out, he had little left to meet regular income payouts and meet his high family salaries, overhead, multiple homes, yachts, private plane interests, office and payroll in London, country club memberships on Long Island and Palm Beach, etc. Then, apparently, some large redemptions were requested, totaling $7 billion. If he didn't pay, those people would have turned him in anyway. He had no choice but to fess up.

 

There’s now much bellowing about the need for new regulations to head off the Madoffs of tomorrow. Such calls have the effect of suggesting that there were no locks on the stable door and that hence no one was really to blame for not checking that the stable door was securely shut. The deregulatory binge of the last few years notwithstanding, there are still plenty of locks – that is, regulations – on the books which, if actually used, would have stopped Madoff in his tracks. But the regulators and overseers were corrupted. In her piece for CounterPunch, Martens quoted the detailed 21-page denunciation of Madoff to the SEC in 2005 by Harry Markopoulos, outlining with great accuracy the huge fraud underway. The letter was dismissed out of hand by the SEC, one of whose regulators married Madoff’s daughter, a union given a rapturous retrospective green light in the New York Times after the scandal broke.

 

Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC was a crime scene for 20 years at least, and it looks as though half Wall Street was privy to the fact, not to mention the regulators and the politicians in Congress in receipt of their portion of the $590,000 which, from 1998 through 2008, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities spent lobbying Congress and the SEC, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It was a huge conspiracy, though not in the least like the one sketched in by Rafeeq. Conspiracies, like accidents, very often turn out to be normalcy suddenly raised to the level of drama.

 

Against Saviors

 

My brother Patrick called on Christmas Day, from his home in Canterbury. Opposite his house is St. Dunstan’s church, containing the head of Sir Thomas Moore, retrieved by his daughter Margaret after her father was beheaded in 1535 for refusing to sign the Act that declared Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church in England. Patrick’s house is as old as St. Dunstans and contains a right of way, through which custom decreed that pastoralists could lead their sheep. One of these days I’ll rent a flock and ratify the right, just in case the brother has any notion of privatizing the whole of his premises.

 

Patrick reported that he and his family had gone along that morning to listen to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, give his Christmas sermon. He said it was pretty good. I looked it up online, and the brother was right. It was a bracing critique of “great man” theories of change, specifically citing excessive hopes, now vested in Barack Obama.

 

“In recent weeks,” the Archbishop  declared, “we've seen some of Barack Obama's advisers and colleagues warning about the level of messianic expectation loaded on to the president-elect.

 

“The gospel tells us something hard to hear – that there is not going to be a single charismatic leader or a dedicated political campaign or a war to end all wars that will bring the golden age…

 

“There is a savior, born so that all may have life in abundance, a savior … hidden in the form of poverty and insecurity, a displaced person … whose authority does not come from popularity, problem-solving or anything else in the human world. He is the presence of the power of creation itself.

 

“It is not the restoring of a golden age, not even a return to the Garden of Eden; it is more – a new creation, a new horizon for us all…

 

“And our own following of the Word made flesh is what gives us the resources to be perennially suspicious of claims about the end of history or the coming of some other savior exercising some other sort of power. To follow him is to take the risks of working at these small and stubborn outposts of newness, taking our responsibility and authority.

 

“We can't pass the buck to Caesar Augustus, Barack Obama or even Canterbury City Council – though we may pray for them all and hope that they will play their part in witnessing to new possibilities.”

 

Not bad at all. The last year the liberals and a lot of the left here have passed the buck entirely to Obama.

 

It’s Not Over Till it’s Over

 

I drove north to Olympia from Petrolia, California, a couple of days before Christmas. Advised by co-editor St. Clair, himself ice-bound in Oregon City, that I-5 was closed, I aimed the ’62 Belvedere station wagon from Crescent City up the Oregon coast, and was duly rewarded by ravishing landscapes all the way to Astoria. Here’s where the blizzards are brought in by the cold air currents rushing down the Columbia River Gorge from the Inland Empire. There was plenty of snow in Astoria, also on either side of State route 30. The Belvedere shimmied a couple of time but took me gallantly east to the Lewis and Clark bridge over the Columbia into Washington and the final 70 miles of the 745 mile drive.

 

I had plenty of time to ponder the ups and down of ’08, which I’ll evoke in my Diary next week. For now, let me rally CounterPunchers to one last thought in ’08 for our future.  We’ve had a strong year. Month after month, our site has attracted millions of unique visitors. Our newsletters have been well received and have won new subscribers. CounterPunch Books enjoy a steady sale. It’s an encouraging picture and all of us here, at CounterPunch, thank you for your donations and subscriptions, but the edgy fact remains that in financial terms we’re never more than an inch or two from the edge of the cliff. We need every penny we can get, and so as we head to year’s end, and if you haven’t been wiped out by Bernie Madoff and feel that you have something to send our way, remember that all donations are tax deductible.

 

Donate now if you can!

 

Our latest newsletter has three very strong pieces – starting with Bill and Kathy Christison’s powerful description of the fearful sufferings inflicted on Gaza by Israel and the United States. Barbara Rose Johnston takes us to the Guatemalan gravesites of one more human catastrophe instigated by the terror network known as the World Bank. I review the grim Bush record on freedom and constitutional protections

 

Alexander Cockburn can be reached at alexandercockburn@asis.com

http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn12262008.html

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The Boming of Gaza: "An Earthquake On Top of Your Head"

By Dr. EYAD AL SERRAJ

December 26-28, 2008

 

The bombing went on for about 10 minutes. It was like an earthquake on top of your head. The windows were shaking and squeaking. My 10-year-old was terrified, he was jumping from one place to another trying to hide. I held him tight to my chest and tried to give him some security and reassure him. My 12-year-old was panicking and began laughing hysterically, it's not normal. I held her hand and calmed her and told her she would be safe. My wife was panicking. She was running around the apartment looking for somewhere to hide.

 

We live on the ground floor so we headed to the basement.

 

Not very far from our home is the headquarters of the police and there was a massive bomb. The chief of police was killed. Two streets away there was another bomb and more people were killed. The office of the president is about one kilometre from our house and it was also bombed.

 

We went downstairs to the basement and tried to hide ourselves from the shelling. The child of one of our relatives, who lives in our building, finally came home from school. We hadn't been able to find her. All the phone connections were jammed. She came home and she was in a very serious state of shock. She was pale and trembling and she was describing dead bodies in the streets. On her way home she passed Hamas people in uniform and they were dead.

 

I had been very apprehensive when I woke up this morning. I had some bread, some cheese and a glass of tea. Like all the people in Gaza I felt that something was going on and something very serious. When Israel allowed the delivery of food and fuel [when it ended the blockade of Gaza yesterday] I said to myself and my friends that Israel is really planning a massive strike. They don't want to be blamed for starving the people.

 

I was sitting in the living room with my family trying to figure out what to do today for lunch, it's our main meal. What to cook and how to cook, whether we have enough to eat. There was no rice so I wanted to have lentil soup and my wife said "No, there's no lentils in the market." I said "What else can we do?" She said "I bought some cans of food." We were discussing this when suddenly the whole thing erupted. Suddenly there was a big explosion.

 

Right now I feel very anxious about what's going to happen. I'm worried about how many more people are going to die.

Dr Eyad Al Serraj is a practising psychologist in Gaza City.

Courtesy: Counterpunch

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/the-war-against-palestine;-what,-exactly,-is-israel-s-mission?/d/1082


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