Sunday, August 27, 2006

Noteworthy Commentary on the Middle-East

A small collection of recommended reading for alternative views on the middle-east:

Jimmy Carter:

"I don't think that Israel has any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon. What happened is that Israel is holding almost 10,000 prisoners, so when the militants in Lebanon or in Gaza take one or two soldiers, Israel looks upon this as a justification for an attack on the civilian population of Lebanon and Gaza. I do not think that's justified, no."

- Interview with Der Speigel, August 15, 2006

Juan Cole:
"Here is what the professionals are saying about the Republican-dominated Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy report on Iran that slams US intelligence professionals for poor intelligence on Iran: The report demonstrates that these Republicans have poor intelligence . . . on Iran. What follows is summaries of things I've seen from other experts but I can't identify them without permission..."

- Taken from "Republican Congressional Report on Iran Riddled With Errors" at Informed Comment, August 25, 2006

Stephen Zunes:
"There is increasing evidence that Israel instigated a disastrous war on Lebanon largely at the behest of the United States... Israel was a willing partner. Although numerous Israeli press reports indicate that some Israeli officials, including top military officials, are furious at Bush for pushing Olmert into war, the Israeli government had been planning the attack since 2004."

- Taken from "How Washington Goaded Israel to Invade Lebanon" at CommonDreams.Org, August 19, 2006

Oren Ben-Dor:
"As its citizens are being killed, Israel is, yet again, inflicting death and destruction on Lebanon. It tries to portray this horror as necessary for its self-defense. Indeed, the casual observer might regard the rocket attacks on Israeli cities such as Haifa and my own home town, Nahariya, as justifying this claim."

"While states should defend their citizens, states which fail this duty should be questioned and, if necessary, reconfigured. Israel is a state which, instead of defending its citizens, puts all of them, Jews as well as non-Jews, in danger."

"What exactly is being defended by the violence in Gaza and Lebanon? Is it the citizens of Israel or the nature of the Israeli state? I suggest the latter. Israel's statehood is based on an unjust ideology which causes indignity and suffering for those who are classified as non-Jewish by either a religious or ethnic test. To hide this primordial immorality, Israel fosters an image of victimhood. Provoking violence, consciously or unconsciously, against which one must defend oneself is a key feature of the victim-mentality. By perpetuating such a tragic cycle, Israel is a terrorist state like no other."

- Taken from "Who Are the Real Terrorists in the Middle-East?", The Independent (UK), July 26, 2006

Bruce Dixon:
Imagine, if you will, a modern apartheid state with first, second and eleventh class citizens, all required to carry identification specifying their ethnic origin. First class citizens are obliged to serve in the armed forces, kept on ready reserve status until in their forties, and accorded an impressive array of housing, medical, social security, educational and related benefits denied all others.

Second class citizens are exempted from military service and from a number of the benefits accorded citizens of the first class. They are issued identity documents and license plates that allow them to be profiled by police at a distance. Second class citizens may not own land in much of the country and marriages between them and first class citizens are not recognized by the state. Second class citizens are sometimes arrested without trial and police torture, while frowned upon and occasionally apologized for, commonly occurs.

Citizens of the eleventh class, really not citizens at all, have no rights citizens of the first class or their government are bound to respect. Their residence is forbidden in nearly nine-tenths of the country, all of which they used to own. The areas left to them are cut up into smaller and smaller portions weekly, by high walls, free fire zones and hundreds of checkpoints manned by the army of the first class citizens, so that none can travel a dozen miles in any direction to work, school, shopping, a job, a farm, a business or a hospital without several long waits, humiliating searches and often arbitrary denials of the right to pass or to return. Posh residential settlements for the first class citizens with protecting gun towers and military bases are built with government funds and foreign aid on what used to be the villages and farms and pastures of the eleventh class citizens. The settlers are allotted generous additional housing and other subsidies, allowed to carry weapons and use deadly force with impunity against the former inhabitants, and are connected with the rest of first class territory by a network of of first-class citizen only roads.

Citizens of the eleventh class are routinely arrested, tortured, and held indefinitely without trial. Political activism among them is equated to “terrorism” and the state discourages such activity by means including but not limited to the kidnapping of suspects and relatives of suspects, demolition of their family homes, and extralegal assassination, sometimes at the hands of a death squad, or at others times by lobbing missiles or five hundred pound bombs into sleeping apartment blocks or noonday traffic. Passports are not issued to these citizens, and those who take advantage of scarce opportunities to study or work abroad are denied re-entry.

The apartheid state in question is, of course, Israel. Its first class citizens are Israeli Jews, the majority of them of European or sometimes American origin. The second class citizens are Israeli Arabs, who enjoy significant but limited rights under the law including token representation in the Knesset. The eleventh class citizens are not citizens at all. They are Palestinians.

- Taken from "Israeli Apartheid" at The Black Commentator, July 20, 2006

See also, B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.