Lessons from the Gaza War

Free Haifa

gaza_palestine_after_war_026

There are many reasons why I didn’t write any political analysis at the time of this bloody war.

One reason is that I only wanted the war to be over, to stop the bloodshed, while I knew that the longer Gaza can stand in the face of the Israeli genocidal rampage, the better the chance that the aggressors will not get what they want and that the siege of Gaza, which, in the long term, is even more destructive to Human lives and development, will be lifted.

But the best excuse is that throughout this war the monstrous Israeli war machine seemed clumsy and clueless, while the Gaza resistance seemed to keep cool and know what they are doing.

I preferred to keep quiet and do my small thing by demonstrating against the aggression.

Now, that the war is over, what can we learn from it politically? I will…

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A Traditional Future

Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari uses local building techniques to rebuild villages in the flood-stricken Sindh region.

Yasmeen Lari - Architect

Yasmeen Lari is Pakistan’s first female architect and one of the most successful providers of disaster relief shelters in the world. She has built over 36,000 houses for victims of floods and earthquakes in Pakistan since 2010.

Shunning the structurally weak, mass-produced houses offered by international organisations, Lari uses vernacular techniques and local materials such as lime and bamboo. Her houses have a tiny carbon footprint and are simple enough for people to build themselves. With this, she hopes to demonstrate the role that architecture can play in humanitarian aid.

“I often tell my colleagues, let us not treat disaster-affected households as destitute, needing handouts … but with dignity,” she says.

Lari once built giant concrete and steel buildings for clients like the Pakistani State Oil company. But when disaster struck in 2005, she turned to traditional techniques to design flood and earthquake proof buildings for people in remote regions.

She returns to the Sindh region to see how her homes survived the 2013 floods and helps villagers in Awaran after the 2013 Balochistan earthquake.

Filmmaker’s view

By Faiza Ahmad Khan

Just a week before I left for Pakistan to film this documentary, the chief minister of my home state Rajasthan in India (which, incidentally, borders Sindh, the part of Pakistan that I was about to visit), pledged that within the next two years, there would be not a single mud house left standing in the state.

For many years the central government in India has already had a programme in place, which gives those in rural areas a sum of money to replace their traditional mud houses with brick and cement structures. Traditional is seen as poor and inferior and the fast track to “development” cannot, God forbid, be lined with mud and thatch houses.

While filming in Pakistan, I shared our chief minister’s announcement with an artisan who works with Yasmeen Lari at the Heritage Foundation in a village called Moak Sharif in Sindh.

“Thank God we’re decades behind India in this development business,” he said.

On one of my travels in Orissa in India, to a village called Govindpur that is resisting land acquisition for the mega steel company, POSCO, I met a woman who was rebuilding her kachcha house (made of natural materials, such as mud, bamboo and leave) despite being able to access government funding for a concrete house.

“We depend on this land for everything, we take what we know can be replenished. People in cities have no connection with the land so they don’t think twice about cutting down trees, mining the earth hollow. You think you’re separate from nature but you’re not. If this goes, you go,” she said.

What I am constantly being reminded of, as this country builds the capitalist dream, is that we stand to lose the wealth of traditional knowledge that pivots around this belief – ways to farm, heal, learn and live.

At the Heritage Foundation centre in Moak Sharif, Yasmeen Lari has been working to preserve traditional ways of building. The centre was set up by Yasmeen and her team in 2005 and has evolved to include a women’s centre, a small learning centre for children and a clinic to provide health care for the residents of the village.

Yasmeen believes that her role as an architect should not be restricted to designing houses and buildings. Instead, things should grow in an integrated way.

While I was there, they managed to get the government school, once barely functioning, in working order. Women from the village had organised themselves into a ‘mothers committee’ to oversee the school’s daily operations. And after I returned to India, every once in a while, Yasmeen would call and explain, with great delight, something new they were experimenting with – organic farming, bio fertilizers and natural soaps.

Through the making of this film I realised that building the “earth-way” means fluidity, not concreteness. It means working with the community, integrating it with structures of support and togetherness. Building homes, for Yasmeen, is about situating them. She guides her team to create this kind of space. Traditional, yes, but by no means can this approach be deemed irrelevant. More

 

 

New book reveals top-secret collusion between Israel, US during twenty years of “peace talks”

“I’ll back you and protect you, I’m your guy … it’s very upsetting … all the Arabs are the same,” US PresidentBill Clinton told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in a 19 July 2000 meeting during the failed Camp David summit with Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat.

Only months earlier, in March 2000, Clinton displayed the same kind of obeisance to Barak — albeit without the racist slur this time — when he explained, “I’ll do my best … I’ve gone through the script … I’ll do a good job.” He said this while he attempted to reassure Barak during another failed summit, this time with then-president of Syria Hafez al-Assad.

That the US government has acted as Israel’s attorney rather than an honest mediator in peace negotiations has been known for some time, ever since the disclosure of a secret 1975 letter from President Gerald Ford to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

But these quotes from Ahron Bregman’s Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories (2014), which includes the actual “script” agreed upon between Clinton and Barak, make graphically clear the extent of the collusion between the two governments.

Top secret disclosures

Bregman’s book breaks new ground with a number of leaked top secret disclosures from Israeli sources. It shows that the recent revelation that Israel eavesdropped on current US Secretary of State John Kerry is really nothing new.

Israel also secretly recorded conversations between Clinton and Assad back in 2000. The only question unanswered is why, given the extent of the collusion, the Israeli government believed it was necessary to eavesdrop on its counterpart.

Bregman is a British-Israeli political scientist who teaches in the War Studies Department of King’s College London. He served in the Israeli army during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. But during the first intifada, he openly announced his refusal to serve in the “occupied territories,” in an interview with Israeli newspaperHaaretz.

Facing prison for his refusal, he emigrated to the UK where he obtained a doctoral degree, and subsequently began a career as a lecturer and journalist, eventually authoring four other books on Israel.

Bregman believes that Cursed Victory is the first chronological history of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria’s Golan Heights, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula following the 1967 war. His book differs from other studies which he says take a more thematic or analytical approach to the post-1967 occupation.

Perspective

Bregman’s perspective is that of a liberal Zionist. He briefly describes the 1947-1948 Nakba — the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland — as a “civil war,” and suggests that Israel emerged as a colonialist country only after the 1967 war, hence the book’s title.

This perspective eventually weakens his concluding chapter and mars his analysis of the failure of Clinton’s Camp David summit. Nevertheless, many Palestinian voices are heard in the course of his chronology, and he rigorously details how Israel implemented the “three main pillars” of its post-1967 occupation through military force, laws and bureaucratic regulations and settlements — in the process, trampling on international law and Palestinians’ human rights.

Bregman’s top secret material appears mostly in the later chapters, which cover the period between 1995 and 2007 when his chronology ends. Many of the documents are not surprising, and their contents could be deduced from both US and Israeli public policy and behavior.

Still, the documentation reinforces what Palestinians have long maintained. We get to read, for example, the actual text of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s reaffirmation of the US pledge to consult first with Israel in peace talks.

In a secret 1998 letter to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Albright promised: “Recognizing the desirability of avoiding putting forward proposals that Israel would consider unsatisfactory, the US will conduct a thorough consultation process with Israel in advance with respect to any ideas the US may wish to offer the parties for their consideration.” As Bregman notes, this effectively gave “Israel carte blanche to veto any American peace proposals” it didn’t like.

Arafat’s death

Many Palestinians have long suspected that Israel assassinated Arafat by poisoning him. Bregman’s revelations point to this conclusion as well, although he concedes that the information leaked to him to date does not contain the “smoking gun” proof.

The clearest indication, he writes, is a 15 October 2000, document prepared by the Shabak (or Shin Bet), Israel’s secret service, which describes Arafat “as a serious threat to the security of the state. His disappearance outweighs the benefits of his continuing existence.”

After noting that in 2004, US President George W. Bush appeared to release Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from an earlier commitment not to harm Arafat, Bregman states that the US government had given Sharon “if not a green light to proceed with the killing, then at least an amber” light.

Ignoring Palestinian response

Bregman’s liberal Zionism is apparent in several instances in this work, including his suggestion that if Israel had used greater force it might have avoided the first intifada in 1987. But the most obvious example is his acceptance of the notion that the so-called Clinton Parameters, outlined after the failure of Camp David, represented the best deal the Palestinians could have hoped to get.

The deal Clinton offered, he says, was Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram al-Sharif (Dome of the Rock), the principal Muslim holy site in Jerusalem, in exchange for giving up even a symbolic right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Whereas throughout most of the book Bregman is conscientious in representing Palestinian viewpoints, here he largely ignores the official response of the Palestinian negotiating team to the Clinton Parameters.

Nor does he suggest that Palestinian negotiators had little reason to trust Clinton after he had already broken two key promises: one, that Clinton would not blame Arafat if the summit failed (which Clinton did), and two, that Israel would continue to withdraw from the occupied West Bank if the summit failed (which Israel did not).

More to the point, Bregman effectively dismisses the Palestinian right of return as a fundamental human right central to their struggle and to a just peace.

The parameters guaranteed little more than limited autonomy for Palestinians in less than 22 percent of historic Palestine, not full state sovereignty, and the Palestinian Authority would have had to depend on Israeli goodwill to withdraw its military presence in the Jordan Valley twelve years from the agreement.

The result is a disappointing concluding chapter in which the author suggests that the post-1967 occupation will eventually end simply because history shows that occupations don’t last.

In his final paragraph, he distinguishes between “good” colonialists (the British) and “bad” colonialists (the Israelis), but his fixation on 1967 means he misses entirely that Israeli settler-colonialism began not in 1967, but in the years leading up to the founding of the state in 1948. More

Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He is active with Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter and the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign.

 

‘Mangrove Man’ inspired by world travel

He’s traveled half a million miles over the years – enough to go around the world 12 times, or to the moon and halfway back – so it’s little wonder that writer, photographer, conservationist and educator Martin Keeley continues to find inspiration for his work.

Keeley’s latest trips are with the Marvelous Mangrove education curriculum, a program that teaches schoolchildren about the importance of mangroves and the eco-systems which they support worldwide, as well as training teachers to teach both students and other teachers.

The program was developed by Cayman Brac-based Keeley in 1999 and initially was incorporated into Cayman’s primary school curriculum. It is part of the Mangrove Action Project, a conservation group comprised of more than 300 scientists and academics spanning more than 60 nations.

The Marvelous Mangrove program is now in 11 countries, with the expansion this year to South Sulawesi, Indonesia, and Queensland, Australia.

“For me, the mangrove trips continue to stimulate the creative process,” said the writer.

“They often inspire my poetry, and I reckon that in another six months or so I’ll have enough to publish another anthology. My photography also continues to benefit from my travels and exposure to other cultures and their environments.”

In addition, he says, he gets an in-depth perspective on the countries and the cultures where he works.

“I experience and observe firsthand their societies and the common problems they face – the huge and ever growing disparity between the obscenely wealthy and the desperately poor who are barely making it,” Keeley added.

“The contrasts I observed this summer between nations like Indonesia and Australia stimulate not only sympathy and anger between the haves and have-nots, but empathy with those whose daily struggle is that of survival, while others have little or no idea how lucky they are take for granted their secure and protective social environment.”

At the Indonesian trip, 30 teachers and educators spent three days in an intense workshop that, in the words of Keeley, “introduced them to the wonderful world of mangroves through hands-on science.”

A particular highlight was the surprise introduction of 15 school kids who came in and assisted for the afternoon, Keeley said.

“The setting is perfect, with elevated cabins connected by elevated walkways and the “hall” for the workshop itself in a Roman-style amphitheater that is open to the elements – roofed, but with shutters, not glass windows,” he said.

“The accommodation, theater and restaurant operate independent of the grid on solar power with water from local wells and storage systems which is treated through solar osmosis, although it sometimes has to be topped up by water trucks during the dry season. The food is all grown locally, and mostly seafood that is caught locally on a daily basis.”

The Australian leg of the trip, he said, was slightly different.

“Australia saw the launch of ‘Mangrovia,’ a huge inflatable red mangrove that students go inside to explore and hear storytelling,” Keeley said.

“In addition, Mangrovia’s creator, international festival artist Evelyn Roth, also designed and made 28 costumes of mangrove critters that are used in conjunction with the inflatable.

“Many Cayman students [and adults] have had similar experiences with my huge inflatable shark and the 30 mangrove critter costumes which go with it during the past 15 years! It’s an exciting way to learn.”

The issue of mangrove conservation has become more and more important in recent years, Keeley says, largely because of their environmental qualities.

“It has been known for many years, and the 2004 Asian Tsunami proved it beyond doubt, that mangroves are the first line of defense against major tropical storms, be they hurricanes or typhoons,” Mr. Keeley continued.

“Recent studies during the past six or seven years have also shown that, given the opportunity, mangroves will keep pace with sea level rise thereby extending that level of protection. In addition, recent research has shown that mangroves capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in leaves, roots, trunks and soil.

“No maximum storage capacity has been determined as the trees continuously store carbon in the soil for centuries or millennia. Obviously ripping out mangroves releases this stored CO2 and thereby adds to the acceleration of global warming.

“National governments from Vietnam and China to Belize and Guatemala have come to understand what local communities and scientists have been telling them for many years. Mangroves are the major source of more than 75 percent of reef species of fish and invertebrates – they are the spawning and nursery grounds for these species. Thousands of communities round the world rely on these aquatic species for their livelihoods and to feed their families.”

Next up for stamps on the increasingly-packed passport pages will be trips to Bangladesh and Kenya, scheduled for summer 2015. Keeley has already visited both briefly to get the ball rolling and he told Weekender that – funding permitting – translations of the materials and teacher training workshops will be introduced.

There seems no sign of slowing down there, either, for the Brac-based whirlwind.

“World-wide at least a dozen other countries are interested in the Marvellous Mangroves curriculum,” he concluded.

“As usual, it’s just a matter of time and, of course, money, to make it happen.” More

 

Revival of Political Islam in the Aftermath of Arab Uprisings: Implications for the Region and Beyond

Revival of Political Islam in the Aftermath of Arab Uprisings: Implications for the Region and Beyond

Authored by Dr. Mohammed El-Katiri.

Brief Synopsis

View the Executive Summary

Regime change during the Arab Spring allowed Islamist political forces that had long been marginalized to achieve political influence in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Morocco’s first government led by an Islamist party has been in power since January 2012. This trend caused widespread concern over the future direction of these states; but despite the tragic example of Egypt, few negative predictions have yet been borne out. The author cautions against an overly simplistic assessment of this rise in the influence and power of political Islam. He shows that the political crises besetting each of these Islamist governments are not necessarily of their own making, but instead are determined by objective circumstances. Dr. El-Katiri describes how, in several key respects, the aims of Islamist parties are in line with U.S. aspirations for the region.

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Did US intelligence tie Israel to 9/11?

Jonathan Cook

29 AUGUST 2014 Good to have Justin Raimondo at Anti-war.com set out the hugely suppressed but growing indicators that Israeli intelligence knew of the 9/11 attacks but failed to alert the Americans (while the Saudis were probably more directly involved in the attacks).

The definitive evidence is likely to be found in the censored 28 pages of the joint report of the intelligence committees of the two houses of Congress, as Raimondo highlights.

As to the Israeli interests at work in allowing 9/11 to take place, Raimondo misses revealing comments made by the two most senior Israeli intelligence officials at the time, statements I noted in my book “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations” (p. 103):

Israel’s National Security Adviser, General Uzi Dayan, and the head of the Mossad, Ephraim Halevy … reportedly told that year’s Herzliya conference [in 2001] that the 9/11 attacks were a ‘Hanukkah miracle’, offering Israel the chance to sideline and punish its enemies. Halevy spoke of the imminent arrival of ‘a world war different from all its predecessors’ and the emergence after 9/11 of a common perception combining ‘all the elements of Islamic terror into one clear and identifi able format’, creating ‘a genuine dilemma for every ruler and every state in our region. Each one must reach a moment of truth and decide how he will position himself in the campaign.’

Dayan, meanwhile, identified the targets, after Afghanistan, for the next stage of the regional campaign: ‘The Iran, Iraq and Syria triangle, all veteran supporters of terror which are developing weapons of mass destruction.’ He argued: ‘They must be confronted as soon as possible, and that is also understood in the US. Hezbollah and Syria have good reason to worry about the developments in this campaign, and that’s also true for the organizations and other states.’

Sounds like a rather accurate prediction of how things turned out, no?

The Haaretz article on 18 Dec 2001 that quoted the pair, written by Aluf Benn, now the paper’s editor-in-chief, was originally titled “For Israel, September 11 was a Hanukkah miracle”. The version on Haaretz that can now be found has excised all references to “Hanukkah” and “miracles”, and is under the much blander – and misleading – headline “Israel strives to import America’s war on terror“.

More likely, as I explain in my book, Israel tried to export to Washington, care of the neocons, its own “war on terror” – and its long-term designs for breaking up the Middle East into feuding sects and tribes. More

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2014/08/28/did-certain-foreign-governments-facilitate-the-911-attacks/

 

 

 

 

Jamaica to host Youth Climate Change Conference

caribbeanclimate

Youth Climate Change Conference Youth Climate Change Conference

The USAID-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) project is hosting a mock United Nations-style assembly on climate change at the inaugural Youth Climate Change Conference in Kingston, Jamaica on September 14, 2014.
Themed, "One Climate, One Future...Empowering Youth for Action" high school delegates will deliberate on the availability, access, and quality of water in Jamaica, a relevant and timely issue considering the country's current drought condition.
The assembly will discuss the rights and use of water across Jamaica's social and economic sectors, focusing on tourism, agriculture and fisheries, manufacturing and industry, health and recreation, and the environment. The deliberations will be collated to formulate a youth position on risk management strategies and actions for sustainable use of the resource in the face of a changing climate.
The conference will also incorporate a poster competition, exhibit of climate information, water…

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