And the spy wars continue…

5, December, 2011

A thorough treatment of all the Israeli stooges caught in Lebanon over the past three years is here. It is written by Nour Samaha, who poses the obvious question: if Lebanon’s telecom operators have been infiltrated by Israeli henchmen to the level where they had access to passwords and software enabling them to change data, including ttrack records of calls and names associated with phones, where does that leave the STL investigation? The STL has accused first Syria and then Hizbullah of being behind Hariri’s murder, but all their evidence – besides being circumstantial and inconclusive even in  their own admission – is based on telecom data… unless you count the paid false witnesses which have already been discarded.

Meanwhile, the Iranians have apparently captured a US drone – presumably using the same hacking techniques employed by Hizbullah and the Mahdi Army of Muqtada Al Sadr since at least 2004, and the Israelis were forced (again!) to blow up one of their eavesdropping devices after it was discovered by Hizbullah. An “Iranian military official quoted on Iranian state television claimed that an Iranian military cyber-warfare unit “managed to take over controls of the drone and bring it down”. This on top of the CIA being forced to close down its Beirut station (or at least pretend to do so). Seems the powers that (used to) be are getting seriously sloppy and complacent these days… Only question is: if HA can control the Israeli drones, why did they allow them to blow up their telecoms toy? Or are they playing on US/Israeli hubris and reserving the big surprise for a more appropriate occasion?

PS On HA’s technical capabilities, see also Abu Muqawama (aka Andrew Exum)’s interview with Nick Blanford here – although regardless of Exum’s praise for Blanford, I maintain that he should not be taken at face value, as he has been employed by the Hariri faction and wrote a entire hagiographic, biased and totally flawed book about Hariri;s murder which was literally paid for and distributed by Saad Hariri.

PS2 Rumours are doing the rounds that the Iranians downed the Lockheed-Boeing drone using the ‘special Russian-made radio-electronic warfare system ‘Avtobaza’ delivered to Iranians few weeks ago’. This, incidentally, points to the greater war games going on behind the Iran/Syria/HA vs US/Israel- screen, and which involve Russia and China on the former side – still covertly and timidly now, but I would not be surprised if the Chinese were to announce soon that they had placed nuclear missiles in Iran – just in case anybody would stop barking and think of actually biting… I have said it before: whenever capitalism faces a structural and systemic global crisis, it needs to start a global war to save its skin. Whether the coming exercise in global slaughter will be won by neo-liberal capitalism or by state capitalism remains to be seen, however…

Hizbullah’s technical prowess

25, November, 2011

Several articles have appeared recently in the US which finally have the CIA acknowledging that their Lebanese station and network of informers have been virtually dismantled by Hizbullah, closely on the heels of HA finishing off the Israeli network of spies in 2009. See here and here, as well as here for a Lebanese perspective. That basically means that the Israel/US combine has lost a lot of its ability to independently assess HA’s military and will now have to rely on its Lebanese M14 partners, who are not only notoriously unreliable and prone to exaggerate or belittle facts as it suits them, but also have very little inside information on HA themselves. In a separate article, Nicholas Blanford also discusses HA’s military capabilities and its possible reaction to a potential Israeli and/or US attack on Iran. Now, Blanford is himself virtually a mouthpiece of the M14/Hariri camp and certainly not likely to have access to HA insiders, but much of what he argues in the article is common knowledge in Lebanon anyway, or can be deduced by simple common sense. Obviously, in a climate of constant warmongering of Israel and the US (and even the UK recently has joined the chorus) against Iran, HA will work out a contingency plan – they did that a long time ago already, and Blanford’s suggestion of dramaticvally expanded recruitment into HA’s military is just for propaganda purposes – neatly coinciding with the CIA’s admission – and why now, after months of official denial, as many ask – of its failure in Lebanon.

But the real question is: will the ‘western’ side actually be as foolishly suicidal to actually attack Iran militarily? Rationally speaking, they don’t stand a chance to achieve any military objective in doing so – not even taking out the ‘nuclear capabilities’ of Iran, if indeed any capabilities beyond energy generation are present, which has never been proven yet. The new IAEA report does not offer a single new fact or shred of evidence, its new chief has just rewritten and re-interpreted old known data to suit the US and Israel’s purposes. On the other hand, as an overwhelming majority of analysts and commentators keep pointing out, Iran has enormous capabilities of more conventional retaliation, starting with closing off the street of Hormuz and with it 40% of the world’s oil supply (and a far greater percentage of the ‘west’s oil supply), continuing with HA and Hamas attacking and possibly invading Israel and possibly even escalating to the point where China, Russia and India decide that they cannot afford to have an important business partner undergo the fate of Iraq or Afghanistan.

Then again, at times when capitalism is undergoing a major global crisis – as it must in its perpetual boom-and-bust cycle – the way out has historically involved starting a major global war. As anti-capitalist protests are growing in size around the globe, and most threateningly in the core areas of the capitalist system, this is becoming an increasingly attractive possibility for the elite. Additionally, Israel and the US may decide that, having lost what eyes and ears they had inside HA, this might be the last opportunity to have a go at destroying it with any chance – however slim – of succeeding. In any case, if the ‘west’ is foolish enough to actually start that war, the outcome will be the end of Israel as we know it – and the end of a lot more of the world as we know it…

Update: 12 more CIA assets have reportedly been arrested in Iran. Here is a debunking of what seems to be a desparate damage control effort of the Mossad, who have not realised yet that their carefully crafted Hollywood glamour image is no longer fooling anyone…

In the middle of the west

12, November, 2011

Since I returned to Belgium last September, my blogging activity has sort of moved to my facebook account – somehow, I never really succeeded to make a satisfactory link in my mind between blogging about Lebanon and blogging about Belgium/Europe. I have also been very busy professionally and with our new family. And yet all the time – at least from the birth of our daughter on the very  first day of the Tunisian uprising on December 18th last year, the connexion has been staring me in the face. As Juan Cole puts it very eloquently on Tomdispatch:

‘If we focus on economic trends, then the neoliberal state looks eerily similar, whether it is a democracy or a dictatorship, whether the government is nominally right of center or left of center.  As a package, deregulation, the privatization of public resources and firms, corruption and forms of insider trading, and interference in the ability of workers to organize or engage in collective bargaining have allowed the top 1% in Israel, just as in Tunisia or the United States, to capture the lion’s share of profits from the growth of the last decades.

Observers were puzzled by the huge crowds that turned out in both Tunis and Tel Aviv in 2011, especially given that economic growth in those countries had been running at a seemingly healthy 5% per annum. “Growth,” defined generally and without regard to its distribution, is the answer to a neoliberal question.  The question of the 99% percent, however, is: Who is getting the increased wealth?  In both of those countries, as in the United States and other neoliberal lands, the answer is: disproportionately the 1%.

If you were wondering why outraged young people around the globe are chanting such similar slogans and using such similar tactics (including Facebook “flash mobs”), it is because they have seen more clearly than their elders through the neoliberal shell game.’

As Cole puts it: the focus of our corporate mass media in the ‘west’ on the emergence of islamist parties in ‘democratized’ Middle East is a conscious orientalisation intended to divert attention from the obvious similarities between the elites and their imposed economic system in east and west alike. The Muslim Brotherhood coming to (some) power is in no way different from the christian parties who have dominated or participated in European governments for over a hundred years. And Ben Ali’s family dominating the banking system and economy of Tunisia is not different from, say, Dehaene, Schouppe, Daems and all these neoliberal corrupt Belgian politicians selling public assets to their cronies for ridiculously cheap prices, then going on to sit on the boards of the corporations who benefited. The point is that our financial and political elites share all the wealth between them that was created by generations of tax payers, and then leaving those tax payers to pay for the resulting loss of income and debts incurred by ‘their’ state. Odious debts here as in Egypt, Greece or the US.

And the same protest movements are springing up here as there. The 99% are finally opening their eyes and this will have a serious effect globally in the next few years. Even if capitalism succeeds in plunging the world into another world war – which is what happens after every serious ‘crisis’, and is fully part of the cycle of the capitalist system – people might still succeed in toppling the oppressive government systems. Both the revolutions of 1789 and 1917 happened as a result of disastrous wars. It is time to get on with the unfinished business of 1789 in particular. Separating the executive, legislative and judicial powers was a step in the right direction, but neglecting to also separate and strictly regulate the economic and information powers (i.e. education and media) has rendered this separation practically meaningless, as wealthy individuals still have the power to buy the officials – whether elected or appointed – manning our  legislative, executive and judicial institutions.

The power – and subservience to the 1% – of the media becomes obvious just by observing how the only country that has managed to resolve its financial problems in a truly democratic way – i.e. Iceland – is totally blacked out from the news, while the mere proposal of Greek prime minister Papandreou of submitting the ‘solution’ of austerity measures to the people was enough to get him dismissed, while all of our ‘democratic’ European leaders were shouting and screaming about such a ‘disastrous’ proposal. While the new government of Iceland has issued international arrest warrants for its own banksters, our own governments continue to sacrifice their sovereignty and our democracy to unelected and privately owned ratings agencies and banksters.

How long until the guillotine makes its glorious return to decapitate the nouveau ancien regime?


Wikileaks 2006 war: the full series…

22, March, 2011

Yalla, I haven’t had a lot of time to post sequels to the former posts and have been bypassed by the good people at Friday Lunch Club (several posts, scroll down) and Qifa Nabki, so I won’t bother quoting a lot of the other cables. The full series, by the way, can be accessed here on the invaluble Al Akhbar’s website (the actual cables are of course in the original English). Enjoy – or maybe rather, shudder to think…

Just one salient quote I cannot resist posting here: ‘Separately, former UNIFIL spokesman Timur Goksel told econoff that he saw the Israeli ground incursion as exactly what Hizballah wanted. Goksel’s contacts in Hizballah told him that they hope “Israel stays awhile.” Hizballah officials told Goksel that only 17 Hizballah fighters had delayed the Israeli advance on Maroun el-Ras and exacted a heavy price on the IDF. (Seven of those 17 were killed in the fighting, according to the same officials.) Hizballah officials also told Goksel that Hizballah has lost only 30 fighters in the two weeks of war so far. Hizballah officials were further encouraged, according to Goksel, because the heavy fighting that bloodied Israeli forces in Maroun el-Ras and Bint Jbeil was carried out by local Hizballah militiamen, not their elite “Special Forces.” According to Goksel, Hizballah is holding back its best fighters in the event of a larger Israeli invasion. 7. (C/NF) Hizballah welcomes ground fighting not only because it levels the playing field, according to Goksel. It also distracts from Hizballah’s anxiety over the aftereffects of the war. Many Hizballah officials are worried that, although morale within Hizballah’s military wing remains high, they will have to justify to their constituents the suffering caused by the war. An invasion would provide a convenient distraction and a ready justification to continue fighting.”‘

Meanwhile, the glorious IDF is doing again what it does best: terrorising unarmed civilians: today, freshly returned from bombing children in Gaza, the ‘most moral army in the world’ kidnapped two Lebanese shepherds. No IDF casualties were reported (yet)…

Lebanon 2006 wikileaks on Al Akhbar website

19, March, 2011

Links: to

I love this one – /node/6860: august 5, towards the end: ‘UNSYG’s Personal Representative for Lebanon Geir Pedersen stressed that Israeli military action would not achieve the intended political objectives and that the longer it took to reach a cease-fire, the greater the prospect of a “total collapse” in Lebanon. Pedersen provided a laundry list of “doomsday” scenarios including a Hizballah attack on Tel Aviv, an influx of al-Qaeda-styled militants into Lebanon, and Samir Ja’ja “going mad and declaring his own kingdom.”

There is also the maronite patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir holding high christian values such as charity and love for fellow human beings in a distressed situation (node/6858): ‘Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, the highest authority in Lebanon’s Maronite Christian community, noted repeatedly in the meeting that he is troubled by the displaced Shi,a who are seeking refuge in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. He was clear that the Shia cannot remain in ‘this region’ and must go back to ‘their areas’. He acknowledged that resettling people from Beirut,s southern suburb, where crowded ten-story apartment buildings are now flattened, would be the starkest challenge. He added that jobs and temporary housing in the south are essential to attract Shia out of the schools and churches where they are currently housed. He warned that if immediate action is not taken to relocate the Shia back to the south they will move further into the Mount Lebanon region. Ambassador assured Sfeir that the return of displaced Shia to the south would be one of the top priorities in the post-conflict agenda.’

6869: a nice gem from the Israeli side (Dov Weissglas talking): ‘What would have Sharon done?

It is unlikely that Nasrallah expected that Hizballah’s strike would provoke a big crisis. There were too many variables that he could not have forecast, including that one of the cameras on the border had malfunctioned, allowing the Hizballah team to approach without being detected; that two soldiers would be captured alive; that the IDF would immediately launch a half-baked rescue attempt that would hit a mine and incur eight more casualties, upping the ante for Israel; etc.
— Given the circumstances, Sharon might not have even reacted to the kidnapping of the two soldiers, certainly not immediately. If he had responded, Sharon would have known not to set ambitious goals (e.g., the rescue of the soldiers; the destruction of Hizballah) that were beyond his power to

deliver. When Olmert and Peretz did, they were forced to continue military operations. The longer the war dragged on, the worse they looked.
— Instead, Sharon would have just said that we had to punish Hizballah. Then he could have let them have it for a few days and declared victory whenever he chose.
— Olmert and Peretz placed too much faith in what they were told and had no experience that could allow them to suggest alternatives. Sharon knew that IDF Generals always exaggerate capabilities. “Arik always said, take everything they tell you and divide it by ten.” Peretz, in particular, had no such “BS detector”.’

As always: check Friday Lunch Club for updates such as:’Elias Murr: “We will prevent missiles lauch from SOLIDERE … & Marwan Hamadeh: “We should erect an electric fence along the Syrian-Lebanese border“…’ and ‘Abdallah of Jordan: “Send a multinational force to destroy Hezbollah!”

More sources: Angry Arab should of course be daily reading for you anyway, and Nicholas Noe has this to say on the wikileaks, and especially on Naharnet – which should be avoided by anyone seriously interested in Lebanon anyway…

More 2006 leaks

17, March, 2011

Poor credulous misguided soul: “SUBJECT: SINIORA BELIEVES HE HAS THE CONFIDENCE OF HIS PEOPLE, THE SUPPORT OF HIS CABINET, AND THE COMMITMENT OF THE FRENCH” is publishing the cables in full here (thanks, Bilal) – be warned though: this is the website of Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and they are likely to omit stuff that ius embarrassing for their party and allies…

Here is the link to this cable at al Akhbar, the Lebanese newspaper which has been receiving the cables directly from Wikileaks and publishing them first.
Jadaliyya sums it all up nicely: ‘So now we know. In 2006, as Israel was bombing Lebanese highways, power supplies, the airport, and oil reservoirs, the Lebanese Prime Minister was hoping that Israel would finish “the job” quickly and successfully. Now we know. As over a quarter of the population was displaced from their homes under the threat of missiles, tank fire and artillery, the then commander of the army and now president of Lebanon, was letting the Israeli government know that the Lebanese army would stand down. As 10,000 homes were destroyed and over 1,300 Lebanese citizens (1/3 of them children) were killed, the Lebanese government’s main concern was that that this very real and very brutal Israeli re-invasion might lead to a “reoccupation” of Lebanon by Syria.’

Wikileaks on 2006 Iraeli attack part 2

17, March, 2011

Document Beirut 2403: Excerpts – July 16, 2006/

Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman in a late night meeting with Terje Roed Larsen & Geir Pederson, in Larsen’s suite at the Phoenicia Hotel. Pederson later left the meeting to join other members of the UN delegation in Beirut and to prevent the interpretation that the US & UN were in cahoots….
Larsen said that he had an excellent meeting with Siniora and Berri who was overwhelmed by a inert desire to ‘seize the opportunity’ but was held back by the popular mood… Larsen was adamant to restrict his ‘initiative’ to Berri & Siniora, and did not wish the incorporation of the ‘naive ones like Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri.’

Walid Jumblatt & Marwan Hamadeh were clearly concerned with Israel’s MO of ‘surgical bombardment’, and hoped that it continues with it war until they inflict quasi destruction of Hezbollah’s infrastructure, even if this entailed the occupation of south Lebanon. Jumblatt stressed that publicly he was going to call for a cease fire but that he sees in the continuation of hostilities an opportunity to destro Hezbollah.
In that meeting, over a bottle of wine, 3 bottles of Corona & Vodka (the origin of which led to a long argument between Jumblatt and an overwhelmed room service waiter), the Druze leader went through an encapsulation of March14′ thinking.
Jumblatt was not happy to see that Israel has not destroyed enough of Hezbollah’s infrastructure and capabilities… and complsined that a cease fire would give Hezbollah a victory. He frankly conveyed that he prefers the continuation of the hostilities..
Ambassador Feltman asked Jumblatt what does Israel needs to do to inflict maximum damage on Hezbollah: Jumblatt replied that Israel is fighting a conventional war … What is needed is an invasion of south Lebabon, cleaning the area to allow the redeployment of the LAF … .Jumblatt concluded that there are only two possible outcomes: total victory or total defeat of Hezbollah, no gray zones!

Beirut Document 2490 – Meeting between Ambassador Feltman & Marwan Hamadeh, in the later’s home, attended by Ghassan Tueini…
Hamadeh told the ambassador that the July 27th’s meeting of the Council of Ministers saw an ‘epic’ confrontation between Hamadeh vs all of President Lahoud, the Shia’ ministers and some of ‘weak technocrats’ from Hariri’s Future bloc…
Hamadeh informed the ambassador that he called Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia and told him “do not return now, because you will be swamped in Quraitem by 20,000 hungry beggars”. Hariri relayed the kindest regards from the Saudi leadership to Walid Jumblatt …

It is worth pointing out that ‘ambassador’ Feltman is currently personally directing the Saudi occupation forces in Bahrain. Also, look at Egypt right now: they are following Lebanon’s path – as soon  as M14 lost their hold on Lebanon’s security services, the latter started uncovering and dismantling one Israeli spy network after the other. The Egyptian security services – only halfway cleansed of Mubarak goons yet – are already following suit: ‘(…) the alleged spy ring was gathering information about the Egyptian army, who has been in control of the country following Former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster earlier this year. The group was allegedly spying on the armed forces during the uprising that led to Mubarak’s toppling. At the time, an Israeli Channel 10 correspondent was arrested by Egyptian intelligence as he photographed armed forces in Cairo. He was forced to return to Israel, as were three other journalists said to be of Israel’s Channel 2. Images of the trio had been broadcast prominently on Egyptian state television, with police officers holding up their passports to the cameras.’



Wikileaks on the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon – it is beginning!

16, March, 2011

Doc. Number 2602/ August 12, 2006
Hariri meeting Jeffrey Feltman (Excerpts) Original will be availbale once site releases it)
(…) Hariri believes that, despite Hezbollah’s bravado, the resistance is badly bruised and weakened politically.

Hariri said that Nabih Berri’s dream to to ‘get rid of Hezbollah’ and that Berri is upset with Hezbollah, waiting for the dust to settle to use his rejuvenated popular support to ‘pressure Hezbollah in order to control it…’ Hariri believes that it was Berri who imposed his will on Hezbollah and pressured them to accept the North-Litani redeployment … Hariri thinks these moves are the ‘beginning of the end’ for the resistance. (comment: when Ambassador feltman met with minister Ghazi Aridi he was told that parallel to the Paris conference of Donors, an Arab fund was being created and it would include Iran … This fund was to be ‘supervised by Berri’ ) Ambassador Feltman raised the ‘Berri family finances’ with Hariri and pressed upon him the need of preventing Berri and his wife Randa from tapping into any fund, as is customary.
Hariri asked ambassador Feltman to ‘keep his remarks confidential’ and reiterated the need to remove Lahoud, Suleiman & Georges Khoury (head of Army Intelligence) because they are certified Syrian & Hezbollah agents …and hoped to recruit Nabih Berri towards these noble goals! Hariri asked Feltman to help in keeping the pressure on Syria and Iran to ‘destabilize them’… Finally, Hariri asked that for an immediate formation of the ‘Tribunal’ in order to use it as a ‘sword above Syria & Iran’s necks’ and weaken their Lebanese agents!
Comment: Hariri spoke of his concerns that the airport was still being used to smuggle weapons for Hezbollah and belittled Nabih Berri’s reputation as ’embezzler’and said that he skimmed ‘only 10-15%’ to rebuild the South and line his pockets …
[Comment: Hariri wants to get rid of Lahoud and (especially) Suleiman but could not name anyone to replace them both ..
Hariri lowered his voice and shook his head .. We believe that was a sincere acknowledgement that he was thankful we pressed upon him to name Siniora instead of Bahij Tabbarah, despite a shaky start, rocked by jealousy … We believe that Siniora and Hariri will cooperate in the future, and hoped that Hariri would remain in Lebanon because his frequent leisurly travels with large entourage, and lavish stays at the Plaza Athenee, did not go down well when Lebanon was being bombarded, and that did not bode well for March 14. End comment]

Document number 2513/Beirut
(Excerpts below. Original to be released later)
August 1, 2006.
Meeting between Ambassador Feltman & MP Boutros Harb.
Harb, a presidential hopeful, lamented that albeit the toll of Israeli war on Lebanon was steep, it ‘remains without a good conclusion.’… Harb worries that Nasrallah could still cpme out a ‘winner’ from this debacle, because he is seemingly destroying the myth of an invincible IDF, and gaining international sympathy …
Harb worries that the war is now in its 20th day, and that is giving Arabs in general that Israel can be defeated and ultimately destroyed… He also warned that the attack on Qana was playing into Hezbollah’s hands and gaining it popular support …
Harb was saddened to see that the Israeli war did not weaken Hezbollah and stressed that a cesafire was going to make Hezbollah the ‘region’s Rambo!’.
Harb further stressed that it was going to be a ‘catastrphy’ should Hezbollah come out of all this ‘stronger’… Harb warned Feltman that if this happened, Hezbollah would be well positioned to impose the Wilayat al Faqih on all Lebanese, … and ultimately, spark the Sunni-Shii’ showdown it longs for.
Harb went on and made some ‘policy recommendations’ but acknowledged that it was ‘easier said than done’. Harb said that it was unfortunate that Hezbollah’s physical presence was not centralized, making it military defeat difficult. But Harb still hoped for a military defeat of Hezbollah, although he predicted that this defeat would be coensated by an increase in Hezbollah’s popularity.
Harb proposed that Israel advances into Lebanon, and occupies Hezbollah’s strogholds in Marun el Rass & Bint Jbeil .. Harb stressed the importance of this happening before the US imposition of a cease fire….”

Defending education in times of war and occupation: Iraqi academics

24, February, 2011

The Brussells Tribunal,  the University of Ghent-Menarg, Vrede vzw and others organise a conference on Iraqi academics and their struggle to defend education and independent scholarship under occupation. Between March 9th and 11th, numerous academics and journalists, including Dahr Jamail and Raymond Baker, will report on the current state of intellectual life and the right to education in Iraq and discuss solutions. The third day is devoted to workshops. For registration and info go here.

Israel is a colony, remember?

22, February, 2011

I have been asked to spread the word on this conference, which aims to return the discussion of the zionist problem to its proper framework, which is that of a colonial issue. This used to be the way it was approached by academics and activists alike, way back when the world was not yet exclusively seen through the lenses of neo-liberalism and religious fundamentalism. Not to mention, in academic circles, through the lens of post-colonialism…



SOAS Palestine Society Conference Organizing Collective

On 5-6 March 2011, the Palestine Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London will hold its seventh annual conference, “Past is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine.” This year’s conference aims to understand Zionism as a settler colonial project which has, for more than a century, subjected Palestine and Palestinians to a structural and violent form of destruction, dispossession, land appropriation and erasure in the pursuit of a new Jewish Israeli society. By organizing this conference, we hope to reclaim and revive the settler colonial paradigm and to outline its potential to inform and guide political strategy and mobilization.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often described as unique and exceptional with little resemblance to other historical or ongoing colonial conflicts. Yet, for Zionism, like other settler colonial projects such as the British colonization of Ireland or European settlement of North America, South Africa or Australia, the imperative is to control the land and its resources — and to displace the original inhabitants. Indeed, as conference keynote speaker Patrick Wolfe, one of the foremost scholars on settler colonialism and professor at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia, argues, “the logic of this project, a sustained institutional tendency to eliminate the Indigenous population, informs a range of historical practices that might otherwise appear distinct–invasion is a structure not an event.”

Therefore, the classification of the Zionist movement as a settler colonial project, and the Israeli state as its manifestation, is not merely intended as a statement on the historical origins of Israel, nor as a rhetorical or polemical device. Rather, the aim is to highlight Zionism’s structural continuities and the ideology which informs Israeli policies and practices in Palestine and toward Palestinians everywhere. Thus, the Nakba — whether viewed as a spontaneous, violent episode in war, or the implementation of a preconceived master plan — should be understood as both the precondition for the creation of Israel and the logical outcome of Zionist settlement in Palestine.

Moreover, it is this same logic that sustains the continuation of the Nakba today. As remarked by Benny Morris, “had he [David Ben Gurion] carried out full expulsion–rather than partial–he would have stabilised the State of Israel for generations.”[ii] Yet, plagued by an “instability”–defined by the very existence of the Palestinian nation–Israel continues its daily state practices in its quest to fulfill Zionism’s logic to maximize the amount of land under its control with the minimum number of Palestinians on it. These practices take a painful array of manifestations: aerial and maritime
bombardment, massacre and invasion, house demolitions, land theft, identity card confiscation, racist laws and loyalty tests, the wall, the siege on Gaza, cultural appropriation, and the dependence on willing (or unwilling) native collaboration and security arrangements, all with the continued support and backing of imperial power.

Despite these enduring practices however, the settler colonial paradigm has largely fallen into disuse. As a paradigm, it once served as a primary ideological and political framework for all Palestinian political factions and trends, and informed the intellectual work of committed academics and revolutionary scholars, both Palestinians and Jews.

The conference thus asks where and why the settler colonial paradigm was lost, both in scholarship on Palestine and in politics; how do current analyses and theoretical trends that have arisen in its place address present and historical realities? While acknowledging the creativity of these new interpretations, we must nonetheless ask: when exactly did Palestinian natives find themselves in a “post-colonial” condition? When did the ongoing struggle over land become a “post-conflict” situation? When did Israel become a “post-Zionist” society? And when did the fortification of Palestinian ghettos and reservations become “state-building”?

Such an alignment would expand the tools available to Palestinians and their solidarity movement, and reconnect the struggle to its own history of anti-colonial internationalism. At its core, this internationalism asserts that the Palestinian struggle against Zionist settler colonialism can only be won when it is embedded within, and empowered by, the broader Arab movement for emancipation and the indigenous, anti-racist and anti-colonial movement-from Arizona to Auckland.

SOAS Palestine Society invites everyone to join us at what promises to be a significant intervention in Palestine activism and scholarship. For over 30 years, SOAS Palestine Society has heightened awareness and understanding of the Palestinian people, their rights, culture, and struggle for self-determination, amongst students, faculty, staff, and the broader public. SOAS Palestine society aims to continuously push the frontiers of discourse in an effort to make provocative arguments and to stimulate debate and organizing for justice in Palestine through relevant conferences, and events ranging from the intellectual and political impact of Edward Said’s life and work (2004), international law and the Palestine question (2005), the economy of Palestine and its occupation (2006), the one state (2007), 60 Years of Nakba, 60 Years of Resistance (2009), and most recently, the Left in Palestine (2010).

For more information on the SOAS Palestine Society 7th annual conference, Past is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine:

SOAS Palestine Society Organizing Collective is a group of committed students that has undertaken to organize annual academic conferences on Palestine since 2003.


[i] Patrick Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event, Cassell, London, p. 163

[ii] Interview with Benny Morris, Survival of the Fittest, Haaretz, 9. January 2004,


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