Some assassinations are different from others…

If you live in Europe or the US, you cold be excused for ignoring that another politician has been assassinated in the land of the cedars. No wall-to-wall coverage on BBC, no outraged live ‘breaking news’ outcries on CNN, and even Al Jazeera English has been strangely quiet. So what happened? The murdered politician was not in the M14 camp, that’s what happened. It’s kinda hard to point the finger at usual suspect Syria for the murder of Saleh Aridi, a (relatively unimportant) representative of Talal Arslan’s Lebanese Democratic Party, which represents the minority druze faction that sides with the opposition. Nevertheless, the international investigation commission which is following up on the Hariri assassination and all others that followed it, is very interested in investigating this particular case, because preliminary investigations have ‘detected similarities with the attempts that has targeted Samir Kassir, George Hawi and May Chidiak‘. In other words, it is likely that the perpetrators of this assassination are the same people who perpetrated the murders on the M14 politicians. Which in turn undermines the theory of Syrian responsibility for the other assassinations. So no screaming headlines in the western mainstream media this time…


Lost: Ethiopian Housemaid… and 1 million Israeli clusterbombs

It is common to see adverts in Lebanese newspapers like this one:

M***** G**********

left her employer’s house on 17-8-08
and did not return. Whomever
employs her will be subject to
legal pursuit. (961) 3 ******
(961) 9 ******

(Daily Star, 25/08/2008, printed edition)

Don’t you just love the sincere worry about the poor paperless woman’s whereabouts that oozes from this ad? As long as nobody else is ‘illegally employing’ their ‘property’, these people obviously couldn’t care less. Is she living in the street? Has she got something to eat? Has she been kidnapped and forced to prostitute herself to fat gulfies in a ‘super night club’? Whatever… In Lebanon, housemaids have been ‘suiciding’ or ‘dying while trying to escape from the nth floor flats of their employers’ at the rate of one a week. Criminal investigations are virtually never deemed necessary by the Lebanese police force, or consist entirely of taking down the uncontested statements of their employers, who typically declare that their maids were ‘depressed’… As in the gulf countries, these poor women are often treated horribly and cruelly to the point where it’s not exaggerated to speak of slavery or worse. This finally seems to filter through to mainstream local and foreign media who have been paying some long-overdue attention to this ‘phenomenon’ recently.

In other news, one Belgian sapper has been killed today and another wounded while demining some of the lethal toys Israel has so generously distributed throughout the south of Lebanon, and which have since killed 30 Lebanese citizens and wounded over 220 more. The bulk of the UN’s demining programs will reportedly soon be stopped, moreover, because of lack of funds

Saying one thing… doing another

Consider this news item:
Israel has informed the United States that it is prepared to withdraw from the northern side of Ghajar village, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Monday. Describing Israel’s remarks as “a change in its policy for the past year and a half of not wanting to discuss the issue,” the paper quoted an unidentified “government source in [Occupied] Jerusalem [who] said the decision was made after the Lebanese government delivered written assurances that UNIFIL would be given security and civilian control over the northern part of the village, which is in Lebanese territory“‘

… and contrast it with this report of the actual reality on the ground:‘Sources on Wednesday told NOW Lebanon that Israel had intensified military activities in areas along its border with southern Lebanon, particularly in the western sector, including increasing patrols and a raising the personnel presence at positions along the border. Earlier on Wednesday, a security official said six Israeli jets flew over south Lebanon and broke the sound barrier twice over the port city of Sur on Wednesday. “Six Israeli warplanes flew all over southern Lebanon and the city of Sur at low altitude for more than an hour and broke the sound barrier twice over Sur,” the official told AFP. The overflight prompted scared shoppers to flee Sur’s main market, an AFP correspondent said. Residents also poured on to the streets nervously watching the skies, little more than two years after the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah devastated much of southern Lebanon, the correspondent added.’

In Lebanon itself, meanwhile, a Hizbullah fighter last week mistakenly downed a helicopter of the Lebanese army, mistaking it for an Israeli one, thereby killing an officer and wounding two soldiers. Considering the Lebanese army owns a whopping total of 3 (three) helicopters, and Israeli aircraft are violating Lebanese airspace on a daily basis, this is not as far-fetched an explanation as it might sound… In any case, Hizbullah has owned up to its mistake and voluntarily handed over the 20-year old fighter to military police. Nevertheless, various parties in the country predictably continue to try and spin a lot out of the incident.

Debunking the myths of zionism

‘Sixty years after its foundation, Israel refuses to accept that it should exist for the sake of its citizens. For almost a quarter of the population, who are not regarded as Jews, this is not their state legally. At the same time, Israel presents itself as the homeland of Jews throughout the world, even if these are no longer persecuted refugees, but the full and equal citizens of other countries.’

Schlomo Sand, professor of history at Tel Aviv university and author of Comment le people juif fut inventé (Fayard, Paris, 2008) is writing in Le Monde Diplomatique: Israel deliberately forgets its history’
‘(…)Then there is the question of the exile of 70 AD. There has been no real research into this turning point in Jewish history, the cause of the diaspora. And for a simple reason: the Romans never exiled any nation from anywhere on the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. Apart from enslaved prisoners, the population of Judea continued to live on their lands, even after the destruction of the second temple. Some converted to Christianity in the 4th century, while the majority embraced Islam during the 7th century Arab conquest.
Most Zionist thinkers were aware of this: Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later president of Israel, and David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, accepted it as late as 1929, the year of the great Palestinian revolt. Both stated on several occasions that the peasants of Palestine were the descendants of the inhabitants of ancient Judea.
But if there was no exile after 70 AD, where did all the Jews who have populated the Mediterranean since antiquity come from? The smokescreen of national historiography hides an astonishing reality. From the Maccabean revolt of the mid-2nd century BC to the Bar Kokhba revolt of the 2nd century AD, Judaism was the most actively proselytising religion. The Judeo-Hellenic Hasmoneans forcibly converted the Idumeans of southern Judea and the Itureans of Galilee and incorporated them into the people of Israel. Judaism spread across the Middle East and round the Mediterranean. The 1st century AD saw the emergence in modern Kurdistan of the Jewish kingdom of Adiabene, just one of many that converted.
The writings of Flavius Josephus are not the only evidence of the proselytising zeal of the Jews. Horace, Seneca, Juvenal and Tacitus were among the Roman writers who feared it. The Mishnah and the Talmud (authorised conversion, even if the wise men of the Talmudic tradition expressed reservations in the face of the mounting pressure from Christianity.
Although the early 4th century triumph of Christianity did not mark the end of Jewish expansion, it relegated Jewish proselytism to the margins of the Christian cultural world. During the 5th century, in modern Yemen, a vigorous Jewish kingdom emerged in Himyar, whose descendants preserved their faith through the Islamic conquest and down to the present day. Arab chronicles tell of the existence, during the 7th century, of Judaised Berber tribes; and at the end of the century the legendary Jewish queen Dihya contested the Arab advance into northwest Africa. Jewish Berbers participated in the conquest of the Iberian peninsula and helped establish the unique symbiosis between Jews and Muslims that characterised Hispano-Arabic culture.
The most significant mass conversion occurred in the 8th century, in the massive Khazar kingdom between the Black and Caspian seas. The expansion of Judaism from the Caucasus into modern Ukraine created a multiplicity of communities, many of which retreated from the 13th century Mongol invasions into eastern Europe. There, with Jews from the Slavic lands to the south and from what is now modern Germany, they formed the basis of Yiddish culture.’