Friday, May 4, 2007

Showmanship versus legislation: Iraq spending bill with timetable for withdrawal

The Washington Post tells us: Democrats Back Down On Iraq Timetable. It is not surprising that congress was unable to pass the Iraq deadline for withdrawal bill. Congress can never make US foreign policy, but it can have some oversight on spending. Congress was never interested in really checking if all those billions are just going into someone's Swiss bank account or if they are really doing any good. That is part of what they should be doing. The "timetable" was a silly popular gimmick that was doomed to failure. It was meant to get attention, and it did.
From the Post:
President Bush and congressional leaders began negotiating a second war funding bill yesterday, with Democrats offering the first major concession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.

Democrats backed off after the House failed, on a vote of 222 to 203, to override the president's veto of a $124 billion measure that would have required U.S. forces to begin withdrawing as early as July. But party leaders made it clear that the next bill will have to include language that influences war policy. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) outlined a second measure that would step up Iraqi accountability, "transition" the U.S. military role and show "a reasonable way to end this war."
"We made our position clear. He made his position clear. Now it is time for us to try to work together," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said after a White House meeting. "But make no mistake: Democrats are committed to ending this war."


"INSULTING ISLAM" is still a reason for arresting people.

Who is insulting Islam when they arrest people for insulting Islam?



Never has the name of this blog, Deja Vu, seem more relevant than while reading about the September 11, 1924 Kohat riots in India in Mohandas. The New York Times reported that 15 Hindus and Sikhs were killed and 24 wounded by rioting Muslims. The reason - a poem derogatory to Muhammad. The intercommunal violence let to Gandhi's first fast. No one worked harder for Muslim-Hindu cooperation than Gandhi. Uniting the Indians against the British was his primary goal. But even Gandhi could not overcome the basic Muslim/non Muslim divide.



Thursday, May 3, 2007

And the madness continues:

Another small group in the United Kingdom has called for a boycott of Israel. As predictd, the group garnered headlines and publicity, which are among the true aims of such actions.
Calls for boycotting Israel seem to be epidemic in Britain right now. Perhaps a side effect of mad cow disease? Seriously, it is disturbing that a small number of people can push one-sided, ill-informed and hateful resolutions through organizations. Israeli medical institutions are particularly well-regarded and operate in a faith- and race-blind manner. Nor do resolutions like this help the Palestinians at all, except if Palestinians can eat the press releases.
--Wendy Leibowitz

British doctors call for new Israel boycott

Original article:

By Jeremy Last
Updated: 02/May/2007 17:00

LONDON (EJP)---A group of 130 British doctors have called for a boycott of the Israel Medical Association and its expulsion from the World Medical Association.

In a letter to The Guardian newspaper in England last week the physicians, headed by the notoriously anti-Israel Dr Derek Summerfield and Professor Colin Green claimed "Persistent violations of medical ethics have accompanied Israel's occupation."

Outlining how they believe the Israeli Defence Force has "systematically flouted the fourth Geneva convention guaranteeing a civilian population unfettered access to medical services and immunity for medical staff", the letter blamed Israel for destroying "any coherence in the (Palestinian) primary health system".

The doctors then claimed the IMA has "refused" to protest about "war crimes" something, the doctors said they believe it "has a duty" to do.

The letter compared Israel to apartheid South Africa. "We are calling for a boycott of the Israeli Medical Association and its expulsion from the WMA. There is a precedent for this: the expulsion of the Medical Association of South Africa during the apartheid era," it read.

"A boycott is an ethical and moral imperative when conventional channels do not function, for otherwise we are merely turning away," the doctors added.

The letter came after 18 Palestinian health organizations appealed to fellow professionals abroad to "recognize how the IMA has forfeited its right to membership of the international medical community."

Claims rejected

IMA chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar, who also acts as the council chair of the WMA, rejected all the claims, noting that the Palestinian Authority refused to accept from Israel drugs and dialysis solutions that it was ready to transfer.

Martin Sugarman, the head of a twinning group between Homerton Hospital in London and Haifa's Rambam Hospital in Israel, said he was shocked by the call.

"If suicide bombers from Gaza and the West Bank never dressed as pregnant or sick patients trying to reach and blow up Israeli hospitals, if PLO ambulances did not transport terrorists and arms, then maybe there would be no need for the security fence, check points and free access to medical care by peaceful citizens," he told London's Jewish News. "Despite all this, Israeli hospitals still treat free, Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and Gaza, with severe illnesses and conditions."

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Are the Democrats playing dirty in the Middle East?

The Dems' Dirty Game in the Middle East
Using proxies to wage war--against the Bush administration.
by Lee Smith
05/02/2007 12:00:00 AM
WITH THE DEMOCRATS pushing so hard for withdrawal from Iraq, the party seems unaware that they may be making the job much harder for themselves should they get the chance to govern again someday. After all, the United States has many vital strategic interests in the region, and it is not obvious how a plan no more elaborate than bringing our troops home from Iraq will protect, for instance, the free flow of affordable Persian Gulf oil.

The Democrats are playing a dirty game in the Middle East, where, just like Arab regimes, they are using proxies to wage war--except their war is against the Bush administration. Iraq is one venue, and Syria another.

A few weeks ago, the Syrian-born American businessman, Ibrahim Suleiman returned from the Knesset, announcing that an Israeli-Syrian deal is possible within six months, even though many observers are not sure the self-appointed peace delegate actually represents anyone. Still, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyassah has reported that Suleiman is the brother of Bajhat Suleiman, a security officer whose name has popped up repeatedly in the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

And yet even if there is no genuine relationship between Suleiman and and Bashar al-Asad's government, the fact is that Syria would like nothing more right now than to be tied up in a peace process. With an international tribunal being formed to hand down indictments in the Hariri murder, as well as the assassinations of other Lebanese figures, the 41-year-old Syrian president is afraid of, at best, having to serve out the rest of his life-long term scarred with a Milosevic-like notoriety. 

"The whole Syrian peace initiative is a smokescreen," says Eli Khoury, a Beirut advertising executive running a civil-society campaign called NOW Lebanon. "The regime wants to be insulated from the tribunal."

With the prospect of a Syrian-Israeli peace deal, no matter how illusory, even the French and the Saudis, solid U.S. allies in the Lebanese arena, would be hard pressed to see Damascus punished for all the blood it has shed throughout the region. More Here

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Right of Return?? The Middle East's Jewish refugees

The Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees -update 54 - 01.05.07

1. At its meeting of February 25, 2007, the Israeli Cabinet named  MinisterRafi Eitan to be responsible for the issue of the rights of those Jews who left Arab countries as refugees. The Cabinet also established a ministerial committee, to be chaired by Minister Eitan, and a steering committee.

On his first day in office the newly appointed Justice Minister, Prof. Daniel Friedmann, met Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Stanley Urman, Director of Justice for Jews in Arab Countries to review the Justice Ministry's mandate to pursue rights for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. They discussed avenues for legal redress for Jews displaced from Arab countries and efforts in Israel and in Diaspora Jewish communities to register individual and communal losses. An international campaign is underway.

2. The 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War  in June is also the anniversary of the start of the final exodus of Jews from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco and a period of intensified repression against the Jews of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Several commemorative events are taking place. 

If you or your family lived in an Arab or Islamic country please register
your story and lost assets here

SUPPORT  U.S.  legislation to recognize Jewish refugees:
Visit: 'Point of no return

Ayalon: Olmert must go home

The report (in Hebrew) is here:
Ayalon changes his mind: Olmert must quit
Gil Hoffman, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 1, 2007

Labor leadership candidate Ami Ayalon announced Tuesday that after finishing reading the 150 page Winograd interim report, he had decided Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must quit.

Ayalon went on national TV Sunday evening to say that he did not believe Olmert should quit, but added that after reading the entire report, he decided that its conclusions were harsher than the leaks of the report that were broadcast Friday.

"The report found that Olmert and the Israeli leadership had failed personally and therefore the prime minister should not be allowed to continue in that position," Ayalon said.

Cross posted: Israel News   Middle East Analysis

Over 20,000 civilians killed by terrorist attacks in 2006

20,498 terror deaths worldwide in 2006, says US report

WASHINGTON : The number of people killed by terrorists worldwide last year soared more than 40 percent to 20,498, due mainly to devastating sectarian attacks on civilians in Iraq, according to a US government report released Monday.


The State Department's annual "Country Reports on Terrorism" also skewered Iran and Syria as the worst state sponsors of terror, just days before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could break a long-standing diplomatic boycott and meet her counterparts from the two nations.


According to figures provided by the US National Counterterrorism Center, which groups data from 16 US intelligence agencies, the number of terrorist incidents rose nearly 30 percent to 14,338 in 2006, from 11,153 in 2005.


The increase was due almost entirely to a doubling of attacks in Iraq, four years after the US-led invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein, it said.

The center counted 6,630 terrorist attacks during the year in Iraq, primarily linked to sectarian violence between majority Shiites and the minority Sunnis who controlled the country under Saddam.


Read more at the source

Monday, April 30, 2007

A modest proposal

Strategist Edward Luttwak has a plan for the Middle East: ignore it, the middle east, to paraphrase a certain president, would benefit from a policy of benign neglect:
The operational mistake that middle east experts keep making is the failure to recognise that backward societies must be left alone, as the French now wisely leave Corsica to its own devices, as the Italians quietly learned to do in Sicily, once they recognised that maxi-trials merely handed over control to a newer and smarter mafia of doctors and lawyers. With neither invasions nor friendly engagements, the peoples of the middle east should finally be allowed to have their own history—the one thing that middle east experts of all stripes seem determined to deny them.
That brings us to the mistake that the rest of us make. We devote far too much attention to the middle east, a mostly stagnant region where almost nothing is created in science or the arts—excluding Israel, per capita patent production of countries in the middle east is one fifth that of sub-Saharan Africa. The people of the middle east (only about five per cent of the world's population) are remarkably unproductive, with a high proportion not in the labour force at all. Not many of us would care to work if we were citizens of Abu Dhabi, with lots of oil money for very few citizens. But Saudi Arabia's 27m inhabitants also live largely off the oil revenues that trickle down to them, leaving most of the work to foreign technicians and labourers: even with high oil prices, Saudi Arabia's annual per capita income, at $14,000, is only about half that of oil-free Israel.
Saudi Arabia has a good excuse, for it was a land of oasis hand-farmers and Bedouin pastoralists who cannot be expected to become captains of industry in a mere 50 years. Much more striking is the oil parasitism of once much more accomplished Iran. It exports only 2.5m barrels a day as compared to Saudi Arabia's 8m, yet oil still accounts for 80 per cent of Iran's exports because its agriculture and industry have become so unproductive.
The middle east was once the world's most advanced region, but these days its biggest industries are extravagant consumption and the venting of resentment. According to the UN's 2004 Arab human development report, the region boasts the second lowest adult literacy rate in the world (after sub-Saharan Africa) at just 63 per cent. Its dependence on oil means that manufactured goods account for just 17 per cent of exports, compared to a global average of 78 per cent. Moreover, despite its oil wealth, the entire middle east generated under 4 per cent of global GDP in 2006—less than Germany.
Unless compelled by immediate danger, we should therefore focus on the old and new lands of creation in Europe and America, in India and east Asia—places where hard-working populations are looking ahead instead of dreaming of the past.
If you ignore Iranian nuclear weapons and 9-11, it might be a plan. Then again...

British Journalists' Union Should Focus on "Issues That Matter"

The writer is correct that by focusing on issues that matter to only a few people, the union marginalizes many people who feel differently, and damage the union as a whole. I hope her voice is heard, and the action overturned as quickly as possible.
--Wendy Leibowitz

The NUJ should focus on the issues that matter
The union's call for a boycott of Israeli goods, and for sanctions to be imposed by the UK and UN, is not just divisive, it could seriously damage its reputation

Francis Beckett
Monday April 30, 2007


I am a freelance journalist. Not long ago, a contract publishing firm decided it could get away without paying what it owed me. They were wrong. The National Union of Journalists squeezed £5,000 out of them. I could not have done it by myself.

That is an intro I never thought I would get into a newspaper. I can only do it because the NUJ's annual conference has narrowly voted to call for a boycott of Israeli goods, and to "demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government and the United Nations".

This decision - unlike the NUJ's firm intervention on my behalf - won't have the smallest effect on what happens in the world. Anyone who wanted to boycott Israeli goods will do so without the NUJ's encouragement, and no one who was not going to boycott them will feel inclined to do so because it is NUJ policy. Neither the government nor the UN will be stirred into action.

But there is an iron rule in NUJ politics. The amount of time and energy given to an issue is in inverse relation to its effectiveness. I think this is partly because one-issue campaigns tend to target trade unions (though not as much as they used to when the unions were powerful). And it is partly because NUJ members are journalists, a trade in which "interesting" often counts for more than "important".

When I was NUJ president, we voted to support abortion on demand. Pro- and anti-abortion campaigners, most of whom were never heard from on union issues, lined up at annual conferences to fight the battle over and over again. The pros, mostly young and intense, considered anyone who voted against to be advocating Victorian enslavement of women, and any young man wanting a sexual adventure at the conference was careful how he voted. The antis, mostly caricatures of Christian evangelists, considered their opponents to be murderers, and one of them held aloft an aborted foetus she happened to have about her person.

I am sure that not a single mind was changed by our decision. It damaged the union, though, just as the Israel decision will damage it. There will be a few resignations over Israel - not many, but the few who resign will go as noisily as they can, doing as much damage as possible on the way out.

Folk who loathe trade unions are always looking for a chance to say the NUJ attacks free speech and fair reporting, and though this motion does nothing of the kind, it will be presented as though it does.


But the serious damage will not be among the hysterics who foam and froth whenever anyone questions the wisdom and decency of the Israeli government. The real damage will be among thoughtful members who take a different view, and feel strongly about it.

As president, I had to try to defuse the harm that our abortion stand did us among religious folk, despite my support for abortion and my vigorous atheism. It was easy simply to be angry with the parade of priestly self-righteousness I had to listen to, but then a Catholic union activist said to me quietly: "It makes us feel unwelcome and unwanted in our own union."

The NUJ must understand that about Israel too - that there are good union members who feel passionately that Israel is the wronged party in the Middle East. And - to paraphrase John Stuart Mill - those of us who feel differently have no more right to capture our union for our view than they would have the right, if they had the votes, to capture it for theirs.

It is going to require something the NUJ is not famous for: a sense of proportion on both sides.

The motion, apparently, went through with hardly any opposition. The leadership seems to have been asleep; it said nothing, when it should have told delegates that they were about to do something that would harm the union without even helping their cause. If they had done this, the narrow majority in favour would probably have been a majority against. So why not do what members do with other, far more important decisions: go to next year's conference and get the stupid thing reversed.


· Francis Beckett was NUJ president from 1980 to 1981
Read the whole thing at:,,2068243,00.html

Campaign trail

· The NUJ urged members last year to boycott Peugeot Citroën products in an attempt to stop the French car manufacturer from closing its Ryton plant near Coventry. It didn't help and the factory was shut six months early in December with the loss of more than 2,300 jobs.

· The NUJ advises members to avoid Yahoo! in protest at the US internet search company's "repeated collusion" with the Chinese authorities. Yahoo! provided information that helped identify and prosecute several journalists, including Shi Tao, who received a 10-year prison sentence in 2005.

· At its annual delegate meeting, held earlier this month, the NUJ condemned the government's decision to press ahead with a replacement for Trident and instructed its national executive to campaign against any proposals to build nuclear power stations in Britain.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Is a Gaza incursion inevitable? Or even feasible?

IDF Chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi says a Gaza incursion is inevitable. I don't think it will happen. What doesn't happen is not inevitable for sure. Here is what the article states:
The only solution to continued Palestinian rocket fire into the western
Negev is to implement a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, said IDF Chief
of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenzani during Sunday's weekly cabinet

But Ashkenazi forgot perhaps, that the Qassam rocket fire started when the IDF was still in Gaza, and that it could not be conrolled then either! Suppose that there is a bloody ground incursion (bloody in both senses) and then 3 months later the Qassam rockets start again? Do we stay in Gaza? What will that look like? Won't we then have the same Qassam rockets we had before, perhaps in larger numbers, plus the same problems of occupation we had before? Qassam rockets can kill, but IDF incursions into Gaza are certainly going to result in a lot more deaths of Israelis. Unless we have the backing of the world for this, those deaths will be in vain. At most they will result in legitimation of the Hamas and Israel will be faced with an angry world that supports the Hamas, no? A smaller "military solution" will only net a few more UN condemnations of Israel.
Ami Isseroff

Syria infliltrating Iraqi Defense Ministry

This is unsurprising if true, but dismaying nonetheless.

Syrian Infiltration of Iraqi Defense Ministry

Washington DC, April 29, 2007/RPS News/ -- Elaph reported today of an impending investigation at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense due to an infiltration of one of its most sensitive divisions dealing with names and addresses of ministry personnel in addition to ministry logistics.

A young blonde lady by the fake name of Shayma'a Mohammad was hired at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense without any background check after she presented her credentials, which included letters of recommendations by known officers working at the ministry. It was not until another ministry official who recognized her from previous experience and who questioned her hiring did the matter explode in public.

Although, Elaph's story does not implicate Syria directly but rather refers to Shyama'a working for the intelligence services of a neighboring country, it reported that Shayma'a and one of the officers who recommended her for the job and who carries a dual citizenship escaped to Syria just before the ministry was able to nab them. The investigation into the full scope of the damage continues because of the sensitivity of the information that Shayma'a was able to have access to, which included amongst other things logistical and operational plans of the Iraqi armed forces.

The Assad regime has been accused on several occasions by the Iraqi and American governments of implicitly supporting the terrorists in the western provinces of Iraq, which have become safe havens for al-Qaeda and Iraqi Ba'athists.

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