Friday, June 8, 2007

June 08 - Fierce fighting rocks Palestinian camp in Lebanon

By Nazih Siddiq

NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon (Reuters) - Lebanese troops pounded al Qaeda-inspired militants dug in at a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon on Friday after the gunmen refused demands they give themselves up.

Artillery and tanks blasted several areas of the squalid Nahr al-Bared camp, where Fatah al-Islam fighters have shown stiff resistance in nearly three weeks of often ferocious battles.

"A shell hit a house where 10 civilians were sheltering," camp resident Wissam Badran told Reuters by telephone. "I took out four people - a man, a woman and two children - from under the rubble whom I think are dead. Six people were wounded."

When Israel attacks terrorists in Gaza or Hezbollah during the past war in Lebanon to defend herself, and some civilians die because they are used by the cowardly terrorists as human shields, the world condems Israel in the most vitriolic tone. Israel is defending herself. When captured by Israel, terrorists are sent to jail.
When the Lebanese Army tries to extirpate the cancer of Al-Qaeda from her territory and blasts away terrorist and civilians alike, the world is mum, no one cares a shit.
When captured by Lebanon, or Jordan or Egypy, terrorists are condemned to death.
This is the show of the morally corrupt, hypocritical, judeophobic double standard of the world.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru. 

"What goes around comes around."
You will eventually have to face the consequences of your actions towards others as people tend to behave towards you as you have behaved towards others.
-Empirical truth or conventional wisdom?
Write injuries in the sand, kindnesses in marble.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Iran Seeks to Undermine U.S. Energy Plan for Europe

By Lucian Kim

June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Iran plans to import more oil and gas from Central Asia as it seeks to undermine a U.S.-backed project to build pipelines from the Caspian Sea to Europe.

Iran intends to build its own energy link from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to rival a U.S.-supported web of pipelines, Mahmood Khaghani, director of Caspian Sea affairs in the Iranian Oil Ministry, said in Baku, Azerbaijan, today.

The U.S., at loggerheads with Iran over its nuclear program, supports plans for a pipeline system that would link Turkmenistan to Turkey as a way to lessen Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas. Iran is responding by pushing the expansion of an existing link it has to Turkmenistan, which holds the second- largest gas reserves in the former Soviet Union.

``Iran will do anything to kick sand in the eyes of the U.S.,'' said Kim Iskyan, co-head of research at UralSib Financial Corp. in Moscow. ``Even if this has a small chance of being realized, it'll throw a wild card on the table.''
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

In Saudi Arabia, a view from behind the veil

In Saudi Arabia, a view from behind the veil

As a woman in the male-dominated kingdom, Times reporter Megan Stack quietly fumed beneath her abaya. Even beyond its borders, her experience taints her perception of the sexes.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — THE hem of my heavy Islamic cloak trailed over floors that glistened like ice. I walked faster, my eyes fixed on a familiar, green icon. I hadn't seen a Starbucks in months, but there it was, tucked into a corner of a fancy shopping mall in the Saudi capital. After all those bitter little cups of sludgy Arabic coffee, here at last was an improbable snippet of home — caffeinated, comforting, American.

I wandered into the shop, filling my lungs with the rich wafts of coffee. The man behind the counter gave me a bemused look; his eyes flickered. I asked for a latte. He shrugged, the milk steamer whined, and he handed over the brimming paper cup. I turned my back on his uneasy face.

Crossing the cafe, I felt the hard stares of Saudi men. A few of them stopped talking as I walked by and watched me pass. Them, too, I ignored. Finally, coffee in hand, I sank into the sumptuous lap of an overstuffed armchair.

"Excuse me," hissed the voice in my ear. "You can't sit here." The man from the counter had appeared at my elbow. He was glaring.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

1967: Israel cannot make peace alone

1967: Israel cannot make peace alone
We must pursue a comprehensive solution with energy and vision, writes Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert

Wednesday June 6, 2007
The Guardian

Six days, 40 years ago. Looking back to the weeks preceding the war, it may be difficult for you to imagine just how desperate life seemed for Israelis, ringed by peoples whose armies pointed their weapons towards us, whose leaders daily promised the imminent destruction of our state and whose newspapers carried crude cartoons of Jews being kicked off the face of the earth. As we consecrated mass graves in expectation of the worst, we were once again people facing annihilation. We had no alternative but to defend ourselves, no strategic allies to ensure our survival. We stood alone.

Complete article:,,2096527,00.html

Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru


1967: The Jewish Mecca

Seth Freedman

1967: The Jewish Mecca

The capture by Israel of Jerusalem's Old City in 1967 was of immense religious and spiritual significance to Jews.

Complete article:



Monday, June 4, 2007

Iranian academics warned to avoid foriegn institutions

Iranian Academics Warned to Avoid Foreign Institutions
The Academies Close
31 May, 2007

Britain's university lecturers chose an unfortunate day to announce their proposed boycott of all things Israeli. As members of the University College Union voted 158-99 for "a comprehensive and consistent boycott of all Israeli academic institutions", news came in from The Guardian that Iran's powerful intelligence agency had warned Iranian academics that if they maintain links with foreign institutions, they will be viewed as potential spies.

The latest twist in the British boycott of Israel may not be the final say. Hardliners have tried to push through anti-Israel measures in previous conferences, drawing international condemnation from academic freedom and anti-censorship bodies. The Guardian says that 21 Nobel prizewinners wrote to the paper the last time a boycott was mooted, saying "Academic freedom has never been the property of a few and must not be manipulated by them ... mixing science with politics and limiting academic freedom by boycotts is wrong".

The UCU's general secretary says that the boycott is not supported by the union's 120,000 members.

Meanwhile, Iranian academics are feeling the heat from another boycott, this time instigated by their nation's own security forces. Iranian officials say that US contacts have lured academics into spying rings. An espionage network of British and US agents was cracked last week, they say.

Academics are being prevented from teaching and studying at overseas universities, while travel to conferences is being severely curtailed.

Iranian academics disagree with the charges of espionage. Some told the Guardian that they suspected the special forces were "purging" universities of academics believed to hold liberal or secular views. Many academics have been retired or removed from their post in what observers believe is part of the build-up to another "revolution" instigated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad is said to believe universities have become dangerously secular environments, and his thugs have cracked down on tie-wearing and percieved moderation in international issues.

--Wendy in Washington

Who and what are really behind the boycott Israel resolutions?

Make no mistake. The  Israel boycott resolutions springing up all over the US and the UK are not accidental, and they are not spontaneous outbursts of concern over the Israeli occupation. They are part of a concerted and longstanding anti-normalization effort, orchestrated by those who oppose a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are spearheaded by a bogus Palestinian trade union federation created solely for the purpose of political action against Israel,  an equally bogus anti-boycott campaign "coalition" that does not reveal what organizations belong to their "coalition" and a variety of Israeli, U.K. and U.S. anti-Zionist activists. The initiators of the boycotts masquerade as human rights advocates, but in other contexts, often in Arabic, they make it clear that their agenda is annihilation of Israel. According to them, Palestinians who engage in dialogue are traitors who take crumbs from the Americans and Europeans.
Some background on the boycott initiators, and on how to counter them with a strategy that is pro-active for peace, is given here & here and at A program for wrecking Israeli-Palestinian Dialog.
Ami Isseroff

Sunday, June 3, 2007

ICAN ALERT - UCU boycott proposal

ICAN, the Israeli Citizens Action Network, sends us this:

The proposal for a boycott of Israeli academics is just one of a series of attempts by British extremists to continue and strengthen the demonisation and deligitimisation of Israel . I am aware that this e-mail is a longer than I would like but the matter is so important that I feel you must have as much information at your disposal as possible.

What type of action can you take?

a) For those of you living in the UK, especially if you have studied at one of the Universities, you can write to the UCU condemning the action and feeling ashamed of the UK ,

b) If you live outside the UK, you can also write referring to the inevitable backlash that is likely as a result of the action, quoting a one professor who has already cancelled a lecture in the Uk and an academic fund who has informed several UK universities not to apply for funding. Write to all professional or scholarly organizations with which you are affiliated. Urge or petition the leadership of that organization to issue a statement opposing academic boycotts in general and the UCU's boycott motion in particular.

This proposal has been instigated by a small group of anti-Israel union delegates who appear not to represent the views of the union membership and who have singled out Israel for opprobrium. The motion is an attempt to delegitimize and to silence the only Jewish state in the world, one of a tiny minority of states in the Middle East that truly honor academic freedom. In Israel's prestigious universities, faculty members represent all religious and political persuasions. Many Israeli professors are Arabs; many are Muslims. How many professors at universities in Arab countries are Jews? How many are non-Muslims? How many belong to nondominant Muslim denominations?

The proposed boycott is immoral and antithetical to academic principles. It shuts off dialogue, when one of the key purposes of universities is to promote dialogue and thereby the pursuit of truth. It ignores existing projects where Israeli and Palestinian academics cooperate. It requires academics to hew to one ideological line. And it constitutes discrimination on the basis of nationality.


You can write to UCU head Sally Hunt at,uk and the other members of the UCU whose e-mail addresses are below. PLEASE NOTE thjat some of these people may have voted for OR against the motion so do not accuse anyone.. Ms. Hunt has publicly opposed the boycott-enabling motions. Express your support for her argument as Joy did above and that the boycott motion may not be implemented until it has been presented to, discussed by, and passed by a vote of the full membership, analogous to motions for strikes. Please share your thoughts, feelings and analysis in a collegial and respectful fashion.

Below are some typical letters already sent by academics:-.

Edward Beck, Walden University and President of SPME , commented: " In calling for a boycott of Israel academics, the British have separated themselves, not the Israelis, from the global academic community which firmly condemns academic boycotts for moral, ethical and intellectual reasons, frequently acknowledging that academics are active in trying to solve problems and not create additional ones."

"I am sorry that one of the first acts of the newly formed University and College Union has been to jettison the principle of the Universality of Science and Learning, which has been at the heart of academic activity for so long This decision brings discredit on the Union." said Oxford University scientist, Michael Yudkin.

Ashley Grossman, William Harvey Research Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine, Queen Mary University of London points out, "...I have yet to meet any member of an Israeli University who believes that there should be other than an establishment of a Palestinian state on equal terms with Israel: would that were true of all Palestinian opinion. The organisers of the boycott may state otherwise, but this one is another example of creeping salon anti-semitism that we are now become accustomed to in the UK."

Hebrew University Vidal Sasson Center for Research on Anti-Semitism Research Associate and SPME Board Member from Germany, Matthias Kuentzel remarks. "Hostilities against Israel appear today in the form of a pincer movement: On one side, we have anti-Semites such as Ahmadinejad or Hamas who draw their "knowledge" about Jews from the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." On the other side we have non-Jewish and Jewish "fellow travellers of anti-Semitism" in progressive Western movements and governments who take up and proliferate, albeit in muted form, Iran's attempts to delegitimize Israel."


Donna Robinson Divine, Morningstar Professor of Government, Smith College observes, " The UCU call for a boycott reveals not only profound ignorance of the Middle East conflict but also deep illiteracy about the academic mission. Academicians should be able to think without resort to slogans and mantras."

Law Professor Ed Morgan of the University of Toronto , makes this interesting analysis, "In the United States, the Export Administration Act, as amended in 1977, represents a comprehensive legislative response to the longstanding Arab League trade and investment boycott of Israel. Prohibited activities include refusing to do business for boycott reasons, taking discriminatory actions that are boycott based, engaging in schemes intended to place a boycotted person or entity at a commercial disadvantage, etc. In addition, the U.S. Treasury Department enforces the anti-boycott provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 1976, which deny certain tax benefits to those who agree to "participate in or cooperate with an international boycott." While the focus of the legislation is on commercial relationships, and it might take some inventive interpretations or even amendments to apply the law to non-commercial contexts such as university activities, the notion that nationality-base! d boycotts are offensive in a liberal society is certainly reflected in the anti-boycott statutes. The important link between a boycott of Israel - be it commercial or academic - and the impact on the Jewish community was succinctly stated by President Jimmy Carter who, in signing the EAA amendments into force on June 22, 1977, declared that, "The bill seeks…to end the divisive effects on American life of foreign boycotts aimed at Jewish members of our society." It may seem ironic today, but it was President Carter who identified those who would boycott Israel as practicing a special form of apartheid. Carter stated, "If we allow such a precedent to become established, we open the door to similar action against any ethnic, religious, or racial group in America."

University of Buffalo SPME Chapter Chair Prof. Ernest Sternberg, comments, " Today, leaders of the British academic labor union have approved a boycott of Jewish academics, in Israel, the country in which Jews have built as a democratic, tolerant home in the wake of worldwide discrimination, pogroms, and genocide. At a time when Israel is subjected to threats and active attempts at annihilation from Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamist extremists, the UCU has sought once again to target the victim. While hundreds of thousands are murdered in Darfur, repressive occupation continues in Tibet, ethnic cleansing takes place West Irian, and suicide-terrorism causes mass murder in around the world, UCU targets Israel. Through ignorance or malice, UCU leaders have, though this scapegoating of Israel, become complicit with bigotry, racism, and the yearning for genocide."

Here are the names, and e-mail addresses of the regional and local heads of the UCU union. Feel free to express your opinions to them, keeping in mind that not everyone on this list voted in favor of this resolution. Sally Hunt, joint general secretary, for example, has stated that she voted against it.

Israel's Minister of Immigration and Absorption has called upon Jews to refrain from making contributions to British institutions of higher learning. Why just Jews? Everyone who is committed to justice, freedom and truth should not give their contributions to academic institutions which stand firmly behind racism and anti-Semitism.

Silence is acquiescence, we MUST make our voice heard.

UCU head office
UCU head office: Britannia Street
UCU head office: Egmont House
Sally Hunt, Joint general secretary
Paul Mackney, Joint general secretary

Joint presidents, Dr Dennis Hayes and Dr Steve Wharton
Barry Lovejoy, National head of further education
Malcolm Keight, National head of higher education
Matt Waddup, National head of campaigns, organising, recruitment and training
Roger Kline, National head of equality and employment rights
Paul Cottrell, National head of cross-sectoral professional policy
Paula Lanning, National head of communications and public affairs
Annette Dalchow, National head of personnel
Bernadette Newman, National head of finance

David Bleiman, Edinburgh
Mary Cooper, London Britannia (FE)
Sue Davis, Birmingham Alpha (HE)
Russell Escritt, Birmingham Alpha (FE)
Brian Everett, Manchester Hale (HE)
Colin Gledhill, Manchester Talbot (FE)
Jenny Golden, London Britannia (HE)
Barry Johnson, Birmingham Newhall (HE)
Adrian Jones, Manchester Talbot (HE)
Barry Jones, London Egmont (HE)
Jim McCracken, Exeter
Jim McKeown, Belfast
Martin Machon, Birmingham Newhall (HE)
Elizabeth Martins, London Britannia (FE)
Ben Monks, London (HE - Anglia and south-east England)
Martyn Moss, Manchester Talbot (FE)
Iain Owens, Gateshead
John Perry, Bridgend
Chris Powell, London Britannia (FE)
Nick Varney, Birmingham Alpha (FE)


Saudi Arabia - Veiled threat to human rights

Arab news discusses this interesting issue:
Forcing Maids to Wear Veil
Najah Alosaimi, Arab News
RIYADH, 3 June 2007 — The scene of a veiled maid walking with a Saudi family in public is a familiar one. It is also a normal scene when we consider how the veil and religion are closely associated with most Saudis.
Veils constitute an important component of dress for many women in the Kingdom, where it is considered a sign of feminine modesty. Interestingly, non-Muslim maids that work for conservative Muslim families are also obliged by their sponsors to wear veils in public. However, these women are not required to do so when at home and among the family's menfolk.
The reasons why some housewives tend to require their maids to wear veils vary according to the family. Some feel that a maid walking outside without a veil attracts the attention of men. They feel that veiling their maids protects them from annoying flirters.
Laila Al-Hilali, a Saudi researcher, referred to a contradiction in the way that some families oblige their maids to wear veils in public and ignore other "priorities." "A maid's appearance in public attracts the attention of the families they work for, who tend to ignore other serious issues such as how committed the maid is to her work, or how she treats the kids when the parents are away," said Al-Hilali.
Some housewives also force their maids to wear the veil. At a kid's funfair, an Asian maid who was taking care of some children could not stop asking other maids if her refusal to wear a veil would lead her to being sent to jail. She said that her employer gave her an abaya as soon as she arrived at the airport and told her she was not allowed to take it off in public.
Shariah expert Dr. Suhaila Zain Al-Abedin, told Arab News that the Kingdom's domestic work force make up a quarter of the expatriates living in the Kingdom. "This huge work force needs to be educated about our culture, society, religion and the whole point of hijab, which is a symbol of modesty and has been prescribed to protect women from molestation in public. Women have never been forced to wear it," she said.
"A maid should be treated like a human being by her employers, not like a slave. She should be given the freedom to choose if she really wishes to wear the hijab without being obliged... Housewives must treat their maids with respect and not terrify them. This may lead them to hurt their employers," she added.
"A maid should be treated like a human being by her employers, not like a slave." What a revolutionary concept. Next thing you know, they'll be demanding citizenship for the army of expatriates who work for years in Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries.