Monday, October 16, 2006

Late night thoughts

Life is running so fast and I'm not able to stop for a while, even to blog, because I'm afraid it will run without me. But looking back at what I have accomplished, and I feel I've done nothing. So why running?

Yesterday I heard an amazing sentence that I decided to make as my new mantra: Every morning symbolizes the beginning of the rest of your life. So every morning, I can make a new decision and try it for the day. Wow, I can be really abusive of my own mantra :)

So, today I made some very important decisions, that I am hoping to stick to, but with my new mantra, it seems that I just waited less than 12 hrs to change all of my decisions. Now, people can call me indecisive, in addition to the description I gave myself on the profile. Perfect! I am now Ms. Complicated Par Excellence.

To all my friends who keep checking this blog, I love you so much and I'm so sorry I'm not staying in touch, but I'm so busy being indecisive.

Please not another Sykes-Pico Agreement!

James Baker prepares the exits in IraqBy Michael Young Daily Star staffThursday, October 12, 2006

In Washington, there is a frequent step before old soldiers die and after they've faded away; recruitment into a blue ribbon panel established to resolve one administration headache or other. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by a former secretary of state, James Baker, and a former congressman, Lee Hamilton, is one such venture. The group, whose creation was urged by Congress, is tasked with recommending new ways for the Bush administration to deal with the war in Iraq. Its report will come out after the November elections, to avoid being politicized.

The group includes establishment stalwarts, including former CIA Director Robert Gates, Bill Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, Reagan administration Attorney General Edwin Meese, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, former Defense Secretary William Perry, former Senator and Virginian Governor Charles Robb, and former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson. While the conclusions of these insiders, well-lubed in the etiquette of American power, are not binding, President George W. Bush will have to take them seriously, because the next Congress is bound to be hostile to "staying the course" in Iraq and might oblige him to do so.

It's still unclear what the group will recommend. Baker, in an interview on ABC television last weekend, played his cards close to his chest, but did throw out hints: "I think it's fair to say our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate, of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run.'" He dismissed as unworkable a plan by Senator Joseph Biden to decentralize Iraq and give Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions, distributing oil revenue to all. Baker argued "there's no way to draw lines" between the three groups in Iraq's major cities, where the communities are mixed.
However, an article in The Times of London suggested a different plan. The group would recommend breaking Iraq up into "three highly autonomous regions." According to "informed sources" cited by the paper, the Iraq group "has grown increasingly interested in the idea of splitting the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions of Iraq ... His group will not advise 'partition,' but is believed to favor a division of the country that will devolve power and security to the regions, leaving a skeletal national government in Baghdad in charge of foreign affairs, border protection and the distribution of oil revenue. The Iraqi government will be encouraged to hold a constitutional conference paving the way for greater devolution. Iran and Syria will be urged to back a regional settlement that could be brokered at an international conference."

It's not clear how the conclusions of The Times square with Baker's own dismissal of the Biden plan. However, the likelihood is that the differences are in the details, not in the overall principle of distributing power away from the center, a process explicit in the federal structure mandated by the Iraqi Constitution. In addition, Baghdad's control over Iraq has all but disintegrated, so that any practical plan must take this into consideration. But just how much is unclear. The proposal outlined by The Times, if it is proven true, would suggest substantial dissemination of power. This would create a confederal structure in form, but the partition of Iraq in fact, regardless of claims that the Iraq Study Group has no such agenda.

What of Baker's admission that the mixed nature of urban areas makes the Biden plan unworkable? His focus on Iraqi cities, as opposed to surrounding rural areas, might mean his group will propose some sort of mechanism to leave Iraqi cities "open" to all communities, under separate administrations. If that's the case, however, the scheme would have little practical meaning in places like Kirkuk, where Kurds have the means, and the wherewithal, to pressure their adversaries. As for Baghdad, the challenge would be to isolate the city from the ambient ethnic and sectarian fighting. Like Sarajevo, the Iraqi capital is likely to end up being a mere extension of the wars around it, with the battle lines already drawn between "pure" sectarian neighborhoods.

In reality, the Baker-Hamilton group is less there to engineer a stable future for Iraq than to create conditions for American forces to leave the country. Baker doesn't want to "cut and run," but there is an awful lot of cutting, and not a little hurried walking, in his thinking. The idea is that once Kurds and Shiites fully take security into their own hands in their autonomous areas, the US will be able to substantially reduce its troop levels and withdraw the remainder to safe areas, probably to Kurdistan.

However, partition is a dangerous proposition. A favored course of action of uninspired diplomats, the partitioning of territories has usually visited little more than trauma on countries, accompanied by war. That's what happened in India, Palestine, Korea, Vietnam, Cyprus and Bosnia, and nothing suggests that Iraq will be any different. Iraqis may today have fallen back on their ethnic or sectarian identities, but that doesn't mean they will accept a foreign plan for effective partition. If anything, this may provoke their hostility and that of many Arabs who will certainly interpret the proposal as an effort to fragment Iraq to Israel's benefit. You will hear the familiar tropes that this is all part of a vast neoconservative project to weaken the Arab world, though members of the Baker-Hamilton team - particularly Baker, a sleek facilitator between big oil and Arab custodians of stalemate - would shudder at such an association.
Finally, asking Iran and Syria to guarantee this process means asking the two states most responsible for destabilizing Iraq since 2003 to oversee its stabilization. That's a typical realist habit, and Baker has long enjoyed transacting with American foes. Syrian President Hafez Assad allowed Shiite Islamists to kill American soldiers and civilians in Lebanon in the 1980s, but was nonetheless rewarded by Baker and President George H.W. Bush with a blank check for total hegemony over Lebanon in 1990. What Baker can't understand, or won't, is that the Syrian regime survives thanks to the instability of its neighbors. A peaceful Iraq threatens to make Syria, its intelligence services, and the artificial state of insecurity the regime has created to sustain itself, superfluous. Bashar Assad won't feel any compulsion to do the US favors as it prepares to exit from Iraq.

But don't expect Baker to care by then. His brief is to find an "honorable" way for American soldiers to pull out; what comes afterward is no longer in his hands. It's best to wait before judging the final Iraq Study Group report, and Baker is too much of a calculator to cross Bush. But what he ends up writing will be an American document for Americans. Pity the Iraqis if they are once again secondary in deciding their own fate.

Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gideon Levy for next Israel Prime Minister

Gideon Levy is AWESOME. Check the last paragraph of the article. it's my favorite :)

The mystery of America
By Gideon Levy

It happens once every few months. Like a periodic visit by an especially annoying relative from
overseas, Condoleezza Rice was here again. The same declarations, the same texts devoid of content, the
same sycophancy, the same official aircraft heading back to where it came from. The results were also the
same: Israel promised in December, after a stormy night of discussions, to open the "safe passage"
between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This time, in what was considered the "achievement" of the
current visit, Israel also promised to open the Karni crossing. Karni will be open, one can assume, only
slightly more than the "safe passage," which never opened following the previous futile visit.

Rice has been here six times in the course of a year and a half, and what has come of it? Has anyone asked
her about this? Does she ask herself? It is hard to understand how the secretary of state
allows herself to be so humiliated. It is even harder to understand how the superpower she represents allows
itself to act in such a hollow and useless way. The mystery of America remains unsolved: How is it that
the United States is doing nothing to advance a solution to the most dangerous and lengthiest conflict
in our world? How is it that the world's only superpower, which has the power to quickly facilitate
a solution, does not lift a finger to promote it?

What happened since 1956, when the U.S. made Israel withdraw from Sinai overnight with a single telephone
call, immediately after the "Third Kingdom of Israel" speech by the strongest Israeli leader of all times,
David Ben-Gurion? Now, as the occupation continues for years, with a government no less dependent on the good
graces of the U.S. than in the past, why is America a bystander?

Countless trips by presidents and secretaries of state, peace initiatives and peace plans aplenty, from
the Roger's Plan to the Road Map, via "reassessment," fruitless talks and flowery declarations, pressure and
promises, discussions and decisions - and nothing has happened. And in the background, a fundamental
question echoes, without a response: Is America at all interested in bringing about a solution in the Middle
East? Is it possible that it does not understand how crucial it is to end the conflict?

As things appear, America can and does not want to. No government in Israel, and surely not the most
recent ones, which are terrified of the American administration, would stand up to a firm American
demand to bring the occupation to an end. But there has never been an American president who wanted to put
an end to the occupation. Does America not understand that without ending the occupation there will be no
peace? Peace in the region would deliver a greater blow to world terrorism than any war America has
pursued, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Does America not understand this? Can all this be attributed to the
omnipotent Jewish lobby, which causes Israel more harm than good?

The declared aim of U.S. policy in the Middle East is to bring democracy to the region. For this reason,
ostensibly, the U.S. also went to war in Iraq. Even if one ignores the hypocrisy, self-righteousness and
double-standard of the Bush administration, which supports quite a few despotic regimes, one should ask
the great seeker of democracy: Have your eyes failed to see that the most undemocratic and brutal regime in
the region is the Israeli occupation in the territories? And how does the White House reconcile
the contradiction between the aspiration to instill democracy in the peoples of the region and the boycott
of the Hamas government, which was chosen in democratic elections as America wanted and preached?

The U.S. also speaks loftily about peace. At the same time, its president warns Israel against any attempt
to forge peace with Syria. Here America is taking a stance that not only fails to advance an accord but
even undermines it. Ever since it began to give Israel a free hand to impose the brutal occupation in the
territories, it has become a party that bequeaths undemocratic values to the entire world. Where are the
days when there was still concern in Jerusalem about the U.S. reaction before each military operation?
Israel then thought twice before every liquidation and each arrest. Every demolition of a Palestinian home
and each nocturnal groundbreaking of a settlement raised fears about how Uncle Sam would react. And now
- carte blanche. There is a blank check for every belligerent action by Israel. Should this also be
called an effort for peace, for democracy?

The recent years have not been good for America. From "the leader of the free world," it has become detested
by the world. Not only do South Africa, Asia and Africa feel strong animosity toward it, most of the
public opinion in Europe has also turned away from it. Is anyone in the administration asking why the world
loves so much to hate America? And what implications will this growing global feeling have on the strength
of the U.S. in the years ahead? Can the dollar, the Tomahawk and the F-16 provide an answer for
everything?

In the Middle East, the U.S. has an opportunity to fundamentally change its image, from a warmonger to a
peacemaker. And how does the U.S. respond to the challenge? It sends Rice to tell the excited Ehud
Olmert how she falls asleep easily on her unnecessary and ridiculous flights to and from the Middle East.

The Holocaust's Arab Heroes

By Robert Satloff
October 8, 2006; B01

Virtually alone among peoples of the world, Arabs appear to have won a free pass when it comes to denying or minimizing the Holocaust. Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah has declared to his supporters that "Jews invented the legend of the Holocaust." Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently told an interviewer that he doesn't have "any clue how [Jews] were killed or how many were killed." And Hamas's official Web site labels the Nazi effort to exterminate Jews "an alleged and invented story with no basis."

Such Arab viewpoints are not exceptional. A respected Holocaust research institution recently reported that Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia all promote Holocaust denial and protect Holocaust deniers. The records of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum show that only one Arab leader at or near the highest level of government -- a young prince from a Persian Gulf state -- has ever made an official visit to the museum in its 13-year history. Not a single official textbook or educational program on the Holocaust exists in an Arab country. In Arab media, literature and popular culture, Holocaust denial is pervasive and legitimized.

Yet when Arab leaders and their people deny the Holocaust, they deny their own history as well -- the lost history of the Holocaust in Arab lands. It took me four years of research -- scouring dozens of archives and conducting scores of interviews in 11 countries -- to unearth this history, one that reveals complicity and indifference on the part of some Arabs during the Holocaust, but also heroism on the part of others who took great risks to save Jewish lives.

Neither Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to Holocaust victims, nor any other Holocaust memorial has ever recognized an Arab rescuer. It is time for that to change. It is also time for Arabs to recall and embrace these episodes in their history. That may not change the minds of the most radical Arab leaders or populations, but for some it could make the Holocaust a source of pride, worthy of remembrance -- rather than avoidance or denial.

The Holocaust was an Arab story, too. From the beginning of World War II, Nazi plans to persecute and eventually exterminate Jews extended throughout the area that Germany and its allies hoped to conquer. That included a great Arab expanse, from Casablanca to Tripoli and on to Cairo, home to more than half a million Jews.

Though Germany and its allies controlled this region only briefly, they made substantial headway toward their goal. From June 1940 to May 1943, the Nazis, their Vichy French collaborators and their Italian fascist allies applied in Arab lands many of the precursors to the Final Solution. These included not only laws depriving Jews of property, education, livelihood, residence and free movement, but also torture, slave labor, deportation and execution.
There were no death camps, but many thousands of Jews were consigned to more than 100 brutal labor camps, many solely for Jews. Recall Maj. Strasser's warning to Ilsa, the wife of the Czech underground leader, in the 1942 film "Casablanca": "It is possible the French authorities will find a reason to put him in the concentration camp here." Indeed, the Arab lands of Algeria and Morocco were the site of the first concentration camps ever liberated by Allied troops.
About 1 percent of Jews in North Africa (4,000 to 5,000) perished under Axis control in Arab lands, compared with more than half of European Jews. These Jews were lucky to be on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, where the fighting ended relatively early and where boats -- not just cattle cars -- would have been needed to take them to the ovens in Europe. But if U.S. and British troops had not pushed Axis forces from the African continent by May 1943, the Jews of Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and perhaps even Egypt and Palestine almost certainly would have met the same fate as those in Europe.

The Arabs in these lands were not too different from Europeans: With war waging around them, most stood by and did nothing; many participated fully and willingly in the persecution of Jews; and a brave few even helped save Jews.

Arab collaborators were everywhere. These included Arab officials conniving against Jews at royal courts, Arab overseers of Jewish work gangs, sadistic Arab guards at Jewish labor camps and Arab interpreters who went house to house with SS officers pointing out where Jews lived. Without the help of local Arabs, the persecution of Jews would have been virtually impossible.
Were Arabs, then under the domination of European colonialists, merely following orders? An interviewer once posed that question to Harry Alexander, a Jew from Leipzig, Germany, who survived a notoriously harsh French labor camp at Djelfa, in the Algerian desert. "No, no, no!" he exploded in reply. "Nobody told them to beat us all the time. Nobody told them to chain us together. Nobody told them to tie us naked to a post and beat us and to hang us by our arms and hose us down, to bury us in the sand so our heads should look up and bash our brains in and urinate on our heads. . . . No, they took this into their own hands and they enjoyed what they did."

But not all Arabs joined with the European-spawned campaign against the Jews. The few who risked their lives to save Jews provide inspiration beyond their numbers.
Arabs welcomed Jews into their homes, guarded Jews' valuables so Germans could not confiscate them, shared with Jews their meager rations and warned Jewish leaders of coming SS raids. The sultan of Morocco and the bey of Tunis provided moral support and, at times, practical help to Jewish subjects. In Vichy-controlled Algiers, mosque preachers gave Friday sermons forbidding believers from serving as conservators of confiscated Jewish property. In the words of Yaacov Zrivy, from a small town near Sfax, Tunisia, "The Arabs watched over the Jews."

I found remarkable stories of rescue, too. In the rolling hills west of Tunis, 60 Jewish internees escaped from an Axis labor camp and banged on the farm door of a man named Si Ali Sakkat, who courageously hid them until liberation by the Allies. In the Tunisian coastal town of Mahdia, a dashing local notable named Khaled Abdelwahhab scooped up several families in the middle of the night and whisked them to his countryside estate to protect one of the women from the predations of a German officer bent on rape.

And there is strong evidence that the most influential Arab in Europe -- Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris -- saved as many as 100 Jews by having the mosque's administrative personnel give them certificates of Muslim identity, with which they could evade arrest and deportation. These men, and others, were true heroes.

According to the Koran: "Whoever saves one life, saves the entire world." This passage echoes the Talmud's injunction, "If you save one life, it is as if you have saved the world."
Arabs need to hear these stories -- both of heroes and of villains. They especially need to hear them from their own teachers, preachers and leaders. If they do, they may respond as did that one Arab prince who visited the Holocaust museum. "What we saw today," he commented after his tour, "must help us change evil into good and hate into love and war into peace."

rsatloff@washingtoninstitute.org

Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is author of "Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands" (PublicAffairs).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Back again

I know I disappeared but I'm back now. I had so much work, I didn't have time to sleep. This past weekend, I tired to recover, so I slept for about 12 hrs/day. GREAT! I still have a lot of work to do, as always, but also I have to put a plan for my life. I have to start acting to put my future together instead of only reacting to work. A plan should be ready in the very near future, like tomorrow.

It's 1 in the morning, time to go to sleep, but I'm still waiting for my brother to come online so we can talk. It seems he didn't wake up yet. But my other friends in Lebanon are awake and I'm talking to them. There's always someone to talk to. Now the favorite subject is when did you start fasting?

Well in the wonderful world of Ramadan, the majority of the Sunnis started fasting on Saturday, a minority of Sunnis and Shias fasted on Sunday, and the majority of Shias considered Monday as the first day of Ramadan. I, personally, started fasting on Friday, maybe to keep the Druze company.

And still in the same state of confusion regarding the beginning of Ramadan, I would like to wish everybody a Merry Ramadan and a Happy Iftar :)

Peace and love

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When will the world WAKE UP?

Gaza’s human calamity

By Jan Egeland and Jan Eliasson
The Daily Star-Egypt
September 18, 2006

While the world’s gaze remains focused on Lebanon, less than 200 km south in Gaza, there is a human time bomb is ticking away. Some 1.4 million people in Gaza – more than half of them children – are packed inside one of the world’s most densely populated areas with no freedom of movement and no place to run, no place to hide. With access virtually cut off since late June, poverty, unemployment, shortages and desperation in Gaza are mounting. Sadly, what is most needed in Gaza today is precisely what is most lacking: hope.

Earlier in September, 35 nations, joined by the UN, Red Cross movement and non-governmental organizations, met in Stockholm to help restore some small measure of hope for the people of Gaza. Donor nations pledged an additional $116 million for urgent humanitarian needs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with half of that going toward the UN’s $384 million appeal. While we commend donors for this step forward, the people of Gaza need much more – and soon. The UN’s humanitarian appeal is still 42 percent unfunded despite warnings of a rapidly worsening situation that could push many families in Gaza over the brink.
Since the Israeli operation “Summer Rain” began in late June in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldier, one Israeli soldier has been killed. During that same time, 235 Palestinians have been killed, 46 of whom were children. Every loss of life must be deplored. But there can be no doubt that the response, measured in the loss of civilian lives, is disproportionate. For Palestinians and Israelis alike, the consequences of this summer’s fighting are as lethal as they are corrosive to prospects for peace in this troubled region.

Air, sea and land access has been virtually cut off in Gaza. Movement of goods and people has come to a near stand-still. Power and water supplies, crippled by an Israeli Defense Force strike on the main power plant, are erratic and insufficient. Key civilian infrastructure has been crippled. Gaza today remains reliant on external sources of food and commercial supplies. Health conditions are deteriorating as supplies of clean water remain in short supply. As the Palestinian economy continues in a free fall, we can expect humanitarian conditions to worsen further.

Imagine you are a mother or father in Gaza, living in an area less than one-fourth the size of Greater London (1,620 sq kilometers) with a population the size of Leeds (1.49 million) You cannot leave this small territory, and you cannot import or export goods. Your children live in constant fear of violence. Shortages of basic provisions, including water, increase the possibility of communicable disease outbreaks and add further strain to daily life. Every day, up to 185 artillery shells rain down on your territory. Every night, you see rockets shot off indiscriminately into Israel by militant groups. You know that when retaliation comes, you and your family may not be spared the effects. Now imagine you live in Israel every night, the rockets come crashing down. Armed groups continually undermine the very idea of your country, your daily life and your existence.

We believe it is in neither side’s interest to have violence prevail in Gaza and the West Bank, situated at the crossroads of so many of the world’s great cultures and religions.
To help defuse the ticking time bomb in Gaza, we need immediate action on three fronts: humanitarian, economic and political.

First, civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected by all parties. We call upon the Israeli Government as the Occupying Power, the Palestinian Authority and all armed groups to uphold their responsibilities under international law.

Along with a cessation of hostilities, there must also be freedom of movement for civilians and humanitarian workers. For the population of Gaza, the perception of being trapped, of living in a cage, is intolerable, and fuels further desperation and despair. The Agreement on Movement and Access of Nov. 15 2005 must now be fully implemented.

Freedom of movement is also essential for aid workers to reach those in need throughout Gaza and the West Bank. The Karni Crossing, the main crossing point between Israel and Gaza, should be made a no-conflict, protected zone, open to the flow of essential goods for the Palestinian population. An independent third-party could be appointed to monitor this zone in order to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns. With the majority of Gaza’s population dependent on external aid for basic survival, unimpeded humanitarian access a matter of life or death.

On the economic front, we call on Israeli authorities to release the approximately $500 million in Palestinian tax and customs revenues they have withheld. These funds are urgently needed to meet humanitarian and economic needs.

But money alone is not the answer, of course, nor are humanitarian plasters [band-aids] on an open wound. In the end, only a return to the peace process and a durable, two-state political solution can bring hope and healing to this troubled area. The need is urgent. The time is now. It is a matter of solidarity, and a matter of security for us all.

Jan Egeland is the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Jan Eliasson is the Foreign Minister of Sweden and the former UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs (1992–94).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Quarter Century!

Gee!!!!!! I'm 25....

Creative Ways for a Ceasefire

When rockets and phosphorous cluster
By Meron Rapoport
Ha'aretz


"In Lebanon, we covered entire villages with cluster bombs, what we did there was crazy and monstrous," testifies a commander in the Israel Defense Forces' MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) unit. Quoting his battalion commander, he said the IDF fired some 1,800 cluster rockets on Lebanon during the war and they contained over 1.2 million cluster bombs. The IDF also used cluster shells fired by 155 mm artillery cannons, so the number of cluster bombs fired on Lebanon is even higher. At the same time, soldiers in the artillery corps testified that the IDF used phosphorous shells, which many experts say is prohibited by international law. According to the claims, the overwhelming majority of the weapons mentioned were fired during the last ten days of the war. The commander asserted that there was massive use of MLRS rockets despite the fact that they are known to be very inaccurate - the rockets' deviation from the target reaches to around 1,200 meters - and that a substantial percentage do not explode and become mines. Due to these facts, most experts view cluster ammunitions as a "non-discerning" weapon that is prohibited for use in a civilian environment. The percentage of duds among the rockets fired by the U.S. army in Iraq reached 30 percent and the United Nations' land mine removal team in Lebanon claims that the percentage of duds among the rockets fired by the IDF reaches some 40 percent. In light of these figures, the number of duds left behind by the Israeli cluster rockets in Lebanon is likely to reach half a million. According to the commander, in order to compensate for the rockets' imprecision, the order was to "flood" the area with them. "We have no option of striking an isolated target, and the commanders know this very well," he said. He also stated that the reserve soldiers were surprised by the use of MLRS rockets, because during their regular army service, they were told these are the IDF's "judgment day weapons" and intended for use in a full-scale war.

The commander also said that at least in one case, they were asked to fire cluster rockets toward "a village's outskirts" in the early morning: "They told us that this is a good time because people are coming out of the mosques and the rockets would deter them." In other cases, they fired the rockets at a range of less than 15 kilometers, even though the manufacturer's guidelines state that firing at this range considerably increases the number of duds. The commander further related that during IDF training exercises hardly any live rockets are fired, for fear that they would leave duds behind and fill the IDF's firing grounds with mines. After being discharged from his reserve duty, the commander sent a letter to Defense Minister Amir Peretz and protested the number of cluster rockets fired in Lebanon, which "perhaps the generals forgot to mention." "As far as the duds are concerned," he wrote, "we have no control over who is hurt. Sooner or later they will explode in people's hands." He has yet to receive a response from the defense minister.

At the same time, soldiers are reporting that they fired phosphorous shells, which are supposed to be used by the IDF for marking or setting fire to areas, in order to start fires in Lebanon. The artillery commander says he saw trucks with phosphorous shells en route to artillery batteries in the North. A direct hit from a phosphorous shell causes severe burns and a painful death. Around a year ago, there was an international scandal after a television crew presented harsh pictures of the charred bodies of Iraqis injured by phosphorous bombs during the course of the American attack on the city of Fallujah. International law prohibits the use of weapons that cause "excessive damage and unnecessary suffering," and many experts feel that phosphorous is included in this category. The International Red Cross determined that international law prohibits the use of phosphorous against humans. The American "Book of War," published in 1999, which sets down the rules of war for the American army, states: "The ground war law prohibits the use of phosphorous against human targets." The pact on prohibiting or limiting flammable weapons bans the use of phosphorous against civilian targets and against military targets found amid large civil populations.

The IDF Spokesperson said: "International law does not contain a sweeping ban on the use of cluster bombs. The Conventional Weapons Pact does not stipulate a ban on the use of inflammatory weapons (i.e., phosphorous - M.R.), rather it only offers rules for organizing the use of this weapon. For understandable operational reasons, the IDF will not comment on a detailed listing of the weaponry at its disposal. The IDF uses only methods and weapons that are permitted according to international law. The firing of artillery in general, including the firing of artillery to demolish a target, was initiated in response to firing at the State of Israel only." The defense minister's bureau said in response that it had yet to receive an inquiry on the matter of firing cluster rockets.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Birthday Cards

All day, I've been wondering about this stupid person who created the birthday cards showing the person going off the hill to say that he/she is older now!
It's not my fear of growing older that is speaking, but it's more the stupid meaning behind this card. Needless to say, I have sent this card to so many people, I even lost counting.
If you're wondering who sent me this card today, well get some rest, because no one sent it to me, I was just wondering about life and I remembered this kind of cards.
What intrigued about the card today that it doesn't have another uphill, as if the person's life is on its way to end. Does this mean that after a certain age, you just sit and wait for your death? What if one day, when you're on this downhill you discover that you lead your life in another direction that you intended to; does the downhill mean, you can't start all over again, and you should just get a bottle of beer—diet pepsi in my case—and sit in front of the TV and wait for Seth—I was watching City of Angels—to come and take my spirit? Is it true that after a certain age, we're only bodies moving waiting for death? Or we can always bring change to our lives? How can we know that there's always an uphill, and life is not only about downhills?
I kindly ask birthday card designers to take into consideration the psychological aspects of the person receiving the card. Isn't hope one of the driving forces in our lives? Then why the $%&# it is not apparent on this stupid card!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 04, 2006

What happens when you kill a hundred innocent civilians?

Well said...

Lebanon, Lebanon,
John Le Carre
Open Democracy
August 29, 2006

So answer me this one, please. If you kill a hundred innocent civilians and one terrorist, are you winning or losing the war on terror? "Ah", you may reply, "but that one terrorist could kill two hundred people, a thousand, more!" But then comes another question: if, by killing a hundred innocent people, you are creating five new terrorists in the future, and a popular base clamouring to give them aid and comfort, have you achieved a net gain for future generations of your countrymen, or created the enemy you deserve?

To read the whole article click here