Thursday, March 29, 2012

The New Mandela

by Uri Avnery

MARWAN BARGHOUTI has spoken up. After a long silence, he has sent a message from prison.

In Israeli ears, this message does not sound pleasant. But for Palestinians, and for Arabs in general, it makes sense.

His message may well become the new program of the Palestinian liberation movement.

I FIRST met Marwan in the heyday of post-Oslo optimism. He was emerging as a leader of the new Palestinian generation, the home-grown young activists, men and women, who had matured in the first Intifada.

He is a man of small physical stature and large personality. When I met him, he was already the leader of Tanzim (“organization”), the youth group of the Fatah movement.

The topic of our conversations then was the organization of demonstrations and other non-violent actions, based on close cooperation between the Palestinians and Israeli peace groups. The aim was peace between Israel and a new State of Palestine.

When the Oslo process died with the assassinations of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Marwan and his organization became targets. Successive Israeli leaders – Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon – decided to put an end to the two-state agenda. In the brutal “Defensive Shield operation (launched by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, the new leader of the Kadima Party) the Palestinian Authority was attacked, its services destroyed and many of its activists arrested.

Marwan Barghouti was put on trial. It was alleged that, as the leader of Tanzim, he was responsible for several “terrorist” attacks in Israel. His trial was a mockery, resembling a Roman gladiatorial arena more than a judicial process. The hall was packed with howling rightists, presenting themselves as “victims of terrorism”. Members of Gush Shalom protested against the trial inside the court building but we were not allowed anywhere near the accused.

Marwan was sentenced to five life sentences. The picture of him raising his shackled hands above his head has become a Palestinian national icon. When I visited his family in Ramallah, it was hanging in the living room.

IN PRISON, Marwan Barghouti was immediately recognized as the leader of all Fatah prisoners. He is respected by Hamas activists as well. Together, the imprisoned leaders of Fatah and Hamas published several statements calling for Palestinian unity and reconciliation. These were widely distributed outside and received with admiration and respect.

(Members of the extended Barghouti family, by the way, play a major role in Palestinian affairs across the entire spectrum from moderate to extremist. One of them is Mustapha Barghouti, a doctor who heads a moderate Palestinian party with many connections abroad, whom I regularly meet at demonstrations in Bilin and elsewhere. I once joked that we always cry when we see each other – from tear gas. The family has its roots in a group of villages north of Jerusalem.)

NOWADAYS, MARWAN Barghouti is considered the outstanding candidate for leader of Fatah and president of the Palestinian Authority after Mahmoud Abbas. He is one of the very few personalities around whom all Palestinians, Fatah as well as Hamas, can unite.

After the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, when the prisoner exchange was discussed, Hamas put Marwan Barghouti on top of the list of Palestinian prisoners whose release it demanded. This was a very unusual gesture, since Marwan belonged to the rival – and reviled - faction.

The Israeli government struck Marwan from the list right away, and remained adamant. When Shalit was finally released, Marwan stayed in prison. Obviously he was considered more dangerous than hundreds of Hamas “terrorists” with “blood on their hands”.


Cynics would say: because he wants peace. Because he sticks to the two-state solution. Because he can unify the Palestinian people for that purpose. All good reasons for a Netanyahu to keep him behind bars.

SO WHAT did Marwan tell his people this week?

Clearly, his attitude has hardened. So, one must assume, has the attitude of the Palestinian people at large.

He calls for a Third Intifada, a non-violent mass uprising in the spirit of the Arab Spring.

His manifesto is a clear rejection of the policy of Mahmoud Abbas, who maintains limited but all-important cooperation with the Israeli occupation authorities. Marwan calls for a total rupture of all forms of cooperation, whether economic, military or other.

A focal point of this cooperation is the day-to-day collaboration of the American-trained Palestinian security services with the Israeli occupation forces. This arrangement has effectively stopped violent Palestinian attacks in the occupied territories and in Israel proper. It guarantees, In practice, the security of the growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Marwan also calls for a total boycott of Israel, Israeli institutions and products in the Palestinian territories and throughout the world. Israeli products should disappear from West Bank shops, Palestinian products should be promoted.

At the same time, Marwan advocates an official end to the charade called “peace negotiations”. This term, by the way, is never heard anymore in Israel. First it was replaced with “peace process”, then “political process”, and lately “the political matter”. The simple word “peace” has become taboo among rightists and most “leftists” alike. It’s political poison.

Marwan proposes to make the absence of peace negotiations official. No more international talk about “reviving the peace process”, no more rushing around of ridiculous people like Tony Blair, no more hollow announcements by Hillary Clinton and Catherine Ashton, no more empty declarations of the “Quartet”. Since the Israeli government clearly has abandoned the two-state solution – which it never really accepted in the first place – keeping up the pretense just harms the Palestinian struggle.

Instead of this hypocrisy, Marwan proposes to renew the battle in the UN. First, apply again to the Security Council for the acceptance of Palestine as a member state, challenging the US to use its solitary veto openly against practically the whole world. After the expected rejection of the Palestinian request by the Council as a result of the veto, request a decision by the General Assembly, where the vast majority would vote in favor. Though this would not be binding, it would demonstrate that the freedom of Palestine enjoys the overwhelming support of the family of nations, and isolate Israel (and the US) even more.

Parallel to this course of action, Marwan insists on Palestinian unity, using his considerable moral force to put pressure on both Fatah and Hamas.

TO SUMMARIZE, Marwan Barghouti has given up all hope of achieving Palestinian freedom through cooperation with Israel, or even Israeli opposition forces. The Israeli peace movement is not mentioned anymore. “Normalization” has become a dirty word.

These ideas are not new, but coming from the No. 1 Palestinian prisoner, the foremost candidate for the succession of Mahmoud Abbas, the hero of the Palestinian masses, it means a turn to a more militant course, both in substance and in tone.

Marwan remains peace oriented – as he made clear when, in a rare recent appearance in court, he called out to the Israeli journalists that he continues to support the two-state solution. He also remains committed to non-violent action, having come to the conclusion that the violent attacks of yesteryear harmed the Palestinian cause instead of furthering it.

He wants to call a halt to the gradual and unwilling slide of the Palestinian Authority into a Vichy-like collaboration, while the expansion of the Israeli “settlement enterprise” goes on undisturbed.

NOT BY accident did Marwan publish his manifesto on the eve of “Land Day”, the world-wide day of protest against the occupation.

“Land Day” is the anniversary of an event that took place in 1976 to protest against the decision of the Israeli government to expropriate huge tracts of Arab-owned land in Galilee and other parts of Israel. The Israeli army and police fired on the protesters, killing six of them. (The day after, two of my friends and I laid wreaths on the graves of the victims, an act that earned me an outbreak of hatred and vilification I have seldom experienced.)

Land day was a turning point for Israel’s Arab citizens, and later became a symbol for Arabs everywhere. This year, the Netanyahu government threatened to shoot anybody who even approaches our borders. It may well be a harbinger for the Third Intifada heralded by Marwan.

For some time now, the world has lost much of its interest in Palestine. Everything looks quiet. Netanyahu has succeeded in deflecting world attention from Palestine to Iran. But in this country, nothing is ever static. While it seems that nothing is happening, settlements are growing incessantly, and so is the deep resentment of the Palestinians who see this happening before their eyes.

Marwan Barghouti’s manifesto expresses the near-unanimous feelings of the Palestinians in the West Bank and elsewhere. Like Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa, the man in prison may well be more important than the leaders outside.
Commentary: With all due respect for Uri Avnery I have two points of major disagreement with his article above: first, I don't believe in the so-called "Two State Solution" (a total non-starter in IMHO) and, two, I am very much concerned about whether Marwan Barghouti will not be turned into Israel's last chance to resurrect the otherwise dead and already decaying Fatah and the Two State Solution.  Still, I think that Avnery's point of view deserves to be looked into, and Barghouti himself might prove to be more of a patriot than a party man.  Lastly, considering the quasi total absence of a halfway decent Palestinian leadership, almost any leader with some intelligence and wisdom might be better the the current no-mans-land of corrupt Fatah stooges and clueless Hamas kindergärtners.

"We stand with you": Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters announces Palestine solidarity forum in Brazil

The Electronic Intifada reports:

Legendary UK musician, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, has reiterated his strong support for the Palestinian campaign for self-determination in a statement announcing a forthcoming conference in Brazil to support and expand the global movement for Palestinian rights.

Waters’ is a long-standing supporter of the Palestinian campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.

The World Social Forum Free Palestine will take place in November 2012 in Porto Alegre.

The object will be to create an international gathering there,” said Waters, “that will encourage the basic human instinct in all men and women of good faith to unite in support of the Palestinian people in their struggle for self determination.”
Waters visited Palestine in 2006 and painted graffiti on Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank.

The visit, and Waters’ support for BDS, came after Palestinians appealed to Waters to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv, an appeal the artist heeded.

Since that time, Waters observed in his statement, “All over the world, our movement is growing.”

Full statement by Roger Waters

Rio de Janeiro Wednesday 28th March 2012
Since visiting Israel and the occupied territories in 2006, I have been part of an international movement to support the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
I am honored to have been asked by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, to announce an initiative, to hold the World Social Forum Free Palestine in Porto Alegre, Brazil in November of this year, in cooperation with the Brazilian social movement and international civil society networks.
The object will be to create an international gathering there, that will encourage the basic human instinct in all men and women of good faith to unite in support of the Palestinian people in their struggle for self determination.
All over the world, our movement is growing.
Encouraged by events like the one coming here to Brazil, our voice will grow.
We will continue our call for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, for the tearing down of The Walls of colonization and apartheid, for the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, for the granting of full and equal rights to the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and for promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes as required by the Geneva convention, as stipulated in UN resolution 194, in 1949 and as restated by the International Court of Justice on the 9th of July 2004.
I find myself greatly encouraged by the growth of this movement in Israel, particularly among young Jewish Israelis, not least ‘Boycott From Within,’ With whom I am in contact.
We stand with you.
Events in Israel and the occupied territories are not widely or accurately reported in the west. The coming World Social Forum Free Palestine in Porto Alegre will help to break down The Walls of misinformation and complicity.
I urge people of conscience to support this forum and help make it a turning point in the international solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The truth will set us free
In Solidarity,
Roger Waters

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Israeli regime goes totally apeshit over human rights issue

Israel cuts contact with UN rights council, to protest settlements probe

Israel decided Monday to sever all contact with the United Nations human rights council and with its chief commissioner Navi Pillay, after the international body decided to establish an international investigative committee on the West Bank settlements.  The Foreign Ministry ordered Israel's ambassador to Geneva to cut off contact immediately, instructing him to ignore phone calls from the commissioner, a senior Israeli official said.

Israel will also bar a fact-finding team dispatched by the council from entering Israel and the West Bank to investigate settlement construction.  "We will not permit members of the human rights council to visit Israel and our ambassador has been instructed to not even answer phone calls," said the official. "The secretariat of the human rights council and Nabi Pilawai sparked this process by establishing an international investigative committee on settlements, and we will thus not work with them anymore and will not appear before the council," said the official.


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday that the move by the UN body proves that the Palestinians do not want to renew negotiations with Israel. "We are dealing with Al-Qaida terror on the one hand and diplomatic terror by Abu Mazen on the other," Lieberman said, referring to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Senior officials in the Prime Minister's Bureau and the Foreign Ministry said then that Israel would not cooperate with the UN committee. The Prime Minister's Bureau decided Friday that the committee's members - who are yet to be determined - would not be allowed into Israel.  Israel is also considering sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in response to the human rights council decision.
Commentary: Amazing, is it not?!  Even by Israeli standards the latest official reaction from the Zionist regime is beyond the what I call the "day to day paranoid hysterics" of the Zionist entity.  Sure, the Israels has never been known for their good manners, and Chutzpah is something of a revered national tradition there, but not answering telephone calls is infantile and bad-mannered even by Israeli standards.  It shows to what degree the regime is absolutely terrified of the entire human rights topic. And that, in turns, tells us all we need to know about abhorrent human rights situation in all of occupied Palestine.

It is rather amusing to observe that the Zionist regime clearly does not understand that such paranoid hysterics are an admission of guilt, that such an over-reaction will do as much, or eve more, damage to the (already catastrophic) public image of Israel than any kind of little know report on human rights (how many hundreds of such reports have been ignored and ended up in the waste basket in the past decades?)

To use the US-coined expression, Israel has become the prototypical "rogue state", totally out of control, with its unique mix of medieval racism and religious bigotry, is addiction to ruthless and random violence, its comprehensive and overt rejections of any norms of civilized behavior, its equally comprehensive and overt rejection of any and all forms of international law and the grotesque antics of its leaders.  Take the DPRK, combine it with Apartheid-era South Africa, put it all on steroids, and you will get something in the same league as today "Jewish state of Israel".

The Zionist entity of "Israel" is a disgrace to all of mankind, a blasphemy against God, and a clear proof of the moral bankruptcy of the current international order.

The Saker

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ali Abunimah and Gilad Atzmon at the OK Corral

The recent open letter Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon, apparently written by Ali Abunimah, has come as a shock to many people, including yours truly. Not only have the Zionists colonized Palestine and subjected them to a permanent campaign of genocide, but as anyone who has been paying attention knows, they have colonized the Western democracies, turning them into obedient puppets. Now it appears that they have also colonized the Palestine Solidarity movement.

At the end of this essay are links to a number of responses supporting Atzmon and what he stands for. These cover the ground pretty well, but I’d like to add a critical look at the language used by Abunimah et al and some of the notions underlying such terminology. I’ll start with the title itself, which begins with the curious phrase “Granting No Quarter.” The phrase is familiar to anyone who has read books or seen films based on British naval warfare set in the 18th or early 19th centuries. - this is as extreme as it gets. This from a group of mostly Palestinian supporters of the Palestinian struggle against Israel in opposition to another such supporter. That is sufficiently mind-boggling in itself, but Ali Abunimah, and I would assume at least some of his fellow signatories, are also supporters of One Democratic State as the solution to the basic conflict in the Middle East, as is Atzmon. Some fundamental and portentous difference, beyond a mere dispute about strategy or tactics, must be responsible for such a total and uncompromising attack on a seemingly close ally. It allows for no debate, no compromise – no quarter offered or accepted.
Some observers have implied that Ali & Co. have actually gone over to the enemy, or may have been Zionist agents from day one, and that the Jewish members of these Solidarity groups are acting as their handlers. For the sake of argument, I’m going to assume that is not so, that they are perfectly sincere in considering themselves loyal to the Palestinian cause as they conceive it. Looking at the signatories of the Letter we find some successful academics, Abunimah and Massad being the most prominent. They have prospered as unofficially sanctioned spokesmen for the Palestinian cause in the US and have no incentive to rock the boat. If they presented any perceived danger to tribal Jewry, they would likely find themselves on the street, as has happened to a number of academics, many of them Jewish, who have dared to challenge the predominant Jewish narrative. This points to a simple motivation based on economic and professional self-interest, but I believe there’s more to it than that.

“Race is a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by heritable phenotypic characteristics, geographic ancestry, physical appearance, and ethnicity.” So begins the Wikipedia page on the subject. Race is a broad brush that covers just about any typology that attempts to divide humanity into distinct groups according to such criteria. All such attempts have very fuzzy edges. “Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature (i.e., which harms particular groups of people).” The accusation of racism has typically been a characteristic of leftist critiques of systems that practice discrimination against members of relatively powerless minorities. The accusation of racism against Zionist Jews is a curious exception. This particular group is far from being powerless. More to the point, there has been an obvious racist component within Jewish culture from the very beginning. Just take a look at the Old Testament, let alone the blatant contempt for the “goyim” (non-Jews) found in the Talmud. The dehumanization of “the Other” is a very old and characteristically Jewish pattern. For tribal Jews and their allies, the “shabbas goyim,” to bandy about the term “racism” is hypocrisy of the highest order. (“The term shabbos goy refers to a non-Jew who performs duties that Jewish law forbids a Jew from performing on the Sabbath.” – wikipedia) What I am getting at is that Ali Abunimah et al are arguably shabbas goyim, non-Jewish elements of the currently dominant political force in the Western world that James Petras refers to as the Zionist Power Configuration (JPC).

This term is the most powerful weapon in the tribal Jewish verbal armory. To be labeled antisemitic is akin to having been labeled a heretic by the Holy Roman Inquisition. It might not invite torture and burning at the stake, but they will set about ruining your life. It is purportedly a special case of racism, whereby the Jewish people are cast as the eternal victims of racial prejudice. I defer to a Jewish thinker on this subject:

“If this hostility, even aversion, had only been shown towards the Jews at one period and in one country, it would be easy to unravel the limited causes of this anger, but this race has been on the contrary an object of hatred to all the peoples among whom it has established itself. It must be therefore, since the enemies of the Jews belonged to the most diverse races, since they lived in countries very distant from each other, since they were ruled by very different laws, governed by opposite principles, since they had neither the same morals, nor the same customs, since they were animated by unlike dispositions which did not permit them to judge of anything in the same way, it must be therefore that the general cause of anti-Semitism has always resided in Israel itself and not in those who have fought against Israel.” ~ Statement regarding the expulsions of Jews, by noted Jewish author Bernard Lazare in “L’antisémitisme, son histoire et ses causes,”published in 1894.

As a number of people have pointed out, there is another problem with the use of the word antisemitism. “Semite” is a linguistic term denoting peoples who speak semitic languages. Israelis are not semites in spite of the fact that they speak Hebrew ((it’s an adopted language of far too recent a vintage). The Zionists who created Israel and still run it are descended from the Khazars, linguistically a “Turko-finnic” people. The vast majority of semites speak Arabic as their native language, making tribal Jewry, particularly the Israelis, the only people in the world who are truly “antisemitic” - and they are virulently antisemitic.

Abunimah invokes this term, specifically “settler-colonialism,” as characterizing the nature of the Zionist invasion of Palestine. They claim that Atzmon rejects this characterization. Actually, all he does is point out that settler-colonialism has traditionally referred to efforts of European powers to install a permanent presence of their nationals in countries they wish to control. In all such cases, except Israel, there is a mother country that the settlers can rely on to finance and support their efforts. This is different from the case of the Jewish State, in which that role has been played by world Jewry in the diaspora. It’s a non-issue, really, except that once again Abunimah is misusing language to make his argument.
Race, as we mentioned above, is a clumsy, inaccurate and misleading way of looking at the distinguishing characteristics of people that we attempt to lump together in identifiable groups. There’s a much better way of separating out what Atzmon calls “collectives.” This is by looking at characteristic ways of thinking, speaking and behaving, which together pretty much determine who we are. These distinctions are cultural. And this is where the already shaky limb that Ali is clinging to breaks and he tumbles into complete nonsense. Ali doesn’t mention culture in his letter, but take a look at this, Ali Abunimah attacking Gilad Atzmon at the Stuttgart One State conference (Dec 2010. “Jewish Culture.. doesn’t explain anything at all.” This remark is not only absurd - it would be like saying that slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War, or that the playing of the pipes has nothing to do with their Celtic origin, or that the French drink wine merely as a matter of personal choice, etc. , etc. (one could make a parlor game out of this) – he is so intent on demonizing Atzmon that he abandons any shred of intellectual integrity. Perhaps he secretly believes in “Intelligent Design?”

The notion of race is based on genetic differences, which determine our physical being. Genetic evolution in the human race more or less ceased some 5,000 years ago. Culture, on the other hand, is memetic. Memes are patterns that we inherit from our environment, starting when we are children with our families and continuing as we get older to to the notions, norms and attitudes prevalent in our societies. Culture is far and away the most significant causal factor in how we manifest in the world. What makes memetic (cultural) evolution possible and far more rapid than through genetic mutations is that we have the ability to change our minds based on new information, or seeing things in a new way. To do so requires curiosity, an open mind and considerable humbleness. This is what the word "freedom" means in its fullest sense. Many people become rigid and inflexible in their views, including far too many academics. As Eric Hoffer, the great longshoreman philosopher put it in his book 'The True Believer,' "In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. "

Identity politics
This term, frequently used by Atzmon, is the crux of the matter. If you will indulge me, click on Us vs. Them: On the Meaning of Fascism. It is about identity politics and how this phenomenon tends to evolve into fascism. Atzmon is absolutely correct in making it central to his investigation. He stresses that it is intellectually dishonest to attempt to discuss Zionism and Israel without reference to “Jewishness.” Zionism was a specifically Jewish endeavor to create a Jewish state. What could be more obvious? If you leave out the “Jewish” part there isn’t much left, is there? The point is too obvious to belabor, but Abunimah attempts to do just that. Atzmon, in the grand tradition of intellectual inquiry, has committed himself to trying to understand the whole complex picture, which centers around the question of what “Jewish” and “Jewishness” mean. Abunimah cries foul and invokes the taboo that has been the mainstay of Zionist propaganda from day one. You can’t talk about “Jews.” You can’t talk about “Jewishness.” Otherwise you are “racist,” “antisemitic.” A circular, absurd argument. I guess it might upset somebody, most likely “The Wandering Guess Who.” (There is a very intriguing piece from an unlikely source, a recent issue of the New York Times. The author has some very intiguing things to say about tribal identities. Click on Forget the Money, Follow the Sacredness.)

I am Jewish, Atzmon is Jewish (whether he likes it or not – sorry, Gilad, but it’s a friendly dig), and so are many of his supporters. I don’t want anyone telling me that I can’t look at what that means. It is one of my fondest hopes that a great many Jews honestly consider the question “who am I?”. As long as the answer is “I’m a Jew, first and foremost” we are in for a lot more trouble. If the answer is “I’m first of all a human being and the rest is secondary” then there will be grounds for optimism. If enough Jews have the courage to look in the mirror and ask this fundamental question, we could easily solve the most pressing problem facing the world today, because, like it or not, tribal Jewry currently holds all the cards. Without at least the tacit support of most Jews they wouldn’t be able to play their game any longer.

Political Correctness
We are now going to address what I believe to be the primary motivations behind Abunimah’s extraordinary attack on Atzmon. A number of political fashions arose out of postmodernism, such as multi-culturalism, radical feminism and gay and lesbian activism, for example. In all cases, these fashions endorse various flavors of identity politics, These particular ideas were actually pioneered within the 60’s counter-culture, but the postmodernist academics turned them upside down. Instead of being inspired by a sense of our common humanity, we were inundated by all sorts of identity politics, all with narratives that, under the new dispensation, couldn’t be challenged without confronting the enforcement arm of the new orthodoxy – political correctness. All of this grew out of the Marxist culture that had previously been the fashion on the Left, but needed a new intellectual basis after the reaction to the horrors of Stalinism and Maoism, and eventually the fall of the Soviet Union. Ergo, postmodernism and its progeny provided continuity and a new lease on life.
In keeping with the tradition of Marxism-Leninism, the neo-Marxists needed to instill monolithic party discipline. After all, there can be only one vanguard of the proletariat. The new ideology of identity politics developed the strategy of political correctness to enforce its monopoly over discourse. This is not confined to the groves of Academe – the ADL and similar Zionist institutions actively enforce the orthodoxy. And, just as an aside, Jews continued to make up a large proportion of both the party leadership and the party faithful, just as Bolshevism was largely a Jewish project. Although the thought police concern themselves with decrying any perceived denigration of a number of tribal groups, by other academics particularly, there is no question that the one and only Sacred Cow is the Jewish Tribe. Casting aspersions on black people, gays or women, for example, will get you a serious dressing down, but any reference to Jews or Jewishness that isn’t flattering might well cost you your livelihood, or worse.
To sum up, the attacks on Gilad Atzmon and Ken O’Keefe reveal an organized attempt to silence independent voices within the Palestinian support community. Many moons ago I was in the US Army. As it was peacetime, the only enemy in sight was the Army itself. We fought to a draw. There are many of us who don't like to take orders, least of all from from the PC thought police. This an attempted political coup, actually, much like the successful efforts of the Bolsheviks (which means “majority,” although they were a small minority – quite Orwellian, actually) against the Mensheviks. But it isn’t going to work, because Atzmon and O’Keefe aren’t interested in power or being part of an organized movement. They are truly independent people taking a personal stand against a great evil, and they take their stand on behalf of all of suffering mankind, not just the Palestinians. Their efforts are prompted by the plight of the Palestinians, but like Gandhi, ML King and Mandela, they serve an even higher purpose, that of justice, wisdom, compassion and peace.
I would leave it there, but I want to make an appeal to Ali Abunimah et al to reconsider their views on this matter. When I got involved in One State advocacy more than ten years ago, I realized that we needed to operate under a big tent. After all, we are a small, relatively powerless group of people, up against the most powerful and ruthless fascist endeavor in history. At the very least, we need to accommodate one another even if some people have some views that rub us the wrong way. So I would like to invite Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad, my friend Haidar Eid and all the others to check their guns at the door and rejoin the rest of us involved in the greatest struggle of our time.

Supporters of Atzmon have written a flurry of responses to Abunimah’s letter. Here are links to some of them:
Needless to say, Atzmon and O’Keefe have had something to say about it as well:
Gilad wrote to his list: “It seems as if in spite of a very well orchestrated Jewish campaign, truth and justice prevailed, a lot thanks to you out there. There is a simple basic fact my detractors fail to grasp. I am not a politician, I do not seek power. I am an artist, I search for beauty and justice. And as it happens both are out there available for us.”
It appears that the same people who are trying to excommunicate Atzmon are also after Ken O'Keefe, which is really disgusting. There aren't that many real heroes in this world, but O'Keefe is certainly one of them.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The French newspapers are really ridiculous...

This is the front page of the French magazine Le Figaro:

That's right - a Dubya-style "mission accomplished".  It took these folks 32 hours to get a single guy.  And they got at least three colleagues shot in the process...

Even the excuse "we were told to get him alive" is not credible.  There are plenty of "special technology weapons" which can be used to catch an armed terrorist which, in this case, was made even easier by the fact that he had no hostages and that the entire building was evacuated.  As a Russian anti-terrorist officer commented in the newspaper Rossiiskaia Gazeta, the use of special weapons such as "flash-bang" grenades and paralyzing gas should have made this a 3min operation, not a 32 hours one.

The French special police forces (RAID, GIPN, GIGN) have a very good reputation and some of their success were spectacular (remember the successful storming of the Air France Flight 8969 in 1994?).  I have no idea what went so wrong this time, but the kind of jingoistic flag-waving nonsense printed by Le Figaro is really only an embarrassment for the French police.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Russian and Hezbollah in consultations

A Hizbullah delegation visited on Monday Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin in the Embassy headquarters, and delivered greetings on behalf of Hizbullah's leadership for the presidential victory of Vladimir Putin.  The Hizbullah delegation was led by Head of Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc member Mohammad Raad, and included MP Nawwar Saheli and Hizbullah International Relations Official Ammar Moussawi.  After the meeting, MP Raad indicated that "this visit is appropriate to praise the balanced political role played by Russia in this time period, especially regarding the crises storming across the region".  Moreover, Raad lauded Russia's role which "restores the principles of the UN, enables balance in the UN Security Council, and opens a window of hope for the nations so their just causes would achieve victory".  Regarding the common points discussed during talks between the Hizbullah and Russian officials on the Syrian file, MP Raad asserted, "Russia's stance stems from the root that achieving stability in Syria should be based on a political solution [that is gained] through dialogue between the regime and opposition".
This is all very good news.  In the current political context, it is essential that Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah closely coordinate their efforts to avoid a US/NATO invasion of Iran and/or Syria on behalf of Israel.

While it is rather obvious that Russia and Hezbollah have had contacts in the past (everybody talks to Hezbollah, whether they deny it or not), it is interesting that this latest meeting was rather public, with even an official photo opportunity (see above).

In the meantime, Press TV is reporting that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has declared that an attack on Iran would be a "huge mistake" and a "catastrophe".

Lastly, Russia declared that it supported a yet to be officially released peace proposal by Kofi Annan provided that two conditions are met:
“The first that Kofi Annan’s proposals be made public and second, that the Security Council approves them not as an ultimatum but, approves them -- taking into account ongoing work -- as a basis for continuing efforts by Kofi Annan with the goal of reaching agreement among all Syrians, the government and the opposition groups, on all urgent issues, access for humanitarian organizations in Syria, an end to violence on all sides and the start of political dialogue and access for the mass media, and so on.” 
In other words, no invasion and no regime change.   In all likelihood, this will be unacceptable to the insurgency unless it is really weakened militarily.  Remember the war in Libya?  The "democratic opposition" categorically rejected all of the many peace plans offered to them by Gaddafi, the OAS and all other mediators.  Likewise, I do not expect the Syrian insurgency (or, rather, their Zionist bosses) to accept any kind of political settlement at this point unless, as I just said, the military balance on the ground shifts in the regime's favor.

The events in Syria, tragic as they are, are still only a side-show to the real thing: the upcoming attack on Iran and I believe that both Russia and China see the Syrian civil war primarily in this bigger context.

The Saker

Monday, March 19, 2012

Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on March 15th, 2012.

In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be on the Seal of prophets, our Master and Prophet, Abi Al Qassem Mohammad and on his chaste and pure Household and on his chosen companions and on all messengers and prophets. Peace be upon you and Allah Mercy and blessings.

First I would like to thank you for your attendance and participation in this blessed ceremony. I also would like to express my gratitude to all the brothers and sisters in this 'struggling and resisting assembly' as the Hajjeh said, and that is true.

This society is a one of the posts of resistance work, the resistance action and the resistance project. I thank all the brothers, sisters, managers and employees as well as all the teachers by whose virtue this great number of teaching sessions has been achieved so far.

I also would like to thank all the students. I first thank them for getting enrolled in such teaching sessions and for their intentions, determination and will to get enrolled. I thank them for their determination to move from the state of illiteracy and take the first steps on the road of knowledge and education. I also thank them for their steadfastness in all the stages they passed through and led to today's achievement in which we are celebrating the graduation of this class of industrious and successful students who achieved the mission and reached their goal.

Now, if we talk about 600 students in 2011, that'll be a very important number. The total number since the official onset of the assembly is 6800 as His Eminence the Sayyed said a while ago. That means we are before 6800 honorable person who moved from a state to another state. Indeed, you have felt that through that man moves to a new world that opens the way to new horizons of knowledge, education, and new capabilities which weren't available before and would be available now. Indeed that will be forcefully and positively reflected on man's life, conduct, vision to his capabilities and capacities, and self- confidence.

First I would like to talk extensively on this issue which is the topic of this ceremony and occasion. This is an honorable mission. Then I have a word on the Lebanese affairs and a word on the Arab situation in a way that goes with the nature of the occasion and the available time.

Indeed, our belief, commitment, conviction, culture and religion as well as all the divine religions and the prophets' revelations (Peace be upon them) stress greatly on the importance of seeking knowledge and learning which was mentioned as an obligation in many of the Prophetic traditions. Today and after 1400 years people talk in this modern time about the obligation of learning. So until this very time this issue is still being discussed. Some states are still discussing this issue. However 1400 years ago, the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him) – I believe this is the inclination of all the religions of the prophets who came before our Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) – to stress on seeking knowledge as an obligation on every Muslim man and woman.

I am talking about an obligation. I do not want to go into a technical or a jurisprudential research on this issue – that's because we can draw this conclusion from several ways and diversified aspects. So from the very beginning, the obligation of learning has been tackled. What is the outcome of the obligation of learning? It aims that not one human being remain illiterate in a community which adheres to this law, inclination and culture.

When we talk about seeking knowledge, learning, the reward of knowledge and education, the first step to seeking knowledge is knowing how to read and write – meaning literacy. He who knows how to read and write may learn, advance and develop. Thus all of these horizons would be open before him.

One of the greatest blessings which Allah Al Mighty bestowed on man after creating him and granting him the capacities, capabilities, perfections and potentials in his body and soul is the mind. Allah gave man the capability to think, understand, analyze, and draw the appropriate conclusions according to the preludes. Consequently, man organizes his conduct and life on the light of these conclusions.

Moreover, Allah Al Mighty enabled man to receive knowledge. That means someone's mind may be operative. However the means of receiving knowledge are blocked. So Allah Al Mighty granted man the capabilities to receive knowledge through his sight, hearing and all the other available capacities. Thus man receives and understands what he receives, and he receives them in a sound and not in a wrong or delusive or imaginary way. Even more, Allah bestowed on man the capacity to express himself. {Allah created man; taught him eloquence}. Man might have an idea. The capacity is in his mind. He reaches definite results. However he can't express himself and convey this idea. These are individual cases. However in general, man possesses this capacity. Expression and eloquence is to convey what is in his mind, intellect and self.

Indeed expression has various forms including articulation or verbal expression. It's like what we are doing now. We are talking to each other. Another form of expression is writing. In the very first Ayas He revealed and which mentions Allah's gratitude on man, Allah Al Mighty says {He who taught man the use of the Pen} Writing is on of the forms of expression which changes an idea from one form to another. So are painting and sculpturing etc…. All of these capacities are used to express what man thinks of, what preoccupies his mind, and what he wants from the others. Thus expression was one of the conditions of human development all through history. Man develops because he owns a mind – i.e. the capacity to know and the capacity to express.

Experiences are inherited from one generation to another, from one people to another, and from one nation to another. Civilizations meet and cultures and knowledge accumulate in quality and in quantity….

So the first step starts here. If we go back to the Ayas and prophetic traditions which prompt seeking knowledge and the value of the knowledge seeker, we find that there is an enormous number of Ayas and traditions to this effect. Time does not allow us to go more into details.

On the practical level even, the Prophet of Allah - Mohammad (Peace be upon him) - in the first battle that took place against the idolaters from Qoraish – namely Badr Battle which ended with the victory of the believers and fighters - a number of captives were taken. What was the demand made by the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him)? Did he ask for money? Money was not a priority though they were poor and their possessions were confiscated in Mecca. He only said let every captive who knows how to read and write teach ten Muslims to read and write so that he would be set free. Literacy started from that day. So literacy had a priority even in a military battle. Badr Battle was a decisive battle, and defeat in it might have led to the absolute annulment of the entire project of Islam. In a decisive battle of this kind, the Prophet's priority in dealing with the repercussions and outcome of this battle was a familial issue. It's teaching Muslims to read and write. Muslims then were part of the Arab community which was in its overwhelming majority an illiterate community.

Today in Lebanon, and starting from this line of conduct and idea, we also believe that we have this commitment and obligation. Indeed the state is responsible above all as well as the government, the ministries and the official administrations. We must put a goal on the national level. We must say there are some people in Lebanon who do not know to read and write.

On the Arab level, conferences were organized months ago in UNESCO and in various other places in Beirut. Official sides and Arab and Lebanese organizations said that 16% of the Lebanese are illiterate. In a country like Lebanon, 16% is a huge number. 16% is indeed a very huge number in a country like Lebanon. You might say that in other countries in Africa or in Asia and in societies with definite economic, political and social conditions, this number might not be huge. However, in Lebanon this number is huge.

Anyway, we must put a goal. We must say that on the national level, efforts might be mustered to achieve the goal of not keeping one human being illiterate in Lebanon. This needs much cooperation and working on two tracks:

The first track is on the level of ministries, administrations, municipalities, and the civil community societies. Civil assemblies must be interested in this issue and undertake organizing, supporting and working on it industriously. This assembly is part of this construction. We can't claim that this is our responsibility, alone and we must assume it all by ourselves. No! This is one of the affairs in the country which we have tackled previously. At times some civil societies or some political forces concern themselves with definite files. Should the government concern itself with these files, these civil societies would not have been established. Neither would the political forces concern themselves with them.

So above all, the state is responsible. The state is responsible for this issue. However, since a long time it is known how things take place in Lebanon. Thus we talk about cooperation. Praise be to Allah there has been cooperation on the previous files. However we would like to stress on cooperation between the concerned ministries, the concerned administrations, the municipalities, the civil society assemblies, and the political forces in all the regions. There is communication and coordination even if these assemblies belong to various political tracks.

This issue is sacred, humanistic, moral, and national. Consequently, communication on this level must overpass political limits. Mutual exchange of experiences, cooperation, setting roles and missions and benefiting from mutual capacities must be put before our eyes.

The second track: prompting and encouraging those who are among the 16% - meaning the illiterate – to get enrolled in these sessions. That's why I first started with thanking the brothers and sisters who are of various ages for taking the decision, coming, partaking and attending for six months to achieve this mission. Many in this country many be provided with classes, schools and professional teachers; however, they are not willing to attend. This problem needs a solution. Consequently, a national campaign on this perspective is indispensable. We must tell them that learning to read and write is to their personal interest in this world. That's because if someone enters a store to fetch what he needs, he needs to write and read. He would read the newspaper. He would watch what TV outlets broadcast. (To this effect, someone might tell me: No, your Eminence! It would be better not to read these days what TV outlets broadcast!) Learning to read and write is to your interest in this world, to your religious interest, to your interest in the Hereafter, to your personal interest, to your familial interest, to your social interest and to your national interest. It is urgent that this class of people be promoted to come and attend.

Indeed this honorable class of people may at times face a problem which is embarrassment. This may be faced especially by the elderly. Is it that after my hair turned white l have to sit on the desk and learn and write with the chalk on the board? Then a teacher comes and teaches me the alphabet. No this might have taken place years ago. No that's impossible.

Going back to some Prophetic traditions, we have one that says: Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. If a man knows that in three or four hours or in half an hour he will die, it is most favorable that he seeks knowledge in this half an hour. That's because the effects of learning are earthly as well as in the Hereafter and not only earthly. On the contrary, when you grow older, you become in need for learning to read and write more. If you do not know how to read and write, now that it's the time to learn to read so that you would be able to read the Qoran and read supplications. You will have time to increase your knowledge and education. It's time to reconsider your previous mistakes and work at addressing them. There are many activities that may help at rectifying the past to go to Allah Al Mighty with a white face. That is linked to knowing to read and write. We must not be embarrassed. On the contrary, with utmost courage, boldness and pride learning must be sought. See the faces we watched a while ago: I came to learn; I would like to get through this status which was imposed on me for several reasons whether social reasons, poverty, deprivation, negligence, and the difficulties that imposed on me this status quo. I would like to overcome this status quo and I don't like to give up.

It goes without saying that this track needs collective efforts. This kind class of people needs to be prompted through adequate means. You need to talk with some of them about this world. You need to persuade others through talking about politics. Others might be convinced through talking about religion and the Hereafter. Some must be approached with force. There is no problem in any of these approaches. Any legitimate and legal approach to prompt this class must be invested.

So we must keep this national cause before our eyes. We must address it with cooperation, integration, unity and continuous efforts as you are doing. God willing we must achieve this goal as soon as possible.

These are not among the far fetched goals which need tens of years. No! Within years it may be achieved should there be true and serious national cooperation and should there be response. Together - I believe - we are able to make an achievement in Lebanon which is not keeping one human being illiterate. We hope that God willing we will achieve this goal.

I believe the sacrifices needed in this framework are by far less than the sacrifices needed to achieve similar goals.

You know that one day we said we do not want one captive to remain in Israeli prisons. We are talking on the basis of national responsibility or else we believe that efforts must be made to free every captive in Israeli prisons. However we approached this cause from the national perspective. True we still have some pending files. We claim that these men are still alive and are still prisoners. The enemy claims something else. However, as far as those whose cases were indubitable, the Lebanese could through the resistance restore all of these captives with great and huge sacrifices.

When we put a goal which is not to keep one captive in Israeli prisons, we could achieve this goal. The charges are by far less when we put a goal of not keeping one human being illiterate in Lebanon. Indeed we may achieve this goal; however, we need to exert efforts Inshallah.

In this framework, I tackle this phenomenon in the Arab world. I will not talk about the entire Islamic world. I will only talk about the Arab world because we have statistics within our hands. There's something which is really stunning. The conferences which were held in Beirut and announced some official statistics talk about 57 million illiterate Arab citizens in 2011. They do not know to read and write. This report says that one third of the Arabs – perhaps less or more - are illiterate. However the number 57 millions is an official number and it is catastrophic. We are the nation which is dubbed "The 'Read' Nation". It is the nation whose first Aya in its Qoran is {Read in the Name of Your Lord who created you}. Still there are 57 illiterate human beings in it. It is the nation which owns much. Some of our Arab countries are among the richest states in the world. You know that some of the Arab states – especially the Gulf countries – have deposits in American and European banks which mount to thousands of billions of dollars! Thousands of billions of dollars are deposited in American and western banks.

When a crisis hits a definite regime, these thousands of billions deposited in America, Paris and London surface. Still there are 57 million illiterate Arab citizens. Why do they need to learn reading and writing? They need teachers, schools and some exciting programs at least. As such we may be through with illiteracy. However, no one assumes this responsibility.

Tackling similar files such as unemployment, I ask how unemployment may be addressed. It may be addressed through providing job opportunities. Some matters do not need much philosophizing and complications. There are many affairs which are simple. The plan for confronting illiteracy is simple. Unemployment may be addressed through providing job opportunities. Providing job opportunities is an essential matter in the world and its study is clear. Its most important condition is having enormous financial capabilities, and these Arab countries have enormous financial capabilities. They are able to put an end to unemployment in the Arab world and in three fourth of the world. However, the money is deposited in banks.

The latest statistics for the Arab Labor Organization show that there are between 18 million and 20 million unemployed Arab citizens. This is a stunning number. Still kings, princes, presidents, sheikhs and rulers are mere watchers. Some show out to theorize on human rights and express their emotions while their very peoples are jobless.

The ratios of poverty and diseases among other similar files are really stunning. Are our Arab governments and states unable? No, they are financially and administratively able and capable. They may make enormous qualitative changes in this field. However, there remains the issue of being responsible. That is if we do not wish to make this accusation: The interest of some regimes and governments is in keeping their peoples illiterate, unable to know what is taking place around them, poor, unemployed and sick so that man remains from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to bed thinking and occupied with the bread of the day and providing the medicine to his sick. They want him to have no time to think of anything else whether national causes, Arab causes, Al Qods, sanctities, Palestine, democracy, freedoms, dignity or anything else. Yes, I may say that at least many – so that we won't say all – of the rulers and governments are accused on this perspective. They are not only negligent.

So we are a nation which may not only get through with illiteracy but also produce knowledge.

His Eminence Imam Khamenai during the past 2 decades have been raising this banner in Iran: We do not want to learn and benefit ourselves only, we also want to produce knowledge.

Until this very moment there is a debate in the Arab world as well as within Islamic movements. This debate tackles the western civilization from the cultural and intellectual levels. Someone might say we have to refuse this civilization absolutely. Another may say that they have positive points, knowledge and technology. We take these and dispense with their inappropriate norms and traditions. This debate is still taking place.

In Iran, Imam Khamenai said: We do not only want to learn and benefit from all the civilizations in the world. We do not want to receive only. We rather must change this consuming nation to a nation that produces knowledge. As a matter of fact, what is the world's problem with Iran? They say Iran has enriched uranium to the ratio of 20%. Well what is the problem in that? This is our normal right and that is guaranteed with the international law and the international agreements. They say that is dangerous. Why is it dangerous? They say you have a military project. They let them have access to all the edifices and they did not find a military project. I frankly tell you that the Americans, the Israelis and the Europeans are all convinced that there isn't any military project. What are they afraid of then? They are afraid that you possess the knowledge that would enable you to have a military project. That's because they say that the people or the scientific sides who are able to enrich uranium to the ratio of 20% may gain the scientific capacity to make nuclear weapon. We do not want to produce nuclear weapons. His Eminence Imam Khamenai told them several times that this is jurisprudentially forbidden. Still according to them, you are not allowed to own the knowledge which would enable you one day to rise and stand independently and become strong. So there is a possibility that we become again a nation that produces knowledge. We were a nation that used to produce knowledge in the first ages of Islam and a nation that exported knowledge to the world. However today we became the nation of 57 million illiterate Arabs. Who's responsible for that? It's we at least who assume this responsibility in Lebanon. Let's see how far we may go in this perspective.

Let's usher now to the Lebanese situation. I do not wish to go deep into details in Lebanese details because we do not have much time and the nature of the occasion does not tolerate an extensive speech. Still we will talk about the method. In Lebanon we have such files. We are talking about illiteracy and unemployment in Lebanon. It has been indicated that there is a high degree of unemployment of which I am not absolutely sure. What I read is serious and stunning. For example one of the ratios I read shows that 25% of the Lebanese are unemployed. In a small society like Lebanon, this number is very enormous.

Anyway, we have the file of crimes which have nothing to do with political security. Some rob, kill and aggress against others. We have the file which surfaced lately – i.e. the file of spoilt food and meat. This is really scary. Such things enter every house and have no sectarian, factional or regional classification. This is our food. It has been found that even our food is being profaned because of negligence. You may understand that in case of a conflict between two sides – for example an enemy opens fire on you or vice versa – some are killed and many remain alive. However, this form of killing enters to every house and every person.

We have the file of drugs and the invasion of drugs to schools and universities.

These are decisive living files which are linked to our houses, families, individuals and persons. These are the files which must be indubitable. Thus we talk about logic and methods.

There are two logics in Lebanon: There is a logic which we work through and support. We are not saying this is our logic alone. However we belong to this logic. Here I address the Lebanese and the other party. There is a logic that says that there are two kinds of causes and files. Some files are undisputable and all the Lebanese agree on their seriousness. So March 14 Bloc, March 8 Bloc, the Loyalists, the Opposition, Christians and Muslims agree on their seriousness. Not even two among the Lebanese argue their seriousness and importance and the necessity of addressing them. This includes the files I tackled a while ago: social security, crime, spoiled food, drugs, illiteracy and unemployment. There's no doubt that these are very serious files which must be tackled and addressed. There are also many other examples. There is another kind of files which are disputable among the Lebanese starting with our argument on the enemy. Some say we agree that Israel is an enemy, and this is not true. We still argue on the enemy and the friend. We argue over the elections law. We differ in several causes.

This method says that let's go to the causes on which we agree on their importance, seriousness and the necessity of addressing them, and let's cooperate on the causes which we differ over. Let's have dialogue and try to reach a result through the government, the Parliament, the dialogue table and through official or unofficial frameworks. Let's address what we agree on, and let's postpone what we don't agree on to the interest of these internal priorities. However, it is not allowed that if we argue over one or two files to cripple the country and the files of the people and their causes. We believe in this logic.

There's another logic that says that there are several files which are debatable. Either you act as we want or we will cripple everything and the country would be paralyzed. For example, they evoke some issues. For example, there is the issue of the arms of the resistance. They depict the issue as if it is impossible to build a state in Lebanon unless the issue of the arms of the resistance is addressed; as if it is impossible to get through with illiteracy in Lebanon if the issue of the arms of the resistance is not addressed; as if it is impossible to address unemployment, drugs, spoilt meat, administrative corruption or social security if the issue of the arms of the resistance is not addressed.

This is unfair! This is illogical! This is impractical! Rather there are some people who are committed to the Americans and the westerners – I do not want to say committed to the Israelis – to settle the arms of the resistance in Lebanon at the expense of everything. Well, we say that we differ over this file. Well, let's put it on the dialogue table. As for the other issues, let's cooperate to address them.

The other logic put forth the debatable issues and link the entire country to them, and this is wrong. In the same framework, they talk about the other and recognizing the other. Recognizing the other is not a slogan; it is rather a practice, dear Lebanese!

I may talk from the early morning till night on recognizing the other, dialogue with the other, cooperating with the other… However, in practice what happens?

In practice, we take the experience of 2005. March 14 Bloc was the parliamentary majority. They formed a government. We in Hezbollah along with Amal Movement partook in the government. The other parties in the Opposition were ruled out. We did not form one third of the government. So we could not secure or cripple any law. We were a minority in the government. We partook in a government which you used to head. You were the majority in it. We were ready to cooperate, and we cooperated in the causes which were presented to the government. We had no complexities. Our only aspiration was that through the government, security and stability be achieved in the country, the country be under control especially during the era that followed the withdrawal of the Syrian troops as there was fear of ordeals and sedition in the country. There were great challenges. Will the government be able to address the priorities of the people and the financial, economic, living, and social files besides the causes we are tackling now? Still we stayed together.

True we differed over the STL because you were not ready for dialogue or for debating or discussing the issue of the tribunal. You rather wanted to smuggle this issue. Then we secluded ourselves and resigned. Following Doha, we partook in a national unity government in 2008. It was also under your presidency. You were the majority, too. Moreover, following the elections in 2009, we partook in a government which you headed and in which you were the majority. Is there recognition of the other and cooperation with the other more than accepting to partake in a government which is headed by your political opponent and the majority of which is your political opponent?

You may go back to the experience of 2005 until this very day. You may ask the former premiers from 2005 till now. Were our ministers cooperative, serious, and positive and did they work with a national spirituality or not?

This is recognizing the other. It is not a matter of slogans. We may daily hold ceremonies and say see what is hidden for me in the hand which is extended to me?

We were together in a government while you were erecting the trap of the STL. We were sitting together on the dialogue table while the war was being weaved against us to crush the resistance in Lebanon. Thus, when heading to the dialogue table again, people must be searched to see whether they are hiding anything beneath the dialogue table. The crisis in this country can't be addressed through overbidding with dialogue and speeches on recognizing the other. Speeches are not important. What is important is practice.

In practice, we have practiced recognizing the other. However, how did you practice that? When this government was being formed, you were called for a national unity government. You refused to participate, and you did not give this government a chance from the very first day. You rather declared war on it since day one. You headed to evoking the entire world against us. Is this what is called recognizing the other and national cooperation? Is this what is called the priorities of the people and their files?

I tell all the Lebanese, let's step out of fanaticism and sectarian, party, organizational, and regional fanaticism. Let's sit and make a serious evaluation.

They say that March 14 Bloc is the party able to build the state. We daily hear this. With which spirituality, forbearance, mentality, disposition and methodology are you able to build the state? Are you first able to build your own parties, currents and institutions to be able to build a state? A state can't be built on canceling and annulling the other. It is rather built through understanding, cooperation, communication, dialogue, putting priorities forth, addressing undisputable causes, and trying to find a way out or putting off what is disputable. Postponement is possible. This applies to the arms of the resistance. When we agree, it will be perfect. If we disagree, things may be postponed because even if we did not agree on postponement, it is postponed by itself. Let those capable of disarming the resistance try…

We are ready for dialogue at any time. We are ready to discuss the defense strategy.

So this is the required methodology in Lebanon to face the upcoming challenges and risks in Lebanon and the region. I again call for following this methodology and logic if we want to be serious. We may overbid each other in the media. We may address each other with insulting speeches and slogans. However, the practical logic through which we could build the state and move this country to a different status and through which we may address causes with a spirit of national cooperation is this logic.

Now I want to tackle Palestine briefly. Indeed the events that took place in the past couple of weeks were events of two scenes:

The first scene is very painful. There are martyrs and wounded including children and women in the flagrant Israeli aggression.

It is obligatory to carry on seeing the second scene always. It is the scene of the will of the resistance in Gaza Strip, the firmness of the resistance, and the response. So when the Israelis started shelling and staging their aggression believing that the people have succumbed or are seeking an appeasement for whatever price, we eye-witnessed men of firmness, resistance and ability. Despite its limited capabilities but because of its good management and courage, this resistance could impose on a million and half a million Israelis to stay in the shelters.

This is indeed a very important equation. It is an excellent balance. This is on one hand. On the other hand, nothing new was made. This is only to remind. So we – the Arab and Islamic peoples – recalled through the events that took place in the past couple of weeks that the Americans act as such. How did the USA respond? How did the Security Council respond? How did all the international institutions along with Europe, the European Union and the international community react?

This is the course which has been adopted for more than sixty years. This is still going on. So what took place in Gaza reminds us of the hypocrisy and double standards in dealing with events.

There is one more point which I would like to highlight as I have watched it in some Lebanese media outlets unfortunately. They were holding the Palestinian resistance responsible for the events that took place in Gaza. This is wrong; this is untrue and this is a lie.

What took place is that there was an appeasement in Gaza. It was calm in Gaza Strip. No one opens fire or shell rockets. The Israelis started by staging an air strike which let to the martyrdom of the Secretary General of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), Sheikh Zohair Al-Qaisi and another brethren who was a liberated captive. Reactions were issued and that led to more shelling; more martyrs were killed. The Israelis started. The Israelis staged the aggression. Then we find that some Arab and Lebanese media – these Lebanese media outlet belong to sides which used to have strong ties with Israel. They now say they have no ties. However, what does this disposition imply? – held the resistance in Gaza responsible for the recent events. Some even said that there was an Iranian decision on the confrontations that took place in Gaza. This is great oppression. Some said that what took place in Gaza were led by sides and factions which aimed at turning attention from what is taking place in Syria.

This is great oppression. This is what happened in July War. What did they say in July War? They said that Hezbollah made the war for the Iranian nuclear program and the STL – as then the Syrian issue was not evoked. This is oppression. The people are besieged. They are still besieged despite what took place in Egypt. They are still besieged, oppressed and aggressed against. Some Lebanese and Arab media outlets also presented the resistance fighters as aggressors for definite regional interests. Here the Israeli media met with these Arab and Lebanese media outlets as the former presented the war on Gaza as part of the war on Iran. This is also misleading, delusion and fabrication. The war on Palestine and the war on Gaza were since Iran was under the Shah and an ally to Israel and before, after and along the Iranian nuclear program. The war on Gaza, on Palestine and on the Palestinian people is an independent case. It has nothing to do with any other side. However this was said to mislead, to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza and to go in harmony with some official Arab attempts to present Iran as a threat. This atmosphere exists. Sedition exists in the region.

This is a war on Iran. It's not a war with the people of Gaza, the children of Gaza and the women of Gaza. This is rather a war with Iran. That's how the Israelis are trying to present the issue. This meets with what some Arab and Lebanese media outlets which say that Palestinians are the ones who started the fight following Iranian and Syrian orders. This must be highlighted as we must be clear in it.

Indeed we solemnly show our respect to the martyrs of the Palestinian people and their sacrifices, steadfastness, courage and will which was manifested in the past few days. Even when they set to an appeasement, they went with conditions. Now the Israelis want to deny that. This is another field of study. Still the Palestinians went with conditions. They didn't want an appeasement of whatever kind.

I also have a brief word on the Syrian cause so that we do not skip it. Since the events started we bargained and hoped that Syria would be able to overcome this ordeal to the interest of its dear people and its regional post.

Since the very beginning, we had fears because we see what is taking place in the entire Arab region. So when we talk about federalization, we do not talk about dreams or illusions or psychological war. We are talking about facts which are taking place.

Well, take for example Sudan. Sudan is the largest and most spacious Arab state. They divided it. Even after it was divided, many said that when Southern Sudan is recognized all the crises will be solved. However, nothing was solved. Pressure is still and will always be exerted on Sudan.

Now there are calls for federalization, separation, and division in more than one Arab country. There are sides which seeks that. Some are expressing that; others don't express that.

So when we talk about the risk of federalization in any Arab or Islamic country, we would be talking about real risks. They are not mere illusions which we fabricate to hide behind. No! That's not the case.

We are afraid of division in Syria and consequently in the region. We are afraid of a civil war, chaos, weakening Syria which represents a national post in the Arab-Israeli struggle and a true support to the resistance movements in the region. Thus from the very first day, we called against armed confrontations and against holding weapons. We called on the Syrians to head to political solutions and the means that lead to political solutions. All of us back reforms and democracy. We all respect human rights. We all feel sorry for every blood drop shed from any Syrian or Egyptian adult or child. We had made this clear since the very first day.

We said that and we are still saying it and we will always say it. A year has past by now on the crisis in Syria. Following this year and the experiences passed through in it, several options had been resorted to. We call on all sides to make a revision. A revision may objectively lead to the following result: O our people in Syria! There is not but a political solution before you. Go for a political solution. That means a simultaneous drop of arms through a mechanism you agree on so as to head towards a political solution which is clear and orderly. Any other option would lead to more bloodshed, exhaustion and burdens. Those who seek to destroy Syria and to topple the regime for whatever price could not do that, and you have noticed all the options which were resorted to all through this year.

This is indeed the solution in Syria. What are the contents of the political solution? What are the mechanisms of political solution? This is a Syrian affair and they are concerned to reach an understanding, agree and cooperate.

Unfortunately, some in Lebanon deal with the issue as if they are a great power. They put time tables, map roads and clauses saying the Syrian must follow them. We are not concerned in that. As Lebanese, as a Lebanese people and as a nation and a country, our interest is that calmness, security and stability prevail in Syria pursuant to a political solution. As for the mechanisms of the political solution, the content of the political solution, and the domains of the required political reforms, this is an affair which the Syrians must agree on. They are the ones to agree or not, refuse or not, set red lines for each others and not we who must theorize on the Syrians on the political solution mechanisms or the content of the political solutions.

Well, as neighbors, brethrens, Arabs and people of the same region who have a sole fate, we may tell our brethrens in Syria – whether the people, regime, state, army, parties and political forces: Your blood is our blood; your future is our future, your life is our life; your security is our security as our fate is one. Thus dear brethrens! Do us a favor and try to find a political solution for this crisis. These are our limits. As for how they address it politically, this is not our affair as Lebanese especially as we are not able to address our crises whether through politics or through other means and as we daily have a new problem and crisis.

The political level, political performance, and political mind which exist in the country are really hectic. There's a true problem. There is a problem in content and in form. There isn't any respect for posts anymore. There is no more dignity, political speech controls, and limits for expressing political disputes. It's an uncontrolled market.

As far as the Syrian issue is concerned, we have believed in this from the very first time. Some labeled our stance as good; others dubbed it otherwise. Some criticized us. Others try to make use of the stance which we find a national, Islamic and humanitarian stance to target us. We have no problem. We say what we find appropriate. We faithfully seek to know what is right. We faithfully seek to stand with what is right. We faithfully seek to express what is right no matter what hardships we might meet. Thus I previously said that if some one gives insulting speeches that makes no difference when we have a definite vision and see clearly the central interest of our people, country and nation. We express this vision whether it appeals to others or not. Some people accept; others refuse. Some people applaud for us; others don't. There is no problem in that. Thus as far as the Syrian issue is concerned, we assert and the recent developments confirm that betting on toppling the regime, on the breakup of the army, on sectarian war, on foreign military intervention and even on economic sanctions won't lead anywhere, and this is evidently clear.

Today, the crowds which hit the street and massed as we have seen in the squares in Damascus, Aleppo, Laziqiyeh, Deir Zour, Riqqah and other cities made a demonstration. Well but it is impossible that someone comes and tell you that you are not with the Syrian people as long as you are with the regime. Tell me who the Syrian people are. It's true there is popular division. However there is a considerable portion of the Syrian people who has this choice. There is another portion who has another choice. Who told you that the Syrian people are those whom you back and not those whom I back? How is it that they and we are with the Arab people except in Syria? There are people in Syria who want reform and do not want division, civil war, sectarian war, or a mill. They do not want to be among the betraying Arabs or the moderate Arabs; they rather want to remain resistant, opposing and loyal to Palestine.

We are with this choice.

Some people see that Obama, Clinton and the Americans who blazed the Qoran and killed those who demonstrated in support of the Qoran and who consider that their alliance with Israel is sacred, the security of Israel is sacred, the supremacy of Israel is sacred and consider that Sarcuzi, Britain and those who sold Palestine, the people of Palestine, Golan, and Lebanon for 20 years are their allies and the saving stick for them. They are free to think as they wish. We too are free to believe in what we believe in and take the decision we want.

Thus, in this briefing our recommendation to all of our Syrian brethrens is: lay arms down and head to the mechanisms of a political solution. The regime in Syria and the leadership in Syria are ready for making reforms. Is there a constitution among the Arab constitution similar to that which was drafted in Syria? Let's talk about that. Is the story sheer yelling? Let's talk about facts. Compare the constitution which was achieved to the constitutions of the Arab countries. As for implementing the constitution, you have to resort to cooperation and understanding. Through fighting, confrontations, wars, and bringing along foreign military intervention the issue won't be addressed.

The bloodshed must stop. Indeed the scenes we've seen lately on the television can't but be condemned. Any kind of massacres and targeting civilians and the innocent are condemned. Well, the opposition accuses the regime and the regime accuses the opposition. One of the responsibilities of the regime today is to furnish people with facts. Whoever knows the truth must present it. As for finger pointing haphazardly, this is something easy and possible. However the very event is accused by both sides altogether.

They must work to prevent massacres. They must work so that not a drop of blood is shed. The issue is not that of massacres. That means what is the difference of killing hundreds sporadically and killing fifty persons at a time. This is killing, and that is killing too. All forms of killing must be halted. What pushes things towards salvation is: O Arabs and the international community! You used to theorize on the Lebanese saying: O people! Arms do not lead anywhere. Go for the dialogue table. Following May 7th, 2008, Arab delegations came and theorized saying arms do not lead to a solution. Confrontations do not lead anywhere. People are supposed to live with each other. They got an airplane and took the people to Doha. They remained there for three days and we even agreed on the minute details. Well, the very logic must be followed with Syria also and other countries. This is how things are addressed.

I have a word on Bahrain before wrapping up my speech. Last week, we witnessed a massive demonstration. It was called for by His Eminence Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassem, and hundreds of thousands from the people of Bahrain answered his call. Indeed the demonstration was peaceful, and it stressed on the peaceful option as well as on the demands of the Bahraini people. It provided evident that the opposition is a true, popular, broad opposition and not a limited group as the government and the king say. Moreover, it showed that the Opposition is cautious of maintaining security and stability in Bahrain and guarding the blood of the people of Bahrain as well as the blood of its opponents and those who are aggressing against it. Well, this is a civilized scene. It also expressed steadfastness and determination. Thus betting on the boredom or retreat of these people is a losing bargain.

It is strange that a people continue in their peaceful movement and still they find themselves alone in this world. Neither the people of the Arab Spring acknowledge the people of Bahrain as part of the Arab Spring, nor the Arab League acknowledge the presence of a problem in Bahrain, nor the Gulf Cooperation Council acknowledges the presence of a crisis in Bahrain, nor the international community, nor the international security council, nor the council of human rights nor anyone else acknowledges that there is crisis in Bahrain. Still that did not let that people refrain from demanding their rights in peaceful ways. They also refuse to be a tool through which anyone crosses to Bahrain, or its future or its fate. These facts are being verified more and more day after day. I do not interfere in the ceilings of the Bahraini people. However the options of the Bahraini people are clear, and their path is clear. It is also clear that they have an unbeatable will and that betting on time is a losing bargain. This also must meet Arab and international interest so that this file be wrapped up.

Brothers and sisters in Lebanon and the region! Finally, I would like to say we are called upon to be more aware. We need more awareness, and many have verified what I have said. We are living in the time of "news agencies said so and so", "TV outlets said so and so", "statements said so and so", "websites said so and so"…. This is not enough because in fact we reached a stage in which one must look for the origin of the news and whether it is true or false. One must verify whether the news is true or false. However we may conclude from what we have seen lately that at time the origin of the news is false. One may watch a news bulletin while three fourth of its contents are lies on us and on others. We know that from our experience.

When the men gather the daily report of resumes from the internet, the newspaper and the television, I read it and come to realize that 90% of what is said about us is lies. For example some might say we are "perplexed". Where is the perplexity? We are rather very relaxed. We have a different reading of what is taking place in the region. When you talk about perplexity, internal divisions and loss you would be articulating your dreams. These are not facts. A piece of news must report facts and not what I see in dreams or what I like to see in my dreams. No, that is not the case.

What's taking place in the region today must be presented as it is but that's not what is taking place. The news is being formed on the light of inclinations and political agenda and plots and not on the light of facts. On the contrary, events are being invested to the interest of this goal. Thus we need to make extensive verifications. Even when we watch the footages on TV outlets we need to be calm and quiet so that we do not get moved, angry and provoked. Some work now on provoking and tensing people so that they fall in the trap in no time. As such we tread on mines and ruin our houses as a result of agitation.

For example, in Belgium so and so blazed a mosque and killed the imam of the mosque. Why? That's because he was angry for Syria. Well, what does the imam of the mosque and the mosque have to do with that? Who does assume the responsibility of this? Is it the killer who blazed the mosque or the media outlets which have no limits for provocations, lying and falsifications? Thus we need to have much patience. We need to make verifications so as to confront the psychological war and the fears which are being spoken about. With steadfastness, calmness, awareness and verification we may confront the upcoming stage. Those who are plotting are the Americans, the Israelis, and their tools, servants and collaborators in the region. Some people are mistaken. Not all the people are collaborators. God forbids. We do not accuse people for the sake of making accusations. Some people are mistaken. Some people may be oppressed. Still they have lost the priorities. They are not aware where their oppression is being invested. All of these affairs require awareness and reading.

However they plot to divide the region, to disintegrate it, to cause wide-ranging mounting chaos in the region, to make us preoccupied with each other, to make us tense and to provoke us against each other. This is the topic and this is what is taking place under various titles. Who benefits from this and is this how things are addressed? No, that's not how things are addressed.

Indeed if we moved towards tension and fanaticism and provocation and hastiness we will ruin our houses with our own hands in Lebanon and in the Arab world and in the Islamic word. This is at a time we see that there is a chance today for our peoples and nation to restore our rights and sovereignty over our territories, fuel and waters and to restore Palestine and Al Qods. Today the Americans are getting weaker on all levels whether their awe, military, financial or economic. The west is getting weaker. If we made a strategic approach we may find that all the supporters of Israel and those craving for our countries and welfare are getting weaker. But because they are getting weaker they want us to get weak too. So if they were getting weaker and we remained steadfast, integrated, with high morals, adherent to our country, unity and integrity, our nation – in this decade and not in this century – would be before a historic, strategic chance to make enormous changes in our status quos especially in the national level. However, it is required that we do not make use of this chance.

We must work at having no one illiterate in politics too and not only in reading and writing. It might be that someone studies political sciences but is still illiterate because he doesn't read facts and does not know how to analyze them and link them to each other. Thus he may be easily misled.

Today we are called upon to get through with all forms of illiteracy and become a knowledgeable nation… a nation that produces knowledge and is capable and able to confront all threats and risks and to impose its unity, integrity, interests, dignity, and self-esteem on the world.

Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings.