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Thursday, July 28, 2005

The solution according to "Israel"

The "poor Jewish state in a sea of Muslims" has made a significant discovery: the key to Palestinian democracy is banning Hamas from taking part in elections.

Meet "the only democracy in the Middle East."

As a sidenote, you might find the following excerpt from Turkish Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty of interest: "Israel strongly supported Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh war and relations have warmed considerably since then. Cooperation in the intelligence field has intensified and there are some indications that Israel may have supplied arms to Azerbaijan" (119).

The last sentence is ironic, given Azerbaijan's constant whining about possible Russian arms supplies to Armenia.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Madame loves Geagea

I had to post this. It was too hilarious not to be posted.

Credit goes to Eve.

غدا إنفجار جديد
"Tomorrow another explosion..."

The question is: where?

Photo: Al Balad Daily
Idea: Dan Marsden

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My thoughts exactly.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Websites worth checking out

I've been too busy to post a long (or rather, any) piece of comment on the current situation in Palestine and "Israel", despite the fact that the hysteria around the disengagement is very tempting to comment on. But I do have something for you (and it might not be much, as it's quite possible that you've seen it before) - some interesting links:

Do check out the textbook section on the curriculum development website. For those of you who know how to read Arabic, check out this grade 9 history textbook; pay special attention to the material on pages 72-76 of the book (78-82 in the e-book), or this grade 10 history textbook (pages 60-64), then let me know if you think there is any "incitement" in it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The ironies in Lebanon continue to baffle me

You only have to read this (among others) to see what I mean.

So yes, "Israel" was asked to help in the Hariri "probe". And what was the justification? Here it is: "You would want to know who crossed the borders and so you would ask neighboring countries what their customs records show."

The U.S ambassador to the UN would also argue that it makes sense to ask Al Qaida for information as to who crossed the Afghanistan borders, right?

Right. I am impressed by the logic that abounds in this region, which - if I may add - is all the more democratic after the U.S liberated Iraqis....

As a sidenote, I might be starting to work on a new dictionary... the Zionist-Lebanese Dictionary. I believe my first entry would be "Lebanese Refugees in Israel". If you don't know what I'm talking about, you might want to read more about the SLA. Actually, SLA would itself be a separate entry in that dictionary. It's actually the NIA (North Israel Army)...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Loving the land

Can't you tell how much they (i.e. those oh-so-innocent "settlers") love the "historically Jewish" land? I am happy to announce that my Zionist-English Dictionary now has more than a 1000 entries.

On another note, "The Widening Gap Between Rhetoric and Reality in EU Policy Towards the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" is an interesting read.

If you're not interested in the Karabakh conflict, you don't have to read the rest of this entry. If you are, you might be interested in a policy brief on the June 19 Karabakh elections that I finished writing yesterday (for a NGO that does policy research, analysis, and recommendations here in Armenia):

Conflict of Interest

On the occasion of the parliamentary elections in the self-declared Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, which were held on June 19, 2005, yet another round of political meddling and bickering was in the works, with statements from leaders of countries - in the region as well as outside it - that have an interest in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, either literally or figuratively. The elections were not only monitored by governments, but also non-governmental organizations and media personnel from different countries, including ones that are notorious for keeping mum on violations of the rights of ethnic minorities in their respective countries. Herein lay the problem: it is not in the roots of the conflict per se, but in the reasons for the stalemate on its resolution. One could argue that the entire region is kept hostage to the struggle for power and worldwide control raging between superpowers. Thus, arguing that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is simply regional in nature is a gross underestimation of the manner in which one conflict results in the perpetuation of another. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the outbursts on the recent elections are but one example in a large bag of conflicts, one of the most significant of which is the ongoing battle for Palestine. Were the elections in Nagorno-Karabakh fair and free? The Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh affirms that this was indeed the case, as do representatives of NGOs who monitored the elections. The more important question, however, is whether or not the results of the elections will favor the prospects for the settlement of the conflict and peace in the long run. It seems that the reality of the situation has been lost on the many NGOs and governments that have shown interest in the elections, be it positively or negatively.

Democratic Elections, and then?

An argument has been circulating in the geopolitical realm that given the reality of democratic elections in Nagorno-Karabakh there should be renewed hope for the peaceful settlement of the conflict. However, little has been said about the press release issued by the Foreign Ministry of Russia, which aimed to show Russia’s support for “Azerbaijan’s territorial wholeness”, or the statement issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, terming the “elections held by Armenians” in “occupied” Nagorno-Karabakh “illegal”, or even more importantly the rejection of the idea of holding elections by the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan. What, then, is the implication of these “democratic elections”? Surely democracy is desirable and beneficial for citizens of any state (be it internationally recognized or not), but neither the observers of the elections who talked about the positive effects of the latter on the settlement of the conflict, nor the United States and Russia have so far elaborated on what the next step should be for the Republics of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. It is therefore safe to conclude that while the former group is unable to find any solutions and has decided to be simply optimistic about the future, the two superpowers have decided that it is in their respective interests to prevent any settlement to the conflict in the near future.

“A Revolution a Day Keeps Russia Away”

To carry on with the game, the United States has introduced a new approach: changing regimes by engineering revolutions and attempting to shift loyalties by giving military “aid” to the three republics in the South Caucasus. Meanwhile, Russia has found itself on the losing end and has been trying to consolidate its grip on Armenia and Azerbaijan – Georgia being out of the picture as a result of the “Rose Revolution” – by playing the role of the parent who is genuinely interested in the settlement of the conflict between his/her two children, and therefore makes statements that are sometimes supportive of one (Armenians) and at other times of the other (Azerbaijanis). While the United States has taken a daring approach, Russia’s stance has been significantly reserved and careful, for fear of upsetting the delicate “balance” and further pushing Armenia and Azerbaijan onto the lap of its arch-enemy. And while the two superpowers talk about their allegedly genuine interest in democracy and freedom, settlement of conflicts and peace in the region, we are left wondering what color the next revolution will be, which country it will hit first, how it will affect the region, and whether or not there will be any real revolutions to counter the world order imposed by the United States and to a smaller extent Russia. Real democracy is not simply about holding elections; it is about the real will of the people, untainted by external pressures and never bowing to the interests of groups that are in no way connected to the country (and by extension region) in question. It is a self and even regionally-interested democracy that Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Nagorno-Karabakh need, rather than one that is defined by the standards set by superpowers or the pressures of countries that boast of influential lobbying bodies (e.g. Israel and its lobbying services for the denial of the Armenian Genocide). It will remain to be seen whether the elections in Nagorno-Karabakh are absolutely (rather than relatively) democratic, and if so how they will impact the peace process.

The Final Battle: Propaganda versus Realism

It is important to note that while the elected individuals might represent the will of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, it does not follow that the program for peaceful settlement would coincide with the demands of the government of Azerbaijan, even if the latter were also democratically elected. Elections are not a guarantee for peace per se. The media outlets that argue to the contrary must realize that their deception is detrimental to the very process that they claim to show genuine interest in. Propaganda that aims to mislead the public is never the first step in the settlement of any conflict. It is a step or two in the opposite direction, as it was and still is in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The first and healthy step is to inject a dose of realism into the equation and hope that it would dispel the myths plaguing the settlement process. The heart of the case is whether or not the two sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (Armenians and Azerbaijanis) are willing to receive this antidote. That, too, remains to be seen.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Where were your Grandparents born?

Where were your Grandparents born?
By Ayman El-Sayed

Many people do not know who the Palestinian people really are, nor who are what they refer to as "Israelis." In fact, it seems that most people believe that the colonialists and settlers in Palestine have "always been there," and that Israelis are indigenous to the land of Palestine. This article aims to shed light upon the obscured history and demographics of Occupied Palestine, or the colonial apartheid state of Israel.

Demographics - the characteristics of a population - is an important issue both for Palestinians, the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, and for the Zionists who have sought to eradicate Palestinian Arab identity and existence from Palestine. The indigenous people of the land of Palestine are the Palestinians, while the majority of Israeli citizens are from Europe, the United States and other countries outside Palestine; the majority of the people who constitute the Israeli people and state are foreign to Palestine, and came to Palestine as colonizers of indigenous Palestinian land. Like the French colonizers of Algeria, and the British colonizers of India, they are European colonialists who have no inherent "right" to be there, occupying Palestinian land.

This issue is too infrequently addressed and researched despite its importance. Recognition of the indigenous stature and rights of the Palestinian people is a key point in rejecting the dangerous and defeatist "two-state solution," and in rejecting the so-called "right" of Israel to exist as a state on stolen Palestinian land.

While some "Israeli" Jews in Palestine today migrated to Palestine from other Arab countries and a small minority of Jews lived in Palestine amongst the other Arab Palestinians long before the advent of Zionism, most "Israeli" Jews in Palestine today are not indigenous to the land of Palestine, nor descendants of indigenous Palestinians.

In fact, the majority come from Europe or the United States, and it is these who dominate the Zionist political arena.

According to the CIA World Fact Book, the ethnic group breakdown of the Zionist state is as follows:

"Jewish 80.1% (Europe/America-born 32.1%, Israel-born 20.8%, Africa-born 14.6%, Asia-born 12.6%), non-Jewish 19.9% (mostly Arab)."

The majority are European- or American-born; even the 20.8% designated as "Israel-born" include a large number of those who are descendants of the earlier Zionist colonial settlers in Palestine - who also were not born in Palestine and are not indigenous to Palestine. The rest were also born outside of Palestine in Asia and North Africa; they as well as European Jews have no "right" on the basis of religion or ethnicity to settle in Palestine, and occupy Palestinian land.

According to About.com's statistics on the Zionist state, immigration (or, more accurately, colonization), is the basis of the "Israeli" population:

"Since the nation was formed a total of 2,894,094 people immigrated to Israel: 454,100 from Asia, 519,700 from Africa, 1,761,196 from Europe and 258,000 from America."

Again, the vast majority come from Europe. Jews who are not of European descent also face discrimination in Israel; the non-European Jewish communities have had revolts and protests against the Israeli state, which is mostly dominated by Ashkenazi European Jews.

According to the MSN Encarta Encyclopedia:

"The two main groupings of Jews are Ashkenazim and Sephardim. The Ashkenazim, whose tradition was centered in Germany in the Middle Ages, now include Jews of Central and Eastern European origin. The Sephardim, whose tradition grew in Spain in the Middle Ages, now include Jews with ancestry from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean region. Historically the groups differ in religious rite, pronunciation of Hebrew, and social customs. Ashkenazic Jews, who formed a majority at the time of Israeli independence, continue to dominate political life as well as the upper levels of employment and education. Sephardic Jews immigrated rapidly to Israel in the decades after independence. The new state's lack of resources to handle this flood, combined with cultural differences between the new immigrants and the Ashkenazic establishment, resulted in separate and usually poorer Sephardic communities. The Sephardim continue to struggle for greater economic and political influence."

This indicates the domination of Ashkenazi European Jews in political life - a domination that extends not only to discrimination and oppression targeting the Palestinian people, but also against non-European Jews.

However, this discrimination recedes in comparison to the oppression and suffering of the Palestinian people and the occupation of Palestinian land.

According to Noam Chomsky in Safundi, the Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies, the majority of the Jews that lived in Palestine before the creation of the state of Israel were anti-Zionist:

"Well, there was a small Jewish community that was mostly anti-Zionist. There was a traditional Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem and a few other places, but before the European settlers started coming in it was strongly anti-Zionist, and their descendants are still anti-Zionist. This is by now a marginal, small group. They were Orthodox Jews who wanted to pray in Jerusalem, and they even called on Jordan to take over Jerusalem again so they could have religious freedom, which they feel they don't have under Israel. But they are a separate story, you know. That's also not one-hundred percent of them. There was a pro-Zionist element among them, too, but the majority of them—before what's called the Aliyah, meaning "rising to the land," the arrival of Europeans—were anti-Zionist."

Even the Jewish Virtual Library, proud Zionists, exhibit population statistics that clearly demonstrate that the Palestinian Arab people were a huge majority of the population until they were massacred and expelled by European Zionists in 1948.

Before 1947, Jews owned less than 10% of the land of Palestine; despite that, the United Nations partition plan, passed in that year, sought to designate 55% of Palestine as a "Jewish state." Most of these colonial settlers are European, and have no right to claim Palestine as their country; even those Jews from Arab countries and North Africa who entered Palestine as occupiers have no right to claim Palestine as their own, at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians.

In contrast, the Palestinian people are indigenous to Palestine; they do not come from Europe, America, North Africa or other Arab countries. They were expelled from their land by European Jews, the colonial settlers who created the state of Israel. The Palestinians should be the ones who have a state on the land of Palestine, and the Jews should be citizens of that state. Whatever land that Jews owned before 1948 is rightfully theirs, and the land and property that Palestinians owned before 1948 is rightfully Palestinian.

It should be returned - but the Israeli state is forcing the Palestinians to struggle to get it back by force. The Palestinian people do not want to be fighting right now; they want to work, make money, build homes, educate their children and have food on the table like everyone else - but they are the victims of Zionism and the creation of the state of Israel, a crime that continues today.

The aims of the Zionist colonial settler project could not be achieved merely by owning the land that had been purchased prior to 1948. Instead, they kicked out the Palestinians; they needed to steal the land and forcibly get rid of the Palestinians in order to accomplish their goals. The Zionist leaders knew what they were doing and were, at times, frank in their admissions of their goals and methods.

According to Chomsky in his book "The Fateful Triangle", the future Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, was one who spoke frankly:

"In 1936-9, the Palestinian Arabs attempted a Nationalist revolt…David Ben-Gurion, eminently a realist, recognized its nature. In internal discussion, he noted that 'in our political argument abroad, we minimize Arab opposition to us,' but he urged, 'let us not ignore the truth among ourselves.' The truth was that 'politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside'… The revolt was crushed by the British, with considerable brutality."

However, it is rarely necessary to research deeply in order to realize who is indigenous to the land and who is not. In fact, it is often very simple. Go to any Palestinian, anywhere in the world, in Palestine or in exile, and ask them where their grandparents were born; they will tell you the village or area in Palestine.
Do the same to the Israelis; ask any Israeli where their grandparents were born, and the vast majority will tell you - Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, and America, anywhere but Palestine.

The so-called "Israelis," then, are mostly European; not only were their grandparents born in Europe, many of today's "Israelis" were also born in Europe themselves. Over 1 million Europeans from the former Soviet Union alone have settled in Palestine in the fifteen years since the end of the Soviet Union, while Palestinians who were forcibly expelled from their land by European Zionist settlers are denied the right to return to their homes, and the occupation of Palestine continues until today.

The state of Israel has no right to exist on stolen Palestinian land. The only solution to the conflict is to allow the Palestinians who were expelled from Palestine to return to their homes and properties, which are rightfully theirs, and to allow the indigenous Palestinian people to build a state in all of historic Palestine where those Jews who live there now can be citizens of this Palestinian state, enjoying equal rights. Whoever is unwilling to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people to return and to self-determination can leave and return to the land of their grandparents.

Those who are unwilling to accept justice should leave Palestine; they are not indigenous, they are foreign colonizers - even those who claim to not intend to be colonizers and settlers still, in reality, are exactly that. To suit the interests of justice and reduce the possibility of conflict for centuries to come, these colonizers must accept the rights of Palestinians to their land. It is deeply unfair that any Jew, anywhere in the world, can become a citizen of Israel and make a claim to Palestinian land - while the millions of Palestinian refugees in exile are not allowed to return, and the Palestinians who live in Palestine are abused, murdered, tortured, occupied, discriminated against, denied statehood, denied an identity and denied equal rights. It is up to the indigenous Palestinian people to determine the future of Palestine's European settlers, for them to return to the nations from which they came, or to integrate them into one Palestinian state.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

NGOs in Armenia.

I'm finally able to update. I am alive, although not doing as great as I could be. I've been very busy with work. I'm working with two NGOs here in Yerevan (NGOs have a rather influential presence here, and I'm starting to think that starting one in Lebanon would be a good idea). The first focuses on regional development and policy-building and collaborates with NGOs in Georgia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. I will be meeting with people in the government, journalists, and analysts, and writing policy briefs for the center. I have a meeting with Vartan Oskanian on Thursday as well. If you have any questions that you would like me to ask him, feel free to post here no later than Thursday morning, and I will try to forward them to him. The other NGO that I am working with focuses more on Armenian society and the impact of honesty on the political and economic life in the country. I will be in Artsakh (Karabakh) over the weekend. That's all for now.

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