Saturday, August 12, 2006

Scheveningen Firework Festival III

I enjoyed it, just enjoyed it. Didn't think about other 'fireworks' elsewhere. Simply enjoyed the spectular sounds and sights of the moment, there and then. Does that mean I've become less of a person, less concerned with the fates of my 'co-persons' elsewhere? Or does that mean, for those few moments, I was just living in the moment? Posted by Picasa

Scheveneningen Firework Festival II

  Posted by Picasa

Scheveningen Firework festival I

Nothing to celebrate, just something to enjoy.

 Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006

Why the sarcasm?

You'll probably have noticed, yesterday's post was poking fun at the terrorist plot to blow up planes on trans-Atlantic routes. As far as I'm concerned for the well being of innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the 'war on terror', I view such unravelling of events with sceptism.
Of course it's fortunate that loss of lives was prevented, and that terrorists had their (mad) plans foiled. But when the governments of the US and UK use such opportunities to instill further fear into the lives of their citizens, one must be careful.

Sure, threats of attacks are high, now, blunder after blunder, death after death in the 'global' war on terror, more than ever. Who is to blame? Who has the ability to stop the madness and state of being constantly at war, constantly at each other's throats?

Bush and Blair may seem to have the interests of the public on their lips, but their words and actions do not differ far from those of they label as terrorists. What they have in common with terrorists is their use of fear to instill obdeience into the public and society. A society under threat is a society that is easily manipulated. And an easily manipulated society is one susceptible to the whims of the few who are in power.

Laws can be bent, rules twisted, freedoms curfewed, rights infringed in the name of 'national security'. Whereas terrorists instill fear openly and admittedly, the scary thing about 'major' democracies posing as the bastions of freedom and democracy itself is that they do it silently and subtly. They do it in such a way that you willingly comply, because you are made to consume the real and imaginary threats we all face.

And a foiled terrorist attack, whether real or imaginary, is the best way to say 'look at us, we are doing our jobs'. It adds credibility to already incredible and deceitful administrations that manipulate truths and public opinion, appeal to patriotism and friends-and-foe black and white dichotomies as a means of ensuring compliance and silencing critics.

Call me a sceptic. But I'm not the only one.
"One might indeed think that the Republican Party was thrilled at the prospect of nine commercial airliners blowing up over the Atlantic Ocean, given the broad-spectrum reaction by the GOP to the news. In truth, however, they are scrambling to manufacture the one element that has served them over these past five years: fear. They cannot stand on their record; their rhetoric has grown bone-thin, and so they are pulling that hoary old club out of the bag one more time."
Anything that's remotely 'terrorist', think Al Qaeda, think bin Laden!

"Nonetheless, the invocation of Al Qaeda, and the still-chilling image of Mr. bin Laden, have provided an effective way to encapsulate and personalize the otherwise overwhelming threat of terrorism. In the same way, the image of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the loosely affiliated branch of Al Qaeda in Iraq, came to stand for the entire Iraqi insurgency."
Al Qaeda or not, their actions and the failure to completely stamp out those actions will continue to inspire:

"[...] it doesn't really matter whether the plotters were al-Qaeda soldiers taking orders from bin Laden or just a group of like-minded admirers working on their own. The plot demonstrates that al-Qaeda lives on, either as a functioning organization or, even more chillingly, as an inspiration to jihadists around the world.
One way not to fight [terrorists], as the Bush administration continues to demonstrate, is through reckless military action that may kill terrorists but also kills innocent civilians and thus creates a new generation of terrorists - doubtless including some bright young man or woman who will come up with a new idea for downing civilian airliners."

BUT wait: which terrorist are we talking about?
"With George Bush still insisting on the need to fight "Islamic fascism" to the bitter end, Labor Party Defense Minister Amir Peretz imploring Israeli soldiers to turn southern Lebanon "to dust," and Iran's Mahmud Ahmedinejad declaring the need to wipe Israel off the map, the hubris, arrogance, and utter disdain for human life that has brought the Middle East to its latest precipice continues to harden the hearts of leaders and peoples alike. And all will be the losers because of it"

In any case, be afraid, be very afraid:
"Perhaps the greatest illusion of any strategists, leaders, or generals is that they are in control - and perhaps the most hubristic version of this illusion is the belief that they can use chaos itself to further their control, to strengthen their situation."

What the foiled terrorist attacks on commercial airliners has shown is this: that democracies are no guarantees that fundamentalism and radicalism will not appeal to disgruntled youths and fanatics who hijack religion to justify their beliefs and force them upon other innocent bystanders, in life or in death. If anything, the fact that all
24 suspects arrested by the British authorities were in fact (shock!) British dsipells the lie that democracy is a cure-all medicine for the rest of the world, and especially the Middle East, which all must accept, if necessary by force. If states that harbour and produce terrorists should be subjected to regime change and have their government toppled, again if necessary by force, then perhaps London and Washington should brace themselves....against themselves.

  • What Jihad, which Jihad? Difference between American and British response to the bomb plot
"The difference in these initial public characterizations was revealing: The American president summoned up language reaffirming that the United States is locked in a global war in which its enemies are bound together by a common ideology, and a common hatred of democracy. For the moment, the British carefully stuck to the toned-down language of law enforcement."
And even the outdated ColdWar language and terminology of 'domino theory' is up-to-date today within the Bush administration.

"The test of American willpower, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush have insisted, is in Baghdad, which explains why they stick to the language that it is the "central front" in the war on terrorism and domino that America cannot let fall. Defeat there, they warn, would give the jihadists a victory and empower them to move on to the next country - maybe Pakistan, maybe Saudi Arabia, maybe Lebanon."

  • What we don't know, and may never know

  • Support for the war declining: "War critics are mainstream, not fringe"

    " To be "strong on national security" does not mean supporting the misconceived and incompetently executed policies of the Bush administration. American security in years to come will depend on undoing this government's grave mistakes, which have weakened this country's military posture and undermined support for us around the world. Terrorism experts across the spectrum, from conservative Republican to liberal Democrat, agree that the "struggle against violent extremism" has suffered from the foolish decision to invade and occupy Iraq.

    Evidently, the neoconservatives hope to escape responsibility for their debacle by complaining that the rest of us lack sufficient zeal."

  • UK plot the result of misguided foreign policy.

  • The changing face of terrorism

    " the overthrow of feudalism in Afghanistan, obviously in reference to the Taliban, has had as an immediate consequence, the "deterritorialization" of al-Qaeda.

    This absence of a geographic sanctuary to which they could withdraw and train has favored the expansion of totally autonomous cells in the West."

  • If you're travelling by plane soon, this "ABC guide to packing your luggage so as to avoide being mistaken as a potential terrorist and wrestled to the ground, before being escorted away into interrogation without trial" might come handy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006





  • Trust no one! Everyone is a potential terrorist!
  • Do not let anyone carry or handle your (hand) lugguage!
  • Baby milk is suspicious!
  • Watch people in headscarves and who look remotely Middle Eastern with great suspicion!
  • Do not gather in a crowd of more than three people!
  • Do not run suddenly
  • Most of all, FEAR! Be very AFRAID.
If only I could get Bert to disappear and Elmo to appear! ---->>

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The temperature dropped today, but the sunset was different and beautiful as usual. With a sweater I usually reserve for after Autumn, I cycled to the beach and took a long walk. The tide was low, the seagulls too. So low and so close you could almost catch them. But who would want to deny them of their freedom?

I walked and walked, not as far and long as that day in the rain, but still when I reached the end of the beach and the harbour of Scheveningen, the sky had fallen dark. The minutes, moments before it was brightly coloured, ever-changing, in sparkling hues of pink, and orange, and violet, and red. As if the sky couldn't decide what coat to put on, so tried every colour on for just a few fleeting moments.


I stood on the harbour dock, jutting out to sea, and felt brave, encouraged as the waves crashed beneath my feet. It was like I was invicible and unafraid of the violent waves. But only because I stood on firm ground. The gray water would have easily silenced me and drowned my existence the second I dropped in. Harbours lights, green and red, flashed on and off. The lighthouse stroked the land and sea with its intense ray, guiding ships and people to shore.

Cycling back, the wind picked up and it was a little struggle. On top of the dune I looked ahead, and there in the sky something smiled at me. A friendly, familar face.

It's a full moon tonight.

Roots of the conflict

Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon

This articles explains that the current crisis is not as black and white as some like to see it. It’s not just a simple matter of attack and counter-attack, not just terrorists fighting for their freedoms against a heavily armed and (US) backed conventional army engaging in self-defence. Against the backdrop of the now three-weeks-and-counting conflict, there are historical wounds that have not healed but continued to be ripped open time and again:

Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of Israel's silent but unrelenting aggression against Lebanon, which in turn is part of a six-decades long Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Why is it that Israel can openly discriminate against Arabs and Palestinians—in practices reminiscent of the Apartheid regime—but cry foul and anti-Semitism and invoke the suffering of the Jewish people during the Holocaust whenever it is condemned? The complacence of the international community, namely the ‘west’, adds to the insult, and does not bode well for the Arab states in the region who see Israel’s existence and behaviour as a black sheep which everyone else has been forced to coexist with, despite the continuing harassment and dehumanising treatment of the Palestinians:

“Is it not understandable that Israel's ethnic preoccupation profoundly offends not only Palestinians, but many of their Arab brethren? Yet rather than demanding that Israel acknowledge its foundational wrongs as a first step toward equality and coexistence, the Western world blithely insists that each and all must recognize Israel's right to exist at the Palestinians' expense.

Western discourse seems unable to accommodate a serious, as opposed to cosmetic concern for Palestinians' rights and liberties: The Palestinians are the Indians who refuse to live on the reservation; the Negroes who refuse to sit in the back of the bus.”

And this article suggests that the conflict is not just simply about religion. Religion may be a torch to garner support and awe, but in the Middle East of today—and the global war on terror for that matter—religion is a side issue, overshadowed by the other materialistic (as opposed to spiritual) motivations:

“All fighting parties in the Middle East appeal to God. By this, the impression existst that the conflicts in the region are religious conflicts: Jews against Muslims, Muslims against Christians, Shi’tes against Sunnites. These conflicts revolve in fact not around theological differences, but around land and power.

Arabian politicians have raised the manipulation of religion to a form of art."
>>Dirk Vlasblom, ‘Conflicten Midden-Oosten zijn niet religieus’ [Conflicts Middle East are not religious], 21 July 2006, NRC Handelsblad

"Let us leave the anti-Semitism, which indeed existed in Europe, out of it. In many centuries and in many countries Jews and Arabs have lived together peacefully. Now that European anti-Semitism has led to the establishment of the state of Israel, I see the war between Lebanon and Israel in the same light as for example the war between Iraq and Iran. The way in which Shi’ites are now suddenly painted as dangerous devils is laughable if you think about how the American invasion in Iraq was argued for by pointing to the way Saddam Hussein persecuted the Shi’ites in that country. Countries have inhabitants and inhabitants have religion, but that is no reason to give every war a religious tint.”
>>Grijs, ‘Vergissing’ [Mistake], p79, 5 August 2006, Vrij Nederland

“Enduring Freedom” has become synomynous with ‘enduring chaos’. There is no solution to ending the daily car bombs, suicide attacks, attacks and counter attacks, even with the newly installed governments that the US seems all too naively want to believe would placate the local populations in Iraq, and beyond. It is an illusion that neocons in Washington invest in the faith that regime change will cure all of the ills in the Middle East:

“[…] the democratic tinkering, that the ‘war against terror’ would have to be concluded by installing pro-western elites from bourgeois social backgrounds in power, has in most countries where free, or half-free elections have taken place, lead to reasonable gain for anti-western, Muslim fundamentalist parties. This has happened from Iran up to and including Pakistan, through Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrein. The electorate refused to approve of a one-sided American politics, [the results of] which the Arabic satellite broadcasters show the meaninglessness of daily: the chaos in Iraq as a result of the occupation.”
>>Gilles Kepel, ‘Eind van de unilateral illusie’ [End of the unilateral illusion], p82, 5 August 2006, Vrij Nederland

The stance the US is taking towards the current conflict—ie no stance—exposes the very selfish and hypocritical interests the world’s military superpower and advocate of freedoms.

“[…] democratisation [is for] Washington no longer priority, to the relief of the authoritarian regimes and to the embitterment of the democrats of the Middle East. The latter feel especially betrayed because the US has done nothing in Lebanon, the only country where elections did not lead to a Muslim fundamentalist victory, to protect the country against attacks from Israel. [Not] even in demanding a ceasefire.”

And then there is the ongoing maltreatment of the Palestinians, which is a rallying cause for all Arabs, regardless of their religious faith. Anneke Mouthaan--co-founder of 'Een Ander Joods Geluid' [A Different Jewish Voice], which is concerned about the absence of peace and justice in the region, and critical of Israel's continuing oppressive behaviour-- says:
"Gaza, which Israel has now pulled out from, isone big prison with 1.4 million people inside. The Palestinians may not rebuild their harbour, not use their airpor, the borders are cordonned off by Israelis. They cultivate flowers and fruits there, but if Irasel hinders the exports thereof, the whole lot rots. In the past past two years the economy there went further down the drain. For many Israelis Palestinians are people you do not need to take into consideration. I heard children say: Palestinians are cockroaches."
>>Malou van Hintum, 'Volgens Anneke Mouthaan' [According to Anneke Mouthaan], p6-8, 12 August 2006,
Vrij Nederland
It is unacceptable, this kind of discrimination and intolerance within Israel. And it will only get worse if the international community and Israel continues to allow it to happen and dares not cricise:
"Israel is busy digging its own grave. Through the bombardments now and the oppression of the Palestinian people, the hatred towards the country will only become greater. But Israel does not want to listen. Every criticism is rejected as an expression of anti-Semitism. That victim-mentality, that we must now finally set aside. It is true, other than the Jews there has never been a people that was murdered on such a grand scale and so systematically. But we are not the only victims in world history. Three million Cambodians have been murdered, more than one and a half million Armenians, hundreds of thousands of Hutus and Tutsis. And then also the victims in Darfur."
About sowing hatred and propoganda, both sides are guilty. The more misunderstanding and stereotypes you feed the public, and the children, the more the conflict and hatred between the
peoples of the Middle East will deepen. Al Manar, the second largest Arabic satellite channel after Al Jazeera, is a Lebanese broadcaster:

" "In peacetime, Al Manar is objective [...] but in the case of our national wawr against Israel you cannot remain objective. All other Arabic television broadcasters do the same--of course we choose sides." [says Ali Hashem, war correspondent for the broadcaster] We show the suffering of the Arabic peoples, the suffering that is being created by Israel and America." "
>>Harald Doornbos, 'Natuurlijk kiezen wij partij' [Of course we choose sides], p14-19, 12 August, 2006,
Vrij Nederland
It has been banned in France and the Netherlands for sending out anti-Semitic messages, such as:
"The Jews helped [to spread] AIDS in the world. Jews form a cancerous tumour that must be removed for the body to become healthy again. Jews are decendants of pigs and apes. Jews try to get rid of Arabs through the bird flu epidemic. Jews are according to Allah the greatest cowards and are above all stingy. Jews need the blood of Christian to bake bread. Jews are snakes that try to entice youths to alcohol and corrutpion. Israel (or as Al Manar always labels the country: The Zionist Enemy) must be completely-- utterly completely-- erased from the earth. Jews use Tom and Jerry to create sympathy for mice and other vermin."

Simply shocking. Espeically that last part.

  • Israelis sodliers who refuse to attack civilians
  • Bold statements, weak action
    " President Bush sees the Israel-Hezbollah conflict as "an opportunity." Condoleezza Rice calls it "the birth pangs of a new Middle East." These statements are likely to be remembered by history as even more iconically absurd than Vice President's Cheney's description of the Iraqi insurgency as being "in its last throes." "
    " It would be simplistic to lay this mess at the feet of US foreign policy. But America does bear some responsibility. Preferring its "Axis of Evil" rhetoric to reality, it has chosen not to engage Iran. It has also shunned direct talks with Syria. Yet these countries are the two principal sources of physical and moral support for Hezbollah. Of equal consequence, the US has been largely AWOL on the Israeli-Palestinian issue for six years. Its love of elections brought Hamas to power in the Palestinian territories."

  • Speaking of opportunities and birth, why not redivide Iraq and the Middle East to better reflect the population and races that live there?
    "They have a new constitution, a new government and a new military. But faced with incessant sectarian bloodshed, Iraqis for the first time have begun openly discussing whether the only way to stop the violence is to remake the country they have just built.
  • The partition idea my not be such a crazy one, as US luitenant-colonel Ralph Peters recently wrote in the Armed Forces Journal.

    "Accepting that international statecraft has never developed effective tools — short of war — for readjusting faulty borders, a mental effort to grasp the Middle East's "organic" frontiers nonetheless helps us understand the extent of the difficulties we face and will continue to face. We are dealing with colossal, man-made deformities that will not stop generating hatred and violence until they are corrected."

    "Frankenstein's monster of a state sewn together from ill-fitting parts, Iraq should have been divided into three smaller states immediately."

    Kurds, Baluchans, Indus, Sunnis, Shi'ite scattered all over the region. With borders redrawn and current states downsized as new states are created, many of the inter-ethnic and religious infighting as well as conflicts over land and resources would cease, or at least wane.
    "Iran, a state with madcap boundaries, would lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today's Afghanistan — a region with a historical and linguistic affinity for Persia."

    And terrorism would gradually disappear as the causes of dispute disappear:
    "From the world's oversupply of terrorists to its paucity of energy supplies, the current deformations of the Middle East promise a worsening, not an improving, situation. In a region where only the worst aspects of nationalism ever took hold and where the most debased aspects of religion threaten to dominate a disappointed faith, the U.S., its allies and, above all, our armed forces can look for crises without end."
  • No need to bring in Iran or Syria or any other Axis of Evil members into the conflict. It's Israel, the US and Europe who are causing the troubles, and who hold the key to stopping it all:
    "What does this Western obsession over Iran and Syria's support for Hezbollah mean? Do their media also go to the trouble of specifying that Israel is supported by the United States and Europe?"

    "My answer about Iran and Syria's role [...] is summarized by Condoleezza Rice's speech. She keeps calling for a 'Greater Middle East.' Well then, here it is! Confronted with the American-Zionist plan for the systematic destruction of Lebanon, the 'Greater Middle East' is reacting in chorus to defend its rights. Hezbollah's objective has never changed. Since its creation, its role has been to fight against Israeli occupation and aggression in Lebanon. We represent the resistance of all Lebanese. Syria and Iran take our country's fate to heart. That's normal.

  • I came across this site which contained a whole list of reasons why Israel is being criminalised for all the wrong reasons. I'm not sure what to believe--a running list of how terrible the Arabs were and how the Jewish people were there in the first place according to the Bible, or the current disporportionate actions and (deliberate or not) attacks on civilians.




Silence of the Netherlands

Normally a vocal and country that advocates freedom and peace, international justice and human rights, the Netherlands has been surprisingly silent in the current Middle East conflict.

Last week, a number of NGOs and aid organisations (a.o. Oxfam-Netherlands) published an open ad in a national newspaper calling the government to speak out against the ongoing violence. The ad, entitled “Wie zwijgt, stemt toe” [Who(ever) is silent, agrees] argues:

“The Dutch government, in our eyes, loses her credibility as advocate of international law, as long as she tolerates the law of the strongest in silence. An immediate, unconditional and complete ceasefire is the only way to offer citizens protestion. UN-Secretary General has called for this. We demand that the Dutch government raises her voice and unambiguously supports this call.


In a weak response to the appeal, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bot released a press statement, saying he “shares the concerns” of these civil NGOs, but falls short of condemning the violence:

It is terribly sad to see the tragic impact of the hostilities on the lives of the people in the region. Of course, I too see the human suffering the conflict is causing, and the disastrous humanitarian consequences.

The stance of the Netherlands, he says, is the same as that of the Council of the EU statement condemning the attacks on either side. To be fair, he did say that amid all this heated tension, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza should not be forgotten.

The new left

With the ‘end of history’, has the new left waned or gained? While most countries in the world are now embracing (neo) liberal variants of political and economic organisation, leftist ideologies seem to have fallen to the fringes. It’s new patrons: the powerless, discriminated and disillusioned people who have not profited from the onslaught of global capitalism and market-determinism:

“Indigenes, welfare dependents, homosexuals, refugees (especially if they are illegal immigrants) and displaced populations of dysfunctional states primarily in Africa and South America.”

What unites these people is not their sense of sister-/brotherhood, but their shared sense of vicitimhood:

“Failure, in addition to class, has become a desired prerequisite for joining the Left's brotherhood of victims. Through its support of those it deems less fortunate, the Left assumes a moral high ground from which it feels self-righteously justified in attacking those it designates as oppressors.”

More specifically, in the current Middle East conflict, this commentator argues that the left is taking a very skewed stance, demonising Israel as the aggressor, while almost lauding and overly sympathising with the cause of the ‘terrorists’ who started the conflict. A very big change from the sympathies towards Jews in the aftermaths of the Holocaust.

“Paradoxically, the [Israeli] state's success has been the reason the Left turned against Israel. Within a few years of its foundation, Israel had broken the first commandment of the Left's ideology: "Thou shalt not succeed." Success is anathema to the Left because it puts an end to victimhood; without victims the Left has no reason to exist. In the eyes of the Left's supporters, Israel's great accomplishments meant that the country no longer qualified as a victim. Israel, through being successful, effectively turned its back on the role chosen for it by the Left.”

A very condemning conclusion of the role of the Left, as myopic and conveniently forgetful:

“If there is a lesson to be learned from this, it is that where morality is concerned, the Left is value free. It draws no distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice. Hence, in the minds of leftists, the terrorist becomes a freedom fighter and murderers are transformed into heroes.

  • Another article on the role of the left, arguing that its sympathies for Lebanon should not come from its anti-Americanism. A detailed historical recount of the state of the country and players involved.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Olympic Games 2008

In two years time the 2008 Olympic Games will officially begin in Beijing.

Amid fanfare, fireworks and elaborate ceremonies, China will undoubtedly put on a great show. Show to show the world what wonderful achievements the country has accomplished in the past few decades, away from the shadows of poverty, humiliation and turmoils of the last century.

But how much has Beijing, or China as a whole, really changed?
With the slogan "One World, One Dream" the official organisers are hoping to bring the world in together the Chinese capital. But about the dream? Some cartoonists have illustrated their impressions of this dream.

Beijing Blues

Attempt by China to put on a showcase Olympics in two years. Not without costs.

“The market-communist government also has enough old dictatorial power and new economic clout to make it happen. When the Games start on August 8, more than a million cars will have simply been ordered off the streets. Entire neighbourhoods have already been flattened to make way for the Bird's Nest Olympic stadium, the Water Cube swimming pool, as well as new roads, new subways and the biggest airport terminal in the world. To clear the polluted air, factories have been moved out of the city centre, construction workers will down tools, and nitrogen rockets will be fired into approaching clouds to artificially induce rain.”


“Given China's reputation as the world's biggest censor, few people expect outright abolition of reporting restrictions. After all, no country in the world imprisons more journalists.”


“More likely is a temporary easing for the duration of the Games. If that happens, China will argue that it has met its Olympic commitments and for a few glorious months, the media - probably excluding domestic reporters - will bask in an artificially sunny and open climate. But after that the detentions - like the pollution - will resume as normal in the autumn of 2008. And then the big question will be - beyond the concrete and the steel of the stadiums and roads - what will be the legacy of the Beijing Olympics?”

Israel-Lebanon conflict continued

Read a somewhat shocking comment by someone who wondered why Israel is being condemned by the international community, even though "it has done nothing wrong".

Perhaps the events in the bombed-out Lebanese town of Qana is enough reason to think otherwise.

"There were different accounts of the death toll," reported the New York Times on Monday morning. "Residents said as many as 60 people had been inside. News agencies reported that 56 had been killed, and that 34 of them were children. The Lebanese Red Cross, which conducted the rescue, counted 27 bodies, as many of 17 of them children. The youngest of the dead was 10 months old, and the oldest was 95. One was in a wheelchair."
Ceasefire now

Again, the Israeli ‘Defence’ Force claimed that Hezbollah was using civilians as a human shield, and firing rockets from civilian buildings. Again, Israel claimed that it “deeply, deeply is sorrowful”. Being sorry does not exonerate you of your crimes. Amnesty International called Israel’s so-called “full and open investigation” into the civilian deaths as a “whitewash”. Qana ten years ago was also the site of another Israeli slaughter of civilians-- one which Amnesty International has described as "deliberate".

Both operations reflect the same predisposition to shun diplomacy and rely on military force to achieve political objectives. In both cases, civilian leaders accepted uncritically the advice of the military in order to bolster their popularity with the Israeli public.
Israel's error, then and now

Everyone is a terrorist, civilian or not. Even children and the elderly.

“After the first Qana massacre, the Israeli military rejected responsibility for the deaths, instead blaming Hezbollah because they thought fighters had entered the UN base. A similar Israeli justification, albeit the very definition of collective punishment, was given today - that they suspected Hezbollah militants had fired rockets from Qana. After the 1996 massacre, a UN investigation found no evidence to support the claim made by the Israeli military, and I suspect a similar investigation will find a similar verdict this time - that the Israeli military had no reason to bomb innocent civilians.

Astounding as this level of blood thirst is, it really cannot come as much of a surprise. Why not? Because just last Thursday, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon announced on Israeli army radio, "All those in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah." “
[Link mine]

It is reasonable to infer from newspaper coverage and television evidence that Israel has been noticeably disproportionate in its response to the abduction of two soldiers and the killing of eight others in a Hizbullah ambush three weeks ago. Asymmetric warfare, as it is currently fashionable to call the contest between regular armies and guerrilla forces, inevitably results in asymmetric casualties, at least 10 times higher in Lebanon than in Israel.
Israeli force can stop the rockets, but for how long?

Here's a powerful and convincing statement by a rabbi arguing that Israel--founded by racists and fascists under the banner of Zionism-- should not exist. I'm surprised that Murdoch's Fox empire actually allowed this rabbi to speak his mind so openly. (Thanks to Frits for the tip!)

Another example of 'your word against mine', between Israeli government spokeswoman defending the countries attacks on civilian buildings and a not-so-convinced CNN anchor

Israeli government spokeswoman: [Israel] did not target this building.
CNN anchor: Even though you had guided missiles, the building was not targeted.
[few seconds of silence]

What is Israel trying to achieve from all this current campaign, if anything? Secure its borders and protect its own civilians? Not when disproportionate military actions result in increasing Arab and world disdain and anger toward Israel behaviour. Support and sympathy from the rest of the world in its own efforts in the global war on terror? Hezbollah is more than a terrorist organisation, and cannot be wiped away in a matter of weeks.

The original aim of the present campaign was said to be to destroy Hezbollah. This aim, too, is completely unrealistic. No amount of external military pressure can bring about the forcible disarming of Hezbollah. […] In Lebanon Hezbollah is widely seen not as a terrorist organization but as an authentic Islamic resistance movement. It was not the Lebanese Army but Hezbollah that drove the mighty Israel Defense Force out of Lebanon in 2000 with its tail between its legs. Hezbollah empowers the poor and underprivileged Shiite community. To destroy Hezbollah, Israel would have to kill all the Shiite population.
Israel's error, then and now

[...]given that the Palestinian problem is no nearer solution and that by creating a wilderness in Lebanon and calling it peace Israel has recruited thousands of new martyrs to the Hizbullah cause, military and diplomatic planners are going to have to ask themselves how long the respite will last. Was Israel's disproportionate response worth the cost of strengthening Arab hatred, alienating world opinion yet again and, last but not least, inviting criticism from a growing number of diaspora Jews who wish for Israel to live in security but find it increasingly difficult to condone what is being done by the Jewish state in their name? [...]
Israeli force can stop the rockets, but for how long?

How does Israel then expect the EU to stop "preaching" about its behaviour?
Interesting to note that Ehud Olmert answers to EU criticism of the death of civillians with the "if you can do it, why can't we" attitude. Olmert misquotes the number of casualties in the Kosovo war, saying that European coalition killded "tens thousand", when in fact it was around 500. As expected, the compliance and refusal of the Bush administration to outrightly condemn Israel is having "courage [...] to speak the truth". Original interview by Welt am Sonntag in German.

Peace please! The people cannot wait for politicians to discuss and debate while so many are falling victims to this unnecessary conflict.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Police kills over a hundred

Just heard the radio that a Japanese news agency managed to uncover news that police in Hunan (China) killed more than a hundred protesting villagers last month. I've not been able to confirm this anywhere on the internet, none of the big news agencies have followed up on this.

But if it's true, then it's really serious news that has escape international media attention. Or perhaps deliberately ignored to silence critics of China.

A Protest!

I really don’t want to write this, but it’s gotten out of hand.

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been writing less and less of my personal life and thoughts on this blog, but not without reason. It’s come to my attention that some people are reading my blog and using it against me, attacking me and trying to interfere with how I live my life. And worse: these people are supposed to be your close relatives and friends.

Example: I went to France to help my mother friend. That lead to rumours that I’m supposed to be having a (sexual) affair with this friend. I cannot say how ridiculous and utterly immature this kind of thought is, but it does make me wonder why I bother to even write. Do people really have a wild imagination, or do they just enjoy to think terribly of other people? Do people really have nothing better to do than try to interfere in other people's lives, or are they just plain naive?

When I heard those rumours I was very disappointed: how sad and loveless we have become as a society and race when one person cannot help another simply out of kindness and not be accused of having some other ulterior motive?

I’ll say this much: I write about my experiences and personal thoughts, because I have nothing to hide. I know I’m not doing anything immoral or hurting anyone. I simply want to share what I see as beautiful experiences (in beautiful words), in the hope that perhaps others will be touched by the many things that life and this world has to offer.

If there’s anything, it’s those people who read and then jump to ludicrous conclusions and spread groundless gossip who seriously have problems. You can only wonder (and tremble at) what their dirty little and closed-off minds are thinking everyday.

I wrote this before, and I’ll write this again:
Please don't use my blog as a source for gossip and rumour-spreading.
I can't stop you from reading, but please also don't stop me from writing.

I can write, but I can also not write.