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 The War in Context
   alternative perspectives on the "war on terrorism"

An end to Israeli occupation will mean a just war
Withdrawal from Palestinian territories is now essential if a moral victory is to be achieved

Amos Oz, The Observer, April 7, 2002

Two Palestinian-Israeli wars have erupted in this region. One is the Palestinian nation's war for its freedom from occupation and for its right to independent statehood. Any decent person ought to support this cause. The second war is waged by fanatical Islam, from Iran to Gaza and from Lebanon to Ramallah, to destroy Israel and drive the Jews out of their land. Any decent person ought to abhor this cause.
[The complete article]


COMMENT -- As President Bush calls on Israel to start a withdrawal "without delay" from the Occupied Territories, Israeli forces continue a massive assault on the refugee camps of Jenin, fire shells at Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah, continue a fierce battle in Nablus, and advance into Yatta, south of Hebron, and Qabatiya, north of Nablus. At the same time, the BBC reports that, "Israeli officials insist the Americans are not seeking an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces, which would only happen "after having cleaned up the nest of terrorists" in the words of one spokesman."

Battle rages in Palestinian camp
BBC News, April 6, 2002

Israeli operations bring 'wanton destruction'
BBC News, April 5, 2002

Israelis say they will "finish the job," Palestinians cry "massacre"
Agence France-Presse, April 6, 2002

In Ramallah we founded Palestine
Ze'ev Sternhell, Ha'aretz, April 6, 2002

Had Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Israel intended to grant the Palestinians the gift they so desired, and tried to help them create a national epic in the course of struggling for independence on the battlefield - it could not have done otherwise. In the streets of Ramallah and Qalqiliyah legends are now being created upon which generations of haters of Israel will be raised. Tens of thousands of children are dreaming of the day they will bear arms. Thanks to the invasion of which he is the conductor, Ariel Sharon will be remembered as the real founder of the Palestinian state. Thus he will go down in history because of the fact that his real aim is not only rooting out terror but breaking the Palestinian national movement.
[The complete article]

Sharon's military tactics should not surprise anyone
Fergal Keane, The Independent, April 6, 2002

Most rational commentators and the majority of the international body politic agree that a solution must be based on the old formula of land for peace. The Saudi proposal was simply a recognition of this reality gilded with the offer of a broader regional peace. But this presents Ariel Sharon with a choice no leader of his background would want to face.

When he was cast into the political wilderness after the Sabra and Chatila massacres, Sharon rebuilt his base with the help of the settlers. He has been a driving force behind the colonisation of Palestinian land. Is anybody asking themselves how a man with this political debt, but also with his own passionate support for settlements, is going to be party to destroying the settlers' dream? Even if he were to undergo a miracle conversion to the idea, many in his political constituency would denounce him as a traitor. Yet in the absence of such a deal there will be endless war. No colonised people will sit and watch their land being eaten away.
[The complete article]

Sharon tries to destroy all traces of Arafat rule
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, April 6, 2002

Two monuments to destruction awaited Palestinians when Ramallah briefly came to life yesterday during the relaxation of the Israeli army curfew: the wrecked compound of Yasser Arafat, and the battle-ravaged headquarters of a powerful security commander.

The ruins provide compelling evidence that the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is not only pursuing a war against suicide bombers - as he claims - but wants to erase history: the eight-year interlude when Mr Arafat's Palestinian Authority had some control over the West Bank and Gaza.
[The complete article]

Bush: We will get rid of Saddam
Julian Borger and Michael White, The Guardian, April 6, 2002

The prospects of a US-British war against Iraq remained on the horizon last night as Tony Blair arrived in Texas for talks with the US president, George Bush, about options for tackling Saddam Hussein. Mr Bush, in an interview broadcast last night, signalled that even Iraqi compliance with UN demands on weapons inspections might not be enough to avoid war.
[The complete article]


COMMENT -- Yesterday, President Bush rebuked Yasser Arafat by saying that, "The situation in which he finds himself today is largely of his own making. He's missed his opportunities, and thereby betrayed the hopes of the people he's supposed to lead. Given his failure, the Israeli government feels it must strike at terrorist networks that are killing its citizens."

Part of the myth surrounding the claims about Arafat's failures is the assertion (repeated almost daily on the editorial pages in the US press) that Arafat "walked away" from Camp David in 2000 and sacrificed an historic opportunity to make a lasting peace with Israel. While this interpretation of the Clinton-Barak-Arafat talks was circulated around Washington for a whole year, one of Clinton's own advisers eventually set the record straight:

Adviser: Clinton exasperated with Barak during peace talks
Account disputes view that Arafat caused breakdown

Alan Sipress, Washington Post, July 18, 2001

Though President Clinton publicly blamed the Palestinians for the failure of the Camp David peace summit last July, in private he became exasperated with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's negotiating tactics, according to a key White House adviser. In an upcoming article in the New York Review of Books, Robert Malley, Clinton's special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs, disputes the widespread view that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was the sole culprit behind the collapse of the Camp David talks, which was soon followed by a surge in Middle East violence.
[The complete article]

Camp David: The tragedy of errors
Hussein Agha, Robert Malley, The New York Review of Books, August 9, 2001

In accounts of what happened at the July 2000 Camp David summit and the following months of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, we often hear about Ehud Barak's unprecedented offer and Yasser Arafat's uncompromising no. Israel is said to have made a historic, generous proposal, which the Palestinians, once again seizing the opportunity to miss an opportunity, turned down. In short, the failure to reach a final agreement is attributed, without notable dissent, to Yasser Arafat.

As orthodoxies go, this is a dangerous one. For it has larger ripple effects. Broader conclusions take hold. That there is no peace partner is one. That there is no possible end to the conflict with Arafat is another.

For a process of such complexity, the diagnosis is remarkably shallow. It ignores history, the dynamics of the negotiations, and the relationships among the three parties. In so doing, it fails to capture why what so many viewed as a generous Israeli offer, the Palestinians viewed as neither generous, nor Israeli, nor, indeed, as an offer. Worse, it acts as a harmful constraint on American policy by offering up a single, convenient culprit—Arafat—rather than a more nuanced and realistic analysis.
[The complete article]

Not in our name
John Pilger, Daily Mirror, April 5, 2002

President George W Bush yesterday called on Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian cities occupied by its forces during the last week. He excused Israel's violence, but lectured the Palestinians and the rest of the Middle East on the need for restraint and a lasting peace. "The storms of violence cannot go on," said Bush. "Enough is enough."
What he neglected to say was that he needs a lull in the present crisis to lay his own war plans; that while he talks of peace in the Middle East, he is secretly planning a massive attack on Iraq.
[The complete article]

Don't sit by and watch Mideast murder
Amy Pagnozzi, Hartford Courant, April 5, 2002

Shame upon us all, for pretending we are merely witnesses of human history instead of players in it. It's our billions of tax dollars that have enabled the IDF to turn doctors into diggers, creating mass graves in the parking lot of Ramallah Hospital for the patients they could not save, due to the military's refusal to permit surgeons to operate upon critically wounded patients. So fair warning: unless you want to continue as an accomplice in a murder for hire plot, write your president, your senator, your representative. Tell them this is not how you want your tax money spent.
[The complete article]

From Warsaw to the West Bank
Sherri Muzher, Ramallah Online

Women throw hand grenades. Children fight like soldiers. Occupying soldiers prevent food and medicine from the civilian population. Buildings and homes are destroyed. Arms are smuggled. A relatively unarmed civilian population fights one of the most powerful armies in the world. Welcome to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April, 1943.
[The complete article]


COMMENT -- Readers should note that Ha'aretz is one of the leading newspapers in Israel. Why, we must ask, are Ariel Sharon and the actions of the Israeli Defense Force, subject to severe criticism by the Israeli press, while at the same time the editorial pages of the American press express virtually unanimous support for Israel's so-called "war on terror"?

Sharon buys time
Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz, April 5, 2002

U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday granted Israel a few more days' grace to complete the Protective Wall offensive - until Secretary of State Colin Powell arrives in the region - according to Jerusalem's assessment of the American leader's speech. Powell called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday afternoon to inform him of the main points of the impending speech. Sharon put in a request "to buy time" for the IDF mission in the territories. He dispatched Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., David Ivri, to the White House with a message: Let us complete the offensive and break the back of Palestinian terror; this would be the most significant contribution toward peace. Sharon was pleased with Bush's speech; the IDF offensive received presidential justification. While Bush called on Israel "to halt incursions and begin [its] withdrawal", he did not talk of an immediate withdrawal.
[The complete article]

Humiliation sows hatred
Editorial, Ha'aretz, April 5, 2002

It is impossible to ignore the nature of the operation, which was a significant departure from the declared policy until now, in which a distinction was made between those who deal in terror, who must be vanquished, and the wider population, whom Israel did not want to engage in conflict. This time, the IDF caused deliberate suffering and humiliation to the broader Palestinian population. This cannot be interpreted any other way: The government of Israel, through the IDF, sought to use humiliation as a means of pressure or punishment. There is no other way to understand those photographed scenes of hundreds of people, bound and blindfolded, on their way to interrogations.
[The complete article]

'Nablus: where the real war begins'
Graham Usher, The Guardian, April 5, 2002

Early yesterday 200 Israeli tanks swept into Nablus, the largest and most nationalist of Palestinian cities. The incursion took the number of West Bank cities under Israeli control to seven of eight, holding 90% of the Palestinian population - more than 1 million people - under curfew and siege.
[The complete article]


A black flag hangs over the idea of transfer
Tom Segev, Ha'aretz, April 5, 2002

An evil spirit is infiltrating public discourse: the spirit of expulsion. The zealots among the settlers still mostly use the slogan "Kahane was right," but the slogan "No Arabs - No Terror" is representative of increasing numbers of spokesmen.
[The complete article]

Fear of wider conflict as army pushes on --
Bethlehem standoff goes on as troops enter Hebron

Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, April 5, 2002

The Israeli army accelerated its offensive against Palestinian towns and cities, thrusting into Hebron even as President George Bush called for a withdrawal. The intervention came amid deepening fears that the war could spill beyond the Jewish state and the occupied Palestinian territories as Hizbullah guerrillas fired rockets across Israel's northern frontiers for a third day. At least 70 Palestinians have been killed in the week since tanks slammed into Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah, and the army began its sweep across the West Bank, Israel Radio said yesterday. By evening, only the desert town of Jericho remained untouched.
[The complete article]

'America has no credibility'
Peter Beaumont, The Guardian, April 5, 2002

Reaction in Palestinian cities to Mr Bush's speech was marked by hostility and scepticism. In Hebron Khalid Amayreh, an independent journalist and commentator, poured scorn on the plan. "Mr Bush is conspicuously ignorant of the situation in the Middle East," he said. "All that he knows comes from the rightwing pro-Israeli extreme in US politics. "If it is so urgent, why is secretary of state Powell coming next week and not tomorrow?"
[The complete article]

Thinking ahead
After survival, what happens?

Edward Said, Al-Ahram, April 4, 2002

When a renowned and respected retired politician like Zbigniew Brzezinski says explicitly on national television that Israel has been behaving like the white supremacist regime of apartheid South Africa, one can be certain that he is not alone in this view, and that an increasing number of Americans and others are slowly growing not only disenchanted but also disgusted with Israel as a hugely expensive and draining ward of the United States, costing far too much, increasing American isolation, and seriously damaging the country's reputation with its allies and its citizens. The question is what, in this most difficult of moments, can we rationally learn about the present crisis that we need to include in our plans for the future?
[The complete article]

An American under siege in a West Bank refugee camp
Nancy Stohlman, Counterpunch, April 1, 2002

Each night I think to myself this is the most terrifying night of my life and each night it gets worse.
[The complete article]

'He kept bleeding'
Wounded die as Israelis restrict ambulances in Bethlehem

Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, April 4, 2002

Demolished cars lined the narrow streets of Bethlehem. Shutters were ripped from the shops. And inside the homes, where frightened residents huddled for a second day, the dead shared space with the wounded.
[The complete article]

The widening possibility of war
Paul Rogers, Open Democracy, April 4, 2002

As Tony Blair prepares for his meeting with George Bush, the war in Afghanistan remains unresolved and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict worsens. Even so, the Bush administration remains intent on widening the “war on terror” to Iraq, although the stresses being felt by the US armed forces are becoming more apparent.
[The complete article]

Truce plan let Israel continue attacks
Furious Palestinians leak 'one-sided' US envoy draft

Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, April 4, 2002

Israel would be allowed to continue attacks on Palestinian presidential buildings, security headquarters and prisons as part of a Middle East "ceasefire" plan proposed by US envoy General Anthony Zinni, it emerged yesterday.
[The complete article]

Violence and excuses in the Mideast
Michael Lerner and Cornel West, AlterNet, April 3, 2002

Many are calling for the Bush administration to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. And such intervention could help. Yet the Bush administration is making no effort to conceal that its heart lies elsewhere: in creating a coalition in the Islamic world that will support forthcoming U.S. attempts to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Though little evidence links Saddam to Osama bin Ladin or al-Qaeda, the White House has used the cover of outrage at terror to legitimate a new war in Iraq that will complete what the last Bush administration left unresolved.
[The complete article]

Palestinians are blurry in the editorial frame
Norman Solomon, Media Beat, April 4, 2002

While quite properly calling for an immediate halt to the horrendous suicide bombings, New York Times editorials are notably patient and rather equivocal about bringing an end to Israel's occupation. In the first paragraph of a March 30 editorial, the Times recommended "a commitment to withdraw from occupied lands." In the closing paragraph, the newspaper declared: "Israel must make clear that it recognizes the need to relinquish the bulk of the territories it took in 1967."

Translation: Even at this late and bloody date, the New York Times can't bring itself to forthrightly call for an immediate and total end to the occupation. Instead, the paper resorts to ambiguity; Israel should recognize the need to leave "the bulk of the territories." If a foreign power had been occupying your home for 35 years, how would you feel about the idea that it should "recognize the need" to leave most of it -- merely remaining in control of, say, all the hallways and doors?
[The complete article]

The bloody battle of Bethlehem
Robert Fisk, The Independent, April 4, 2002

Rotting bodies in Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers surrounding Palestinian civilians and militiamen in the place of Christ's birth, unburied corpses in Ramallah – Israel's latest war is turning into a human and political tragedy on a vast scale as the last physical symbols of the Oslo peace agreement are destroyed. For two days, the suicide bombers have been silent. But the coming weeks will decide the future of the Holy Land for years to come.
[The complete article]

Inside hell
Muna Khleifi, The Guardian, April 4, 2002

Muna Khleifi lives in Ramallah, one of the Palestinian towns besieged by Israeli soldiers. Here she describes a week of deprivation and terror.
[The complete article]

Israel tightens its iron grip on one million Palestinians in West Bank
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, April 4, 2002

The Israeli army expanded its occupation to nearly all of the Palestinian towns in the West Bank yesterday, pushing forward even as international condemnation of its sweeping offensive reached a critical mass. As more than 150 Israeli tanks rolled into the city of Nablus firing shells late last night, the army stood on the verge of controlling the lives of more than 1 million Palestinians, living in West Bank cities and towns.
[The complete article]

Sharon is exploiting America's 'war on terrorism'
William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune, April 4, 2002

Israeli policy today rests on a wishful fiction, complicated by its conflation of the facts and fictions underlying Washington's proclaimed war on terrorism.
[The complete article]

Egypt cuts ties with Israel
Vatican criticises Israel today for "humiliating" the Palestinians
European Union calls on Washington to stand down as primary peacemaker

US hawks call shots on Mideast policy
Jim Lobe, Asia Times, April 4, 2002

The confusing signals from the office of US President George W Bush over the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict reflect the ongoing struggle between the radical hawks of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the realpolitikers led by Secretary of State Colin Powell. As in so many other major foreign-policy debates inside the Bush administration, the radicals appear to be winning decisively, a victory that reflects the relative strengths of Rumsfeld and his ally, Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as the relentless pressure campaign waged by pro-Likud forces to tie Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to Bush's larger "war against terrorism".
[The complete article]

Dispatches from Ramallah
AlterNet, April 2, 2002

Eyewitness acccounts of the Israeli invasion are pouring in from Ramallah and Bethlehem every day. The following reports and testimonies are being circulated on listservs and indymedia sites.
[The complete article]

For Sharon, meaning of 'victory' grows unclear
Lee Hockstader, Washington Post, April 1, 2002

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not just a battle between two peoples over one piece of land, it is a self-destructive contest of national wills. In such a war, fanaticism is a potent weapon, and there the Palestinians and their growing legions of suicide bombers have the edge. "Palestinian terror has changed its face," wrote Nahum Barnea, a widely read columnist in the Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper. "In 1982 it was the job of professionals. Today it is popular sport, the grand aspiration of thousands of Palestinian girls and boys. You can kill, deport and deter professionals. There is no military way to fight suicide bombers." Sharon says he thinks there is. In a brief televised address tonight, he grimly told Israelis to prepare for "an uncompromising war to uproot these savages, to dismantle their infrastructure." But as Israeli terrorism experts have pointed out, the infrastructure of suicide bombing requires little more than bomb-making know-how and some very basic equipment. If an explosives belt can be assembled in a work shed or a chicken coop or a garage, then destroying the "infrastructure of terrorism" begins to sound virtually impossible, more a slogan than a battle plan.
[The complete article]

Interview with Chomsky
ZNet, April 2, 2002

In-depth discussion on Israel/Palestine.
[The complete interview]


Drop peace effort, Right urges Bush
Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, April 3 2002

As President Bush struggles to define a consistent course in the Middle East, a chorus of leading conservative voices has begun loudly discouraging the administration from inserting itself into peace negotiations--and instead is urging the president to give Israel a freer hand to respond militarily to Palestinian suicide bombings.
[The complete article]

Armoured invasion brings no peace to Bethlehem
Robert Fisk, The Independent, April 3, 2002

If this is a war on terror, Jesus wasn't born in Bethlehem. The first to die was an 80-year-old Palestinian man, whose body never made it to the morgue. Then a woman and her son were critically wounded by Israeli gunfire.
[The complete article]

Missing a peace
As Israelis and Palestinians escalate their war, they fail to see the new landscape around them

Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, April 3, 2002

It would be nice to think we had reached rock bottom. But everything you know about the Middle East steers you clear of such optimism: things can always get worse.
[The complete article]


'It takes an empire,' say several U.S. thinkers
Emily Eakin, The New York Times, April 2, 2002

Today, America is no mere superpower or hegemon but a full-blown empire in the Roman and British sense. That, at any rate, is the consensus of some of the most notable U.S. commentators and scholars.
[The complete article]

Israel threatens action against CNN, NBC
Steve Weizman, Associated Press, April 2, 2002

Israel revoked the credentials of two Abu Dhabi TV journalists on Tuesday and threatened legal action against CNN and NBC for ignoring military orders and broadcasting from the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
[The complete article]

The war looks different abroad - and maybe so do the facts
Aviv Lavie, Ha'aretz, April 3, 2002

Israel looks like an isolated media island, with most of the reporters drafted into the cause of convincing themselves and the reader that the government and army are perfectly justified in whatever they do. Some have actually been drafted - Yedioth Aharonoth has started running a regular column by its reporter, Guy Leshem, who reports with determination from the heart of the West Bank, straight from his military reserve service. This is another step in erasing the line between the defense framework and the editorial framework that is supposed to report and criticize.
[The complete article]


Peace and nuclear disarmament:
A call to action

Rep. Dennis Kucinich

If you believe that humanity has a higher destiny, if you believe we can evolve, and become better than we are; if you believe we can overcome the scourge of war and someday fulfill the dream of harmony and peace earth, let us begin the conversation today. Let us exchange our ideas.

Let us plan together, act together and create peace together. This is a call for common sense, for peaceful, non-violent citizen action to protect our precious world from widening war and from stumbling into a nuclear catastrophe. The climate for conflict has intensified, with the struggle between Pakistan and India, the China-Taiwan tug of war, and the increased bloodshed between Israel and the Palestinians. United States' planned troop deployments in the Philippines, Yemen, Georgia, Columbia and Indonesia create new possibilities for expanded war. An invasion of Iraq is planned. The recent disclosure that Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Libya are considered by the United States as possible targets for nuclear attack catalyzes potential conflicts everywhere.

These crucial political decisions promoting increased military actions, plus a new nuclear first-use policy, are occurring without the consent of the American people, without public debate, without public hearings, without public votes. The President is taking Congress's approval of responding to the Sept. 11 terrorists as a license to flirt with nuclear war.

"Politics ought to stay out of fighting a war," the President has been quoted as saying on March 13th 2002. Yet Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution explicitly requires that Congress take responsibility when it comes to declaring war. This President is very popular, according to the polls. But polls are not a substitute for democratic process. Attributing a negative connotation here to politics or dismissing constitutionally mandated Congressional oversight belies reality: Spending $400 billion a year for defense is a political decision. Committing troops abroad is a political decision. War is a political decision. When men and women die on the battlefield that is the result of a political decision. The use of nuclear weapons, which can end the lives of millions, is a profound political decision. In a monarchy there need be no political decisions. In a democracy, all decisions are political, in that they derive from the consent of the governed.

In a democracy, budgetary, military and national objectives must be subordinate to the political process. Before we celebrate an imperial presidency, let it be said that the lack of free and open political process, the lack of free and open political debate, and the lack of free and open political dissent can be fatal in a democracy.
[The complete article]

Press freedom crisis in the Occupied Territories
Committee to Protect Journalists, April 1, 2002

"We are deeply disturbed by Israel's evident desire to prevent journalists from witnessing its current activities on the West Bank," Cooper said. "CPJ calls on all parties to the conflict to permit media access to conflict areas and to fulfill their responsibility to safeguard journalists in the field."
[The complete article]

A dozen journalists under gunfire in Ramallah
Reporters Without Borders, April 2, 2002

At least 11 journalists have come under gunfire and three of them have been hit since the Israeli army declared Ramallah a "closed military zone" and barred the media from the West Bank city, the first such ban since the start of the second Intifada in September 2000. Three others were expelled from the city, bringing to about 30 the number of journalists Israeli troops have either fired on, expelled or arrested in that time.
[The complete article]

Murdering Arafat?
Uri Avnery, Counterpunch, April 2, 2002

In the new myth that is being born before our eyes, Sharon is the Pharaoh and we [the Israelis] are the ancient Egyptians. In the story about the Exodus, the Bible lets God say: "I have hardened (Pharaoh's) heart and the heart of his servants." After every calamity that befell him, Pharaoh broke his promise to free the Israelites. Why? What was God's purpose? He wanted the Israelites to become hardened by the hardship, before they started on their long march. This is what is happening to the Palestinians now.
[The complete article]

Israel is not America’s greatest ally
Michael Lind, ArabNews, April 2, 2002

Once again, conflict is raging between Israel and the Palestinians — and once again, the US government can see fault only on one side. Even as Israeli soldiers were demolishing his compound and threatening his life, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat was instructed by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to end terrorism against Israel, including that committed by groups Arafat cannot control. What passes in the United States as an evenhanded stance is perceived, not only in the Middle East but in Europe and throughout the world, as unquestioning American support of bully tactics by Israel.
[The complete article]

Bush gives Israel wide latitude in offensive
Alan Sipress, Washington Post, April 2, 2002

By repeating his demand that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat denounce militant attacks against Israelis, Bush cast the latest Middle East crisis in the context of wider American concerns about terrorism and endorsed Sharon's definition of the dispute as a war on terrorists. This keeps the administration firmly in line with Israel as it continues to besiege Arafat in his Ramallah headquarters and move additional forces into West Bank cities.
[The complete article]

Don't always trust what they tell you in the war on terror
Raymond Whitaker and James Palmer, The Independent, March 31, 2002

Downing Street said al-Qa'ida was using chemical weapons: it was wrong. The Pentagon said Saddam Hussein was to blame for the anthrax attacks on the US: it was wrong.
[The complete article]

Open letter to the commander of the Israeli paratroopers
Neve Gordon, AlterNet, April 1, 2002

This letter by Israeli human rights activist and writer Neve Gordon was published in the weekly Jerusalem newspaper Kol Ha'Ir. It is addressed to Aviv Kohavi, Brigade Commander of the Israeli Paratroopers, and describes the Israeli military incursion into the Balata refugee camps in the West Bank.

Ariel Sharon's "war on terrorism"

The text of Ariel Sharon's address to the Israeli nation, made on Israeli television, March 31, 2002.

No holiday there, no holiday here either
Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, March 31, 2002

Nothing can justify the horrific massacre that was perpetrated by Abdel al-Baset Odeh on Passover eve at the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 22 people were killed and 130 were wounded, just as nothing can justify the massacre that was perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein against worshippers in the mosque of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994, in which 29 Palestinians were killed. But without this constituting any sort of justification, it is essential to understand that the roots of the present conflict, with the terrible massacres that it has spawned, lie in a different Passover eve seder, in a different Park Hotel.

It all began in Hebron on the eve of Passover in 1968. [...]

The settlement enterprise was founded in the Park Hotel in Hebron on Passover eve 34 years ago. This great success story of Zionism has so far realized its major historic purpose: thwarting any prospect of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Today, the 200,000 settlers are the major stumbling block to an agreement, and they are also an obstacle to the achievement of security in Israel. In fact, today the settlements which Yigal Allon justified with the claim that "they are there for security reasons" - have become the cause of a mortal blow to the security of all Israelis.
[The complete article]

Report from Ramallah:
The Israelis took over my house

Maha Sbitani, Counterpunch, March 31, 2002

My husband opened the door and was confronted by huge guns pointed at us. They pushed the door open and distributed themselves throughout our house and office. Over 50 heavily armed soldiers were now in the office and home (which are adjacent). We asked what they wanted and they told us to shut up and sit down. I explained that I was American. They said that they did not care what I was. I insisted that they leave the house and told them as an American I protest to what they are doing. They said, "This in no worse than what your country is doing in Afghanistan."
[The complete article]

Last night the Israeli military tried to kill me
Jordan Flaherty, Counterpunch, March 31, 2002

I'm staying in the al azzeh refugee camp, in Bethlehem, along with about twenty other international civilians. We're here to act as human shields, because we've heard an Israeli invasion is imminent.
[The complete article]

America's mistaken time reference
Daoud Kuttab, AMIN, March 31, 2002

In dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict, there seems to be a major problem in deciding what the time reference is. Listening to the US Secretary of state Colin Powel on Friday one gets the impression that for America, history begins and ends with the last suicide bombing against Israelis.
[The complete article]

Israel's state terrorism
Lev Grinberg, ZNet, March 31, 2002

What is the difference between State terrorism and individual terrorist acts? If we understand this difference we'll understand also the evilness of the US policies in the Middle East and the forthcoming disasters. When Yassir Arafat was put under siege in his offices and kept hostage by the Israeli occupation forces, he was constantly pressed into condemning terror and combatting terrorism. Israel's State-terrorism is defined by US officials as "self-defense", while individual suicide bombers are called terrorists.
[The complete article]

200 international volunteers form human shield to protect Palestinian families
Peter Beaumont and Martin Wainwright, The Guardian, April 1, 2002

More than 200 international volunteers, including some 50 Britons, deployed themselves in Ramallah and two refugee camps at Bethlehem last night in an attempt to form "human shields" for Palestinian families. The British contingent, ranging from a retired nurse from Kent to a group of students from Manchester, joined Americans and Europeans dispersed among houses close to Yasser Arafat's headquarters and Israeli army tank formations near Bethlehem's Azar and Aida refugee camps.
[The complete article]

US ignores international mood and lays blame on Palestinians
Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, April 1, 2002

The US and Israel ignore appeals from Britain, Germany, France, China, Japan, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
[The complete article]

Let there be justice for all, Mr Bush
The US's pro-Israeli bias must be tempered by European pressure to ensure a just peace agreement in Israel

Ian Gilmour, The Observer, March 31, 2002

The Bush administration has long known that for it to remain largely passive while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict grew steadily worse would sooner or later ensure an explosion. It also knew that Ariel Sharon has never wanted peace with the Palestinians and never will - he only wants their surrender and expulsion. As the speaker of the Knesset said a few weeks ago, Israel now has 'a violent government out to destroy the Palestinian authority to avoid giving up the settlements'. Yet because the US believed that the Israelis would eventually win the conflict, they gave Sharon a green light to be as brutal as he liked, short of killing Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader. And despite Sharon's record, Bush happily hobnobbed with him, while refusing to meet Arafat.
[The complete article]

As two weak men act tough, the extremists impose their will
It began with teens throwing rocks. Now war looms

Peter Beaumont, The Observer, March 31, 2002

The road that leads to Arafat's compound is also the road that leads to war. The question is: how did it come to this? One partial answer is a prediction from the years before the Oslo peace process collapsed. Both sides expected the greatest danger to arise when the leaders sat down to discuss the most difficult issues that had been put carefully to one side: a final settlement that would resolve once and for all whether (and how many) Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return, the status of Jerusalem and its holy sites, and how much of the territories still under Israeli occupation would be returned.
[The complete article]

I saw the bodies, killed by a shot to the head
Israeli killings: Troops stormed Arafat's men's base - and Palestinians believe that what followed was an execution

Peter Beaumont, The Observer, March 31, 2002

What happened on the third floor of the Cairo-Amman bank at midnight on Friday during Israel's occupation of the Palestinian city of Ramallah can only be surmised. But in the few minutes after Israeli soldiers stormed the Palestinian position, five men were wounded and five men were put to death by the Israelis, each with a single coup de grace to the head or throat.
[The complete article]


September 11 and the declaration of a "war on terrorism," has forced Americans to look at the World in a new light. No one can afford any longer to define the limits of their concerns by refusing to look beyond this nation's borders. If the freedom that every American cherishes, is not to become a freedom bound within a fortress, then every American will need to understand and respect the needs and concerns of the rest of the World. To this end, The War in Context invites anyone with interest and an open mind to listen to the critical discourse in which the policies and actions of the Bush administration are now being questioned. This debate, which is engaging inquiring minds inside and outside America, will hopefully inform the development of a sustainable new world order - a world order in which America is as much shaped by the World as is the World shaped by America.