::  Search Site

::  Archives

< < current

::  Comments or questions about The War in Context

::  MediaChannel Affiliate

This page is powered by Blogger.
 The War in Context
   alternative perspectives on the "war on terrorism"

COMMENT -- While the horror of recent events has filled the headlines, as is so often the case, less attention has been given to the social and historical roots of the current conflict. The following articles sketch the outlines of four important dimensions: the history of Palestine and Israel; the impact of Jewish settlements; the impact of the Israeli military occupation; and the impact of scarce water resources.

HISTORY -- How two tribes have fought to the death for land and dignity
Bernard Wasserstein, The Independent, April 7, 2002

Zionism and Palestinian nationalism have mimicked each other down the decades. Each regards itself as a victim and draws from that self-image a solipsistic self-righteousness that is used to justify ruthless means. Each has resorted to terrorism and offences against human rights. At the heart of each is an obsessive national vision, born of nearly a century of struggle, and focused on land, security, and dignity. Each is now near the end of its tether.
[The complete article]

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

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]

OCCUPATION -- A Gaza diary – scenes from the Palestinian uprising
Chris Hedges, Harper’s Magazine, June 2001

It was in Gaza, where I lived for weeks at a time during the seven years I spent in the Middle East, that I came to know the dark side of the Israeli Defense Force. During the first Palestinian uprising, begun in December 1987 and ended in 1993 with the Oslo peace accords, the army had little interest in crowd control. It fired live rounds at boys hurling rocks. And on a few occasions the Israeli soldiers, angered at the coverage, turned their weapons toward groups of photographers and cameramen. They shot rubber bullets into their legs—doing it with a self-congratulatory arrogance that came to define the occupation for me.
Joe and I share a room at the Diera Hotel in Gaza City, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The Diera was built after Yasir Arafat returned to Gaza in July 1994 to set up the Palestinian Authority under the terms of the Oslo peace agreement. His limited rule was, most hoped, meant to lead to a two-state solution. The assassination of the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin scuttled any chance of that.

Over the last seven years Arafat has become isolated and unpopular, largely because the promised economic improvements and freedoms have not materialized. Only his refusal to accept the mutated statelets offered to him at Camp David has saved him from complete pillory.
The Palestinians in Gaza, 1.1 million of them, most of whom lack the means to leave, live in a 147-square-mile area. Twenty percent of that territory belongs to the sixteen Jewish settlements, home to about 6,000 Jewish settlers. In other words, one fifth of Gaza is in the hands of .5 percent of the people who live there.
We set off to find Fuad Faqawi, who runs the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees office in Khan Younis. […] "Oslo meant almost nothing in practical terms to the people in Khan Younis," Faqawi says. His small yard is filled with children, as ubiquitous in Khan Younis as grains of sand. They stand barefoot, their faces dirty, as they watch us sip demitasse cups of coffee. The smaller ones wear only ragged shirts. The children move in aimless bands throughout the camp, stealing, scavenging, cursing, smoking cigarette butts, and falling into rock-throwing wars. Wealthier Palestinians tend to keep their children indoors.

Faqawi darts into his house and brings out a worn pouch. He tenderly unfolds sepia documents. The papers, from the Government of Palestine, then a British mandate, permitted Faqawi's father to sell tobacco and food in his grocery in Jaffa. He holds out the Register of Lands document, issued under the land settlement ordinance of 1928, that proves title to his father's house.

"Our house in Jaffa exists," he says, offering me the paper. "I have all the documents. Two Iraqi Jewish families live there. I visited them in 1975. We had coffee. They told me they knew it was my house. They said they had left four houses in Iraq. They told me to go to Iraq and take one."
[The complete article - first of fourteen pages]

RESOURCES -- Blood and Water - Israel and Palestine struggle over water in an arid land
Jessica McCallin, Grist Magazine, February 26, 2002

At present, Israelis receive five times as much water per person as Palestinians. In Gaza, the disparity is even more striking, with settlers getting seven times as much water as their Palestinian neighbors. Stated differently, on average, Israelis get 92.5 gallons per person per day, while Palestinians in the West Bank get 18.5 gallons per person per day. The minimum quantity of water recommended by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Health Organization for household and urban use alone is 26.4 gallons per person per day.
[The complete article]

COMMENT -- While many members of the Bush administration are well-known for expressing their contempt for "nation-building," it is now apparent that this attitude doesn't reflect traditional American isolationism. Far from it - the truth is now all too clear: who has time for nation-building when the real task at hand is the expansion of an empire?

U.S. foreign policy - attention, right face, forward march!
Tom Barry and Jim Lobe, Foreign Policy Focus, April, 2002

One has to go back at least to the Reagan era to find a vision of U.S. foreign policy that is so confident, focused, and aggressive as that of the new Bush administration. The moral certitude and crusading spirit of the Reagan era is back in style--ushered in by the ideologues, government operatives, and scholars of America's new right, who aim to protect and promote U.S. supremacy. Today, as then, the foreign policy direction of the administration is being set at least as much by ideology as by the actual conjuncture of international affairs.
[The complete article]

Permanent installation
Thousands of U.S. troops are headed to Central Asia, and they're not leaving anytime soon.

J. Eric Duskin, In These Times, March 29, 2002

Before the war in Afghanistan, few Americans had ever heard of Kyrgyzstan—or the other new Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which all now figure prominently in America’s foreign policy plans. The State Department and Pentagon have quietly cobbled together a bold strategy for American military expansion into this region, building military facilities in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and staking claim to a land of deserts, vast steppe and towering mountain ranges along the ancient Silk Road, where no Western country has ever stationed troops before.
[The complete article]

Conflict uproots refugees a 2nd time
Men jailed for days, as family members are moved elsewhere

Peter Hermann, Baltimore Sun, April 11, 2002

Detained by the Israeli army, interrogated, stripped to his underwear, then released at a military outpost in the middle of the night, Khalid Nijam walked to this dusty village yesterday in search of his family.
[The complete article]

Rage builds in desert
Trudy Rubin, Baltimore Sun, April 11, 2002

As Colin Powell traverses the Middle East on a last-ditch mission to head off the apocalypse, it's frightening to see how divorced U.S. policy is from reality on the ground. The Bush administration wants moderate Arab allies to pressure Yasser Arafat to crush militants. It would even like Arab leaders to negotiate in Mr. Arafat's stead. But spend a few days in the Saudi capital, and speak with pro-American Saudi businessmen and professionals, and you'll see how badly the Bush approach is failing.
[The complete article]

An open letter to American Jews
Assaf Oron, an Israeli reservist who refuses to serve in the Occupied Territories, March 30, 2002

Since 1987, this cruel, impossible, unnatural, insulting reality in the Territories has been exploding in our face. But because of our unshakeable belief that the Palestinians are monsters who want to throw us into the sea, we reacted by trying to maintain what we've created at all costs. This meant of course employing more and more and more force, with the natural result of receiving more and more and more force in return. When a fledgling and hesitating peace process tried to work its way through this mess, one major factor (perhaps THE factor) that undermined it and voided its meaning was our establishment's endless fear and suspicion of The Other. To resolve this fear and suspicion, we chose the insane route of demanding full control of The Other throughout the process. When this Other finally decided that we're cheating him out of his freedom (and having too many mental disorders of his own to accommodate ours as well), violence erupted, and all our ancient instincts woke up. There they are, we said in relief, now we see their true face again. The Arabs want to throw us into the sea. There's no one to talk with ('no partner', in our beloved ex-PM's words), and they understand only force. And so we responded as we know and love, with more and more and more force. This time, the effect was that of putting out a fire with a barrel of gasoline. And that's the moment when I said to myself, NO, I'm not playing this game anymore.

But what about the existential threat, you may ask? Well I ask you, have you not eyes? Don't you see our tanks strolling in Palestinian streets every other day? Don't you see our helicopters hovering over their neighborhoods choosing which window to shoot a missile into? What type of existential need are we answering in trampling the Palestinians?

Prevention of terror, I hear you say. Let me use the wonderful words of my friend Ishay Rosen-Zvi: "You are 'fighting against terror'? What a joke. The Israeli government, in its policies of Occupation, has turned the Territories into a greenhouse for growing terror!!!"
We have sown the seeds, grown them, nurtured them - and then our blood is spilled, and the centrist-right-wing politicians reap the benefits. Indeed, terror is the right-wing politician's best friend.
[The complete letter]

Combatant Letter 2002
Courage to Refuse
Not in My Name

War crimes court pits United States against the world
James Bone, The Times, April 11, 2002

The United States will be put on a collision course with the rest of the world today when at least seven countries gather for a ceremony at the United Nations that will trigger the creation of the world’s first permanent international criminal court.
[The complete article]

A crime is unfolding in front of our eyes:

Only international sanctions can stop Sharon from repeating the mass ethnic cleansing perpetrated under the cover of the 1948 war, and expel the Palestinian people from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - this time under the cover of "war against terrorism"

Uri Davis, Oznik.com, April 11, 2002

As an individual human person I have the humanitarian duty, like all other human persons worldwide, to raise my voice and mobilize to the best of my ability against injustice and against the perpetration of war crimes wherever they may be committed. As a citizen of the State of Israel, let alone a citizen of the State of Israel classified as a Jew, I have an additional responsibility to shout in protest louder and mobilize more urgently against injustice and war crime perpetrated by my Government, since, as a citizen of the State of Israel, and as a Jew, these atrocities are, alas, committed in my name.

I therefore raise my voice as loud as I am able to and shout: NOT IN MY NAME! Not in my name as an individual person. Not in my name as a citizen. Not in my name as a Jew.

As an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I am acutely aware that the Palestinian people, expelled and ethnically cleansed from their homeland under the cover of the 1948 war, resisting for nearly forty years the Israeli occupation of 1967, and struggling for their survival in the ugly shadow of the Sharon Government, are now threatened with the horrific dangers of additional massacres and renewed ethnic cleansing.
[The complete article]

The assault is over, the casbah is in ruins
Joel Brinkley, New York Times, April 11, 2002

From one end of the casbah to the other, people stared today at the rubble that had been their homes and cried out for help because one relative or another was buried. "I have two aunts still underneath," wailed Bashar Fratiekeh, pointing to a pile of rock. "The whole house collapsed on us. It was 200 years old!" After four days of heavy fighting, the casbah, as the centuries-old warren of shops and homes at the center of this city is known, has been utterly destroyed.

Dr. Abdel Fatah Lubadeh, an emergency physician, said he had seen the bodies of 11 people killed in overnight fighting; 63 more were wounded. As he had carried one wounded man to an ambulance last night, Dr. Lubadeh said, he had confronted an Israeli soldier and asked: " `Do you think this is the way you can stop terror?' He said nothing."
[The complete article - registration required]

Attacks turn Palestinian dream into bent metal and piles of dust
Serge Schmemann, New York Times, April 11, 2002

Thirteen days ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent Israeli forces into the West Bank to "uproot the infrastructure of terror." Since then, the uprooting inflicted by his tanks, bulldozers, helicopters and sappers has created a landscape of devastation from Bethlehem to Jenin.
[The complete article - registration required]

Our friends in Jenin
Seumas Milne, The Guardian, April 11, 2002

This is where wars against terror end, with screaming children forced to drink sewage and piles of corpses being cleared by bulldozers. Yesterday's horrific suicide bomb attack on a bus in Haifa (from where many of the Jenin refugees fled or were expelled in 1948) has cruelly demonstrated the futility of the strategy pursued by Sharon and his government of national unity. The largest-scale Israeli offensive for two decades was supposed to root out the very terror networks that struck with deadly force yesterday. But such acts of desolate revenge are born of half a century of dispossession and powerlessness, and a civilian death count far higher than Israel has endured over the past 18 months. What alternative does the government have to defend its citizens in these circumstances, Israeli politicians demand. The answer is painfully obvious: withdraw from the territories it has lorded over since 1967 and redress the ethnic cleansing which underpinned the foundation of the state 19 years earlier.
[The complete article]


"We have to vanquish Arafat along with Iraq and Iran as one package"

The Knesset approved Monday the addition of three new cabinet ministers, hardliners Effi Eitam and Yitzhak Levi of the National Religious Party and right-centrist David Levy of Gesher, to the government - a move which has sparked debate within Labor over remaining in the coalition. Opposition leader Yossi Sarid of the leftist Meretz party said the new coalition would be a "lunatic messianic government."

Effi Eitam describes himself by saying, "I was born into a story, the essence of which was that one day, I would be able to save the people of Israel."

In a recent interview with Ha'aretz, he said the following:

"If we go ahead and do the nonsensical thing of folding up behind some virtual fence, the [Arabs'] intoxication of victory will bring about a general assault on all of Israel's borders and terrorism that will not rest for a minute. In the end, it will bring about Israel's collapse.

"That is why I think the danger lies in the deterioration of the region into a fanatic religious war that will not be able to be stopped other than by the use of terrible means. I want to make it clear that I do not think we should use weapons of mass destruction. But I do think that in order to avoid a situation like that, we have to vanquish [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat along with Iraq and Iran as one package. It is impossible to talk with them, impossible to effect a conciliation with them, they have to be vanquished. There is no other way."

Interviewer: You are proposing to assert unequivocally that Israeli sovereignty will extend to the Jordan River [i.e. to absorb The West Bank into a Greater Israel]?

"Yes, with no beating around the bush. No beating around the bush. In the long run, the political division between us and the Palestinians will be two states on the two sides of the Jordan River. That will be the basic configuration. What we will say to the Palestinians is that the main lesson from the crisis of the Oslo paradigm is that there will not be another sovereign state west of the Jordan. There will be no partition. The only state in the world of the Jewish civilization needs a minimum of territory. It has to be a reasonable state. Not gigantic, not insane, not the Tigris and the Euphrates. A reasonable state."
[The complete interview]


COMMENT -- Benjamin Netanyahu went to Capital Hill to urge senators to remain resolute in the "war on terror" and disregard any criticism of the Israeli assault on the West Bank. So far, Congress seems to take Netanyahu and Sharon more seriously than they do President Bush's appeal for an Israeli withdrawal "without delay."

Congress nearly united behind Israel
Few speak out against West Bank attacks

Edward Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, April 10, 2002

It is hard to find a negative word on Capitol Hill about Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or his current offensive on the West Bank, and it is just as hard to find anyone with anything good to say about Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. For President Bush, the heavy pro-Israel bent in Congress provides support for his diplomatic initiatives to end the current fighting, but it could spell trouble if he presses Israel too far for concessions in the face of Palestinian suicide bombings or other terrorist attacks. A coalescing of factors provides impetus for the pro-Israel sentiment. The traditional strength of Jewish lobbying groups has combined with widespread revulsion against Palestinian suicide bomb attacks, mistrust of Arafat after he rejected U.S.-backed peace plans and a feeling that Israel, like the United States, is fighting terrorism. Also, some fundamentalist Christians in Congress, backed by groups such as the Christian Coalition, believe that God promised Israel to the Jews and that the state of Israel is part of the apocalyptic scenario leading to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
[The complete article]

Former Israel Prime Minister calls Arafat 'terrorist chieftain'
David Stout, New York Times, April 10, 2002

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chided the United States today for pressuring Israel to withdraw its forces from the West Bank and said America should embrace the "moral and strategic clarity" it has shown in its own antiterrorist campaign since Sept. 11.
[The complete article - registration required]

Internationals on the front lines
Charmaine Seitz, The Nation, April 7, 2002

As the Israeli army continues the second week of its military reoccupation of the Palestinian-controlled towns of the West Bank, a group of internationals is playing a role of solidarity and protection in the occupied areas. Some 500 activists affiliated with the umbrella group Grassroots International Protection for the Palestinian People are now in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, some of them risking their lives.
[The complete article]

Life under siege
Allegra Pacheco, New York Times, April 10, 2002

Last Thursday night Jihad Abu Ajour, a young woman living down the road from me, gave birth to her first child in her home in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. The Israeli Army was refusing to allow ambulances to approach the camp. Ms. Abu Ajour's baby was not breathing properly. Hours later an ambulance finally came to take the baby to the hospital, where he died soon after. Later, under the night curfew and the threat of snipers, the two grandfathers and the father sneaked out of the camp to the nearby cemetery to bury the baby.
[The complete article - registration required]

Is America abandoning Afghanistan?
Barnett R. Rubin, New York Times, April 10, 2002

"Everyone is failing us." I heard these words recently from a senior adviser to Hamid Karzai, the Afghan leader, at a private dinner in Kabul. His was just the most blunt expression of a spreading concern. United Nations officials, who had relied on assurances of American support, also wondered if the United States would soon turn its attention elsewhere. Washington's refusal to support expansion of the British-led International Security Assistance Force beyond Kabul has signaled, to many, the start of disengagement.
[The complete article - registration required]

Darkness comes at noon
Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, April 10, 2002

Forty-year-old Abu Farid was arrested for the first time in his life, and tells his tale to his friends back in Ramallah, after being released from IDF custody where he was questioned by the Shin Bet.
[The complete article]

'Don't get in our way'
Nik Gowing, The Guardian, April 8, 2002

In the wake of last year's bombing by the US of Arab TV station al-Jazeera, the BBC's Nik Gowing argues that the message from the Pentagon to journalists wanting to cover any conflict involving America is: stay out, or assume your technology will make you one of our targets.
[The complete article]

U.S. Jews cannot acquiesce to Sharon's monstrous behavior
Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, April 9 2002

While the family tales of Jewish oppression during the pogroms of czars, the Holocaust and Soviet anti-Semitism have been merged into the dominant American culture, horrific tales of Arab suffering are systematically ignored. But, as when blacks and Latinos were absent from newsrooms and nightly death in the ghetto was not thought to be news, it is difficult to escape the notion that many in the media, Jews and non-Jews alike, lean to the view that Arab life is cheap.
[The complete article]

Palestinians' plight in battered refugee camp brings warning
David Rodhe, New York Times, April 8, 2002

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a leading civil rights group, issued a statement last night accusing the army of "severe human rights violations" in Jenin. Tally Gur, spokeswoman for the association, said they have received reliable reports of houses being demolished with people inside them. "We know that it has happened several times, not just once," she said.
[The complete article - registration required]

April 8, 2002 - portrait of a war
The Guardian

In Israel yesterday Ariel Sharon rejected Washington's call for a pull-out, helicopters blasted the West Bank town of Jenin, and fighting continued around Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. But what was the day like for the millions of ordinary people caught up in the conflict? For the young Palestinian actor reading Crime and Punishment to while away the hours in captivity? For the Israeli printer getting off a bus because he feared an Arab passenger might be a bomber? For the peace activist racing to stock up on food as Bethlehem's curfew was briefly lifted? Twenty Israelis, Palestinians and outsiders describe one day in the life of a conflict.

The bereaved Israeli in Tel Aviv - "Basically, life has been torn apart. I go to work because I have to keep myself busy."

The besieged Palestinian inside the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem - "There are a few gunmen in here, but it is mostly families and civilians. Two of the men are very badly injured and need operations; we don't know what we can do for them. The gunmen won't use their weapons; it's a deal, because the church is protecting them. I feel I am a prisoner, and may be a martyr soon."

The Israeli doctor - "The Palestinian ambulances are not allowed to move in the West Bank and people just don't know about this. In the past few months, 165 ambulances have been shot at, 135 medical workers have been wounded and eight medical people have been killed while working. One Palestinian ambulance was allowed to go into the West Bank and pick up a wounded man, but wasn't allowed to drive back, so the man bled to death."

The Palestinian prisoner, in Megiddo Prison, Israel - "I have been here for 17 months. I don't know why; at the trial they could only say that I was a stone-thrower in the last intifada. When I was arrested, it was terrible: I was tied to a chair for seven days, I could not stand or go to the toilet or eat. They brought my mother in front of me, and said that they would hit her if I didn't talk to them. But I knew nothing. They said, over and again: "You Palestinians are dogs and donkeys." But I knew that I was a human being."

The Israeli printer, West Jerusalem - "I took the bus to work. I looked at who got on. I always do this now. A man got on and sat next to me. He looked Arabic, poor, unshaven - and kept fiddling with a thick belt around his waist. I got off and waited for the next bus. And I immediately felt guilty. Maybe he was entirely innocent, in which case I'm being racist. Maybe he was a suicide bomber, in which case I should have told the driver. It was OK, though; there was no bombing this morning. That's what it's like now."

The Arab-Israeli student, Haifa University - "We organised a protest today even though the university refused to give us permission. Hundreds turned out for our campaign, demanding that the Israeli media starts to give a true picture of what is happening. The Arab students came out even though the security forces were videoing us and taking photographs. We expect some of us will be arrested in the next few days."

The Israeli settler - "This morning, after a lot of effort, we got the kids out of bed and out to the bus stop so they could go to school. Then I went to morning prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarch, which is just down the road, and my wife went off to her work, where she's a speech therapist."

The Palestinian peace activist, Ramallah - "The Israelis lifted the curfew today for the second time since the invasion. It was crazy. People were getting in line for bread, trying to get into stores that were running out of milk and bottled water. There haven't been fresh vegetables since last Friday. It was depressing to see the level of destruction. Shattered glass, doors blown off, entire shopping malls burnt out - homes, internet cafes, restaurants, fast food places, everything blown out and all the merchandise destroyed."

The British peace protester, Beit Jala, near Bethlehem - "It was announced on television that the curfew would be lifted between 1pm and 5pm. Straight after the announcement, the streets, which have been deserted for most of the past week except for Israeli military vehicles, suddenly filled. Everybody came out. I scurried to the shops to get supplies. There was no fresh food left. The greengrocer's door was open but not for business - he was throwing out decomposing food."

The UN worker, Gaza City - "I spent much of the day on the phone trying to reach our workers in the West Bank, but it's not so easy getting information. We have some staff members in the camps and minding the UNRWA schools and health centres there, but our ambulances and our workers, who want to provide food and medicines, have not been allowed into the camps. Earlier this morning I heard that the Red Cross wanted us to help them move body bags into Jenin."

[The complete article]


Beyond the hills of darkness
Aviv Lavie, Ha'aretz, April 8, 2002

During the past week, the focus of violence has moved from the heart of Israeli cities to their Palestinian neighbors. From the perspective of the general public in Israel, it's as if this war were taking place beyond the hills of darkness. The television programs have returned to regularly scheduled programs; there are no longer split screens during soccer broadcasts. The reports are vague and general, and once in a while the news broadcasts open with a laconic item about another IDF soldier who fell in battle. Information about what's happening with the soldiers reaches Israeli homes by courtesy of the prominent communication device in this war - the cellular telephone.

In general, the Israeli media is showing no interest in what the Palestinian people is experiencing. It may be said in the media's defense that the public is also not congregating outside the broadcasting studios, clamoring to hear about the experiences of Jenin residents. But the media is not meant to play only listeners' requests; sometimes its task is also to pass on information to the public even when it seems that not many are interested. After all, the day will come when we all regret this blindness. Whoever doesn't want to know about what's happening today among the Palestinians will not have the tools to understand them tomorrow, just as whoever does not fully comprehend the horror of the attacks Israeli society experienced during the past months will be unable to understand the intensity of the fire our troops are unleashing now in the territories.

For years, the Israeli media has failed to provide the public with the tools for understanding - in its profound sense - the other side. It's hardly a wonder that we find ourselves surprised time after time, intifada after intifada, suicide bomber after suicide bomber, shocked by the level of frustration, anger, hate and despair.
[The complete article]


COMMENT -- The idea of forcing the Palestinians out of the Occupied Territories into a permanent exile, is an idea rightfully described as "extremist." Nevertheless, a recent poll indicates that 46% of Jewish Israelis favor expulsion. As Effie Eitam, an ultranationalist and a leading proponent of the expulsion movement is expected to join Ariel Sharon's Cabinet, what are the chances that Israeli voices of moderation will now fight to make themselves heard?

Israeli nationalist seeks expulsion
Laurie Copans, Associated Press, April 8, 2002

Tugging his beard or adjusting his skull cap, Effie Eitam speaks unabashedly of his controversial dream: One day the more than 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will move to Jordan.
[The complete article]

Death in Bahrain brings demand that U.S. leave
Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, April 7, 2002

Muhammad Jumaa, a 24-year-old hospital worker, died today, two days after being shot in the head at a demonstration that penetrated the grounds of the American Embassy here, his death feeding a brooding resentment of the extensive American presence on this Persian Gulf island. "America's blind support for Israel and its silence encourage Israel to kill more Palestinians, just as America did in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Ibrahim Abdullah, one of a steady stream of mourners who made their way to the dead man's dusty grave on the edge of a poor village populated by Shiite Muslims just north of Manama, the capital.
[The complete article - registration required]

This will be the week when we see who runs the US-Israeli alliance
Robert Fisk, The Independent, April 8, 2002

If Mr Bush wants to rein in his reckless ally, why doesn't he ask Mr Sharon a few questions? Why doesn't he ask what has happened to the more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners who have disappeared into Israel's hands over the past two weeks? What happened, for example, to the five men, blindfolded and trussed up like chickens whom I discovered in the Jewish settlement of Psagot? What happened to the masses of young men I saw being taken in a bus with its windows wired over, a bus that made its way around Jerusalem and headed west on the Tel Aviv highway. How many of these young men are now being tortured either in interrogation centres or in the Russian Compound, the main torture compound in West Jerusalem?
[The complete article]

Drastic times call for drastic measures
Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, April 8, 2002

Mr Bush, speaking "as a committed friend", has politely asked Israel to "take immediate action to ease closures" and to "begin the withdrawal from those cities it has recently occupied". Israel, insisting that it is not in any way defying Mr Bush, has re-interpreted that as an instruction to step up its onslaught in order to finish the job more quickly. One Israeli official ventured so far as to say that more haste would mean more Palestinian casualties - for which the United States, by implication, would be responsible.
[The complete article]


COMMENT -- When the advice is coming, not from a pro-Palestinian activist or a peacenik or a liberal commentator, but from the lips of cold warrior, hawk and former National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brezinski, isn't it time for Bush and the Wolfowitz cabal to listen?

Moral duty, national interest
Zbigniew Brezinski, New York Times, April 7, 2002

Mr. Sharon's retaliation over the last year has focused largely on undermining the existing Palestinian Authority, much in keeping with his decade-long opposition to the Oslo peace process and his promotion of colonial settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

With the Palestinian Authority in shambles, the Palestinians are likely to slide into a state of anarchy, with their leadership gravitating toward more extremist underground elements. In Israel, and especially among the Likud Party, more voices are likely to be heard advocating the expulsion of the Palestinians from the territories. Arab resentment at America's apparent partiality will rise, placing in greater jeopardy regimes that are viewed as friendly to the United States.

In these circumstances, America cannot ignore world public opinion. There is a nearly unanimous global consensus that United States policy has become one-sided and morally hypocritical, with clear displays of sympathy for Israeli victims of terrorist violence and relative indifference to the (much more numerous) Palestinian civilian casualties.
[The complete article - registration required]

The people's war
Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, April 7, 2002

So we have again become one nation that speaks in one voice and doesn't ask questions, such as: Who will fight terrorism after we crush all the Palestinian security units? Who are all the "armed people" Israel is arresting, and will they become Israel's security contractors after their release? What is the infrastructure of terrorism if not the occupation, the despair and the hatred? How will the shattering blow we have delivered against the entire Palestinian population help in the war against terrorism? How will it advance the peace, or at least the security of Israelis?
[The complete article]

Message at march -- 'We must get out'
20,000 rally in Israel to protest offensive

Dina Shiloh, San Francisco Chronicle, April 7, 2002

More than 20,000 Jews and Israeli Arabs marched together here last night demanding that the government withdraw from the West Bank and immediately resume peace talks with the Palestinians.
[The complete article]

With a friend like this...
America divides to control. It's a policy that could make even Bush's best friend Blair an antagonist

Nick Cohen, The Observer, April 7, 2002

As so often with realpolitik, the knowing arguments of Left and Right have no basis in real politics. America gets most of its oil from the Americas - Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and the USA itself. Only a quarter comes from the Persian Gulf. If it found supplies elsewhere - in Russia, for example - or contained its profligate burning of energy, the US would have little need to worry about the Middle East. It won't pull out because Washington wants to 'discourage' the 'advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership', while maintaining a military dominance capable of 'deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role'.

The quotes don't come from a babbling conspiracy theorist but from the Pentagon's Defense Planning Guidance, which set out American strategy after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
[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.