Posts Tagged ‘peace’

How surrendering Palestinian rights became the language of “peace”

February 5, 2010

Joseph Massad, The Electronic Intifada, 27 January 2010

One of the ways the prejudiced Oslo “process” has survived is through the creation of a Palestinian Authority upon which tens of thousands depend for their livelihood. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

The 1993 Oslo agreement did not only usher in a new era of Palestinian-Israeli relations but has had a much more lasting effect in transforming the very language through which these relations have been governed internationally and the way the Palestinian leadership viewed them. Not only was the Palestinian vocabulary of liberation, end of colonialism, resistance, fighting racism, ending Israeli violence and theft of the land, independence, the right of return, justice and international law supplanted by new terms like negotiations, agreements, compromise, pragmatism, security assurances, moderation and recognition, all of which had been part of Israel’s vocabulary before Oslo and remain so, but also Oslo instituted itself as the language of peace that ipso facto delegitimizes any attempt to resist it as one that supports war, and dismisses all opponents of its surrender of Palestinian rights as opponents of peace. Making the language of surrender of rights the language of peace has also been part of Israel’s strategy before and after Oslo, and is also the language of US imperial power, in which Arabs and Muslims were instructed by US President Barack Obama in his speech in Cairo last June.

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Obama’s peace effort has failed but our struggle continues

September 25, 2009

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 24 September 2009

US President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in a kitschy reprise of the famous 1993 White House lawn handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. (MaanImages)

There is the old joke about a man who is endlessly searching on the ground beneath a street light. Finally, a neighbor who has been watching him asks the man what he is looking for. The man replies that he lost his keys. The neighbor asks him if he lost them under the streetlight. “No,” the man replies, pointing into the darkness, “I lost them over there, but I am looking over here because here there is light!”

The intense focus on the “peace process” is a similarly futile search. Just because politicians and the media shine a constant light on it, does not mean that is where the answers are to be found.

The meeting hosted by US President Barack Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel on 22 September signaled the complete and terminal failure of Obama’s much vaunted push to bring about a two-state solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict.

To be sure, all the traditional activities associated with the “peace process” — shuttle diplomacy, meetings, ritual invocations of “two states living side by side,” and even “negotiations” — will continue, perhaps for the rest of Obama’s time in office. But this sterile charade will not determine the future of Palestine/Israel. That is already being decided by other means.

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Israeli settlements block peace talks

September 19, 2009
Morning Star Online, 18 September 2009
by Tom Mellen

Washington’s special Middle East envoy has failed to bridge the gulf between the right-wing Israeli administration and Palestinian negotiators on the terms of renewing peace talks.

US officials said that mediation efforts would continue, but the persistent differences raise doubts about Mr Obama’s plans to revive long-stalled peace efforts, including holding a trilateral meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders next week in New York on the sidelines of the UN general assembly.

The key differences are over Israel’s refusal to stop the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied territories and whether peace talks should begin where they left off under the previous administration of Ehud Olmert.

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‘There is no path to peace. Peace is the path’

September 3, 2009
By Missy Comley Beattie
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Online Journal
, Sep 3, 2009,

My sister, Laura Comley, and I joined Cindy Sheehan on Martha’s Vineyard last week to participate in events to breathe life into the antiwar movement. Cindy’s project is a mission of hope which she calls International People’s Declaration of Peace. She spent a portion of her time on the island drafting her message to be circulated around the world.

Meanwhile, Gen. Stanley McCrystal has acknowledged failure in Afghanistan and is calling for a new strategy. Those of us who subscribe to the Gandhi principle that “There is no path to peace. Peace is the path,” believe that the only strategy for war-torn Afghanistan is complete withdrawal of troops. Same for Iraq, a humanitarian and environmental disaster. No more drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These unmanned instruments of torture drop missiles that have killed entire wedding parties instead of the intended “target.”

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Quittin’ Time in Afghanistan

August 24, 2009

by Eric Margolis | The Toronto Sun, Aug 23, 2009

An election held under the guns of a foreign occupation army cannot be called legitimate or democratic.This week’s stage-managed vote in Afghanistan for candidates chosen by western powers is unlikely to bring either peace or tranquility to this wretched nation that has suffered 30 years of war.

The Taliban and its nationalist allies rejected the vote as a fraud designed to validate continued foreign occupation and open the way for western oil and gas pipelines.

The Taliban, which speaks for many of Afghanistan’s majority Pashtun, said it would only join a national election when U.S. and NATO troops withdraw.

After all the pre-election hoopla and agitprop in Afghanistan, we come out the same door we went in. The amiable U.S.-installed leader, Hamid Karzai, may remain in office, powerless.

Yet Washington is demanding its figurehead achieve things he simply cannot do. Meanwhile, Karzai’s regime is engulfed by corruption and drug dealing.

Real power remains with strongmen from the Tajik and Uzbek minorities and local, drug-dealing tribal warlords who are paid by Washington to pretend to support Karzai. Behind the Tajiks and Uzbeks stand their patrons, Russia, India and Iran.

Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes, which make up 55% of the population, are largely excluded from power. They were the West’s closest allies and foot soldiers (“freedom fighters”) during the 1980s war against the Soviets.

The Taliban arose during the chaotic civil war of the early 1990s as a rural, mostly Pashtun religious movement to stop the wide-scale rape of women, impose order, and fight the drug-dealing Afghan Communists. The so-called “terrorist Taliban” received U.S. funding until four months before 9/11. Washington cut off aid after the Taliban made the fatal error of giving a major pipeline deal to an Argentine rather than U.S. oil firm for which Hamid Karzai once reportedly worked as a consultant.

Oil pipeline

The current war in Afghanistan is not about democracy, women’s rights, education or nation building. Al-Qaida, the other excuse, barely exists. Its handful of members long ago decamped to Pakistan. The war really is about oil pipeline routes and western domination of the energy-rich Caspian Basin.

Afghanistan is a three-legged ethnic stool. Take away the Pashtun leg and stability is impossible.

There will be neither peace nor stability in Afghanistan until all ethnic groups are enfranchised. The West must cease backing minority Tajiks and Uzbeks against majority Pashtun — who deserve their rightful share of power and spoils.

The solution to this unnecessary war is not more phoney elections but a comprehensive peace agreement among ethnic factions that largely restores the status quo before the 1970 Soviet invasion. That means a weak central government in Kabul (Karzai is ideal for this job) and a high degree of autonomy for self-governing Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara regions.

Government should revert to the old “loya jirga” system of tribal sit downs, where decisions are made by consensus, often after lengthy haggling. That is the way of the Afghans and of traditional Islamic society.

All foreign soldiers must withdraw. Create a diplomatic “cordon sanitaire” around Afghanistan’s borders, returning it to its traditional role as a neutral buffer state.

The powers now stirring the Afghan pot — the U.S., NATO, India, Iran, Russia, the Communist Central Asian states — must cease meddling. They have become part of the Afghan problem. Afghans must be allowed to slowly resolve their differences the traditional Afghan way, even if it initially means blood. That’s unavoidable.

The only way to end the epidemic of drug trading is to shut border crossings to Pakistan and the Central Asian states. But those nation’s high officials, corrupted by drug money, will resist.

We can’t solve Afghanistan’s social or political problems by waging a cruel and apparently endless war. A senior British general just warned his troops might have to stay for another 40 years. (He later retracted).

The western powers, Canada included, have added to the bloody mess in Afghanistan. Time to go home.

© 2009 The Toronto Sun

Eric Margolis is a columnist for The Toronto Sun. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World

Malalai Joya: The big lie of Afghanistan

July 27, 2009

Inquiries into the 954 deaths in police custody since 1990 have all proved fruitless – and then this historic case comes along

In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for office, were held up as an example of how the war in Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie.

On behalf of the long-suffering people of my country, I offer my heartfelt condolences to all in the UK who have lost their loved ones on the soil of Afghanistan. We share the grief of the mothers, fathers, wives, sons and daughters of the fallen. It is my view that these British casualties, like the many thousands of Afghan civilian dead, are victims of the unjust policies that the Nato countries have pursued under the leadership of the US government.

Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region.

You must understand that the government headed by Hamid Karzai is full of warlords and extremists who are brothers in creed of the Taliban. Many of these men committed terrible crimes against the Afghan people during the civil war of the 1990s.

For expressing my views I have been expelled from my seat in parliament, and I have survived numerous assassination attempts. The fact that I was kicked out of office while brutal warlords enjoyed immunity from prosecution for their crimes should tell you all you need to know about the “democracy” backed by Nato troops.

In the constitution it forbids those guilty of war crimes from running for high office. Yet Karzai has named two notorious warlords, Fahim and Khalili, as his running mates for the upcoming presidential election. Under the shadow of warlordism, corruption and occupation, this vote will have no legitimacy, and once again it seems the real choice will be made behind closed doors in the White House. As we say in Afghanistan, “the same donkey with a new saddle”.

So far, Obama has pursued the same policy as Bush in Afghanistan. Sending more troops and expanding the war into Pakistan will only add fuel to the fire. Like many other Afghans, I risked my life during the dark years of Taliban rule to teach at underground schools for girls. Today the situation of women is as bad as ever. Victims of abuse and rape find no justice because the judiciary is dominated by fundamentalists. A growing number of women, seeing no way out of the suffering in their lives, have taken to suicide by self-immolation.

This week, US vice-president Joe Biden asserted that “more loss of life [is] inevitable” in Afghanistan, and that the ongoing occupation is in the “national interests” of both the US and the UK.

I have a different message to the people of Britain. I don’t believe it is in your interests to see more young people sent off to war, and to have more of your taxpayers’ money going to fund an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords and drug lords in power in Kabul.

What’s more, I don’t believe it is inevitable that this bloodshed continues forever. Some say that if foreign troops leave Afghanistan will descend into civil war. But what about the civil war and catastrophe of today? The longer this occupation continues, the worse the civil war will be.

The Afghan people want peace, and history teaches that we always reject occupation and foreign domination. We want a helping hand through international solidarity, but we know that values like human rights must be fought for and won by Afghans themselves.

I know there are millions of British people who want to see an end to this conflict as soon as possible. Together we can raise our voice for peace and justice.

Christian Soldiers in Afghanistan

May 30, 2009

by Valerie Elverton Dixon |, May 30, 2009

William Faulkner once said: “The past is not dead.  In fact, it’s not even past.”  We often think about time and history as a straight line leading from the past, running through the present, heading into the future. With this conceptualization, the past is past and gone.  However, there is another way to think about time.  Tree time.  When we cut down a tree, the rings of the stump are concentric circles of time. The first year exists at the center and each succeeding year surrounds it.

So it is with the meeting of Christianity and Islam on the battle fields of Afghanistan and Iraq.  The historical center of the present conflict is the history of the Crusades.  Many in the Muslim world consider the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as another Crusade.  The Crusades were wars between Christians and Muslims, Christians and Pagans, Christians and Christians over four centuries.  It was a tragic time when armies of the state fought to promote a religious cause.  Crusaders travelled far from home as warriors and pilgrims, warriors and penitents, warriors as walls to stall the spread of Islam.  They won and lost battles.  They destroyed and plundered and raped. They were sometimes brutally massacred when the Muslims won on a particular day.

This historical core has not passed from the consciousness of some observers.  Enter the U.S. military.  The military is full of Christians.  Many of these men and women consider themselves as fundamentalist and evangelical.  An important part of their religious commitment is to witness to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior and to win souls to Christ.  At the same time, the U.S. military has a strict rule against proselytizing.  And so the warriors must walk a fine line between obligations to faith and country.

However, in my opinion, at least one soldier has been unfairly characterized in this discussion.  From what I can tell from the four minute video of a group of Christian soldiers in Afghanistan, army chaplain Captain Emmitt Furner gave them sound advice.  He reminded them of the army regulation and he reminded them that to witness to and for Jesus was more a walk than a talk. It is what we as Christians do that is important.  He said:  “You share the word in a smart manner: love, respect, consideration for their culture and their religion.  That’s what a Christian does is appreciation for other human beings.”  Another soldier in the group spoke of love and respect for the people they meet.

Some observers see Captain Furner’s advice as a sly way to spread the gospel, an element of a 21st century Crusade.  In my opinion, this interpretation is incorrect.  He gave his fellow soldiers the instruction to be living epistles that can be known and read by all (2 Corinthians 3:2).  It is an instruction that we who are not on the front lines in Afghanistan and in Iraq can use.

Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.

Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace

May 19, 2009
Al Jazeera, May 19, 2009
The Sri Lankan army says it has killed the top leaders of the LTTE [AFP]

Al Jazeera correspondent Tony Birtley has covered the Sri Lankan conflict since 1992. As the government declares victory over the Tamil Tigers he takes a look at the prospects for peace in the country.

In the lair of the Tigers the last bullets, apparently, are being fired in a bloody war that has cost tens of thousands of lives, billions of dollars and deprived one of South Asia’s most beautiful countries of peace for more than 30 years.

According to the Sri Lankan government, the war is all but over, one of the world’s most ruthless and sophisticated rebel organisations has been defeated.

Peace and reconciliation will follow, it says, and Sri Lanka will pick up the pieces and live in harmony.

But will it?

Certainly the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have ceased to exist as the conventional fighting force they evolved into.

They once numbered 30,000 strong and inflicted heavy defeats on the Sri Lankan military over the years, defeats that hurt the pride and prestige of the armed forces.

To understand the strength of the Tigers you have to understand the support they commanded from nearly a million Tamil diaspora spread throughout the world.

They provided the money and the network that gave the LTTE their arms, supplies and channels.

Continued support

Political and financial support for the Tamil Tigers remains strong [AFP]

Although some were forced to donate to the cause, many gave voluntarily and that support remains. If anything it is stronger than ever before.

The images of wounded, suffering Tamil civilians hurt and cowering in so called safe zones enraged many.

To critics of the Sri Lankan government it merely reinforces the view that injustice and discrimination against Tamil civilians that led to the start of this conflict still exists.

They point to the use of army controlled camps for the displaced, the fact that thousands of Tamils have disappeared without anyone being charged, and that few have been allowed to return to their homes.

The Sri Lankan government has always denied discrimination against Tamils.

They argue that their mission was to liberate Tamils from Tigers control and refute allegations that the security forces have been involved in either abductions or extra judicial killings of civilians.

Right or wrong it indicates the level of mistrust that exists between the two sides, mistrust that will take time to break down, mistrust that led to the formation of the Tamil Tigers in the 1970s.

Everyone said that the Sri Lanka problem could never be solved by military means, only by political means.

‘Political solution’

In video

Can Sri Lanka win the peace?
Sri Lankans celebrate end of war

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, proved everyone wrong, but he had to spend a small fortune on the military to make it happen. He says a political solution will now follow.

But the question is, with whom? Who is there left to talk to?

The LTTE leadership has been decimated and many free thinking Tamil leaders have been killed or fled the country.

Critics say any political solution with the Tamils who remain will be meaningless.

The Tamil Tigers started as a hit and run guerrilla organization with deadly effect.

It is not beyond possibility that it could rise from the ashes and go back to doing what it did best.

In 30 years the Tigers never touched the coastal areas where foreign tourists spend their holidays. That could easily change.

The Sri Lankan Tourism Industry is already preparing for an end of war campaign to bring holidaymakers back to the Island. A cash strapped government is banking on it.

But one bomb could so easily shatter those hopes.

As a government Sri Lanka has lost some friends. It has replaced them with the likes of China and Libya.

But money cannot buy happiness.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and wounded in pursuit of a united Sri Lanka. That has been achieved geographically, but not yet politically.

The war has been won but what about the peace?

ISRAEL: ‘If You Don’t Know, It Didn’t Happen’

April 21, 2009

Analysis by Daan Bauwens | Inter Press Service News

TEL AVIV, Apr 20 (IPS) – Even though atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers have surfaced and the appointment of a right-wing government diminishes the chances for peace in the Middle East, no left-wing Israeli is taking to the streets.

During the war in Gaza, modest peace manifestations brought together a few thousand protesters at a time. After the war and the elections, the voice of the left is completely muted.

“Where is the left in this country?” says Alina Charny, a yoga teacher from the Pardes Hanna district of Haifa. “There is a growing feeling that people from the left have lost all belief there can be a change. We have been in this war for too long now, but the voice of peace has never been in such a bad condition.”

All is still on the left side of the Israeli political spectrum. “We were left with all the guilt and no votes,” says Ido Gideon, an Israeli film producer and former spokesperson of Israel’s largest left-wing party Meretz.

In spite of confessions of atrocities by Israeli soldiers and growing evidence that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) deliberately committed war crimes, no political force aside from Israeli human rights organisations is pushing for an independent investigation into what the army’s internal investigation later dismissed as “rumours”.

“We’re in no position to push for anything right now,” says Gideon. “I am indifferent, I don’t care any more, a lot of people I know have become indifferent. For the moment, we are trying not to get too much affected by things. Too many bad things happened at once.”

“When you don’t know, it never happened,” says teacher Alina Charny. “People don’t want to feel guilty, so they don’t want to hear about destruction or death. At the same time, everyone does want to know what happened, but in a perverted way: they read and talk in aggressive slogans, without taking into consideration what was happening on the ground. The Israeli public has detached itself from feeling, from any emotions.”

Yossi Wolfson has worked over 20 years as a human rights lawyer in the occupied Palestinian territories, focusing on conscientious objectors in the Israeli army. “The public prefers not to acknowledge what its power-addicted discourses mean on the ground,” he says. “They said the time had come for revenge, but didn’t want to think about children losing their limbs and being attacked while being taken to an ambulance. Now they don’t want to think about their neighbour’s son having shot a family drinking tea while sitting down, or having given orders to a drone. You just don’t want to think about that, so nobody talks about it. Even newspapers, except for Haaretz, don’t want to publish what really happened.”

Israel lives with too many contradictions, Wolfson tells IPS. “We have been living in a dream for too long. You cannot be with the occupation for the sake of the survival of Israel, but against it for the sake of the Palestinians. You cannot go to the army because you are obliged, but convince yourself you can change it from within. You cannot have a democratic but strictly Jewish state.”

Israelis now seem to be changing their very conception of peace. “The mainstream discourse has always been: we want peace,” says Wolfson. “But in fact, nobody wanted peace with all the implications of it. Now the popular discourse is: we don’t want the peace process to die.”

“When you go to war, you shoot to kill, not to play games,” Haim Gordon, senior lecturer at the department of education at the Ben Gurion University in the Negev desert tells IPS. “Have you ever heard of a war where civilians were not killed? It’s good that we did what we did. The people in Gaza are big boys now, they’re responsible for their own lives now we’re not there anymore. Today the oppressors are Hamas, and the people from Gaza accept the oppression, they even support it.”

Gordon, formerly a human rights activist in Gaza, adds: “Not only should the Israeli public not protest, they should go to war when others shoot on us. The Israelis are not indifferent; on the contrary, they are very determined not to let Hamas change the rules of the game.”

Peace talk, war reality

April 6, 2009


Morning Star Online, April 5, 2009

IT is certainly true that US President Barack Obama’s broad and inclusive public persona is a welcome change from the narrow bigoted fundamentalism of his predecessor George W Bush.

And it is refreshing, albeit faintly incredible, to hear the commander-in-chief of the largest nuclear power in the world say that the US seeks “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” and continue that the US is “ready to lead,” has a “moral responsibility to act” and stands for the right of everybody to live free of fear in the 21st century.

It is only when one stands back from the dizzy power of Mr Obama’s rhetoric and measures it against the cold realities of world politics that the doubts start to crowd in like the qhost of Christmas past steaming in on Ebenezer Scrooge.

For someone so vocally committed to nuclear detente and eventual disarmament, President Obama cuts a strange figure on the world stage, mixing mixing peace talk with a cold-warrior reality which would not disgrace the most right-wing of his predecessors.

On the one hand stands a man who declares that “the world must stand together and prevent the spread of these weapons.”

But on the other stands a president in control of sufficient nuclear firepower to turn large tracts of the world into nuclear wastelands.

The man proclaims “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” but the president continues to support Israel, whose illegal nuclear weapons clearly classify it as a rogue state among the nations of the world.

He shamelessly continues to use nuclear-armed Israel to counterbalance the regional influence of Iran and, to preserve the integrity of that counterweight, argues and threatens against an Iranian nuclear capacity while blithely disregarding the Israeli nuclear crime.

Mr Obama says that the “most immediate and extreme threat to global security” is terrorists possessing nuclear weapons.

But he continues to disregard the role of his own massive nuclear arsenal in making that possession into a logical aspiration for any organisation, be it nationally or religiously led, that wishes to become a force in world politics.

His condemnation of North Korea’s launch of a rocket on Sunday would have carried considerably more authority if it had come from a president who didn’t have a lackey following him around with the nuclear red button always within reach.

None of this is to say that Mr Obama’s initiative in reopening the issue of nuclear arms reduction should be rejected as phoney. Quitethe reverse.

Substantial bilateral reductions in the world’s nuclear arsenal would be an enormous forward move in any event.

The world would be much safer for such reductions and they should be pursued with eagerness.

But the fact remains that US influence to remove the perceived threat of an Iranian nuclear capability should be accompanied by the use of that influence to neutralise the Israeli arsenal.

And any bilateral talks should be predicated on an acknowledgement that war, whether nuclear or conventional, is not the continuation of politics by other means, but an outrage perpetrated on the weak by the strong and an inappropriate response from a man who wishes to be seen as a peacemaker.

And US policy on Afghanistan and Iran must reflect just that.

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