Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Diaspora Palestinians Should Have their Own Representatives at the Peace Conference.

Though preparations are underway in Annapolis, Maryland for the hosting of a Middle-East peace conference, the one called for by President George Bush, it is very unlikely that this conference will take place and if it does, the pressure is building up on the Ramallah leadership (but not the Palestinian leadership) to give up in advance many of its previously announce positions.

Secret talks are already underway between the Ramallah leadership and the Israelis and the Palestinians have already retreated from demanding a set of pronounced goals and objectives for the conference to agreeing to a set of principals that are not binding on Israel. The Ramallah leadership has appointed the brilliant negotiator Ahmed Qurai to lead the negotiation, the same man who is responsible for the disaster that is Oslo. So much so for having the best and the brightest to lead the negotiations.

The word is out that even Mahmoud Abbas the head of the Palestinian Authority confirming to his best friend Uhud Elmer that when he speaks of the Palestinian refugee's "Right of Return" he (Abbas) is only speaking of their rights to return to the areas of the West Bank and Gaza but not to Israel of 48.

Israel with the support of the US, its partner in the occupation, having succeeded in getting the trio ( Arafat, Abbas and Qurai) to recognize Israel, without ever defining the borders of the state is now pushing for a recognition of the "Jewishness" of the State, making sure that not only it denies the right of Palestinians refugees to the possibility of return or admitting the responsibility for their exiles and expulsion, is now putting at grave risk the more than 1.4 million Palestinians who continue to reside in Israel after the 1948 war. From experience and giving the level of intellectual and legal sophistications of Ahmed Qurai, most likely he will agree to this provision just like he agreed to the continued expansion of the settlements and confiscations of Palestinian land and the continued building of the Apartheid Wall, making sure he gets a piece of the business action from Israel in return.

Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta of Al-Awda in London with doubt a great scholar and nationalist published an open letter few days ago in Al-Quds Al-Arabi, addressed to Mahmoud Abbas as both the president of the PA and chairman of the PLO warning him of the pitfalls of agreeing to such recognition. However and with all due respect the call of Dr. Abu-Sitta to reform the PLO to represent all Palestinians is little too late. The conference is only few weeks ago and there is no way Abbas-Qurai will agree to that let alone manage to that within the short time. The PLO leadership failed to reform over the last 30 years it is unlikely they will do it now.

As it stand, the Ramallah leadership, though elected by the people under Israeli Occupation is going to the conference with the claim it represent all 10 million Palestinians. Of course those in Gaza Hamastan, Ramallah Fatahland, the more than 6 million Diasporaland.

The PLO as corrupt and inept as it was even its heydays never did represent all of the Palestinian people. The Palestine National Congress was nothing more than a "yes" organization, bought and sold and traded by Arafat and his henchmen. The PNC never had the backbone or the courage to ever have a say so and sat on its behind while the Palestinian Troika of Arafat, Abbas, and Quarie committed one blunder after another. With all due respect to Dr. Abu-Sitta, the PLO is dead and died long time ago.
As a matter of urgency, I call on all of the Palestinians in the Diaspora especially those organizations committed to the right of return to convene in Washington, DC under the banner of the Palestine Agency and hold a press conference and demand a seat at the table equal to that offered by George Bush and Israel the guys from Ramallah.

It is true and no one can deny it, that the guys from Ramallah do represent the Palestinians under Occupation, having been elected in fair and open elections, However this Ramallah leadership was never elected by the Palestinians of the Diaspora and in NO way represent the Palestinians in the Diaspora, and have NO rights whatsoever to represent them and compromise their rights of return and their rights to reclaim their lost properties. Abbas can waive his rights in Safad but he has no right to waive the rights of people in Haifa, or Acca or Yafa.

Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qurai and Yasser Abed-Rabou are not the Palestinian people of the Diaspora and were never elected by any one. They are the leftover of a defunct organization that lost its legitimacy long, long time ago.

A press conference should coincide with the convening of the peace conference where representatives of the Palestinians from the Diaspora from around the world make it clear to the Ramallah leadership, the Tel-Aviv leadership, certainly to Washington that only the representative of the Diaspora are the one who can make the decisions for the Palestinians of the Diaspora. Even if it means re-convening the peace conferences at a later date. Yes, Israel has to deal with the Palestinians of the Diaspora and not with guys from Ramallah or for that matter the guys in Damascus and their proxies in Gaza making such decisions. I am sure the Palestinians of the Diaspora want peace, but not the kind of peace that Abbas and Quari are out to achieve. Time for the Palestinians of the Diaspora to put their act together separate and independent of the PLO of the Palestinian Troika.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ken Burns's the "War". a Moving Documentary of the People's War, not the President's War.

For the last week or so, I have been watching with much interest on PBS Ken Burns's documentary titled the "War". Perhaps one of his best that can be added to his other master piece the "Civil War".

Unlike what one would expect from a documentary with this title, the "War" is more of a human journey of people rather than a cold review of historical facts that are deprived of any sense of human drama.

Ken Burns succeeded in giving his documentary on the war that very human touch rarely found in similar documentaries. He succeeded in having living witnesses talks of the war past and present. While the entire documentary is mesmerizing and one is forced to sit and watch there were several events of the war that I thought were so moving and perhaps it brought out what is best in humanity and also what is worst.

Unlike Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam War and George Bush's Iraq War where the two presidents, one a Democrat and the other a Republican both have something in common. Johnson and Bush both lied to the nation and lied to the Congress to get authorization to go to wars concocted by their national security advisors that cost the nations tens of thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of wounded not to mentions hundreds of billions of dollars wasted because our Congress and as usual failed to exercise its rights as an equal branch of government and failed to protect our national interest and the people interest. The Korean War was another make believe.

World War II was for sure the right war and for the right reasons. The US did not initiate war but has to respond to attacks on our soil as is the case with Pearl Harbor and we went to war against Nazi Germany because Hitler threatened with his killing machine and his National Socialism ideology the very fabric of societies in Europe.

Four things in the documentary that moved me the most. The first was the story of our Black citizens who were called to war and to fight for freedom and democracy overseas when they did not have that for themselves in their own country.

The second was the very moving story of Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and his war experience in Italy where he kept fighting while losing his arm. His courage war efforts earned him some forty years later with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation highest honor. While our Black troops were segregated due to their color, their donated blood, no doubt the same color red was not segregated and contributed to saving the life of Senator Inouye.

The third was of course the tragic and so un-American experience of relocation and concentration camps for Japanese Americans and how our government, even our Supreme Court was able to justify and order all Japanese American to relocations camps. That episode is for sure a dark side of American history; we hope will never happen again. Fear and racism like now where the only reason to intern our Japanese American citizens. With the present atmosphere in this country may be it will be the turn of Muslims and Arabs to be moved to relocation and concentration camps.

The fourth was the horrific scenes of Nazi concentration camps where over 6 million Jews perished simply because they were Jews. I have seen these pictures before, but one could not help but wonder how this can happen, and it did happen. Of course the German and the Austrian people denied they knew of these concentration camps and denied the gas ovens that turned human flesh to ashes. How can these people deny this mass murder when it was taking place in so many places? Hitler was able to kill and murder, in addition to the 6 million Jews, 2 million Poles, over 4 million Russians and killed several hundred thousands of Gypsies, homosexuals and mentally and physically retarded people. Hitler did not do it alone. He has an entire army of people to do it.

World War II where Americans young and old, rich and poor, men and women all joined together to liberate Europe and Asia. This is perhaps the proudest moments in American history and our commitments to liberty and democracies around the world. Too bad, Lyndon Johnson and George Bush did not learn any thing from this war and waged their own ideological war for nothing more than their own selfish agenda and their own selfish and pity ego. When our presidents call on us to fight a war, we want these wars to be our wars not their own individual wars where we as citizens have to pay the price. World War II no doubt was the people war and not the president's war. Ken Burns's story of the War continues.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Blackwater, the Private Militia of the US State Department.

Here in Washington, all this week Blackwater, the private militia of Condi Rice, the US Secretary of State was the center of attention by the media, the headline news and in Congress.

Mr. Prince the very young and very rich and very powerfully connected Republican was on Capital Hill defending his company's cold blooded murder of Iraqis and to the great surprise of many in the media especially Fox News and other Republicans and NeoCons. There was nothing wrong with the murder and killing of innocent Iraqis as long as it saves our very VIPs in Iraq. The hell with the Iraqis, who gives a damn about them any more, certainly not George Bush and Dick Cheney who went to war to save them only to kill them later and destroy the country at a very expensive price.

Blackwater, the mercenary army of the US State Department is a private militia totally funded by US tax payers and managed by the US State Department, and unlike our uniformed soldiers who have to follow the rules and subject to military discipline and the rule of law, Blackwater misfits are immune from any prosecution for any wrong doing. That is the way privatization of war efforts under Republican leadership works.

While poor US soldiers are held accountable for every wrong doings, of course and as we know, most if not all die hard Republicans and supporters of the war are COWARDS and draft dodgers and drug addicts, they chose to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to a company like Blackwater to do the job that US soldiers will be court-martialed if they commit such a crime. Of course, the slogans of these coward Republicans is supporting the troops.

Blackwater went from a company with $3 millions in contract to a company with over $300 millions in contract in couple of years and now approaching a billion. Of course all without bids and free and open competition keeping up with the Republican theme of free economy, of course as long as the recipients of the tax dollars are Republican businessmen and big time donors to Republican Party. To Republicans cheating the government is a duty, in fact an honor and part of the Republican patriotism. We may need to add to that the new standard of Republican Patriotism is looking for male to male sex in public toilets. Do not be surprised if the next time you are at an airport to see three types of toilets; men, women and Republicans.

The US State Department put up a hell of a defense in Congress, giving Blackwater all kind of excuses for killing innocent civilians and of course that was expected since Blackwater is the private army of the US State Department. Under this Republican Administration every government agency will have its own private army. A drunken Blackwater soldier killed the private guard of an Iraqi high ranking officials and the only thing that happened to him, is that he as whisked out of the country making sure he gets away with murder.

Finally after hundreds if not thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed by the private militia of the US Department of State, Congress passed a legislation that subjects these thugs to court jurisdiction. Will see if George Bush will veto such laws upholding the Republican article of faith "though shall kill".

Blackwater thugs and misfits must have thought of themselves as part of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie production where heroes get away with murder. Perhaps they thought of themselves as French Foreign Legion. Of course with a big difference.

This Republican Administration will no doubt is the worst American administration in the last couple of hundred of years. Full of failures, lies and certainly have nothing to do with any of the ideals and dreams that made America the great country it is. This Republican Administration not only sanctions cold blooded murder of Iraqis but also justifies and carried out brutal and violent interrogations of suspects, contrary to what this country stand for. It is also an administration that sanctions and promote the fleecing of the US Treasury by its crooked friends and associates. And given its history of draft dodging and deferments no doubt an administration of cowards and crooks, not to mentioned incompetent stupid ideologue. Not to mention a Republican Party where its family values, private and public morality are played out at public toilets.

Monday, October 1, 2007

After Ahmedinejade at Columbia, it is Time for a Jefferson Corner on Every Campus

Even before Iran President Mohamed Ahmedinejade spoke at Columbia University last week, all hell broke lose because Columbia president, Lee Bollinger took the daring and perhaps the fatal step to invite the president of Iran to speak enraging the very powerful pro-Israel groups in the New York City and around the country.

With the exception of Great Britain, and without doubt no country in the world come close to American when it comes to certain rights guaranteed by our Constitution especially the First Amendment Rights of speech and association and of course assembly. However these rights though guaranteed to us as citizens do not mean that we can be heard or have a chance to be heard or assemble without prior authorizations.

Many restrictions do apply now, by the current Bush Administration which justifies its attacks on civil liberties as part of it war on terror. We need to keep in mind that the First Amendment right of free speech applies to restrict the Federal and state governments from prohibiting or legislating limitations on the rights of free speech.

That is why Free Speech as we do know it in the US does not means and it does not guarantee that we as citizens have the opportunity to be heard or that we have a right to appear on public or private television or the radio or to have our ideas and opinions expressed in the editorial pages of newspapers like the Washington Post or the New York Times. Freedom of Speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment does not mean and it does not give us a right to appear on CNN or on Fox News or to even have a chance to rebuttal any statements written or heard. That Freedom of Speech is guaranteed only to those who owns the media and is guaranteed to those who have influence and who can make heads fly.

As such while there is right vis-à-vis the government, there are no rights of Freedom of Speech that allows different ideas to compete and appear on the airways. That is why the media and those who control the media are in fact the Fourth Branch of government, though not elected and of course non-accountable to any one. They make or break a politician or an official and they can promote, lobby and push for policies if not formulate and dictate public policies. Yes, we need to amend the US Constitution to give us the right of Free Speech this time guaranteeing to us that the Fourth Branch allows us to be heard and of course allows competing ideas to air on the public airways. The War on Iraq was a war promoted and sponsored by the media.

In the US Free Speech is guaranteed to the network and the media and those behind them and those who owns them and of course the ideologue who power them. Average citizen have no chance at free speech. Even if they attempt to strand up in Public Park or in a city corner they will not be guaranteed that they can speak and be heard. That of course requires a permit, and given the state of emergency we have in the US and given the very power pro-Israel group had, it is very unlikely that any one not on the side of Israel have a chance to speak or be heard.

On would imagine that a country like ours have the courage to have someone like President Mohammed Ahmedinejade to speak and be heard. His initiation may end up costing Lee Bollinger his job, since he dared to challenge the Pro-Israeli groups and invite someone like the president of Iran to speak. Campus Watch already control and manage speech and discussions within the campus class room, now they want to even prohibit free speech outside the class room.

Of course Lee Bollinger trying to appease the powerful forces that will get his dead, sooner than later, wanted to make up to them by making some very insulting and rude and defamatory remarks against Ahmedinejad even before he had a chance to speak. One would imagine that in a country like ours where we are proud of our sense of civility were challenging the guests on his ideas but not take personal insults. That is not the standard we like to have from the president of a university, Insults and rude remarks are left to the likes of Bill O'Reilly who became somebody because they are rude, nasty , obscene, and insult is their trade mark and value system.

Perhaps it is time for all universities and colleges to declare a "Jefferson Corner" a Free Speech Zone where any one and every one can stand up on a soap box and make a speech. No one can guarantee he/she will make sense or have any one listen to, but at least they can exercise the right of free speech.

Why not every town and city in the nation designate certain parks and certain areas within those parks as Free Speech zone, where there is no need to apply for a permit or get license from the police. Simply let people stand up and talk. This in my opinion will fulfill the objective envisioned by the US Constitution and gives us average citizen a fair chance against the big guns of the Fourth Branch. What is the use of free speech if one could not exercise it or have others hear it.