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Monthly Archives: July 2010


Postwar Photographs of Lebanon by Amelia Opalinska, Round III

Four years ago today the United States government issued a Humanitarian Situation report detailing the progress of the July War. According to the section entitled “Numbers at a glance – Lebanon”, the country had accumulated 421 dead and 3,225 injured since the start of the war on July 12, and currently boasted a “Total Affected Population” of 866,780. The report advertises the total amount of U.S. humanitarian assistance pledged to Lebanon as 30 million dollars but stresses that “[t]he most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations.”

It would seem that the U.S. government might have at least complemented the generosity of its citizens by ceasing wartime rush shipments of bunker-buster bombs and other such items to Israel that had proven effective in neutralizing Lebanese civilians in their basements. As for Israeli behavior necessitating large amounts of humanitarian aid to Lebanon, this has not prevented U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs from recently promising that not even “challenging budgetary times” would prevent the current administration from honoring its 30 billion-dollar commitment to Israeli security over 10 years.

Below are a dozen photographs taken by my traveling companion Amelia Opalinska in the aftermath of the July War. See previous posts featuring Opalinska’s photos here and here.



Mosque closure in Spain teaches Muslim immigrants the possibility of praying in one’s home

Lleida mosque (Photo: Belén Fernández)

Earlier this week, the mosque on Nord Street in the Catalonian city of Lleida, an hour and a half from Barcelona, was closed by order of the city council, which cited a violation of the fire code due to the volume of prayer attendees. According to an article in the July 23 edition of the Spanish daily El País, local imam Abdelwahab Houzi denounced the closure as political:

Houzi, who denies being a salafist, one of the most radical currents in Islam [sic], noted that the closure might be related to his opposition to the prohibition on using the Islamic full veil–principally the burka and the niqab–in municipal buildings [and other areas]. The city council of Lleida was the first in Catalonia [to pass such a prohibition] and was followed by 15 or so other cities and towns.”

El País also quotes the reaction of the mayor of Lleida, Àngel Ros, to Muslim prayers being conducted in the street following the closure of the mosque, which was to inform the Muslim community that he himself prayed in his house. Ros is variously described in the article as a socialist and a practicing Catholic, although nowhere is he forced to defend himself, as Houzi is, against religious stereotypes, thus avoiding an introduction such as: “Ros, who denies being a pedophile…” The emphasis on the domestic nature of Catholic prayers meanwhile calls into question the financial necessity of ubiquitous ornate churches.


Postwar Photographs of Lebanon by Amelia Opalinska, Round II

A few months ago I posted a series of photographs of Lebanon taken in 2006 by my traveling companion Amelia Opalinska, in the aftermath of the July War perpetrated by Israel. I am now posting a second round in honor of the fourth anniversary of the conflict, which is referred to by the Israelis as the Second Lebanon War–the first being the 1982 invasion of Lebanon that killed approximately 17,500 people, mainly civilians. Other destructive Israeli incursions into the country, such as those in 1978, 1993, and 1996, have been exempted from the war count.

As for the second Qana massacre, which refers to the July 30, 2006 obliteration by Israeli air raids of 28 civilians in the same south Lebanese town where 106 refugees sheltered in a U.N. compound were obliterated during the 1996 conflict, potential candidates for the official Israeli title for the incident might include “the Second Qana Mistake” or “the Second Israeli Weeping Session for Qana”. The latter suggestion is inspired by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz’ legal analysis of Israeli reactions to being forced by Hezbollah to kill Lebanese children.

Ten of Opalinska’s photographs appear below. More to follow next week.


Breaking News: U.S. Committed to Israeli Security

Qualitative Military Edge

The top story currently featured on the U.S. State Department website, entitled “U.S.-Israel Security Cooperation”, offers a link to the full text of Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro’s July 16 sycophantic performance at the Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy, crucial component of the Israel lobby. Also provided is a link to the video of the speech and to a fact sheet entitled “Deepening U.S.-Israel Security Ties Advances Prospects for Comprehensive Peace”.

Among the facts listed in support of prospective advancement are the following:

  • This year, Congress fully funded the Obama Administration’s $2.775 billion security assistance request for Israel − the largest security assistance request for Israel in U.S. history.
  • The Obama Administration is… asking Congress to approve $205 million to support production of Israeli-developed short range rocket defense system called Iron Dome.
  • As U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell has said, “American commitment and determination are essential to the preservation of a sovereign and secure Israel and to the peaceful and just resolution of the conflict in the Middle East. There is as elsewhere a universal human desire to lead lives that are full, free and meaningful.”


Al Jazeera on-the-ground spotters battle Israeli spy rings for control of Lebanon

Collection of real-time intelligence for Hezbollah in 2006. (Photo: Yaron Kaminsky)

In honor of the fourth anniversary of the July 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon, the Associated Press has produced an article that begins:

A group of 91 Israelis wounded by Hezbollah rockets during the 2006 war is suing the Arab news network Al Jazeera for $1.2 billion in a New York court for allegedly aiding the Lebanese guerrillas, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Nitzana Darshan-Leitner said the suit, which was filed Monday, claims the Qatar-based news network intentionally violated Israel’s military censorship regulations and reported the precise locations of rocket strikes in Israel in live broadcasts during the monthlong 2006 war.

The reporting enabled Hezbollah to aim its rockets more accurately at Israeli targets, the suit alleges.”


On Honduran Thieves

Thieves and their international counterparts are possibly also anti-semitic.

Following last year’s coup against Honduran President Mel Zelaya—the anniversary of which was marked on June 28—one of the preferred epithets invoked by the golpistas (coup supporters) to describe the ousted leader was ladrón, or thief. Whenever I questioned the application of such a label to a president that had raised the minimum wage 60 percent in certain sectors and proposed legislation banning  open-pit mining by international corporations, I was often told that Zelaya stole funds in order to prepare for his nonbinding public opinion survey on constitutional reform, which was thwarted by the coup.

In addition to being somewhat irreconcilable with other popular golpista claims such as that Venezuela was funding the survey by printing sheets of paper labeled YES and NO, this argument fails to take into account that Zelaya does not belong to one of approximately 10 families that control the majority of the wealth in Honduras. Supplementary categories of ladrón were detected last year by a female Honduran teenager in an SUV and designer sunglasses, whom I encountered at a gas station in Tegucigalpa after being apprehended during a stroll by a young man who offered to shoot me in exchange for my money.


Nasrallah may have addressed allies as “Yo, Ayatollah” during July War

Yo. (Photo: Amelia Opalinska)

One week from today—July 12—will mark the fourth anniversary of the start of the July War in Lebanon, which lasted 34 days and resulted in the deaths of approximately 1200 Lebanese civilians and 43 Israeli civilians. None of the latter nationality were liquidated by Apache helicopter after being ordered by Hezbollah to abandon their villages.

Around the time of one such massacre in Lebanon, U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair took advantage of the G8 meeting in Russia to hold a chummy private conversation in which they reflected on certain aspects of the war but failed to ensure that a nearby microphone was switched off.

Highlights of the conversation include how Blair should perhaps travel to the afflicted region instead of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as Rice would be expected to deliver a ceasefire whereas Blair, in his own words, “can go out and just talk.” As for Bush’s contributions to world diplomacy, these include addressing the British prime minister as “Yo, Blair” and suggesting that Syria tell Hezbollah to “stop doing this shit.”

Following are excerpts from the transcript of the conversation published on the BBC website, which I have divided into thematic categories.