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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Israel marks anniversary of humanitarian attack on IDF commandos

Found on board the Mavi Marmara

From the point of view of the rational world, today is the one-year anniversary of the IDF commando massacre of 9 Turkish humanitarian activists on board the Mavi Marmara, part of the aid flotilla endeavoring to peacefully break the siege of Gaza.

From the point of view of the Israeli regime, by contrast, today is the one-year anniversary of the violent attack by humanitarian activists on board the Mavi Marmara against IDF commandos endeavoring to peacefully descend upon the aid ship while firing bullets. The activists died because they wanted to accrue headlines for their cause, not because the commandos killed them.

In support of the latter version of events, the Israeli Foreign Ministry dutifully uploaded a photo series entitled “Weapons found on Mavi Marmara” to its Flickr account in the aftermath of the attack, featuring snapshots of marbles, keffiyehs, binoculars, and a metal pail. An image of slingshots colorfully decorated with stars and the label “Hizbullah” is specified as having been taken on February 7, 2006—i.e. over four years prior to being discovered on the Mavi Marmara.

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1.5 million Honduran thugs give hero’s welcome to Copa Airlines

Thuggery at Toncontin airport, 5/28/11 (Photo: Belén Fernández)

A few days prior to the return to Honduras of former president Mel Zelaya, overthrown in a June 2009 coup d’état and subsequently exiled to distinguished guest-hood in the Dominican Republic, I met with the director of the state-owned Radio Honduras, Gustavo Blanco. Previously a top employee with anti-coup Radio Globo, Blanco’s ideological incompatibility with Globo’s political orientation was once again underscored when he informed me that the anti-coup National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) was composed largely of violent troublemakers and uneducated poor people who didn’t even understand why they were resisting the coup.

Our ensuing debate resulted in a number of additional claims on Blanco’s part, such as that 59-year-old Honduran teacher Ilse Velasquez—who this past March was struck in the face by a police-fired tear gas canister and then promptly run over and killed by a press vehicle—was actually to blame for her own demise given that she should have understood that her body type was not compatible with street protesting:

ME: People of a certain body type do not have rights?

BLANCO: She was fat.

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Zelaya vs. the poultry thieves

Another testament to injustice in Honduras: poultry thieves are not permitted forcible expatriation in pajamas to Costa Rica

Following a year-and-a-half absence from Honduras, where I spent four months reporting the aftermath of the coup d’état against Mel Zelaya in 2009, I returned to the country this past Sunday. The same day, the Cartagena Accord was signed in Colombia by Zelaya and current Honduran president Pepe Lobo (the product of illegitimate elections held under the coup regime), permitting Zelaya to return from exile/“distinguished guest-hood” in the Dominican Republic and paving the way for Honduras’ reincorporation into the Organization of American States, from which it was extricated based on its anachronistic coup-conducting.

Earlier this month, a Honduran court dropped remaining corruption charges against Zelaya, who is expected this coming Saturday in Tegucigalpa.

Despite the accord, golpista rhetoric continues in the same broken-record fashion as always, and the first person I spoke with upon setting foot in the capital city informed me—as though it were urgent news and not something I had been repeatedly informed of for four months in 2009—that Zelaya had sought to remain president for life.

Zelaya, of course, had done nothing of the sort, and had merely proposed that the Honduran populace be consulted as to whether or not it desired to rewrite the national constitution, composed during the era of U.S. military domination of the country and pitted against the interests of the non-elite.

My interlocutor proceeded to warn me, as though he had spontaneously come up with the comparison himself, of the inherent injustice in permitting Zelaya to remain unincarcerated:

In this country people go to jail for years for stealing a hen”.

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Defending Thomas Friedman

Having just written a book denouncing The New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman—slated for release by Verso in November—I now find myself in the awkward position of having to defend him.

What has necessitated the turn of events is yesterday’s opinion piece on the Israeli Ynet News site by Giulio Meotti, contributor to The Wall Street Journal and author of a book portraying Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian terrorism as the victims of a new Holocaust — despite the fact that Palestinian civilians have since the time of the original Holocaust managed to perish at a far higher rate courtesy of Israeli military maneuvers.

Yesterday’s article, entitled “The Thomas Friedman myth”, is itself mythical in nature but does contain various grains of truth, such as:

His 1989 book ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’ has been a best-seller, as was ‘The world is flat.’”

As for Meotti’s revelation that “The famous columnist has always been a militant of the Palestinian cause”, I can only offer kudos to Friedman for deftly disguising his militancy via allegations that Palestinians are “gripped by a collective madness”.

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Munib Masri did not throw a refrigerator

Munib Masri, prior to being shot in the back

A curious article on the English language website of the Israel Defense Forces, entitled “A conversation with soldiers who stopped Nakba events”, begins with the following summary—in bold—of Nakba Day protests near Ramallah:

Throwing televisions, refrigerators, large stones, burning tires and more, Palestinian protestors didn’t hold rioting against IDF forces in the events of Nakba Day. Four combat soldiers and one officer in a special unit stationed in the area tell the story of what it all looked like up close”.

The placement of the term “didn’t” in the first sentence would suggest that, even though Palestinian protesters were allegedly throwing the various items listed, they were not in fact rioting. What exactly happened becomes even more unclear in the body of the article when one of the soldiers announces:

We didn’t have refrigerators thrown at us.”

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Panama’s Underappreciated Role in the Creation of Israel

In honor of the sixty-third anniversary of Israel’s independence from the proprietors of the land on which it was established, the Israeli embassy in Panama is issuing a four-part magazine series entitled “Israel: 63 years of constant progress”. The first 30-page installment arrived last week with the morning La Prensa and dealt with typical cultural themes such as hummus, shawarma, and the coexistence in the Israeli democratic “oasis” of various ethnicities enjoying equal rights. Cultural trivia items included that “Israelis drink 3.5 cups of coffee per day”, “A cup of coffee costs 4 dollars on average”, and “Because they are adventurous, Israelis love extreme sports”.

Higher-caliber trivia—such as the success of an Israeli invention for an electric hair removal device, which according to Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs “makes women happy all over the world” and should thus be used in order to counter “barbs of criticism” levied against Jewish state on account of its barbarous policies—was not on this occasion made available to Panamanians. Nor was it explained whether the multiethnic democracy’s Afghan Jewish inhabitants, represented by a photograph of women in blue burqas, had access to alternate ensembles for use during skydiving and other extreme activities, or how vast portions of the Israeli population living below the poverty line can spend 14 dollars a day on coffee.

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Chávez is more fanatically Islamic than Al Qaeda

Carlos Alberto Montaner (Image from the Machetera blog)

Gracing the pages of various Spanish-language newspapers yesterday and today is an article entitled “Bin Laden in Latin America”. Written by exiled Cuban columnist and author Carlos Alberto Montaner, whose claims to fame include referring to Eduardo Galeano’s acclaimed Open Veins of Latin America as “the idiot’s bible”, it might be more appropriately titled “The idiot’s attempt to turn Hugo Chávez into bin Laden by way of an irrelevant Ethiopian”.

The article begins with the announcement that an Ethiopian terrorist engaged in the trafficking of illegal immigrants was captured in Ecuador and deported to the United States in March. Montaner himself states in the first paragraph that the man’s ties to Al Qaeda have not been confirmed, but declares in the second that the purpose of said trafficking was presumably to raise funds for the organization and to construct networks of potential collaborators.

Via this introduction, we somehow arrive at the revelation that the president of Venezuela is “an accomplice of all extremist and fanatically Islamic causes, including Al Qaeda”, though Montaner refrains from explaining whether the expulsion from Caracas of Israeli diplomatic personnel in response to massacres in Gaza qualifies as fanatical complicity. Montaner asserts that the reason for Chávez’ pro-extremist behavior is “not at all clear” but promptly goes on to state, quite clearly, that the Venezuelan leader—plus his counterparts in Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Bolivia—perceive Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah “as allies because they believe they have a common enemy: north American imperialism”.

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