Thursday, 8 October 2009

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Friday, 23 January 2009

EDITORIAL: Does Israel fear its friends more than its enemies?

This article is about George Mitchell, Obama's pick for Middle East envoy:

The peace process has become a facade. Behind this facade, inside Israel, there has arisen a hardening conviction that peace is not possible. Mitchell poses a direct challenge to that conviction because he comes in with the opposite view:

…from my experience in Northern Ireland I formed the conviction that there is no such thing as a conflict that can’t be ended. Conflicts are created and conducted by human beings. They can be ended by human beings. I saw it happen in Northern Ireland although admittedly it took a very long time. I believe deeply that with committed, persevering and active diplomacy it can happen in the Middle East.
The real question that confronts Israel is not, what can advance the peace process? The question is much starker: does Israel still believe in the possibility of peace or has it become resigned to existing in a perpetual state of war?

Yet to pose this question is to expose the fragility of the security bubble inside which Israel currently chooses to reside. For as much as Israel likes to assume the posture of an indomitable military power, the simple truth is that Israel’s military might is utterly dependent on America’s patronage — hence the threat posed by America as honest broker, as opposed to loyal defender. As honest broker, America cannot perpetually provide Israel with the option of choosing war instead of peace.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Self-defence is no defence

As more testimony emerges from the ruins of Gaza, evidence is stacking up that Israel has a war crimes case to answer

By: Michael Paulin

Under Article 51 of the UN Charter, a state can take military action without the prior authorisation of the Security Council if it is acting in self-defence. Yet, as CNN has reported, it was Israel – and not Hamas fighters – that broke the ceasefire. On the November 4 2008, Israel shelled the villages of Wadi al-Salqa and al-Qarara, killing six Hamas activists.

It is true that Israel has suffered from Hamas rocket attacks. Insofar as these attacks indiscriminately target civilian areas, Hamas would be guilty of war crimes under the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Yet, in the past eight years, Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza have killed around 20 people in southern Israel. Israel's response is neither necessary nor proportionate.

At the time of writing, after 23 days of bombardment, more than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed by Israel, including 410 children and 104 women, while 5,300 are seriously injured, of whom 1,855 are children and 795 women. Israel has shelled three clearly marked UN schools, the existence and GPS coordinates of which Israel had been repeatedly notified. Israel has shelled the headquarters of UNRWA, the UN's relief agency (which is responsible with providing aid to 750,000 Palestinians), and it has shelled and bombed hospitals, ambulances, and medical personnel. In typical Israeli fashion, it has bulldozed homes without warning in an attempt to bury the inhabitants alive. Recent UN human rights reports expose that the Israeli army has deliberately used white phosphorus on civilians, which is prohibited "in all circumstances" under Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, and evidence has emerged that Israeli snipers have deliberately targeted civilians.

On January 4, Israeli soldiers evacuated approximately 110 Palestinians into a single-residence house in Zeitoun and warned them to stay indoors. Half of the evacuees were children. Twenty-four hours later, Israeli forces shelled the home repeatedly, killing 30 of the inhabitants, although more bodies are likely to be recovered from the ruins.

After several days of requesting safe passage to the area, on January 7, during a three-hour lull in hostilities, an ICRC medical team was finally allowed in on foot (without ambulances) into the closed military area to evacuate any remaining survivors. According to testimonies gathered by the UN, Palestinian children were left unable to walk or speak, in shock and weeping by the bodies of their dead mothers. When the IDF finally let through the International Committee of the Red Cross, the children were led from the building past dogs eating the corpses of the victims.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights and a former international criminal court judge from South Africa, has stated that the incident in Zeitoun "appears to have all the elements of war crimes". Israel has not ratified the 1998 Rome Statute, so its leaders cannot be brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, unless the UN security council itself refers Israel's actions to the ICC. The US abstained from the recent UN security council resolution calling for a ceasefire, and it would almost certainly wield its powers as a permanent member of the security council to veto any attempt to refer Israeli leaders to the ICC.

In UK law, the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 and the Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Act 1995 attempt to afford the domestic courts universal jurisdiction for "grave breaches" of humanitarian law. This includes wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, extensive destruction and appropriation of property, which was not justified by military necessity and was carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Attacks on the wounded, the sick, or against medical units and personnel also constitute grave breaches, as does making the civilian population the object of attack practices of apartheid and other inhuman and degrading practices involving outrages upon personal dignity, based on racial discrimination.

On September 10 2005, the chief London magistrate Timothy Workman issued a warrant for the arrest of the retired Israeli Major General Doron Almog, in relation to the wanton destruction of 59 houses in Rafah refugee camp on January 10 2002. After Almog had landed at Heathrow, he was tipped off and he flew back to Israel. Perversely, the attempt to bring Almog to justice for war crimes caused the then foreign secretary, Jack Straw, to apologise to his Israeli counterpart for the attempted arrest. As Arthur Neslen has observed, it would seem that war crimes are fine, so long as someone says sorry afterwards.

Palestinians are living under occupation, and are therefore "protected persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Protected persons may not be punished for crimes that they themselves have not committed, and their collective punishment constitutes a war crime.
Israel's attempt to claim self-defence as a justification for the separation wall, which annexes swathes of Palestinian land, has already been rejected by the International Court of Justice. On July 9 2004, the International Court of Justice provided its advisory opinion that the construction of the wall is contrary to international law and that Israel was obliged to dismantle the wall forthwith. The court rejected Israel's defence that the separation wall is justified under the doctrine of self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

When the Middle East envoy for the Quartet, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, was interviewed by Gavin Esler on BBC Newsnight on January 9, he opined that a ceasefire had not been possible because: "I think that there are still real issues about what can be done to stop the smuggling of the arms going into Gaza and then the opening of the crossings so that there can be proper humanitarian help." Blair effectively makes the Palestinians' right to humanitarian aid dependent upon whether their democratically elected leadership can be prevented from bringing arms into Gaza.

Yet, as Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: "To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate." It would appear that Blair regards international law as either irrelevant or a hindrance.

Despite the Israeli supreme court's recent ruling in favour of the petitioner, the Foreign Press Association, that foreign journalists must be allowed into Gaza, the Israeli state prevented proper access throughout its attack. As the FPA's lawyer, Gilead Sher, observed: "There are several countries in this world, such as North Korea, Zimbabwe and Burma, that ban press coverage in conflict zones." Israel must ask itself whether this is really the company it wants to keep.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Anti-Islam Hate Speech to be prosecuted in Netherlands

Via Reuters:

Right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who has made a short film accusing the Koran of inciting violence, must be prosecuted for anti-Islam comments, an Amsterdam court said.

The court overruled the public prosecutor who had declined to prosecute Mr Wilders, whose film Fitna urged Muslims to tear out hate-filled verses from the Koran.

"The Amsterdam appeals court has ordered the prosecution of member of parliament Geert Wilders for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs," the court said in a statement.

Good news. We should not tolerate hate speech - against Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, or non-religious people.

Freedom of speech is one thing. And a valuable thing.

But defamation and slander should be exposed for what it is. Especially when it purposefully inflames tensions between people.

Let's expect better from our politicians, and discourage them to spread misinformation.

See article.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Stephen M. Walt: The myth of Israel's strategic genius

Stephen M. Walt, Professor of International Relations at Harvard University, pens an interesting article regarding the view of the Israeli army and its successes and defeats through the years.


"The moral of this story is that there is no reason to think that Israel always has well-conceived strategies for dealing with the problems that it faces. In fact, Israel's strategic judgment seems to have declined steadily since the 1970s -- beginning with the 1982 invasion of Lebanon -- perhaps because unconditional U.S. support has helped insulate Israel from some of the costs of its actions and made it easier for Israel to indulge strategic illusions and ideological pipe-dreams. Given this reality, there is no reason for Israel's friends -- both Jewish and gentile -- to remain silent when it decides to pursue a foolish policy. And given that our "special relationship" with Israel means that the United States is invariably associated with Jerusalem's actions, Americans should not hesitate to raise their voices to criticize Israel when it is acting in ways that are not in the U.S. national interest.

"Those who refuse to criticize Israel even when it acts foolishly surely think they are helping the Jewish state. They are wrong. In fact, they are false friends, because their silence, or worse, their cheerleading, merely encourages Israel to continue potentially disastrous courses of action. Israel could use some honest advice these days, and it would make eminently good sense if its closest ally were able to provide it. Ideally, this advice would come from the president, the secretary of state, and prominent members of Congress -- speaking as openly as some politicians in other democracies do. But that's unlikely to happen, because Israel's supporters make it almost impossible for Washington to do anything but reflexively back Israel's actions, whether they make sense or not. And they often do not these days."

Read more:

Walt, in his article, links a few other websites:

(1) The blog "Tikun Alum", blog post entitled "Join American Jews in Condemning Gaza War"

In this post the author is collecting signature for a statement, which ends in saying:

Finally, as American Jewish progressives, and as human beings, we condemn Hamas and Israel for violating the human rights of civilians on both sides, although we do not necessarily declare these violations to be morally or legally equivalent. We affirm the rights of both Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination and self-defense, as we affirm the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

(2) An article by Glenn Greenwald published on entitled "Both parties cheerlead still more loudly for Israel's war"

Glenn notes how:

[...] much of the world is urging an end to the war and acting to forge a cease-fire -- except the United States. Here, blind and unequivocal support for the Israeli attack is actually increasing almost as fast as the Palestinian body count piles up. Apparently, it isn't enough that we supply the very bombs being dropped on the Palestinians and use our U.N. veto power to prevent any U.N. action to stop the war or even to urge its cessation. The U.S. Congress wants to involve the U.S. further still in Israel's war.

(3) a very interesting youtube video of an orthodox Jew British MP who said that Israel is acting like Nazis in Gaza

Please review these materials.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Who started it?

Of course we can take this question, "who started it?", all the way back to the beginning. But let's briefly take a look at an interesting fact regarding the recent history in light of the 2008-2009 Gaza Massacre:

From The Guardian (, 5 November 2008:

"A four-month ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was in jeopardy today after Israeli troops killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid into the territory.
"The Israeli military said the target of the raid was a tunnel that they said Hamas was planning to use to capture Israeli soldiers positioned on the border fence 250m away.
"'This was a pinpoint operation intended to prevent an immediate threat,' the Israeli military said in a statement. 'There is no intention to disrupt the ceasefire, rather the purpose of the operation was to remove an immediate and dangerous threat posted by the Hamas terror organisation.'
"Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, had personally approved the Gaza raid, the Associated Press said. The Israeli military concluded that Hamas was likely to want to continue the ceasefire despite the raid, it said. The ceasefire was due to run for six months and it is still unclear whether it will stretch beyond that limit."


It is OK to blame Hamas for any crimes they commit.

It should also be OK to blame Israel for any crimes they commit.

What is not OK is to create a misleading timeline which begins with a barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip, and try to pretend such an action was entirely unprovoked.

A very sad example of this is the comparison being made by very smug commenters on American TV newsmedia, including US politicians. They seem to think they can compare the rockets fired from Gaza to a hypothetical scenario whereby Canada was shooting rockets at the USA.

The USA does not keep Canada in an isolated state, cutting off food and money, causing living condition to be miserable on purpose as a collective punishment (for existing?).

People do not shoot missiles for no reason. Why do some people think this is the case? If violence is happening, it must be the violent person who is at fault? Do they not know how their own country was founded on violence? Violence towards British redcoats? Violence toward indigenous natives?

If anyone desired peace they would strive to create the conditions for peace.

By deeming the entire Palestinian race as "terrorist", the supporters of the Israeli government allow themselves to justify genocide, often in the name of God.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Published on Saturday, January 17, 2009 by

Punishing the Palestinians

by Ralph Nader

In the long sixty-year tortured history of the Palestinian expulsion from their lands, Congress has maintained that it is always the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, and now Hamas who are to blame for all hostilities and their consequences with the Israeli government.

The latest illustration of this Washington puppet show, backed by the most modern weapons and billions of taxpayer dollars annually sent to Israel, was the grotesquely one-sided Resolutions whisked through the Senate and the House of Representatives.

While a massive bombing and invasion of Gaza was underway, the resolution blaming Hamas for all the civilian casualties and devastation-99% of it inflicted on Palestinians-zoomed through the Senate by voice vote and through the House by a vote of 390 to 5 with 22 legislators voting present.

There is more dissent against this destruction of Gaza among the Israeli people, the Knesset, the Israeli media, and Jewish-Americans than among the dittoheads on Capitol Hill.

The reasons for such near-unanimous support for Israeli actions-no matter how often they are condemned by peace advocates such as Bishop Desmond Tutu, United Nations resolutions, the World Court and leading human rights groups inside and outside of Israel, are numerous. The pro-Israeli government lobby, and the right-wing Christian evangelicals, lubricated by campaign money of many Political Action Committees (PACs) certainly are key.

There is also more than a little bigotry in Congress against Arabs and Muslims, reinforced by the mass media yahoos who set new records for biased reporting each time this conflict erupts.

The bias is clear. It is always the Palestinians' fault. Right-wingers who would never view the U.S. government as perfect see the Israeli government as never doing anything wrong. Liberals who do not hesitate to criticize the U.S. military view all Israeli military attacks, invasions and civilian devastation as heroic manifestations of Israeli defense.

The inversion of history and the scope of amnesia know no limits. What about the fact that the Israeli government drove Palestinians from their lands in 1947-48 with tens of thousands pushed into the Gaza strip. No problem to Congress.

Then the fact that the Israeli government cruelly occupied, in violation of UN resolutions, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and only removed its soldiers and colonists from Gaza (1.5 million people in a tiny area twice the size of the District of Columbia) in 2005. To Congress, the Palestinians deserved it.

Then when Hamas was freely elected to run Gaza, the Israeli authorities cut off the tax revenues on imports that belonged to the Gaza government. This threw the Gazans into a fiscal crisis-they were unable to pay their civil servants and police.

In 2006, the Israelis added to their unrelieved control of air, water and land around the open-air prison by establishing a blockade. The natives became restless. Under international law, a blockade is an act of war. Primitive rockets, called by reporters "wildly inaccurate" were fired into Israel. During this same period, Israeli soldiers and artillery and missiles would go into Gaza at will and take far more lives and cause far more injuries than those incurred by those rockets. Civilians-especially children, the infirm and elderly-died or suffered week after week for lack of medicines, medical equipment, food, electricity, fuel and water which were embargoed by the Israelis.

Then the Israeli bombing followed by the invasion during the past three weeks with what prominent Israeli writer Gideon Levy called "a brutal and violent operation...far beyond what was needed for protecting the people in its south." Mr. Levy observed what the president of the United Nations General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann called a war against "a helpless and defenseless imprisoned population."

The horror of being trapped from fleeing the torrent of the most modern weapons of war from the land, air and seas is reflected in this passage from Amira Hass, writing in the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

"The earth shaking under your feet, clouds of choking smoke, explosions like a fireworks display, bombs bursting into all-consuming flames that cannot be extinguished with water, mushroom clouds of pinkish-red smoke, suffocating gas, harsh burns on the skin, extraordinary maimed live and dead bodies."

Ms. Hass is pointing to the use of new anti-civilian weapons used on the Gazan people. So far there have been over 1100 fatalities, many thousands of injuries and the destruction of homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, pharmacies, granaries, farmer's fields and many critical public facilities. The clearly marked UN headquarters and UN school were smashed, along with stored medicines and food supplies.

Why? The Congressional response: "Hamas terrorists" everywhere. Sure, defending their Palestinian families is called terrorism. The truth is there is no Hamas army, airforce and navy up against the fourth most powerful military in the world. As one Israeli gunner on an armored personnel carrier frankly said to The New York Times: "They are villagers with guns. They don't even aim when they shoot."

Injured Gazans are dying in damaged hospital corridors, bleeding to death because rescuers are not permitted to reach them or are endangered themselves. Thousands of units of blood donated by Jordanians are stopped by the Israeli blockade. Israel has kept the international press out of the Gazan killing fields.
What is going on in Gaza is what Bill Moyers called it earlier this month - "state terrorism." Already about 400 children are known to have died. More will be added who are under the rubble.

Since 2002, more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations have had a standing offer, repeated often, that if Israel obeys several UN resolutions and withdraws to the 1967 borders leaving 22 percent of the original Palestine for an independent Palestinian state, they will open full diplomatic relations and there will be peace. Israel has declined to accept this offer.

None of these and many other aspects of this conflict matter to the Congress. Its members do not want to hear even from the Israeli peace movement, composed of retired generals, security chiefs, mayors, former government ministers, and members of the Knesset. In 60 years these savvy peace advocates have not been able to give one hour of testimony before a Congressional Committee.

Maybe members of Congress may wish to weigh the words of the founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, years ago when he said:

"There has been anti-Semitism the Nazis Hitler Auschwitz but was that their [the Palestinian's] fault? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country."

Doesn't that observation invite some compassion for the Palestinian people and their right to be free of Israeli occupation, land and water grabs and blockades in the 22 percent left of Palestine?

Inauguation Hunger Strike

Gaza is dying. War crimes are being committed every single day, and the world is watching in silence. We have gathered, demonstrated and tried to make the world aware, but nothing is changing and the blood shed is not stopping. Let us unite on the American Inauguration day on a food strike, for a change that we can believe in.

We will not eat, will not drink, and will not stop until Gaza is healed.Please contact the media and tell them about our world-wide food strike. Invite your friends and make the world aware of the bleeding wound.

Gazans are starving, and I will not eat their flesh or drink their blood.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Killed by Israel, Eaten by Dogs

By Ola Attallah, IOL Correspondent
Wednesday, 14 January 2009

"Oh, God! I have never seen such a terrible scene," cried Kayed Abu Aukal.The emergency doctor could not believe himself seeing the remains of what was days back Shahd, a full-fleshed 4-year-old Palestinian girl.She died when an Israeli shell was fired at the backyard of her home in the Jabalya refugee camp northern Gaza strip, where she was playing.When her parents attempted to rush to the rescue of their kid, who fell to the ground amid a pool of her blood, rains of Israeli bullets kept them a distance.For the next five days Shahd's which was left lying in the open left for dogs to tear out."The dogs did leave one single part of the poor baby's body intact," said a tearful Abu Aukal."We have seen heart-breaking scenes over the past 18 days. We picked up children whose bodies were torn or burnt, but nothing like this."For five days Shahd's brother, Matar, and cousin, Mohamed, tried in vain to reach her body. They were fired at by the Israeli occupation forces every time.Seeing the body of the little angel torn to piece by the assaulting dogs, the two made one final attempt, and it was their last.They were showered by Israeli bullets before they could reach Shahd's body, joining a long list of more than 920 Palestinians killed by Israel since December 27.DeliberateOmran Zayda, a young neighbor, said the Israelis knew very well what they were doing."They chased her family and prevented them from reaching to her body, knowing that the dogs would eat it," he said."They are not just killing our children, they are intentionally doing so in the most heinous and inhuman ways."Zayda said words, and even cameras, can not describe the horrific scene."You can never imagine what the dogs have done to her innocent body," he said, fighting back his tears.Many Palestinians insist Shahd was not the first or only such case.In Jabalya, when Abd Rabu's family was trying to bury three of its dead, the Israeli forces started firing at them, witnesses said.They then released their dogs at the bodies, deserted by mourners who sought shelter from the Israeli gunfire, they added."What happened was awful and unthinkable," Saad Abd Rabu, the deceased uncle, told IOL."Our sons died before our eyes and we were even prevented from burying them," he cried."The Israelis just released their dogs at their bodies, as even they have not done enough."

Monday, 12 January 2009

Gaza Holocaust - An online Museum

A group was made on facebook as an attempt of voicing the Truth about what is taking place in Gaza. If we cannot go and fight, let us show the world the reality that is being biased by the media and the political spokesmen:
The idea of this group is to post all the photos that we can gather about the crimes that are being committed in Gaza that defy the simplest human rights. Posting a photo is very simple, just add the photo with a short comment describing when the photo was taken and what is shows, and name the source for credibility whenever possible. Please join the group, spread the word, and invite your friends to visit the museum, especially the ones who may not know the truth. Your participation is the key to the success of this attempt.


Sunday, 4 January 2009

Gaza: the logic of colonial power by Nir Rosen

You can find it at

As so often, the term 'terrorism' has proved a rhetorical smokescreen under cover of which the strong crush the weak.

Nir Rosen (Nir Rosen is a journalist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Time, Harper’s Magazine, The New Republic, and Salon. In addition to English, he speaks Arabic, Serbo Croatian, and Hebrew. In April 2003, he moved to Baghdad to cover the American-led intervention in Iraq and spent a year and a half under occupation with the Iraqi people. He has also reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and the Congo. He is a fellow at the New York University Center on Law and Security. He lives with his wife, Tiffany, in Lebanon.) More about him at, Monday 29 December 2008 08.00 GMT


I have spent most of the Bush administration's tenure reporting from Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia and other conflicts. I have been published by most major publications. I have been interviewed by most major networks and I have even testified before the senate foreign relations committee. The Bush administration began its tenure with Palestinians being massacred and it ends with Israel committing one of its largest massacres yet in a 60-year history of occupying Palestinian land. Bush's final visit to the country he chose to occupy ended with an educated secular Shiite Iraqi throwing his shoes at him, expressing the feelings of the entire Arab world save its dictators who have imprudently attached themselves to a hated American regime.

Once again, the Israelis bomb the starving and imprisoned population of Gaza. The world watches the plight of 1.5 million Gazans live on TV and online; the western media largely justify the Israeli action. Even some Arab outlets try to equate the Palestinian resistance with the might of the Israeli military machine. And none of this is a surprise. The Israelis just concluded a round-the-world public relations campaign to gather support for their assault, even gaining the collaboration of Arab states like Egypt.

The international community is directly guilty for this latest massacre. Will it remain immune from the wrath of a desperate people? So far, there have been large demonstrations in Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. The people of the Arab world will not forget. The Palestinians will not forget. "All that you have done to our people is registered in our notebooks," as the poet Mahmoud Darwish said.

I have often been asked by policy analysts, policy-makers and those stuck with implementing those policies for my advice on what I think America should do to promote peace or win hearts and minds in the Muslim world. It too often feels futile, because such a revolution in American policy would be required that only a true revolution in the American government could bring about the needed changes. An American journal once asked me to contribute an essay to a discussion on whether terrorism or attacks against civilians could ever be justified. My answer was that an American journal should not be asking whether attacks on civilians can ever be justified. This is a question for the weak, for the Native Americans in the past, for the Jews in Nazi Germany, for the Palestinians today, to ask themselves.

Terrorism is a normative term and not a descriptive concept. An empty word that means everything and nothing, it is used to describe what the Other does, not what we do. The powerful – whether Israel, America, Russia or China – will always describe their victims' struggle as terrorism, but the destruction of Chechnya, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the slow slaughter of the remaining Palestinians, the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan – with the tens of thousands of civilians it has killed … these will never earn the title of terrorism, though civilians were the target and terrorising them was the purpose.

Counterinsurgency, now popular again among in the Pentagon, is another way of saying the suppression of national liberation struggles. Terror and intimidation are as essential to it as is winning hearts and minds.

Normative rules are determined by power relations. Those with power determine what is legal and illegal. They besiege the weak in legal prohibitions to prevent the weak from resisting. For the weak to resist is illegal by definition. Concepts like terrorism are invented and used normatively as if a neutral court had produced them, instead of the oppressors. The danger in this excessive use of legality actually undermines legality, diminishing the credibility of international institutions such as the United Nations. It becomes apparent that the powerful, those who make the rules, insist on legality merely to preserve the power relations that serve them or to maintain their occupation and colonialism.

Attacking civilians is the last, most desperate and basic method of resistance when confronting overwhelming odds and imminent eradication. The Palestinians do not attack Israeli civilians with the expectation that they will destroy Israel. The land of Palestine is being stolen day after day; the Palestinian people is being eradicated day after day. As a result, they respond in whatever way they can to apply pressure on Israel. Colonial powers use civilians strategically, settling them to claim land and dispossess the native population, be they Indians in North America or Palestinians in what is now Israel and the Occupied Territories. When the native population sees that there is an irreversible dynamic that is taking away their land and identity with the support of an overwhelming power, then they are forced to resort to whatever methods of resistance they can.

Not long ago, 19-year-old Qassem al-Mughrabi, a Palestinian man from Jerusalem drove his car into a group of soldiers at an intersection. "The terrorist", as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz called him, was shot and killed. In two separate incidents last July, Palestinians from Jerusalem also used vehicles to attack Israelis. The attackers were not part of an organisation. Although those Palestinian men were also killed, senior Israeli officials called for their homes to be demolished. In a separate incident, Haaretz reported that a Palestinian woman blinded an Israeli soldier in one eye when she threw acid n his face. "The terrorist was arrested by security forces," the paper said. An occupied citizen attacks an occupying soldier, and she is the terrorist?

In September, Bush spoke at the United Nations. No cause could justify the deliberate taking of human life, he said. Yet the US has killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes on populated areas. When you drop bombs on populated areas knowing there will be some "collateral" civilian damage, but accepting it as worth it, then it is deliberate. When you impose sanctions, as the US did on Saddam era Iraq, that kill hundreds of thousands, and then say their deaths were worth it, as secretary of state Albright did, then you are deliberately killing people for a political goal. When you seek to "shock and awe", as president Bush did, when he bombed Iraq, you are engaging in terrorism.

Just as the traditional American cowboy film presented white Americans under siege, with Indians as the aggressors, which was the opposite of reality, so, too, have Palestinians become the aggressors and not the victims. Beginning in 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were deliberately cleansed and expelled from their homes, and hundreds of their villages were destroyed, and their land was settled by colonists, who went on to deny their very existence and wage a 60-year war against the remaining natives and the national liberation movements the Palestinians established around the world. Every day, more of Palestine is stolen, more Palestinians are killed. To call oneself an Israeli Zionist is to engage in the dispossession of entire people. It is not that, qua Palestinians, they have the right to use any means necessary, it is because they are weak. The weak have much less power than the strong, and can do much less damage. The Palestinians would not have ever bombed cafes or used home-made missiles if they had tanks and airplanes. It is only in the current context that their actions are justified, and there are obvious limits.

It is impossible to make a universal ethical claim or establish a Kantian principle justifying any act to resist colonialism or domination by overwhelming power. And there are other questions I have trouble answering. Can an Iraqi be justified in attacking the United States? After all, his country was attacked without provocation, and destroyed, with millions of refugees created, hundreds of thousands of dead. And this, after 12 years of bombings and sanctions, which killed many and destroyed the lives of many others.

I could argue that all Americans are benefiting from their country's exploits without having to pay the price, and that, in today's world, the imperial machine is not merely the military but a military-civilian network. And I could also say that Americans elected the Bush administration twice and elected representatives who did nothing to stop the war, and the American people themselves did nothing. From the perspective of an American, or an Israeli, or other powerful aggressors, if you are strong, everything you do is justifiable, and nothing the weak do is legitimate. It's merely a question of what side you choose: the side of the strong or the side of the weak.

Israel and its allies in the west and in Arab regimes such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have managed to corrupt the PLO leadership, to suborn them with the promise of power at the expense of liberty for their people, creating a first – a liberation movement that collaborated with the occupier. Israeli elections are coming up and, as usual, these elections are accompanied by war to bolster the candidates. You cannot be prime minister of Israel without enough Arab blood on your hands. An Israeli general has threatened to set Gaza back decades, just as they threatened to set Lebanon back decades in 2006. As if strangling Gaza and denying its people fuel, power or food had not set it back decades already.

The democratically elected Hamas government was targeted for destruction from the day it won the elections in 2006. The world told the Palestinians that they cannot have democracy, as if the goal was to radicalise them further and as if that would not have a consequence. Israel claims it is targeting Hamas's military forces. This is not true. It is targeting Palestinian police forces and killing them, including some such as the chief of police, Tawfiq Jaber, who was actually a former Fatah official who stayed on in his post after Hamas took control of Gaza. What will happen to a society with no security forces? What do the Israelis expect to happen when forces more radical than Hamas gain power?

A Zionist Israel is not a viable long-term project and Israeli settlements, land expropriation and separation barriers have long since made a two state solution impossible. There can be only one state in historic Palestine. In coming decades, Israelis will be confronted with two options. Will they peacefully transition towards an equal society, where Palestinians are given the same rights, à la post-apartheid South Africa? Or will they continue to view democracy as a threat? If so, one of the peoples will be forced to leave. Colonialism has only worked when most of the natives have been exterminated. But often, as in occupied Algeria, it is the settlers who flee. Eventually, the Palestinians will not be willing to compromise and seek one state for both people. Does the world want to further radicalise them?

Do not be deceived: the persistence of the Palestine problem is the main motive for every anti-American militant in the Arab world and beyond. But now the Bush administration has added Iraq and Afghanistan as additional grievances. America has lost its influence on the Arab masses, even if it can still apply pressure on Arab regimes. But reformists and elites in the Arab world want nothing to do with America.

A failed American administration departs, the promise of a Palestinian state a lie, as more Palestinians are murdered. A new president comes to power, but the people of the Middle East have too much bitter experience of US administrations to have any hope for change. President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden and incoming secretary of state Hillary Clinton have not demonstrated that their view of the Middle East is at all different from previous administrations. As the world prepares to celebrate a new year, how long before it is once again made to feel the pain of those whose oppression it either ignores or supports?