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The geography of dissent: New Orleans and Palestine


“I’m still in New Orleans. It’s so much like Palestine it’s eerie. It’s a different kind of devastation than right after the storm. Some of the worst wreckage has been cleaned up — there are no longer throngs of people camping out on the I-10 Causeway or waterlogged bodies lining the streets. Now it’s the emptiness that is most striking. Some parts of the city are like a ghost town.” Writing from New Orleans, EI contributor Lora Gordan finds parallels between the struggle for justice in New Orleans and that in Palestine. 

Pro-government group urges peace after deadly bombing


BEIRUT, 13 Feb 2007 (IRIN) - Leaders of the Lebanese pro-government ‘March 14’ group warned that the country was sliding towards Iraq-style sectarian violence after at least three people were killed in explosions that hit two buses travelling through a Christian-majority mountain town outside Beirut. “This was a new form of terrorism for Lebanon. We are all afraid that it will push Lebanon towards the kind of violence that we see in Iraq,” Michel Khoury, a member of the Christian Phalangist Party and of the March 14 committee, told IRIN

Razor wire and soldiers keep factions apart


BEIRUT, 14 Feb 2007 (IRIN) - The girl was a veiled Sunni Muslim but waved the flag of the Lebanese Forces, once one of the country’s most powerful Christian militias. She was marking the second anniversary of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination with a call for the downfall of the Shia-led opposition, camping out less than 100 metres away. “We are not afraid of Hassan Nasrallah,” said Elena Karaman, referring to the leader of the Islamist movement Hezbollah, which fought Israel in a month-long war last summer and has been demanding the resignation of the Western-backed Lebanese government. 

Media fall for pro-Israel hate group's "Terror Free Oil"


National Public Radio and the BBC have been among the countless media outlets to give prominent publicity to an organization calling itself “Terror Free Oil,” (TFO) which has established gasoline filling stations in several US cities. Much of the coverage has read like a press release for the organization, or treated it as a cute feature story. The fundamentally racist nature of the claims the company makes, and the long history of anti-Muslim statements and activities of its founder have been ignored. EI co-founder Ali Abunimah investigates. 

Lebanon Bloggers Roundup: Sectarianism and Peace Groups


The fears of sectarian strife may be the reason why a good number of bloggers wrote about sectarianism this week. However, as one may expect, bloggers do not agree on how to define or confront this issue. While some see that it is blown out of proportion, or that ignoring it may bring calamity, others think that it is a blessing and a Lebanese exceptionality. Nevertheless, many anti-sectarian youth peace groups have popped-up in Beirut in an attempt to save Lebanon from the seemingly inevitable future of a civil war or violence such as those occurring in neighboring countries in the region. 

More than a walkway


If Israeli officials felt that the protest against work near Al-Aqsa mosque was a local problem that would soon go away, they were not watching Lebanese television. Some might think that the Arab world’s most popular TV program, Star Academy, is all about singing youth and half-dressed presenters. But on Friday, February 9, the students at Star Academy joined together in singing the song of Lebanese superstar Fairuz about Jerusalem. Dressed in chic black outfits, the entire class of Star Academy 4 joined hands in front of sets depicting Jerusalem’s Old City walls as they sang “Zahrat al Madain” (The flower of cities). Without making a single reference to the latest controversy over the Mughrabi Gate walkway, the directors of this musical program made a huge political sensation. 

The Experience of Mohammad, 11-year-old in US Prison


During the day Friday, the words of 11-year-old Mohammad Hazahza have filled him up and weighed him down. On Friday night, he pours the words back out, as if wanting to be lifted back up. “Mohammad is so protective of his mother,” says Ralph Isenberg in a weary and reverent voice, recalling the day’s visits to Dallas reporters. “I watched as he got her chair and made her comfortable. And that’s what he did in jail. He protected her from forced labor. When she was ordered to clean the common area, he did that work for her. He really understands family and duty.” 

It's Time to Visit Gaza


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one area where liberals and neo-conservatives in America find common ground. From Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton all the way to George Bush and Condoleezza Rice one and all are united in supporting Israel’s assault on the Palestinian people and their land. The criticism of Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid is a case in point. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outdid herself by issuing a statement that: “It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression.” Wrong to suggest? Here is something right to suggest: Madam Speaker, it is time for you to visit Gaza. 

Concern over BBC documentary 'Will Israel Bomb Iran?'


Arab Media Watch is concerned by the ‘This World’ programme ‘Will Israel Bomb Iran?’, broadcast on BBC2 on 10 October 2006. Its severe lack of balance manifested itself in the number and range of sources used, the airtime given them, and the numerous unchallenged claims made about the Arab world. A statistical analysis of ‘Will Israel Bomb Iran?’ yields these figures: Israeli sources, of which there were 15, appeared 55 times for a total of 15 minutes and 58 seconds - 51% of talk time, 41.4% of the programme, 71.4% of sources and 45% of source appearances. In stark contrast, the Iranian sources, of which there were just two, appeared three times for a total of 52 seconds. 

Israeli Arabs: 'Who are we and what do we want?'


While Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza are scrambling to come up with a new national Palestinian vision, Israeli Arabs are looking for ways to wrest equal citizenship rights for themselves as non-Jews in a state whose reason for existence is to nurture Jewish identity and culture. According to a recent New York Times news item, “A group of prominent Israeli Arabs [in a report issued in December 2006] has called on Israel to stop defining itself as a Jewish State and become a ‘consensual democracy for both Arabs and Jews,’ prompting consternation and debate across the country.”