The Electronic Intifada

There is still another way for Palestine

After months of anticipation, Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction finally launched their attempted coup against the democratically-elected cabinet headed by the Hamas party and prime minister Ismail Haniyeh. Days of interfactional violence, following Abbas’ speech in which he threatened to call new elections (something most legal experts agree he does not have the authority to do), claimed at least seven lives. A shaky truce continued to be violated, and the events of the past week have provided a terrifying glimpse of what may yet await Palestinians if Abbas decides to continue on his disastrous path. 

Do America and Israel want the Middle East engulfed by civil war?

The era of the Middle East strongman, propped up by and enforcing Western policy, appears well and truly over. His power is being replaced with rule by civil war, apparently now the American administration’s favoured model across the region. Fratricidal fighting is threatening to engulf, or already engulfing, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Iraq. Both Syria and Iran could soon be next, torn apart by attacks Israel is reportedly planning on behalf of the US. The reverberations would likely consume the region. 

Holy Warriors Set Sights on Iran

OAKLAND, California (IPS) - Over the past 20 years, the U.S. Christian right has evolved into one of the most powerful grassroots organising forces within the Republican Party, and a host of Christian Zionists have taken a well-earned seat at the foreign policy table. At the same time, their support for Israel is not only growing — it is also becoming an influential political factor. Several prominent Christian right and conservative Jewish leaders have teamed up to found organisations that have provided millions of dollars to Israeli charities, lobbied in support of policies advanced by right wing leaders in Israel, opposed President George W. Bush’s so-called “Road Map” to peace in the Middle East, and have helped defray the costs of the immigration of Russian Jews to Israel, among other activities. 

Under an iron fist

Palestinians don’t want fresh elections in the occupied territories, but a free vote for a truly national ruling body. The elections that all Palestinians are demanding today (the millions under occupation and the millions in the refugee camps outside) are for the Palestine National Council, the parliament in exile, which is the national body that represents all Palestinians. The Palestinian people have indeed already spoken: for elections to the Palestine National Council, for lifting the economic boycott of a democratically elected authority; for liberty and to independence. 

Among TIME's Person of the Year

“For seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, Time’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you,” Time’s Lev Grossman wrote in the December 25, 2006 issue. Time magazine realizes sites like The Electronic Intifada, Electronic Iraq and Electronic Lebanon are among a new generation of people changing the landscape of journalism and the open debate of ideas. 

Book review: "The Attack: A Novel"

Yasmina Khadra is the pseudonym for Mohamed Moulessehoul, a former Algerian army officer who decided to write under his wife’s name to avoid army censorship. He was in Sydney last year for the Writers’ Festival, at which he spoke about his novel The Swallows of Kabul. It was set in Afghanistan, but he confessed that he had never been there before, and I couldn’t help but wonder how he described the land and the atmosphere of oppression. Reading The Attack, I wondered the same thing. While there is little description of surroundings, and Khadra is a very capable writer, I doubted he had ever been there. This doesn’t weaken the book so much as emphasise that his narration is an outsider’s voice. 

Weblogs on Current Effects of Israeli Military on Lebanon

Tadamon! Montreal has launched two Weblogs focused on Israeli violations of the U.N. ceasefire and incidents involving cluster bombs, as a contribution to the growing international challenge to Israeli’s ability to defy international law with impunity. In the media-induced amnesia that defines North American political culture, these virtual memories will help track important historical facts, even as political leaders manipulate the public’s weak grasp of history in pursuit of their political agendas. 

Palestinians standing tall

Palestinians of all factions have so far, to their credit, withstood Israeli oppression. They have not given in, nor have they accepted to negotiate Palestinian rights away (“sumood” in Arabic), including the right of return of Palestinian refugees. Their violent outbursts, even those against one another other, have managed to make clear to both the US and Israel that basic Palestinian rights and basic territorial needs will not be cavalierly waived away. The uprising is meant to stand up to the power of Israel to dictate to the Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinian men, women and children are dead or in prison for this cause. 

Palestinian civil war or renewed national aspirations?

The international community inflicted new suffering on the Palestinians this week. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu commented on the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza just days before the international community sank to new depths in efforts that seemingly seek to ensure further wretchedness in Gaza. His economic concerns were expressed while noting that Israeli officials have foiled the entry of the fact-finding mission he was leading on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council (a story ignored by both The New York Times and the Washington Post) into the 8 November deaths of 19 Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun. 

Fundamental attribution error

In analyzing Palestinian behavior, analysts often slip into what sociologists call “a person-centered” analysis, which attributes most behavior change to personal pathologies or virtues. But to understand why Palestinians behave as they do, what is necessary is a situation-centered approach, one that focuses on external factors. This is because the Palestinian situation is as close to a controlled social experiment as anyone is likely to find in the wild. When US social scientists conducted the by-now classic prison experiment to test the power of the social situation to determine behavior, values and attitudes, they were surprised by the results.