Sunday, October 28, 2007

Representative Pete Stark: Iraq Forever:: Blowing Up Kids for the President's Amusement

Most people, I suspect, think Representative Stark's comments are hyperbole. Little do they know --does Stark himself know? -- that he's stating the simple truth. Or does everyone know? The part that's still not acknowledged in most places is that Bush and Cheney  want to make war on the whole world. The Zionists are very happy with Bush because they see him as advancing their pro-Israel and militarist agenda. They don't yet understand yet that Bush is using them just as he uses every retrograde force in order to destroy every aspect of civilization within reach.
-- Ronald

Thursday, October 18, 2007
Rep. Pete Stark: We’re Raising Kids To Get Their Heads Blown Off For The President’s Amusement

I yield myself two minutes. Madam speaker, I, first of all, I’m just amazed that they can’t figure out—the Republicans are worried that they can’t pay for insuring an additional 10 million children. They sure don’t care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you’re telling us today? Is that how you’re going to fund the war? You don’t have money to fund the war on children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if he can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President’s amusement.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Franciso Chronicle: Continent-size toxic stew of plastic trash fouling swath of Pacific Ocean

Continent-size toxic stew of plastic trash fouling swath of Pacific Ocean
Justin Berton, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, October 19, 2007

At the start of the Academy Award-winning movie "American Beauty," a character videotapes a plastic grocery bag as it drifts into the air, an event he casts as a symbol of life's unpredictable currents, and declares the romantic moment as a "most beautiful thing."

To the eyes of an oceanographer, the image is pure catastrophe.

In reality, the rogue bag would float into a sewer, follow the storm drain to the ocean, then make its way to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch - a heap of debris floating in the Pacific that's twice the size of Texas, according to marine biologists.

The enormous stew of trash - which consists of 80 percent plastics and weighs some 3.5 million tons, say oceanographers - floats where few people ever travel, in a no-man's land between San Francisco and Hawaii.

Marcus Eriksen, director of research and education at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, said his group has been monitoring the Garbage Patch for 10 years.

"With the winds blowing in and the currents in the gyre going circular, it's the perfect environment for trapping," Eriksen said. "There's nothing we can do about it now, except do no more harm."

The patch has been growing, along with ocean debris worldwide, tenfold every decade since the 1950s, said Chris Parry, public education program manager with the California Coastal Commission in San Francisco.

Ocean current patterns may keep the flotsam stashed in a part of the world few will ever see, but the majority of its content is generated onshore, according to a report from Greenpeace last year titled "Plastic Debris in the World's Oceans."

The report found that 80 percent of the oceans' litter originated on land. While ships drop the occasional load of shoes or hockey gloves into the waters (sometimes on purpose and illegally), the vast majority of sea garbage begins its journey as onshore trash.

That's what makes a potentially toxic swamp like the Garbage Patch entirely preventable, Parry said.

"At this point, cleaning it up isn't an option," Parry said. "It's just going to get bigger as our reliance on plastics continues. ... The long-term solution is to stop producing as much plastic products at home and change our consumption habits."

Parry said using canvas bags to cart groceries instead of using plastic bags is a good first step; buying foods that aren't wrapped in plastics is another.

After the San Francisco Board of Supervisors banned the use of plastic grocery bags earlier this year with the problem of ocean debris in mind, a slew of state bills were written to limit bag production, said Sarah Christie, a legislative director with the California Coastal Commission.

But many of the bills failed after meeting strong opposition from plastics industry lobbyists, she said.

Meanwhile, the stew in the ocean continues to grow.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is particularly dangerous for birds and marine life, said Warner Chabot, vice president of the Ocean Conservancy, an environmental group.

Sea turtles mistake clear plastic bags for jellyfish. Birds swoop down and swallow indigestible shards of plastic. The petroleum-based plastics take decades to break down, and as long as they float on the ocean's surface, they can appear as feeding grounds.

"These animals die because the plastic eventually fills their stomachs," Chabot said. "It doesn't pass, and they literally starve to death."

The Greenpeace report found that at least 267 marine species had suffered from some kind of ingestion or entanglement with marine debris.

Chabot said if environmentalists wanted to remove the ocean dump site, it would take a massive international effort that would cost billions. [STOP THE CRIMINAL WARS IN IRAQ/AFGHANISTAN, SAVE BILLIONS, AND CLEAN THE OCEAN! ELEMENTAL!!]

But that is unlikely, he added, because no one country is likely to step forward and claim the issue as its own responsibility.
Instead, cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is left to the landlubbers.

"What we can do is ban plastic fast food packaging," Chabot said, "or require the substitution of biodegradable materials, increase recycling programs and improve enforcement of litter laws.

"Otherwise, this ever-growing floating continent of trash will be with us for the foreseeable future."

How to help
You can help to limit the ever-growing patch of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean. Here are some ways to help:

Limit your use of plastics when possible. Plastic doesn't easily degrade and can kill sea life.

Use a reusable bag when shopping. Throwaway bags can easily blow into the ocean.

Take your trash with you when you leave the beach.

Make sure your trash bins are securely closed. Keep all trash in closed bags.

Trash is also a problem in parts of San Francisco Bay. For an interactive map showing some of the worst locations, go to

- Justin Berton

This article appeared on page W - 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, October 19, 2007

Arnon Soffer, Israeli advisor: Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill

Canadian blogger Xymphora -- indefatigable researcher and web browser -- found this. --RB

Insanity and sanity
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Xymphora writes:

If you ever start feeling sorry for the Israelis, read this article on Arnon Soffer, a geostrategist from the University of Haifa and head of research for the IDF’s National Defense College:

“Ruthie Blum: In our previous interview, you made many assertions about what could and should be expected to happen following the disengagement from Gaza. You claim now that everything has played out the way you said it would.

Soffer: Yes. I said, ‘The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill.’

That statement caused a huge stir at the time, and it’s amazing to see how many dozens of angry, ignorant responses I continue to receive from leftists in Israel and anti-Semites abroad, who took my words out of context. I didn’t recommend that we kill Palestinians. I said we’ll have to kill them.

I was right about mounting demographic pressures. I am also entitled to defend myself and my country. So today, I would update the headline you gave my last interview and call this one: ‘It’s the demography and anti-Semitism, stupid.’”

Note how Soffer instinctively uses the slur to defend himself against a completely justified criticism for advocating mass killing of Palestinians. Note how his other line of defense, also predictable (the Zionists are like robots!), is self-defense. This isn’t some marginal nut: he’s a key advisor to the Israeli government:

“We are living in a 100-year period of terrorism, and we have another 100 years of terrorism ahead of us. We will forever be forced to live by the sword. We are not wanted in the Middle East, which is why we will have to continue to fight.

The purpose of disengagement was not to put an end to terrorism or Kassam fire. Its purpose was to stop being responsible for a million and a half Arabs who continue to multiply in conditions of poverty and madness. I am thrilled that we are out of there. The Kassams do not constitute a strategic threat, and the Palestinians will get the blow they deserve - though we do have to be cautious, because the situation is complex.”

And, shades of ‘no dogs or niggers’:

“Our government has woken up. The only ones making noise are leftists and so-called human rights lawyers who only care about the well-being of cats, dogs and Palestinians, but never about Jews.”

He continues with a completely clear statement on the purpose of the apartheid wall:

“Thanks to this completely crazy security fence [here he points to another map, and runs his finger along the jagged line delineating it], we have succeeded in reducing the suicide bombings to zero. This by itself is a huge accomplishment. But [former prime minister Ariel] Sharon’s real achievement, which the public doesn’t appreciate, is having included Modi’in, Betar Illit and Ma’aleh Adumim in Israel. In other words, 180,000 Jews remain within greater Jerusalem with American support.

Today there are 270,000 settlers in the territories, and their numbers are increasing, through natural growth and due to Bnei Akiva members moving there. Through Sharon’s cleverness, Jerusalem remains in Israel and 210,000 settlers are within the fence. Only 60,000 remain outside. In other words, 86% of the settlers are at home. This is an unbelievable victory.”

Revelations about a conspiracy involving the American State Department:

“So, now you’re asking me - and rightly so - whether we have to evacuate the rest of the territories. Since our last interview, I have changed my mind about the Jordan Valley. I said then that we were probably going to have to relinquish it. I had been persuaded that there was no longer an eastern-front threat, now that Iraq had become friendly, that Syria was rusty and that our strategic peace with Jordan was sound. But then, suddenly, in November 2005, there was a suicide attack in Amman, which showed that there are al-Qaida cells there.

I also said that we would have to hold on to the Philadelphi Corridor in order to prevent an Egyptian-Gazan connection. Now, if we put our hands to our hearts, we have to admit that the IDF failed to secure Philadelphi - a 200-meter wide and 10-kilometer long area, on one side of which is a terrible country like Egypt, and on the other side of which is Iran. According to reliable sources, Iran was already in Gaza 10 months before disengagement. Why am I bringing this up in connection with the Jordan Valley? [President of the Council on Foreign Relations] Richard Haass, who was director of policy planning for the US State Department at the time, told me personally: ‘We’ll allow Israel to establish a ‘Philadelphi Corridor’ in the Jordan Valley, to guarantee the neutralization and demilitarization of Judea and Samaria.’”

Destroy, destroy and destroy:

“It’s because the IDF failed that we made that deal. That’s why today I think we have to retain control of both the Philadelphi Corridor and the Jordan Valley.

And if we return to Philadelphi, it will no longer be a mere 200 meters. It will have to be widened at the expense of the refugee camps in Rafah, which we will have to destroy, destroy and destroy.”

Israeli thinking on Iran (note that the suggestion would also destroy the world economy):

“I want to tell you: Two missiles on the Iranian islands of Karaj and Siri, and Iran’s entire oil revenue drops from $60 billion to zero. Iran is so weak and vulnerable that it’s unbelievable.”

Soffer sounds like a madman, but he represents mainstream Israeli strategic thinking. Ran HaCohen visits the ‘peace plan’ of the Israeli right, which is essentially the complete ethnic cleansing of the Occupied Territories together with the formalization of the apartheid process to cover Arabs in Israel proper (so that they may be ethnically cleansed in due course). As he points out, the craziest ideas of the Israeli right are the ideas of the IDF, and since Israel is a military dictatorship, soon become mainstream Israeli thinking.

Finally, the American Establishment, in a fight to the death with Jew-control in Washington, finally describes a reasonable settlement to the Palestinian problem, following their recent epiphany that such a settlement is necessary for real American interests. Too bad they didn’t come up with this twenty years ago.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Left I on the News blogger has it right. Virtually all the influential Democrats are supporting -- or can't be seen not to be supporting -- a US attack on Iran. As many are warning, such an attack is likely to have a devastating effect on what is left of the US republic -- and for many many millions, that will be the least of the horrors.

Left I doesn't get into the reason that such a fanatical Zionist as Senator Lieberman can summon extensive political support for such a catastrophic undertaking. But as a advocate for Palestinian human and civil rights, LeftI probably wouldn't disagree that such potentially destructive legislative underwriting of Bush-Cheney warmongering is made possible or demanded by the powerful Zionist lobby which has been demonizing Iran as an existential threat with increasing persistence.

The mechanism of such demonizing is the same as has been pursued by leaders ever since there were human groups or tribes that coveted the resources of other human groups. Politicians soon learned that a quick and easy way to stay in power and to control a restive population was to promote fear and hatred of the Other (see Orwell's 1984).

Since 9/11 we have become even more tightly bound captives of this leadership requirement/desire for war in large part, because of the power and authority of one man, Dick Cheney, in a way that is perhaps unprecedented in US history. The Bush-Cheney leadership understands that in order to facilitate their pathological desire for endless war they can harness the power of Zionist interest in dominating the Middle East through constant tension and threats of war. Thus the devastation of Iraq and the current threats -- perhaps to be carried out early next year -- against Iran.

It’s not clear whether someone as clever as Senator Lieberman is driven more by arrogance or by denial in his refusal to recognize that his desire for an attack on Iran is likely to result in a disaster for both the US and Israel, and more likely in the short term rather than the middle or long term.

Our reality today is that the pathology and the ideology of those who were considered crazies only a few short years ago is present in the White House, the most powerful and darkly effective military machine the world has ever seen. And all this is supported and enabled by those who actively or tacitly support a Jewish state in the former Palestine. It's a little weird that our very civilization should be threatened by such a project and that this should be the moment in our history when the proverbial manure will find its way to reaches heretofore untouched.

In a footnote that might be helpful to those seeking evidence of the power that Zionism today has over the U.S. political system, one can find in a very useful and important newly published book by the redoubtable London based Palestinian activist and writer, Dr. Ghada Karmi, in her chapter on "Why Does the West Support Israel?" a quote from a campaign speech that Senator John Kerry made in 2004: He said:

“We are not secure while Israel, the one true democracy in the [Middle Eastern] region, remains the victim of an unrelenting campaign of terror…American leadership is needed to bolster Israel’s security at home as well as in the region.”

It should -- but doesn’t necessarily -- go without saying that Kerry has it exactly 180 degrees wrong: it is Israel which has been threatening the security of many if not all of its neighbors at one time or another or ever since it was implanted into the neighborhood.

That our leading politicians are forced to parrot the myth of Israeli insecurity as a regular staple in our campaign seasons and at all other relevant moments ought to be evidence enough of where is the tail and who is the dog.

As it happens, Dr Karmi is coming to the States in early November to publicize her new book, Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine . Those interested in learning about her appearances should contact me or Manal Ramadan : who is arranging her schedule.


Blogger Left I on the News wrote:
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
The meaning of Lieberman-Kyl

There's been a lot written about the Lieberman-Kyl amendment that passed the Senate the other day 76-22, with Hillary Clinton voting for it and Barack Obama shamefully absenting himself from the vote. Most of the attention has been on its designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organization" and the implications that has for the possibility of a war against Iran (since the Senate has already given its approval for a "war on terror"). Amazingly, some Democrats are even bragging about how sections 3 and 4 were excised from the amendment before its passage:
(3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;
But these deletions, while some kind of improvement, still don't detract from what the amendment accomplished in giving an imprimatur to war against Iran. Consider point 2 for example, which remains:
(2) that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi'a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq;
After all, if this is our "vital national interest," then whatever it takes to defend that "national interest" is surely acceptable.

So, even as amended, there can be no doubt that this amendment was a strong endorsement by the Senate, including half of the Democrats, for war against Iran. But actually, the reason I'm writing here is to call attention to the one section of the amendment which has been pretty much overlooked - section 1:
(1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;
What does that mean to you? I tell you what it means to me - that the Senate has just endorsed not just war against Iran, but an indefinite presence in Iraq, now justified as preventing Iran from "posing a threat to the security of the region."

Sara Roy's review of a book on Hamas Censored

Don't miss the details below of how Sara Roy's review of a book on Hamas was censored. Yet another instance of Zionist censorship, this time of an article by a highly regarded academic who has written definitive books on life in Gaza and on life for the Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

The interesting thing is that in so many less than high profile cases, an Alan Dershowitz is not required to silence any semblance of an anti-Zionist, or anti Israeli policy, or simply objective position. All that is required in these cases is a pro Israeli faculty member or two to notice that this or that review, this or that associate professor is not good for the Jews, not good for Zionism.

The Zionists have the power, they know they have the power and they know they are free to exercise their power with minimal chance of pushback or consequence. So the niceties of fair play, academic freedom, of speech, don't apply. (Would we do the same thing if we had the power?) The same can be said of the "war on terror."Freedom of speech, due process doesn't apply to those who are perceived as terrorists, enemies, real or imagined of the US and/or Israel, as long as they are Muslims.

> Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad by
> Matthew Levitt. Yale University Press, in cooperation with the
> Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2006. 324 pages, $26.00,
> hardcover.
> Sara Roy
> Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University
> Author's Note:
> This review, published here in its entirety, was originally
> commissioned by The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, the official
> foreign-policy journal at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
> Between the time I was invited to write the review and the time I was
> told it would be published, over two months had passed during which I
> had had several exchanges, some of them difficult, with the editorial
> staff. However, by the end of the process the editor-in-chief, with
> whom I had been working, was pleased with the review, and so was I. He
> sent me an e-PDF of the review as it would appear in the journal
> (Volume 31:1 Winter 2007). The PDF version of the page proofs revealed
> that the editor had excerpted two relevant sentences (featured in
> sidebars) to highlight observations that I had offered in the review:
> 1. "While there can be no doubt that, since its inception, Hamas has
> engaged in violence and armed struggle, and has been the primary force
> behind the horrific suicide bombings inside Israel, Levitt's
> presentation reduces this increasingly complex and sophisticated
> organization to an insular, one-dimensional...entity dedicated solely
> to violence...and Israel's destruction."
> 2. "The ability of Hamas to reinterpret itself over time through
> processes of radicalization, de-radicalization, de-militarization, and
> re-radicalization is a pronounced and common theme in its historical
> evolution."
> During a subsequent exchange the editor-in-chief wrote, "Thank you for
> your hard work as well. It's a good review." I believed that was the
> end of the matter. Just a few days later, I received the following
> e-mail message from the same editor-in-chief:
> Dear Ms. Roy:
> ?After careful review and much consideration of the merits of your
> piece, we have decided that we are ultimately unable to publish your
> review for this edition. Your review was evaluated by several of our
> editors and an external editor for objectivity. Unfortunately, they
> disagreed with my decision to publish your review for the following
> reasons: despite their agreement with many of your points, all
> reviewers found the piece one-sided. This one-sidedness dissuaded
> readers from reading the piece to the end; ultimately, this last point
> is the most important. Although I found your arguments valuable, if
> readers consistently feel this way, I am unable to move forward with a
> piece. My apologies for the way in which this process was carried out,
> and for the time that you spent on editing the piece. Thank you once
> again for your submission and your efforts. If you would like to
> discuss this further, please feel free to e-mail me.
> In more than 20 years of writing and publishing I have never
> experienced such behavior or encountered what to me, at least, is so
> blatant a case of censorship. I am therefore extremely grateful to
> Anne Joyce and Stephen Magro for agreeing to publish the review in
> Middle East Policy.
> ===
> At the beginning of the first Palestinian uprising, I was living in
> Gaza and spent much time in the refugee camps interviewing families
> about the political and socioeconomic changes taking place around
> them. Despite the harsh living situation, Palestinians were filled
> with a palpable sense of hope and possibility that has since
> evaporated. Hamas was then struggling to create a popular
> constituency, despite overwhelming support among Palestinians for
> secular nationalism. That was 18 years ago, and neither I nor anyone
> else ever thought that Hamas would one day emerge as a major political
> actor: democratically winning legislative elections, defeating the
> majority Fatah party and heading a Palestinian government.
> In his recent book, Matthew Levitt, who is deputy assistant secretary
> for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Department of the Treasury
> and an expert in financial counterterrorism, argues that Hamas is
> strictly a terrorist organization that is not only a domestic threat
> but a global one, a part of an international jihad network with links
> to al-Qaeda that must be met with force. He further argues ? and this
> is the core of his book ? that despite the existence of differentiated
> political, social and military sectors within Hamas, they are all part
> of the same "apparatus of terror."
> Levitt devotes significant attention to attacking the Islamist social
> sector (dawa) and Hamas's charitable institutions. It is the principle
> aim of his book to show how Hamas uses its extensive social-service
> network-mosques, schools, kindergartens, orphanages, hospitals,
> clinics, sports clubs, youth clubs-to further its primary political
> agenda, which he claims is the destruction of Israel. He argues that
> through its social support structure and services, "Hamas leverages
> the appreciation (and indebtedness) it earns through social welfare
> activities to garner support ? both political and logistical ? for its
> terrorist activities." Levitt summarizes his argument as follows: "The
> general deprivation of the Palestinian people in the Israeli-occupied
> territories predisposes them to favor the much-needed social support
> that Hamas provides." He continues, "In addition to purchasing
> goodwill, charities also create a built-in logistical support umbrella
> underneath which terrorist operations are sheltered and operate." He
> explains that the dawa network operationally supports terrorism
> through recruitment, employment and financing and by providing
> institutional legitimacy.
> His evidence, at times interesting, particularly with regard to
> Hamas's external sources of financing, is more often than not based on
> assumption, extrapolation and generalization. For example, as evidence
> for how religious organizations raise money for Palestinian terrorism,
> Levitt quotes from a pamphlet produced by a Quranic memorization
> center that was sponsored by the Ramallah-al Bireh charity committee.
> The pamphlet listed 30 ways to enter heaven, including "Jihad for the
> sake of Allah by fighting with one's soul and money."
> In another example of how hospitals are used to support terrorism,
> Levitt briefly describes the Dar al-Salam Hospital: "According to
> information cited by the FBI," the hospital is considered a Hamas
> institution because it was founded with "Hamas funds and protection."
> But Levitt fails to provide any real evidence of these funds or how
> and why they are considered "Hamas." The assumption is that these
> ties, even if they are shown to exist, are inherently evil and can be
> nothing else.
> In a chapter on how the dawa teaches terror and radicalizes
> Palestinian society, Levitt writes, "Recipients of Hamas financial aid
> or social services are less likely to turn down requests from the
> organization such as allowing their homes to serve as safe houses for
> Hamas fugitives, ferrying fugitives, couriering funds or weapons,
> storing and maintaining explosives, and more." He cites as evidence
> for this sweeping statement one resident of Jabalya refugee camp in
> Gaza who fed Hamas militants daily. The possibility that Palestinians
> receive support from Hamas institutions without preconditions or that
> popular support requires more than the lure of financial incentives
> and free social services does not enter Levitt's argument. Levitt also
> claims, "When angry, frustrated or humiliated Palestinians regularly
> listen to sermons in mosques in which Jews, Israelis and even
> Americans are depicted as enemies of Islam and Palestine, Hamas's
> official policy may not restrain individual enthusiasm." One wonders
> how Mr. Levitt knows these things, given that he appears never to have
> stepped inside a Hamas institution in Gaza or the West Bank or to have
> conducted any fieldwork at all.
> While these arguments are oft-repeated in today's media, Levitt does
> little to address research that supports a very different conclusion
> regarding the Hamas dawa. Some of the key findings of this research
> point to institutional features that demonstrate no preference for
> religion or politics over other ideologies, particularly in
> programmatic work; an approach to institutional work that advocates
> incrementalism, moderation, order and stability; a philosophical and
> practical desire for productivity and professionalism that shuns
> radical change and emphasizes community development and civic
> restoration over political violence; and no evidence of any formal
> attempt to impose an Islamic model of political, social, legal or
> religious behavior, or to create an alternative Islamic or Islamist
> conception of society.
> While there can be no doubt that, since its inception, Hamas has
> engaged in violence and armed struggle and has been the primary force
> behind the horrific suicide bombings inside Israel, Levitt's
> presentation reduces this increasingly complex and sophisticated
> organization to an insular, one-dimensional and seemingly mindless
> entity dedicated solely to violence, terrorism and Israel's
> destruction. To fully understand the current political stature of
> Hamas, it is necessary to closely examine the dramatic transitions
> that have occurred within the organization itself, among Palestinians
> with respect to their society, and in Palestine's relationship with
> Israel.
>> From the point of view of Hamas, Palestine is an Arab and Islamic land
> that fell to colonial control with the demise of the Ottoman Empire.
> The establishment of the State of Israel is viewed as a way to
> perpetuate colonial authority over the Muslim homeland and is
> therefore illegitimate. As victims of colonialism, Hamas argues that
> Palestinians have the right to resist and struggle to regain their
> homeland and freedom, viewing this as a local and nationalist
> struggle. Now, almost two decades after its birth, Hamas has grown in
> size and popularity. While changes have not been made to its frame of
> reference or objectives, its political discourse has become more
> refined and streamlined, particularly with regard to its relations
> with local groups, political factions, other religious communities and
> other nations.
> Unfortunately, Matthew Levitt's book does not address the critical
> evolutionary processes ? particularly with regard to its
> organizational structure and political, social and economic role in
> Palestinian society ? that have characterized the Palestinian Islamist
> movement and Hamas's rise to power. The ability of Hamas to
> reinterpret itself over time through processes of radicalization,
> de-radicalization, de-militarization and re-radicalization is a
> pronounced and common theme in its historical evolution. Levitt
> neglects to address the significance behind this commitment to
> reinterpretation. His analysis aims simply to demonize Hamas, and he
> discounts the critical connections between changing patterns of
> protest and structures of society, competing visions of a Palestinian
> social and political order, and contesting Islamic and secular
> definitions of meaning and legitimacy. The synergy among these forces
> has characterized the history and growth of Palestinian Islamism.
> Israel's military occupation, which has long been the defining context
> for Palestinian life, is almost absent from Levitt's book. Hamas's
> popularity and growing empowerment derive from its role as a
> resistance organization, fighting against an occupation that is now 40
> years old. Israel's steady expropriation, fragmentation and division
> of Palestinian lands; settlement construction and expansion; closure
> restrictions and destruction of the Palestinian economy are not part
> of Levitt's discussion, nor is the right of the Palestinians to resist
> these measures. In those few instances where the occupation is
> mentioned, it is couched in terms that acknowledge Palestinian
> hardship ? a reality exploited by Hamas ? but justified as a response
> to terrorism. In the absence of any serious examination of Israel's
> occupation, Levitt's portrayal of the rise of Hamas is completely
> detached from the context within which it was produced and shaped.
> Despite evidence to the contrary, the organization is also described
> as a movement incapable of transformation, ignoring the improvements
> in Hamas's political discourse regarding political compromise with the
> State of Israel and resolution of the conflict. During the period of
> the Oslo peace process, for example, some dramatic changes occurred
> within Hamas. The organization was moving away from the extreme and a
> position of confrontation towards one that was more centrist and
> moderate. This shift was characterized by a reorientation in policy
> and strategic emphasis from political/military action to social works
> and community development. Accompanying this shift was a redefinition
> of the nature of the Palestinian struggle, which was no longer for
> political or military power per se but for defining new social
> arrangements and appropriate cultural and institutional models that
> would meet social needs without resort to violence. Similarly, the
> Islamist movement was not advancing a policy of isolation but was
> calling for greater accommodation and cooperation with both domestic
> and international actors.
> Since Hamas's victory in the January 2006 legislative elections, there
> has been a further evolution in its political thinking ? as evidenced
> in some of its key political documents ? characterized by a strong
> emphasis on state-building and programmatic work, greater refinement
> with regard to its position on a two-state solution and the role of
> resistance, and a progressive de-emphasis on religion. (See Khaled
> Hroub, "A `New Hamas' Through Its New Documents," Journal of Palestine
> Studies, 34 (4) (Summer 2006)). These are absent from Levitt's
> discussion. Levitt also overlooks questions that are vital to any
> analysis of Hamas, especially at present. To name just a few, what
> were Hamas's ideological, philosophical and structural boundaries? How
> and why were they reset and expanded? What is the role of religion as
> opposed to politics in Islamist thought and practice, particularly in
> the public sphere? Are religion and politics truly unified? Can Hamas
> reconcile faith and ideology with a demand for a place in the
> political system?
> Levitt's book has many serious flaws and merits a detailed critique
> that extends well beyond the scope of this review. His is not a work
> of analysis or scholarship, to say the least, and despite certain
> points that are interesting and accurate, anyone wishing to gain a
> substantive, reasoned and critical understanding of Hamas would do
> well to look elsewhere.
> *********************************************************************