New Year in Gaza: “Our fireworks are the Israeli missiles”

“Look outside, F-16 jet fighters are smiling for you, missiles are dancing for you, zannana [the Palestinian name for pilotless drones] are singing for you. I requested them all to wish you a happy new year.” That was the text message received by Fathi Tobal, a Gaza City resident, on his mobile phone today. Tobal added ironically, “While other people around the world celebrate, it seems the Israeli air force is trying to save us the cost of fireworks.”

The Electronic Intifada correspondent Rami Almeghari reports on New Year’s Eve in the besieged Gaza Strip.

McKinney to Obama: “Say Something” About Gaza Humanitarian Crisis

by BAR staff

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has called upon President-Elect Barack Obama to “please, say something about the humanitarian crisis that is being experienced by the Palestinian people, by the people of Gaza.” McKinney spoke to CNN news from the Lebanese city of Tyre, where she had debarked from the relief vessel Dignity after it was rammed on the high seas by an Israeli patrol boat, early Tuesday morning. Passengers also report the Israelis fired machine guns into the water near their ship.

McKinney was among the passengers on an attempted voyage from the island of Cyprus to Gaza, where Israeli bombs and missiles have killed hundreds of Palestinians, including many civilians, since Saturday. The Dignity carried three tons of medical supplies and a number of doctors prepared to treat the more than 1,000 Gazans wounded in the Israeli attacks. The 66-foot craft had made two previous humanitarian relief trips to Gaza since the summer. Israel has blocked food, medicines and other essentials from entering Gaza in a campaign of collective punishment against the 1.5 million Palestinians that live there under a Hamas Party administration.

President-Elect Obama has been silent on the Israeli attacks, while President George Bush has supported Israel’s actions.

“I would like to ask my former colleagues in the United States Congress to stop sending weapons of mass destruction around the world,” said McKinney, who was the Green Party’s presidential candidate in November. “As we are about to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, let us remember what he said. He said that the United States is the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet. And guess what: we experienced a little bit of that violence, because the weapons that are being used by Israel are weapons that were supplied by the United States government.”

A CNN reporter who accompanied the passengers and crew of the Dignity confirmed that the boat “was sailing with full lights” when “one of the Israeli patrol boats, with no lights on, rammed the Dignity, hard.”

Israel blames the collision on the relief vessel.

Said McKinney: “Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front, once on the side…. What the Israelis are saying is outright disinformation.”

McKinney compared the Israeli action against the Dignity to the attack on a U.S. naval vessel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. “I recall that there was another boat that was attacked by Israelis, and it was the U.S.S Liberty.” Thirty-four crewmen died and 170 were wounded by fire from Israeli planes and torpedo boats. The Israelis claim it was a case of mistaken identity. “People would like to forget about the U.S.S. Liberty,” said McKinney, “but I haven’t forgotten about it and the people who were on that ship have not forgotten what happened to them.”

Postcard from…Persepolis

This post really warmed my heart. By Kourosh Ziabari .

Iran receives more than a million tourists annually, and that number has grown substantially over the last three years. Most of the tourists arriving in Iran are journalists, students, academics, and athletes who come to participate in a special event or for leisure purposes. They come from the Muslim world, from Europe, from the Asia-Pacific region, and even from the Americas. Despite the last three years of rising tensions between Tehran and Washington, a number of famous Americans visited Iran. These included Hollywood actor Sean Penn, scholar Richard Nelson Frye, veteran film director Richard Leacock, the 2005 Nobel Prize winner in economics Thomas Schelling, and 1993 Nobel Prize winner in physics Joseph Hooton Taylor.

Many visitors expect to arrive in a dry desert country with rural people, everyone wearing black, and all the women covering their faces. Tourists are often startled to find thriving cities with crowded streets, where music plays and people laugh. They are surprised to find a country where so many have access to the Internet.

In this picture, Japanese tourists pose with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Persepolis, the ancient Persian city that dates back to the 6th century BC. Perhaps Persepolis would be a fitting place for President Obama to meet with the Iranian leadership during his first 100 days…

[Let's hope he does. gess]

Queen Rania on YouTube

Jordan’s queen Rania is trying something extraordinary. In March 2008, she started a YouTube channel which is described as- “dedicated to breaking down stereotypes about the Arab and Muslim worlds and to bridging the East-West divide, this is Queen Rania’s official YouTube Channel.” East refers to the Middle East, about which (perhaps along with all other parts of the East) misconceptions are rife in the West.

This video was released when she received YouTube Visionary Award.

Here is a link to her YouTube channel.

We wish her all the best in her endeavor.

King Abdullah is My Hero


 This morning while waiting at a stop light in the back of my car, I happened to notice that the car in front of mine had a sticker on its bumper that was a ban sign going across a woman driving. It just got to me. Isn’t it enough that we are not allowed to drive but to have someone rub our noses in it with this sort of thing! What difference does it make to that ignorant fool with a sticker if the driver in the car next to him has a female or male anatomy? And to people who say it’s a matter of freedom of speech, I say grow up. Freedom of speech has limits when it infringes on the rights of others. Would it be OK if he had an anti Muslim driving sticker?

Sinbad The Spy

In the last two years, there had been repeated leaks that some of the best intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program was coming from Germany, which was explained as one reason the Europeans (and Germany in particular) were leading the diplomatic offensive against Tehran and letting the US take a back seat in negotiations.

It turns out that a key source of intelligence for the BND, Germany’s intelligence service, was coming from a rather dodgy businessman who has just been arrested for smuggling key technology into… wait for it… Iran

Kurdish Jews Recall a Paradise Lost

Ariel Sabar, Kurdish-American journalist, recalls his father’s paradise:

It’s become popular, when talking about ongoing violence in U.S.-occupied Iraq, for officials in Washington and the media to paint the Iraqi people as savages who can’t help but keep killing each other.

In last Thursday’s Vice Presidential debate, Democrat Joe Biden said “the history of the last 700 years” showed the Iraqi people could never get along with each other.

But is that really true?

Read more here.