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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Baithak World Apr 18: Carter, Palestine, White House Criminals, Gaza,Kabbalah, Pinsky, Reader's World, J Street, Genocide, Tagore, Al Ahram, RealNews

CAIRO -- Former President Carter told a university audience here Thursday that the treatment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military was "a crime" but that there were "officials in Israel quite willing to meet with Hamas" and that may happen "in the near future."
Carter spoke to students and faculty at American University in Cairo after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and a separate three-hour meeting with Hamas officials. The Bush administration and Israel have set rules to not talk to the militant Palestinian group, which controls the Gaza Strip, but Carter said, "I consider myself immune" from such restrictions. He added that he wasn't acting as a negotiator or mediator, but hoped that he "might set an example to be emulated" by others. The former president's meetings with Hamas in recent days have outraged Israelis, but Carter was undeterred, even suggesting that his recent book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," was aptly named because apartheid "is the exact description of what's happening in Palestine now." Carter calls Israel treatment of Palestinians a crime

The biggest news of the last week went virtually uncovered by the mainstream, print media. ABC News first reported last Wednesday that top Bush Administration officials, including Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, and George Tenet, Colin Powell, and Donald Rumsfeld met to discuss which particular torture techniques should be used against Al Qaeda suspects in U.S. custody. The group signed off on specific techniques, including sleep deprivation, slapping, pushing, and waterboarding, and gave instruction "so detailed … some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed, down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic." If John McCain is seriously considering Condoleezza Rice as a running mate, the former POW should keep in mind that Rice not only condoned torture, but chaired the National Security Council's "Principals Committee" meetings to plan the details of torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. Torturers in the White House: Why Is This Story Being Ignored? By Ruth Conniff

A controversial weapon that fired metal darts from a tank shell killed Fadl Shanaa, a Reuters cameraman, as he was working in Gaza, doctors in the territory have said. Several of the 3cm-long darts, known as flechettes, were embedded in Shanaa's legs and chest, a medical examination showed on Thursday. The darts were also discovered in his flak jacket. The 23-year-old was killed on Wednesday along with two youths who were nearby as he covered one of the bloodiest days in Gaza for a month in which 16 other Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers died during heavy fighting.Shanaa had left the vehicle he was travelling in to film Israeli tanks when he was killed. He captured footage showing a tank firing the shell that killed him. Markings on the vehicle that Shanaa was travelling in were emblazoned with "press" and "tv" and his flak jacket was clearly marked. The Reuters news agency has called for a full inquiry by Israel's government and military authorities into the death. Targeted Killing

In a world where everyone is angling for a piece of the kabbalah mystique – an esoteric occult offshoot of Judaism dating at least to the 13th century – the Los Angeles centre has been attracting Hollywood glitterati since it opened its doors in 1993. And who can blame the neighbouring institutions – the bevy of run-down ultra-Orthodox yeshivas [seminaries] and religious girls' high schools, many of which have their own makeshift signs attesting to introductory kabbalah classes – for trying to cut in on a share of the booty? It all looks so easy, not to mention remunerative, thanks to the pricey little trinkets offered in the centre's store (ranging from red kabbalah bracelets at $26 a pop to bottles of kabbalah water at nearly $4 apiece) and to the hefty donations solicited from members old and new.

The history of kabbalah is long and thorny, filled with reversals in attitude toward the dissemination of its wisdom. It has been looked on with suspicion and even hostility by some Jewish authorities since it first emerged, its lore codified in a text known as the Zohar, the authorship of which some attribute to the Spanish rabbi Moses de Leon in the 13th century and others to the Palestinian sage Simeon ben Yohai in the second century. Some principal ideas include a very specific and radical notion of cosmology, one that involves an initial cataclysmic "rupture", or literally "shattering of the vessels", that occurred during the Creation, leaving in its wake a fragmented and disordered state of affairs that can be made whole through selfless devotion to repairing the world. A second major theme focuses on a conception of God's powers as being dynamic – God is evoked as a receptive female presence called the Shechinah – and the idea that human beings can unite with the divine spirit through meditation and by following the panoply of religious commandments, thereby restoring the universe to its original integrity.
Although kabbalah was studied from early on by elite circles of Spanish Jews and from the 15th century to the 18th century by scattered communities in the European and Islamic worlds, the prevailing attitude within the mainstream Jewish community was restrictive. Fear of its contradictory implications being ever present, kabbalah was generally considered to verge on the dangerously heretical in its speculative and personalised approach to a hidebound and communal religious tradition. It was tenuously approved for study only for devout married men over the age of 40 who were well versed in Jewish law or for exceptionally gifted and sturdy-hearted yeshiva students. Kabbalah

Sometimes I see a poem in Slate or another magazine, and it doesn't do a thing for me. Half of the time I can't figure out what it means—what is that all about? Generalizing won't do. We'd have to discuss a particular poem. At times prominent magazines publish things that aren't very good. Magazines sometimes make me think of four lines the 18th-century actor David Garrick wrote as part of his poem praising poet Thomas Gray. About a certain kind of reader, Garrick wrote:

The gentle reader loves the gentle Muse.
That little dares, and little means;
Who humbly sips her learning from Reviews,
Or flutters in the Magazines.

Why Don't Modern Poems Rhyme, Etc. - Robert Pinsky

The London Book Fair this week celebrates Arabic literature. As Ahdaf Soueif states, there may be a crisis in the Arab world, but there is no crisis in the Arabic literature as such, though I must admit that I have seen very little or read very little of the same. Perhaps this has to do with the relative lack of availability of its literature in translation. The US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has, if that is any consolation, turned some attention to Arabic literature. a reader’s words

At last, at long last. There will be a hard money lobby in Washington that represents progressives on Israel/Palestine issues, that lobbies for Israeli/Palestinian peace, that acts as a counterweight to AIPAC. It's called "J Street." (As in, K street with a J.) The full name is: "Americans for Middle East Peace and Security." Unlike the existing groups, this group will actually support candidates for office. Right now, they are taking nominations for who they should support in the fall. Make the best case that your favored candidate will work to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace. That's exactly the dynamic we need: candidates competing to do the most to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace, as opposed to competing to do the opposite. There is no time like the present. This week, former President Carter is meeting with the exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, in Syria. As Carter has said, "There's no doubt in anyone's mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process." Jewish Liberals Launch Counterweight to AIPAC

Israel hopes that the high-pitched celebrations will serve as an opportunity to promote Israel and enhance its questionable standing abroad. "It is an opportunity to celebrate our achievements, our successes, our national being," boasted Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who was not yet born in 1948. From the Zionist viewpoint, Israel is a story of success. Today, Israel is a political and military force to be reckoned with, even if its power is based on the patronage of foreign entities. A country of no more than seven million people, including nearly 1.5 million non-Jews (mainly Palestinians), Israel more or less directs the politics and policies of world's only superpower, the United States, thanks mainly to powerful Jewish lobbies in Washington. Cheerleading genocide - Khaled Amayreh

Rabi -- my Lord; Rabi Tagore. What a fortuitous homonym.
Click to view caption
One of Boghiguian's paintings

Anna is a personal friend. She is fond of Anwar El-Sadat, and I am more inclined to consider Gamal Abdel-Nasser my hero. Yet, we are in total agreement that Egypt and India share much in common, and we are both captivated by the subcontinent and its plethora of cultures. Boghiguian, one of Egypt's leading artists, is devoting her next exhibition to the memory of the years when Egypt and India laboured under the yoke of British rule. She is mad as hell when she thinks she has reason to be. She is fascinated by India, and by the greatest of the subcontinent's artistic luminaries -- Rabindranath Tagore, the "Myriad-Minded Man".

Anna Boghiguian becomes foil to the primped-perfect vacuousness of Cairene life. Forgive me, from now on she is no longer Anna, she is Boghiguian. This is a time of composition.

Nobody can accuse Boghiguian of being too pusillanimous, or so it seems in her lighter moments. Her works are bold and bohemian. Most Egyptians are ambivalent at best about India, not so with Boghiguian. Tagore was the subject of a reality document. A certain amount of speculation surrounds Boghiguian's work. There are bid rumours and whispers in these paintings. You can see clearly that the walls have ears. Anna wa Rabi - Gamal Nkrumah

Citizenship may be unthinkable without the state, but neither can it flourish without civil society. Only the latter can monitor violations of freedom, equality and rights. Civil society should have more than the power to protest. It should have the power to suggest policy and become an effective partner of government. Meanwhile, the government must provide its citizens not only with protection but with a climate conducive to their welfare, social harmony and peace. Citizenship needs institutions to sustain it, just as citizens need protection and care. These institutions should strive to provide all citizens with freedom and food, and protect them from cruel policies, fluctuating prices, ignorant and corrupt officials. How close are we to procuring organic citizenship in Egypt and the Arab world? A long way to go - Galal Nassar

Experts have explained the crisis, citing increased consumption in China and India and the growing production of organic fuel as the main reasons. Their assessment is objective and their views unambiguous. A reasonable government could have explored its options accordingly, but not ours. In Egypt, we have another way of doing things. Instead of explaining the situation to the public, the pro-government media lashed out at Internet users, mobile phone owners, satellite television viewers, bloggers, and FaceBook subscribers. The riots in Mahala Al-Kubra, the bread lines, and the rise in food prices were apparently conspiracies designed by all of the above, at least according to many of our esteemed writers. State of denial By Salama A Salama

In a make-believe world where the green, green grass of the "surge" is alive with the sound of music, the George W Bush administration and US counterinsurgency ace General David Petraeus - not to mention presidential candidate Senator John McCain - keep assuring American public opinion the "surge" (now reconverted into a "pause") is working. But back in real life, an Iraq transfixed by no less than 28 militias is burning - again - all over, even in "invisible" (at least for Western media) places. Couple that with the relentless Bush administration narrative of "blame, blame Iran" and we have American public opinion strangled by a formidable disinformation octopus. Washington keeps spinning the success of a "war on terror" narrative in northern Iraq against "al-Qaeda". This is false. The USis basically fighting ind igenous Sunni Arab guerrilla groups - some with Islamic overtones, some neo-Ba'athists. These are no terrorists. Their agenda is unmistakable: occupation out. My militia is more untouchable than yours By Pepe Escobar

Towering like sentries above the necropolis of Ancient Thebes in southern Egypt, the world-famous Colossi of Memnon will see their number double from two to four from next year.The painstaking work of 12 archaeologists and hundreds of workers is about to redefine the way visitors see and understand this mysterious site that has cast its spell over travellers for more than 2,000 years. "It will be sensational, that's for sure!" Hourig Sourouzian, the project's enthusiastic director, enthused to AFP. Egypt's Colossi of Memnon to be reunited with their twins

Quiz Answer: A deal with thugs By Ari ShavitPaul Jay presents RealNews

How World Bank policies led to famine in Haiti
Raj Patel: International trade rules have ravaged Haiti's domestic food production 21 hours ago view

Pressure mounts for talks with Hamas
Aijaz Ahmad: Carter speaks for Israeli majority when he urges US, Israel to talk to Gaza's leadership 21 hours ago view

Death toll mounts in clashes across Iraq
Latest spate of bombings undermines US assertion that Sunni insurgency waning 21 hours ago view

Defying Israel, Carter meets with Hamas


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