Author Archive

Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc

October 31st, 2014 No comments

The online collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc is well worth checking out.

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Halloween Poetry: W. B. Yeats, “All Souls’ Night”

October 31st, 2014 No comments

All Souls’ Night

By W.B. Yeats

Midnight has come and the great Christ Church bell

And many a lesser bell sound through the room;

And it is All Souls’ Night.

And two long glasses brimmed with muscatel

5 Bubble upon the table. A ghost may come;

For it is a ghost’s right,

His element is so fine

Being sharpened by his death,

To drink from the wine-breath

10 While our gross palates drink from the whole wine.

I need some mind that, if the cannon sound

From every quarter of the world, can stay

Wound in mind’s pondering,

As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound;

15 Because I have a marvellous thing to say,

A certain marvellous thing

None but the living mock,

Though not for sober ear;

It may be all that hear

20 Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.

Horton’s the first I call. He loved strange thought

And knew that sweet extremity of pride

That’s called platonic love,

And that to such a pitch of passion wrought

25 Nothing could bring him, when his lady died,

Anodyne for his love.

Words were but wasted breath;

One dear hope had he:

The inclemency

30 Of that or the next winter would be death.

Two thoughts were so mixed up I could not tell

Whether of her or God he thought the most,

But think that his mind’s eye,

When upward turned, on one sole image fell;

35 And that a slight companionable ghost,

Wild with divinity,

Had so lit up the whole

Immense miraculous house

The Bible promised us,

40 It seemed a gold-fish swimming in a bowl.

On Florence Emery I call the next,

Who finding the first wrinkles on a face

Admired and beautiful,

And by foreknowledge of the future vexed;

45 Diminished beauty, multiplied commonplace;

Preferred to teach a school

Away from neighbour or friend,

Among dark skins, and there

Permit foul years to wear

50 Hidden from eyesight to the unnoticed end.

Before that end much had she ravelled out

From a discourse in figurative speech

By some learned Indian

On the soul’s journey. How it is whirled about

55 Wherever the orbit of the moon can reach,

Until it plunge into the sun;

And there, free and yet fast,

Being both Chance and Choice,

Forget its broken toys

60 And sink into its own delight at last.

I call MacGregor Mathers from his grave,

For in my first hard spring-time we were friends,

Although of late estranged.

I thought him half a lunatic, half knave,

65 And told him so, but friendship never ends;

And what if mind seem changed,

And it seem changed with the mind,

When thoughts rise up unbid

On generous things that he did

70 And I grow half contented to be blind!

He had much industry at setting out,

Much boisterous courage, before loneliness

Had driven him crazed;

For meditations upon unknown thought

75 Make human intercourse grow less and less;

They are neither paid nor praised.

but he’d object to the host,

The glass because my glass;

A ghost-lover he was

80 And may have grown more arrogant being a ghost.

But names are nothing. What matter who it be,

So that his elements have grown so fine

The fume of muscatel

Can give his sharpened palate ecstasy

85 No living man can drink from the whole wine.

I have mummy truths to tell

Whereat the living mock,

Though not for sober ear,

For maybe all that hear

90 Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.

Such thought — such thought have I that hold it tight

Till meditation master all its parts,

Nothing can stay my glance

Until that glance run in the world’s despite

95 To where the damned have howled away their hearts,

And where the blessed dance;

Such thought, that in it bound

I need no other thing,

Wound in mind’s wandering

100 As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound.

W. B. Yeats

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National Geographic: “Halloween History”

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Unprecedented Damage to Gaza & its People can’t be repaired with Just more Aid

October 31st, 2014 No comments

By Sara Roy, Harvard University

In the near three decades that I have been involved with Gaza and her people, I have never seen the kind of physical and psychological destruction that I see there today.

In all Gaza’s long and tormented history, there is no precedent for its extraordinarily dangerous position in 2014. The situation is dangerous not only for Gazans, but for Israelis as well; as the scholar Jean-Pierre Filiu recently wrote: “If there is ever to be Israeli-Palestinian peace – with all other options having been exhausted – Gaza will be the foundation, and the keystone.”

This is because Gaza has long been, and remains, the heart of Palestinian nationalism and resistance to Israeli occupation. The war in the summer of 2014 was not about rocket fire, Israeli security or Hamas: it was about subduing and disabling Gaza, something Israel has consistently been trying to do ever since it occupied the territory together with the West Bank nearly 50 years ago.

Israel’s principal strategy has long been to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state by dividing and separating Palestinians, particularly via the annexation of the West Bank. But complete control over the West Bank – the obvious goal of the settlement enterprise and the separation barrier – cannot be achieved as long as Gaza remains a source of resistance and as long as the possibility of a unified Palestinian state exists (which came a step closer last June with the formal announcement of a Palestinian unity government, the proximate cause of the war on Gaza).

Dynamic of disintegration

The separation and isolation of Gaza from the West Bank was a goal of the 1993 Oslo process – and had the direct and sustained support of the US, the EU, and the Palestinian leadership. It has not only precluded the development of a unified political system but has also eliminated the geographic basis of a Palestinian economy, making the creation of a viable Palestinian state a virtual impossibility.

This is the status quo, institutionalised over the past 21 years of “peacemaking”, that Israel must preserve. And this is the context in which the large-scale destruction of Gaza’s civilian life last summer must be understood.

Ultimately, Operation Protective Edge was designed to set in motion what one of my colleagues recently called a “dynamic of disintegration”. That disintegration has taken a number of forms, some of them completely unprecedented.

A whole indigenous economy has been all but destroyed, with extensive damage to civilian infrastructure; Gazan society has been reduced to almost complete aid dependence. It has also been radically economically levelled, with the virtual destruction of its middle class and the emergence of a broad new class of “poor”.

Gaza’s social fabric has greatly weakened, and is now characterised by a new kind of fragility and disempowerment; entire neighbourhoods have been eliminated, and their community life destroyed. Emigration is rising fast, and hope for peace with Israel is being abandoned, to a degree never seen before.

Getting on with it

Despite the size and urgency of the task at hand, efforts to “reconstruct” or “rebuild” of Gaza have long been deeply problematic.

Although billions of dollars have been pledged by donors, reconstruction is always planned or implemented within an unchanged (and unchallenged) political framework of continued Israeli occupation, assault and blockade. Meanwhile, Gaza’s subjection to Israeli military attacks and economic sanction is at best ignored and at worst endorsed by key forces in the West, notably the US and EU.

But the current attempt at reconstruction is a new low.

On with the reconstruction – whatever that means.
EPA/Oliver Weiken

Never mind that Gaza’s recent devastation, met largely with laissez-faire silence from Western states, is completely unprecedented; the agreed-upon plan for addressing the situation clearly prioritises limited short-term gain at the cost of a long-term entrenchment of Israel’s destructive blockade.

As one donor official put it to me: “If we can get cement and other construction materials into Gaza, it’s a win.” Another admitted: “Donors backed the plan before they had even seen it.”

There are now several published documents describing the reconstruction and recovery plan for Gaza – but the most damning one, the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, has not been published (at least to my knowledge), and it is unlikely that it ever will be. Another key document, the Materials Monitoring Unit Project, Project Initiation Document (UNOPS), is available, but has not been widely distributed outside the donor community.

I have seen both documents, the latter in its entirety. They read more like security plans, carefully laying out Israeli concerns and the ways in which the United Nations will accommodate them. They do not speak to the comprehensive recovery of the Gaza Strip.

The reconstruction plan they detail has so many problems that in my view, it is clearly doomed to fail.

Bad priorities

The plan calls for a cumbersome administrative and bureaucratic apparatus for project selection and implementation that transfers risk to Palestinian beneficiaries/suppliers and totally ignores the power asymmetries and security realities that will undeniably affect outcomes.

In fact, what is being created is a permanent and complex permit and planning system similar to the one Israel uses in Area C of the West Bank, which is under total Israeli control. This system will be difficult if not impossible to implement, and as structured, any implementation failure will be blamed on the Palestinians.

Israel will have to approve all projects and their locations and will be able to veto any part of the process on security grounds.

There is no mention of reviving Gaza’s export trade or private sector development (other than in relation to specific private-sector companies vetted by the PA and Israel for individually approved projects). Both are essential for rehabilitating Gaza’s moribund economy. Similarly, there is no reference to the free movement of people, another urgent need.

No mechanism for accountability or transparency will apply to Israel. Nor will there be any mechanism for resolving disputes, which can only be decided through consensus: the occupier must agree with the occupied.

The plan mainly serves to legitimise Israel’s preferred security narrative. According to the UNOPS document, the outcome of the reconstruction project must be “the establishment of an intermediate system of dual-use items monitoring that will facilitate the import approval of construction materials and machinery into Gaza. This will be achieved through the reduction of [Israeli] security concerns of materials being diverted for use in the enhancement of military capabilities and terrorist capacities”.

Meanwhile, not only will the blockade of Gaza be strengthened, but responsibility for maintaining the blockade is in effect being transferred to the UN, which is tasked with monitoring the entire process. As a colleague working as an analyst in Jerusalem so succinctly put it: “Israel retains the power, the UN assumes the responsibility and the Palestinians bear the risk.”

The document also makes it clear that the donors are the singular funding source for Gaza’s reconstruction; Israel assumes no financial responsibility. The UNOPS document has only this to say about the Israeli role: “The [government of Israel] plays no operational role other than approvals and as recipient of the monitoring reports. As such consultation and approval will be required in the development of the report templates.”

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the plan is successfully implemented, its intended outcome is still completely unclear. It does nothing to explain what kind of economy is supposed to be enabled, or what exactly is being rebuilt. Is it what was lost in 2000, 2006, 2007, 2008-09, 2012 or 2014? Is it people’s lives and livelihoods?

Beyond bricks

After all, reconstruction is not simply about buildings and public works: it’s about securing a real future, and creating a sense of place, possibility and security. Life in Gaza cannot be rebuilt with cement and cash handouts.

Of course, people desperately need assistance. What is at issue is the terms on which that assistance will be provided, and what political ends it will serve. Gaza does not just need aid; it needs freedom and the right to interact normally with the world. Anything short of this is unsustainable.

More than 20 years after the so-called peace process began, the donor community funding the rebuilding effort still has big questions to answer. In the absence of a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is shocking that the occupation and continued dispossession of more than 4m Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank continues to be tolerated by the West.

Equally, the blockade, the unravelling of Gaza’s economy and the widening impoverishment of 1.75m people in the Gaza Strip (a great many of them children) are met not with outrage, but with support from Western governments.

The truth is that as long as humanitarian aid is used to address political problems, all “reconstruction” will mean for Gaza is continued ruination.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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teleSUR English: “Lack of medical supplies affects Gaza population”

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“Pilot Program” of Segregated Buses banning Palestinians in Israel

October 31st, 2014 No comments


“The defense minister [Moshe Ya'alon] … hasn’t issued a blanket ban but believes integrated buses are “a recipe for a terror attack.” So he’s launched a pilot program of segregated buses between Israel and the West Bank for “security considerations.”

AJ+ “Israel Bans Palestinians From Riding Buses”

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The Day’s Best Diplomatic Exchange About Furniture

October 31st, 2014 No comments

It all started with Sweden’s recent decision to recognize the State of Palestine.

That inspired Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman to comment:

It is too bad that the government of Sweden has chosen to adopt the measure that does a lot of damage and has no benefits. Sweden must understand that relations in the Middle East are much more complicated than self-assembly furniture at IKEA.

To this, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom reportedly told CNN:

I think it’s a sign of a sense of humor, and I will be happy to send him a flat pack of IKEA furniture and he will also see that what you need to put that together is, first of all, a partner. You also need to cooperate and you need a good manual. I think we have most of those elements if we want to use them also for the conflict in the Middle East. For peace you need two parties to actually sit down at the same table and discuss the future.

Both pretty clever but I think Wallstrom wins for the comeback.

And the Swedes do know a bit about peacemaking in the Middle East, though she was polite enough not to bring up Count Folke Bernadotte and 1948.

At least it wasn’t Denmark. Then we’d have jokes about building peace out of Legos.
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Tunisia: The Official Results

October 30th, 2014 No comments

The overall outcome of the Tunisian Parliamentary election has been quite clear since Monday, but the slowness of the official count meant that the official (semi-) final numbers were only released early this morning.

Beji Caid Essebsi’s Nidaa Tounes Party, representing secularists, the old guard Establishment, the UGTT labor union, etc. holds the largest bloc with 85 seats and 39.17% of the vote.; the Islamist Ennahda, which held the largest bloc in the former Parliament/Constitutional Assembly, won 69 seats with 31.79% of the vote. The remainder of the 217 seats are distributed follows: Free Patriotic Union, 16 seats; Popular Front, 15 seats; Afek Tounes. 8 seats; the remaining seats are scattered among eight smaller parties (including two seats for the party known as “Current of Love”) and six independents.
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This day in History: Madrid Arab-Israeli Peace Conference (a Process that Netanyahu later Boasted of Derailing)

October 30th, 2014 No comments

The Madrid peace conference convened October 30, 1991, hosted by President George H. W. Bush and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, aimed at initiating a peace settlement between Israel and the Arabs.

Bush senior warns that if Israel and Palestinians don’t make peace, sooner or later “weapons of mass destruction” could be deployed in the Middle East.

“President George H. W. Bush speaks with Baker Institute founding director Edward P. Djerejian about the legacy of the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference. The interview was conducted in October 2011 as part of a Nov. 2 Baker Institute conference co-hosted with the United States Institute of Peace.”

Baker Institute: “President George H. W. Bush on the Madrid Peace Conference’s legacy”

Madrid led to the Oslo Peace accords, which Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu boasted of having destroyed.

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Jerusalem tensions over al-Aqsa Mosque turn bloody as Far Right-winger is Shot

October 30th, 2014 No comments

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Right-wing Jewish activist Yehuda Glick was shot and injured at a rally in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, Israeli police and medical sources said.

Glick was reportedly shot in his upper body at “close range” at an event outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, where a number of Israeli members of Knesset and right-wing activists were in attendance, Israeli news site Ynet said.

Ynet also reported that Jerusalem police said the shooter was on a motorcycle at the time of the incident, though the details were still unclear.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed to Ma’an only that a “known right-wing activist” had been shot.

The attack was reported after a conference focused on the reconstruction of a Jewish temple on top of the al-Aqsa mosque was concluded at the center, with top right-wing Jewish officials and activists in attendance.

Member of Knesset Moshe Feiglin was quoted by Ynet as saying: “The would-be killer turned to (Glick), confirmed in Hebrew with a thick Arab accent that this was indeed Yehuda and shot several bullets at him from point blank.”

“What happened is horrible but very expected. Glick was constantly threatened. The fact that he was not assigned protection at all times is a failure. I say this as someone who is the target of constant incitement,” he continued.

“Weakness and incompetence were behind this attack. This was a relaxed conference, the room was half full. This was not an impassioned event. An Arab came there with the urge to kill.”

The incident comes amid increasing tension in Jerusalem over an expected Knesset vote to potentially divide the al-Aqsa mosque compound — the third-holiest site in Islam — between Muslims and Jews, or else restrict Muslim worship at the site.

Although mainstream Jewish leaders consider it forbidden for Jews to enter the area, right-wing nationalist activists have increasingly called for Jewish prayer to be allowed on the site.

Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, an agreement with Jordan has maintained that Jewish prayer be allowed at the Western Wall plaza — built on the site of a Palestinian neighborhood of 800 that was destroyed immediately following the conquest — but not inside the al-Aqsa mosque compound itself.

Yehuda Glick is an American-born Israeli and the chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Fund, an extremist Jewish organization focused on “strengthening the relationship between Israel and the Temple Mount.”

He has been previously banned by Israeli authorities from entering the compound due to provocations while on the site.

Critics charge that the Fund actually leads Jewish tours to the site with the intention of leading Jewish prayer there — currently banned under Israeli agreements — and encouraging Jews to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque and build a Jewish temple there.

Mirrored from Ma’an News Agency


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Reuters: “Israeli far-right activist shot and wounded in Jerusalem, says media”

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GOP Voter Suppression: Comedian Louis Black says F#%! it!

October 30th, 2014 No comments


“At a photo shoot with ACLU’s Voting Rights Project Director Dale Ho, ACLU voting rights ambassador Lewis Black gets so f#%!in’ tired of politicians trying to deny people the right to vote.

The ACLU is fighting against bad voter suppression laws across the country.

The rules of voting are still in flux in many states, so to make sure you know your rights when you vote, go to ”

ACLU Videos: “Lewis Black Says F#%! Voter Suppression

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The Kurdish 3rd Way: Democracy is “Radical” in Northern Syria

October 30th, 2014 No comments

By Karlos Zurutuza (Inter Press Service)


Garbage collection is among the many duties of the Democratic Self-Management in force in the three mainly Kurdish enclaves of northern Syria. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS

AMUDA, Syria, Oct 28 2014 (IPS) – There was never anything particularly remarkable about this northern town of 25,000. However, today it has become the lab for one the most pioneering political experiments ever conducted in the entire Middle East region.

Located 700 kilometres northeast of Damascus, Amuda hosts the headquarters of the so-called “Democratic Self-Management of Jazeera Canton”. Along with Afrin and the besieged Kobani, Jazeera is one of the three enclaves under Kurdish rule, although such a statement is not entirely accurate.

At the entrance of the government building, vice-president Elizabeth Gawrie greets IPS with a shlomo, “peace” in her native Syriac language.

“We decided to move here in January this year for security reasons because [Bashar Hafez al] Assad is still present in Qamishli – the provincial capital, 25 km east of Amuda,” notes the former mathematics teacher before tea is served.

The so-called “third way” attracted sectors among the other local communities such as Arabs and Syriacs, a collaboration that would eventually materialise into a Social Contract, a kind of ‘constitution’ that applies to the three enclaves in question – Jazeera, Afrin and Kobani

After the outbreak of civil war in Syria in March 2011, the Kurds in the north of the country opted for a neutrality that has forced them into clashes with both government and opposition forces.

This so-called “third way” attracted sectors among the other local communities such as Arabs and Syriacs, a collaboration that would eventually materialise into a Social Contract, a kind of ‘constitution’ that applies to the three enclaves in question – Jazeera, Afrin and Kobani

“Each canton has its own government with its own president, two vice-presidents and several ministries: Economy, Women, Trade, Human Rights … up to a total of 22,” explains Gawrie. Among the ministers in Jazeera, she adds, there are four Arabs, three Christians and a Chechen; Syria has hosted a significant Caucasian community since the late 19th century.

“We have lived together for centuries and there is no reason why this should be changed,” claims the canton´s vice-president, ensuring that the Democratic Self-Management is “a model of peaceful coexistence that would also work for the whole of Syria.”

While there was no religious persecution under the Assads – both father and son – those who defended a national identity other than the Arab identity, as in the case of the Syriacs and the Kurds, were harshly repressed. Gawrie says that many members of her coalition – the Syriac Union Party – have either disappeared or are still in prison.

Neither did Arab dissidents feel much more comfortable under the Assads. Hussein Taza Al Azam, an Arab from Qamishli, is the canton´s co-vice-president alongside Gawrie. From the meeting room where the 25 government officials conduct their meetings, he summarises the hardship political dissidents like him have faced in Syria over the last five decades.

“Since the arrival of the Baath Party to power in 1963, Syria has been a one-party state. There was no freedom of speech, human rights were systematically violated … It was a country fully under the control of the secret services,” explains Azam, who completed his doctorate in economics in Romania after spending several years in prison for his political dissent.

Wounds from the recent past have yet to heal but, for the time being, Article 3 of the Social Contract describes Jazeera as “ethnically and religiously diverse” while three official languages are recognised in the canton: ??Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac. “All communities have the right to teach and be taught in their native language,” according to Article 9.

But it is not just language rights that Azam is proud of. “The three regions under democratic self-management are an integral part of Syria,” he says, “but also a model for a decentralised system of government.”

The members of government in Jazeera are either independent or belong to eleven political parties. Since local communities took over the three enclaves in July 2012, local opposition sectors backed by Masoud Barzani, president of the neighbouring Kurdistan Region of Iraq, have accused the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the leading party among Syrian Kurds – of playing a dominant role.

PYD co-president Salih Muslim bluntly denies such claims. “From the PYD we advocate for direct self-determination, also called ‘radical democracy’,” he says.

“Basically we aim to decentralise power so that the people are able to take and execute their own decisions. It is a more sophisticated version of the concept of democracy, and that is in full harmony with many several social movements across Europe,” the political leader told IPS.

Spanish journalist and Middle East expert Manuel Martorell describes the concept of democratic self-management as an “innovative experiment in the region” which reconciles a high degree of self-government with the existence of the states.

“It may not be the concept of independence as we understand it, but the crux of the matter here is that they´re actually governing themselves,” Martorell told IPS.

Akram Hesso, president of Jazeera canton, is one the independent members in the local government. So far, the on-going war has posed a major hurdle for the holding of elections so Hesso feels compelled to explain how he gained his seat eight months ago.

“We had several meetings until a committee of 98 members representing the different communities was set up. They were responsible for electing the 25 of us that make up the government today,” this lawyer in his late thirties told IPS.

On Oct. 15, the parliament in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region approved a motion calling on the Federal Kurdistan Government to recognise and improve links with the administrations in Afrin, Kobani and Jazeera.

And while Hesso labels the move as a “major step forward”, he does not forget what is allowing the Democratic Self-Management to take root.

“Not far away there is an open front where our people are dying to protect us,” notes the senior official, referring to Kobani, but also to the other open fronts in Jazeera and Afrin.

However, he adds, “it´s not just about defending territory; it´s also about sticking to an idea of living together.”

(Edited by Phil Harris)

Licensed from Inter Press Service

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