Foreign Policy–A Marshall Plan for Africa

Think about it: something has to change in how we work in Africa!
clipped from www.foreignpolicy.com

Think Again: A Marshall Plan for Africa

America brought Europe back to life a half-century ago. Why not give Africa the same chance?

The
Marshall Plan was fundamentally different from the aid that Africa has received
over the past four decades. The Marshall Plan made loans to European businesses,
which repaid them to their local governments, which in turn used that revenue for
commercial infrastructure — ports, roads, railways — to serve those same
businesses. Aid to Africa has instead funded government and NGO development
projects, without any involvement of the local business sector. The Marshall
Plan worked. Aid to Africa has not. An African Marshall Plan is long, long
overdue.
Aid
groups will argue that such a plan, grounded in building up the local African
economy, can never work. Here are the objections they’ll make to an African
Marshall Plan — and why they’re wrong.
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Life in the West Bank

I can’t be in Jordan without facing the reality of what is happening one the other side of the Jordan/Israel border. If only CNN and their pals would pay attention!!! Please read this quick posting (clipped below) , then watch “Who profits from Israeli occupation” (also below or at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L32Nama7ad8). I heard about both from Juan Cole (Uof Michigan Middle East expert-guy and great blogger) at http://www.juancole.com/. Get the word out!!
clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

On August 3, my husband Mohammed Khatib, and my little brother Abdullah, were taken from their beds in our West Bank village of Bil’in at 3 AM by the Israeli military. My husband is a member of the Bil’in Popular Committee, which has been leading our village’s nonviolent campaign against Israel’s construction of a Wall and a settlement on our land. For nearly five years, every Friday we have been joined by supporters from Israel and around the world as we attempt to march to our land on the other side of the Wall. According to the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the settlement amounts to a war crime, and in 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled the Wall illegal.

Despite this, the construction of the Wall and settlements continued, and we are treated as criminals in our quest for justice. On top of tens of arrests, hundreds of protesters from Bil’in have been injured and one has been killed by the Israeli military.
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The video:

The Last Abortion Doctor in Esquire

It’s important that people have a choice.  At the end of the day, when things go bad, you know?  I mean, God forbid something happens to Dr. Hern, where are we going to go next?  Australia?  China?  It’s important that people know that choice is very important when it comes to things like this.”

This article in an incredibly powerful piece about what it is to practice abortions in America.   Did you know that in spite of the fact that it is legal to perform abortions after 22 weeks for severely endangered women and severely disformed fetuses, there is now only ONE doctor in all of America who performs late-term abortions?  I had no idea.  This article is a true eye-opener on what it is like to be in a profession where you are under attack from all sides and are many women’s only and last hope.
Please read, and think of Dr. George Tiller, who was murdered while at church for offering women hope.  Then think about the rabid, violent dialogue that anti-abortionist spew.  Hate speech should be stopped.

Separate and Unequal: Challenging Israel’s segregated education system

Had to include this entire article.  Israel claims to be the only “democracy” in the Middle East, yet it has no constitution or bill of rights.  Moreover, it supports a segregated education system which denies Arab children a decent education.  Well at least  Palestinian kids won’t have any dreams or hopes for a prosperous future–then they can become targets of Islamist propaganda which will encourage them to throw rocks at Israeli tanks and be gunned down, or blow themselves up in a pizza place.  Doesn’t Isreal see that it is CREATING a generation of anti-Israelis?  Sigh…

Of course, it’s not like the US can claim the moral high-ground, our education system is practically segregated and poor, urban and black kids get crappy preparation for the future too–hence drugs, gangs, poverty and violence continue.  But at least we have a bill of rights that purports to protect us all and a constitution meant to serve equally–regardless of race, religion, or gender.  Israel doesn’t even have that…wouldn’t you want to be a Palestinian?

Arab family sues over ‘racist incitement’ in Israel
Six Jewish parents demand removal of one-year-old Arab girl from Israeli day-care centre.
By Jonathan Cook – NAZARETH, Israel

Israeli School Apartheid

An Arab couple whose one-year-old daughter was expelled from an Israeli day-care centre on her first day are suing a Jewish mother for damages, accusing her of racist incitement against their child.

Maysa and Shua’a Zuabi, from the village of Sulam in northern Israel, launched the court action last week saying they had been “shocked and humiliated” when the centre’s owner told them that six Jewish parents had demanded their daughter’s removal because she is an Arab.

In the first legal action of its kind in Israel, the Zuabis are claiming $80,000 from Neta Kadshai, whom they accuse of being the ringleader.

The girl, Dana, is reported to be the first Arab child ever to attend the day-care centre in the rural Jewish community of Merhavia, less than 1km from Sulam.

However, human rights lawyers say that, given the narrow range of anti-racism legislation in Israel, the chance of success for the Zuabis is low.

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has operated an education system almost entirely segregated between Jews and Arabs.

However, chronic underfunding of Arab schools means that in recent years a small but growing number of Arab parents have sought to move their children into the Jewish system.

Dana was admitted to the day-care centre last December, according to the case, after its owner, Ivon Grinwald, told the couple she had a vacant place. However, on Dana’s first day six parents threatened to withdraw their own children if she was not removed.

Ms Kadshai, in particular, is said to have waged a campaign of “slurs and efforts aimed at having [Dana] removed from the day-care centre, making it clear that [her] children would not be in the same centre as an Arab girl”. Mrs Zuabi was summoned to a meeting the same evening at which Ms Grinwald said she could not afford to lose the six children. She returned the contract Mrs Zuabi had signed and repaid her advance fees.

Mrs Zuabi said that while she was in the office Ms Grinwald received a call from Ms Kadshai again slandering Dana and demanding her removal.

Ms Grinwald refused to speak to the media last week. However, last December, when the Zuabis first complained, she told Army Radio: “The [Jewish] parents called her a girl from ‘the [Arab] sector’, they said this is a day-care centre for Jewish children and that it should stay that way … I can’t change the world, I have to look out for my livelihood.”

Although Israel lacks a constitution, the Zuabis’ lawyer, Dori Kaspi, is suing Ms Kadshai under the terms of the 1992 Basic Law on Human Freedom and Dignity, the nearest legislation Israel has to a bill of rights.

In previous cases when Arab children have been excluded from schools, the parents have launched a legal action for discrimination against the education authorities or the school itself.

Lawyers are doubtful that the couple can win given the law’s lack of reference to the principles of equality or equal opportunities.

One lawyer, who wished not to be named, said: “Instances like this are not covered by laws against discrimination. Anti-discrimination legislation in Israel is very specific, covering mainly examples of discrimination in employment and access to public places like pubs and clubs.”

Even then, the lawyer added, enforcement was extremely lax.

Instances of Arab children being denied places at Jewish kindergartens and junior schools have become more common in recent years, especially in the country’s handful of mixed cities.

Yousef Jabareen, head of Dirasat, a Nazareth-based organisation monitoring education issues, said when parents tried to switch their children to Jewish schools it was because of the poor conditions in Arab education institutions.

“Although it’s an understandable reaction, it’s a cause for concern,” he said. “In Jewish schools Arab children are not taught their language, culture or history. Their Arab identity has to be sacrificed for them to receive a decent education.”

A report published in March revealed that the government invested $1,100 in each Jewish pupil’s education compared to $190 for each Arab pupil. The gap is even wider when compared to the popular state-run religious schools, where Jewish pupils receive nine times more funding than Arab pupils.

There is also an official shortfall of more than 1,000 classrooms for Arab children, said Mr Jabareen, though Arab organisations believe the problem is in reality much worse. In addition, a significant proportion of existing Arab school buildings have been judged unsafe or dangerous to children’s health.

In some parts of the country where private religious schools are available, particularly in Nazareth and Haifa, Arab parents are turning their back on the state-run system, said Mr Jabareen.

Two-thirds of the 7,500 Arab pupils in the northern mixed city of Haifa, for example, are reported to be attending private schools, despite high levels of poverty among the population.

Last September, the Adalah legal centre for Israel’s Arab minority forced the municipality of the mixed city of Ramle, near Tel Aviv, to register an Arab boy in a Jewish kindergarten close to his home.

The mayor, Yoel Lavi, had earlier told the boy’s parents that he could not be admitted because he was an Arab and that the kindergarten served only Jewish children.

Mr Jabareen said he favoured binational and bilingual schools in which Jewish and Arab children could meet and study as equals. However, the state did not offer such schools to parents.

Four bilingual elementary schools admitting both Arab and Jewish children have been established privately. Israel has no mixed secondary schools.

Mike Prashker, director of Merchavim, an organisation advocating shared citizenship in Israel, recently told the Haaretz newspaper: “The Israeli reality of segregated education systems creates ignorance and fear of the ‘other’.”

A poll published by Haifa University in January found that three-quarters of Jewish pupils regarded Arabs as “uneducated, uncivilised and dirty”.

A recent survey by Merchavim found that the segregation among pupils was mirrored by segregation among teachers. Despite some 8,000 Arab teachers being recorded as unemployed by the education ministry, only a few dozen work in Jewish schools, mainly teaching Arabic, even though the Jewish system is suffering from staff shortages.

The previous dovish education minister Yuli Tamir established a public committee last year to develop for the first time a “shared life” policy for Jewish and Arab schools.

The committee issued its report earlier this year recommending more meetings between Jewish and Arab children, that Arabic should be taught to Jewish pupils, and that schools should employ both Arab and Jewish teachers.

The new rightwing government of Benjamin Netanyahu announced it was freezing the report in April.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

System of Lies… What happened to us?

I just read this article about how the press has been usurped by political agendas–see clip below and read the whole, well-researched article at http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=33681.  I am depressed, the people who claimed they would save us from Orwell’s 1984 style governance were busy CREATING it.  Glad I never bought their crap, but still depressed that so many do.  When did we as a nation stop thinking and start just following the crowd?  Sigh…

Then I read an article about all the protesters showing up at health care town halls (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090812/ap_on_go_co/us_health_care_protests).  I am now considering the possibility that such people are being planted to disrupt the meetings and discredit reform that might actually ensure that we get better health in spite of an industry that only wants to profit on our illness.  Seriously, if ppl knew what HMOs, suppliers, and others did, they’d be BEGGING the government to get involved!!!

Gaaa!!!  Yep, I’m a leftest loony. But I’m also an idealist, and I believe in American democracy at it’s finest, where a free press challenges government assertions. This perversion of the press as marketing tool is depressing and disgusting.

Get the word out!
clipped from www.middle-east-online.com
Palin’s ‘Death Panel’ and GOP Lying
During the early 1980s, Republicans were adopting a conscious approach to deception that was qualitatively different from what was common in politics. With the aid of a growing right-wing media, the GOP covered up ghastly crimes by its allies and enflamed public opinion against its adversaries, regardless of the facts, notes Robert Parry.
False Republican claims about President Barack Obama’s health-care initiative, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s demagogic charge about a “death panel,” are part of a pattern of systematic lying that has marked the GOP’s political tactics at least since Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush , can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com.
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The Islamist by Ed Husain–Book Review

The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left by Ed Husain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Saw the author on “The Doha Debates” last year.  During the program he was very articulate and dedicated to combating extremism.

This book is Ed Husain’s story of his personal journey into and out of the Islamist movement in the UK.  As Husain depicts it, Islamism is the idea that the Islamic faith requires an Islamic political state–that political power and religion are one.  Husain’s family, from India/Bangladesh, practiced a Sufi Islam which focused on spiritual connection to God and to other humans and he sees this as a more “mainstream” Islam.  Living in Jordan, a moderate Islamic state, I’m not sure that his Sufi brand of Islam would necessarily be accepted–though most of the Muslims I know here do support secular governance.

The first few chapters, relating his time in the islamist movement, including Jamaati-e Islamia and Hizb tTahrir, were distanced, written almost dispassionately.  It is like he can’t even relate to the boy he once was.   This was frustrating for me, as I’d hoped the book would help me grasp the emotional and intellectual pull of such movements for the young people raised in the West.   However, as he related the incidents which brought him out of the movement, including the violence, hypocracy, and time spent, ironically, in Syria and Saudi Arabia, his passion in delivery grew.  By the end, he was writing eloquently and passionately against Islamism.

I learned quite a bit from the book:

1–Husain related how the Islamists gained power in Britain (and similarly in the US) until the British authorities believed them to be speaking for and representing the views of all Muslims.  This gave them legitimacy–whereas most of these groups were outlawed in the Middle East.

2–Husain argues that Islamists must be countered, fought, and challenged.  I realized that in all my studies of Arabic and Islamic culture, we never talk about the extremists: Islamists, Wahabis or others.  I had never heard of most of the groups Husain mentioned tho they are well-known here in Jordan and elsewhere (especially Hisb Tahrir which has many factions and is involved in violence in Palestine, Bagladesh, and I believe India among other places).  Husain implies, and I agree, that the refusal to talk about such groups in mainstream education means that we don’t understand the movement and can’t launch effective opposition to it.   Our courses should not ignore such groups–nor suggest that “all” Muslims belong to them.  Acknowledging and debating their merits would be much more effective.

3–Husain traveled to Saudi Arabia (where I have never been and have NO desire to go) where much of the desires of the Islamist movement are fulfilled and was appalled at what he saw there.  He strongly denounces the Wahabi form of Islam (a very repressive one) which funds a great deal of the Islamist movements and seeks converts around the globe.  Husain reported that it is a country where the more women are wrapped and hidden away (women must wear full-face veils and long, loose black robes in public, must only go out with close male relations, only recently gained the right to drive, etc.) the more Saudi men objectify them.  He said that his wife, dressed appropriately, was often leered at, insulted, and propositioned even while he accompanied her.  Others I know in Jordan who’ve lived in Saudi report conflicting stories–that on the compound everything is fine and there’s no reason to “go out”, that Saudi men are very respectful during the Hajj, etc.   I don’t know from personal experience, but from the public behaviors of Saudi men in Morocco and here, I can’t believe it is a place I would ever want to go.

4–Husain described all the ways the groups in which he participated manipulated the laws, freedoms, and rights of British citizens.  The police seem, from his telling, to be naive in their treatment of Islamist youth groups; universities and other moderates completely incapable of countering their methods.   We need to teach our youth how to think critically about what they see and experience around them, to look beyond what such people say and see clearly what they do, believe, and propagate.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about the inside of the Islamist movement, particularly as an introduction for one mostly unfamiliar with the phenomenon.

FYI Ed Husain co-founder and co-director of The Quilliam Foundation, a think-tank devoted to combating Muslim (and I assume other forms of) extremism.

VOA Censored in USA!

I can see VOA propaganda being problematic–but shouldn’t we be allowed to hear what they’re telling others? This article is interesting (and pro-VOA) but also, we should have access to the media supported by our taxes.  I recommend reading it in full (it’s only 2 short pages!)…
clipped from www.foreignpolicy.com

Censoring the Voice of America

Why is it OK to broadcast terrorist propaganda but not taxpayer-funded media reports?

This
muzzling of VOA comes at a time when the U.S. media is shrinking, eliminating
foreign bureaus, and increasingly relying on stringers (of sometimes dubious
quality) for its news. VOA and other U.S. public diplomacy organizations,
meanwhile, are staffed with professional journalists and editors who are adept
and experienced with covering goings-on about the world.
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