pinochet in palestine

November 16, 2006 at 12:31 am (palestine)

Pinochet in Palestine

Joseph Massad* looks at the similarities between regime change in Chile and Palestine and condemns the collaboration between Fatah and Palestine’s enemies

Before the United States government subcontracted the Chilean military to overthrow the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973, it carried out a number of important missions in the country in preparation for the coup of 11 September. These included major strikes, especially by truck owners, which crippled the economy, massive demonstrations that included middle-class housewives and children carrying pots and pans demanding food, purging the Chilean military of officers who would oppose the suspension of democracy and the introduction of US-supported fascist rule, and a major media campaign against the regime with the CIA planting stories in newspapers like El Mercurio and others. This was in a context where also the Communist Party and the Leftist Revolutionary Movement (MIR) criticised and sometimes attacked the Allende regime from varying leftist positions.

The Chilean example is important to keep in mind when one looks at the Palestinian situation today, as it functions as a sort of training video for US-planned anti-democratic coups elsewhere in the world. Not only are the US and Israel financially backing the open preparation for a coup to be staged by the top leadership of Fateh (and in the case of Israel allowing weapons’ transfers to Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas’s Praetorian Guard), but so are the intelligence services of a number of Israel-and US-friendly Arab countries whose intelligence services have set up shop openly in Ramallah more recently, making their longstanding and major, though understated, involvement in running the Palestinian territories more open and shameless. Indeed the intelligence “delegation” of one such Arab country has rented out a multi-story building in Ramallah to conduct their operations there.

Israel has helped this effort all along by kidnapping and arresting Fateh members who resist the collaborationist policies of the top leadership. As for the leadership itself, it has periodically purged members of Fateh who oppose its policies, and marginalised those in the Diaspora who continue to resist them. The Fateh/PA coup leaders consist of Abbas and the ruling triumvirate of Mohamed Dahlan, Yasser Abd Rabbo, and Nabil Amr. The profiles of these three make them well suited for the tasks ahead. Dahlan is universally known as America’s and Israel’s main corrupt military man on the ground. Abd Rabbo (aka Yasser Abd Yasser, literally “Yasser worshipper of Yasser” on account of his subservience to Arafat) is the architect of the Geneva accords, which recognise Israel’s right to be a racist Jewish state as legitimate and reject the right of Palestinian refugees to return as illegitimate. He recently upheld the Israeli position when fighting with the Qatari foreign minister and his staff during the latter’s visit to the occupied territories. Amr is the former PA information minister, and a former visiting fellow at the Israel lobby think tank the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is also the speechwriter for Abbas and Dahlan.

Abbas and these three have undertaken not only to launch massive strikes by the Fateh security thugs that they have armed to police the territories on behalf of Israel, and strikes by the bureaucracy that staffs the PA ministries, but also have coerced large numbers of Palestinians, including teachers and professors, under the force of guns, to uphold a strike against Hamas, when most of them had voted for Hamas in the first place and refuse to strike. Palestinians who have fought for decades to keep their schools and universities open against Israeli draconian closures and suspension of Palestinian education, are now forced by Fateh and its armed thugs to stop the Palestinian educational process with strikes against Hamas, and threaten to shoot people if they refuse to follow Fateh’s coup directives.

In addition, Abbas and the Fateh/PA triumvirate have organised demonstrations in Ramallah by middle-class Palestinians, including housewives, who brought out their pots and pans, in a scene borrowed from 1973 Santiago, in demonstrations against Hamas. The Fateh-controlled press, especially Al-Ayyam is fomenting major anti-Hamas propaganda campaign in preparation for the coup and is thus playing the same role as El Mercurio did in Chile. Al-Ayyam is aided in its efforts by the anti-Hamas secular Palestinian intelligentsia, most of whose members are on the payroll of the bankrollers of the Oslo process and its NGOs. These old leftist Palestinians, like their counterparts in Lebanon, are better known today as the right-wing left, as they take up right-wing positions while insisting that they are still leftists based on positions they had held in the 1980s or earlier.

The plan is that the Fateh/PA rulers would do their utmost to provoke Hamas to start the war at which point Fateh, with the aid of the intelligence services of friendly Arab countries, as well as assistance from Israel and the US, would crush Hamas and take over. Indeed, the first unsuccessful round took place when the Israeli government kidnapped a third of the Hamas government, both cabinet ministers and parliament members, and placed them in Israeli jails. This was not sufficient to bring Hamas down, and not for lack of help that Fateh rendered the Israeli occupiers. Aside from the initial burning of the Legislative Council building, Fateh thugs have also burned the prime minister’s office, shot at his car, burned offices in different ministries several times, harassed and threatened Hamas ministers and parliamentarians whom Israel failed to kidnap and arrest, refused to allow the government ministries to operate, and so forth. Hamas however, is wisely adamant that it will respond by force only when Fateh launches an all-out war to bring about its planned coup, but not before.

Fateh’s planned coup is not only based on the popularity of Hamas and its electoral victory but also on Hamas’s increased ability to defend itself against Fateh forces. If the US and Israel armed Fateh thugs under Arafat’s leadership to crush the first Palestinian Intifada and any remaining resistance to the occupation since 1994, today, Hamas is almost as well- armed as Fateh forces and can defend the rights of the Palestinians to resist the Israeli occupation and the well-armed Palestinian collaborators that help to enforce it. This is where the situation today differs measurably from that of the mid-1990s. To offset this new balance of forces, the United States government, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, has been training Abbas’s Praetorian Guard in Jericho for over a month with American, British, Egyptian, and Jordanian military instructors, and is providing arms to them in preparation for the confrontation with Hamas. The Israeli cabinet in turn has recently approved the transfer of thousands of rifles from Egypt and Jordan to Abbas’s forces. The Israelis also approved a US request that Israel allow the Badr Brigade — part of the Palestine Liberation Army currently stationed in Jordan — to deploy in Gaza. These steps have been conceived by General Keith Dayton, the American security coordinator in the occupied territories, who wants the Badr Brigade to function as Abbas’s “rapid reaction force in Gaza”. As a possible step to increase its security and military roles in the occupied territories, the Jordanian government recently established a legal committee to review the provisions of Jordan’s decision to “disengage” from the West Bank announced on 31 July 1988, effectively suggesting the possibility of a reversal of part or all of these provisions. More recently, the Israelis intensified their bombings and killings in Gaza, most recently in Beit Hanoun murdering over 50 Palestinians in a few days.

Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling triumvirate are reticent at the moment to start an open war for fear of a public backlash. They prefer to remove Hamas through imposing a “national unity” government that would undercut Hamas gradually and peacefully. However, Abbas and his triumvirate are quickly losing patience. Indeed, in a hastily-arranged meeting of the Diaspora-based Fateh Central Committee set to convene in Amman three weeks ago to ratify the coup plans, members of the committee opposed Abbas’s US and Israel-supported coup, which forced Abbas to cancel the meeting altogether claiming falsely lack of quorum as the reason. This speaks to Abbas’s desperation in engineering the coup without adequate preparation. Indeed, rumour has it across the occupied territories that the desperate attacks committed recently against Palestinian Christian churches were the work of undercover thugs. Those who sent them want Palestinian Christians and the world at large to think that these were Hamas acts in response to the pope’s racist pronouncements against Islam. Hamas duly condemned the attacks. Few in the occupied territories believe that Hamas was behind them and most know that they were the work of undercover agents.

The Fateh plan is simple: where Israel and its Lebanese allies failed to crush Hizbullah in the Sixth war, Fateh and its Israeli allies will succeed in crushing Hamas, even if the ongoing Israeli war against Hamas and the Palestinian people becomes an all-out Seventh war. The flurry of visits by Condoleezza Rice to the area in the last few weeks hoped to put the final touches on this plan. If Hamas, like Hizbullah, could be provoked into a military response, the coup planners believe, then Fateh’s and Israel’s wrath (backed by the US, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) would be unleashed to finish Hamas off. The Fateh leadership and its thugs are sharpening their knives for the showdown. Hamas has remained calm despite the pressure.

In the meantime, Ramallah proper (excluding the surrounding villages), continues to be what many now refer to as the Palestinian Green Zone, sheltering, in addition to the intelligence staff of Israel and Israel-friendly Arab countries, those Palestinians who are paid and protected by the Oslo process, whether the Oslo bureaucracy, its technicians, and hired intellectuals, or the business and middle classes recently habituated to the new name-brand consumerism that the Green Zone can offer. This opulent life contrasts with the life of the rest of the Palestinians outside Ramallah who live in misery, hunger, and under the bombardment of the Israelis and the attacks of savage Jewish colonial settlers, not to mention the harassment by Fateh thugs. In Ramallah itself, the trigger-happy thugs shoot at random during their demonstrations, injuring and sometimes killing passers by “in error”. Even the few secular intellectuals who deign to oppose Fateh inside Ramallah are harassed in different ways. Some of them experience mysterious robberies that are repeated every time they make anti-Fateh statements. The preservation of Ramallah as the Green Zone is paramount to Abbas and the Fateh/PA triumvirate, whose fear of any reform introduced by Hamas would strip the elite of the benefits of corruption and the dolce vita that Fateh-rule has ensured for them.

Meanwhile, Abbas and his triumvirate will continue to treat Hamas the way Israel has treated the PLO and other Arab countries all along. In the interminable negotiations that Hamas held with Fateh to avert a showdown, whenever Hamas would agree to a Fateh demand, Fateh would up the ante and insist on another concession or claim that its initial demands always included the now expanded terms, even though they did not. Moreover, Fateh would also publicly interpret Hamas’s concessions as having included things that Hamas had not agreed to at all. If this is reminiscent of the post-Oslo negotiating strategy that the Israelis used successfully with Arafat, this is because it is the same strategy. Abbas has gone so far as to walk away from negotiations, and refuse to speak to Hamas leaders, just as the Israelis have done often with the PA. Moreover, if the Israelis would often carry undercover attacks against Western interests to implicate Arab governments, the clearest example being the infamous Lavon Affair of the mid-1950s targeting Egypt, similar operations are being committed to implicate Hamas by undercover agents, like the recent example of the attacks on the churches illustrates. There may be many more such operations being planned.

Whatever fig leaf still covered the Fateh leadership’s complete collaboration and subservience to Israeli interests has now fallen off. As a result, there is very little left that can restrain Fateh’s actions. The next few weeks will be decided by how much Fateh leaders are itching for a fight to save their skins and fortunes, and how much patience Hamas can muster in the face of so much thuggery. In the meantime, what has been unfolding in the Palestinian territories is nothing short of the Chilean script.

Pinochet is in Palestine. His success however remains far from certain.

* The writer is associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians (Routledge, 2006).

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marcia langton’s wilderness

November 14, 2006 at 6:51 am (aboriginal, anti-oppression)

In a celebrated critique of the white Australian concept of “wilderness”, Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton has said that this denial of the occupation of such landscapes by the indigenous people for thousands of years represents a continuation of the terra nullius myth that was used to justify a ruthless pattern of colonisation. The conceptual separation of bush that should be preserved from human culture is, hence, a legacy of colonialism or, if you like, a frontier mentality.

…but it is just so natural…

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toward a definition of ‘natural’

November 14, 2006 at 6:24 am (anti-classism, anti-oppression, anti-racism, Motherhood, women of color)

since representation and technology form an intrinsic part of human ‘nature’ and human lives, the distinction between the natural and artificial is problematic if intended as a reference to specific characteristics of human bodies, characteristics or abilities. instead this dichotomy serves as a linguistic device employed in order to justify preferred (‘natural/normal/healthy’) forms of life.

–lucy yardley, the quest for natural communication

so what are the ‘preferred’ forms of life?

let us remember that the concept of ‘natural’ childbirth or lifestyle is dependent on the concept of the ‘artificial’. that the normal birth concept is dependent on the existance of the technological and medicalized models of birth.

so natural/normal birth did not exist before modern western birth culture.

and who has a natural/normal birth? predominately pregnant middle and upper class educated white women who have the economic and racial privilege of having choices. so a small segment of birthing society, privileged women, is allowed to be ‘normal’. and as for those for who do not have access to these choices, well, they are condemned to an abnormal unnatural pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. …these women have ‘typical’, ‘common’ childbearing experiences.
and the predominately pregnant middle and upper class educated white women are a numerical minority, ‘normal’ized and ‘natural’ized. how does this normalization occur? by exoticising and imitating and co-opting the practices and images of (primarily)3rd world brown women childbearing cultures.

would these brown mamas be welcomed in a home birth class like the one i was kicked out of? or would they be told that they had ‘issues around culture and anger’ that could not be fixed? would they be told that they were in ‘culture shock’?

if we understand that the natural/normal concept is really code for ‘preferred’, are ‘naturalized’ elite women stating that they would prefer to be a third world woman? of course not. no, it is the elite white women who has the preferred childbirth. it is she who has the preferred (natural) body. it is she who is normal. and she, her body, her lifestyle, her childbearing, her mothering, and inevitably, her children who set the standard through her privilege and access of what is normal and natural.

and as for the rest of us, we are either allowed to follow, or we disappear.

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i got kicked out of my homebirth class

November 13, 2006 at 1:25 pm (anti-oppression, Motherhood)

so we, my partner and i, had decided to take a homebirth childbirth class–well, at the second class, the midwife/educator said that she thought that my anger and cultural issues couldnt be fixed by the class and she thought it would be best if i leave.

i will be honest i have a lot of issues around the whole natural childbirth attachment parenting mothering magazine cult.  the first issue being that it is a cult.  or at least cultish.  it is the cult of ‘natural’.  and when i asked her to define ‘natural’ she couldnt do so, or she refused to do so, and then became hostile — literally in my face — explaining to me that i have anger issues.  it is not ironic that my ‘anger’ or at least discomfort in the class began when she was talking about how — women who swear or express anger during labor have longer and more difficult labors.

and this cult of the undefinable ‘natural’ is akin to the cult of ‘normal birth’.  what is ‘normal birth’.  well, it is not a typical birth or a common birth.  normal birth is actually a western concept of gender, womanhood, motherhood, patriarchy, pain, medicine, and a host of other issues.  and the way that we know it is a western concept is that the advocates of ‘normal birth’ refer alot to non-european cultures birth practices to justify their own theories around normalcy.  and that reference to non-european cultures is often grounded in the racist discourse of … exoticism.

so when i asked her for the definition of natural of course she became blubbering and incoherent.  and i my foolish self started to apologize to her because obviously the three word question:  what is natural…was unclear.  i need to stop apologizing for speaking.

the cult of ‘natural’ and ‘normal’:  both of these words are problematic.  both have been used as the ideology of genocide.  they are loaded.

what is an unnatural birth?  what is an abnormal birth?
i envision a series of work, art, pieces, performances, classes etc in which we value all of women’s choices…those who choose to birth at home and those who choose elective cesarean.  those who drink herbal pregnancy tea and those who down mylanta…and those who do both and more and less.

in which we create anti-oppressive models for pregnancy and birth.  in which we deconstruct the social concepts we are spoon fed about patriarchy and feminity and strength and marriage and heterosexuality and masculinity and race and money and body image and beauty.

i cant tell you what is good for your body.  but perhaps i can co-create the space that allows you to know that for yourself.  and i would love for you to share as much as you like with me.  and i shall offer you the same gift.

so i got kicked out of my homebirth class.  which i guess at least proves that i am not a hippie.

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u.s. seeks silence on cia prisons

November 8, 2006 at 4:52 am (middle east, prisons)

this is what it has come to.  the government is erasing people.

The government, in trying to block lawyers’ access to the 14 detainees, effectively asserts that the detainees’ experiences are a secret that should never be shared with the public.

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November 2, 2006 at 6:39 pm (Uncategorized)

today i sent a you a few poems about congo and palestine.  please enjoy.

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she fights

November 2, 2006 at 6:26 pm (anti-sexism, palestine, women of color)


She Fights




Give boys

Real guns

And plastic confidence

Give Israeli girls 3 free abortions

If they join the army

Give the poor a free bloody degree

If they commit treason against brown people

Give mothers a phone call

And dog tags

And call it even

Give the people something to believe in

They can’t see they’ve all stopped breathing



In this final hour

The rich hide like the wizard of oz

And the poor have no escape

The yellow brick road was looted in the riots

Dorothy has bare feet


Show me one girl who is willing to be free

And I’ll show you a hundred skulls of girls

Who were willing to believe



Trying to save a sister whose sisters have all fled

Ramadan nothing

But bread and water

In bed headaches


Ovarian pains

War inside her body


Some days her migraines weak

She takes 2 cabs evades flying Israeli

Checkpoints to see me



I eat oranges taste like onions

She drinks water taste like oceans

Teaches me the Arabic mosaic

She speaks


I get headaches too

When I drift into memory

Of guns pointed at children

At a war that never ceases



I was driving home last week

In Chicago

Part of town where people

Can’t afford to sleep

And saw police stop a group of brown boys

Walking with baggy jeans

Put them up against the car

Patted down

Fingers caressing pistol


Pull your shirt up

Any weapons

Give me your I.D.

Don’t talk

Don’t look up

This is a stick up

You better give up

Your pride

She knows how to fight

Even with a headache

She reminds me,

‘When the meek finally inherit the earth

Lets make sure it is a paradise

Worthy of their life’



We are killing her slowly boldly

Enfolding on her body



I can’t speak for the voiceless

Because I no longer weep

She doesn’t want a peace

Where she still isn’t allowed to scream


The television hums CNN in the background

Blue light flickering with red white sound

White man in the Middle East

Talking about conditions on the ground

And a flag swings across the screen

Like a noose


Dividing Dorothy from the American dream



Some say that the personal is political

Since we keep letting the winners

Make the borders

The political is just ridiculous


This ideal this noose

She’s hanging like strange fruit

To ripe for tongue


Smiles through headache

Her eyes blink I feel earthquakes

Under oriental sun

Palestinian feminist reaching for a gun


Any revolution that censors the heart

From speaking

Lungs from breathing

Can never endure her


She moves like planets

Flying causes gravity

Rotation revolution

Worthy of more than a domesticated

Jail cell


Presented on cameras and television

The Revolution’s arrested

And she is tired of paying bail


Some say that the personal is political

Since we keep letting the winners

Make the borders

The political is just ridiculous

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black dot

November 2, 2006 at 6:23 pm (anti-oppression, middle east, palestine, poetry, west bank)

Black Dot



All they have left

Is their nightmares

Their dreams

Keep me wondering

Is this what a war means

If survival is worth bombs falling


Slumbering weak


Palestine heartache

Prayer to shaheed gods


Make this war end


Its going to take resurrection

Sin no escape

Miracles too late

But clocks haven’t stopped ticking


But medicine is illegal

I’m a witness

Can’t write about war,

A color-blind pigeon


I want justice

India ink dove


I could take the heartache

And run because its too much

Just to march to death beats


But my friends disappear in hell

Drink water and tea

And tell me

‘We’re just looking for something

To believe in

A piece of land

To build and dream in’


Evening call to pray

Drifts into the window

From a million star particles away

Get down on my knees

Smell powder

Lay awake for hours

Scratching out my heart disease



I’m not the only one awake

Only one that’s angry

Only one that thinks

Fighters are dreamers

Who dream

With bodies

On front lines of fear

Eternal black dot on a yin/yang symbol

Fists in the air

Survival is worth whatever war brings


Jesus resurrecting

His friends mourning

His demise

God shaheed

Asks me


If you aren’t outside the green line

Then where are you?


You think that palestinians and israelis

Don’t understand each other


They understand each other


Killing over land and water

Cash and barter


You don’t think you understand


But you do

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equatorial sun

November 2, 2006 at 6:21 pm (democratic republic of congo, Motherhood, women of color)

Equatorial Sun

U.N. people

Stay in their trucks

Black insults

Thrown too much

To walk into

Blazing huts

America is having nightmares


To the world

Thousands of women

Are telling thousands of women


Survivors ascending

Out of flesh and jail


In mounds

Underneath flexible trees

They ask me

Where I am from

Red white and blue

American Pie DVD

And snow

When I get home

Heart of darkness

Recedes into night sky


Of Congo chains

And slave

Gangs no name

Shame no money

Can’t destroy gun games

So the living is forgotten

Can’t name the life

That you’ve brought in

What it’s like to be dark

In light of logic of economics

That is cutting

Necks of rape survivors

On fire

Pregnant bartered

We’ve fallen into oblivion

Never reciting

Deaths of these martyrs

Innocent mothers

Street children quartered

In war

Every language creates

Difference between women

And whore

They call themselves

Same as they called me




Has flown home

U.S. buys men

And women

And plays war with itself

We tune out

By turning on the news

We could choose to refuse

Good news

Somebody’s war

Is our gain

Our reign on this earth

And 4th world

Will emerge like herds

Of gazelles running

Through hills

And U.S. dollar Bills’

Military territorial hell


Women to prove

They have something

Left to spill

In the 4th world where

Tupac is born hundreds

Of times day

And he prays to his mama

Not voice

Of the voiceless

But of choices

To enjoy life even when

She’s loaded with 50 kg

Manoc and groceries

Lives like fallen rice

Women who

Look like women who hold me

Through tears

I’m hiding

In my dreams

The Congo stretches

Like an equatorial

Bird’s wings

Soaring over diamond

Petal flowers

And gold studded trees

Richer than mahogany

Feet stomping

Out a drum beat
And women survivors

Are dancing with their children

Singing for amani

That leaves them breathless

Rather than helpless

With bones of the deathless

They are building

A civil society

In my dreams

Blinded by

Cover of a war

That we created

But still refuse

To see

In the Congo

Black light shines

In the middle of day

Women sway in layers

Of peacock colors

And young men

In mismatched military


Carry their gun by the barrel

Over the shoulders

Whistling Dixie

Caught in reflection

Of what we are willing to believe

Of just one more survivor’s


As long as there is

Women and color

There will always be hope.

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butterfly riot

November 2, 2006 at 5:33 pm (anti-oppression, democratic republic of congo, middle east, poetry, women of color)

Butterfly Riot


Not allowed to defend


Throwing rocks

At fenced wells

Watching gold butterfly

Lingering over sand pools

Quickly evaporating

No water

For thirsty

Except in jail

Majority breathes

Air that’s indigo soot

Shit stained back streets

And broken butterfly dreams

Speak history from dominant revisions

Plantation textbooks

Written in masters religion

Encaged in global genocide

Can’t hold us down

Can’t afford to hide

From suffering mama’s corn-rowed mind

We walk down the street

See who’s been left behind

Hearts encased in tanned hide

Protecting lungs

From crack filled highs

From black Jim lies

To gun gang strife

From revolutionary dreams

To jury and judiciaries

Pick us up we’re hurting

Each of us

Only got one heart


Every assumption


Each other grabbing

Crumbs under a table

While mama

Rocking a rich man’s cradle

Telling African

Childhood fables

There is no real difference

Between assimilation and apartheid


Marketing inversions

To destroy middle

Capitalism’s success

We mend a boat

To pick up

The bereft


Reaching for the dessicated

Dehydrated dream

Inside yellow butterflies

Exo-skeletal chest

Don’t offer us

Another way

Of dying died too

Many times before

Demarking conversions

To destroy middle

Passage conquest


The village children

And I throw crumbled newspaper

Off the mountains

To see what happens

‘How come they don’t understand

That they can’t have such large families

And be liberated?’

A moth floats by and blurs

Our vision just one more

For the revolution

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