International media has failed itself in covering the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Following the standard tenet, "if it bleeds, it leads," newspapers, radio, and the internet have continued to showcase the gore and ignore the solution-oriented work that many people in the region have dedicated themselves to. During a recent trip to Palestine, I stayed in the home of Fatima Khaldi in Qarawa Bani Hassan, a town in the West Bank continually threatened with the construction of the separation wall. Fatima founded and directs the organization Women for Life in the village of Biddya. Her group has a range of purposes, which revolve around empowering Palestinian women to take charge of their lives and become involved in politics. [Photo: Doors recovered from bombed homes, painted by children's art therapy group, Nablus, West Bank]
Nearly 140,000 U.S. troops are currently in Iraq trying to influence Iraqi history by waging an imperialist war on behalf of U.S. corporate interests. Yet most people in the United States probably didn't learn very much about Iraqi history in their high school social studies courses. Some knowledge of pre-1950 Iraqi history may be of use to U.S. anti-war activists when arguing with opponents of an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
Over the past two weeks, the contrast between two related "global" events has been salutary. The first was the World Tribunal on Iraq held in Istanbul; the second the G8 meeting in Scotland and the Make Poverty History campaign. Reading the papers and watching television in Britain, you would know nothing about the Istanbul meetings, which produced the most searing evidence to date of the greatest political scandal of modern times: the attack on a defenceless Iraq by America and Britain.
George W. Bush’s decision to unilaterally invade Iraq in March 2003 has placed a severe strain on the US military. The Army currently has almost half of its 32 combat brigades deployed there, with two more assigned to Afghanistan. This means that three-quarters of its forces are either committed to combat zones or recuperating from recent combat.
About 60,000 of the 140,000 troops in Iraq are activated reservists from National Guard or Reserve units. These “weekend warriors” have been involuntarily kept in the war zone an extra three to five months, despite promises that their tours would be limited to one year. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has used “stop loss” orders to keep about 50,000 GIs on active duty past their discharge or separation dates.
Members of the 42nd Military Police Company of the New York National Guard remember the place in Iraq where they were stationed as a hellhole. "The place was filthy; most of the windows were broken; dirt, grease, and bird droppings were everywhere," Sergeant Agustin Matos later recalled. "I wouldn't house a city prisoner in that place." There were also the frequent sandstorms, blowing dust right into the area where Matos and his fellow company members were based. Sergeant Hector Vega, a retired postal worker from the Bronx who had served in the National Guard for 27 years, said the smoke "was so thick, you could see it."
The fundamentalists’ landslide victory in Iran’s recent “free” elections disheartened Western observers. The CIA declared that the lopsided outcome points to a new era of repression by the country’s clerical regime. In blocking fair elections, clerical hard-liners drove dissent online, lighting up thousands of alternate channels of communication.
In Iran, the Internet is becoming the most successful way to work around oppression. It gives ordinary people access to real news and information. They can express their opinions freely and communicate with Iranians around the world.