tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Israel admits it's known about settlements for at least 4 years

Nothing so liberates the heart as when a fool awakens from his folly.

Israel's defence department has revealed that it has been secretly compiling a massive database of all settlement activity, past and present, in the West Bank, a project it began four years ago in part because the Israeli government was frustrated that the U.S. government and the Peace Now movement had more accurate intel on settlements than it did.

It's quite a catch-up project. Peace Now's settlement monitoring program has for 20+ years been reporting on all aspects of settlement activity: confiscation of Palestinian land, illegal construction of houses, population growth, demographic trends, government subsidies and tax incentives for settlement residents, new settlements and outposts, legal actions, abuses by the Israeli military in the West Bank, and paramilitary activities among settlers.*

Human rights and advocacy groups such as Al-Haq, B'tselem, and Palestine Monitor, have also made info-gathering on settlements part of their labour.

So when the Israeli establishment learned from its shiny new database that, for example, 75% of all Israeli settlement construction is conducted without a proper permit from the pro-settler Israeli Civil Administration office for the West Bank (an office that often grants permits for building on illegally confiscated Palestinian land anyway), the only ones gasping in surprise were the Israeli officials. [Read more about the report.]

* The one important knock on Peace Now is that it doesn't consistently consider the so-called Jerusalem suburb settlements -- such as Gilo, Har Homa, French Hill, Pisgat Ze'ev and especially Ma'aleh Adumim where construction is destroying the hope for a Palestinian state -- as illegal settlements when compiling its data. These settlements account for approximately half of the total settler population beyond the 1967 Green Line. Click here for a close-up map of Jerusalem-area settlements [PDF].

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tuque Souq 100th Birthday

The Tuque Souq happily celebrates today its one-hundredth blog post. We can't believe we made it this far.

To celebrate, we're going to get a bit personal and answer some Tuque Souq fan mail. Here we go...

Q--Hey Tuque Souq, do you have a favourite Tuque? How 'bout a favourite Souq?
Well, I'm personally averse to declaring absolutes, moral or cranial or otherwise. I suppose anyone's favourite to tuque should be that of his favourite hockey team, so of course mine is the tuque celebrating the 2002 Gold medal-winning Canadian Olympic team. (I don't actually have this tuque, however.) Souq? Probably the souq where I could find the aforementioned tuque. Failing that, I'd go with the souq of the Old City of Aleppo.

Q--Prez Obama says he's gonna give a speech from a Muslim city within his first 100 days in office. Where do you think it will be?
Might be Jakarta, capital city of Indonesia where Obama spent some time growing up. But what's going on over there? Nothing. Trip to Israel, then hop over to Cairo or Amman for a speech? Maybe Istanbul? Baghdad is a dark-horse candidate. Tehran? Nah. Kuala Lumpur? Too obscure. Islamabad? Too risky. Dubai? Too ritzy. Tirana? Too cheap. Beirut? Now that would be something. I don't know, but I'll take bets.

Q--Speaking of Israeli elections, who's gonna win?
Netanyahu... it's in the hopper, damn it. And since I have nothing else to say on the matter, here's an article about Ehud Barak taking his campaign into the bathroom.

Q--Any big predictions for 2009 in Middle East politics?
You mean who's gonna keel over? Well, we've got a few candidates just looking at their ages. Hosni Mubarak will be 81 in May. Sheikh al-Sabah of Kuwait turns 80 this year. Tunisia's Ben Ali is 72. Omani Sultan Qaboos is 68. Abdelaziz Bouteflika over in Algeria is 71. No guarantees, but someone's gotta knock off this year.

Q--Can you blog more about Mauritania this year?

You got it.

Q--Which part of a camel is the tastiest?

The neck. Actually, the worst part of a dead camel is better than the best part of a live camel. But of course I don't need camels to live.

Q--Who's gonna win the Stanley Cup this year?

The Habs. It's only right.

Q--Why do you spell Qaddafi with a 'Q' instead of a 'G'?

Cuz I'm a rebel, like he is.

Q--Why do you hate camels?

I have my reasons. Most of them involve saliva and triple-digit decibel shrieks.

Q--Is hummus good brain food?

I eat it everyday. What do you think?

Q--Which religion is the true religion?


Q--Who do you like in Harper vs Ignatieff?

Harper by TKO in the 9th round. Iggy has stamina but no knockout punch.

Well, that's all for today. Thanks for joining for the last 100 posts. Until a new day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hamas to Abbas: Which side are you on?

As new/old U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell embarks on his Comfy Chair tour of friendly Middle Eastern capitals -- hoping to inaugurate President Obama's peace push -- progress is being attempted on the Hamas-Israel truce front.

Hamas has reportedly offered a one-year truce, asking in return that Israel re-open all of Gaza's border crossings and allow Turkey to play a major role in international monitoring in the Strip. Hamas also wants/plans to take credit for all of the rebuilding in Gaza.

And Hamas also has a stern warning to its political rival, the PA and Prez Mahmoud Abbas: you're either with us, or your with Israel. Abu Mazen hasn't exactly come out of this latest conflict looking like Mandela. And after cracking down on Palestinian freedom of expression in the West Bank while Gaza burned and suffered, the PA increasingly looks weak, desperate, tyrannical and scared. Abbas is a fiddle away from seeing Nero's mug in his own mirror.

The titular head of the Palestinian nation has been feebly working on the peace process with Israel and the U.S., efforts that to Hamas's eyes culminated in Israel's bombardment and invasion of Gaza, a conflict the opining on which Abbas was largely absent. So Hamas wants to know: Hey Mahmoud, which side are you on?

(By the way, Abbas's term as President officially ended on January 9. Now ineptitude is not his only problem; his legitimacy is now officially in question. This won't be lost on his interlocuters when Hamas and the PA meet in Egypt next month for reconciliation talks.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Classic Qaddafi on YouTube: 1991 interview on Channer TV

YouTube was made for a man like Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi, whether it's that time he pitched a Bedouin tent inside the Kremlin, or that time he showed up in the Ukraine with an all-female bodyguard corps, or that time he was offering his exegesis on the Holy Books when he randomly threw in the line: "...in Scandinavia, women are naked."

But one of the best finds is this one: A full hour devoted to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, recorded back in the summer of 1991, and broadcast on Channer TV, the DIY news show by Harold Hudson Channer, the Larry King of lefty public access television. (Obviously if Larry King were a lefty, he'd be on public access too.)

And now, to save you having to watch the full hour, the Tuque Souq happily presents a blow-by-blow rundown of this "Conversation with Channer."

Channer's laborious introduction of the program, the country of Libya, and just what is meant by "Jamahuriyya." The host starts to betray his man-crush on Qaddafi.

Channer introduces Qaddafi, who sits in a tent in the Libyan desert with his hands between his legs, unsure if he's supposed to respond. Hudson asks his first question, and Qaddafi with seemingly unfocused attention listens to his translator.

The guy dubbing Qaddafi's voice into English definitely flunked out of comedy school. Qaddafi starts explaining his theory of the 3 natural stages of government, the last and most glorious of which is the jamahuriyya -- the rule of the masses by the masses for the masses, in a participatory democracy rather than a representative democracy. The Colonel is just a wee bit fidgety on his chair (his ADHD is acting up), and the word "people" is used in hilarious excess.

Channer looks star-struck as he asks Qaddafi if the latter has trouble elucidating his theory of perfect government for a Western audience. Qaddafi's body language insists that he could care less about the topic of conversation, though the topic has turned to his entire revolutionary ethos - his Green Book. Quintessential Muammar: his manner suggests "Meh, whatever, let's get high in this tent and I'll show you my collection of naughty playing cards."

The broadcast returns to the cringingly arid Channer alone in his studio explaining the last bit of the interview, where he also talks briefly about the "Qaddafi Prize of Human Rights," and for some reason this section is spliced with stills of American Indian rights posters. Channer compares the lure of Qaddafi and his theory of participatory government with the so-called Town Hall style of American political organization, the kind which helped propel H. Ross Perot into the 1992 U.S. presidential election.

Okay, Channer is by now fully in love with Qaddafi. Even in his dry narrating style, his inflection starts to rise. To Channer Qaddafi is like a cross between Vlad Lenin and John Lennon.

Back to Qaddafi in the tent. First question to the Colonel: "Are you optimistic concerning the human prospect?" In his answer, Qaddafi quotes Jesus, and makes Star Wars-like references to the never-ending battle between Good and Evil. We've now fully tipped the comedy scale, yet Qaddafi has started to slouch in his chair as he talks about the necessary downfall of capitalism at the expense of perhaps millions of lives.

Qaddafi's attention span is starting to wane as he's forced to answer a question about the machine of capitalism being oiled by the blood of the workers (or something). He inexplicably laughs after overstating the U.S. population, and then interviewer and interviewee cordially agree that there's not much time left for the Revolution to spread across the globe. But Channer is getting more esoteric, and Qaddafi looks like he has to pee.

Whoa, the camera angle suddenly changes, and we see a silhouetted Qaddafi from the side, staring out into the vastness of the Libyan desert. The Colonel tries to bring the conversation to a close by saying that if everyone just reads his Green Book, the Revolution will work quite harmoniously. Channer is practically itching to bow and wash Qaddafi's feet, he worships him so much. Then Channer, his hands curled like claws, lays this one-liner: "This time is existential." Qaddafi is nodding.

Qaddafi decides that we need to foment a cultural revolution amongst the young people of the world. Channer is just feeding his own ideas about reforming America to Qaddafi, and Qaddafi is very agreeable that America must change. "These ideas must get to the people."

Qaddafi abruptly announces: "I think we've had enough for now" and cuts off the interview, stretching his arms behind his head. "But you're most welcome to come back another time if you wish." As they leave the tent and walk into the desert, Channer clearly wants to hug the Colonel. The camera pans away from the two men - perhaps they embrace? Actually, Channer continues to talk but the translator is no longer around, and Qaddafi stares over Channer's head and pretends to care what this funny little bald American disciple is saying about Chinese food or something.

A nearly breathless Channer closes with a final, ten-minute panegryic to Qaddafi's Libya, and directs the audience to where they can order their own copy of the Green Book.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama sworn in as President of Gaza

Three things are evident in the editorial coverage of the Israel/Hamas ceasefire:

1) There is undeniable innuendo that the glory of Obama's inauguration caused the tanks and rockets to fall silent; this was necessary so that the entire world could watch the Bush-to-Obama transformation unfettered.

2) There continues to be this absurd insinuation that Hamas is a multi-headed beast with a frail body; that if you chop off the heads (Yassin, Rantisi, Siam... someday Zahhar, Haniyeh, Meshal) that the body will fall over and decay into humus from which will rise the body of a docile farm animal agreeable to Western palates.

3) One shouldn't drink hot coffee while reading the National Post; there's a dangerous potential to burn one's nasal passages.

In the Toronto Star, Monday's editorial painted a monochrome portrait of destruction/relief in Gaza, then panned to Obama's side of the court with a plea that the new prez bring his change to the peace process. But then, columnist Martin Regg Cohn urged Obama to direct the peace process status quo ante. Well then, good thing there's another Clinton on the field.

The Globe and Mail's Friday editorial was the cause of some chortling at the Tuque Souq; Hamas, it said, should accept the inevitability of defeat, in perpetuity, forever. Unfortunately, the very reason that Hamas now sits before the typewriter of the Palestinian national narrative is because it won't accept defeat. And this, in a perversely cyclical way, is the reason it picks a fight with such an unbeatable military force. Recall Hamas's campaign slogan from 2006: "One hand builds, the other resists." There will be a lot of building to do in Gaza now.

An op-ed in Monday's Globe said that among the victories that Israel can take from this war are a) that now Israel in unquestionably militarily superior to Hamas; and b) that now it is revealed that Hamas's promises and proclamations are empty rhetoric. 'Duh' journalism at its finest.

The Montreal Gazette parsed the "hate-mongers" amongst the more legitimate protesters, but over at the National Post, well, now it's time to laugh:
“Many [supporters of the Palestinian side] were the genuinely good-hearted college sophomores, possessing naiveté and Che Guevara T-shirts, claiming to “understand” the “root causes” of suicide bombers, while still regretting their toll on humanity...

In Gaza today, with no real 'occupation' to resist, and Hamas’ organized attacks against Israel, those supporting the Palestinian side have a much harder time arguing ethical equivalence...

Relatively moderate voices, and the let's-get-along crowd, with less to say, and probably less motivation to say it, are crowded out by those who loudly root against Israel as a general rule: postmodernists, hard-edge Islamists and old fashioned anti-Semites.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

From underneath the rubble of Gaza

“From talking to many people, I can say that Palestinians in Gaza are against the continuation of fighting. They are relieved it is over. Hamas has sensed that; therefore, Hamas political leaders have decided to abide by the truce. From talking to Hamas senior leaders, one can sense their interest in the truce not only because of the public pressure but also because they need to succeed in governance.

“Regarding the firing of the rockets, there is split of opinion. Those supporting Hamas view the Qassam rockets as a method to put pressure on Israel to ease their lives. One woman said, 'It’s symbolic. With firing the Qassam rockets, we want the world to notice our issue of occupation,' one Hamas member said. 'The goal is to try to create a balance in fear.' On the other hand, there is a stronger voice that is against the rockets. Their logic is: why invite an Israeli retaliation? It will be interesting to see if that voice will become louder in the coming stage. It’s too early to come out with a conclusion regarding Hamas’s popularity. Definitely there are those who are disappointed at Hamas for driving them into this stage, but we can’t ignore those who are blaming Israel.”

-- Taghreed El-Khodary, New York Times Gaza correspondent, in an interview about her time in the Strip during the war.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stop and reload?

The morning after the ceasefire, which is Israel's, as Gazans are walking the streets and surveying the damage of 22 days of ceaseless bombardment which has killed at least 1300, including 410 children, the Middle East press is weighing the possibilities of conflict resolution:

A Ha'aretz editorial warns that a long-term solution has to consider the interests and fears of Egypt as well as of the people of Gaza. Yedioth Ahronot spells out exactly why Egypt can't be counted upon to be part of the solution. The Jerusalem Post tells all Israelis to continue living in fear.

Asharq alawsat exposes the hypocrasy of the Doha Arab summit; the Daily Star agrees. Al-Ahram says that Gaza is Egypt's nightmare it cannot ignore. Al-Hayat argues that a political solution must find a way to reward Palestinians for their steadfastness.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Who Blamed Who" tops the charts in the Middle East during Gaza War

Now that a cease-fire is in effect in Gaza (or, depending on when you wake up Sunday morning, it could already be over), we can pause and examine the status of the blame game for the war.

Obviously, Israel blamed Hamas, and Hamas blamed Israel.

Gamal Essam el-Din, writing in Al-Ahram weekly [ENGLISH], had an enviable perch inside the recent meeting of Arab delegations in Cairo, from which he observed the cacaphony of Who blamed Whom for What When in collaboration with Whom against Whom and How? Libya blamed Egypt, which blamed Hamas, and also Israel, and then Iran, while Syria got blamed for something, and Saudi Arabia, and Hezbollah, and then someone suggested kicking Egypt out of the Arab League.

In Israel, nationalist parties Yisrael Beitenu and National Union accused Israel's Arab parliamentarians of sympathizing with Hamas, blaming them for inflaming the conflict through anti-patriotic rhetoric. The result: Israel's Election Commission has banned Arab political parties from participation in next month's national election.

A group of British Jews blamed Israel, while the British Arabic press blamed Hamas. Syria was blamed for using Hamas as a pawn in its interminable chess match with Israel. The NY Times reported that Israelis blame everyone in the world but themselves.

People in Auckland blamed America and threw shoes at the U.S. consulate.

And in a couple of days (or hours), Israel will probably blame Hamas for violating the conditions of its unilateral ceasefire. And Hamas will again blame Israel for being Israel.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nasrallah: Israel has naughty plans for Hamas, Hezbollah

Some double entendre going on in the translation of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's latest speech about the Gaza war. I won't ruin it for you (it comes at about the 2:00 mark of the video), but it suffices to say that the perfectly good verb that Nasrallah uses with respect to what Israel hopes to do with Hamas and Hezbollah -- نقل which means 'to displace' or 'transfer,' 'translocate,' -- is translated a bit more creatively by the subtitlist.

Monday, January 12, 2009

'Shoe Intifada' update: Not just the sole means of protest

Since last month's aerial bombardment of George W. Bush by an Iraqi journalist, both shoe-throwing and shoe-related puns have taken on global proportions not seen since little Nikita Krushchev bared his sole at the United Nations in 1960.

For starters, here are some photos of demonstrators in Montreal throwing shoes at a picture of George W. Bush (and an article about the protest, complete with unavoidable puns).

Protesters threw shoes at the Egyptian embassy in Beirut protesting Egypt's lack of assistance to Palestinians during the Israeli assault of Gaza. Egypt was willing to lend a hand, but apparently not...

A shoe-throwing bonanza was underway in Iran, as demonstrators threw shoes at caricatures of Bush. Was that the sole means of protest?

Shoe-throwing was planned at a peace rally in Johannesburg, South Africa: A crowd was planning to throw shoes at a picture of George W. Bush to celebrate his forthcoming retirement, but then someone burned the picture before the shoe-ing could commence.

A member of the Turkish parliament declared that Israeli PM Ehud Olmert deserved a pair of shoes hurled at his mug after what Israel did to Gaza. Turkish shoes? (Actually, a Turkish company claims it made the shoes that Iraqi journalist Muntazir al-Zaidi threw at Bush).

A man in New York City threatened a city official with a shoe in a protest over the high cost of transit fare. Guess he's tired of hoofing it.

A Seattle blogger is trying to encourage demonstrators to donate their shoes to charity after throwing them; apparently there's a move afoot to throw shoes at the Federal Building on Obama's inauguration day.

In Los Angeles, a celebrity shoe-throwing drive is being organized. Bush has been invited and might participate, but certainly Paris Hilton is a shoe-in.

An op-ed from Africa proposes testing all future world leaders for their shoe-ducking acumen. (Or perhaps sandal-ducking, for this former Senate candidate.)

A retail shoe store in China was giving a discount to customers who could hit an image of Bush with a shoe. Hey, if the shoe fits...

Some of the political cartoons satirizing the event [d'oh, the link is gone] have met with angry letters from pro-Bush readers, such as this guy and this gal. Well, we've all got to follow our own sole.

And finally, the website Sockandawe.com offers you, the blogreader, a chance to throw your own virtual shoe at Bush. More than 78 million have hit him so far.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Saudi executions down 33% in 2008, but the damned aren't consoled

The decapitation of Mohamad al-Sehimi in Saudi Arabia on December 30th brought the number of executions in the kingdom in 2008 to 102, which is way more than even Texas.

The Saudi record for executions in a year is 158, set last year, according to Amnesty International.

For 2009, whither Mohamed and Sultan Kohail, the Canadian brothers on death row in Saudi Arabia for allegedly causing the death of a classmate in a schoolyard skirmish? Ever since our government went on a 7-week holiday, there's been no update on the status of the Harper clique's attempt to bring the brothers home.

The Kohails remain on death row in Saudi Arabia, facing execution by beheading. They are not alone. Rizana Nafeek faces the death penalty any day now for the alleged killing of a child she was babysitting; she was 17 at the time and never saw a lawyer on her way to sentencing. She's also not a Saudi national, rather a foreign worker like much of the kingdom's labour force.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2008 Middle East Blog of the Year Finalists

Well, the Tuque Souq didn't crack the shortlist, but here are the finalists for the 2008 Weblog Awards in the category "Best Middle East or Africa Blog":

Add to any feed reader Michael J. Totten
Add to any feed reader Martin Kramer on the Middle East
Add to any feed reader Elder of Ziyon
Add to any feed reader Fundamentally Freund
Add to any feed reader My Marrakesh
Add to any feed reader Informed Comment
Add to any feed reader The Sudanese Thinker
Add to any feed reader Muslimah Media Watch
Add to any feed reader Days of My Life
Add to any feed reader Israellycool

Check 'em out, and then you can vote for the winner at the '08 Blog Awards website. The deadline for votes is Jan 13.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Canadian media use human shields as shields against humanity

Thumbing the pages of Canada's major national dailies, it's not hard to discern that the editors prefer Israel's acknowledged defence to Hamas' accused offence on the topic of the current bloody brouhaha going on in Gaza.
Canada's largest-circulation daily, the Toronto Star, said on December 30 that "Israel is justified, but at what cost?" Expounding, the editorial sought a nuanced perspective:
"First let it be said that it is understandable why Israeli forces are attacking Gaza... It can be argued, of course, that the Israeli counterattack is disproportionate. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in the past few days, while only two Israelis have died in the latest rocket attacks."
Nuanced is the article, though not the difference between "Let it be said..." and "It can be argued..." And then...
"But that just points to the difficulty of mounting an attack against a covert force using civilians as shields."
A sweeping grab of all Gazan civilians as human shields? So much for nuance.

A few days later, on January 3, the Star sobered up:
"[M]oderate Palestinians are becoming radicalized by the lopsided war. This past week 430 Gazans, including women and children, were reported killed and 2,200 hurt; four Israelis have died."
The Star then argued that Canada should offer to send monitors to Gaza as part of a UN initiative. But the Star knows what happened to the last Canadian soldier stationed between Israel and its adversary.

The Globe and Mail's January 6 editorial was less than "measured"...
"The ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, to prevent the firing of rockets into Israel, is consistent with the Israeli government's prudent, limited war aims... If the Israel Defence Forces have to return again and again, to suppress new supplies of such rockets, so be it."
... and practically offered tactical advice to the IDF...
"The seizure of a few apartment buildings on [Gaza] city's outskirts, however, makes sense to provide the IDF with good vantage points... The priority is to root out as many rocket-launching positions and mobile militia squads as possible."
... and compared - very oddly - Israel's siege of Gaza with that of Stalingrad:
"...avoiding the horrific precedents of Stalingrad in 1942 and Manila in 1945."
Um, who besieged Stalingrad again?

A rather feeble January 3 editorial in the Globe mentioned that,
"... the broad Israeli public is sick to death of eight years of rocket attacks from Gaza."
... which is certainly true, but they neglected to mention anything about the broad Gaza Strip public and its metaphorical health vis-a-vis 42 years of Israeli oppression. The editorial concluded with the meek line,
"International pressure is needed to persuade both sides to accept an exit plan before an already deadly conflict takes a turn for the worse."
It's worse.

The National Post, which has opined on the recent conflict with the help of notorious Israel apologist Daniel Pipes, went to press on January 6 with an editorial that unambiguously called Israel "the victim" and further summed up Gaza's entire civilian population as human shields...
"Never mind that Israel's campaign in Gaza has been humane by military standards -- surgically killing hundreds of Hamas gunmen yet only a few dozen of their human shields."
"Humane" is a matter of opinion, but civilian deaths are a matter of fact lost so often by the press during the past week. At the time of this editorial, more than one hundred Palestinian civilians were confirmed killed.

Now it's up well over 200.

[Editor's note: Don't think for a sec that we condone or defend the deliberate use of human shields by combatants, nor willy-nilly apologize for the belligerence of Hamas. But the fact of the matter is that the Gaza Strip is not exactly the Ardennes Forest. Humans live everywhere in the Gaza Strip, densely. And while we would prefer to see neither side engage in armed conflict, and further deplore the deliberate use of human shields (such as Israel did during the siege of Jenin Refugee Camp in 2002), it is undeniable that residency in the Gaza Strip does not ipso facto make one a "human shield." There are 1.7 million residents in the Gaza Strip. We acknowledge that, just as we acknowledge that war ain't pretty and all people under oppression have a right to defend themselves, be they residents of a town under rocket fire or residents of a Strip under bombardment. We humbly argue that the mainstream media should acknowledge likewise.]

Israeli-Palestinian Cyberwar releases version 2.0

According to a story from ABC News, within 48 hours of the start of Israel's bombing campaign against Gaza, "anti-Israeli hackers based in Turkey, Iran and elsewhere violated the security of more than 300 [Israeli] Web sites and replaced the existing content with their own messages and images...

"[A]n American cybercrimes expert said thousands of Israeli and American Web sites have been defaced by radical Muslim hackers. A broad spectrum of sites, including those belonging to small businesses, a media company and a cargo airline, have been hacked into and plastered with anti-Israeli and anti-American messages."

There are reports of anti-Israel hacks originating in Turkey, Morocco, Iran, Europe, and other places, as well as from the Palestinian territories.

Israeli hackers are engaging their cyber arms, too. One group recently hacked into to the website of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades - Hamas' military wing - and uploaded the Israeli national anthem.

Apparently Hamas is even offering rewards to hackers who come up with innovative ways to strike Israeli targets. Palestinian Islamic Jihad has its own cyber-warfare brigade.

According to one research paper from the Military Review (a U.S. Army journal), the Israeli-Palestinian cyberwar dates back to 1999. Then in 2000, just after the second Intifada began:
Israeli teenage hackers created a website to jam Hezbollah and Hamas websites in Lebanon. The teenagers launched a sustained denial of service attack that effectively jammed six websites of the Hezbollah and Hamas organizations in Lebanon and of the Palestinian National Authority. This seemingly minor website attack sparked a cyberwar that quickly escalated into an international incident. Palestinian and other supporting Islamic organizations called for a cyber Holy War, also called a cyber-Jihad or e-Jihad. Soon after, hackers struck three high-profile Israeli sites belonging to the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and an Israeli Defense Force information site. Later, hackers also hit the Israeli Prime Minster's Office, the Bank of Israel, and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. [More]
And well, things have only gotten more sophisticated since then.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Gaza War: "Life must go on..."

If you haven't seen it, check out this blog called "Life must go on in Gaza and Sderot."

It's written by two men, one called "Hope Man" who lives in the Israeli town of Sderot, just east of the border with the Gaza Strip. The other, "Peace Man," lives in Gaza City.

They started their blog as electronic acquaintances wanting to provide 2 sides of the story of their perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sderot is the town in greatest danger of being struck by Hamas' homemade missiles, and Gaza is, well, Gaza.

Obviously this blog has gotten even more insightful in the past week or so.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Iran to Blogfather: Don't ever go against the family

"A man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
- Don Corleone

Recently Iran's judiciary confirmed the whereabouts of Iranian-Canadian Hossein Derakhshan, a.k.a. the "Blogfather" in honour of his pioneering work in the field of Persian-language blogging.

Those whereabouts: oh, he's in the Iranian judiciary's custody. You know, with the family.

While on a visit to Iran, the Blogfather was arrested at the home of his actual family in Tehran around November 1, then was not heard from for some time.

Now Canadian officials in Iran have been alerted to the situation, but no one is yet sure why the Blogfather is under arrest or how he's been treated, or what offers have been made him that he possibly can't refuse.

Speculation is that the Blogfather was grabbed for violating Iran's strict laws against insulting Islam. Wilder stories include the charge that he is an Israeli spy, the punishment for which is sleeping with the fishes.

The record of the Blogfather's blog leaves one wondering which family he's working for. After all, times have changed. It's not like the old days, when [he] could do anything [he] wanted.

October 27, 2005:
I'm very sorry about what this fundamentalist moron [Ahmadinejad] who happens to be Iran's president has recently said [about wiping Israel off the map]. But I have to say he doesn't represent the way the majority in Iran think. This guy is a fraud... Ahmadinejad only represents a small number of radical clerics around Mesbah and some Revolutionary Guards commanders who benefit from violence and war. Ahmadinejad is an indirect result of America's policy shift against the reformists in Iran.
September 25, 2008:
Today is the eighth anniversary of this blog, which I started in September 25th, 2001. But it's amazing how some people are rewriting the history of the Iranian blogosphere as if I never existed and I did nothing for it. These were the same people who started calling me the blogfather after they made their own blogs using my instruction and technical help and now that they don't like my politics, they would rather removing me from teh [sic] whole narrative. But I'm sure in two years many of them would be where I am today, politically speaking.
And his last post, from October 5, 2008, just before the Blogfather disappeared:
Ahmadinejad's brilliant strategy of dismissing Israel and smiling to the U.S. has divided the the U.S. in all levels and that's a big achievement comparing to Khatami's weak anf failed U.S. strategy that led to Iran being part of the 'axis of evil'. Now the same Bush administration has officially opened the diplomatic line. Please get over Ahmadinejad's scruffy look, prayers, and plain language and see these achievements.
In summary, the Blogfather has been extremely crititcal of the Iranian government, its autocratic clerics and its current president. He's also (lately) been extremely supportive of the current Iranian regime.

No doubt the confused Ahmadinejad is just wondering of the Blogfather, "What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you'd come to me in friendship, then this scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you."

Or something.