dezembro 30, 2008

‘A estratégia de escalada do conflito do Hamas‘ in Der Spiegel, 29 de Dezembro de 2008

The Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip entered its third day on Monday with over 300 Palestinians now dead. The Arab world is up in arms, and with Palestinians as fragmented as ever, the dream of an independent country seems no closer today than it did decades ago.

The anger quickly came to a boil on Saturday. Thousands of Israelis, both Jews and Arabs, were in Jaffa for an annual street festival. "The Arab peddlers were so busy that it took awhile for the news from Gaza to spread," Sami Abu Shadeh, a member of the center-left, Arab-Israeli Balad party, recalled on Sunday. It was noon before he found a television. "By then," he says, "there were already 120 dead."

In the ensuing hours, Shadeh said, everything seemed to move in fast-forward. Quickly, a meeting was called bringing together representatives from Jaffa's 20,000-strong Arab minority. Shutting down the street festival was the first priority. "The further the news from Gaza spread, the more the tension could be felt in the air," Shadeh said. "We were afraid that there would be violence between our youth and the Jewish festival-goers."

In the end, the community leaders managed to channel the growing rage into an orderly protest. For two hours, Koran verses streamed out of the loudspeakers of the minarets in Jaffa, a largely Arab-Israeli quarter of Tel Aviv, as 2,000 people silently commemorated the dead.

The anger, though, remains. Across the Middle East -- in Beirut, Damascus, Cairo, the West Bank and within Israel itself where 20 percent of the population is made up of Palestinians -- people have taken to the streets in rage and grief. Anti-Israeli marches have likewise been held as far away as Karachi and Jakarta. A group of Iranian clerics is signing up volunteers to fight in the Gaza Strip.

'Ready to Die'

An Indonesian militant group told Reuters on Monday that it planned to recruit up to 1,000 volunteers to fight in the Gaza Strip. "Fighters should be in good physical condition, have a strong faith and be ready to die," said Ahmad Soebri Lubis, head of the Islamic Defenders' Front.

Israeli fighter planes continued dropping bombs at targets within the Gaza Strip on Monday, with the Interior Ministry being hit early in the morning. Over 300 Palestinians have been killed in the three-day-old offensive and more than 600 wounded. The attack began not long after Hamas, the radical Palestinian group which holds power in Gaza, allowed a cease-fire to lapse and resumed firing rockets into Israel. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that a ground invasion has not been ruled out.

The air raids have already been among the most intense since the Six-Day War in 1967 -- and Abu Shadeh fears that harmony between Israel's Arabs and the rest of the country could soon be a thing of the past. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has even gone so far as to call for a third Intifada -- an uprising of all Palestinians against Israel.

But as bloody as the Israeli offensive has been, it comes largely as the result of a deeply cynical calculation on the part of Hamas. The Islamist group must have known that Israel would not tolerate the incessant cross-border rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip indefinitely. Since the six-month cease-fire between Hamas and Israel ended on Dec. 19, dozens of rockets once again began landing well inside Israel, killing one civilian last week and another, an Arab-Israeli, on Monday.

For weeks, the threats voiced by Israel had been clear and unmistakeable. Only last Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued a stark warning to the Palestinians in an interview with an Arab TV channel: "Stop it" -- or Israel would respond with violence to the rocket launchers and their backers, was his message.

Hamas' Need for Violence

That, though, is exactly what Hamas seems to have been banking on. For Hamas, the gruesome television pictures that were beamed around the world following the Israeli air raids appear to have been part of the plan. They appear to have deliberately factored in the suffering of innocent victims when they refused to prolong their cease-fire with Israel. Ultimately, Hamas hopes the current escalation of violence will make the West take it seriously as a negotiating partner.

Otherwise it wouldn't have provoked Israel and its mighty army. The Hamas leadership accepted the possibility that Palestinian civilians would be hurt in the Israeli counter-attack. The Hamas infrastructure is deliberately located in city districts where civilians live.

It seems unlikely that Hamas will ultimately be successful. The Palestinians are simply too divided to provide a unified response to Israel -- too split for a third Intifada. On a political level, that became abundantly clear on Sunday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah Party has the upper hand in the West Bank, condemned the attacks, but seemed to partially blame Hamas for the ongoing bloodbath in the Gaza Strip.

"We talked to them (Hamas) and we told them 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened," Abbas said on Sunday in Cairo, where he had traveled for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

'We Don't Do Politics'

Even among the moderate Palestinians living in Israel, the comment did not play well. "Imagine: hundreds of his fellow Palestinians have been killed and he uses the opportunity to blame the opposing party," Abu Shadeh said in Jaffa. "I really don't know what to expect anymore."

Shadeh's confusion is understandable. The entire Arab world is united in its condemnation of Israel. Many in Europe have likewise criticized the Israelis for overreacting and using disproportionate violence. But among the Palestinians themselves, the situation could hardly be more complicated. They are scattered across the Middle East -- from Beirut to Cairo -- and their politics fall across the political spectrum. Some are ready to fight and die to achieve their goal of a Middle East free of Israelis. Others seek to make peace with their Jewish neighbors. And the two dominant Palestinian parties, Hamas and Fatah, are united only in their hate for one another.

Israel, in its regional dominance, has made it even more difficult for the Palestinians to work together, meaning the dream of an independent country seems no closer today than it did decades ago. The Palestinians quite simply have little political leverage because they have no political unity.

In Jaffa on Sunday, Arab-Israelis seemed intent on keeping a low profile. A restaurant owner there was one of many who was unwilling to comment on the ongoing violence. He ran his finger across his mouth, as if closing a zipper. "We make kebabs here," he said. "We don't do politics.",1518,598656,00.html
JPTF 2008/12/30

dezembro 29, 2008

Leituras: ‘O Evangelho Politicamente Correcto‘ de Peter Mullen

If the original gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written today, they would never get published. They are far too politically incorrect. Modern Britain would never tolerate such primitive descriptions as the blind, deaf and lunatic. And Jesus Christ was surely outrageously judgemental - promising to set the wicked on his left hand and send them to everlasting punishment. Frankly Jesus Christ was just too discriminatory. Christ's outmoded notions of sin are far too downbeat for our liberated modern times. And fancy saying that charitable works should be done secretly, when nowadays we all know to make a great song and dance about any good we do. Here then is The Politically-Correct Gospel - the only gospel that could possibly find a publisher in this, our enlightened age. And a great improvement on the stuffy, disapproving originals it is, too. Here we find accessible and inclusive language, through the beautiful phraseology of the Authorised Version. The blind have been replaced by the visually-challenged, the deaf by the hearing-impaired and the lunatics have bipolar disorder. All of the Bible's negative and repressive language on sexual morality has, thankfully, been dropped. The Politically Correct Gospel is an inclusive gospel that that truly speaks to modern People, strives to dispense with all the nonsense about guilt and sin, and seeks greatly to encourage our sense of self-esteem. (Apresentação do livro feita na contracapa).
JPTF 2008/12/29

dezembro 15, 2008

Referendo ao Tratado de Lisboa: insistam, insistam até que os irlandeses digam ‘sim‘

A former senior MEP claimed last night that a rerun of the Lisbon Treaty vote was "a done deal" between Ireland and European Union leaders.

Danish veteran Jens Peter Bonde added that the deal means a new vote will contain declarations with lots of "nice words" that wouldn't actually change "one single paragraph" in the Lisbon Treaty text.

Mr Bonde, a noted Eurosceptic and an opponent of the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties, added: "I know that the French president has told European group leaders in the European Parliament, in confidentiality, that there is a deal now with the Irish government and the French presidency on the . . . rerun."

Mr Bonde's claims were rejected by Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, who insisted the Taoiseach was travelling to Brussels today to discuss "elements of a solution".

"No deal has been done," he said. "If a deal is done, it has to be arrived at by the 27 member states at the Council on Thursday and Friday. I can assure you that no deal has been arrived at."

With any future solution heavily reliant on Ireland being able to retain its permanent European Commissioner, Mr Martin said some states still preferred the proposed new system that allowed for a rotation of commissioners.


But the minister said he was encouraged by President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso's remark that he was "convinced" Irish voters' concerns could be met.

Meanwhile, an alliance of 'No' campaigners yesterday said the Government was "conspiring" behind voters' backs to rerun the treaty on the wider agenda of the economic crisis.

Pledging an "intensified effort" if there is a second referendum, Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party claimed there would be an attempt by the Government to "panic" people into voting 'Yes' to save their jobs and homes.

Patricia McKenna of the People's Movement said the Government was trying to make a link between EU membership, Lisbon and tackling the economic crisis. "The public aren't stupid and I don't believe they're going to buy into this argument," she added.

"There is now an attempt to go behind the backs of the people and to find another way to force this through, whether it be through a referendum or through some other procedure."

Sinn Fein's Aengus O Snodaigh claimed the Government was intent on getting people to "keep voting until you get the correct answer", while Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) claimed a constitutional challenge was possible against the holding of a second referendum.

OBS: O texto transcrito foi publicado pelo jornal irlandês Independent (URL) sob o título 'Deal is already done' on Lisbon rerun,

JPTF 15/12/2008

‘O plano climático da União Europeia‘, cartoon de Bertrams no jornal Het Parool de Amesterdão

dezembro 14, 2008

‘Paquistão ligado a 75% dos planos terroristas no Reino Unido‘ afirma Gordon Brown in Times, 14 de Dezembro de 2008

Winding up a two-day tour of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, the Prime Minister urged Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's President, to "break the chain of terror" linking Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attempted terrorist attacks in Britain.

British military officials believe there are a "handful" of British militants fighting alongside the Taleban in Afghanistan, often entering the country through northern Pakistan, where al Qaeda and Taleban leaders are thought to be sheltering.

Officials also believe that there are currently around 30 major terrorist plots in the United Kingdom with 2,000 suspects being watched by police and the intelligence services.

"Three quarters of the most serious plots investigated by the British authorities have links to al-Qaeda in Pakistan," said Mr Brown in a press conference alongside Mr Zardari in the presidential palace in Islamabad. "The time has come for action, not words."

Speaking just a few hours after meeting Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister, in Delhi, Mr Brown also formally declared for the first time that Britain backs India's assertion that Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group with links to Pakistan's military-run spy agency, carried out the Mumbai attack.

His remarks were clearly designed to heap pressure on Pakistan's civilian government to do more to crack down on militant groups in the wake of the Mumbai strike, which killed at least 170 people, including three British citizens.

The whirlwind trip was part of an international diplomatic effort, led by the United States, to prevent the Mumbai attacks from sparking a fourth war between India and Pakistan, which both have nuclear weapons.

Tensions between the two countries escalated briefly but dramatically on Saturday night when Pakistan accused Indian fighter jets of violating its airspace, causing delays on Mr Brown's flight from Kabul to Delhi. India denied any transgression.

At their meeting in Delhi this morning, Mr Singh presented Mr Brown with a private list of "confidence building measures" that India wants Pakistan to agree to in order to stabilise relations.

Mr Brown also secured permission for British police to interview the only surviving militant from the Mumbai attack to investigate whether he has British connections.

Mr Singh gave the go-ahead for police and intelligence officials to speak to Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab, who has been undergoing "sustained interrogation" in a Mumbai jail since being captured on the first day of the attack.

The Prime Minister's meeting with his Indian counterpart was "sober" and dominated by the aftermath of the attacks, according to officials.

Afterwards, Mr Brown offered his sympathies to the Indian people. "I wanted to come to India to give my condolences and the whole Indian people at the terrible terrorist outrage in Mumbai that has shocked the world," he said.

Landing in Islamabad, Mr Brown made it clear he was in no doubt that LeT was responsible for the attacks, adding "they have a great deal to answer for".

Officials said he had been assured by British intelligence that LeT was responsible, despite denials from the group and claims by Pakistan authorities that they have been no evidence to that effect.

Western intelligence services are believed to have intercepted phone calls made by the Mumbai bombers to militants in Pakistan.

The Prime Minister offered an additional £6 million of assistance for security equipment for Pakistan, which has seen 50 suicide attacks this year compared to 7 in the previous year. "The aim must be to work together to do everything in our power to cut off terrorism," he said.

However he was rebuffed at the press conference by President Zardari, who refused to acknowledge Pakistani militants' involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

"They have still not completed their investigation. I'm hoping once the Indian government shares the information with us we will find whether there will be any culprits and will take action," the President said.

Pakistani officials admit that "non-state actors" in Pakistan may have been involved, but say they must tread carefully to prevent a backlash from the Pakistani public or from the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, Pakistan's military-run spy organisation.

They also say they are growing increasingly frustrated that Indian authorities have yet to show them any evidence against the Pakistani militants they been under pressure to arrest.

Meanwhile, US and British security services have been anxious to get involved in India's investigation to gain potentially valuable intelligence and bolster the case against Pakistani militants.

Mr Brown believes that interviewing Mr Qasab, the captured militant, will send a signal that the Mumbai attack was a crime against the international community as well as India.

Mr Qasab is currently in Indian custody until December 24 facing charges including murder, attempted murder, waging war against a country and criminal conspiracy.

He has said he is from Pakistan and has written to the Pakistani authorities asking for legal assistance, according to Indian police.

British police and intelligence services have been gathering evidence about the attacks in Mumbai for the last fortnight. They can interview Mr Qasab even if they have no intention of bringing British charges because one British citizen and two people with dual nationality were killed in the attacks.

Intelligence services do not have specific evidence that Mr Qasab has British links, but believe he may be able to shed light on terror networks active in Britain.

JPTF 2008/12/14

dezembro 10, 2008

‘A Grécia, um país de humor autodestrutivo‘ in Courrier International, 10 de Dezembro de 2008

por Alexis Papachelas

J'éprouve un profond sentiment de désespoir quand je vois mon pays dévaler une pente sans fin. Un de mes amis l'a bien résumé : "Tu te souviens de l'euphorie que nous avons connue quand nous avons remporté le Championnat d'Europe de football [en 2004], et durant l'été des Jeux olympiques [la même année] ? Eh bien, aujourd'hui, je ressens exactement le contraire."

La mort d'un adolescent abattu par la police dans le quartier [contestataire] d'Exarchia le 6 décembre et les destructions qui ont suivi ont déclenché la colère et une vague de folie qui a étouffé toute raison. Les adolescents descendent dans la rue parce qu'ils sont déçus de ce qu'on leur a légué et qu'ils savent à quel point il leur sera difficile de maintenir leur niveau de vie à l'avenir. Et ils ont en outre le sentiment qu'aujourd'hui tout est permis.

La classe moyenne se désespère parce qu'elle sent que le gouvernement [conservateur, dirigé par Costas Caramanlis] est incompétent ; elle redoute ce qui l'attend dans le domaine économique. Les policiers baissent les yeux parce qu'ils se sentent perdus et qu'ils ne savent pas exactement en quoi consiste leur mission et comment l'accomplir. Le gouvernement a perdu le sens des réalités, il vit dans sa tour d'ivoire et parle de complot tout en déployant de plus en plus d'unités antiémeutes. L'opposition n'a pas pris la mesure de la gravité de la situation et ne comprend pas que, si jamais elle revenait au pouvoir, bougies et belles paroles ne suffiraient pas, car les gens, surtout les jeunes, sont à bout.

Il est difficile de trouver une logique à la situation. Voilà un pays où l'Etat est désorganisé, où les forces de l'ordre sont désemparées, où des universités médiocres engendrent des foyers de colère plutôt que de transmettre le savoir, où le système de protection sociale est en ruine. Un pays qui, de plus, est au bord du gouffre financier. Et nous sommes là à débattre pour savoir si nous vivons dans un Etat policier, à revenir sur 1974 [la chute de la dictature des colonels], à ressasser les mêmes conversations sur les mêmes vieilles questions.

La responsabilité du gouvernement est immense. Une succession de scandales, d'erreurs et de décisions inadéquates a abouti à un Etat sans chef et à une inertie qui nous empêche d'aller de l'avant.
JPTF 2008/12/10

dezembro 09, 2008

A Questão de Chipre: Implicações para a União Europeia e a Adesão da Turquia

Situada no extremo oriental do mar Mediterrâneo, próxima da Turquia, da Síria e do Líbano, a ilha de Chipre é o território da União Europeia geograficamente mais afastado de Portugal. A distância geográfica acompanha a distância no (des)conhecimento da realidade política, social, económica e cultural do país. Chipre só tem visibilidade nos media quando as negociações de adesão da Turquia à União Europeia colidem com o problema da reunificação e as posições do governo cipriota.

Como é que se chegou a esta situação invulgar para a actual island of peace europeia? Porque é que a ilha foi dividida em 1974, de uma maneira que faz lembrar a Alemanha durante a Guerra Fria? Qual a razão porque este novo Estado-membro da União Europeia entrou truncado em mais de 1/3 do seu território e em cerca de 1/5 da sua população? Porque falhou o plano Plano Annan, no seu objectivo de reunificar as duas partes da ilha em 2004? Que se pode esperar do novo processo negociai relançado em 2008? Quais as consequências da perpetuação deste conflito para o futuro europeu e a adesão da Turquia? A análise em profundidade destas questões, numa abrangente perspectiva histórica, política e de relações internacionais, é o objecto central deste livro que preenche um vazio face à inexistência de estudos portugueses, de perfil académico-científico, sobre este importante assunto da política europeia e internacional (URL).

dezembro 06, 2008

‘As Humanidades afastam-se da Universidade‘ in City Journal, Outono de 2008,vol. 18, nº 4

por Victor Davis Hanson

Until recently, classical education served as the foundation of the wider liberal arts curriculum, which in turn defined the mission of the traditional university. Classical learning dedicated itself to turning out literate citizens who could read and write well, express themselves, and make sense of the confusion of the present by drawing on the wisdom of the past. Students grounded in the classics appreciated the history of their civilization and understood the rights and responsibilities of their unique citizenship. Universities, then, acted as cultural custodians, helping students understand our present values in the context of a 2,500-year tradition that began with the ancient Greeks.

But in recent decades, classical and traditional liberal arts education has begun to erode, and a variety of unexpected consequences have followed. The academic battle has now gone beyond the in-house “culture wars” of the 1980s. Though the argument over politically correct curricula, controversial faculty appointments, and the traditional mission of the university is ongoing, the university now finds itself being bypassed technologically, conceptually, and culturally, in ways both welcome and disturbing. [...]

OBS: Ver artigo completo  em 

JPTF 2008/12/06