Saturday, November 30, 2013


A student in one of my classes got quite angry when I mentioned that  Israel cannot be classified as a free market economy. Israel continues to receive the most aid of any country in the world, from the US and currently receives $3. billion a year. Given that there only 6 million approx can do the maths and see how much Israeli citizens are being subsidized by the American taxpayer..

This explains US aid to Israel:

Here is an opinion piece

US military aid to Israel isn't just about Israel's defense, but is helping to subsidize its defense industry.
The US sends military aid and technology to Israel, which helps to subsidize its thriving weapons industry. In turn, Israel sells weapons to China (which doesn't sit well with the US) and many other countries. Israel is the world's sixth largest weapons exporter.

Aid money from the US is used to develop Israeli industries which in turn compete with American businesses.

While Israel does have some free trade agreements, its defense sector is largely protected by US aid paid for by US taxpayers. The irony is, Israel has been under fire for selling its weapons to China.

For an account from 2002 of Israel's protective tariffs , see this:

There is no reason to suppose this has changed much since then. There have been massive protests in Israel due to poverty and financial restrictions. Here is a blog that explains Israel's LACK of competition, and you can check out the facts yourself:

"The main reason why it is so hard for Israelis to earn a decent living is that the Israeli economy is strangled by anti-competitive behavior by business in cooperation with government bureaucracy. It wouldn’t cost money for the government to stop doing the things it is doing that enable Israeli businesses to make undeserved profits while operating inefficiently and charging excessive prices. :

Thursday, November 14, 2013


To deal with the huge influx of Palestinian refugees into Lebanon, the 1969 Cairo Agreement was crafted which gave the precursor PLO jurisdiction over camps of Palestinian refugees previously under the rule of the Lebanese government. It also gave the right to Palestinians to pursue an armed struggle against Israel. Thus the refugee camps became the base of the PLO and there developed a 'state within a state' situation in S Lebanon. The Sunni Palestinians in their hundreds of thousands caused an imbalance in the Confessional domestic political system which exists in Lebanon. The presence of the PLO contributed to national tensions and triggered the Israeli occupations/ attacks on Lebanon in the 1970s and 80s. The Cairo Agreement was repealed by the Lebanese government in 1987. A good book about this is:
Cobban, Helena (1984). The Palestinian Liberation Organisation: People, Power, and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

US-Lebanese relations
 Israel was at war in Lebanon during the 1970s  causing high civilian death toll and damage to Lebanon’s economy, particularly in the largely Shiite southern part of the country, where there were PLO camps.  Israel had attacked Lebanon because it had PLO fighters on its territory. The PLO had been formed as a resistance army and political party against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. President Carter in 1978 backed a UNSC resolution condemning the Israeli attack. In 1981, after Israel had bombed a heavily populated neighborhood in Beirut, President Reagan brokered a cease fire. However, in 1982, Israel continued to bomb Beirut and the US reversed its position and backed Israel. In 1982, the US brokered an agreement in which the PLO had to evacuate to Tunisia. The US then withdrew. Right wing Lebanese  Phalangists took advantage of this withdrawal, and  massacred over 1,000 civilians under the watch of Israeli occupation forces in 2 refugee camps.

The Hezbollah (Party of God) emerged in the early 1980s as a Shia Islamic militant organization that was formed as an armed resistance to Israeli occupations and attacks in Lebanon. Today, there are Hezbollah members in the Lebanese Parliament.

The US had supported the Phalangists and the  Israeli invasion in 1982, after Carter. In April 1983, suicide bombers struck the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people. US forces returned and the fighting between the Lebanese resistance to the Israeli occupation, and US forces continued. US forces finally withdrew in 1984.

The historian Stephen Zunes (U of San Francisco) quotes  Jimmy Carter in an interview with the New York Times, in regard to Lebanon, “We bombed and shelled and unmercifully killed totally innocent villagers, women and children and farmers and housewives, in those villages around Beirut. As a result, we have become a kind of Satan in the minds of those who are deeply resentful. That is what precipitated the taking of hostages and that is what has precipitated some terrorist attacks.”

I havn't been able to find the original interview..


The Western media tends to support the claim that Islam was spread by the sword not  voluntary conversion. Here is what one student wrote in my INTL 5265 Middle East Studies class: "I understand that it is a contentious point in the west, but only in public and media spheres, not so much in academic ones. Those who are familiar with the history of Islam know that Muslim armies never reached Indonesia, east and West Africa for examples. The existence of Christian and Jewish communities (their numbers started dwindling only in recent history) in predominantly Muslim countries also denotes coexistence between Abrahamic communities was congenial. From a theological perspective, one of the most important tenets of Islam, as you know, is the notion of “intention;” no act – prayer, charity, fasting, hajj, etc - is accepted in Islam without a firm announced intent behind it. No one can forcibly be converted to Islam. With that said, I do agree that Muslim soldiers, much like any other armies, were guilty of atrocious transgressions during wars, to include forcible conversion. Those transgressions – labeled “war crimes” today - were condemned by Islamic scholars and jurists. There is plenty in the Coran and Hadith to support that condemnation. "