Backtalk, August 22, 2006

Suddenly, I’m an ‘Islamic Fascist’

Hi Jonathan,

I am a Pakistani Muslim woman – I live next door to Walthamstow.

I have spent the last few years trying to convince my Muslim neighbors that we must respond to the rubbish that ill-educated gangster imams have been pounding our heads with. I have tried to argue that we must clean out our community – that we must explain to our young men that protesting against injustice is only right if done with decent, honorable means.

Violence is wrong, abuse is wrong, but what can we do if our government calls us names and places the blame on all of us? I am disgusted that men like John Reid can stand up and abuse the Muslims of Walthamstow, who have like any other group in London tried just to be decent Londoners – no one’s perfect – but indiscriminate blaming, goddammit, our Labor government wants to whip us all for questioning the bombings of others – what the hell are Muslims to do?

I too feel afraid of the authorities – I am losing confidence in them. Thanks for the articles you write – it’s good to see that the world is still awake and people are not all afraid to question one another.…

~ Nazia Shahid

Upheaval Ahead

“There is a second reason no potential Democratic nominee has yet demanded that Bush start bringing the troops home now. Democrats fear the peacenik label. For they believe this label, pinned on them by Nixon-Reagan-Bush Republicans, froze them out of the White House for 20 of the 24 years from 1968 to 1992. And they are right.”

This is one of the reasons the U.S. is so dysfunctional. It is political suicide to promote a “peace agenda,” or profess to be a peacemaker. The American way of life is war. War drives American politics, the American economy and is a mainstay of American culture. The United States is no longer, if it ever truly was, the “last, best hope of mankind.” America is the most serious threat to peace in 67 years.

Buchanan alludes to the folly this war has become. But I sense that the only reason that Buchanan is against this war is that the U.S. is losing it. Buchanan is not a man of peace. Buchanan is a leaf in the wind, taken where the political winds blows.

~ R.G. LeSage, Victoria, British Columbia

Matt Barganier replies:

Since Pat Buchanan opposed this war all along, as well as the first Gulf War and the Kosovo intervention before it, your criticism is inaccurate.


The video speaks for itself. The rising smoke between two apartment buildings draws the attention of the IAF pilot.

Next, three Katyusha rockets fly outbound from between the apartment buildings. At 27 seconds, in the lower right corner, a second Katyusha battery opens up, in the shadow of another building.

Distances can be seen as feet, not yards or miles.

The fact is that Hezbollah did use civilians and civilian infrastructure as human shields, in violation of the Third Geneva Convention. In so doing, the converted otherwise off-limits areas to militarized zones and legitimate military targets.


Eric Garris replies:

This is not news. Nor is it news that the only country who has a term “human shields” in their legal system is Israel, since they have rules about when they can and cannot use human shields. This law does not include the fact that they also put their military bases right next to Arab Israeli villages. At least U.S. taxpayers don’t pay for the deadly bombs that Hezbollah uses like we do for the deadly bombs Israel uses.

I was reading the Backtalk replies and something very interesting keeps happening on your replies. You never answer the real question of the people not agreeing with you. For example, Jim Clevenson posted a very realistic (less idealistic) answer about your article “Hypocrisy About Hezbollah.” You went on another tangent talking about the rhetoric of racism about the word “Arab” comparing it to “black,” but you did not get into what I call the “meat” of the posting. Why? I wonder, because in this day and age, idealism doesn’t work anymore. We can talk about peace all we want, but the reality is this:

The fanatic extremists are organized in different groups with the sole purpose of wiping everybody else’s ideals, including yours, Mr. Cook. Your freedom of speech, your religious inclination, and democratic ideals toward the region. You pound on Israel’s strategic bombings, but you don’t mention what has happened before this war. Hezbollah set up camp in Lebanon with training and sophisticated weapons, and you are trying to tell me the Lebanese government wasn’t aware? Hezbollah has seats in government where their ideals are heard (plus they have been very vocal about it), and you’re trying to tell me the Lebanese government was not aware of their intentions? The UN also had set up camp in the region, and you are trying to tell me they didn’t see what was going on?

Please don’t tell us Hezbollah standards are equal to the Israeli standards. It is just not true. The fanatics can threaten, train, burn flags, even kill, and we sit here trying to reason with these kind of people on how to please them for the time being…. Because we all know there will always be another time, another threat, another death, another occupation, another vengeance. So, when is it that enough is truly enough… when do we start believing them when they keep saying “We won’t rest until we wipe Israel and the West (or at least our ideals) out of the map.” When? Should we keep criticizing Israel and American soldiers in Iraq? Meanwhile, we are globally aware this situation is not exclusive to the Middle East.

~ Lorraine

Jonathan Cook replies:

I can only wonder what people like Lorraine are doing reading a site called What happened before this war, she asks. The answer: Israel violated Lebanese airspace almost every day for the six years following its supposed withdrawal, sending its war planes as far as Beirut, where they broke the sound barrier to create sonic booms to terrify the local population. It also regularly sent spy drones over Lebanon to gather intelligence. All of that is recorded in the periodic reports of the United Nation observers to the region. What did Hezbollah do? It guessed, correctly it seems, that Israel had not withdrawn, it had merely pulled back to new lines and that another invasion was inevitable (echoes of Gaza?). It stockpiled weapons to defend itself and its country in those six years, because Lebanon has a weak and ineffective army that cannot withstand Israel’s might. The only way to fight Israel is with a guerrilla army. Should Hezbollah be denied the right to protect the population of Lebanon from Israeli aggression? Well, if you think, like Lorraine, that Arabs and Muslims are not real human beings, I suppose the answer would be yes.

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