Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis

My earlier diary No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum has been well received by Libyan freedom fighters. I have been invited to dinner in Benghazi, called an honorary Libyan and Shabab Libya [Libyan Youth Movement] has republished it on their website.

This dairy I do on the cheap by using other people's words. I'll bring to your attention a couple of things I've read recently that throw a lot of light on current events in Libya. At the same time I'll give some exposure to the campaign of miss-information being promoted by the pro-Qaddafi forces.

Qaddafi and his minions understand the Internet well and have been producing very sophisticated counter-narratives based on innuendo, rumors and complete fabrications for the purpose of sowing confusion, stirring up dust and fooling progressive forces in the west into supporting him. This campaign has been designed to play to the anti-imperialist and anti-war sentiments of people, cash in on his own reputation as something of a rebel in the early days before Richard Perle and Goldman Sachs and paint the revolutionary Libyan people as mere tools of bankers, oil companies, the CIA and NATO. By doing this he has been able to minimize support for the people that are trying to overthrow his tyranny among precisely those who otherwise would be backing them and promote the "war in Libya" ahead of all the other NATO wars in the concerns of many people.

Accordingly, I will quote extensively from three sources and in turn highlight three areas that have come up as late with regards to the situation in Libya now:

* 1] reports that Qaddafi's Libyan opposition has been talking to Israel.
* 2] confusion and controversy over who used cluster munitions in Misrata
* 3] a Palestinian take on Cynthia McKinney's support for Mummar Qaddafi

One piece of miss-information being promoted by the pro-Qaddafi forces lately is the story that Libyan opposition group TNC is offering some concessions to Israel. Everyone knows that this is seen as a major red flag for most Muslims, Arabs and progressives. It is false, has been specifically refuted by the Transitional National Council and is based on very flimsy evidence. Yet it lives on in the Internet rumor mill. This story on a pro-Qaddafi website, Why are the Libyan Rebels seeking Israel's support? that assumes it's true already and addresses itself to why, is typical:

a French writer, Bernard Henri Levy announced that he delivered a message on Thursday from Libyan rebel leaders to Israel's Prime Minister, saying they would seek diplomatic ties with the country if they came to power...

If the new regime (if it arrives) wishes to be taken seriously by Western countries and become a successful intermediate between Israel and Palestine, then recognition of Israel would give it some initial international brownie points by putting it firmly on the international geopolitical map in a region where the West and Israel are actively seeking new allies.

France24 set the record straight in Bernard-Henri Levy blunders on Israeli-Libyan 'mission'

Bernard-Henri Levy is known to weigh in on weighty international issues. But when the controversial French philosopher-writer took it upon himself to mediate a détente between Libya and Israel, he apparently went too far.

Bernard-Henri Levy, France’s arguably most flamboyant, unbuttoned, unplugged public intellectual seems to have talked his way into a controversy - again.

The French philosopher-writer commonly known as BHL is no stranger to the faux pas – one particularly embarrassing gaffe involved him citing a blatantly fake philosopher.

This time though, the flap revolves around the delicate business of Arab-Israeli relations. But curiously for a man whose exploits are frequently – some would say too frequently - under the spotlight, the latest controversy appears to have slipped under domestic and international radars.

The first salvo in the latest controversy was fired earlier this month in Jerusalem, where Levy had a 90-minute meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During the meeting, Levy relayed a verbal message from Libya’s opposition leaders that the National Transitional Council (NTC) would seek diplomatic ties between Libya and Israel if it came to power. At least that’s what BHL said he said.

In an interview with the AFP, Levy said he told Netanyahu that, "the future [Libyan] regime will maintain normal relations with other democratic countries, including Israel,” before going on to add that, “the main point was that the future Libyan regime would be moderate and anti-terrorist and will be concerned with justice for the Palestinians and security for Israel.”

While Netanyahu’s office confirmed the meeting with the French writer-philosopher, it declined to comment on the content of the discussion.

But just days after the meeting, the NTC released a miffed statement – a copy of which was obtained by FRANCE 24 - declaring that it “strongly rejects what has been reported in some media as Mr. Bernard Levy's comments on the future relationship between Libya and the Israelis.

“The NTC is surprised by Mr. Levy's comments,” the statement went on to add. “Mr Levy was received as a Special Envoy from the President of France, and relations with Israel was never discussed.” (sic)
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This next one is really a MUST READ for anyone seeking to understand how mis-information campaigns are developed in the Internet age. C. J. Chivers shows us how they can be exposed through hard work and careful research. He has done a masterful job first of exposing the facts surrounding Qaddadi's use of cluster munitions on the civilians of Misrata, and then of unraveling the web of deception spun by the pro-Qaddafi people to shift the blame, throw dust in the air and blame the US Navy for the cluster munitions. It's no accident that Neo had to follow the White Rabbit to find his way out of the Matrix:

Following Up, Part III. Down the Rabbit Hole: Qaddafi’s Cluster Munitions and the Age of Internet Claims

This month At War has revisited in detail the attacks this spring by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces on Misurata, Libya with cluster munitions. The blog has retraced the steps that led to the identification of the Spanish-made MAT-120 munitions, and documented the sale and transfer of these munitions from Spain to Libya from 2006 through early 2008, addressing, in the process, the Qaddafi government’s claims of not possessing any of these rounds.

All of this was straightforward and methodical enough. But the verification processes took odd turns when readers began asking me about the strange claims about the MAT-120 that materialized, as if from nowhere, and began multiplying on-line. Extra, Extra, Read It Here: The Qaddafi Military Did Not Use MAT-120s in Miusrata, the U.S. Navy Did!

Behold one of the accompaniments to reporting in the Internet age: the invented counter-narrative, presented as if a credible report from an organization with chops. Today we will examine how, via a website that strung together innuendo, misinterpretation and unrelated facts, this came to pass. Like the Qaddafi government denials, that red-hot claim fizzled under scrutiny. And if nothing else, the work involved in examining the claims carefully was a reminder of the unusual shapes conflict reporting can take in the Internet Age, and how precision counts.

Ready to finish this strange ride? Let’s jump in.

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Finally while Cynthia McKinney has garnered a lot of support among Arabs because of her steadfast support for the Palestinians living in Gaza, they are not too happy with her support for Qaddafi. In an Open Letter to Gaddafi Supporter Cynthia McKinney from Disappointed Palestinians they make their opinions known.

Dearest Cynthia McKinney,

Two years ago, you spoke out against Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine. You were even put in an Israeli prison after your attempts to help deliver medical supplies and humanitarian aid on a ship to Gaza in 2009. For your sacrifices, you gained respect from many Palestinians all over the world.

However, we can’t help but be irked by your recent stance on Libya. It’s fine to be against NATO intervention in Libya. You’re entitled to your own opinion. But to praise Libyan dictator Muammer Gaddafi is completely unacceptable. Anti-intervention shouldn’t equate to whitewashing Gaddafi’s crimes.

Last month, you appeared on Libya State TV, a propaganda organ of the Gaddafi regime. In an interview, you said that the “last thing we need to do is spend money on death, destruction and war… I want to say categorically and very clearly that these policies of war…are not what the people of the United States stand for and it’s not what African-Americans stand for.”

Maybe you could have garnered some legitimacy with that statement if you weren’t speaking on a station run by Gaddafi. Or even better, if you at least offered some recognition that Gaddafi is guilty of perpetrating “death, destruction and war” on his own people.

In the interview, you also claimed you were in Libya on a “fact-finding mission” to “understand the truth.” But Ms. McKinney, you were only in Tripoli, a city under Gaddafi’s control. If you were really on a trip to Libya to see the truth for yourself, why didn’t you go to Benghazi and speak to the opposition movement as well?

Not only that, you praise Gaddafi in the interview, asserting that his Green Book advocates “direct democracy.” You also declare on your Facebook page that Gaddafi was “democratically elected.” Umm, you obviously haven’t met any Libyans before your trip to Tripoli. If you did, you’d know how the majority of Libyans feel about him. And if anything, someone ruling over a country for 42 years should be a hint that they aren’t democratically elected. Claiming that Libyans wanted Gaddafi as a leader is like saying Palestinians asked for Israel to occupy them. It just doesn’t make sense.

Now, you’re on a nationwide speaking tour, Eyewitness Libya: Cynthia McKinney reports back on the Massive Bombing of Tripoli. Also speaking on the tour will be Akbar Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.

First of all, why aren’t there any Libyans speaking on this tour? Secondly, Nation of Islam? Really? The Nation of Islam has defended Gaddafi since the beginning of the Libyan pro-democracy protests in February. Of course, this is probably because the Libyan government has given the Nation millions of dollars over the years.

Not only are Libyans not invited to speak on your tour about Libya, but in Los Angeles, Libyans have been denied entry into the event itself.

Ms. McKinney, this is truly a disappointment. You support the Palestinians, but you are not supporting the Libyan people in their fight for freedom and dignity. What exactly is your motive? A charitable explanation is that you are just completely naïve to Gaddafi’s atrocities. Another reason is that you might support Gaddafi for ideological reasons, like Chavez or Castro. Or, worst case scenario, you could just be another tool on Gaddafi’s payroll. Whatever the case may be, we are extremely disheartened.

The Palestinian and Libyan peoples are connected, both struggling against state-sponsored brutality and political repression. Palestinians stand in solidarity with our Libyan brothers and sisters in their revolution against Gaddafi, as well as others rising up against oppressive dictatorships in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. The Palestinian movement for human rights, civil rights and equality has been invigorated and inspired by these pro-democratic movements.

Ms. McKinney, your pro-Gaddafi stance is completely hypocritical and contradictory to your support for the Palestinians. Unless you retract your statements supporting Gaddafi, we don’t think you have any business sailing to Gaza again. We refuse to accept opportunistic support from people who advocate for murderers.

Sincerely,

A Group of (Severely) Disappointed Palestinians from Gaza, West Bank, and the US

Which immediately got this comment from a Qaddafi supporter:

Global Peace Libya June 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Dear (Severely) Disappointed Palestinians,

First of all, Brother Gaddafi is not a Middle East Arab, he is a North African Arab and a bona fide African Revolutionary Hero and father of the great Libyan State in it’s present form. You are disapointed by the stance of our great African Sister Cynthia is really a cheap shot. Your great Middle Eastern Leaders with the exception of the late Revolutionary Hero Brother Yasser Arafat, all the rest of them including Kings, Presidents and other Heads of State surrounding your rightful land have ignored your pleas for help and sought to befriend the greatest enemies that mankind has on this earth since the end of World War 2. Brother Gaddafi has done everything for his fellow Libyans, given them security, excellent institutions of learning, medical facilities, pride and a sense of belonging as proud Arabs and even prouder Africans. What have your Middle Eastern leaders done for their citizens other than sell them out for Dollars, ignore the plight of their own citizens as well as those of the Palestinians. Spent their national wealth on wine, women and song in the West while Arabs are living in Poverty. Go see the standard of living in Libya, the Rebels are no better than your corrupt leaders who will rob and steal the future of the Libyans if they ever come into power, the Libyans have the most wonderful state under and the are the most educated and smartest Arabs in MENA. So please, if you ever had a champion it is Brother Gaddafi, a real man and true revolutionary.

Actually I have included Global Peace Libya's comment so that I could also include this very informed response from Niz:

Well, a rather interesting response to the letter.

1- You call him ‘brother leader’ very early on, clearly establishing that you are not objective on the matter.

2- Gadaffi did not create the Libyan State, not in its current form, nor in any form. Libya existed before Gaddafi, and will exist long after his downfall. The only reason he may be attributed to Libya ‘in its current form’ is because he has been leader for 42 years. An unprecedented number of years to lead a country.

3- You condemn peninsula arab leaders for their links to western governments and how they spend money on material things on their travels to the west. Have you not seen images of Gaddafi meeting European and American leaders in his tent in Libya in recent years? Have you not seen the images of Saif, Saadi, Muaatasim in European nightclubs, drunk, surrounded by women? The images are common all over the public domain. Take the time to look them up.

4- You state that peninsula arab leaders have ‘neglected the plight of their people’. You are correct. But is Gadaffi an exception. Have you been to Tripoli and seen the districts of Hadba Shergeeya, AbuSleem, Hay Alislami, Soug al Jomaa to name only a handful? Is it acceptable that in 2001, in a country with vast oil riches, and after 42 years of trying, that this country still has raw sewage pouring onto streets where children play, that some parts of the capital do not have phone lines or water pipeline? Is this credible leadership?

5- You mention that in Libya there are ‘excellent institutions of learning’. This is nothing short of laughable. Did you know that some libraries in the main uni have no books? Did you know that in other libraries where they have sections for books, you are forbidden to enter these sections? Did you know that corruption in academic institutions is rife, where most lecturers take bribes to allow students to progress, largely because their wages are pathetic, and sometimes delay in receiving these wages sees them without pay for months. Did you know when the ‘brother leaders’ daughter was studying Law in the main uni they banned all males from the law school for the duration of her uni years? So if you were her age, male and wanted to go to law school at tripoli’s main uni….you couldn’t. Tough luck. The ‘brother leader’ says you cant, so you cant.

6- Please tell me i misread your statement that Libya has good ‘medical facilities’? Are you not aware that most Libyans who require specialist care travel to foreign countries to receive this care? some countries FAR poorer than ours, i.e. Tunisia. Such is the market for ‘medical-tourism’ to tunis that there are Libyan-only medical centres. Perhaps you dont know that you cant even get simple things such as the Flu jab in Libya. Its in such low quantities that it runs out within weeks. Perhaps you dont know that when one of my friends passed away with a heart attack the hospital where he was taken (well known) took 15 minutes to find an ECG that worked, and later kept replacing the defibrillator, because they were malfunctioning. Is this not a farce?

7- You talk of our sense of belonging to Africa. Do you not know how much money Gadaffi pumps into africa? Have you not heard of the war with Chad where countless libyans and chadians needlessly died? Do you not know of gaddafis funding of rebel movements around arfica contributing to more bloodshed?

You need to seriously revise your knowledge of the country if you want to be a credible activist for peace, or a worthwhile defender of gadaffi. You are doing him more harm than good by demonstrating your lack of grass roots knowledge.

good luck

Niz

Here are the links to my articles at WL Central:
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
2011-03-11 Who's running Egypt?
Libyans are spilling their blood for us all!
2011-02-24 Arming Gaddfi
2011-02-14 Senior Egyptian army officers ordered massacre
2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman
2011-02-12 Algeria Protesters Defy Ban, Demand Change
The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger
2011-02-10 Mubarak is Defiant
2011-02-10 Mubarak Expected to Step Down!
2011-02-09 The Google Search for Wael Ghonim
2011-02-08 The New Egyptian Normal: Thousands Demonstrate in Cairo, Alexandria
2011-02-06 Tunisia's Revolution Continues
2011-02-04 Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause
2011-02-04 Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak
2011-02-03 Algerians plan Feb 12 protest against 19- year-long state of emergency
2011-02-01 Jordan's King Sacks Government as Protests Grow
2011-02-01 Tunisian Islamic Leader Returns as EU Freezes Ousted President's Assets
2011-02-01 Army Vows Not to Shoot as Protesters make Million Man Marches in Cairo, Alexandria Today [UPDATE: 2]
2011-01-30 Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
2011-01-29 No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
2011-01-28 In Jordan Thousands Demand New Government
2011-01-28 Mubarak Refuses to Step Down!
2011-01-28 Egypt is on Fire!
2011-01-27 Libya is in Revolt as Gaddafi Worries
2011-01-27 Algerians Plan Big Protest Rally for February 9th
2011-01-27 Tunisia Protests Continues as a Warrant is Issued for Ben Ali
2011-01-27 Tens of Thousands Rally in Yemen, Demand Change
2011-01-27 Mubarak Blinks as Egyptian Protests Continue for 3rd Day

North African Hacker Humor

Here is a recap of my other DKos dairies on the Internet, North Africa and Anonymous:
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya ForumAre they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Who's running Egypt?
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Californians Support North African Revolts
Google Supports Revolts | Anonymous does too!
Secret U.S. Intelligence Source on Middle East Revealed !
Arming Gaddfi
Are "mutinous officers" are being executed in Egypt now?
Algeria's 19 year long State of Emergency to end soon, President says
Senior Egyptian Army Officers Ordered Massacre!
Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman
UPDATE: Egypt's Mubarak Has Resigned! - The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger
BREAKING: Mubarak is Defiant
The Google Search for Wael Ghonim
Tunisia's Revolution Continues
Google Goes Rebel, Supports Egyptian Protest
Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause
Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak
Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More! w Petition
Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More!
They Should Have Helped That Street Vendor
Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution Redux
No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
Egypt is on Fire!
North African Revolution Continues
Egypt Protests Continue, Tunisia Wants Ben Ali Back
BREAKING: Protesters Plan Massive "Day of Wrath" in Egypt Today
Tunisians Thank Anonymous as North Africa Explodes
Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution
Tunisia: A Single Tweet Can Start A Prairie Fire!
Anonymous plans Op Swift Assist in Tunisia
Arrested Pirate Party Member Becomes Tunisian Minister
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation
Tunis: This Photo was Taken 66 Minutes Ago
The WikiLeaks Revolution: Anonymous Strikes Tunisia
EMERGENCY: DKos Must Act Now to Protect Tunisian Bloggers!