Author Archives: Peter Speetjens

The Russians are coming

The Russians are coming

Founded by the controversial Russian-born billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak, the Social Welfare Party (SWP) is but the latest gladiator to enter Israel’s increasingly fragmented political arena. For decades the Knesset was dominated by eternal foes Labor and Likud, yet today it is home to a dozen small and medium-size parties, while tens of others failed to

In Name of the Disappeared

With an eye on the fate of Alan Johnston, the BBCcorrespondent who disappeared in Gaza on March 12, 2007, CNNrecently interviewed Olaf Wiig. In August 2006, the Fox News journalist had been kidnapped at gunpoint by an obscure Islamist group that demanded the release of all Muslimprisoners in the United States. Wiig related that he

Selling a war

Even the most brilliant propaganda technique will yield nosuccess, unless one principle is borne in mind: the messagemust confine itself to a few points and repeat them over andover,” said former Nazi propaganda minister, JosephGoebbels. Goebbels may have committed suicide on May 1, 1945, but hisgolden rule of “simplicity and repetition” is still thebackbone of

Flashes in the neo-con pan!

Muslims living in Holland should tear the Koran in half,as half of the book advocates violence, thus maverick Dutchpolitician Geert Wilders recently suggested, subtly adding:“If Mohammed lived here today, I could imagine chasing himout of the country tarred and feathered as an extremist.” This was the latest in what has become an extensiverepertoire of Wilders’

Yes, Iraq was all about the oil

We were told that the war in Iraq was waged for many reasons: Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, supported terrorism and nourished links with al Qaeda. Demonstrators holding up banners reading “No Blood for Oil” were dismissed as ignorant and naive. All wars start way before the first bullet is fired, and the

There are still signs of life

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) warned that, as a consequence of the recent conflict, Lebanon’s 2006 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could shrink by some 10%, taking the national debt of almost $40 billion to twice the size of the country’s national income. The Lebanese Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) has stated that Lebanon sustained

Crazy in Gemaizeh

Unless you have been in a coma for the past two years, you will know that Gemaizeh has become arguably the most in-demand commercial location in Lebanon. Ten years ago, it was a lower-middle class Christian quarter, patronised by Bohemians and edgy foreigners who liked its authenticity. They could eat for next to nothing at

Growing pains in the Bekaa Valley

Today’s Bekaa farmers feel alienated by a government that does not prioritize agriculture and are unable to make ends meet. They are demanding the government reconsider its decision to phase out sugar beet subsidies. Meanwhile the owners of the Lebanese Sugar Factory, who claim they stand to lose millions by the decision, also claim they

Left Redundant

The owners of the Lebanese Sugar Factory in Majdal Anjar claim to have lost millions of dollars due to the government decision to abolish the sugar beet subsidy system and have sued the state to obtain compensation. Ahmed Ajami has worked as a guard at the National Sugar Factory since 1975. Today there is not

Sowing the seeds for disaster

Bekaa farmers and Lebanon’s Sugar Beet Cooperation argue that Lebanese agriculture cannot survive without government support. Like most farmers around the world, they oppose today’s belief in free trade and insist that the wealth of agriculture cannot be measured in terms of price of profit alone. “If there is no support for sugar beet while