Saudi Historian Says U.S. Women Drive Because They Don’t Care If They’re Raped


A Saudi Arabian historian trying to justify the nation’s ban on female drivers says women who drive in other countries such as the United States don’t care if they’re raped and that sexual violence “is no big deal to them.”

Saleh al-Saadoon claimed in a recent TV interview that women can be raped when a car breaks down, but unlike other countries, Saudi Arabia protects its women from that risk by not allowing them to drive in the first place, according to a translation posted online by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“They don’t care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do,” al-Saadoon said on Saudi Rotana Khalijiyya TV.

“Hold on. Who told you they don’t care about getting raped on the roadside?” asked the host, a woman who is not named in the transcript.

“It’s no big deal for them beyond the damage to their morale,” al-Saadoon replied. “In our case, however, the problem is of a social and religious nature.”

Palestinians Evicted in Jerusalem

From BBC News:

Israeli police have evicted nine Palestinian families living in two houses in occupied East Jerusalem.

Jewish settlers moved into the houses almost immediately. The US has urged Israel to abandon plans for a building project in the area.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, a move not recognised by the world community.

The evictions have been condemned by the United Nations, the Palestinians and also the UK government.

The US said the evictions were not in keeping with Israel’s obligations under the so-called “road map” to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Chomsky Condemns U.S. and Israel For Civilian Deaths in Gaza Strip

From the MIT Tech:

His antipathy toward Israeli actions was immediately clear as he opened his remarks by referring to Dec. 27, 2008 as the first day of the “U.S.-Israel attack on helpless Palestinians” in the Gaza Strip. Calling the military and media campaigns meticulously planned, he likened current Israeli actions in Gaza to its attacks in Lebanon during the summer of 2006. Both actions have come under fire for large numbers of civilian causalities and with allegations of disproportionate use of force, while Israel has maintained that its actions have always been aimed at militant targets.

Chomsky, however, stated that the months of planning behind the ongoing incursion mean that one can be confident that all Israeli actions have been done purposefully. He claimed that the Israelis intentionally scheduled the initial bombardment at a time when children would be returning from school and adults would be milling about the streets.

He then proceeded to recall two incidents in which ships with humanitarian aid were prevented from reaching the Gaza Strip. Chomsky noted that the ships “intended to violate Israel’s criminal blockade” around the Gaza Strip, and that the Israeli government “provided routine lines,” saying, among other things, one of the ships encroached on its waters without establishing proper communication.

“Even though ramming a boat in international waters is worse than piracy off the coast of Somalia,” said Chomsky, “the event was hardly reported.”

Later stating that the U.S. media, just like any other media, is frequently a reflection of the norms established by its government, he ultimately concluded that the Israeli actions — and the underreporting of them — were nothing new.

“At most they should be greeted with a yawn,” he said.

Chomsky grasped for an appropriate word to describe the magnitude of Israeli actions. Dismissing the words “terrorism” and “aggression” as insufficient, he recounted past Israeli incursions into Lebanon and called the current attacks “familiar” in capturing the magnitude of the Israeli offensive. He also flashed back to the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza, when Israel removed its settlements from the area.

“Ariel Sharon, the patron-saint of the disengagement,” he said, “thought it had made more sense to convert Gaza into the world’s largest prison.”

At the same time, Chomsky criticized Israel for setting its sights on the West Bank, where he believes it hopes to annex land carved out by settlements and a barrier currently under construction. He added that, on top of that, Israel hopes to acquire land in the Jordan River Valley on the eastern edge of the West Bank and fragment Palestinian land through settlements and checkpoints which “make life impossible.”

The Battle over Gaza


Two sounds dominate the lives of Israelis living near Gaza: the wail of a siren and, 25 seconds later, the whistling screech of an incoming rocket fired by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. That gives Israeli families just enough time to dive for cover — even as they pray the rocket will miss.

At 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 27, a new sound filled the azure Mediterranean sky: the rolling boom of Israeli bombs and missiles slamming into Gaza. Many Israelis climbed the low, green hills outside the city of Sderot and cheered while watching black pillars of smoke rise over Gaza as a wave of 64 Israeli jet fighters struck again and again. It meant that Israel’s leaders were hitting back at the Gaza militants who had rained rockets on the communities of southern Israel even weeks before Dec. 19, when an Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Hamas officially ended. (See pictures of Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza.)

But underneath the black smoke, the Israeli bombs weren’t hitting just the rocket men of Hamas, but civilians too. With 1.5 million people packed tightly into Gaza’s jumble of cities, towns and refugee camps, it was inevitable that hundreds of ordinary Palestinians would become collateral victims. The Israeli bombardments pounded Hamas strongholds — the Interior Ministry, suspected caches of rockets, hideouts of top militant leaders — but they also caught five sisters asleep at home next to a targeted mosque, kids coming home from school, and a graduation ceremony for police cadets and their proud families. By Dec. 30, more than 375 Palestinians had been killed and some 1,500 injured; the U.N. said at least 62 of the dead were civilians. Hamas’ continued rocket barrage had killed four Israelis.

The lopsided toll inevitably led to accusations of Israeli overkill. While the Bush Administration blamed the escalation of violence squarely on Hamas, other world leaders, including France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, scolded Israel for its “disproportionate” response. Arguably the most important outside voice remained silent: President-elect Barack Obama would not comment on the conflict, with his spokesman citing the principle that there can be only “one President at a time.”