settlement freeze my ass

i am certain i have written a post with this title before. certainly with the same or similar content. such is the case with falasteen: always the zionist terrorist colonists say one thing and do the opposite. here is a classic example:

In direct violation of international law, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved permits on Sunday and Monday to build 455 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank.

The new housing, which was ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be built in six settlements. The settlements in question include Har Gilo (on the outskirts of Bethlehem), Modi’in Illit (built on the land of the village of Bil’in) and Ariel (deep in the West Bank south of Nablus).

Israel says it intends to keep each of these settlements in any eventual peace agreement with the Palestinians.

They permits are first ones issued since Netanyahu took office in March. Later this week, Netanyahu is expected to announce a partial reduction in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements.

you see, they tell obama they wil have a freeze, but only after building gazillions more housing units in the colonies. but wait! there’s more! they are building an entirely new colony on stolen palestinian land, too:

Work began on a new Israeli settlement in the Jordan Valley on Sunday to house settlers who were removed in 2005 from one of Israel’s former colonies in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that workers began working on the first 20 units in the new settlement, called Maskiot, in the northern Jordan Valley.

and here are some numbers to ponder in relation to these and other colonies on palestinian land:

The decision to approve the construction of hundreds of housing units before the settlement freeze goes into affect means that in the coming year the total number of apartments to be built in the settlements will be the same as the number built before limitations were placed on construction over the Green Line.

Central Bureau of Statistics data show that the completion of 2,500 housing units and an immediate start to 455 new units continues the growth trend of recent years.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics publications, from 2005 to the end of 2008, when no special limitations on construction in the settlements were imposed and the American demand to freeze construction was not yet on the agenda, 7,015 housing units were built in the West Bank settlements. Thus during those four years, the average rate of housing starts in the settlements was 1,771 a year.

The number of new housing units will not actually decline compared to previous years. The only difference is that now, that instead of construction permits being given gradually throughout the year, the government intends to issue hundreds of permits within a few days, before the official announcement of the “freeze” is made.

here’s an idea president obama: why not sanction that zionist entity as should have been done decades ago when they forbade the return of palestinian refugees. paul craig roberts lays it all out for you:

In Israel, a country stolen from the Palestinians, fanatics control the government. One of the fanatics is the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Netanyahu called for “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

The kind of blockade that Netanyahu wants qualifies as an act of war. Israel has long threatened to attack Iran on its own but prefers to draw in the US and NATO.

Why does Israel want to initiate a war between the United States and Iran?

Is Iran attacking other countries, bombing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure?

No. These are crimes committed by Israel and the US.

Is Iran evicting peoples from lands they have occupied for centuries and herding them into ghettoes?

No, that’s what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for 60 years.

What is Iran doing?

Iran is developing nuclear energy, which is its right as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran’s nuclear energy program is subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which consistently reports that its inspections find no diversion of enriched uranium to a weapons program.

The position taken by Israel, and by Israel’s puppet in Washington, is that Iran must not be allowed to have the rights as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that every other signatory has, because Iran might divert enriched uranium to a weapons program.

In other words, Israel and the US claim the right to abrogate Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy. The Israeli/US position has no basis in international law or in anything other than the arrogance of Israel and the United States.

The hypocrisy is extreme. Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and developed its nuclear weapons illegally on the sly, with, as far as we know, US help.

As Israel is an illegal possessor of nuclear weapons and has a fanatical government that is capable of using them, crippling sanctions should be applied to Israel to force it to disarm.

Israel qualifies for crippling sanctions for another reason. It is an apartheid state, as former US President Jimmy Carter demonstrated in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

The US led the imposition of sanctions against South Africa because of South Africa’s apartheid practices. The sanctions forced the white government to hand over political power to the black population. Israel practices a worse form of apartheid than did the white South African government. Yet, Israel maintains that it is “anti-semitic” to criticize Israel for a practice that the world regards as abhorrent.

What remains of the Palestinian West Bank that has not been stolen by Israel consists of isolated ghettoes. Palestinians are cut off from hospitals, schools, their farms, and from one another. They cannot travel from one ghetto to another without Israeli permission enforced at checkpoints.

The Israeli government’s explanation for its gross violation of human rights comprises one of the greatest collection of lies in world history. No one, with the exception of American “christian zionists,” believes one word of it.

The United States also qualifies for crippling sanctions. Indeed, the US is over-qualified. On the basis of lies and intentional deception of the US Congress, the US public, the UN and NATO, the US government invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and used the “war on terror” that Washington orchestrated to overturn US civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution. One million Iraqis have paid with their lives for America’s crimes and four million are displaced. Iraq and its infrastructure are in ruins, and Iraq’s professional elites, necessary to a modern organized society, are dead or dispersed. The US government has committed a war crime on a grand scale. If Iran qualifies for sanctions, the US qualifies a thousand times over.

No one knows how many women, children, and village elders have been murdered by the US in Afghanistan. However, the American war of aggression against the Afghan people is now in its ninth year. According to the US military, an American victory is still a long ways away. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared in August that the military situation in Afghanistan is “serious and deteriorating.”

Older Americans can look forward to the continuation of this war for the rest of their lives, while their Social Security and Medicare rights are reduced in order to free up funds for the US armaments industry. Bush/Cheney and Obama/Biden have made munitions the only safe stock investment in the United States.

What is the purpose of the war of aggression against Afghanistan? Soon after his inauguration, President Obama promised to provide an answer but did not. Instead, Obama quickly escalated the war in Afghanistan and launched a new one in Pakistan that has already displaced 2 million Pakistanis. Obama has sent 21,000 more US troops into Afghanistan and already the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is requesting 20,000 more.

Obama is escalating America’s war of aggression against the Afghanistan people despite three high profile opinion polls that show that the American public is firmly opposed to the continuation of the war against Afghanistan.

Sadly, the ironclad agreement between Israel and Washington to war against Muslim peoples is far stronger than the connection between the American public and the American government. At a farewell dinner party last Thursday for Israel’s military attache in Washington, who is returning to Israel to become deputy chief of staff of the Israeli military, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, and and Dan Shapiro, who is in charge of Middle East affairs on the National Security Council, were present to pay their respects. Admiral Mullen declared that the US will always stand with Israel. No matter how many war crimes Israel commits. No matter how many women and children Israel murders. No many how many Palestinians Israel drives from their homes, villages, and lands. If truth could be told, the true axis-of-evil is the United States and Israel.

Millions of Americans are now homeless because of foreclosures. Millions more have lost their jobs, and even more millions have no access to health care. Yet, the US government continues to squander hundreds of billions of dollars on wars that serve no US purpose. President Obama and General McChrystal have taken the position that they know best, the American public be damned.

It could not be made any clearer that the President of the United States and the US military have no regard whatsoever for democracy, human rights, and international law. This is yet another reason to apply crippling sanctions against Washington, a government that has emerged under Bush/Obama as a brownshirt state that deals in lies, torture, murder, war crimes, and deception.

Many governments are complicit in America’s war crimes. With Obama’s budget deep in the red, Washington’s wars of naked aggression are dependent on financing by the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Saudis, South Koreans, Indians, Canadians and Europeans. The second this foreign financing of American war crimes stops, America’s wars of aggression against Muslims stop.

The US is not a forever “superpower” that can indefinitely ignore its own laws and international law. The US will eventually fall as a result of its hubris, arrogance, and imperial overreach. When the American Empire collapses, will its enablers also be held accountable in the war crimes court?

oh and if i have trouble updating this site, but you want new information about the ongoing daily nakbas in palestine, read zionist land grab.

let’s talk about intolerance

tonight on al jazeera’s “inside story” sohail rahman started off with a question for his guests–my friend sayyed mohammad marandi as well as ramu damodaran and shai franklin–with a question about whether or not mahmoud ahmadinejad’s speech at the united nations world conference against racism hijacked the conference. he should have asked about the pre-conference hijacking of the event by zionists and their allies around the world who boycotted the conference. their attempt at controlling other nations and their discourse on racism is the real issue. but with rahman’s second question he was getting at one of the core issues here: he asked about intolerance to ahmadinejad in terms of free speech and also in terms of addressing racism itself. indeed, when we have intolerance for speech we don’t like–particularly when it addresses subjects like racism–we defeat the purpose of dealing with racism itself and are acting in an intolerant fashion. here is the episode:

given that zionism is racism, something that al jazeera knows all too well, i find it disturbing that they allowed a professional zionist like franklin on its show. this is like having a discussion about racism in united states and inviting a member of the ku klux klan to join in (and franklin on slavery in the united states and what he thinks the u.s. is doing is equally deceitful). because while i speak about intolerance in relation to speech we don’t like above, i do not include racist speech in that. i do not include speech that is used in order to demonize and eradicate a people, which is the essence of zionism. franklin characterized ahmadinejad’s speech as anti-jewish, in contradistinction to both ahmadinejad’s careful language to speak about zionism–not judaism or jews–and marandi’s on the show. but franklin is not so careful. like many zionists he prefers to blur the lines between jews and zionists in order to suggest that if you are anti-zionist then you must be anti-jewish or anti-semitic. here is the part of ahmadinejad’s speech he seemed to object to:

World Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religions and abuses religious sentiments to hide its hatred and ugly face. However, it is of great importance to bring into focus the political goals of some of the world powers and those who control huge economic resources and interests in the world. They mobilize all the resources including their economic and political influence and world media to render support in vain to the Zionist regime and to maliciously diminish the indignity and disgrace of this regime.

This is not simply a question of ignorance and one cannot conclude these ugly phenomena through consular campaigns. Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists and their political and international supporters and in respect with the will and aspirations of nations. Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights aimed at eradicating this barbaric racism and to move towards reform in current international mechanisms.

There is no doubt that you are all aware of the conspiracies of some powers and Zionist circles against the goals and objectives of this conference. Unfortunately, there have been literatures and statements in support of Zionists and their crimes. And it is the responsibility of honorable representatives of nations to disclose these campaigns which run counter to humanitarian values and principles.

It should be recognized that boycotting such a session as an outstanding international capacity is a true indication of supporting the blatant example of racism. In defending human rights, it is primarily important to defend the rights of all nations to participate equally in all important international decision making processes without the influence of certain world powers.

all of ahmadinejad’s statements above are facts. he is not speaking of an anti-jewish conspiracy as franklin would have us believe. rather, he is discussing the reality that many of us are up against when we try to fight zionism and its colonial rule over palestinian land. indeed, the very fact that zionists have such control is connected to the fact that so many powerful ex/neo colonial rulers walked out of the durban 2 conference in geneva. it is related to why it is so difficult to challenge the dominant deceitful narrative about palestine in the media. these are facts. one perfect example is a headline today by roger boyes in the times online reads “israel: iran trying to do ‘what adolf hitler did to jewish people'” and concludes by stating:

“Israel can never live with the idea that Iran will hold a nuclear bomb because we have heard what the President of Iran and other leaders there have said: that Israel has no right to exist and that Israel should be wiped off the map and that they will do everything to destroy Israel.”

first: read my post the other day about the zionist entity’s plans to wipe iran off the map. second: this extreme hyperbolic rhetoric is a complete misrepresentation of the truth. what anti-zionists want–from ahmadinejad to myself–is the end of a jewish state. we want palestinian refugees to return to their homes. but zionists don’t want to talk about the historical context or these political rights or the racism that keeps them from allowing palestinians to finally receive some justice. so instead they continually pervert reality and make claims to distract us from the facts. in the end what this does is continues to promote intolerance. the bloggers at pulse contextualize this gross misrepresentation of ahmadinejad:

Ahmadinejad has a habit of upsetting the West, this time outrageously explaining how Palestine WAS wiped off the map. Only to be followed by a shameful shower of Nakba deniers walking out in disgust.

The Iranian president was famously misquoted as saying he wanted Israel wiped off the map, a phrase repeated often and attributed to him incorrectly. It was repeated so often in Israel that it became lexicon and one cabinet minister, Meir Sheetrit, slipped up, revealing his true feelings when he said ”we must take a neighbourhood in Gaza and wipe it off the map”. A year later and more than ONE neighbourhood has disappeared.

of course the racism of wiping palestinians off the map is not allowed to get talked about. if you do you are racist. how’s that for intolerance?

but the most interesting development in relation to ahmadinejad’s speech is the response to it by palestinian civil society asking him to put his money where his mouth is:

Palestinian civil society groups called on Tehran to cut ties with two French companies profiting from work in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

A day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took center stage as a critic of Israel at a UN conference in Geneva, the Palestinian Campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) criticized Iran for business ties with Veolia Environment and Alstrom.

According to the Tehran Times, the Tehran Municipality is involved in negotiations with Veolia Environment for the development of the city’s urban transport system.

Alstom has a headquarters in Tehran and received a number of large contracts, including a 192 million euro contract with Iran’s state railways in 1999 and a larger 375 million euro contract to supply 50 turbo compressors to Iran in 2002.

The two firms are the investors behind the Citypass consortium that won a 2002 tender issued by Israeli authorities for a light rail line that connects Jerusalem to settlements in the occupied West Bank. The consortium is responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of the system for a 30-year period.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) called on Tehran to “take the necessary steps to ban Veolia and Alstom and their subsidiaries from any contracts and operations in the country.”

Veolia and Alstom have already been targeted for boycott in countries across Europe. In 2006 the Dutch ASN Bank decided to exclude Veolia from its portfolio on account of the firm’s actions in occupied Jerusalem. In 2008, the company lost its bid to for a contract with Stockholm for eight years, worth 3.5 billion euro, partially due to a strong public sentiment against the company due to its involvement the Jerusalem rail project.

Later, the Swedish national pension fund AP7 blacklisted Alstom, partially for its Jerusalem involvement.

Less than a week ago Veolia lost a contract worth 750 million euro in Bordeaux, France after to pressure from pro-Palestine activists.

first they came for the palestinians…

listen closely to the opening words of this video when barack obama says:

we must mean the words we say when we speak the words never again.

of course, my question is: never again for whom? only jews?

today (well, technically yesterday as it’s now 12:43 am) is international holocaust remembrance day (united nations). if you read my earlier post you know how israeli terrorists spent their day: killing palestinians. but that is a normal, daily activity for them. how many of these people are the grandchildren of holocaust survivors, i wonder?

qui qui posted a link on kabobfest to an article with hillary clinton expressing her support for the israeli terrorist attack on gaza today entitled “This one goes out to all of you pro-Palestine Obamatards” and here is what the original article says:

“It is regrettable that the Hamas leadership apparently believes that it is in their interest to provoke the right of self-defense instead of building a better future for the people of Gaza,” she added.

a somewhat new american organization, the international jewish anti-zionist network posted quite a different sort of statement today about the situation in gaza and parallels that can be drawn between the warsaw ghetto and gaza:

picture-13

Last week, after murdering 1400 people – of whom 400 were children – after bombing hospitals and mosques, schools, universities and humanitarian supplies, and tens of thousand of homes, Israel declared a cease-fire. A shameful parade of European leaders immediately went to Jerusalem to embrace the mass murderers and to pledge their support for the continuing siege of Gaza.

The primary purpose of this massacre was to break the spirit of the Palestinian people until they surrender and accept their fate as lesser human beings. As former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon said in 2002, “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.” European leaders support this goal, as did previous U.S. administrations, as do the ruling elites of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi-Arabia, despite the fury of their peoples. We wait to see if the freshly inaugurated Obama Administration will break with sixty long years of attack on the Palestinian people armed and financed by the U.S. and Europe.

We grieve with the people of Gaza. We see the faces of the children, of the women and the men; we hear their voices. We also hear the silence of the leaders of Western countries, intermittently broken by evasive platitudes. And we are reminded of the time when the world turned a blind eye while our forebears, our families, were slaughtered.

100,000 Palestinians were made homeless in Gaza this month. Most of them became refugees in 1948 when they were expelled at gunpoint from their towns and villages. Now they are homeless again, even in their land of exile, and at risk of being driven out from Palestine altogether.

Yet on January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the leaders of the U.S. and Europe will be joined in honoring the memory of our dead. Even as we seek to remember and to honor the immensity of that loss, we struggle to find words to convey the hypocrisy of these ceremonies, in which those who are silent today pay homage to the victims of yesterday’s silence.

The radical Jewish writer Walter Benjamin, who died while fleeing the Nazis, wrote, “not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.” The Third Reich was defeated, and yet, “the enemy has not ceased to be victorious.” Racism, mass murder, and genocide continue to be accepted tools of statecraft. Even our dead are not safe. They have been called up, disturbed, dredged from their mass graves and forced to testify against their fellow human beings in pain, to confess a hatred that was alien to them and to offer themselves up as justification for a new cycle of suffering in Palestine. Their ghosts have been enlisted to help displace fellow Jews from Arab homelands, and to bequeath to them that same alien hatred, conscripting those of us descending from Arab lands to become enemies of our own memory and past.

The Jewish British MP Gerald Kaufman spoke in anguish while the massacres in Gaza were taking place: “My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.” We share and echo that refusal. Let not the memory of Jews murdered by the Nazi regime serve as cover for the attempted destruction of the Palestinian people!

Although the guns are relatively silent, this genocidal assault on the Palestinian people isn’t over. The siege, the lack of food and fresh water, the disease-threatening broken sewage system, and economic collapse and humanitarian crisis persist in Gaza with the full support of the U.S., Europe and the Egyptian government. As the siege of Gaza continues, so does the slow ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the home demolitions, the building of the apartheid wall, the settlement build-up, the economic devastation of the towns and villages strangled by checkpoints, the assault on Palestinian neighborhoods in Jaffa, Akka, Lydda, the Galilee and the Negev, the mass imprisonment of Palestinians (over 11,000), and all the large and small ways by which Israel is seeking to crush the spirit and erase the presence of the Palestinian people in their homeland.

Faced with the threat of annihilation in Europe, Jews resisted. From ghettos to concentration camps and within countries under occupation, Jews led resistance to the Nazi regime. Today, from the ghetto of Gaza to the Bantustans of the West Bank and from the neighborhoods of Jaffa and Akka to cities across the globe, Palestinians resist Israel’s attempt to destroy them as a people. On January 27th, honoring the memory of our dead is for us inseparable from honoring more than sixty years of Palestinian survival and resistance. Only when the Palestinian people regain their freedom will the dead rest safely. Then we will all celebrate another victory for life.

and, of course, it isn’t just gaza. israeli terrorists also promised to render homeless families in khalil today:

Israeli authorities are planning to demolish Palestinian homes near Hebron, according to an advance notice sent to residents on Tuesday.

The demolitions will affect residents at Um Lasfah, a village east of Hebron’s Yatta area.

Demolition notices were sent to Ismail Al-Adra, warning of the impending action, which will leave 20 Palestinians homeless. Israeli authorities demolished several houses in the same area in 2008.

Israel is also planning to demolish an eight-meter room inside the house of Ismail A’lian, who lost his last appeal against the action, according to a similar notice.

of course the sixty-one year (really over 120 years if you think about it) ethnic cleansing project of zionist theft and murder of palestinian lands and people is not the same as the holocaust, but as i have written before it is especially disturbing and ironic that those who shove this history down your throat and wield it as a weapon forcing you to submit into silence continue these crimes unabated. the irony seems to be lost on them.

there is a group in the united kingdom that has a website for this holocaust remembrance day and on it they have a famous poem that i read many times growing up:

First They Came – Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
First they came for the Socialist
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
First they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

of course we know what the world does, what the world did, with respect to palestinians. they continue their 61 year silence. the lessons of never again are never learned. take this shmuck david cesarani, for example, who has an op ed in the guardian today:

Auschwitz was the terminus. But we have to keep our eye on where it originated: in the attitudes of ordinary people. That is why the theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘”Stand Up to Hatred”. Yes, we have to preserve Auschwitz, but we also have to remember that without hate it would never have been built.

if you click on the above link and read the entire tedious article you’ll notice that there is not one mention of gaza. not one mention of palestine. and yet he claims that holocaust remembrance day is about standing up for hatred more generally. you begin to see that he, like obama, like clinton, like everyone else, applies this concept of hatred or silence or never again in a very limited and narrow sense.

never again shouldn’t only apply to palestinians, of course. it is difficult to keep up with all of the other human tragedies around the globe most of the time because i am inundated with it on so many levels where i live. the following post from blogger virgil hawkins is a useful reminder that palestinians are not alone in the way that their suffering remains silenced by the western media, which is interesting given his argument (note the post is a bit dated as in the past week the situation in somalia and the congo has deteriorated):

Forget the series of Christmas massacres by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in eastern DRC that left more than 400 dead (including more than 45 killed in a church) and the coalition of countries in the region trying to hunt them down. Forget the deadly clashes with Congolese rebels poised to take over the city of Goma. Forget Somalia, where the Ethiopian forces that invaded (with US assistance) two years ago are being forced by local resistance forces to pack and leave. Forget all of these conflicts, because violence has broken out again in Israel-Palestine.

The latest conflagration of violence in Israel-Palestine continues to dominate international news around the world. The details of who is attacking who with what, how many people have died (down to single digit figures), and how many of them were women and children, together with in-depth political analysis and a touch of humanitarian concern are all fed through the newspapers, television, radio and internet news outlets on a daily basis. And all with the utmost care to avoid displeasing lobby groups that will rain down thousands of e-mails, telephone calls and letters (flak) upon the unfortunate media corporation suspected of even the slightest bias (and possibly revoke their advertising contracts).

The Israel-Palestine conflict is a ‘chosen’ conflict. It always is. It has the rare privilege of being the focus of saturated attention every time there is a conflagration (despite the fact that the conflict is not occurring in a ‘white’ Western country, and despite the fact that the USA is not a direct belligerent in the conflict – always sure factors for a conflict to attract soaring levels of attention). Explaining why this is so would take a book or two, but let’s just scratch the surface here. Politicians in much of the Western world obsess about the issue, largely because a significant amount of their election campaign contributions seem to depend on their favourable attention in many cases. Politicians in much of the Muslim world do likewise, because standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of Israel is much more popular than standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of anyone else. The fact that the conflict region is considered the ‘Holy Land’ by Muslims, Jews and Christians helps cement this process.

For media corporations, providing saturation coverage of the conflict is nothing short of automatic. What is considered important by media corporations is based largely on what the policymakers at home consider to be important, almost by default. Keeping reporters close to those making foreign policy at home is much cheaper than sending them all over the world to independently gather news. In the competitive media business, budgets are better spent on packaging and presenting news than actually gathering it. Furthermore, for media corporations that have little newsgathering capacity (and oddly, even for those that do), the news value of a story is often determined by what leading media corporations (like the New York Times) think it should be. In this environment of follow-the-leader (policymakers and leading media corporations) and pack journalism, having a reporter in Africa is optional, having one in Israel-Palestine is not. Once the reporter is stationed there, ‘fresh’ coverage of the issue on demand is cheap and easy (far more so than actually sending someone to far-away and logistically challenging Africa to cover something after it happens).

Because of the combination of follow-the-leader, pack journalism, and lack of newsgathering capacity, this state of affairs can be seen spreading to the rest of the world as well. Japan has no cultural or religious affinity with Israel-Palestine, and its politicians are not reliant on campaign contributions from pro-Israeli lobby groups, yet its media corporations follow the Western leaders in devoting heavy coverage to the issue. Even locally-focused news programs that rarely have any time for foreign affairs issues make sure to include news of the latest conflagration in their bulletins. With little budget for foreign newsgathering, Zambia’s leading newspaper (the Post) buys its world news from foreign news agencies. The result is that it gives more coverage to the situation in Israel-Palestine than it does to the eight countries on Zambia’s border combined. In the year 2004, for example, it devoted 9 percent of its foreign coverage to Israel-Palestine, but only 4 percent to all of Zambia’s eight neighbours.

On top of this, things have always been this way, so they tend to stay that way. Israel-Palestine has always been considered important, and ‘important’ people think it is, so it must be important. Groups (interest/lobby) and individuals with a special interest in the conflict in Israel-Palestine are also well-positioned to continue the process of drawing copious amounts of attention to the conflict, in political spheres and in the ownership of prominent media corporations. Africa, on the other hand, has not been considered important (for a variety of separate reasons that will be dealt with in another post), and therefore no one knows about it, and therefore it is not important. It becomes a vicious cycle.

The public, who remain largely at the mercy of the media corporations in obtaining morsels of information about the outside world, seem to end up with the same distorted view of the world. In a simple classroom survey conducted of 37 Australian university students (studying in a course on war and peace no less) in 2003, the conflict in Israel-Palestine was the most common answer (9 respondents) to the question of which conflict in the world they thought had been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War. Only one of the 37 could even name the conflict in the DRC as one of the world’s deadliest conflicts, and that was at third place behind Israel-Palestine and Afghanistan. In a similar survey conducted of 151 university students in Japan in 2008, not a single one could name the DRC as the world’s deadliest conflict. Fourteen students, on the other hand, thought that the conflict in Israel-Palestine was world’s deadliest, coming in at third place behind Iraq and Kosovo.

This is despite the fact that the virtually unknown conflict in the DRC is 1,000 times deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. And I don’t mean that figuratively, it is literally 1,000 times deadlier – the death toll from conflict in the DRC since 1998 is roughly 6 million, while the death toll from conflict in Israel-Palestine since 2000 is roughly 6 thousand. At least 38 conflicts since the end of the Cold War have been deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. Put simply, while these surveys are limited in their scope, they suggest that collectively, the general public has no idea about the state of conflict in the world. Their perspective on which conflicts are the largest and deadliest is so skewed that the reality is unrecognizable. But who can blame them, considering the horribly unbalanced diet of media they feed on. I invite you to try out simple surveys like this (“Which conflict in the world do you think has been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War?”) with those around you.

In some ways, I almost regret writing this post, because I am becoming part of the very bandwagon that I am discussing – by writing about why the issue is important, I am inadvertently boosting the attention it receives… But some discussion of the issue of ‘chosen’ conflicts is also necessary in order for the discussion of ‘stealth’ conflicts to make sense.

i posted the above blog entry in full because i think it raises important questions about the media and the role that racism plays in what gets covered. but there is also the added issue of how it gets covered. as hawkins says, it is not that palestine doesn’t get media coverage, it does. but what kind? i can’t bear to read american newspapers or watch their television coverage any longer so i rely on bloggers and friends who send me the rare item of note. or i rely on angry arab’s coverage of reporting in newspapers like the new york times. you can check through his postings over the last month and get a clear idea of the many ways in which the american media works very hard to cover stories like gaza through israeli terrorist propaganda. but equally as important for us to question and challenge is why never again isn’t applied to war crimes in places like the congo? why are we silent about all of these conflicts in which brown people are the victims and american and european corporations (and oftentimes israeli corporations) are the culprits? i think that the issue of silence is connected here, but it just functions in different ways.

take dina jadallah-taschler’s article which demonstrates how american media, as the mouthpiece for israeli terrorist state propaganda renders palestinians as subhuman:

In the mainstream, Zionist-inspired narrative, Israel’s “right to exist” precedes and supersedes all else and, in fact, does so uniquely in the world of nations, since under international law, no other nation has or demands such a right. For Israel to have this right entails the obliteration (and not even acknowledgment) of a similar parallel right of the displaced population, the Palestinians, to also exist. Therefore, any war that Israel starts – or in most Western media narratives, does not start — it is ipso facto defensive and justified. Any questioning of this frame of reference is liable to be branded “anti-semitic”, thus conflating (and importantly from a propagandistic point of view, confusing) the actions of a state, which is first and foremost a political actor, with the belief system and religion of an entire group of people.

One of the many consequences of this superimposed narrative is to render the Palestinians almost un-human — untermenschen if you will. I use the term “human” here in its full sense as embodied in the spirit and law of the United Nations Charter and Resolutions as well as the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Very briefly, the former guarantees the rights of a national people to independence and guarantees them the right to resist occupation. The second additionally guarantees political, cultural, and economic rights to all human beings. And yet, today we find the Palestinians as the last still colonized people who are deprived of any right to resist the colonizing and occupying power.

just look at the lengths tony benn has to go through to let people know about the disasters emergency committee’s appeal for funds for gaza on the bbc:


benn sites an article from 2005 in the independent that details the bias of bbc head mark thompson.
here is the ad the bbc and sky news have refused to air:

but all of this silence and repression is ironic because of the rhetoric we are subjected to from the mouths of israeli terrorists murdering palestinians every single day for 61 years. consider this from gabriela shalev:

Shalev said during her speech that the Holocaust may have terminated with crematoriums, but it began with words.

“To remain silent and indifferent to the horrors of the Holocaust is probably the greatest sin of all, let alone denying it,” she said. “We have a responsibility to act against the forces of anti-Semitism, bigotry and racism in any form.”

Shalev added that the Jewish people maintained a hope that no nation would call for the destruction of another people, though the aspiration has not yet been achieved. She also recounted the story of her grandparents, who perished in Auschwitz.

ironic, too, given that while her thinly veiled comment alludes to hamas, her government, which she is a mouthpiece for is actually destroying another people, the palestinian people. you can spend today thinking about this notion of never again and how vapid it is while surveying the palestinians murdered at the hands of israeli terrorists at this website, the gaza holocaust museum.

Will Palestinians hit Hillary’s glass ceiling?

this is an article i wrote for electronic intifada a couple of weeks ago in the aftermath of my anger at rumors of clinton being appointed as secretary of state. this is material from the second chapter of my book that i’m working on, though many thanks and a big ya3tiki il3fiye to maureen who helped me whittle it down. she’s a genius of an editor. 🙂

Will Palestinians hit Hillary’s glass ceiling?

Dr. Marcy Newman, The Electronic Intifada, 2 December 2008

It is difficult to recall a US secretary of state who embodied the ideals of the position: the promotion of dialogue and privileging of diplomacy. Unfortunately, US President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, is not likely to restore these ideals to the office. Clinton has long championed military action against the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and has promised to “obliterate” Iran if the state launched a nuclear strike against Israel.

Clinton’s hawkish positions don’t give Palestinians much reason for optimism; her bias towards Israeli state policy has been made abundantly clear during her eight years as New York senator. While this is not unusual for an American legislator, nor for a secretary of state, it merits further skepticism of Obama’s promise for change, particularly when it comes to US foreign policy.

As demonstrated by the evolution of Obama’s campaign (always distancing itself from Obama’s March 2008 assertion that “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people”), those who aspire to national office are forced to placate or champion Israel.

In their book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt chart a similar course for Hillary Clinton, who once publicly supported Palestinian national aspirations. However, she changed course after she was met with protests upon embracing Suha Arafat (wife of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat) in 1998 while she was First Lady:

“Clinton became an ardent defender of Israel once she began running for office herself, and she now gets strong backing, including financial support, from pro-Israel organizations and individuals. After Clinton appeared at a pro-Israel rally in July 2006 and expressed strong support for Israel’s highly destructive war against Lebanon, Helen Freedman, executive director of the hard-line Americans for a Safe Israel, declared, ‘I thought her remarks were very good, especially in light of her history, and we can’t forget her kiss to Suha.'”

The Suha Arafat controversy was significant enough to warrant discussion in Clinton’s 2003 autobiography, Living History, in which she contends that members of her diplomatic delegation did not hear the English translation of Suha Arafat’s “outrageous remark suggesting that Israel had used poison gas to control Palestinians.” Clinton claims that had she been aware of Arafat’s words, she “would have denounced them on the spot.” After New York City tabloids published the photos of their embrace, “Many Jewish voters were understandably upset with Mrs. Arafat’s comments and disappointed that I had not taken the opportunity to disavow her remarks. My campaign eventually overcame the fallout, but I had learned a hard lesson about the hazards of merging my role in the international diplomatic arena with the complexities of local New York politics.”

Indeed, Clinton learned to attack Palestinian claims and accept Israel’s line without question. Shortly after her election in 2000, Clinton aligned herself with figures who fed her fabricated reports about Palestinian textbooks which smeared Palestinians for “inciting” violence. At a 2001 press conference Clinton obediently stated that Palestinian Authority textbooks (never mind that the books in question were actually Jordanian and Egyptian) contained “anti-Semitic rhetoric,” arguing that these textbooks were teaching Palestinians “hatred.”

Clinton continued to concern herself with Palestinian education — of course, fixating on Palestinian textbooks rather than Israeli violations of Palestinians’ education rights. In press conferences, speeches, and official Senate subcommittee hearings throughout the last eight years, Clinton has propagated reports by the Israeli group Palestinian Media Watch (video of Clinton is featured on the home page of the organization’s website). The group’s director, Itamar Marcus, resides in the illegal settlement of Efrat, built on land stolen from the Palestinian village al-Khader. Not incidentally, Israeli-fired gas canisters have caused al-Khader’s residents to become clinically ill, requiring hospitalization (see Jonathan Cook, “Vale of Tears,” Al-Ahram Weekly, 5-11 April 2001).

The Palestinian Authority began updating the textbooks irrespective of the controversy, although under Israel’s microscope, yet the controversy raged on. Clinton continued to trot out materials from Marcus in Senate hearings and ignore independent investigations that found no evidence of the hatred alleged by Marcus’ organization. Furthermore, each year that Clinton addresses the conferences of the hawkish groups AIPAC (the Israeli lobby organization) and the Anti-Defamation League, she reiterates claims about fighting “hatred,” “incitement” and “propaganda.” Clinton’s statements have gone unchallenged even though they are libelous and have the effect of equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and foment anti-Palestinian sentiments in the US.

As secretary of state, Clinton will be responsible for negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, yet her history gives no reason to believe she will be effective in this role. If Clinton’s trip to Palestine and Israel in 2005 is any indication, she will have an even more hard-lined approach to the so-called “peace process” than did her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice. One example can be gleaned from a diary Clinton kept when she saw Israel’s wall being built on West Bank land:

“The top priority of any government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens, and that is why I have been a strong supporter of Israel’s right to build a security barrier to keep terrorists out. I have taken the International Court of Justice to task for questioning Israel’s right to build the fence, and on this trip, I wanted to see the fence with my own eyes. … I stood on a hilltop in Gilo and received a detailed briefing from Col. Danny Tirza who oversees the Israeli government’s strategy and construction of the security fence.”

Problematically for someone who should uphold international law, Clinton viewed Israel’s Apartheid Wall — which she calls a “fence” in keeping with Israeli spin — from the illegal settlement Gilo. Her perception was further distorted by her unwillingness to see the devastating impact this wall has had on the communities of Bethlehem whose land has been confiscated for its construction — let alone how Palestinian life is crippled by the wall’s accompanying infrastructure of checkpoints and Jewish-only roads which violate Palestinians’ freedom of movement. Moreover, Clinton’s utter disregard for the International Court of Justice’s 2004 advisory opinion, which stated that Israel’s building of the wall on Palestinian land is illegal, is deeply troubling for a secretary of state.

It is difficult to see how an Obama administration including Clinton will bring change to US foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. In her eight years as senator, not once did Clinton condemn Israel for its bombing of Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure in the summer of 2006, nor for its continued incursions into the West Bank, nor its ongoing siege on Gaza. There is an obvious double standard here, and it’s at the expense of the Palestinians.

Dr. Marcy Newman is Associate Professor of English at An Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine. Her writing may be found at bodyontheline.wordpress.com.

numb

i’m feeling numb today. this may partly be due to the weather. the sky had a strange haze to it all day. i couldn’t see the sea or the sky. it had an odd brown color and there was an intense wind blowing all day. of course, this didn’t stop the israeli terrorist forces (itf) from terrorizing people with their sonic boom shaking those of us living and working below. it’s like a mini earthquake and one of the sonic booms occurred in the middle of my drama class today. it shook the building–my students unfazed–and it shook my train of thought.

but that’s not really why i’m numb. i’m feeling numb because of the silence in this world that can allow the the suffering to continue in gaza. and it is not just the world. it’s here, too. there are no solidarity marches or any other sort of political activities indicating nabulsi solidarity with gaza. apathy, exhaustion is contagious. it’s a disease and it’s spreading far too quickly. i spoke with a friend tonight in gaza. she told me about the lack of fuel, and now the lack of bread. she told me about the itf invasions, one of which occurred 6 km away from where she is. she said that she thinks they are provocations because they are swift, quick 20-30 minute invasions of death and destruction. but unlike here she said there is solidarity among the people in spite of the political difference the media likes to exploit. she said that among the youth this level of political commitment is particularly strong. even some of the students who have received scholarships to study abroad have remarked to her that if they could get out they wouldn’t leave now. they see this as the least sort of sacrifice they can make as they watch mothers burying their children, families going with out bread. it’s amazing to think that such a desire for sacrifice and commitment can continue in gaza even though people in gaza have every reason to be exhausted far more than anyone here in the west bank.

a report that electronic intifada posted today from the palestinian centre for human rights on the crisis in gaza is particularly disturbing. the closure is now having an effect on bakeries and hospitals:

Mills

Three out of five mills operating in the Gaza Strip have stopped operation, and the remaining two are expected to join them by tomorrow due to the lack of wheat. There is also a shortage in drinking water, especially in high buildings due to repeated cutting of electricity.

Bakeries

In a grave development, several bakeries have stopped working due to the lack of fuel, cooking gas, electricity and flour. Developments at this level can be summed up in the following:

* There are 72 bakeries in the Gaza Strip: 47 that produce Syrian bread; 10 that produce Iraqi bread, and 15 that produce other kinds of bread and pastries. 29 bakeries that produce Syrian bread have completely stopped operation, while eight bakeries have been working in a lower capacity.
* Nineteen bakeries of Syrian bread, which is the most consumable kind of bread in the Gaza Strip, use cooking gas, eight others use electrical power, and the remaining four others use diesel.
* Seventeen bakeries that depend on cooking gas have stopped working due to the lack of cooking gas and eight bakeries that depend on electrical power have been working partially due to the repeated cutting of electricity.
* The population of Gaza City (approximately 570,000 people) depend on the bread produced by four bakeries that depend on diesel for operation.
* Ten out of 15 bakeries that depend on cooking gas for operation in the central and southern Gaza Strip have completely stopped operation, and the remaining five are expected to join them by Saturday, 22 November 2008, if the shortage in cooking gas continues.
* The last amount of cooking gas provided to bakeries in the Gaza Strip on 4 November 2008 was only 40 tons, which can hardly allow them to operate for one week.

Health conditions: Lives of patients are endangered

Health facilities have been facing a serious crisis due to the shortage in electrical and fuel supplies, which has in effect limited their ability to provide medical services to patients. Additionally, at least 45 kinds of medicines have been lacking in the Gaza Strip. Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip is a clear example of the impacts of shortages in electricity and fuel supplies on medical services provided to patients. According to sources of the hospital, several electricity generators need maintenance, which cannot be performed due to the lack of spare parts, whose entry has been banned by IOF. According to those sources:

* The main electricity generator, which generates 900 kilovolt amperes needs maintenance and IOF refuse to allow the entry of spare parts for it, although the ICRC intervened with IOF to allow the main keypad which is required for its maintenance.
* Prince Nayef Center for Carcinoma and the Magnetic resonance imaging machine have been stopped due to the lack of high voltage electricity.
* The hospital suffers from a shortage in cooking gas which is used in disinfection and in preparing food for patients.
* There are serious concerns that some vital medical equipments in hospital in the Gaza Strip, including artificial breathing sets in intensive care units, may stop working. Pasteurization machines may also stop working due to the lack of electricity and fuel.

today, as a result of the lack of fuel, al shifa hospital has had to shut down as a result of the closure:

Dr. Hussein Ashour, head of the Al Shifa medical center in Gaza, one of the biggest medical centers in the Gaza Strip, stated that main facilities at the center stopped functioning due to the lack of fundamental equipment and tools.

and of course itf continues to invade and murder palestinians in gaza:

A fighter affiliated with the Al-Qassam Brigades, the militant wing of Hamas, was killed early on Thursday in Gaza City by the shrapnel of a missile fired from an Israeli tank.

Mu’awiya Hassanein, the head of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry, told Ma’an that 21-year-old Mohammad Abd Ash-Shaqour Al-Ara’ir died when an Israeli tank fired a missile toward him.

there are also long term risks of malnutrition as a result of this blockade, consequences that may not be readily visible, but that are nevertheless part of the zionist state’s slow genocidal policy in gaza:

The Gaza Strip’s de facto Ministry of Agriculture warned on Thursday that the ongoing Israeli blockade could cause “a real food disaster” as the absence of feed and fuel starves farm animals, according to a statement.

The ministry’s assistant undersecretary, Ibrahim Al-Qidrah, wrote in a statement received by Ma’an that “owners of such farms will sustain heavy losses if natural gas and feed are not shipped into Gaza.”

Al-Qidrah also noted that newly hatched chicks “cannot survive cold weather,” predicting that poultry farms would be the first to go as fuel runs dry. Warming uses 150 tons of natural gas per month, aside from basic caring and feeding on the farms.

Owners of incubators and poultry farms were forced to euthanize hundreds of thousands of chicks faced with the ongoing fuel and feed depletion since Israel’s near-total closure of the Gaza Strip, which is now entering its 17th day.

“Another two million eggs will be destroyed if the situation continues,” the agriculture minister warned.

He said that “such depletion will cause shortages in white meat available at local markets,” adding that the increased demand would raise prices, as well.

Red meat has also become scarce since the Israeli blockade began over two weeks ago.

maybe it is all of this that makes me feel numb. paralyzed. because i can’t do anything. because even those who are in a position to do something cannot do anything.

or maybe it is that this world is so callous and cold that in the midst of all this itf inflicting this tremendous suffering on the people of gaza, one of the most notorious war criminals who hails from the zionist state, shimon peres, was knighted in london:

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed an honorary knighthood on Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday. Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was escorted into Buckingham Palace by the Queen’s Guard and the Household Cavalry.

The Queen stepped towards Peres and shook his hand before appointing him Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) – the United Kingdom’s sixth highest honor. As Peres is not a subject of the Commonwealth, he did not kneel upon receiving the honor and may not employ the title ‘sir.’

or maybe it is that as people continue the preparation for the world conference against racism, also known as durban 2, the zionist state laid bare its true colors showing the world that it is a bit hypocritical for a racist state to participate in a conference against racism (you need to read between the lines to understand this subtext):

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced Wednesday that Israel has made a final decision to boycott the United Nations “Durban II” conference on human rights this spring, fearing it would be used once again as a forum for anti-Israeli sentiment.

The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in Geneva in April, is a follow-up to a 2001 summit in Durban, South Africa on the same issues.

“The documents prepared for the conference indicate that it is turning once again into an anti-Israeli tribunal, singling out and delegitimizing the State of Israel,” Livni told Jewish-American leaders at the UJC General Assembly in Jerusalem.

“The conference has nothing to do with fighting racism,” she said. “In view of this situation, I decided that Israel will not participate and will not legitimize the Durban II conference.”

The foreign minister also called on the international community “not to participate in a conference which seeks to legitimize hatred and extremism under the banner of a fight against racism.”

case in point on the zionist state, by definition, is a racist state. why do you think it is my american readers out there that you see nothing or read nothing about what is happening in gaza? why do you think it is that the zionist regime works so hard to keep reporters from entering? it is because they do not want you to see what is going on. they do not want to be found out.

Leaders of the world’s biggest media organizations filed a protest with Israel’s prime minister Wednesday criticizing the government’s decision to ban journalists from entering the Gaza Strip for the last two weeks.

The protest was the latest in a chorus of international criticism of Israel’s Gaza closure, tightened after a five-month truce began unraveling about two weeks ago in a flurry of Israeli airstrikes against militants and Palestinian rocket barrages targeting Israeli towns.

Those signing the letter included Associated Press Chief Executive and President Tom Curley, Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, ABC News President David Westin, BBC News Director Helen Boaden and other top executives from CNN, the Canadian TV network CTV, the German broadcaster ZDF, and the French news service Agence France Presse.

“We are gravely concerned about the prolonged and unprecedented denial of access to the Gaza Strip for the international media,” they wrote in the letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

“We would welcome an assurance that access to Gaza for international journalists will be restored immediately in the spirit of Israel’s long-standing commitment to a free press,” reads the letter.

but there seem to be a few lone voices in the world out there demanding some significant outcry on the world stage today:

AUSTRALIA has switched its position to vote against Israel on two resolutions at the United Nations, ending the Howard government’s unswerving alignment with the United States and raising concern from the Jewish community.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire says the United Nations should suspend or revoke Israel’s membership.

Maguire, in a news conference Thursday, said that it’s time for the international community to take action against Israel. She claimed Israel should be punished for ignoring a series of United Nations resolutions over the years.

of course no leaders in the united states speak out with such forcefulness. gross human rights violations are gross human rights violations. when will the world wake up and get over it’s ridiculous fear of being called anti-semitic? everyone is ready to jump on the bandwagon to punish countries who violate international law when the people in those countries are predominantly brown folks. but when they are jewish. silence. one day this hypocrisy will be revealed for what it is. but how many more people in gaza will have to suffer until then.