yes, boycott works.

a couple of weeks ago i posted about the campaign to write to amnesty international in order to get them to comply with the boycott and pull out their funding of a leonard cohen concert in the zionist entity. well, it worked. here is the official statement reporting this victory from the palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel:

Amnesty International has announced today that it will abstain from any involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert in Tel Aviv and will not be party to any fund that benefits from the concert‘s proceeds. A number of media accounts had reported that Amnesty International was to manage or otherwise partner in a fund created from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel that would be used to benefit Israeli and Palestinian groups. Amnesty International’s announcement today followed an international outcry over the human rights organization’s reported involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert fund, and an earlier international call for Cohen to boycott apartheid Israel.

Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

A statement confirming Amnesty‘s withdrawal has now been posted on the Amnesty International website.

boycott, divestment, and sanctions is picking up steam in british unions as well as asa winstanley reported in electronic intifada a couple of weeks ago:

The international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has won several important victories in recent months. At this summer’s trade union conferences in Britain, BDS activists have made significant progress.

While the campaign has been building momentum in unions globally since the 2005 Palestinian call for BDS, Israel’s winter invasion of Gaza has spurred several trade unions and union federations in Britain and Ireland to pass motions more explicitly in favor of BDS. Several are calling for BDS for the first time.

Tom Hickey, a member of the University and College Union’s (UCU) national executive committee, said, “The question of the moral rightness or wrongness [of BDS against Israel] has effectively already been decided.”

Although the Trade Union Congress (the British union federation) has not yet passed a BDS motion, affiliated unions have begun taking up the Palestinian call themselves. So far this summer, the public sector union PCS, the UCU and the Fire Brigades Union have all passed strong motions explicitly calling for a general policy of boycott of Israeli goods, divestment from Israeli companies and government sanctions against the state.

Unions such as public sector union UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, USDAW and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have this summer passed softer motions calling for elements of BDS. These are usually calls for a boycott of settlement goods, or for the government to suspend arms sales to Israel. The CWU and others have condemned the infamous 13 January 2008 statement of the Israeli trade union federation in support of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which read: “The Histadrut recognizes the urgent need for the State of Israel to operate against the command and control centers of the organizational terror network …”

In addition, a report has been circulating on the Internet that the rail workers’ union, the RMT, has reversed an earlier policy of “solidarity not boycott” and passed a motion in favor of some sort of BDS policy at their July Annual General Meeting. The official AGM report has yet to be released to the general public, but the RMT’s media office confirmed the report was probably accurate. However, they did not return calls for official confirmation in time for publication.

and folks in ann arbor are taking the bds campaign to their local city council making important arguments about americans funding apartheid in palestine (not to mention occupations and massacres in afghanistan, iraq, and pakistan) rather than using those funds to rebuild cities like detroit where a majority african americans live. palestine think tank posted a video of their city council hearing (and you can use this model to do the same at your municipal level):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

there is also good news about a british bank, blackrock, divesting from the africa-israel company (that has a horrific record of land theft as well as massacres in palestine as well as in africa, as the name indicates):

When the British Embassy in Tel Aviv was looking for new premises and was offered the opportunity of occupying a building owned by the investment company Africa-Israel Investments, the ambassador refrained. The reason was that the company was also responsible for settlements on the occupied West Bank. Africa-Israel Investments’ main owner is Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev.

Now the UK bank BlackRock has followed in the footsteps of the ambassador.

The bank was for a while the second largest shareholder in the Israeli investment company. Africa-Israel Investments is, among other things, in on the construction of the settlement Ma’aleh Adumim (above). The construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian territory is in conflict with international law.

It was Norwatch who this past spring revealed BlackRock’s investments in the controversial company and how private investors in Norway could invest in the project by means of the fund BlackRock Emerging Europe.

This was possible through Norwegian insurance company Storebrand, Norwegian-Swedish bank Skandiabanken, and the Norwegian-Danish Danica Pensjon.

But after all 3 banks have taken action, the British bank has now announced its divestment from the Israeli company. This must have happened sometime between June and August, possibly as late as this week.

“We have received confirmation from BlackRock that Africa-Israel Investments no longer is part of their portfolio,” Johnny Anderson, Information Manager of Skandiabanken, confirmed to Norwatch. The confirmation of the divestment was sent to Skandiabanken the day before yesterday, on 18 August.

“The way I interpret the e-mail I have received, Africa-Israel is no longer to be found in any of BlackRock’s funds,” Anderson said.

The e-mail from BlackRock to Skandiabanken was sent after the Swedish-Norwegian bank had approached BlackRock with regard to the controversial Israel involvement. That is the first time that Skandiabanken had contacted BlackRock about the case. Also the bank Danica Pensjon end of last week contacted BlackRock about the matter, confirmed Geir Wik, Sales and Marketing Director of Danica Pensjon to Norwatch yesterday.

and the big surprise was to open my local newspaper the other morning, the los angeles times, where i found a prominent op-ed from a zionist terrorist colonist advocating the boycott of the zionist entity. the article is generally good, though this professor, neve gordon, still believes in zionism and his right to be a colonist on palestinian land. but given that he came this far, perhaps an acknowledgment that he does not have a right to land that once belonged to palestinians who are now refugees will be forthcoming. here is the op-ed:

Israeli newspapers this summer are filled with angry articles about the push for an international boycott of Israel. Films have been withdrawn from Israeli film festivals, Leonard Cohen is under fire around the world for his decision to perform in Tel Aviv, and Oxfam has severed ties with a celebrity spokesperson, a British actress who also endorses cosmetics produced in the occupied territories. Clearly, the campaign to use the kind of tactics that helped put an end to the practice of apartheid in South Africa is gaining many followers around the world.

Not surprisingly, many Israelis — even peaceniks — aren’t signing on. A global boycott can’t help but contain echoes of anti-Semitism. It also brings up questions of a double standard (why not boycott China for its egregious violations of human rights?) and the seemingly contradictory position of approving a boycott of one’s own nation.

It is indeed not a simple matter for me as an Israeli citizen to call on foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel. But today, as I watch my two boys playing in the yard, I am convinced that it is the only way that Israel can be saved from itself.

I say this because Israel has reached a historic crossroads, and times of crisis call for dramatic measures. I say this as a Jew who has chosen to raise his children in Israel, who has been a member of the Israeli peace camp for almost 30 years and who is deeply anxious about the country’s future.

The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews — whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel — are citizens of the state of Israel.

The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime.

There are only two moral ways of achieving this goal.

The first is the one-state solution: offering citizenship to all Palestinians and thus establishing a bi-national democracy within the entire area controlled by Israel. Given the demographics, this would amount to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state; for most Israeli Jews, it is anathema.

The second means of ending our apartheid is through the two-state solution, which entails Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (with possible one-for-one land swaps), the division of Jerusalem, and a recognition of the Palestinian right of return with the stipulation that only a limited number of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel, while the rest can return to the new Palestinian state.

Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, “on the ground,” the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality.

Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1% of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support binationalism.

For now, despite the concrete difficulties, it makes more sense to alter the geographic realities than the ideological ones. If at some future date the two peoples decide to share a state, they can do so, but currently this is not something they want.

So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal?

I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren’t citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right.

It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.

I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination.

In Bilbao, Spain, in 2008, a coalition of organizations from all over the world formulated the 10-point Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign meant to pressure Israel in a “gradual, sustainable manner that is sensitive to context and capacity.” For example, the effort begins with sanctions on and divestment from Israeli firms operating in the occupied territories, followed by actions against those that help sustain and reinforce the occupation in a visible manner. Along similar lines, artists who come to Israel in order to draw attention to the occupation are welcome, while those who just want to perform are not.

Nothing else has worked. Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians — my two boys included — does not grow up in an apartheid regime.

nevertheless his op-ed is getting quite a bit of airtime in the zionist entity’s media. thus, yet another sign of their fear of how much the boycott campaign is working. there was one article in today’s ha’aretz in which the education minister slammed gordon. and los angeles jews seem to be foaming at the mouth as this second article in ha’aretz today shows that they want to boycott a university in the zionist entity (a win-win situation! ) there was yet another article responding to gordon’s piece in a zionist rag called the jewish journal, which takes the threats even further: to boycott he arabs.

gordon’s ben gurion university is no different than any other university in the zionist entity that participates in the production of knowledge that enables the colonization of palestine. recently soas authored a report on the extent of tel aviv university’s collaboration in the savaging of gaza (if you follow the link you can download the entire study):

As part of Tel Aviv’s centenary celebration, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London hosted a Tel Aviv University Special Lecture Series from January to March 2009.

Taking place in the midst of Israel’s war on Gaza — which had already mobilized SOAS students to organize a number of activities in solidarity with Gaza, including the first student occupation in the UK — students and a number of lecturers expressed their opposition to the lecture series.

The student union overwhelmingly passed a motion criticizing the lecture series’ attempt to whitewash Tel Aviv’s colonial past and present and called for the end of SOAS’s collaboration with Tel Aviv University (TAU) in hosting the series on the grounds of its role in giving key legal, technological and strategic support for maintaining and expanding Israel’s colonial occupation. The School’s Director, Professor Paul Webley, opposed the cancellation and defended the continuation of the lecture series by invoking a prerogative of freedom of speech and citing the pedagogic value of diversities of opinion. Conspicuously absent in the Director’s defense was any engagement with the nature and scope of TAU’s research portfolio.

In response to the director’s failure to acknowledge the serious implications of collaboration with TAU that undermined the reputation, integrity and fundamental ethical principles of SOAS, the SOAS Palestine Society prepared a briefing paper for him and the Governing Body outlining TAU’s intensive, purposive and open institutional contributions to the Israeli military. While the signatories of the briefing paper recognized the importance of freedom of speech, they were also keenly aware of the need to uphold the rights of the oppressed and expressed that no right reigns absolute over the fundamental right to life. It is precisely therefore that it is wholly untenable that partnerships with institutions facilitating, advocating and justifying ongoing war crimes can be legitimized with recourse to an ideal of academic freedom.

compare soas to harvard university’s invitation to a bona fide war criminal of the zionist entity last month as maryam monalisa gharavi and anat matar wrote in electronic intifada last month:

On 9 July Harvard University’s Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) invited Colonel Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, former Israeli military legal adviser, to their online Humanitarian Law and Policy Forum. The stated aim was to bring “objective” discussion to the principle of distinction in international humanitarian law, or what the forum organizers called “combat in civilian population centers and the failure of fighters to distinguish themselves from the civilian population.”

Although billed as a lecturer in the Law Faculty at Tel Aviv University — and therefore as a detached humanitarian law analyst — Colonel Sharvit-Baruch was in fact deeply involved in Israel’s three-week onslaught in Gaza in December and January, that counted its 1,505th victim found under rubble earlier this month. With the devastating operation condemned and mourned worldwide, many asked why a ranking member of an occupying army that flouts its legal obligations should herself receive safe havens at two major universities.

What troubled many of the 200 or so participants who “attended” the talk via a virtual chatroom was that Sharvit-Baruch was cut off from public or legal scrutiny as she relayed her PowerPoint presentation. Questions were posed by the moderators, sanitized of any critical content. Yet the indisputable fact is that the army for which Sharvit-Baruch worked has been accused by all major human rights organizations of committing war crimes in Gaza. Some wondered why Sharvit-Baruch was being given the opportunity to offer a carefully prepared presentation unchallenged in an academic setting, rather than giving testimony to a tribunal or inquiry such as that being conducted Judge Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist heading an independent fact-finding mission into human rights violations during Israel’s attack at the request of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Since the event organizers did not ask pointed questions about Colonel Sharvit-Baruch’s actual role in Gaza, it is worth doing so here. As head of the International Law department (ILD) at the Israeli Military Advocate General’s office, Sharvit-Baruch is known for green-lighting the bombing of a police graduation ceremony in Gaza that killed dozens of civil policemen. This was no ordinary airstrike. It was premised on a legal sleight-of-hand: that even traffic cops in Gaza could be considered “legitimate targets” under international law. In a conversation with conscripts at a military prep academy in Israel, school director Danny Zamir noted, “I was terribly surprised by the enthusiasm surrounding the killing of the Gaza traffic police on the first day of the operation. They took out 180 traffic cops. As a pilot, I would have questioned that.”

Further, the Israeli army used heavy artillery and white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas of Gaza, against the UNRWA’s headquarters and a UN school in Beit Lahiya. As reported by Judge Goldstone, Gazans trying to relay their civilian status were also hit. Even though the Israeli military tried several times to deny its use, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on white phosphorous use in Gaza quotes an unnamed Israeli official: “at least one month before [white phosphorus] was used a legal team had been consulted on the implications.” HRW found that “in violation of the laws of war, the [Israeli army] generally failed to take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm” and “used white phosphorus in an indiscriminate manner causing civilian death and injury.”

Such reckless disregard for the lives of civilians and pathological cover-ups of military operations are recognized by many Israelis within the system itself. According to one Israeli jurist speaking to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the ILD is considered “more militant than any other legal agency in Israel, and willing to adopt the most flexible interpretations of the law in order to justify the [Israel army’s] actions.” Although the ILD personnel “are now very proud of their influence upon the combat” in Gaza, human rights groups have stated that “residents weren’t advised then as to which places were safe, and the roads by which they fled were bombed and turned into death traps.”

One of the most indelible perspectives about Israel’s legal gymnastics to justify its actions comes from Colonel Sharvit-Baruch’s predecessor, Daniel Reisner. “What is being done today is a revision of international law,” Reisner has said, “and if you do something long enough, the world will accept it. All of international law is built on that an act which is forbidden today can become permissible, if enough states do it.” In expressing how the ILD moves forward by turning back the pages of legal jurisdiction, Reisner says, “We invented the doctrine of the preemptive pinpoint strike, we had to promote it, and in the beginning there were protrusions which made it difficult to fit it easily into the mold of legality. Eight years later, it’s in the middle of the realm of legitimacy.”

Sharvit-Baruch herself explained her vision of international law at a presentation for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: “International law is developed according to practices. It changes based on what is happening in the field. These laws must be based on precedents, what already exists. There is flexibility in every law.” By this law of flexibility, the more aberrations of international law a state can legitimize, the more hoary actions it can continue to execute and justify.

Since the attack on Gaza, numerous testimonies of Israeli soldiers published in Israel, have corroborated the accounts of Palestinian witnesses and human rights organizations that serious war crimes were endemic.

Despite the blunt admissions of Israeli soldiers widely published in the Israeli press, it was clear from her calm presentation that Sharvit-Baruch and her cohort live in their own rhetorical universe where even language is assaulted. In the Colonel’s own terminology, non-existent vocabulary in international law such as “capacity builders” and “revolving doors” is coined to pass over accepted terms such as “civilians” and “non-combatants.” Like the US government’s “torture memo” authors — who in contrast to Israel’s were not uniformed ranking members of the army — the Israeli military attempted to reclassify a “civilian” in a manner making it easier to strip them of protections provided by international humanitarian law. “Architecture of words,” said one participant

Despite all this, by her own standards, Sharvit-Baruch and her team could not be faulted for their efficiency: in Gaza, banning all media from entering; assaulting the population with air missiles, sniper ground troops, and white phosphorus; condemning all criticism of military actions as contrary to state security; keeping a chin above the law; attaining a teaching position at Tel Aviv University and finally a prestigious opportunity to address Harvard students and faculty.

but in england they are far more advanced than the united states when it comes to responding to war crimes against palestinians. consider the new (albeit partial) arms embargo against the zionist entity as a penalty for its war crimes in gaza as ian black reported in the guardian:

Britain has revoked export licences for weapons on Israeli navy missile boats because of their use during the offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The licences apparently covered spare parts for guns on the Sa’ar 4.5 ships, which reportedly fired missiles and artillery shells into the Palestinian coastal territory during the three-week war, which started in late December.

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, shrugged off what he called one of “many embargoes”. The foreign office in London insisted the rare move did not constitute an embargo but was the application of normal UK and EU export licensing criteria. Still, it linked the decision directly to Operation Cast Lead – the Israeli codename for the attacks – and described it as similar to action taken against Russia and Georgia after their conflict last year.

A spokesman for Amnesty International, citing the “weight of evidence” that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza, said: “It’s a step forward but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.”

Israel’s defence ministry made no comment but Lieberman told state radio: “We’ve had many embargoes in the past. This shouldn’t bother us.”

Israel gets the bulk of its military requirements from the US, more than 95% according to some estimates. The UK accounts for less than 1% or about £30m worth of exports a year.

but there is also more bds activism emanating from the zionist entity itself, particularly in the queer community as the monthly review zine reported today:

Contrary to the mediated attempt to describe Israel as a force of liberation and progress, we see objecting to apartheid Israel as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people, including LGBTQ Palestinians. LGBTQ Palestinians are not going to be “saved” by a so-called gay-friendly Zionist state. Organized LGBTQ Palestinians reject the myth of Israel as an “oasis of tolerance.”

We are disturbed by the cynical manipulation of these deaths to bolster support for the Israeli state and its violent policies. When Israeli politicians say that this is an unprecedented level of violence, and promise to create safety for LGBTQ people in Israel, they are using the promise of safety to hide the violence and domination that is foundational to the Israeli state. When Zionist groups emphasize the growing gay nightlife in Tel Aviv, they are using the illusion of safety to draw support and funding to Israel from liberal queer and Jewish people around the world. We reject these lies, as well as the manipulation of our communities for profit and to increase military and political support for Israel.

Just as we reject the lie that Zionism is premised on the safety of Jews, we reject the lie that Israel prioritizes and values the safety of LGBTQ citizens of Israel. The safety Israel claims to extend to LGBTQ people is false; we do not accept an illusion of safety for some at the expense of self determination for others. No matter who Zionism claims to save or value, nothing can justify the targeting, suppression and oppression of the Palestinian people.

We call on LGBTQ communities to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle against Israeli violence. Putting words into action, we call on LGBTQ communities across the world to endorse the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with full international law, including an immediate end to the occupation and colonization of Palestine, a dismantling of the wall, an end to war crimes against the people of Gaza, and for the Palestinian Right of Return.

Specifically, we call on these communities to boycott international LGBTQ events held inside of Israel; to abstain from touring Israel as is marketed to LGBTQ people — with the exception of solidarity visits to Palestine; and to counter and boycott the promotion of Israeli LGBTQ tourism, and Israeli cultural and academic events in the countries in which we reside — unless they are in clear and undivided solidarity with Palestine. By these actions, we show a commitment to justice and humanity consistent with our outrage against this hateful and deadly attack that occurred in Tel Aviv.

This statement was drafted by members of the following organizations:

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, Toronto
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism

and

The following BDS activists from Israel:

Ayala Shani
Edo Medicks
Emily Schaeffer
Hamutal Erato
Leiser Peles
Liad Kantorowicz
Moran Livnat
Nitzan Aviv
Noa Abend
Rotem Biran
Roy Wagner
Segev (Lilach) Ben- David
Sonya Soloviov
Tal Shapira
Yossef/a Mekyton
Yossi Wolfson
Yotam Ben-David

these actions are all essential in promoting the reality that bds is the only thing that is breaking the zionist entity and that will continue to help it fall to its knees. faris giacaman’s brilliant piece in electronic intifada illustrates precisely why bds is the best mode of solidarity among activists who are against apartheid in palestine:

Upon finding out that I am Palestinian, many people I meet at college in the United States are eager to inform me of various activities that they have participated in that promote “coexistence” and “dialogue” between both sides of the “conflict,” no doubt expecting me to give a nod of approval. However, these efforts are harmful and undermine the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel — the only way of pressuring Israel to cease its violations of Palestinians’ rights.

When I was a high school student in Ramallah, one of the better known “people-to-people” initiatives, Seeds of Peace, often visited my school, asking students to join their program. Almost every year, they would send a few of my classmates to a summer camp in the US with a similar group of Israeli students. According to the Seeds of Peace website, at the camp they are taught “to develop empathy, respect, and confidence as well as leadership, communication and negotiation skills — all critical components that will facilitate peaceful coexistence for the next generation.” They paint quite a rosy picture, and most people in college are very surprised to hear that I think such activities are misguided at best, and immoral, at worst. Why on earth would I be against “coexistence,” they invariably ask?

During the last few years, there have been growing calls to bring to an end Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people through an international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). One of the commonly-held objections to the boycott is that it is counter-productive, and that “dialogue” and “fostering coexistence” is much more constructive than boycotts.

With the beginning of the Oslo accords in 1993, there has been an entire industry that works toward bringing Israelis and Palestinians together in these “dialogue” groups. The stated purpose of such groups is the creating of understanding between “both sides of the conflict,” in order to “build bridges” and “overcome barriers.” However, the assumption that such activities will help facilitate peace is not only incorrect, but is actually morally lacking.

The presumption that dialogue is needed in order to achieve peace completely ignores the historical context of the situation in Palestine. It assumes that both sides have committed, more or less, an equal amount of atrocities against one another, and are equally culpable for the wrongs that have been done. It is assumed that not one side is either completely right or completely wrong, but that both sides have legitimate claims that should be addressed, and certain blind spots that must be overcome. Therefore, both sides must listen to the “other” point of view, in order to foster understanding and communication, which would presumably lead to “coexistence” or “reconciliation.”

Such an approach is deemed “balanced” or “moderate,” as if that is a good thing. However, the reality on the ground is vastly different than the “moderate” view of this so-called “conflict.” Even the word “conflict” is misleading, because it implies a dispute between two symmetric parties. The reality is not so; it is not a case of simple misunderstanding or mutual hatred which stands in the way of peace. The context of the situation in Israel/Palestine is that of colonialism, apartheid and racism, a situation in which there is an oppressor and an oppressed, a colonizer and a colonized.

In cases of colonialism and apartheid, history shows that colonial regimes do not relinquish power without popular struggle and resistance, or direct international pressure. It is a particularly naive view to assume that persuasion and “talking” will convince an oppressive system to give up its power.

The apartheid regime in South Africa, for instance, was ended after years of struggle with the vital aid of an international campaign of sanctions, divestments and boycotts. If one had suggested to the oppressed South Africans living in bantustans to try and understand the other point of view (i.e. the point of view of South African white supremacists), people would have laughed at such a ridiculous notion. Similarly, during the Indian struggle for emancipation from British colonial rule, Mahatma Gandhi would not have been venerated as a fighter for justice had he renounced satyagraha — “holding firmly to the truth,” his term for his nonviolent resistance movement — and instead advocated for dialogue with the occupying British colonialists in order to understand their side of the story.

Now, it is true that some white South Africans stood in solidarity with the oppressed black South Africans, and participated in the struggle against apartheid. And there were, to be sure, some British dissenters to their government’s colonial policies. But those supporters explicitly stood alongside the oppressed with the clear objective of ending oppression, of fighting the injustices perpetrated by their governments and representatives. Any joint gathering of both parties, therefore, can only be morally sound when the citizens of the oppressive state stand in solidarity with the members of the oppressed group, not under the banner of “dialogue” for the purpose of “understanding the other side of the story.” Dialogue is only acceptable when done for the purpose of further understanding the plight of the oppressed, not under the framework of having “both sides heard.”

It has been argued, however, by the Palestinian proponents of these dialogue groups, that such activities may be used as a tool — not to promote so-called “understanding,” — but to actually win over Israelis to the Palestinian struggle for justice, by persuading them or “having them recognize our humanity.”

However, this assumption is also naive. Unfortunately, most Israelis have fallen victim to the propaganda that the Zionist establishment and its many outlets feed them from a young age. Moreover, it will require a huge, concerted effort to counter this propaganda through persuasion. For example, most Israelis will not be convinced that their government has reached a level of criminality that warrants a call for boycott. Even if they are logically convinced of the brutalities of Israeli oppression, it will most likely not be enough to rouse them into any form of action against it. This has been proven to be true time and again, evident in the abject failure of such dialogue groups to form any comprehensive anti-occupation movement ever since their inception with the Oslo process. In reality, nothing short of sustained pressure — not persuasion — will make Israelis realize that Palestinian rights have to be rectified. That is the logic of the BDS movement, which is entirely opposed to the false logic of dialogue.

Based on an unpublished 2002 report by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, the San Francisco Chronicle reported last October that “between 1993 and 2000 [alone], Western governments and foundations spent between $20 million and $25 million on the dialogue groups.” A subsequent wide-scale survey of Palestinians who participated in the dialogue groups revealed that this great expenditure failed to produce “a single peace activist on either side.” This affirms the belief among Palestinians that the entire enterprise is a waste of time and money.

The survey also revealed that the Palestinian participants were not fully representative of their society. Many participants tended to be “children or friends of high-ranking Palestinian officials or economic elites. Only seven percent of participants were refugee camp residents, even though they make up 16 percent of the Palestinian population.” The survey also found that 91 percent of Palestinian participants no longer maintained ties with Israelis they met. In addition, 93 percent were not approached with follow-up camp activity, and only five percent agreed the whole ordeal helped “promote peace culture and dialogue between participants.”

Despite the resounding failure of these dialogue projects, money continues to be invested in them. As Omar Barghouti, one of the founding members of the BDS movement in Palestine, explained in The Electronic Intifada, “there have been so many attempts at dialogue since 1993 … it became an industry — we call it the peace industry.”

This may be partly attributed to two factors. The dominant factor is the useful role such projects play in public relations. For example, the Seeds of Peace website boosts its legitimacy by featuring an impressive array of endorsements by popular politicians and authorities, such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, George Mitchell, Shimon Peres, George Bush, Colin Powell and Tony Blair, amongst others. The second factor is the need of certain Israeli “leftists” and “liberals” to feel as if they are doing something admirable to “question themselves,” while in reality they take no substantive stand against the crimes that their government commits in their name. The politicians and Western governments continue to fund such projects, thereby bolstering their images as supporters of “coexistence,” and the “liberal” Israeli participants can exonerate themselves of any guilt by participating in the noble act of “fostering peace.” A symbiotic relationship, of sorts.

The lack of results from such initiatives is not surprising, as the stated objectives of dialogue and “coexistence” groups do not include convincing Israelis to help Palestinians gain the respect of their inalienable rights. The minimum requirement of recognizing Israel’s inherently oppressive nature is absent in these dialogue groups. Rather, these organizations operate under the dubious assumption that the “conflict” is very complex and multifaceted, where there are “two sides to every story,” and each narrative has certain valid claims as well as biases.

As the authoritative call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel makes plain, any joint Palestinian-Israeli activities — whether they be film screenings or summer camps — can only be acceptable when their stated objective is to end, protest, and/or raise awareness of the oppression of the Palestinians.

Any Israeli seeking to interact with Palestinians, with the clear objective of solidarity and helping them to end oppression, will be welcomed with open arms. Caution must be raised, however, when invitations are made to participate in a dialogue between “both sides” of the so-called “conflict.” Any call for a “balanced” discourse on this issue — where the motto “there are two sides to every story” is revered almost religiously — is intellectually and morally dishonest, and ignores the fact that, when it comes to cases of colonialism, apartheid, and oppression, there is no such thing as “balance.” The oppressor society, by and large, will not give up its privileges without pressure. This is why the BDS campaign is such an important instrument of change.

for those who feel inspired to carry on the bds campaign there is a new campaign to initiate. you can start with locating where wine from the zionist entity is sold, which is, of course, made from stolen grapes in from occupied palestine and syria:

Israel exports roughly $22 million dollars worth of wine a year, according to the Central Statistics Bureau.

Founded in 2002, the family-owned Pelter winery in the Golan Heights benefits from the cool climate and water-rich soil of the plateau, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981 – a move rejected by the United Nations.

Sam Pelter, whose son Tal founded the winery after extensive wine-making studies in Australia, says he combines Australian techniques and technology with Golan grapes. His wines sell at $18-$50 a bottle and are sold in the United States and Europe.

Some 18-20 percent of Israeli wine comes from the Golan, according to wine critic Rogov, though wines made on disputed land can sometimes invite controversy.

Last December, Syria protested to UN leaders that Israel had distributed Golan wine as year-end holiday gifts to UN staff. In 2006, Israel complained that Sweden was labelling Golan wines as coming from Israeli-occupied Syrian territory.

Israeli settlers also make wine on Arab land in the West Bank, sometimes drawing boycotts by peace activists.

Political sensitivities have not stopped Pelter’s wines making a splash abroad.

destroying the indigenous at home and abroad

there is a new petition to sign for leonard peltier one of the oldest american indian political prisoners in the united states. here is the text of the petition as well as the link to sign it:

Convicted in connection with the deaths on June 26, 1975, of Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Leonard Peltier remains imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, despite proof that he was convicted on the basis of fabricated and suppressed evidence, as well as coerced testimony. In fact, the court record clearly shows that government prosecutors have long held that they do not know who killed Mr. Coler and Mr. Williams and, according to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: “Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed.” In spite of these facts, Mr. Peltier has served more than 30 years in prison.

After careful consideration of the facts in Mr. Peltier’s case, we have concluded that Leonard Peltier does not represent a risk to the public. First, Mr. Peltier has no prior convictions and has advocated for non-violence throughout his prison term. Furthermore, Mr. Peltier has been a model prisoner. He has received excellent evaluations from his work supervisors on a regular basis. He continues to mentor young Native prisoners, encouraging them to lead clean and sober lives. He has used his time productively, disciplining himself to be a talented painter and an expressive writer. Although Mr. Peltier maintains that he did not kill the agents, he has openly expressed remorse and sadness over their deaths.

Most admirably, Mr. Peltier contributes regular support to those in need. He donates his paintings to charities including battered women’s shelters, half way houses, alcohol and drug treatment programs, and Native American scholarship funds. He also coordinates an annual gift drive for the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation — a successful program that, in 2006, expanded to include other reservations throughout the country.

Leonard Peltier is widely recognized in the human rights community for his good deeds and in turn has won several human rights awards including the North Star Frederick Douglas Award; Federation of Labour (Ontario, Canada) Humanist of the Year Award; Human Rights Commission of Spain International Human Rights Prize; and 2004 Silver Arrow Award for Lifetime Achievement. Mr. Peltier also has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize six times.

Mr. Peltier is now over 60 years of age — a great-grandfather — and suffers from partial blindness, diabetes, a heart condition, and high blood pressure.

Rather than presenting a threat to the public, Mr. Peltier’s release would help to heal a wound that has long impeded better relations between the federal government and American Indians.

Mr. Peltier deserves to be reunited with his family and allowed to live the remaining years of his life in peace.

We, the undersigned, support justice and human rights for all people of all nations; recognize that the U.S. courts, by their decisions, have recognized the undisputed misconduct in Peltier’s case, yet have failed to take corrective action; determine the U.S. government’s handling of the Peltier case as a clear abuse of the legal standards of American justice; and do hereby call for justice for Leonard Peltier in the form of an immediate grant of parole.

for those who want background information on peltier’s case the film incident at oglala offers some important context:

dahr jamail, famous for his unembedded reporting in iraq, has a new article aptly entitled “destroying indigenous populations” which is an important read for understanding the wider context of american colonialism at “home” and its imperial advances in iraq:

The Fort Laramie Treaty once guaranteed the Sioux Nation the right to a large area of their original land, which spanned several states and included their sacred Black Hills, where they were to have “the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” of the land.

However, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, President Ulysses S. Grant told the army to look the other way in order to allow gold miners to enter the territory. After repeated violations of the exclusive rights to the land by gold prospectors and by migrant workers crossing the reservation borders, the US government seized the Black Hills land in 1877.

Charmaine White Face, an Oglala Tetuwan who lives on the Pine Ridge Reservation, is the spokesperson for the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council (TSNTC), established in 1893 to uphold the terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. She is also coordinator of the voluntary group, Defenders of the Black Hills, that works to preserve and protect the environment where they live.

“We call gold the metal which makes men crazy,” White Face told Truthout while in New York to attend the annual Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations in late May. “Knowing they could not conquer us like they wanted to … because when you are fighting for your life, or the life of your family, you will do anything you can … or fighting for someplace sacred like the Black Hills you will do whatever you can … so they had to put us in prisoner of war camps. I come from POW camp 344, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We want our treaties upheld, we want our land back.”

Most of the Sioux’s land has been taken, and what remains has been laid waste by radioactive pollution.

“Nothing grows in these areas – nothing can grow. They are too radioactive,” White Face said.

Although the Black Hills and adjoining areas are sacred to the indigenous peoples and nations of the region, their attempts at reclamation are not based on religious claims but on the provisions of the Constitution. The occupation of indigenous land by the US government is in direct violation of its own law, according to White Face.

She references Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

The spokesperson for the TSNTC declares, “We need our treaty upheld. We want it back. Without it we are disappearing. They might have made us into brown Americans who speak the English language and eat a different kind of food, and are not able to live with the buffalo like we are supposed to, but that is like a lion in a cage. You can feed it and it will reproduce, but it is only a real lion when it gets its freedom and can be who it’s supposed to be. That’s how we are. We are like that lion in a cage. We are not free right now. We need to be able to govern ourselves the way we did before.”

Delegations from the TSNTC began their efforts in the United Nations in 1984 after exhausting all strategies for solution within the United States.

Homeland Contamination

There is uranium all around the Black Hills, South and North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Mining companies came in and dug large holes through these lands to extract uranium in the 1950’s and 1960’s prior to any prohibitive regulations. Abandoned uranium mines in southwestern South Dakota number 142. In the Cave Hills area, another sacred place in South Dakota used for vision quests and burial sites, there are 89 abandoned uranium mines.

In an essay called “Native North America: The Political Economy of Radioactive Colonialism,” political activists Ward Churchill and Winona LaDuke state that former US President Richard Nixon declared the 1868 Treaty Territory a “National Sacrifice Area,” implying that the territory, and its people, were being sacrificed to uranium and nuclear radiation.

The worst part, according to White Face, is that, “None of these abandoned mines have been marked. They never filled them up, they never capped them. There are no warning signs … nothing. The Forest Service even advertises the Picnic Springs Campground as a tourist place. It’s about a mile away from the Cave Hills uranium mines.”

The region is honeycombed with exploratory wells that have been dug as far down as six to eight hundred feet. In the southwestern Black Hills area, there are more than 4,000 uranium exploratory wells. On the Wyoming side of the Black Hills, there are 3,000 wells. Further north into North Dakota, there are more than a thousand wells.

The Black Hills and its surroundings are the recharge area for several major aquifers in the South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming regions. The crisis can be gauged from the simple description that White Face gives: “When the winds come, they pick up the [uranium] dust and carry it; when it rains or snows, it washes it down into the aquifers and groundwater. Much of this radioactive contamination then finds its way into the Missouri River.”

She informs us that twelve residents out of about 600 of the sparsely populated county of Cave Hills have developed brain tumors. A nuclear physicist has declared one mine in the area to be as radioactively “hot” as ground zero of Hiroshima.

Red Shirt, a village along the Cheyenne River on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, has had its water tested high for radiation and local animals have died after consuming fish from the river.

After three daughters of a family and their mother died of cancer, a family requested White Face to have the municipal water tested. The radiation levels were found to be equal to those inside an x-ray machine. Little wonder then that the surviving sons and their father are afflicted with the disease. People procuring their grain and cattle from the region are advised to be extra cautious.

One cannot but feel the desperation of her people when White Face bemoans, “It’s pure genocide for us. We are all dying from cancer. We are trying not to become extinct, not to let the Great Sioux Nation become extinct.”

The Ogala Sioux are engaged in ongoing legal battles with the pro-uranium state of South Dakota. They are aware of the unequal nature of their battle, but they cannot afford to give up. White Face explains how “… Our last court case was lost before learning that the judge was a former lawyer for one of the mining companies. Also, the governor’s sister and brother-in-law work for mining companies [Powertech] and a professor, hired by the Forest Service to test water run-off for contamination, is on contract with a company that works for the mining company. When I found out the judge was a lawyer for the mining company I knew we would lose, but we went ahead with the case for the publicity, because we have to keep waking people up.”

Other tribes, such as the Navajo and Hopi in New Mexico, have been exposed to radioactive material as well. Furthermore, the July 16, 1979, spill of 100 million gallons of radioactive water containing uranium tailings from a tailing pond into the north arm of the Rio Puerco, near the small town of Church Rock, New Mexico, also affected indigenous peoples in Arizona.

Her rage and grief are evident as White Face laments, “When we have our prayer gatherings we ask that no young people come to attend. If you want to have children don’t come to Cave Hills because it’s too radioactive.”

The exploitative approach to the planet’s resources and peoples that led to these environmental and health disasters collides with White Face’s values: “I always say that you have to learn to live with the earth, and not in domination of the earth.”

Nuking the Colonies

The US government practices another approach. In occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, the uranium that has caused genocide of sorts at home has proceeded to wreak new havoc.

Two Iraqi NGO’s, the Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (MHRI) and the Conservation Center of Environment and Reserves in Fallujah (CCERF) have extensively documented the effects of restricted weapons, such as depleted uranium (DU) munitions, against the people of Fallujah during two massive US military assaults on the city in 2004.

In March 2008, the NGO’s were to present a report titled “Prohibited Weapons Crisis: The effects of pollution on the public health in Fallujah” to the 7th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Muhammad al-Darraji, director, MHRI and president, CCERF, was to present the report with an appeal, “We are kindly asking the High Commissioner for Human Rights to look at the content of the report in accordance with the General Assembly’s resolution 48/ 141 (paragraph 4) of 20 December 1993, to investigate the serious threat (to the) health right in Fallujah and Iraq, and to relay the results of this investigation to the Commission on Human Rights to take the suitable decisions.”

Attached to the aforementioned is another report co-authored by Dr. Najim Askouri, a nuclear physicist trained in Britain and a leading Iraqi nuclear researcher and Dr. Assad al-Janabi, director of the Pathology Department at the 400-bed public hospital in Najaf. Their report includes a section on the “Depleted Uranium Crisis” from Najaf, 180 miles from where DU was used in the First Gulf War.

Dr. Najim begins the report by noting that Coalition Forces, mostly US, used 350 tons of DU weapons in about 45 days in 1991, primarily in the stretch of Iraq northwest of Kuwait where Iraqi troops were on their retreat. Then, in 2003, during the Shock and Awe bombing of Baghdad, the US used another 150 tons of DU. He says that cancer is spreading from the conflict area as a health epidemic and will only get worse. The cancer rate has more than tripled over the last 16 years in Najaf.

According to Dr. Najim, “When DU hits a target, it aerosolizes and oxidizes, forming a uranium oxide that is two parts UO3 and one part UO2. The first is water soluble and filters down into the water aquifers and also becomes part of the food chain as plants take up the UO3 dissolved in water. The UO2 is insoluble and settles as dust on the surface of the earth and is blown by the winds to other locations. As aerosolized dust, it can enter the lungs and begin to cause problems as it can cross cell walls and even impact the genetic system.”

One of Dr. Najim’s grandsons was born with congenital heart problems, Down Syndrome, an underdeveloped liver and leukemia. He believes that the problems are related to the child’s parents having been exposed to DU.

Detailing a skyrocketing rate of cancer and other pollution-related illnesses among the population of Fallujah since the two sieges, the report states, “Starting in 2004 when the political situation and devastation of the health care infrastructure were at their worst, there were 251 reported cases of cancer. By 2006, when the numbers more accurately reflected the real situation, that figure had risen to 688. Already in 2007, 801 cancer cases have been reported. Those figures portray an incidence rate of 28.21 [per 100,000] by 2006, even after screening out cases that came into the Najaf Hospital from outside the governorate, a number which contrasts with the normal rate of 8-12 cases of cancer per 100,000 people.

“Two observations are striking. One, there has been a dramatic increase in the cancers that are related to radiation exposure, especially the very rare soft tissue sarcoma and leukemia. Two, the age at which cancer begins in an individual has been dropping rapidly, with incidents of breast cancer at 16 (years of age), colon cancer at 8 (years of age), and liposarcoma at 1.5 years (of age).” Dr. Assad noted that 6 percent of the cancers reported occurred in the 11-20 age range and another 18 percent in ages 21-30.

“The importance of this information confirms there is a big disaster in this city…. The main civilian victims of most illnesses were the children, and the rate of them represents 72 percent of total illness cases of 2006, most of them between the ages of 1 month and 12 years…. Many new types and terrible amounts of illnesses started to appear [from] 2006 until now, such as Congenital Spinal cord abnormalities, Congenital Renal abnormalities, Septicemia, Meningitis, Thalassemia, as well as a significant number of undiagnosed cases at different ages. The speed of the appearance these signals of pollution after one year of military operations refers to the use of a great amount of prohibited weapons used in 2004 battles. The continued pollution maybe will lead to a genetic drift, starting to appear with many abnormalities in children, because the problems were related to exposure of the child’s parents to pollution sources and this may lead to more new abnormalities in the future. According to the security situation with many checkpoints and irregular cards to allow the civilians to enter or exit the city until now, all this helps to continue the terrible situation for this time. Therefore, we think that all these data is only 50 percent of the real numbers of illnesses.”

The Sioux tell their youth to avoid their radioactive native lands if they wish to procreate and prosper. Those in Iraq have no option but to lead maimed lives in their native land.

On February 4, 2009, Muhammad al-Darraji sent President Barack Obama a letter, along with the aforementioned report. A few excerpts are presented here:

“We have the honor to submit with this letter our report on the effects on public health of prohibited weapons used by the United States during its military operations in Fallujah (March-November 2004). It was our intention to present the report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on 4 March 2008, but both security and political reasons played a significant role in making this task impossible. The report, now in your hands, contains vast evidence and documentation on the catastrophic and continuous pollution in Iraq (to prevent) which nobody has taken any real action to help the victims or clean up polluted places. Some months ago, and in June 2008, I sent this report directly to some US congressmen. Two of them went to my town, Fallujah, and visited the general hospital to investigate the claims contained in our report. No substantial result came out of this visit. In February 2009 one of my colleagues, who worked in the hospital’s statistical office and helped gather information about the pollution, was killed by unknown individuals. The blood of my friend is the driving force that led me to write to you directly in order for you to release the facts for which my friend paid with his life. Therefore, we are kindly asking you to look at the content of the attached report and to investigate the serious threats to the right to life of the inhabitants of Fallujah and other polluted places in Iraq, as well as to publicly release the results of this investigation under right of information about what really happened in Iraq.”

The president has yet to respond.

———

Jason Coppola and Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this article.

ow-drones

and there’s more. irin news published a timeline of violence in iraq that falls on obama’s watch–these are obama’s wars now and the blood is entirely on his hands:

Iraqi deaths have been caused by US-led forces, Iraqi forces, foreign insurgents, sectarian violence and indirectly by war-related effects on their health, on food security and sanitation. Estimates range from 100,000 to well over a million.

22 June 2009: A bomb in Husseiniya vegetable market on northern outskirts of Baghdad killed five. Parked car bomb in central Baghdad’s Karrada District killed five. Suicide bomber killed himself and seven others outside west Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib municipal council building.

20 June: A suicide truck bomb killed 73 and wounded about 150 others outside a mosque in Kirkuk, 250km north of Baghdad.

12 June: A gunman killed the head of parliament’s biggest Sunni Muslim bloc and five other people at a mosque in west Baghdad.

10 June: 33 killed and 70 wounded in a car bombing in the town of Batha, west of Nasiriyah in Dhiqar Province.

8 June: A bomb attached to a minibus killed seven people and wounded 24 others at a bus terminal in southern Baghdad.

3 June: 9 killed and 31 wounded by a bomb planted in a cafe in southwest Baghdad.

21 May: A suicide bomber killed 12 and wounded 25 in a market in Baghdad’s southern Doura District. Three US soldiers also killed in the attack. In Kirkuk, a suicide bomber killed seven people and wounded eight.

20 May: At least 41 people killed and 82 wounded in a car bombing in the Shula District of northwest Baghdad.

6 May: A truck bomb killed 10 people and wounded 37 others in a vegetable market in Doura District, southern Baghdad.

29 April: At least 51 killed and many more wounded in a twin car bomb attack in Baghdad’s Sadr City.

24 April: At least 55 killed, including 20 Iranian pilgrims, by two suicide bombers outside the Al-Kadhim Shia shrine in Baghdad.

23 April: A suicide bomber killed 56, mostly Iranian pilgrims, in a restaurant near Muqdadiyah town, 80km northeast of Baghdad. A woman suicide bomber also killed 28 in an attack on police in central Baghdad.

6 April: Car bombings in mainly Shia districts of Baghdad kill at least 34 people.

26 March: At least 20 killed by a car bomb near a Baghdad market.

23 March: At least 25 killed by a suicide bomber in Jalawla, northeast Baghdad.

10 March: A suicide bomber kills at least 33 tribal leaders and army officers outside the town hall in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.

8 March: A suicide bomber killed 28 at a Baghdad police academy.

13 Feb: A female suicide bomber killed 35 pilgrims, mainly women and children, near central city of Hilla.

4 Jan: A female suicide bomber killed 35 pilgrims at a Baghdad religious procession.

2 Jan: At least 23 killed in a suicide attack in Yussufiyah, south of Baghdad.

and the escalation of the massacring in pakistan is entirely obama’s war. today obama’s bombs fell on pakistanis attending a funeral for another massacre perpetrated by obama’s bombs the previous day:

At least 45 people have died in a missile strike by a US drone aircraft in Pakistan, officials there have said.

The people killed in South Waziristan region had been attending a funeral for others killed in a US drone strike earlier on Tuesday.

Intelligence officials said at least 45 people had been killed and dozens more injured in the later strike, when two missiles were fired.

But a local official told BBC News the death toll was more than 50.

jeremy scahill contextualizes the savagery of these drone massacres:

Three days after his inauguration, on January 23, 2009, President Barack Obama ordered US predator drones to attack sites inside of Pakistan, reportedly killing 15 people. It was the first documented attack ordered by the new US Commander in Chief inside of Pakistan. Since that first Obama-authorized attack, the US has regularly bombed Pakistan, killing scores of civilians. The New York Times reported that the attacks were clear evidence Obama “is continuing, and in some cases extending, Bush administration policy.” In the first 99 days of 2009, more than 150 people were reportedly killed in these drone attacks. The most recent documented attack was reportedly last Thursday in Waziristan. Since 2006, the US drone strikes have killed 687 people (as of April). That amounts to about 38 deaths a month just from drone attacks.

The use of these attack drones by Obama should not come as a surprise to anyone who followed his presidential campaign closely. As a candidate, Obama made clear that Pakistan’s sovereignty was subservient to US interests, saying he would attack with or without the approval of the Pakistani government. Obama said if the US had “actionable intelligence” that “high value” targets were in Pakistan, the US would attack. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, echoed those sentiments on the campaign trail and “did not rule out U.S. attacks inside Pakistan, citing the missile attacks her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, ordered against Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998. ‘If we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured,’ she said.”

amazingly there are still muslims who think obama is great because he cited a few suras from the qur’an. but i maintain actions speak louder than words. you cannot claim to respect islam on the one hand and massacre muslims on the other.

guantanamo then and now

jeremy scahill’s report yesterday about bill clinton’s appointment as a un envoy to haiti is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the united states continues to get away with murder with the complicity of the united nations:

Former US President Bill Clinton has been named by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as his special UN envoy to Haiti. Clinton will reportedly travel to the country at least four times a year.

“[It’s] an opportunity to bring in resources to address the economic insecurity that plagues Haiti,” says Brian Concannon, a human rights lawyer who works extensively in Haiti. “But if the nomination is to be more than a publicity stunt, the UN needs to honestly shed a spotlight on the international community’s role in creating that instability, including unfair trade and debt policies, and the undermining and overthrowing of Haiti’s constitutional government.”

Shining such a spotlight on those who created the instability, as Concannon suggests, would mean examining Clinton’s own role as president of the US during one of Haiti’s most horrifyingly dark periods.

Reuters news agency quotes a diplomat as saying Clinton is “an ‘excellent choice’ to help unlock Haiti’s potential as an investment target,” adding that his appointment “could attract investment in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation and help stabilize the country.”

That last statement about “stabiliz[ing]” Haiti would be humorous for its irony if the reality—and Clinton’s history in Haiti—wasn’t so deadly serious. The fact is that, as US president, Clinton’s policies helped systematically destabilize Haiti.

Dan Coughlin, who spent years as a journalist in Haiti in the 1990s for Inter Press Service, said he was “incredulous” when he heard the news. “Given the Clinton Administration’s aggressive pursuit of policies that profitted Haiti’s tiny elite, the IMF and big corporations at the expense of Haiti’s farmers and urban workers, the appointment does not bode well for the kind of fundamental change so needed in a country that has given so much to humankind,” Coughlin says.

In September 1991, the US backed the violent overthrow of the government of Haiti’s democratically-elected leftist priest President Jean Bertrand Aristide after he was in power less than a year. Aristide had defeated a US-backed candidate in the 1990 Haitian presidential election. The military coup leaders and their paramilitary gangs of CIA-backed murderous thugs, including the notorious FRAPH paramilitary units, were known for hacking the limbs off of Aristide supporters (and others) along with an unending slew of other horrifying crimes.

When Clinton came to power, he played a vicious game with Haiti that allowed the coup regime to continue rampaging Haiti and further destabilized the country. What’s more, in the 1992 election campaign, Bill Clinton campaigned on a pledge to reverse what he called then-President George HW Bush’s “cruel policy” of holding Haitian refugees at Guantanamo with no legal rights in US courts. Upon his election, however, Clinton reversed his position and sided with the Bush administration in denying the Haitians legal rights. the Haitians were held in atrocious conditions and the new Democratic president was sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights (sound familiar?).

While Clinton and his advisers publicly expressed their dismay with the coup, they simultaneously refused to support the swift reinstatement of the country’s democratically elected leader and would, in fact, not allow Aristide’s return until Washington received guarantees that: 1. Aristide would not lay claim to the years of his presidency lost in forced exile and; 2. US neoliberal economic plans were solidified as the law of the land in Haiti.

“The Clinton administration was credited for working for the return to power of Jean Bertrand Aristide after he was overthrown in a military coup,” says author William Blum. “But, in fact, Clinton had stalled the return for as long as he could, and had instead tried his best to return anti-Aristide conservatives to a leading power role in a mixed government, because Aristide was too leftist for Washington’s tastes.” Blum’s book “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” includes a chapter on the history of the US role in Haiti.

The fact that the coup against the democratically-elected president of Haiti was allowed to continue unabated for three full years seemed to be less offensive to Clinton than Aristide’s progressive vision for Haiti. As Blum observed in his book, “[Clinton] was not actually repulsed by [coup leader Raoul] Cédras and company, for they posed no ideological barrier to the United States continuing the economic and strategic control of Haiti it’s maintained for most of the century. Unlike Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a man who only a year earlier had declared: ‘I still think capitalism is a mortal sin.’”

Blum added: “Faced ultimately with Aristide returning to power, Clinton demanded and received — and then made sure to publicly announce — the Haitian president’s guarantee that he would not try to remain in office to make up for the time lost in exile. Clinton of course called this ‘democracy,’ although it represented a partial legitimization of the coup.” Indeed, Haiti experts say that Clinton could have restored Aristide to power under an almost identical arrangement years earlier than he did.

When Aristide finally returned to Haiti, as Blum notes, “Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s reception was a joyous celebration filled with optimism. However, unbeknownst to his adoring followers, while they were regaining Aristide, they may have lost Aristidism.”

As The Los Angeles Times reported at the time:

In a series of private meetings, Administration officials admonished Aristide to put aside the rhetoric of class warfare … and seek instead to reconcile Haiti’s rich and poor. The Administration also urged Aristide to stick closely to free-market economics and to abide by the Caribbean nation’s constitution — which gives substantial political power to the Parliament while imposing tight limits on the presidency. … Administration officials have urged Aristide to reach out to some of his political opponents in setting up his new government … to set up a broad-based coalition regime. … the Administration has made it clear to Aristide that if he fails to reach a consensus with Parliament, the United States will not try to prop up his regime. Almost every aspect of Aristide’s plans for resuming power — from taxing the rich to disarming the military — has been examined by the U.S. officials with whom the Haitian president meets daily and by officials from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other aid organizations. The finished package clearly reflects their priorities. … Aristide obviously has toned down the liberation theology and class-struggle rhetoric that was his signature before he was exiled to Washington.

“While Bill Clinton oversaw the return of President Aristide in 1994, he also put significant constraints on what Aristide was able to do once back in power,” says Bill Fletcher, Jr, the Executive Editor of BlackCommentator.com and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. “Clinton advanced a neo-liberal agenda for Haiti thereby undermining the efforts of an otherwise progressive populist administration (Aristide’s). There is no reason to believe that [as a UN envoy] ex-President Clinton will introduce or support efforts to radically break Haiti from under the thumb of the USA and the dire poverty which has been a significant consequence of said domination.”

scahill was on democracy now! with amy goodman yesterday where he talked about his previous report on torture yesterday that i blogged about as well as its relationship to this story on haiti:

yes, the u.s. is still a racist state

it is official. okay, well, that is a lie. it always has been a racist state. but those who drank the obama koolaid and think that somehow having a black president equals the “post-racism” are particularly delusional. i’ve been following the world conference against racism (a.k.a. “durban 2) religiously, but i haven’t really written much about it because most of that material is in a chapter in my book so i’ve put all my energy into that. but now that the conference will begin this weekend and that the final decision from the white house has been made i think it warrants some discussion. it is yet one more reason why obama is bush is clinton is bush is reagan is carter (you get the picture).

the latest is that the u.s. is boycotting the world conference on racism for the same reason the bush administration did in 2001: they are afraid of discussing the fact that zionism = racism and reparations for the trans-atlantic slave trade. ma’an news reports the decision:

The US will not reverse a decision to boycott the upcoming UN conference on the elimination of racism in spite of the removal of a clause from a document that identified Israel as a perpetrator of racist policies.

Senior White House officials informed American Jewish leaders in a conference call on Wednesday that the US would not change its position on the conference, according to news reports.

The US State Department earlier released a statement saying that “progress” had been made on the text of the document guiding the aims of the Durban Review Conference, which opens on 20 April.

“Substantial improvements have been made, including shortening the document, removing all language that singled out any one country or conflict, and removing language that embraced the concept of “defamation of religion” and that demanded reparations for slavery,” the State Department said.

The US withdrew from the last UN conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, due to an effort to condemn Israel and its occupation of Palestinian land as racism.

Israel and Canada are also boycotting this year’s summit.

the zionist entity’s media adds this:

In an attempt to save the anti-racism conference, Russia initiated a new draft which no longer included the negative references to Israel. However, the new document ratifies “Durban I” – the concluding document of the first World Conference against Racism held in South Africa in 2001, which includes a harsh condemnation of Israel.

Former US President George W. Bush boycotted ‘Durban 1’, but Obama did want the US to attend next week’s conference in Geneva, and even sent representatives to a preliminary meeting held a few weeks ago. The decision to boycott ‘Durban II’ was reached after the representatives said the US lacked the clout to omit the condemnation of Israel from the conference document.

in typical fashion they reverse everything around to obscure the truth. the truth is that they are a racist, fascist regime and this is why they–along with other states–will be called on the carpet at this meeting. as well they should be. as should the u.s., of course.

for a reality check of the larger picture here we must turn to the brilliant glen ford of the black agenda report for the context:

On Tuesday, April 14, according to the Huffington Post, the White House placed a conference call to American “Jewish leaders,” all but assuring them the U.S. would not show up for Durban II, the international conference on racism, in Geneva, Switzerland. President Obama’s close adviser Samantha Power, of the National Security Council, said the event’s revised draft document “met two of our four red lines frontally, in the sense that it went no further than reparations and it did drop all references to Israel and all anti-Semitic language. But it continued to reaffirm, in toto, Durban I.”

Translation: although the document, under relentless U.S. pressure, has been watered down to the point of irrelevance, it remains unacceptable because it reaffirms declarations of the first World Conference Against Racism, in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. There is virtually no chance President Obama will reverse his decision to boycott Durban II, April 24-25.

We must first ask: Why is the White House reporting to “Jewish leaders” on an issue that is of interest to all Americans, most especially people of color? Has Obama arranged such briefings on Durban II for “Black leaders,” “Latino leaders,” or “Native American leaders” – representatives of constituencies that have suffered genocide, slavery, discrimination, forced displacement and all manner of racist assaults right here on American soil? No, he has not. Barack Obama knows full well that he risks nothing by disrespecting African Americans at will. Across the Black political spectrum, so-called leadership seems incapable of shame or of taking manly or womanly offense at even the most blatant insults to Black people when the source of the affront is Barack Hussein Obama.

Several weeks ago, popular Sirius Radio Black talk show host Mark Thompson (“Make It Plain”) wondered aloud if Obama’s threat to boycott Durban II should be a “deal breaker” – a “last straw” offense against Black interests and sensibilities. It should have been. The Obama administration’s fawning, damn near servile behavior when accommodating Zionist demands – and I use the word “demands” quite purposely – was a lesson in how Power responds to constituencies it favors, fears, or at least, respects. Blacks get nothing from Obama’s White House except permission to worship him as the ultimate role model. Less than nothing, as the unfolding Durban outrage demonstrates.

Obama has done more damage to the Durban process than George Bush, who pulled out of Durban I after the conference had begun. Important language survived the 2001 disruption, such as:

“We acknowledge that slavery and the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade, were appalling tragedies in the history of humanity not only because of their abhorrent barbarism but also in terms of their magnitude, organized nature and especially their negation of the essence of the victims, and further acknowledge that slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity and should always have been so, especially the transatlantic slave trade and are among the major sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and that Africans and people of African descent, Asians and people of Asian.”

and,

“Urges States to adopt the necessary measures, as provided by national law, to ensure the right of victims to seek just and adequate reparation and satisfaction to redress acts of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and to design effective measures to prevent the repetition of such acts”

As University of Dayton, Ohio law professor Vernellia R. Randall has pointed out, pressures from the Obama White House caused revisions in the Durban II draft that

• withdrew language related to reparations;

• removed the proposed paragraph related to the transatlantic slave trade being a crime against humanity;

• removed proposed paragraphs designed to strengthen the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; and,

• overall weakened the efforts related to people of African Descent.

And of course, language related to Palestinian rights and Israeli racism was totally eviscerated. (Samantha Power: “..it did drop all references to Israel and all anti-Semitic language.”) But none of that was enough to satisfy the Zionists, who hope to utterly destroy Durban II, and erase Durban I from the record. (Power, on remaining U.S. objections: “But it continued to reaffirm, in toto, Durban I.”)

George Bush’s walkout at Durban I provided a sour ending for the event, but allowed participants to make some important statements and carry out additional work over the next eight years. The United States and other countries were to report to Durban II on residential segregation, criminal justice, police brutality, felony disenfranchisement and Katrina displacement. That cannot happen if the official American delegation is not in Geneva. Samantha Power told her Jewish leadership friends, who don’t want Durban II to occur, at all, not to worry. “In order for us to participate in the negotiations, to sit behind the placard, to be involved in a frontal way, much more would need to be done. And all four of our red lines will need to be met.”

Israel and the White House speak of “red lines” that they will not tolerate being crossed in politics and diplomacy. But where are the “red lines” that so-called Black leaders will not allow to be breached? Where Barack Obama is concerned, such lines do not exist – which is why he is permitted to walk all over Black folks, with impunity.

Yes, Durban II should have been a deal breaker. Instead, it was mostly cause for sniveling lamentation and words of “concern” or wishful predictions by Black notables that Obama would change his mind (after the damage had already been done!) and attend the conference.

The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), although initially registering “profound disappointment” (oh, my!) with Obama’s boycott of Durban II, cheerily added, “we are confident that your Administration will be reversing its decision in time to participate in the conference and its remaining preparatory meetings….” That was on March 27, by which time Obama’s vandals had caused the shredding of almost every word of value in the documents. The Black lawyers’ “Open Letter to President Barack Obama” was signed by an impressive list of many scores of prominent organizations and individuals – but in its determined, concentrated meekness, should never have been expected to have any impact on the White House. And of course, it had none.

The likes of the NCBL would be flattered to have Obama’s people string them along – any attention would do. But Samantha Power and her boss won’t even bother, understanding perfectly well that the meek inherent nothing but manure. In her thorough and collegial report on Durban to Jewish leaders – who are anything but meek – Power said: “We will make our decision [to attend] up closer to the date of the conference, we want to show good faith to our allies and the people who are working hard to improve the text… But we are also not interested in being involved or associated with fool’s errands.”

Obama’s White House has not seen fit to show the slightest glimmer of good faith to Black people (at least, those not in his immediate family or employ), and seems to consider salvaging Durban I a “fools errand.” You know what color the “fools” are.

TransAfrica chairman Danny Glover placed an article in the April 8 issue of The Nation magazine that read like a letter to President Obama. “This should be a moment for the United States to rejoin the global struggle against racism, the struggle that the Bush administration so arrogantly abandoned,” wrote Glover. “I hope President Obama will agree that the United States must participate with other nations in figuring out the tough issues of how to overcome racism and other forms of discrimination and intolerance, and how to provide repair to victims.”

Let’s see if Glover calls Obama “arrogant” when the president finishes sabotaging Durban II. My bet is, “disappointed” is about as strong as Glover will muster. Obama sucks the spine out of Black people.
And as long as Black notables (let’s drop the “leadership” charade) turn into invertebrates at the mere thought of Barack Obama, so long will he treat the entire group as inconsequential, harmless ciphers.

but the united states and obama’s administration is not only failing to deal with these issues at the world conference against racism. it is failing to do so at home too. in the state where obama grew up, hawai’i, a group of leading indigenous scholars and activists have come together to pen an open letter to obama asking him to intervene in legislation that will undermine their historical and native rights to their land, colonized by the united states:

We, the undersigned Kanaka Maoli (indigenous Hawaiians) kupuna (elders), kumu (educators), and representatives address this letter to you on behalf of our people and nation, as well as of other Hawaiian Kingdom heirs. At our invitation, a number of our kako‘o (supporters) have also added their names to this letter.

Our primary purpose for contacting you, Mr. President, is to solemnly inform you of our categorical opposition to the proposed legislation now before the U.S. Senate and House that is entitled The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, which is commonly referred to as the “Akaka Bill.” This legislation, first introduced in the U.S. Congress in 2000—and now confusingly existing in four versions (S. 381; S. 708; H.R. 862; H.R. 1711)—proposes that the U.S. Government recognize a “Native Hawaiian Government” that is to be certified by the U.S. Department of the Interior in conformity with U.S. federal law and practice regarding Native American tribal nations.

We reject this Akaka Bill for weighty reasons. To begin with, the historical harm the United States first committed in Hawai’i in 1893 brought down, not a “Native Hawaiian Government”, but the independent Hawaiian Kingdom composed of Kanaka Maoli as well as non-Kanaka Maoli subjects. Consequently, the Kanaka Maoli people and other Hawaiian Kingdom heirs have, since that time, accumulated fundamental political and other claims against the United States under international law that the United States must recognize rather than hope to dispel via the enactment of this Bill. Indeed, in our view, the passage of this Bill would constitute nothing less than a second illegal denial of our Kanaka Maoli people’s right to self-determination and the Kingdom heirs’ right to sovereignty. The first outrage, we note, has already been formally admitted by the U.S. Congress in its Apology Resolution of 1993 which, furthermore, pledged to right that original wrong. Not only does the Akaka Bill not follow through on that pledge, it in fact attempts to sabotage the rightful return of our people to our status prior to 1893-98 by imposing on us a colonial U.S. “wardship” that is anchored in the U.S. judicial doctrine of the plenary power of Congress over Native American nations.

Moreover, we submit that, presuming on the good faith of your Administration, Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation is now trying to ram through the Akaka Bill in the U.S. Congress before the latter can inform itself fully of the vehement and ever-growing opposition to the Bill in Hawai‘i among Kanaka Maoli, other Kingdom heirs, as well as kako‘o. We use the term “ram through” advisedly because, among other things, the delegation has held but ONE 5-day hearing, back in 2000, on the Bill since its inception, and only on the single island of O‘ahu. Moreover, while the video record of that lone hearing shows overwhelming opposition to the Bill, the delegation disingenuously reported the opposite to Congress.

In 1993, our Hawai‘i International People’s Tribunal—composed of world human rights leaders, including three eminent U.S. law professors—heard evidence on our main islands and found the following U.S. actions to be violations of international law: its intervention in the 1893 overthrow of our independent government; its 1898 annexation and military occupation of our homeland; its conduct of the fraudulent 1959 Hawai‘i statehood vote; and its ongoing seizure of our national lands with resulting ethnocidal effect on our people. These findings have been widely disseminated and embraced in our homeland.

That same year, the 1993 U.S. Apology Resolution (103d Congress Joint Resolution 19, P.L. 103-150, November 28, 1993) was signed by President William Clinton. The Apology acknowledges the role of U.S. Minister John Stevens and of the U.S. military in the overthrow of our Queen Lili‘uokalani in 1893 in direct contravention of bilateral treaties then binding on the United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom. The Resolution further recognizes that “the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum.” Moreover, it pledges the United States to acknowledge the ramifications of the 1893 overthrow so as to identify a basis for reconciliation between the U.S. government and the Kanaka Maoli people. Shamefully, the Akaka Bill moves in a direction opposite to that pledge.

The Bill arrogantly attempts to unilaterally characterize the historical transgressions of the United States against our people and kingdom, and to unilaterally specify their remedy. We insist otherwise. U.S. crimes against our Kanaka Maoli people and other Kingdom heirs from 1893 on require, for their redress, that a mechanism composed of U.S. agents and wholly independent representatives of Kanaka Maoli and Kingdom heirs be bilaterally set up by your Administration and us to make findings of fact and conclusions of international law that could serve as a road-map for the resolution of the political and legal issues now outstanding between our two parties.

but the obama administration’s racism extends far beyond the shores of the u.s. on any given side. despite claims to the contrary things are not improving in guantanamo, for instance, as abuse of detainees continues on his watch. mohammad al-qaraani a prisoner there, called into al jazeera to report he was beaten and tear gassed as monica villamizar reports:

and of course it is not only there, but also in baghram in afghanistan where prisoners are being detained and likely tortured. jeremy scahill reports today about obama’s white house continuing several of bush’s policies related to imprisonment and torture:

As has been pointed out by several diligent journalists, human rights lawyers and critics, President Obama has continued—and continues to defend—some of the Bush administration’s most repressive “War on Terror” policies, although Obama prefers to not use that term anymore. On several occasions, Obama has invoked the “state secrets” doctrine, including to argue that a lawsuit filed against the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping should be thrown out. As former constitutional lawyer turned Salon.com columnist Glen Greenwald wrote, the move “demonstrates that the Obama DOJ plans to invoke the exact radical doctrines of executive secrecy which Bush used.”

Meanwhile, the White House is continuing to defend its use of the US prison at Bagram in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs was confronted about this by the great Helen Thomas:

Q Why is the President blocking habeas corpus from prisoners at Bagram? I thought he taught constitutional law. And these prisoners have been there —

MR. GIBBS: You’re incorrect that he taught on constitutional law.

Q — for many years with no due process.

MR. GIBBS: Well, there are several issues relating to that that have to do differently than in some places than others, particularly because you have detainees in an active theater of war. There’s a review that’s pending of court cases and decisions, and we want to ensure — we want to ensure protection and security of the American people as well as rights that might be afforded.

Q Are you saying these people in prison are a threat to us?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think that part of that is the determination based on our detainee policy that the President announced on the 21st of January, that that’s part of that review, yes.

Chuck.

Chuck then changed the subject. (David Swanson has a humorous take on this back and forth at AfterDowningStreet, while Liliana Segura takes it on at AlterNet.)

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting today that “The Obama administration is leaning toward keeping secret some graphic details of tactics allowed in Central Intelligence Agency interrogations, despite a push by some top officials to make the information public.” The 2005 “Bradbury memos represent an effort by the Bush administration to keep the CIA program of ‘enhanced’ interrogations of certain detainees on a legal footing after the Bush administration in late 2004 withdrew earlier Justice Department memos on interrogation.”

this system of detaining, imprisoning, torturing muslims and arabs in these prisons is racist. it depends upon the targeting of one particular ethnic or religious group. but there is some good news…and obama if he continues down this path may face the same thing at the end of his term, if not sooner. it seems that at least in spain justice will be served to american war criminals as scott horton reports:

Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo, several reliable sources close to the investigation have told The Daily Beast. Their decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday before the Spanish central criminal court, the Audencia Nacional, in Madrid. But the decision is likely to raise concerns with the human-rights community on other points: They will seek to have the case referred to a different judge.

The six defendants-in addition to Gonzales, Federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, University of California law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith-are accused of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention in “the war on terror.” The case arises in the context of a pending proceeding before the court involving terrorism charges against five Spaniards formerly held at Guantánamo. A group of human-rights lawyers originally filed a criminal complaint asking the court to look at the possibility of charges against the six American lawyers. Baltasar Garzón Real, the investigating judge, accepted the complaint and referred it to Spanish prosecutors for a view as to whether they would accept the case and press it forward. “The evidence provided was more than sufficient to justify a more comprehensive investigation,” one of the lawyers associated with the prosecution stated.

racism, apartheid, and osloization

i’m preparing lecture notes for next week’s lecture notes for my postcolonial literature class. i’m teaching mbulelo vizikhungo mzamane’s novel the children of soweto. the novel is a moving portrait of the soweto uprising in 1976 that was led entirely by the youth. the youth were opposed to the enforcement of afrikaans as the language of instruction in south african schools. the thing that is interesting about the novel is that mzamane is one of the student leaders from that resistance movement so it is autobiographical and an historical chronicle of the events as they unfolded. it would be like of one of the youth leaders of the first intifada wrote a novel about it. because the soweto uprising was very similar to the first intifada–stone throwers against tanks and all. here is how he describes one of those instances:

Sizwe was two years older than Nomsa. He and Sandile went to school in the township. During the day they had been involved in a demonstration, together with children from other primary and secondary schools in the township. They marched through the streets, singing old liberation songs and others they had composed themselves, to protest against the enforcement of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in certain subjects throughout African schools. The students planned to converge at the township’s largest soccer stadium to voice their opposition to the scheme.

The police met them in the streets, before they could reach the stadium, and asked them through loudspeakers to disperse. They told the students that in terms of the Riotous Assemblies Act, which the children had never heard about, they were breaking the law by staging a protest march without obtaining permission from the police first.

“You are here. Give us your permission then,” someone in the crowd shouted. And the chant caught on, “Give us your permission then.”

The police then used teargas to try and disperse the students. Far from scattering about in a disorganised fashion, the students soon developed a technique for containing the teargas. Armed with cloths and buckets of water requisitioned from nearby houses, they covered the canisters with wet cloths as soon as they hit the ground. In this way many of the canisters were prevented from exploding. Thus unable to break the march the police resorted to shooting. At first they aimed above the heads of the crowd, but as the students surged forward resolutely they fired at their front ranks. Some students retaliated by throwing stones at the police. In the ensuing scuffle a few people were injured, including some police and onlookers, and several children were shot dead. (53-54)

there are so many other parallels in the novel–from collaborators within the ranks of south african resistance to the media’s total distortion of why these youth were resisting in the first place. and, then, of course are the curfews, closures, arrests, and torture.

south africa, like the zionist entity, were founded on ideologies of racial or religious supremacy. it is worth recalling what ali abunimah’s brilliant book, one country: a bold proposal to end the israeli-palestinian impasse has to say about the colonization of south africa:

The origins of the Afrikaner identity date back to April 6, 1652, when the Dutch East India Company established a colony on the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. Nelson Mandela explains that April 6 was “the day white South Africans annually commemorate[d] the founding of their country–and Africans revile[d] as the beginning of three hundred years of enslavement.” This anniversary is redolent of May 14, the day in 1948 that Israel declared independence but which Palestinians observe as al-nakba–the catastrophe–the beginning of their exile and subjugation. In the late seventeenth century, colonists arrived at the cape from the Netherlands, Germany, France, and other parts of Europe, many escaping appalling religious persecution and massacres in their home countries. In the 1830s, the Afrikaners or Boers (as these colonists eventually called themselves), chafing under British rule and in search of more land, set off to conquer the interior. These arduous journeys on foot and in covered wagons became known as the Great Treks and ended with the establishment of three independent republics. During the Boer Wars in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the British crushed the Boer republics, generating enduring Afrikaner bitterness. The “Anglo-Boer War burnt itself into the collective consciousness of my people, the Afrikaners, like no other event in our history,” [F.W.] de Klerk has said. The British scorched-earth policy destroyed farms and killed livestock, and ended Boer independence. Worst of all, the British “interned our women and children in what became known as concentration camps.” (The term “concentration camp” was first used in this context.) Of the entire Afrikaner population–a few hundred thousand at the time–tens of thousands are believed to have died in the camps.

Afrikaners were determined never again to submit to foreign rule or forgo their independence and security. In 1910, the predominantly British-settled colonies of the cape and the former Boer republics int he interior formed the Union of South Africa, which excluded all indigenous African peoples, as well as Indians and other Asians, from any political power. Then, when the Afrikaner-dominated National Party won the whites-only general election in 1948, they ushered in a new era of more formalized discrimination–apartheid. As Mandela observes, the 1948 Nationalist election victory was, in the “cosmology” of Afrikaners, “like the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land. This was the fulfillment of God’s promise, and the justification for their view that South Africa should remain a white man’s country forever.” Afrikaners compared the Great Treks to the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, and saw their republics as a “new Israel,” built on land redeemed from godless “Canaanites.” Out of the undeniable suffering and trauma of the Boer Wars, Afrikaners constructed an ideology in which they were in a state of permanent victimhood. They acted with the belief that God was on the side in a struggle for self-preservation against external forces whose sole motivation was their destruction. (136-138)

the histories and the methods of resistance in palestine and south africa have been quite similar. but the main difference between the two situations is that nelson mandela refused to sign any agreement, any document until all conditions had been met. he wasn’t stupid enough to trust the colonizing entity in south africa. he wanted to see them put their words into action, such as releasing political prisoners. and he had enough integrity to make sure the other prisoners were released before him. here in palestine the oslo accords were signed without the zionist entity ever having to give up anything. and they never have. instead, they’ve created more suffering, more oppression, and increased the apartheid conditions.

today on z net haidar eid has a really important and smart article that addresses the way that oslo has destroyed palestine on so many levels, which i quote in full below:

One of the most important outcomes of the Gaza massacre (2009) has been the unprecedented tremendous outpouring of popular support for the Palestinian cause; something the signatories of the Oslo accords (1993) must have not been happy with. The return of the pre-Oslo slogans of liberation, as opposed to independence, have, undoubtedly, created a new dilemma, not only for Oslo political elites, but also for the NGOized, Stalinist Left.

The process of “Osloization”i.e, a combination of corruption, Ngoization, and a selling-out of revolutionary principles and sloganeering, fused with the fiction of the two-prison solution, has been dealt a heavy blow in the 2006 elections. Judging from statements made, not only by PA officials, but also by the Left, and even the Hamas government, the ultimate goal of the current river of blood has become the establishment of a Palestinian state in any dimension, i.e. the two-state solution. The contradiction between the tremendous international support, the revival of the BDS campaign, the outpouring of demos against Apartheid Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinians of Gaza, and the reiteration, by most political orgs, of the two state mantra is a strong indication of the need for an alternative program that makes the De-Osloization of Palestine its first priority.

In order to understand the Oslo Accords and the extreme damage they have caused to the Palestinian cause, one needs a historical contextualization of the so called “peace process”, or rather what many critical thinkers have called the peace industry. This understanding is a necessary step towards a process of De-Osloization, a term I will get back to at a later stage.

The Oslo accord was claimed to be the first step towards self-determination and an independent state. But it is clear now, 16 years after the famous hand shake on the White House lawn, that no state in the short run will be established because of the mere fact that Oslo simply ignored the existence of the Palestinian people as a people. In other words, these accords have offered Zionism what it has always been striving for. Golda Meir’s infamous statement that there are no Palestinians is a case in point here.

And yet, to claim that ‘Oslo’ and ‘Camp David’ were great missed opportunities and ‘breakthrough’, and that the so-called ‘peace process’ was in track until the Palestinians (i.e. colonized victims) blew it is a deliberate ideological distortion of reality claimed in order to prepare Palestinians for more concessions. Real comprehensive peace was not created in Oslo and Washington; rather what was created is an American/Israeli plan to resolve the conflict after the destruction of Iraq and the collapse of the Soviet Union and their attempt to construct a “new Middle East”—to use Condoleeza Rice’s words–a Middle East characterized by imperialist-Zionist hegemony and supported by despotic regimes. The Oslo accord was born dead because it did not guarantee the minimum national and political rights of 10 million Palestinian. As long as there are refugees, cantons, detainees, blockade, settlements, ‘legal torture’ of prisoners, dispossession, assassinations and occupation, comprehensive peace cannot be achieved. It is an illusion in the minds of those who signed the Oslo accords.

These accords have led to the creation of a limited “administrative autonomy” in the Gaza Strip and some parts of the West Bank. The local population was given “the right” to form an authority that they could call “national.” Now the question is what makes the PNA (Palestinian National Authority) beyond questioning? What is the ‘legitimate’ ground upon which it was established? Very simple: The Oslo Accords. It has now become very obvious that despite the famous hand shakes on the White house lawn and in Annaplois, and the optimistic talk of the ‘New Middle East,’ these accords, in contradistinction with UN and Security Council resolutions, have not guaranteed the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state, or the return of the refugees, nor even the demolishment of the Jewish settlements, and compensation for those Palestinians who have lost—and still losing—their homes, lands and properties; nor the release of all political prisoners, or the opening of all checkpoints, which have become daily nightmares for residents of the WB and GS; …etc. In spite of all the hand shakes, kisses, and friendly press conferences, Israel launched one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the conflict against the civilian population of Gaza, killing in 22 days more than 1400 people, including 438 children, 120 women, 95 old people, 16 medics, 5 journalists, 5 foreign women, and in which it destroyed more than 40.000 institutions and houses, leaving many families homeless. That, of course, was not mentioned as an objective of the Oslo Accords, but nothing either was mentioned in them that would prevent such bloodletting from taking place.

This is the political reality that Palestinian officials who signed the agreement do not like to be reminded of. In fact, what has been created in parts of Gaza and the West Bank is a very strange entity—an apartheid-type Bantustan endorsed by the international community. Gaza 2009, therefore, is the mirror-image of Oslo. When we bear in mind that 75-80% of Gazans are refugees, the results of 2006 elections become more comprehensible not only in its anti-colonial context, but also in socio-political terms. What Oslo has created in Gaza, and the West Bank for that matter, is literally two different worlds, both of which have been led by undemocratic institutions, many security apparatuses, a Third Worldish military court (commended by the Clinton administration), corruption, mismanagement, inefficiency and nepotism—to mention but few (neo)colonial qualities.

By winning the 1948, 1956 and 1967 wars, and by getting international, Arab and Palestinian recognition, Israel–as an Apartheid settler-colonial state—has hoped to move into a new stage; a stage that requires the formation of ‘new consciousness’ amongst colonized Palestinians. Herein lies the danger of Oslo; Osloization, within this neo-Zionist context, means the creation of a new paradigm through which you wash out the consciousness of your supposed enemy-the ‘Other’-and replace it with a one-dimensional mentality, through the construction of a fiction (two states for two peoples) whose end is unattainable. Even the fascist Lieberman has started singing the same song.

Put differently, to aim at creating the two-state Palestinian is to aim at creating false consciousness led by assimilated intelligentsia, some of whom have a revolutionary past record. Singing the slogans of “the two state solution,” “two states for two peoples,” “return to the 1967 borders,”–or even “a long-term Hudna” (as proposed by Hamas) — is intended to guarantee the subordination and conformity of the Palestinians, especially those with revolutionary ideas. Gone are the right of return of 6 million refugees and their compensation, and the national and cultural rights of the indigenous population of Palestine 1948.

This goal, however, never sees the antithesis it creates as a result of displacement, exploitation, and oppression; it ignores the revolutionary consciousness that has been formulated throughout the different phases of the Palestinian struggle. Nor does it take into account the legacy of civil and political resistance that has become a trademark of the Palestinian struggle. Hence the necessity of the formulation of Palestinian alternative politics. To be conscious of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, and of the huge class gape that the Oslo Accords have created has definitely been the beginning of De-Osloization represented in the Al-Aqsa uprising and the outcome of the 2006 elections. This is an oppositional consciousness that the signatories of Oslo did not take into account. Both events represent an outright rejection of the Oslo Accords and their consequences.

The Gaza Strip, however, is seen by the PA as one of three building blocks of an independent state, although it is geographically separated from the second block, i.e. the West Bank. The third block is, Jerusalem, is under total Israeli control. None of the Palestinians in the occupied territories believe that the ‘semi-autonomous’ zones in the GS and the WB -that is, the ones that fall under category A—can lay the foundation for an independent state. What Oslo has led to is, in fact, a South Africa. When black South Africans needed to move from their townships to big ‘white’ cities, they needed to get a ‘pass’. During ‘peace time,’ Palestinians, not only those who work in Israel, but also those who wanted to visit the WB form Gaza, or vice versa, needed to apply for a ‘permit’. Beside the permit, Palestinians needed a so-called ‘magnetic card,’ which is a computer card that has a password to its holder’s security file. No one could work in Israel, or visit the WB, or even go to a hospital inside the ‘green line’ without a ‘permit’ and a ‘magnetic card’. If one was granted such invaluable cards, one was still not allowed to visit any other area except the one s/he was entitled to visit. If one was ‘caught’ at another area, one’s permit and card were confiscated immediately, not to mention the torture one was exposed to. Nowadays, no one is even given such luxurious ‘permits’ and cards. How was apartheid South Africa different?

The tribal chiefs of the South African Bantustans used to believe that they were the heads of independent states. Luckily, the ANC, despite its many compromises with the National Party, had never accepted the idea of separation and Bantustans. The official Palestinian leadership on the other hand, at the end of the millennium, boasts of having laid the foundation for a Bantustan, claiming it to be an independent state in the make. Undoubtedly, this is the ultimate prize Zionism can offer to its ‘Other’ after having denied her/his existence for a century, and after that same ‘Other’ has proved that she is human. For Zionism’s continued presence in Palestine, the ‘Other’ must be assimilated and enslaved without her/ him being conscious of her/his enslavement. Hence the granting of ‘semi-autonomous’ rule over the most crowded Palestinian cities, and hence the logic driving the Oslo Accords.

Oslo, then, brought an unprecedented level of corruption into Palestine; and security coordination with Israel, under the supervision of—irony of ironies—an American general, has become the norm. Repeating the two-state mantra, carrying the Palestinian flag, singing the national anthem and— more importantly—recognizing Israel, regardless of the rights of two thirds of the Palestinian people, are what Oslo is all about.

The lesson we learn from Gaza 2009 is to harness all effort to fight the outcome of the Oslo Accords, and to form a United Front on a platform of resistance and reforms. This cannot be achieved without dismantling the PA and realizing that ministries, premierships, and presidencies in Gaza and Ramallah are a façade not unlike the South African Independent Homelands with their tribal chiefs. The classical national program, created and adopted by the Palestinian bourgeoisie has reached its end unsuccessfully. Most political forces, including the governing party in Gaza, fail to explain how 6 million Palestinian refugees will return to the Israeli State of the Jews and an independent Palestinian state will be created at the same time.

Hence the necessity for an alternative paradigm that divorces itself from the fiction of the two-prison solution, a paradigm that takes the sacrifices of the people of Gaza as a turning point in the struggle for liberation, one that builds on the growing global anti-apartheid movement that has been given an impetus by Gaza 2009. De-Osloizing Palestine is, therefore, a precondition for the creation of peace with justice.

part of this osloizing process that eid analyzes above is the continual dispossession of palestinians from their land. in gaza it happened in a very obvious way. it was clear to those who watched al jazeera, the only international media allowed into the gaza strip. and that savagery continues with israeli terrorists bombing gaza every day, which no longer reported in the international media:

The Israeli military confirmed that it bombed smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip early on Thursday.

Witnesses in Gaza said that the bombing took place in Rafah Refugee Camp, along the border with Egypt.

The Israeli military said the strike was in response to four homemade projectiles and one mortar shell that landed in Israel. No damage or injuries resulted from those attacks.

The tunnels in southern Gaza are used to import goods made scarce by an Israeli blockade that has been imposed on Gaza since 2007.

and what seems to me to be a clear–and horrifying–indication that hamas is in the process of becoming osloized:

Gaza’s Hamas rulers issued rare criticism Thursday of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from the strip, saying now is the wrong time for such attacks.

The Islamic militant group has fired thousands of rockets at southern Israel in recent years. But Hamas said Thursday that it was not behind recent attacks and that it was investigating who was responsible.

there are no rockets coming from the west bank. and there may not be bombs falling on the west bank, but the continual ethnic cleansing in the west bank and in 1948 goes on unnoticed for the most part. there is, of course, a bit of international coverage of the ethnic cleansing in al quds, which is possibly why there is a temporary ban on the demolition order of homes in silwan:

The Israeli Central Court in Jerusalem decided to temporarily freeze a decision to demolish 35 apartments in Al Abbasiyya neighborhood in the East Jerusalem town of Silwan.

Lawyer Ziad Qi’war, representing the families, said that the order gives the Jerusalem Municipality seven days to respond to appeals filed by the residents.

There are more than 240 Palestinians living in the buildings slated to be demolished.

Qi’war added that the appeal accuses the Jerusalem Municipality of practicing racism against the Jerusalemite Palestinians, and of not providing services to the residents in this area.

The residents said that the Municipality does not want to sit with them in order to listen to their points of view.

Qi’war called on all civil, legal and political groups to unite their efforts in order to achieve a ruling that completely voids the demolishing orders.

Israel intends to demolish nearly 180 homes in Al the Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods of Al Bustan, Al Abbasiyya, Ras Khamis, and Al Tour.

of course this is when the israeli terrorist colonists send in the colonists without uniforms to go in and attack palestinians:

Palestinian sources reported on Wednesday that a group of extremist Jewish settlers attacked dozens of Palestinian homes and stores in East Jerusalem.

The settlers were marching in the city and chanting slogans against the Arabs and the Palestinians, and calling for expelling them from the Holy City.

The Israeli police did not attempt to intervene and allowed the settlers to continue their march, which encouraged them to attack Palestinian property, local sources reported.

The settlers chanted “death to Arabs” and other racists slogans while marching in Arab markets and the alleys of the Old City.

The Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported that the different settlers groups marched in different parts of the Old City under heavy protection and presence of the Israeli military and police.

The police closed main roads in the Old City barring the Palestinians from using them in order to allow the settlers to march.

WAFA said that dozens of extremist Jews arrived in the Old City by special buses since early morning hours of Wednesday, and held prayers at the Western Wall before marching in the alleys of Jerusalem.

They were accompanied by settlers living in East Jerusalem, especially from outposts in Sheikh Jarrah area, and several outposts in East Jerusalem.

in contradistinction, there is very little about the rest of the west bank. consider these latest developments:

in aqraba near nablus:

The Israeli Army handed miltary orders to several residents of Aqraba village, southeast of the northern West Bank City of Nablus, informing them of a decision to demolish six homes and a mosque in the village.

Local sources in the village stated that the order comes to enable the expansion of Israeli settlements surrounding the village, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

The sources added that nearly 90 percent of the village’s land is used as grazing ground, but the Israeli authorities are attempting to annex the land for settlement construction and expansion.

There are four Israeli settlements surrounding the village, all built on land annexed from the villagers. Settlers have carried out repeated attacks against the village and its inhabitants, killing four villagers over the past few years.

Recently, one resident was killed and another was wounded in a roadside bomb placed by the settlers, the Palestinian Information Center said.

Last week, Israeli Authorities handed fifteen military orders to the residents of Aqraba, informing them that Israel intends to demolish 15 homes, barns, tin-houses for sheep, and water wells located in Khirbit al-Taweel area, which belongs to the village.

in qalqilia a farmer suffered a heart attack after witnessing israeli terrorists destroying his olive trees:

Palestinian medical sources in Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, reported that a farmer suffered a heart attack two days ago after the Israeli army uprooted his olive trees in the village of Ras Tira, near Qalqilia.

The army was uprooting the trees to allow the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the area.

The farmer tried to stop the soldiers and defend his land, and suffered a heart attack while arguing with the troops and the bulldozer driver, local sources reported.

Also, the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported that five human rights activists from the United states, Sweden, and Denmark were taken prisoner by the army after joining a non-violent protest against the uprooting of trees in Ras Tira, Wadi Ar-Rasha, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reported.

Residents from the area, joined by activists, were protesting the uprooting of olive trees as the army started implementing the change of the route of the Israeli Apartheid Wall in the area.

As the trees were being cut, villagers and activists demonstrated while the troops fired tear-gas at the them and the villagers, WAFA said.

The new Wall route will lead o more destruction and uprooting of the villagers’ farmlands and orchards.

It is worth mentioning that the Wall and the Alfe Menashe settlement completely surround the villages of Ras Al Tira, Wadi Ar Rasha, and Dhaba’.

or how about in 1948 palestine?:

Bulldozers of the Israeli municipality of Beer Sheba in 1948 occupied Palestine on Thursday demolished two Palestinian houses at the pretext of lack of construction permit.

Local sources in Beer Sheba said that hundreds of policemen escorted the bulldozers during the demolition process.

They pointed out that the same force uprooted 100 olive trees.

The step was taken on the same day that cattle owners plan a demonstration in the same city to protest additional taxes and unfair distribution of grazing lands, the locals underlined.

of course, the united states doesn’t want to look at the racism inherent in the zionist entity’s apartheid regime. that is why it has chosen to boycott the world conference on racism in geneva (known as durban 2). (you see, obama does not care about discussing and ending racism any more than bush.) the main issue for boycotting the conference in 2001 was the discussion of zionism as a form of racism as well as the discussion of reparations for slavery. this time around the issue of slavery reparations seems to irk obama as does the discourse on the terrorist state of israel. but the draft document that the obama administration objects to does not talk about zionism as racism. instead, it focuses on israel as an apartheid regime. still, they refuse to attend. ramzy baroud explains:

The US conditioned its participation of the April conference in Geneva (Durban II) by removing any specific censure of Israel, and ensuring that Israel is not ‘singled out’ for criticism. Although US sensibilities constantly expect, but demand the singling out of any country, leader or group it deems rouge, war criminal, or terrorist, Israel is treated based on different standards. “A bad document became worse, and the US decided not to participate in the conference”, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported in reference to the draft documents being finalized before the conference.

The original “bad” document apparently dubs Israel “an occupying state that carries out racist policies”, a description which is consistent with international law, UN resolutions and the views of leading world human rights defenders – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, John Dugard, the former UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk,the current UN’s envoy, among many others.

The ‘bad document’ might have ‘became worse’ with new references to the Gaza bloodbath, which killed and wounded nearly 7,000 Palestinians in 22-days.

From an American – and unfortunately, Canadian and Italian, so far – viewpoint, such inhumane practices don’t warrant a pause or mere words of condemnation. The same, of course, doesn’t apply to Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran, Cuba and other ‘unfriendly’ nations. The US decision must be particularity disheartening to African nations who saw in the advent of Barack Obama some vindication. The US first black president, however, saw it fit to boycott a conference that intended to discuss the issue of slavery and repatriation, to once again prove that race alone is hardly sufficient in explaining US internal and external policies.

in response to this some people have organized a campaign to try to get obama to reconsider. while their letter is not perfect, i do think attending the conference sends the right message to the zionist entity that they cannot bully the world by threats of anti-semitism. their racist regime must not only be critiqued, but ended. here is the letter and if you click the link you can sign their petition:

January 20, 2009

Dear President Barack Obama,

As people of conscience in the United States struggling for a socially, economically and ecologically healthier world free of racism, colonialism, and militarism, we write to respectfully urge you to attend the upcoming Durban Review Conference on Racism from 20-24 April 2009.

Your election marks a historic moment in a nation founded upon the slavery and genocide of people of color. We, along with millions everywhere, are full of hope that this legacy will finally be redressed. First Nation, people of African descent, working class people, immigrants to this country, and people from colonized countries throughout the world all have suffered for far too long. We hope that your inauguration will usher a new dawn on which the US government will respond to calls to tackle historic and current injustices that stand in the way of change.

You were brought to power by an unprecedented chorus of grassroots voices, a unique gathering of activism and resources. We honor your experiences as a grassroots organizer working for change in the lives of working class people of color. Like many others who voted for you (or wanted to but couldn’t because we are not US citizens), we were inspired by your call for dialogue on foreign policy, and your opposition to the politics of torture and preemptive wars. We rejoiced in your victory – our victory – against racism and war.

Your participation in the Durban Review Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance (Geneva, Switzerland, April 2009) will reaffirm your commitment to these principles. We are aware that great pressure is being exerted on your administration to boycott the Durban Review Conference; that congress has passed a resolution in support of this boycott. Lobbyists on behalf of the State of Israel are wrong to claim that the first Durban Conference was anti-Semitic because it held Israel accountable for its racist laws and policies. Nothing could be farther from the truth: anti-Semitism today is fueled by U.S. policies that apply double standards in its relationship to Israel and allow Israel to violate international law with impunity. The failure to distinguish between criticizing Israeli government policies and anti-Semitism on the one hand, and perpetuating, the misleading image of Jews as united in support of Israel’s unconscionable violence against the Palestinian people, on the other, feeds into anti-Jewish hatred and incites anti-Semitism today.

Israel must obey international law like any other state. Israel has to end its occupation of Palestinian lands, its dismemberment of the country into Bantustans, its apartheid-like laws and policies against Arab people, and its theft of Palestinian land and resources. Only recently, the majority of the international community has raised its voice in protest as Israel waged a savage war against the Palestinian people in Gaza. The U.S. has for too long condoned Israel’s disregard for international law, settlement buildup, and bad faith negotiations. There has never been a more urgent time for the U.S. to join the international community to effect a serious change.

We stand in with the world’s majority who demand an end to the Israeli siege on Gaza and who had the courage to break ties with Israel—the leadership of Latin America, the Arab World, and Turkey; the UN General Assembly and its President, D’escoto Brockmann; Sir Gerald Kaufmann from the British House of Commons, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and the millions of voices demanding that Israel comply with international law.

To ignore Durban is to align with those who justify Israel’s racism, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid-like policies; and to allow its siege of Gaza. A boycott of the Durban global dialogue towards a united and principled stand against racism could only send the wrong message that the U.S. is not committed t to overcoming its history of racism and the impact that history has had in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as well as on communities of color within the United States. A United States boycott of the Durban Review will squarely put the U.S. in opposition to the global aspirations to transform current conditions of racism and xenophobia.

US boycott of the Durban Review will precipitate a speedy disillusionment in the US and around the world with the commitment of your administration to developing policy that is qualitatively different from those of the previous administration. Ignoring the message of Durban would also undermine and alienate the organizers of the conference who are looking to the principled engagement of your administration against those whose power is based on promoting and enforcing racist divisions within their populations. We hope that your administration can show that the United States is ready to participate in international dialogue aimed at ending its legacy of colonization, slavery, racism and xenophobia. We are conscious that, because of your history and experience, you are well aware of the nature and impact of US policies in the Global South.

From amplifying the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina, through the terrorizing of immigrant communities, and to the continued destruction of indigenous lands, peoples and cultures, harmful U.S. government policies also reflect the culpability of the United States in perpetuating racism and injustice throughout the world. The lavish funding for war and the generous military and political aid to regimes that disrespect human rights have been part and parcel of a governmental outlook that is oblivious to the needs of health care, education, employment and housing.

To fulfill the hope you have inspired and which brought you to office, we urge you and your Administration to:

* Participate in the Durban Review Conference in Geneva from 20-24 of April 2009.

* Consider deeply felt and urgent demands of the Durban Review for US acknowledgment and repudiation of past racist crimes and injustices, in particular against First Nations and African people, as well as of current racist and xenophobic policies enforced by the US within and beyond its borders.

* Engage in critical dialogue on the de-institutionalization of racism within the US, and the ways in which war economy can be diverted into peace economy.

* Shift the US policies toward recognizing the legitimate concerns of participants from communities devastated by war and occupation and listen with an open mind to their demands for justice, dignity and peace.

In your speech at a Howard University Convocation in 2007, you asked the audience to:

Be strong and have courage in the face of injustice. Be strong and have courage in the face of prejudice and hatred. Be strong and have courage in the face of joblessness and helplessness and hopelessness. Be strong and have courage, in the face of our doubts and fears, in the face of skepticism, in the face of cynicism, in the face of a mighty river.

We ask you to be strong in the face of these challenges and to trust the strength of your grassroots base. We ask you to stand up against those who would keep this country and the world shackled by to policies that harm us all. Stand with us as we join hands to support you as a President of a United States that can leave behind racism, colonial oppression and war and that rejoins the world community for justice, dignity and peace.

on american crimes & the international criminal court

khalil bendib
khalil bendib

one of the many reasons i love flashpoints so much and listen to the podcast every day is because they are the only news source in the u.s. that reports on news that no one else does and from a point of view that no one else shares. take, for instance, the recent interview dennis bernstein did with keith harmon snow. snow is a journalist who covers africa and provides a context for the situation in the congo and sudan that you will never read or hear in most other american news sources. snow has a website where some of his writings and other interviews are archived. i think it is especially important to consider his views in light of the international criminal court’s indictment of omar al-bashir:

The ICC on Wednesday indicted al-Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which included murder, rape and torture.

The three-judge panel said it had insufficient grounds to consider charges of genocide, though the ICC said the non-inclusion of a genocide charge could change “if additional evidence is gathered by the prosecution”.

The US administration, which has imposed sanctions against Sudan, welcomed the ICC’s decision.

The UK and France have also been in favour of the warrant while the EU has urged Khartoum to fully co-operate with the ICC.

But their support has added fuel to the fire of those who see the ICC’s decision as “neo-colonialist”.

“They do not want Sudan … to become stable,” Mustafa Osman Ismail, an adviser to al-Bashir.

“The court is only one mechanism of neo-colonialist policy used by the West against free and independent countries.”

i was thinking about this court case and the charge of neo-colonialism yesterday in my postcolonial literature class. my students are reacing cinua achebe’s things fall apart. we are still discussing the first half of the novel, before the british colonists arrive in nigeria and begin to destroy the traditional society. one way they do this is by building prisons, of course. the last passage my students and i discussed was the part where the protagonist, okonkwo, is exiled for seven years because he accidentally killed someone in his father’s village where he lives with his wives and children. the punishment is for them all to go to his mother’s village for 7 years. here is a passage where one of the village elders, uchendu, in okonkwo’s mother’s village offers some context on this punishment:

“Why is Okonkwo with us today? This is not his clan. We are only his mother’s kinsmen. He does not belong here. He is in exile, condemned for seven years to live in a strange land. And so he is bowed with grief. But there is just one question I would like to ask him. Can you tell me, Okonkwo, why it is that one of the commonest names we give our children is Nneka, or ‘Mother is Supreme?’ We all know that a man is the head of the family and his wives do his bidding. A child belongs to its father and his family and not to its mother and her family. A man belongs to his fatherland and not to his motherland. And yet we say Nneka–‘Mother is Supreme,’ Why is that?”

There was silence. “I want Okonkwo to answer me,” said Uchendu.

“I do not know the answer,” Okonkwo replied.

“You do not know the answer? So you see that you are a child. You have many wives and many children–more children than I have. You are a great man in your clan. But you are still a child, my child. Listen to me and I shall tell you. But there is one more question I shall ask you. Why is it that when a woman dies she is taken home to be buried with her own kinsman? She is not buried with her husband’s kinsmen. Why is that? Your mother was brought home to me and buried with my people. Why was that?”

Okonkwo shook his head.

“He does not know that either,” said Uchendu, “and yet he is full of sorrow because he has come to live in his motherland for a few years.” He laughed a mirthless laughter, and turned to his sons and daughters. “What about you? Can you answer my question?”

They all shook their heads.

“Then listen to me,” he said and cleared his throat. “It’s true that a child belongs to its father. But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mother’s hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you. She is buried there. And that is why we say that a mother is supreme.” (137-139)

i bring up achebe in this context as a way of thinking about what justice means. to show that there were community-based systems of justice prior to european colonial or neo-colonial powers destroying the americas, africa, asia, australia. okonkwo going to his mother’s village was not just about punishment. it was about him going to a place where he would be nurtured and have time to reflect about what he did. but the european system of punishment by imprisonment, which they exported along with colonialism around the planet has destroyed so much of more traditional ways of dealing with justice.

the other issue with the case of sudan, which one gets a sense of if you read snow’s writing and listen to the flashpoints episode i linked to above, is that the problem of sudanese people being murdered and massacred is an american one. it is a neocolonial problem to begin with. the international criminal court claims that bashir is responsible for various war crimes, but it does not get at the root of the problem:

Laurence Blairon, a spokeswoman for the ICC, said al-Bashir was accused of “intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Sudan; murdering, raping, torturing, forcibly transferring large numbers of the population and pillaging their property”.

“Omar al-Bashir’s official capacity as a sitting head of state does not exclude his criminal responsibility, nor does it grant him immunity from prosecution,” she said.

He is the first sitting head of state to be ordered to face the tribunal since it began work in 2002.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor who called for an arrest warrant to be issued in July last year, said that al-Bashir must be arrested “to stop him from destroying evidence and committing new crimes”.

“It is time to protect the victims, to stop bombing civilians, to stop rapes, to stop the crimes,” he said after the judges’ decision was announced.

to get at the root of the problem one needs to look to journalists like snow. and the root of the problem is not limited to the borders of sudan nor is it limited to the u.s. as the only culprit in maintaining neocolonial rule in africa as snow explains in “darfurism, uganda, and the u.s. role in africa”:

The role of Yoweri Museveni and his “government” in service to the Western economic neoliberalism and the shock doctrine of deconstruction and chaos is greatly misunderstood and deeply camouflaged by simplified establishment narratives like those above. Bush and Museveni discussed the U.S.-Uganda military relations and bilateral involvement in the ongoing wars in Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo). The “partnership to combat malaria and HIV/AIDS” is camouflage language for military vaccination and bio-warfare programs involving pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, USAID, and “humanitarian” philanthropies. A vaccine for malaria was developed for the U.S. military some time ago and this is shared only with certain U.S. client state partners, though “clinical trials” have been undertaken in public using African “volunteers.”

Museveni and Bush certainly discussed America’s escalating war in the Sahara desert, expanding petroleum operations across the region, U.S. Special Forces deployments and newly identified uranium resources in Uganda. Maybe they discussed the March 1, 1999 killing of eight foreign tourists at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a story that has not yet been critically unpacked. The “development plan for northern Uganda” is euphemistic language for the ongoing depopulation and massive natural resource extraction that today proceeds in northern Uganda in parallel with the genocide of the Acholi people and Uganda’s militarization in support of covert programs in Sudan and Congo.

The Darfur conflict rides along the fault line of continental warfare spread from Niger to Djibouti and Somalia, and from eastern Congo and Rwanda, through Uganda and Sudan, to Eritrea and the Red Sea. Congo is at war with Uganda and Rwanda. Ethiopia is at war with Somalia, and poised to reinvade Eritrea: there are massive troop build-ups on both sides of the Eritrean-Ethiopia border. Ethiopia, Uganda and Chad are the three “frontline” states militarily destabilizing Sudan. Uganda is internally and externally at war, has intervened secretly in Burundi, and the Ugandan military recently re-occupied towns in eastern Congo over petroleum. Rwanda is fighting in Eastern Congo, meddling in Burundi, and has some 2000 troops in Darfur. Burundi is militarily involved in Congo and soon to be in Somalia. Khartoum backs guerrilla armies in Uganda, Chad and Congo.

The U.S. is all over the place, with both covert and overt military programs. France, England, Canada, Belgium, Libya, Israel and China are all involved. All these conflicts are intertwined, and the targeted populations have allegiances and alliances that are dictated by the pre-colonial boundaries and trade that existed prior to the demarcation of colonial interests that occurred at the Berlin Conference of 1885 under the imperial doctrine of divide and conquer. In 1885 “Soudan” was synonymous with “Sahara” and “Darfur” was the center of power. Conflict involving U.S. covert forces and nomads in Niger and Nigeria, for example, impacts Sudan: the history of the Sahara revolves around the trans-Saharan influence of the Mahdi. In 1875 the Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad, led the indigenous resistance against Britain. ‘Abdallah at-Ta‘ishi, the Mahdi’s “Khalifah” or successor, who took over as leader of the independent Sudan when the Mahdi died in June 1885, was a native of Darfur. People from Nigeria to Somalia today remember the Mahdi.

snow goes on to connect the corporations and ngos profiting from the ongoing war and “peace” operations in the region, including profiting off of refugees:

On October 24, 2007, the United Nations awarded Lockheed-Martin subsidiary Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE) a $250 million no-bid contract to provide “infrastructure” for the United Nations “peacekeeping” missions now unfolding in Sudan (Darfur), Somalia, and Chad/Central Africa Republic. The newly announced contract is to build five new camps in Sudan’s Darfur and Kordofan regions for 4,100 U.N. and African Union (A.U.) personnel. Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest and most secretive aerospace and defense corporation.

This is not Pacific Architects and Engineers’ first contract in Darfur, or in Africa’s “peacekeeping” missions, and PAE is not the only private military company involved. PAE won the contract for staffing the deeply compromised “Civilian Protection Monitoring Team” (CPMT) in Sudan under a U.S. State Department contract. In 2004 the CPMT office was being run by Brigadier General Frank Toney (retired), who was previously the commander of Special Forces for the United States Army; General Toney organized covert operations into Iraq and Kuwait in the first Gulf War.

Pratap Chaterjee reported in 2004 how “Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Bittrick, the deputy director of regional and security affairs for Africa at the State Department, flew to Ethiopia to hammer out an agreement to support African Union troops by committing to provide housing, office equipment, transport, and communications gear. This will be provided via an ‘indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity’ joint contract awarded to Dyncorp Corporation, and Pacific Architects & Engineers (PAE) worth $20.6 million.” PAE also set up MONUC operations in Congo, and continues to operate there; the total PAE involvement includes numerous intermediary contracts. In 2002 PAE/Daher won a $34 million air-services follow-on contract amidst complaints of a “lack of transparency and irregularities in the procurement system…confirmed by the bidding of the air-service contract with PAE/Daher.” Daher International is a French aerospace and defense corporation.

Meanwhile, the “Save Darfur” advocates pressing military intervention in Darfur as a “humanitarian” gesture have escalated pressure in the face of mounting failures, including allegations that millions of “Save Darfur” dollars fundraised on a sympathy for victims platform have been misappropriated.

But the players, the private military companies, the arms dealers—and a handful of missing SRAM missiles armed with nuclear warheads dumped by an American B-52 before it crashed—are mostly unknown to the general public. These covert wars all involve different propaganda strategies to provide cover and deflect attention through “perception management”—managing the perceptions, stereotyping and creating false belief systems—of the North American and European public.

The numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons across the region are staggering and they are indicative of a cataclysmic regional crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. This is not because refugees, insurgency and guerrilla warfare are inherent to Africa: refugees and IDPs are big business for white systems of power that maintain structural violence based on profits and the globalization of poverty, terror and war. The numbers are staggering, and these are not merely statistics, they are about suffering human beings.

United Nations agencies report some 4,700,163 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan—2,152,163 in Darfur and 2,276,000 in Northern Sudan—with some 686,311 refugees out of Sudan.

in addition to multi-national, u.s.-based corporations and military involvement in sudan, what i think is really important about snow’s writing is his unpacking of the so-called “save darfur” movement, a movement that in the u.s. is largely controlled by zionists who enjoy altering the reality into a fabricated narrative of arabs/muslims attacking black africans as if sudan can be untied in such a tidy package. of course they always fail to report the fact that many refugees from darfur seeking refuge in the zionist entity are immediately imprisoned (search my blog you will find numerous such reports here). here is what snow says on the “save darfur” organization and related constructed narratives about mass murder and genocide in africa:

“Save Darfur” is the predominant propaganda front running on Africa and it has overwhelmed the public consciousness with deceptions. In this establishment narrative Arabs on horseback, the Janjaweed, backed by the Sudan government seated in Khartoum, are the purveyors of genocide. This mirrors the establishment narrative of Rwanda, 1994, which said that the Hutus and the nasty Interahamwe militias committed genocide against the Tutsis in 100 days of killing with machetes. The Rwanda genocide narrative—combined with the narrative about “humanitarian” intervention in Yugoslavia, where the final blow to dismember the country came with the NATO bombing campaign—set the stage for the Darfur genocide narrative.

All over the United States, Britain and Canada advocates and activists who claim to be concerned about human rights, and even those who otherwise would not get involved, have supported the “Save Darfur” movement, a political movement similar to the anti-Apartheid movement mobilized against South Africa in the 1980’s. The “Save Darfur” movement has resulted in a huge outpouring of funds, and it has mobilized support from people in all walks of life, and across the political spectrum, on the “never again” platform of “stopping genocide.”

Hollywood personalities dubbed “actorvists,” including Mia Farrow, Don Cheadle and George Clooney, have helped to whip up the “Save Darfur” hysteria. From Elie Wiesel to Barak Obama, people are “outraged” by genocide that the Bush Administration, we are told, is reluctant to stop. And it is hysteria, in the true definition of the word, but it did not simply rise out of a sudden concern for a bunch of Africans in some far-off God-forsaken place (as it is portrayed).

At a “Voices for Darfur” fundraiser held on October 21, 2007 at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, for example, the local chapter of the Congregation B’Nai Israel Darfur Action coalition, raised over $14,000 for “humanitarian” aid to Darfur. The B’Nai Israel Save Darfur Coalition had a broad array of public and organizational support, including other Jewish organizations, Smith College, Northampton Mayor Claire Higgins, Massachusetts’ Senator Stan Rosenberg and Representative Peter Kocot. The campaign organizers claim that “more than 90% goes to direct-on-the-ground AID.” Working with big humanitarian groups like Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children, it is impossible that 90% of funds will hit the ground in Darfur.

Behind the “Save Darfur” movement are fundamentalist organizations and think tanks with a deeply nationalistic, militaristic, religious fundamentalist agenda. The Center for Security Policy, for example, supports the “star wars” Strategic Defense Initiative, Homeland Security—which is nothing more than expanding militarism and emasculated public rights—and the Biometric Security Project. The BSP centers around emerging biological technologies that will be used to register, identify, monitor, track and control each and every U.S. citizen. They call it “identity assurance,” it involves state-of-the-art recognition equipment, sensors and security technologies, and it is a central component of the evolving national security and “counter-terrorism” apparatus.

The Center for Security Policy is the nerve center of the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus, a deeply nationalist, neoliberal think-tank and flak organization promoting the all-out attack against non-cooperative governments—dubbed “rogue states”—peripheral to Western economic control. These, of course, are primarily Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, North Korea and Cuba. Zimbabwe is a special case that has joined the list to some degree. What these states have in common is that they are all targeted for divestment by the Center for Security Policy brainchild, www.divestterror.org. Sudan is another of the “rogue states” targeted.

The establishment narrative on Darfur motivates U.S. citizens to take action to “Save Darfur,” thus facilitating popular support for heightened U.S. military involvement. The truth is that the United States military is already there, in its various incarnations, and the United States is involved in atrocities.

the u.s. is already there in various ways, both in sudan, and in the region as snow delves into the related issue, the congo, which of course american zionists don’t want to touch because they can’t create some sort of arab/muslim versus black african narrative, which they love doing because it makes them look like they care about human rights and which they always use to deflect attention from the war crimes they support against palestinians. i’m not quoting all of snow’s article here so i hope people will click on the initial link at the top of the story to read it in full, but here is some of what he says on the u.s. in uganda and the congo (zaire):

The forced displacements of Acholi people began with Museveni’s ascension to power in 1986, but major forced displacements occurred throughout the 1990’s and again in 2002-2003. However, there was a massive displacement operation in 1996 that appears to have been coordinated in part with the planned U.S. invasion of Zaire from Northern Uganda and Rwanda.

The UPDF Army barracks at Masindi and airstrip at Gulu, both in Northern Uganda, served as the staging grounds for the U.S. invasion of Zaire. The Museveni government organized the closure of northern Uganda in October 1996 ostensibly because of heightened LRA attacks. The UPDF, in chronological coincidence with the U.S. invasion, forced hundreds of thousands of Acholis into concentration camps in the fall of 1996, often by bombing and burning villages and murdering, beating, raping and threatening those who would not comply.

According to testimony from eyewitnesses, on Oct 26, 1996 the top Ugandan brass behind the invasion of Zaire met at the village of Paraa, in the Murchison Falls National Park, near Lake Albert, in the Gulu District. At the meeting were: [1] UPDF Brigadier General Moses Ali—Idi Amin’s right hand man who later became Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister for Disaster Preparedness, and Deputy Prime Minister in the Museveni administration; [2] Museveni’s half-brother Salim Saleh; [3] then Colonel James Kazini; and [4] Dr. Eric Adroma—head of Uganda National Parks. Salim Saleh is perhaps the leading agent of terror in the UPDF Zaire/Congo wars, but both Saleh and commander James Kazini led UPDF troops involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide involving millions of people in Eastern Congo (1996-2007).

The meeting was ostensibly about security and it was announced that due to a recent LRA rebel attack at Paraa, the UPDF would be placing parts of Northern Uganda off limits to all non-military personnel. (LRA rebels committed the Paraa attack; UPDF troops arrived on the scene quickly and looted bodies but did not pursue the LRA.) The main road from Karuma to the border town of Pakwach was thereafter closed. This road apparently served as a primary transport route for Ugandan and non-Ugandan military—including black U.S. Special Forces—who invaded Zaire.

On November 6, 1996, Bill Clinton was re-elected. Around 10 November 1996 an armored 4×4 Humvee (HUMMWV)—heavily rigged with sophisticated communications equipment inside and out—was encountered carrying two black U.S. special forces in the Murchison Falls region: the soldiers were wearing UPDF uniforms. Two busloads of black U.S. Special Forces were encountered at a UPDF checkpoint on the Karuma-Pakwach road; wearing civilian clothes, with duffel bags, the muscled and crew cut “civilians” showed U.S. passports and claimed they were “doctors” heading to the tiny Gulu hospital. From November 21-23 Boeing C-130 military aircraft passed over the region every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, heading both north and south. The C-130’s apparently landed at Gulu airstrip—closed by the Museveni government for a two-week period—and offloaded military equipment then moved by roads—closed by the UPDF—to the border. Some C-130’s were charted on a course believed to take them to Goma, Zaire. From mid-November to February 1997 access to northwestern Uganda regions was highly restricted. On 1 March 1997 another wave of C-130’s passed over the region. The UPDF used the LRA threat as cover for massive military operations involving the invasion of Zaire for the United States of America.

The in-country U.S. Ambassador to Uganda at the time was E. Michael Southwick (October 1994-August 1997). Oil surveys began in 1998 and the entire Northwestern Uganda region is now designated as oil concessions controlled by Heritage Oil and Gas, Hardman Oil and Tullow Oil, three Anglo-American companies connected to British mercenary Tony Buckingham (founder of he mercenary firms Sandline International and Executive Outcomes) and his partners. Nexant, a Bechtel subsidiary, is involved with the trans-Uganda-Kenya pipeline. South African firm Energem—tied to Tony Buckingham through Anthony Texeira, the brother-in-law of Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba—is also involved. Another Energem and Buckingham affiliated company tight with the Museveni regime is Branch Energy, involved with the oil pipeline and mining in Uganda.

On September 5, 2007, UPDF troops—and rebels reportedly aligned with Jean-Pierre Bemba—had occupied the Congo’s oil- and gold-rich Semliki Basin on the western shores of Lake Albert. Heavily armed foreign forces occupied the villages of Aru, Mahagi, Fataki, Irengeti and the Ruwenzori mountains. The international press and the United Nations Observers Mission in Congo (MONUC) remained completely silent about the Ugandan incursions. By September 8, 2007, Ugandan troops were heavily massed on the Congo border while Kabila and Museveni were signing oil and gold sharing agreements in Tanzania. UPDF forces and “rebel” troops alleged to be Bemba’s remained in Congo as of October 25. The MONUC information offices were claiming by mid-October that UPDF had pulled out, but Congolese citizens in eastern Congo continued to report a significant UPDF military occupation.

The China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Company is also involved in the Uganda-Kenya pipeline, offering an interesting comparison for people concerned about China’s involvement in atrocities in the Darfur region. And, after much scrambling, Libya was cut out of the Kenya-Uganda pipeline deals. The petroleum sector in Libya involves U.S., Canadian and European companies.

Uganda’s representation at the International Criminal Court exploring war crimes in Congo has included at least two very high-profile lawyers from Foley Hoag LLP, an influential Washington law firm deeply entrenched in the proliferation of the mainstream narratives and the victor’s justice doled out—through the ICTY and ICTR tribunals—on Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The Pentagon seconded its lawyers from the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corp to the ICTR to “try” those unfortunate “enemies” both arbitrarily and selectively accused of genocide.

The people most responsible for atrocities in the region—unprecedented human bloodletting, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide—are protected. These include Yoweri Museveni, Salim Saleh, Paul Kagame, James Kazini, Moses Ali, James Kabarebe, Taban Amin, Jean-Pierre Bemba, Laurent Nkunda, Meles Zenawi…a long list of people whose culpability is without question, many of whom have been named for atrocities again and again. U.S. Special Operations forces know what happened and should be deposed under oath in a legitimate International Criminal Court, which at present does not exist, and is not in the making. Ditto for Madeleine Albright, Anthony Lake, Thomas Pickering, Susan Rice, John Prendergast, General William Wald, General Frank Toney, Walter Kansteiner, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Holbroke, Roger Winter, Frank G. Wisner, Andrew Young…another short list.

Foley Hoag LLP is also tied to the U.S.-Uganda Friendship Council. On May 6, 2002 in Washington D.C. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and wife Janet were special guests at U.S.-Uganda Friendship Council event sponsored by members Coke, Pfizer and Chevron-Texaco. Museveni also met with President Bush at the White House. Coke director Kathleen Black is a principle in the Hearst media empire, while Coke directors Warren Buffet and Barry Diller are directors of the Washington Post Company, and these are the media institutions that whitewash client regimes, corporate plunder and Pentagon actions. Of course, Coca Cola covets the gum Arabic potential of Darfur, and Coke is a client of Andrew Young’s PR firm Goodworks International. Uganda’s image is sanitized by one of the world’s largest PR firms, London’s Hill & Knowlton. In 2005 Uganda spent some $700,000 on a Hill & Knowlton contract to facilitate and “encourage dialogue between the Ugandan government and people like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, Oxfam.”

susan rice, of course, is barack obama’s representative to the united nations. so you can imagine how more cover ups and covert–perhaps overt–killing will continue with the help of the u.s. in africa. snow has much more to say about american complicity in rwanda and fabricating that narrative, too, as well as covert operations continuing in somalia and in ethiopia where the u.s. is also complicit in genocide that no one talks about in the u.s., though snow does:

The Ogaden, Oromo and Anuak regions of Ethiopia have seen massive military occupation and state repression. The Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi has perpetrated mass starvation and scorched earth policy in the region. There has been very little international media coverage and most is favorable the Zenawi regime or pressing the upside-down stories about “relief” and “starvation” that serve the Western “humanitarian” business sector. The Ogaden basin is a bloodbath today. Applying the same legal standards as in Darfur, all three Ethiopian regions qualify as ongoing genocides against indigenous people. Failure to apply the genocide standards constitutes genocide denial.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1778 (2007) on 25 September 2007 established the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). According to the U.N.’s October 2007 Expression Of Interest, “[i]n it’s Presidential Statement of 30 April 2007, the Security Council requested the Secretary General to ‘immediately begin appropriate contingency planning for a United Nations mission to Somalia’. At this early stage it is planned to have a U.N. logistics base at Mombassa, Kenya to support the main supply line from Mombassa to Kismayo, Mogadishu and Hobyo, which will serve as secondary logistics bases in Somalia. At this early stage the number and location of these sites is unknown, but it is envisaged that approximately 24,000 personnel may be required.”

Ethiopia’s war in Somalia has taxed the government drawing widespread criticism. The U.S. is pressing for an African Union mission as a proxy force to replace the Ethiopian troops and further U.S. interests. Mombasa, Kenya is a U.S. military port. The U.S. war in Somalia is ongoing. More than 100 U.S. military “trainers” supervised “combat training” of two Burundian “African Union” battalions (1700 troops) in Bujumbura, Burundi, in advance of their deployment in Somalia expected in November 2007. French military also provided training, while the U.S. and France both are providing logistical and telecommunications support. Burundian troops are also in Darfur. On November 28, 2004, the Bush White House issued a document announcing a cooperative agreement with Burundi, Guyana and Liberia preventing the International Criminal Court from proceeding against U.S. personnel operating in these countries.

In March 2007 the Pentagon deployed an additional 150 SOCOM Forces in Uganda. The troops were part of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn-of-Africa, an “anti-terrorist naval force” deployed around the Horn of Africa with support points in Bahrain and Djibouti. Ugandan sources divulged that the SOCOM troops would be dispersed “around the country” to “support UPDF troops” and “provide support to distribute humanitarian aid.” It was openly reported that the SOCOM are “possibly training the South Sudanese army, which has just signed an agreement for this with its Ugandan counterpart, strengthening Ugandan capacity to fight terrorism.” The U.S. military has also modernized the old Entebbe airport for UPDF operations, and the Entebbe airport supports a small but permanent U.S. military contingent.

It is believed that U.S. SOCOM troops are operating in blood-drenched Eastern Congo. Ugandan opposition sources have reported that SOCOM forces in UPDF uniforms have joined the more than 2000 Pentagon-trained UPDF forces sent by Museveni to Somalia. The UPDF troops operating in Somalia behind a “peacekeeping” propaganda front have been accused of widespread atrocities. More than 1000 people die daily in Eastern Congo where fighting since 1996 has claimed at least 7 million lives. The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen multiple genocide campaigns, and multiple genocide denials are ongoing.

SOCOM forces have been openly reported in Niger, where operations are billed as “humanitarian” and “human rights” training of Nigerien troops. But the insurgency and “rebellion” by the Tuareg and Toubou nomads has always been about uranium and depopulation: Canadian and Chinese companies have recently gotten involved but Esso (Exxon), Japan and French corporations were exploiting the Agadez and Air regions in the 1970’s and 1980’s (at least), dumping radioactive sickness and social devastation on another indigenous population. Niger is the poorest country in the world. Yet another genocide?

Exxon, Elf and Hunt Oil are in Niger for oil. Barrick Gold is also in Niger, and in Guniea, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mali; through their partnership with Anglo-Ashanti, Barrick is responsible for atrocities and plunder in eastern Congo. Directors of the G.H.W. Bush-connected Barrick Gold include former U.S. Senator Howard Baker (R-TN), whose wife, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, has been an outspoken advocate for immediate action on Darfur.

“I was in the Senate at the time of Rwanda,” said Kassebaum Baker at a speech in 2006 where discussed Darfur. Kassebaum Baker served as chairwoman of the Foreign Relation Committee’s Subcommittee on African Affairs. “We were all aghast at what was taking place there [Rwanda], but I must say no one really knew what to do about it,” Kassebaum Baker said.

The Bakers are on the advisory board for the nationalist think-tank Partnership for a Secure America—another policy-formulating-perception-management-force behind the “Save Darfur” movement—along with a stellar cast of corporate executives involved in war and plunder in Africa. Most notable of these are Frank G. Wisner, Richard Holbroke, Anthony Lake, Thomas Pickering, Carla Hills and Sam Nunn. Wisner was also on the National Security Council under Clinton, along with the International Crisis Group (ICG) Special Advisor and ENOUGH co-chair John Prendergast. Wisner’s co-directors of the American International Group include: Marshall Cohen, a director of the Bush-connected Barrick Gold Corporation; Clinton Cabinet members William Cohen and Richard Holbrooke; and Carla Hills, NAFTA negotiator and director of Chevron-Texaco and the ICG. Partnership for a Secure America advisory board members Zbigniew Brzezinski, Pickering, Hills, and Kassebaum Baker are all on the Board of Trustees for the ICG—International Crisis Group—the leading flak organization pressing the “Save Darfur” and Lord’s Resistance Army (Uganda) narratives.

George Soros founded the International Crisis Group in 1995 and serves on the ICG executive committee, another who’s who of establishment people entrenched in the production of militant establishment narratives and structural violence. The Crisis Group think-tank is funded by Soros’ philanthropy think-tank the Open Society Institute, and it pushes the rhetoric of “peace” and “democracy” through hegemonic policy instruments advocating direct “humanitarian” [read: military] intervention. The Crisis Group executives have numerous interlocking ties with the International Rescue Committee, a Kissinger-connected flak organization. Other Crisis Group executives include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Wesley K. Clark, who led the NATO deconstructive bombing of Yugoslavia, and Joanne Leedom-Ackerman—a director of Human Rights Watch.

George Soros is also an emeritus director of Refugees International, another “humanitarian” NGO behind the massive suffering in Africa. Other Refugees International directors emeritus include Judy Mayotte, an executive boardmember of the International Rescue Committee, Frank G. Wisner, and Richard Holbrooke. The current president of Refugees International is Kenneth H. Bacon, who, prior to his appointment in 2001, had worked for seven years as assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S Department of Defense. Beyond the global presence of RI in hot spots like Afghanistan and Iraq are their permanent missions in Somalia, Central Africa Republic, Rwanda, Uganda, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Chad, South Sudan and Darfur. Refugees International profited from the RPF/A forced exodus of refugees from Rwanda in 1994, and their involvement in the international war crimes behind the destruction of the Hutu refugee camps in Eastern Zaire, shelled by the RPF/A in 1996 as the U.S. opened its war there, or the subsequent genocidal massacres of Hutus, have never been investigated.

Refugees International joined the Save Darfur Coalition in April to rally against the genocide in Darfur. According to the RI Annual report for 2006, “[o]ur supporters joined the tens of thousands of human rights activists, movie stars, athletes and politicians who converged on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, to show the world that we will not stand idly by while genocide unfolds.”

and, yet, of course not only do americans stand by while massacres and genocide happens, they help to make it happen. again and again and again. oftentimes this is the work of usaid (why, despite offers i sometimes receive, i have always refused to work with any project or to profit in any way from groups or organizations receiving usaid funds). this is also part of the un-reported context of bashir throwing out international ngos for their collaboration with the icc. of course wherever u.s. supports genocide and massacres it’s “old friend” the terrorist state of israel cannot be far behind as snow explains:

Darfur is another epicenter of the modern-day international geopolitical scramble for Africa’s resources. Conflict in Darfur escalated in 2003 in parallel with negotiations “ending” the south Sudan war. The U.S.-backed insurgency by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the guerilla force that fought the northern Khartoum government for 20 years, shifted to Darfur, even as the G.W. Bush government allied with Khartoum in the U.S. led “War on Terrorism.” The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)—one of some twenty-seven rebel factions mushrooming in Darfur—is allied with the SPLA and supported from Uganda. Andrew Natsios, former USAID chief and now U.S. envoy to Sudan, said on October 6, 2007 that the atmosphere between the governments of north and south Sudan “had become poisonous.” This is no surprise given the magnitude of the resource war in Sudan and the involvement of international interests, but the investigation should center on the involvement and activities of USAID officials Andrew Natsios, Roger Winter and Jendayi Frazer.

Roger Winter, USAID chief in Khartoum today, is directly linked to the Rwandan Patriotic Front/Army and U.S. military campaign that destabilized Rwanda and decapitated the leadership of Rwanda and Burundi. USAID’s affiliations with the Department of Defense are now openly advertised with the propaganda peddling AFRICOM—the Pentagon’s new Africa Command. AFRICOM combines U.S. CENTCOM, PACIFICOM and EUCOM operations in Africa; it is nothing new, merely the consolidation and expansion of widespread and ongoing involvement.

Darfur is reported to have the fourth largest copper and third largest uranium deposits in the world. Darfur produces two-thirds of the world’s best quality gum Arabic—a major ingredient in Coke and Pepsi. Contiguous petroleum reserves are driving warfare from the Red Sea, through Darfur, to the Great Lakes of Central Africa. Private military companies operate alongside petroleum contractors and “humanitarian” agencies. Sudan is China’s fourth biggest supplier of imported oil, and U.S. companies controlling the pipelines in Chad and Uganda seek to displace China through the U.S. military alliance with “frontline” states hostile to Sudan: Uganda, Chad and Ethiopia.

There are claims in the Arab community that Israel provides military training to Darfur rebels from bases in Eritrea, but insiders in Eritrea dispute this. However, Israel has a deep history of intelligence and military relations with both Eritrea and Ethiopia, and Israel reportedly has a naval and air base on Eritrea’s Dahlak and Fatma islands, from which German-made Dolphin-class submarines patrol the Red Sea with long-range nuclear cruise missiles. Eritrea reportedly serves as Israel’s outpost for spying on enemies Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan.

Africa Research Bulletin in 1998 reported that Israel had military bases in Eritrea on the Dahlak islands and in the Mahal Agar Mountains near Sudan. They also reported a communications listening station and that Mossad, the Israeli secret service, “is operating a string of previously top secret outposts in the Horn of Africa” used to monitor hostile states and service Israeli submarines operating in the area.

One source in Eritrea claims that reports about Dahlak Island and Israeli training bases are “old, dried-up bulls*&^. No foreign bases in Eritrea, not now, not ever, especially Israel. We have normal relations with Israel, but even trade matters have decreased dramatically. The charges of a base in Dahlak are old, going back over ten years. There are remnants of an old U.S., then Soviet base in Dahlak, but Dahlak these days is a marine preserve.

An intelligence insider in Washington D.C. reports that a journalist who wrote an article for Vanity Fair on the Israeli subs with nuclear cruise missiles had confirmed the base in Dahlak; the journalist wrote Jane’s Intelligence Weekly, “so he had good sources.” The source reports that Vanity Fair killed the story so as to not upset its Jewish advertisers, Bergdorf, Goodman and Saks.

In May 2003, the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) hosted an Eritrean delegation aboard the CJTF-HOA amphibious Joint Command ship the U.S.S. Mount Whitney. The Eritrean delegation included President Asaias Afwerki, Minister of Defense, Gen. Sebhat Ephraim, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ali Said Abdell, top commanders of Eritrean ground, naval and air forces and commanders of operational zones from across the country. The CJTF-HOA’s Major General John F. Sattler and Isaias Afwerki initially met in Asmara in early January of this year, following previous visits to Eritrea by the commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks in March 2002 and U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld in December 2002. The following day, Maj. Gen. Sattler and members of the CJTF-HOA staff were hosted ashore by General Sebhat Ephraim for visits to Massawa Naval Base and Dahlak Island, as well tours of Beka and Hawakil islands.

Israel has strengthened ties with the regime in Chad, from which more weapons and troops penetrate Darfur. The refugee camps have become increasingly militarized. There are reports that Israeli and U.S. military and intelligence operate from within refugee camps in Darfur. Israel is all over the Sahara, from Burkina Faso to Ethiopia and Uganda. Israel’s clandestine actions are partly funded by Israeli-American diamond magnates involved in Angola, Sierra Leone, C.A.R. and Congo, especially Dan Gertler (G.W. Bush’s unofficial Ambassador to Congo), Beny Steinmetz, Nir Livnat, Lev Leviev and Maurice Tempelsman.

African Union (A.U.) forces in Darfur include Nigerian and Rwandan troops responsible for atrocities in their own countries. Ethiopia has committed 5000 troops for a U.N. force in Darfur. A.U. troops receive military-logistic support from NATO, and are widely hated. Early in October 2007, SLA rebels attacked an A.U. base killing ten troops. In a subsequent editorial sympathetic to rebel factions Smith College English professor Eric Reeves espoused the tired rhetoric of “Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency war in Darfur,” a position counterproductive to any peaceful settlement. To minimize the damage this rebel attack has done to their credibility Reeves and other “Save Darfur” advocates cast doubt about the rebels’ identities and mischaracterized the SLA attackers as “rogue commanders.” However, there is near unanimous agreement, internationally, that rebels are “out of control,” committing widespread rape and plundering with impunity, just as the SPLA did in South Sudan for over a decade.

Debunking the claims of a “genocide against blacks” or an “Islamic holy-war” against Christians, Darfur’s Arab and black African tribes have intermarried for centuries, and nearly everyone is Muslim. The “Save Darfur” campaign is deeply aligned with Jewish and Christian faith-based organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel. These groups have relentlessly campaigned for Western military action, demonizing both Sudan and China, but they have never addressed Western military involvement—backing factions on all sides.

Christian and Jewish involvement in the “Save Darfur” campaign centers on a long-running but deeply manipulative narrative about slavery and genocide in South Sudan. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum furthered the establishment narrative about Darfur in keeping with the genocide theme; no one ever examines the interests behind the Holocaust Memorial Museum (e.g. Bob Dole), it is merely some apolitical institution with the championing of supposed “universal” human rights of all people everywhere as its raison d’etre. The new political and propaganda doctrine that uses “genocide” as a political tool is morally ambiguous, it attacks the crimes of some and passes over the crimes of others. It uses as its universal principle the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its complementary covenants and proclamations. On the one hand, however, this involves genocide inflation, and on the other hand genocide denial. But the USA—with good Christian and Jewish foot soldiers—is always the final arbitrator: global cop, judge, jury, executioner, surgeon and savior all in one.

Christian organizations involved in Sudan for years include Servant’s Heart and Christian Solidarity International. On Servant’s Heart’s “Board of Reference” is British Baroness Caroline Cox, who is also closely affiliated with Christian Solidarity International (CSI)—one of the main Christian allies of the SPLM/A war in southern Sudan. The propaganda system advocates in favor of the “rebels” in Darfur using a handful of techniques developed in their propaganda campaign behind the “rebels” in South Sudan. Rebels are supported partly by never mentioning them, partly by decrying abuses against them, partly by providing sympathetic one-sided accounts of Khartoum government attacks, and partly by defending their excesses if and when—infrequently—the rebel abuses come to light.

Christian Solidarity International (CSI) in 2006 issued press releases claiming that the Lebanese organization Hezbollah “is using Christian villages to shield its military operations in violation of international law.” These reports appear to be fabrications to begin with and the CSI accusation a projection of their own involvement with the SPLA in South Sudan, where the SPLA for over a decade used the civilian population as human shields, used the Western AID apparatus (Operation Lifeline Sudan) as cover for military support, and used food as a weapon. If Hezbollah did this during the recent U.S.-Israeli invasion they [Hezbollah] certainly learned it by studying SPLA (CSI) tactics in Sudan. Thus we have twisted triple-standards where the establishment propaganda accuses Hezbollah of violating international law, but the SPLM/A—and the “rebel” groups in Darfur—while doing exactly the same thing, are never anything but poor, defenseless Christians under attack in a “genocidal counter-insurgency” run out of Khartoum government.

Who are the rebels in Darfur? Where do they get new uniforms and modern weapons? With the establishment propaganda on Rwanda and the invading Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army from 1990-1994, all abuses were covered up, the government of Juvenal Habyarimana was blamed for everything, and the “rebels”—backed by Washington, partnered with the Pentagon—were never exposed for atrocities and scorched earth attacks. It was the same with the establishment propaganda that covered for the SPLA: their role in committing and provoking atrocities in South Sudan from 1983 to 2003 has been greatly misrepresented and mischaracterized by virtually every popular source cited in the western press. No one has pressed this line more than Dr. Eric Reeves, the Smith College English professor and most widely cited “expert” behind the establishment narrative to “Save Darfur.”

There is growing dissent within the “Save Darfur” movement as more supporters question its motivations and the Jewish/Israeli link. “Save Darfur” leaders have been replaced after complaints surfaced about expenditures of funds. Many rebel leaders reportedly receive tens of thousands of dollars monthly, and rebels emboldened by the “Save Darfur” movement commit crimes with impunity. There is a growing demand to probe the accounts of “Save Darfur” to find out how the tens of millions collected are being spent due to allegations of arms-deals and bribery—rebel leaders provided with five-star hotel accommodations, prostitutes and sex parties.

all of the above, and what snow sums up below, is what he calls “darfurism”:

It is clear that the violence is Africa’s hotspots has “spiraled out of control” by design: chaos and destabilization are provoked by international actors, intelligence operatives, SOCOM forces and PMCs, who then leverage the “need” for further Private Military Corporate involvement. These agents operate with zero accountability and zero transparency. Diplomats, state department officials, United Nations functionaries and their highly paid lackeys stand around wringing their hands declaring: “What is to be done?” With PMCs pressing to secure $100-200 million contracts to “support” MONUC, it is no wonder that Africa is engulfed massive white-on-black terrorism, the spectre of continental genocide.

“Save Darfur” is today the rallying cry for a broad coalition of special interests. Advocacy groups—from the local Massachusetts Congregation B’Nai Israel chapter to the International Crises Group and USAID—have fueled the conflict through a relentless, but selective, public relations campaign that disingenuously serves a narrow policy agenda. These interests offer no opportunity for corrective analyses, but stubbornly press their agenda, and they are widely criticized for inflaming tensions in Darfur. This is what we might call Darfurism.

The latest Lockheed Martin contract with the United Nations illustrates the latest stage in the transformation of international conflict whereby military-industrial giants are openly engaged, rather than clandestinely, as has been previously the case. This development parallels the rise of Darfurism— a mass movement in the West designed to channel popular sympathy and agitate people to act on a cause they know nothing about, but think they do. Darfurism is a pathological mix of fear, patriotism, social immaturity, opportunism and unconsciousness akin to fascism. Under the current climate of apathy, fear and public opinion, anything goes, and warfare involves humanitarian agencies as active players in the mix. Like the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum they are seen as neutral, described as apolitical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The United Nations and African Union serve as pseudo-privatized military forces backing a hegemonic, corporate, political and economic agenda. Someone who produces both the danger and, at a price, the shield against it is a racketeer. The future has arrived, and it uses human rights institutions, the label of genocide and accusations of atrocities, and the ever-expanding international AID and charity industry—operating out of pure profit motives—as pivotal elements in the Western portfolio of soft and hard weapons used to further the prerogatives of Empire and clear the land for absolute corporate exploitation.

all of the above is to say that whether we are looking at iraq, afghanistan, palestine, lebanon, the congo, somalia, sudan, ethiopia, rwanda, etc. the common thread that unites them all is the terrorism of the united states and often its partner-in-crime the terrorist state of israel. if we really want to get at the root of any of these problems and really look to an international criminal court to try and prosecute the war criminals we need look no further than these two terrorist regimes (and i would include the obama administration; clearly if you look to the names of americans above, the same people are continuing the same work). you can see the genocidal work of several different american administrations in the quotations from snow above. this is not a democrat or republican crime. it is an american crime.

of course there are many people talking about the hypocrisy of trying bashir and not george bush and dick cheney. of course all americans are complicit in the obvious war crimes in afghanistan and iraq–not to mention the related american infrastructure in its secret cia prisons around the world–its prison on baghram airforce base, guantanamo, abu ghraib, and all of its crimes within its borders. but as snow makes it clear america’s crimes are far more global than that. they have so much blood on their hands i don’t think all the water in the world could wash it away. and yet complicit in these war crimes, including all of congress, senator patrick leahy is supposedly conducting what he calls a “truth” commission, which will be anything but that. because to really get at the truth we would need to arrest and try all of the american officials responsible for these war crimes that they commit around the world. leahy would likely be one of the numerous americans included as all of congress–sans perhaps one or two members–are responsible. thus, it would seem to absolve themselves, and make it appear like they have a democracy that examines their own crimes they are holding a “commission” of some sort that will get the “truth” out (not!) and, of course, regardless of what comes out, no one will be held responsible. here is what leahy said in the huffington post:

But there’s still more we don’t know, and more we must uncover, about the misdeeds of the past eight years.

That is why I proposed the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate abuses during the Bush-Cheney administration. These abuses may include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws.

I have set up a petition at BushTruthCommission.com, and I hope you will sign it to urge Congress to consider establishing a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the Bush-Cheney administration’s abuses. We already have over 7,000 signatures, but we need to hit 10,000 signatures — or more — by next week, to build momentum behind this idea.

to get a sense of these war crimes–and they way they are already being continued by the obama administration–you need look no further than to the always brilliant jeremy scahill who was on democracy now! this week discussing obama’s so-called troop withdrawal from iraq. as with the situation in africa, american military and corporate interests always reign supreme regardless of who is in power:

Well, see, one of the issues I have here is, going back to this issue of what if the wrong people win an election, the Iraqi people have a right to choose leaders that are hostile to the United States, that are hostile to US corporate aims in the Middle East, more broadly, and in Iraq, specifically. And I think that US history has shown that when the wrong people win elections, the US will intervene militarily, overtly, covertly, behind-the-scenes, in front of the world public. And I think that the fact that Thomas Ricks, one of the most well-informed journalists covering this war, has indicated that it’s very likely that a leader will emerge in Iraq that is hostile to US interests, that is close to Tehran and is not going to be someone that’s perceived by the United States to be a friend—so the fact is that the Maliki government could be substantially weakened by indigenous forces within Iraq, and the Obama administration could step in and say, “We’re going to defend this flailing regime.”

What I found very disturbing about Obama’s speech, among other things, was the fact that he officially co-signed Bush’s major lies on Iraq. When he talked about the mission of US troops in Iraq, he said, “I want to be very clear: We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime, and you got the job done.” I’m sorry, Mr. Obama, the troops were sent to Iraq on the lie of weapons of mass destruction. And he co-signed that Bush administration lie.

He also said, “We will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life. That is your achievement,” he said to the US troops. “That is the prospect that you have made possible.” Again, no, not a better life. We’re talking about upwards of a million Iraqis that have been killed, their lives decimated, 20 percent of the country either in need of desperate medical attention, internally displaced, another 20 percent living outside of the country. And this has been an utter mess. And he talks about a better future. Iraq has never been in more shambles than it has been over the course of the US military occupation.

scahill continues on the theme of the democratic party being just as problematic and criminal as their republican counterparts:

Right. Well, first of all, yeah, you look at Obama’s top allies, it’s people like John McCain, it’s people like Mitch McConnell, who praised Obama for implementing the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy at the end. And, I mean, some of this is partisan politics. And, please, the Republicans have no credibility on this. I mean, if we can be critical of Barack Obama, I mean, the Republicans are just merciless criminals when it comes to, you know, US policy in Iraq and toward the world, more broadly.

But the fact that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer all acted like astonished that there’s going to be 35,000 to 50,000 troops in a residual capacity in Iraq and were criticizing this, I mean, this is a classic example of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party when it comes to foreign policy and what’s been wrong with this party for a long time. And that is that when it actually mattered, when Pelosi or Reid could have said to candidate Obama, “Back off that residual force,” as many activists were calling for, they were deafeningly silent. We were at the Democratic convention, Amy, walking around, trying to find anyone to criticize that aspect of the Obama policy, and not even antiwar Democrats, who were firmly against the war from the beginning, would dissent from the policy positions of the dear leader. This is cult activity, when you refuse to go after someone to try to criticize their policies when it matters and then later act like you’ve been hoodwinked. They knew exactly what was going on.

moreover, scahill shares with us not only the problem of keeping the american embassy in place, as it is every bit as much of the problem as the soldiers who are occupying iraq, but also that it was built with what he identifies as slave labor:

JEREMY SCAHILL: Can I say something about what—about this issue first? I mean, on the issue of the US embassy, I think that the Obama administration should turn it over to the Iraqi people and let them decide what they want to use that massive city within their city for. And the fact is that—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about like a four mile square area in downtown Baghdad.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I mean, you’re talking—yeah, you’re talking about a small city unto itself that’s going to have 1,200 employees and hundreds of CIA operatives, was the initial plan for it. And all these people are going to necessitate deadly and lethal security. So that would be a real message of change to send to the Iraqi people, to say this was an embassy built on slave labor as part of an illegal occupation of your country—

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you say “slave labor”?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Because there were people that were brought in. It was essentially indentured servitude. There were people that were brought in from other countries that worked on the construction of that project, much like Africans abducted from the African continent and brought here as slaves, they and their descendants were building the White House in this country. Here we are, years later, with the US government having the embassy built largely on labor that was forced labor or dramatically underpaid labor by people that were essentially forced by their economic conditions or by being taken into the country under false pretenses to participate in the construction of that embassy. And this is the subject of a major congressional investigation that I don’t know is going to go anywhere now that Obama is in the White House.

But on the issue of the contractors, I mean, what you asked Obama about a year ago is very, very important, because Obama said in his answer to you that he didn’t want to draw down contractors at a faster rate than he drew down US troops. So, even when Obama is talking about 50,000 troops remaining in the country, presumably that would mean 50,000 contractors to support them. So we’re always talking about deflated numbers when we hear them come out of the mouths of administration officials.

perhaps all of this can put the claims made by the terrorist states of the u.s. and israel into context in a way that can show how outrageous claims made against iran are. consider this statement about hillary clinton from the left i on the news blog:

Hillary Clinton, projecting:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton swiped hard at Iran on Wednesday, accusing its hardline leaders of fomenting divisions in the Arab world, promoting terrorism, posing threats to Israel and Europe, and seeking to “intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach.”

Right. The U.S. is trying to get the entire world lined up behind an economic blockade of Iran, repeatedly threatens Iran with “all actions being on the table,” and they’re the ones trying to “intimidate” others? This is beyond parody.

or how about this quip from left i on another recent ironic hillary statement:

In yet another example of the pot calling the Corning Ware black, Hillary Clinton has accused Iran of “interference” in Palestine. Was she claiming that Iran was arming Hamas? No. Was she even talking about the 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid that Iran has attempted to send to Gaza, only to be turned back by Egypt? No again. No, her idea of “clear interference in the internal affairs of the Palestinian people” was a speech by Ayatollah Khamenei in which he warned that compromising with Israel was a mistake. And what radical solution was he advocating? Armed uprising? External invasion by the Arab masses? No, he “called for holding a referendum by Jews, Christian and Muslims in Palestine to determine the future of the country.” Calling for a democratic election! How dare he interfere in that way!

The U.S. which is busy upping the arms it sends to Fatah to help them suppress Hamas, actively participates in and supports the blockade of Gaza and the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, supplies three billion worth of military and other aid to Israel every year to subjugate the Palestinian people, runs diplomatic interference for Israel in the U.N. while it tries to wipe Hamas from the map, and will not even condemn Israel’s ban on the shipment of 90 tons of pasta to Gaza and will not even agree publicly that macaroni is not a “dual-use” item (!), that is not the kind of “interference” in Palestinian affairs Clinton had in mind.

these are some of the many reasons why some palestinians are acting in solidarity with sudan. here the hypocrisy and complicity is so painfully obvious. to the rest of the world it will get termed terrorism because of who controls the narrative and the media. here is what haneyya had to say about it:

The Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya on Wednesday strongly denounced the international criminal court for issuing an arrest warrant against Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, saying that this decision is politicized par excellence ignoring the real war criminals in the world.

Spokesman for the government Taher Al-Nunu said in a press statement received by the PIC that the justice of the international community reflects the American will and ignores the real war criminals in Israel who committed atrocities against the Palestinian people.

apparently hamas is now sending a delegation to sudan to support bashir. what is really needed, however, is some serious analysis of these interconnections, of these conflicts, of mass killings, of genocide and massacre to see the corporate and state interests involved–all neocolonial and colonial in their nature. and this is what needs to be prosecute. this is the root of the problem and without that we will only ever have the same scenario again and again by the same european/american/israeli state terrorism and continuing colonialism around the world.

hillary thinks colonization & ethnic cleansing is “unhelpful”

so says hillary clinton. here is exactly what she said (with my interjections in bold in between paragraphs):

The United States supports the Palestinian Authority as the only legitimate government of the Palestinian people. As a partner on the road to a comprehensive peace, which includes a two-state solution, our support comes with more than words. As I pledged in Sharm el-Sheikh, we will work with President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, and the government of the Palestinian Authority to address critical humanitarian, budgetary, security, and infrastructure needs, both in Gaza and in the West Bank.

um, okay, i don’t know how many times this needs to be said, but the democratically-elected government in palestine is not fatah, it is hamas. and because of you and your government, hillary, and its work over the years, with your israeli terrorist friends, to use the old-fashioned divide and conquer scheme, there is a huge rift between fatah and hamas. moreover, your pressure on fatah has made those in power in the pa do the dirty work of the americans and israeli terrorists. their work does nothing but censor dissent, imprison those who dissent.

As I said in Sharm el-Sheikh, a child growing up in Gaza without shelter, healthcare or an education, has the same right to go to school, see a doctor, and live with a roof over her head as a child growing up in any country. That a mother and a father here in the West Bank, struggling to fulfill their dreams for their children, have the same right as parents anywhere else to have a good job, a decent home, and the tools to achieve greater prosperity.

really, hillary? so what of the american-made weapons that israeli terrorists used to bomb over 200 schools–including the american international school–in gaza? and the unrwa schools, including those where palestinians made refugees yet again sought shelter: those were bombed too with weapons from your regime. do they have these rights, too? no, of course, not. because if they did, or if you thought they did, for one thing you’d be in gaza. you’d see this destruction you helped to create in gaza.

The United States aims to foster conditions in which a Palestinian state can be fully realized, a state that can provide these opportunities, a state that is a responsible partner, is at peace with Israel and its Arab neighbors, and is accountable to its people. That is the state that this government is attempting to build.

I met with Prime Minister Fayyad this morning and I expressed to him the appreciation we had for his presentation at Sharm el-Sheikh, which outlined the specific needs of the people in Gaza. I also believe that it is imperative we continue to do the reform work that the president is leading in order to bolster the credibility of the government and to serve the needs of the people.

ah, ok, i see you’re lying again. as with the report i posted the other day. not one damn dime of the $900 million you pledged is going to gaza. it’s all going to your corrupt collaborator friends in ramallah. and, a reminder, hillary: abbas has not been president since january 9th. i know, as an american, you enjoy bolstering puppet leaders and controlling governments around the world to aid your dirty work, but he is not the president. moreover, the people of palestine do not want a west bank state. the people of palestine, whether they are here, or refugees around the world, want the right of return to their homes. this is what they want and what is their right and what they deserve. not this busywork you want to help with–constantly giving money to the pa to build this and that and then giving more military aid to the israeli terrorists to destroy it. this is not a state. and there cannot be a true state under colonialism. and all that you do with your israeli terrorist friends is to create more colonial impediments to prevent palestinians from ever having a state.

I’m very grateful that President Abbas has remained firm in his commitment to move forward on a comprehensive peace and a two-state solution. President Abbas is offering the Palestinian people the chance, finally, to fulfill the aspirations to be free, independent, prosperous, and peaceful, flourishing in a state of your own. And the only way to achieve that goal is through negotiations. All who believe in this comprehensive peace, we urge you to work with the Palestinian Authority and with us, because we are determined to move forward.

Time is of the essence. We cannot afford more delays or regrets about what might have been had different decisions been made in the past. The Obama Administration will be vigorously engaged in efforts to forge a lasting peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and all of the Arab neighbors. I will remain personally engaged. As I said in Sharm el-Sheikh, this is a commitment that I carry in my heart, not just in my portfolio as Secretary of State….

the “peace process” which you refer to, what those of us who live her know and refer to as the “war process,” is made possible by american and israeli terrorist endless “negotiations.” what do negotiations mean for palestinians? more broken promises, more facts on the ground, more land confiscation, more political prisoners, more checkpoints, and more repression. and as for what is in your heart, i don’t think that you have one. you who refuses to go to gaza. you who continue to create problems for palestinians as you have since your husband was president. you who support terrorism here against palestinians and all over the world against people from the congo to iraq to afghanistan. such a person has no heart. period.

MR. WOOD: The next question is Glenn Kessler from The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Yes. Madame Secretary, Israel last week approved the demolition of 88 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and, as you arrived, another 55 homes were slated for demolition, the largest number in one area since 1967. Will you, as James Baker did in 1991, urge a halt to such unilateral actions?

And President Abbas, what do you think of these demolitions, and has the U.S. been too silent on this issue?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Glenn, clearly, this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the roadmap. It is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the Government at the municipal level in Jerusalem, because it is clearly a matter of deep concern to those who are directly affected.

But the ramifications go far beyond the individuals and the families that have received the notices you referenced. Yes, this will be taken up with the Israeli government.

ah, yes, here is the quote: that illegal, colonial, settlements that continue unabated as they have for over 61 years, really over 122 years, are, as you say, “unhelpful.” what is really “unhelpful” is the united states. in general. in every way. even when the u.s. pretends to “help,” it is always to further its own interests, always involving murder, massacre, repression, torture. the u.s., a country, which has never done anything to protect or further the best interests of palestinians. because if you wanted to be helpful you would sanction the israeli terrorist regime. you would stop giving them money, weapons. you would demand that palestinians have the right of return. short of that you have never helped and do not help. ever.

todd baer gives some context to clinton’s first trip to palestine, which at the time included a trip to gaza on al jazeera today:

i also find it interesting that none of the reports on hillary’s visit to ramallah today said nothing of the fact that at the precise time she was meeting with abbas and co. that israeli terrorists were busy bombing rafah with american f-16s and bombs (and, in fact, we heard those planes overhead in nablus and i am sure she could hear them in ramallah as well) as ma’an news reported:

Israeli warplanes on Wednesday morning bombed the tunnel area at the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry Muawiya Hassanein told Ma’an that there were no casualties amongst Palestinian citizens.

Meanwhile, Palestinian medical sources at Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah said 12 Palestinians were injured in Tuesday’s shelling of the same tunnel area.

and those children that hillary claims to care so much about–what of those who are murdered by israeli terrorists with u.s. tax dollars? or the men and women who are murdered? maram isid & ghassan bannoura for imemc news report on last month’s casualties of israeli terrorism with american weapons:

The International Relations Department of the Palestinian Liberation Organization issued on Wednesday a report documenting the Israeli military attacks on Palestinians during the month of February 2009.

The report shows that 17 Palestinian including 4 children were killed last month by the Israeli military fire in the West Bank and Gaza.

In addition there was 320 Palestinian who have been kidnapped by the Israeli troops and 8 Palestinian-owned homes demolished by the Israeli Authorities in Jerusalem, the PLO reported.

The report also shows that the Israeli army continued to siege the Gaza strip for the 19th month by the end of February; moreover the report documented a number of cases where the army did not allow patients to leave Gaza for treatment outside bringing the number of those who died due to the siege to 300 patients.

and back to hillary’s idea about what is “unhelpful” with israeli colonialism and ethnic cleansing…here is some context from rory mccarthy in the guardian on those “unhelpful” colonies in al quds:

On Monday, the Israeli group Peace Now reported that the Israeli housing ministry was planning to build at least 73,000 housing units in West Bank settlements.

The organisation said 15,000 units had already been approved and another 58,000 were awaiting approval.

Almost 500,000 settlers now live in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. All settlements are illegal under international law.

jer-builtup

hillary likes to talk about rights. but she rarely does so with respect to international law and on the few occasions when she does, those rights are always for the white folks, the rich folks, the people of the global north. certainly never for palestinians. i’ve written about the new ethnic cleansing in silwan in al quds before, but there is some important context in international law that the project for monitoring israeli colonization activities posted a report that gives insight to al bustan and silwan, but also to the legal aspects, which of course, hillary chose not to speak about when she opted instead to say merely that they are “unhelpful”:

House demolition in light of human rights, international covenants and treaties

Adequate housing is one of the basic needs and rights of each person, where ‘the right to adequate housing is the right of every woman, man and child to a place to live in security and dignity.'[6] In the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel as an occupier should abide by the international human rights treaties to which it is a state party including: The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,. As an occupier Israel should also abide by the international humanitarian law including: The Hague Regulations and the Forth Geneva Convention. The demolition of houses in Al Bustan neighborhood would be a stark violation of these rights and covenants. Israel should be held accountable for its acts in occupied East Jerusalem and the other Palestinian Territory; should comply with the international legitimacy, laws treaties and United Nations’ resolutions; and Israel’s long time apathy of the international community’s wills must come to an end.

Following is a synopsis of Articles within these covenants, conventions and laws that address the issue of house demolitions and forced evictions under these articles:

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Article 11 (1): ‘The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions’.

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)

Article 5: ‘States’ Parties undertake to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in all of its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: … (e) in particular … (iii) the right to housing’.

Universal declaration of human rights, Article 17:

1. ‘Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.’
2. ‘No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.’

Article 25:

1. ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’

The Fourth Geneva Convention

Article 53: ‘Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.’

Article 47: ‘Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territory and the Occupying power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.’

Article 147: ‘Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts … extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.’

Hague Regulations 1907

Section II Article 23: ‘it is especially forbidden- to destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.’

Section III Article 46: ‘Family honor and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated.’

Agenda 21 (UNCED, 1992)

Chapter 7.6 : ‘Access to safe and healthy shelter is essential to a person’s physical, psychological, social and economic well-being and should be a fundamental part of national and international action. The right to adequate housing as a basic human right is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Despite this, it is estimated that at the present time, at least one billion people do not have access to safe and healthy shelter and that if appropriate action is not taken, this number will increase dramatically by the end of the century and beyond.’

‘People should be protected by law against unfair eviction from their homes or land’.

all of the above is in relation to the ethnic cleansing and colonization project in the silwan and al bustan areas of al quds, and indeed can be applied to all of historic palestine. here is a report on sky news from dominic waghorn on the forced removal of palestinians from their homes:

there are palestinians in al quds who have set up protest camps where hundreds of people are staging a sit-in every day, all day, around the clock. my friend wassef, from al quds, came up to nablus today for work and we went out to lunch. he has been going to the protest at the tents and told me about it. he says that everyone is too afraid of resisting this in ways beyond this vigil-like sit-in. wassef, who spent 10 years in an israeli terrorist prison for his resistance work feels that everyone, especially since gaza, sees how easy it is for palestinians to be slaughtered, imprisoned and so they feel helpless. but, of course, they want to do something. here is a story on the protest from imemc’s ghassan bannoura:

Palestinians from Ras Khamis neighborhood, near Jerusalem’s old city, set up a protest camp near their homes in protest against Israel’s decision to demolish their neighborhood.

The Israeli municipality says that there are 55 homes in the Palestinian Ras Khamis neighborhood that are built without the required permissions.

Hatem Abdel al-Qader, the Palestinian Prime Minister’s advisor for Jerusalem affairs, stated that lawyers managed to stop the demolition until March 10th, by court order . He added that the camp is one in a number of actions that home owners and local activists are organizing to counter the Israeli plans. Abdel al-Qader said that there will be public and popular events of solidarity with the home owners, stressing that the Israeli plans will displace hundreds of Palestinian families.

Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, it has rarely given Palestinian residents permission to build homes, while continuing to expand Jewish settlements, illegal under international law, in and around the city.

Since the beginning of this year, Israel has issued orders to demolish nearly 700 Palestinian-owned homes and other structures in the city of Jerusalem, local activists reported. 88 of the homes are located in the al-Bustan neighborhood, located immediately south of the al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem’s old city.

Many of the homes were built before 1967. According to Israel’s plans, registered with the Jerusalem municipality, this traditionally Palestinian neighborhood is to become a park with flowers, trees and cafe’s.

there is another way in which hillary herself is more than “unhelpful,” but rather destructive with respect to being an agent of the u.s. and its never ending efforts to participate in divide and rule schemes around the world. i will close with a brilliant analysis by ali abunimah and hasan abu nimah on electronic intifada today so you can see precisely how hillary is helping to foment more division already:

Still reeling from the Israeli massacres in the occupied Gaza Strip, Palestinians have lately had little to celebrate. So the strong start to intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo last week provided a glimmer of hope.

An end to the schism between the resistance and the elected but internationally-boycotted Hamas government on the one hand, and the Western-backed Fatah faction on the other, seemed within reach. But the good feeling came to a sudden end after what looked like a coordinated assault by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, European Union High Representative Javier Solana, and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas whose term as president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) expired on 9 January.

On Friday 27 February, the leaders of 13 Palestinian factions, principal among them Hamas and Fatah, announced they had set out a framework for reconciliation. In talks chaired by Egypt’s powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the Palestinians established committees to discuss forming a “national unity government,” reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to include all factions, legislative and presidential elections, reorganizing security forces on a nonpolitical basis, and a steering group comprised of all faction leaders. Amid a jubilant mood, the talks were adjourned until 10 March.

Then the blows began to strike the fragile Palestinian body politic. The first came from Clinton just before she boarded her plane to attend a summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh ostensibly about pledging billions in aid to rebuild Gaza.

Clinton was asked by Voice of America (VOA) whether she was encouraged by the Cairo unity talks. She responded that in any reconciliation or “move toward a unified [Palestinian] Authority,” Hamas must be bound by “the conditions that have been set forth by the Quartet,” the self-appointed group comprising representatives of the US, EU, UN and Russia. These conditions, Clinton stated, require that Hamas “must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and abide by previous commitments.” Otherwise, the secretary warned, “I don’t think it will result in the kind of positive step forward either for the Palestinian people or as a vehicle for a reinvigorated effort to obtain peace that leads to a Palestinian state.”

The next strikes came from Ramallah. With the EU’s top diplomat Solana standing next to him, Abbas insisted that any national unity government would have to adhere to the “two-state vision” and abide by “international conditions and signed agreements.” He then demanded that Gaza reconstruction aid be channeled exclusively through the Western-backed, but financially bankrupt and politically depleted PA. Solana affirmed, “I would like to insist in agreement with [Abbas] that the mechanism used to deploy the money is the one that represents the Palestinian Authority.” Solana fully endorsed the campaign waged by Abbas ever since the destruction of Gaza that the PA, plagued by endemic corruption, and which only pays salaries of workers deemed politically loyal, be in sole charge of the funds, rather than neutral international organizations as Hamas and others have suggested.

Was the Sharm al-Sheikh summit then really about helping the people of Gaza or was it about exploiting their suffering to continue the long war against Hamas by other means? Indeed, Clinton had already confirmed the politicization of reconstruction aid when she told VOA, “We want to strengthen a Palestinian partner willing to accept the conditions outlined by the Quartet,” and, “our aid dollars will flow based on these principles.”

Hamas warned that Clinton’s and Abbas’s statements set Palestinian reconciliation efforts back to square one. “Hamas will not recognize Israel or the Quartet’s conditions,” said one spokesman Ismail Radwan, while another, Ayman Taha, said Hamas would “reject any preconditions in the formation of the unity government.” Khaled Meshal, head of the movement’s political bureau, insisted that the basis for national unity must remain “protecting the resistance and the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Such statements will of course be used to paint Hamas as extremist, intransigent and anti-peace. After all, what could be more reasonable than demanding that any party involved in a peace process commit itself to renouncing violence, recognizing its enemy, and abiding by pre-existing agreements? The problem is that the Quartet conditions are designed to eliminate the Palestinians’ few bargaining chips and render them defenseless before continuous Israeli occupation, colonization, blockade and armed attacks.

None of the Western diplomats imposing conditions on Hamas have demanded that Israel renounce its aggressive violence. Indeed, as Amnesty International reported on 20 February, the weapons Israel used to kill, wound and incinerate 7,000 persons in Gaza, half of them women and children, were largely supplied by Western countries, mainly the US. In a vivid illustration, Amnesty reported that its field researchers “found fragments and components from munitions used by the Israeli army — including many that are US-made — littering school playgrounds, in hospitals and in people’s homes.”

For Palestinians to “renounce violence” under these conditions is to renounce the right to self-defense, something no occupied people can do. Palestinians will certainly note that while Abbas stands impotently by, neither the US nor the EU have rushed to the defense of the peaceful, unarmed Palestinians shot at daily by Israeli occupation forces as they try to protect their land from seizure in the West Bank. Nor has Abbas’ renunciation of resistance helped the 1,500 residents in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan whose homes Israeli occupation authorities recently confirmed their intention to demolish in order to make way for a Jewish-themed park. A cessation of violence must be mutual, total and reciprocal — something Hamas has repeatedly offered and Israel has stubbornly rejected.

While Israeli violence is tolerated or applauded, Israel’s leaders are not held to any political preconditions. Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu emphatically rejects a sovereign Palestinian state and — like his predecessors — rejects all other Palestinian rights enshrined in international law and UN resolutions. When told to stop building illegal settlements on occupied land, Israel responds simply that this is a matter for negotiation and to prove the point it revealed plans in February to add thousands of Jewish-only homes to its West Bank colonies.

Yet Quartet envoy Tony Blair, asked by Al-Jazeera International on 1 March how his masters would deal with a rejectionist Israeli government, said, “We have to work with whoever the Israeli people elect, let’s test it out not just assume it won’t work.” Unless Palestinians are considered an inferior race, the same logic ought to apply to their elected leaders, but they were never given a chance.

It is ludicrous to demand that the stateless Palestinian people unconditionally recognize the legitimacy of the entity that dispossessed them and occupies them, that itself has no declared borders and that continues to violently expand its territory at their expense. If Palestinians are ever to recognize Israel in any form, that can only be an outcome of negotiations in which Palestinian rights are fully recognized, not a precondition for them.

During last year’s US election campaign, Clinton claimed she helped bring peace to Northern Ireland during her husband’s administration. Yet the conditions she now imposes on Hamas are exactly like those that the British long imposed on the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, thereby blocking peace negotiations. President Bill Clinton — against strenuous British objections — helped overturn these obstacles by among other things granting a US visa to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, whose party the British once demonized as Israel now demonizes Hamas. Like Tony Blair, who as British prime minister first authorized public talks with Sinn Fein, Hillary Clinton knows that the negotiations in Ireland could not have succeeded if any party had been forced to submit to the political preconditions of its adversaries.

Former British and Irish peace negotiators including Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, and former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami made similar points in a 26 February letter they co-signed in The Times of London. “Whether we like it or not,” the letter states, “Hamas will not go away. Since its victory in democratic elections in 2006, Hamas has sustained its support in Palestinian society despite attempts to destroy it through economic blockades, political boycotts and military incursions.” The signatories called for engagement with the movement, affirming that “The Quartet conditions imposed on Hamas set an unworkable threshold from which to commence negotiations.”

Those who claim to be peacemakers should heed this advice. They should allow Palestinians to form a national consensus without external interference and blackmail. They should respect democratic mandates. They should stop imposing grossly unfair conditions on the weaker side while cowering in fear of offending the strong, and they should stop the cynical exploitation of humanitarian aid for political manipulation and subversion.

There are many in the region who were encouraged by US President Barack Obama’s appointment of former Northern Ireland mediator Senator George Mitchell as Middle East envoy. But in all other respects the new president has continued the Bush administration’s disastrous policies. It is not too late to change course, for persisting in these errors will guarantee only more failure and bloodshed.

the congo, palestine, and colonialisms

about a month ago i learned about a new blog called stealth conflicts. on it a blogger named virgil hawkins covers the uncoverable–the news stories about conflicts that the media only rarely produce stories about. what first caught my eye was a note someone posted in facebook with the following entry from this blog:

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 quote his blog entry in full, which i think i have quoted from before, because it raises some really important points that bear repeating. i do not write about the conflict in the drc as often as i would like to, though i do follow the news from the congo as best i can. it is not that i think the conflict doesn’t need more people writing about it, it is just that living in palestine means that you are constantly confronted with israeli terrorism every day and this affects, if not me, certainly my students, friends, people i care about. it is hard sometimes to think of the way hawkins talks about the coverage of palestine in the world media because most of it is a distorted, warped view of reality. but i also think it should not be about covering one story and not the other; i think both should be covered vigorously. and there are many parallels to both, particularly western interests in maintaining colonial or neocolonial powers over these two countries. here is a video that hawkins made raising some of these same questions about why we know so little about the conflict in the drc.

kambale musavuli of friends of the congo wrote an article in the san francisco bay view news this week about the neocolonial interests in the congo in ways that should wake up americans and europeans alike in ways akin to palestine. with both conflicts we are fueling the bloodshed through state and corporate neocolonial policies, though as hawkins shows in his film and article this is way off the radar screen. too, a friend of mine who is a photojournalist and who goes to the congo regularly, and who has also covered palestine, once told me a story about congolese people asking about palestine. after he told them about it they all thought that it sounded like their situation; the people told him that this is just like what rwanda is doing to the congo. here is musavuli’s assessment:

Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London’s staunchest allies in Africa.

However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly documents Rwanda’s support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N. report on the latest expression of Rwanda’s aggression against the Congolese people.

The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented looting of Congo’s wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially the same scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo. Two elements are at the core of both proposals.

One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo. And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the core issues revealed in the report.

The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda’s role as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.

The report “found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces” to the DRC. The support is for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.

Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N. reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo’s exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.

The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the conflict in the Congo.

In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the figures illegally exploiting Congo’s wealth. His implication this time comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.

This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warren, business tycoon Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scott Ford of Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former U.S. president Bill Clinton and many more.

These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have charged their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the Netherlands, have decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of their aggression against the Congolese people.

The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to the FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of Rwanda’s CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this regard. It appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual Congolese soldiers as opposed to overall government support.

The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel groups inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the CNDP, FDLR and the Congolese military.

The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous reports produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued appropriation of the land, theft of Congo’s resources, and continuous human rights abuses caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of these spasms is to create facts on the ground – land appropriation, theft of cattle and other assets – to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan economic integration into Rwanda.

Herman Cohen’s “Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?” in the New York Times reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people. In his article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila’s government in the United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993 argues, “Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product.”

He adds, “The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian Ocean ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a thousand miles away.” Continuing his argument, he believes that “the free movement of people would empty the refugee camps and would allow the densely populated countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed labor to Congo and Tanzania.”

Cohen’s first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look at the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic means. Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not define for the Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to define what it has to offer its neighbor.

A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo. The International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this matter when it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations due to Uganda’s looting of Congo’s natural resources and the commission of human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in all likelihood ruled in the same fashion against Rwanda; however, Rwanda claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the court.

The United States and Great Britain’s implication is becoming very clear. These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch allies and, some would argue, client states. These two countries have received millions of dollars of military aid, which in turn they use in Congo to cause destruction and death.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni’s son, Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college in the summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should follow the lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, who have suspended their financial support to Rwanda.

With U.S. and British taxpayers’ support, we now see an estimated 6 million people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped as an instrument of war and millions displaced.

A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda’s recent so-called “house arrest” of Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be more engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo’s importance to Africa, it is remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the Congo crisis for so long.

Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant as he has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in Germany as a result of warrants issued by a French court and there is almost global consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his support of the destabilization of the Congo and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe.

In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support the following policies:

1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo.

2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation process; this could be a part of the international tribunal.

3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering and deaths in the Congo.

5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top international priority.

Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be honored by due process of the law. As the implication of the many parties in this conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly acknowledging that the conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies.

We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the Congolese by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end the conflict and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the exploitation of Congo’s wealth and devastation of its peoples.

i have been thinking about the congo this week quite a bit, partially because i am teaching joseph conrad’s the heart of darkness in my postcolonial literature class. of course, i am teaching it in historical context of colonialism in the congo, but also in relation to current events there. and we will return to the congo when i end the semester with raoul peck’s biopic film lumumba. it is striking to reread this novel after decades–i think i first read this in junior high school and i don’t recall having read it since. the character kurtz is described by marlowe in a way that i think is especially significant given the tight focus of the story on two men. he is described by marlowe as:

The original Kurtz had been educated partly in England, and–as he was good enough to say himself–his sympathies were in the right place. His mother was half-English, his father was half-French. All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz; and by-and-by I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had intrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance. (124)

the point here that i think is interesting is that he was made by all of europe. this is not because his parents came from different countries. this is because the savagery with which he loots and rapes the land and the people of the congo came from his upbringing in europe. his sense of his superiority. his racism. his capitalist drive. these are the forces that feed colonialism and imperialism and they come from europe. the quest for power, fed by greed and racism is what fuels every colonial project whether in the congo or in palestine. and these colonial ideologies about conquering the americas, australia, africa, asia also fed into zionist ideology. abayomi azikiwe wrote an essay recently entitled “pan-africanism and palestine solidarity – a history of anti-imperialist struggle” in which he lays out some of these parallels:

Throughout the negotiations involving the Zionist proposals for white penetration into Africa and Asia, Theodore Herzl, in the manner of 19th century imperialist thinkers, spoke of imperialism and colonialisation as a ‘noble activity destined to bring civilization to the “backward races”.’ Viewing the Jewish state with occidental white binoculars, he asserted that this state is designed to ‘form a part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism.’

African territories were strongly considered as a ‘homeland’ for the Zionist state. This contradicts the proclaimed scriptural basis for the colonisation of Palestine. Zayid states that ‘in their search for a location for the Zionist enclave, to be created, a variety of options were explored including Uganda (east Africa), Tripolitania in Libya (north Africa), Cyprus (Mediterranean), Madagascar (off the southeast African coast), Congo (in central Africa) and Palestine.’

Joseph Chamberlain, the British racist theoretician told Herzl that ‘I have seen a land for you on my recent travels, and that is Uganda. It is not on the coast but the climate of the interior is excellent for Europeans. Though Herzl strongly favored Uganda as the location for the Jewish state, the committee, appointed by the World Zionist Congress to explore the area, found it unsuitable.’

the quote taken above is from a much longer article, which i highly recommend. it shows how various anti-colonial liberation movements came to support palestinian liberation not only because they were fighting the same struggle, but also because the zionist colonists in palestine helped to fund colonialism in countries like south africa. it also details a similar trajectory for african americans coming to support palestinian liberation. while, of course, i welcome this, and want to see more of this, i also think that it cannot and should not be unidirectional.

look at these two stories from relief web yesterday, for instance, that reported on new refugees from the congo and from gaza:

The number of Congolese refugees who have sought safety in South Sudan since attacks by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) last year has now surpassed the 15,000 mark.

UNHCR staff late last week accompanied local South Sudanese authorities to Lasu, a sparsely populated village in Central Equatoria State where they found the population of Congolese refugees had swelled from 2,000 to approximately 6,000. Most of them fled from the DRC town of Aba, which has been attacked several times since January, the latest last week. Lasu is 45 km from the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

At least 100,000 people, including up to 56,000 children, remain displaced with many continuing to take shelter in tents or crowding into remaining homes with other families, one month since the Gaza ceasefire was declared.

and, of course, there are conflicts that are in the news daily, but perhaps because of compassion fatigue they seem not to matter to people any more. obama says that he’s sending 17,000 new troops to afghanistan. he says this on the same day that new casualty figures for afghans is released:

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s escalating conflict have increased by 39 per cent over the last year, hitting their worst-ever level, according to a United Nations report.

A total of 2,118 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2008, the deadliest year since US-ousted the Taliban in 2001, the world body said in a report released on Tuesday.

meanwhile, israeli terrorists continue to bomb and shoot at palestinians in gaza:

A woman is dead and another person injured after Israeli warplanes launched several strikes on the border area between Egypt and Gaza Wednesday morning.

Warplanes launched missiles at underground smuggling tunnels, in addition to a security compound of the de facto government in Khan Younis, a city in the south of Gaza. A mosque was also destroyed in Khan Younis

The woman, 70-year-old Huda Abu Tahla, suffered a heart attack when missiles struck near her home, according to the executive director of the Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, Muhammad Subih.

Missile strikes destroyed seven smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Route, the zone along the Egypt-Gaza border. Israeli sources said the strikes were a response to recent projectile attacks launched by into southern Israel from Gaza.

Separately, Palestinian medical sources said a Palestinian farmer was moderately injured by Israeli fire in Al-Farahin area, east of Khan Younis near the border with Israel.

and here in the west bank palestinians continue to be kidnapped every day, in increasingly high numbers while israeli terrorists keep teasing us with talk of prisoner release (clearly they want to boost the numbers inside before any such release might happen):

In a third consecutive day of mass arrests Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank town of Jayyus near Qalqiliya early morning Wednesday and seized 65 Palestinian youth in an ongoing military operation.

Israeli soldiers declared the town a “Closed Military Area” and barred journalists from entering. A curfew has been imposed, trapping residents in their homes.

Soldiers told the families of those detained that they were “wanted” by Israeli intelligence….

According to Israeli sources the village was raided in a sweep for illegal weapons. An army spokesperson told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, that forces were operating in the town following a rise in the number of incidents involving the throwing of stones at Israeli vehicles.

Eight of those taken were identified as:

Sakhr Shamasnah,
Jabir Shamasnah,
Kamal Shamasnah,
Adli Shamasnah,
Anwar Aarif,
Mahir Aarif,
Muhammad Bilal and
Hamadah Nimir

The residents of Jayyus organize a weekly demonstration against the construction of the separation wall on village land. Foreign activists frequently attend the events and Israeli soldiers regularly invade the town and harass its residents following the departure of the activists.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces on Wednesday morning apprehended two Palestinian university students from the northern West Bank town of Far’un, south of Tulkarem.

Soldiers stormed the town at dawn, ransacking a residential building and seizing two students at the Palestine Technical University.

Two of the students detained were identified as 22-year-old Sami Al-Jaroushi, affiliated with Fatah, and 20-year-old Fawzi Qarqur, apparently a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

and because israeli terrorists didn’t have enough blood on their hands for today, they decided to invade lebanon, too:

Witnesses heard the sound of four consecutive explosions accompanied by gunfire and overflights by helicopter gunships over the Arqoub region in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms.

The state-run National News Agency said an Israeli force had earlier in the day crossed the barbed wire at the southwestern edge of the border town of Ghajar.

The 19-member Israeli force conducted a two-hour search of the area, NNA said.

ah, yes, colonialism is alive and well here in palestine. in the congo. in afghanistan. in iraq. and so many other places around the world. but what i want to know is when can we connect these liberation struggles and fight for the as one? the corporations and states fueling these colonial projects overlap. so should our political solidarity.

democracy?

by the most basic definition of democracy, the israeli terrorist state is not one:

a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives

here’s a hint: a state cannot be both jewish and democratic. it is an oxymoron. most of the news here right now is about the upcoming israeli terrorist elections. here is a report by mike hanna on al jazeera. pay close attention to what samieh jabbarin says in the interview:

i think that samieh is right that for a people who are relegated to fourth-class “citizenship” at best should absolutely boycott elections. as should palestinians in the west bank and gaza boycott palestinian elections here. it doesn’t matter whether or not there are democratic elections here–there are–but what matters is that having an elected body under occupation, under colonialism is not possible (same goes for iraq and afghanistan, too, of course). by definition it becomes a puppet regime serving the colonial forces–both the israeli and american terrorist regimes. this is why a dear friend of mine says that we need a dual-intifada: one against the palestinian authority and one against the zionist entity. here is what the always insightful joseph massad has to say in electronic intifada the other day:

West Bank-based Palestinian intellectuals, like their liberal counterparts across the Arab world, have been active in the last several years in demonizing Hamas as the force of darkness in the region. These intellectuals (among whom liberal secular Christians, sometimes referred to derisively in Ramallah circles as “the Christian Democratic Party,” are disproportionately represented) are mostly horrified that if Hamas came to power, it would ban alcohol. Assuming Hamas would enact such a regulation on the entire population were it to rule a liberated Palestine in some undetermined future, these intellectuals are the kind of intellectuals who prefer an assured collaborating dictatorship with a glass of scotch to a potentially resisting democracy without. This is not to say that Hamas will institute democratic governance necessarily; but if democratically elected, as it has been, it must be given the chance to demonstrate its commitments to democratic rule, which it now promises — something all these comprador intellectuals were willing to give to Fatah, and continue to extend to the movement after it established a dictatorship. Indeed, much of the repression that took place in the West Bank during the carnage in Gaza had been legitimized by the ongoing efforts of these intellectuals just as they previously legitimized the “peace process” launched by the Oslo Accords and during which Israel continued its massive colonization of Palestinian land while the PA suppressed any resistance. The scene in the West Bank, except for Hebron, was indeed a scandal. Arab capitals like Amman and Beirut, not to mention Palestinian cities and towns inside Israel, saw massive demonstrations that were at least a hundred times more numerous than the couple of thousands who tried to march in Ramallah but were beaten up by the goons of the Palestinian Collaborationist Authority (PCA).

Palestinians in the West Bank were watching Al-Jazeera instead of demonstrating in solidarity and refused to challenge Israel’s PCA agents who rule them. While the repression by the PCA and the Israeli occupation army is an important factor, the quiescence of the West Bank was also on account of the psychological warfare of demonizing Hamas to which the PCA and its cadre of comprador intellectuals have subjected the population for years. Moreover, the fact that a quarter of a million West Bankers work in the bureaucratic and security apparatus of the PCA and receive salaries which feed another three quarters of a million West Bankers, makes them fully dependent on the continuation of PCA rule to ensure their continued livelihood. This structural and material factor is indeed paramount in assessing the contemptible quiescence of West Bankers during the recent carnage in Gaza. Indeed, some of the staged Fatah participation in demonstrations in Ramallah (where the PCA women’s police beat up Hamas women demonstrators) included people who openly suggested that the demonstrators march by the Egyptian embassy in Ramallah to show support for Egyptian policies toward Gaza and Hamas.

The journey of West Bank liberal intellectuals, it seems has finally come to this: after being instrumental in selling out the rights of Palestinians in Israel to full equal citizenship by acquiescing to Israel’s demand to be recognized as a racist Jewish state, and the rights of the diaspora and refugees to return, they have now sold out the rights of Palestinians in Gaza to food and electricity, and all of this so that the West Bank can be ruled by a collaborationist authority that allows them open access to Johnny Walker Black Label (their drink of choice, although some have switched to Chivas more recently). In this context, how could Israel be anything but a friend and ally who is making sure Hamas will never get to ban whiskey?

In the meantime, the coming Israeli elections are being awaited with much trepidation. PCA strategies will be of course different depending on who wins. If Netanyahu wins, and he was the spoiler of PA rule and the Oslo understanding in 1996, Abbas can try to sound more nationalist in opposing Israeli practices in the hope that the Obama administration would support him against the Israeli right wing. The PCA hopes that Obama can put pressure on Netanyahu that he would not be able to in case Labor Party leader Ehud Barak wins. If Barak wins, then the PCA would be happy as they can go back to business as usual. As a close friend of the corrupt Clintons, Barak will also be a friend of his namesake in the Oval office, and Hillary Clinton will make sure that no pressure goes his way. Of course as far as the Palestinian people are concerned, it makes no difference who is at the helm of Israeli politics, a right-wing war criminal or a left-wing war criminal. As for those who still have hope in the Israeli public, the latter’s overwhelming support for the carnage in Gaza should put this to rest. If Germans spent the day on the beach when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, and Americans cheered in bars and at home the fireworks light show the US military put up over Baghdad while slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in 1991 and in 2003, Israeli Jews insisted on having front row seats on hills overlooking Gaza for a live show, cracking open champagne bottles and cheering the murder and maiming of thousands of civilians, more than half of whom were women and children.

The Obama government as well as the Israelis and the Arab regimes have only one game they are willing to play, and it is hardly original. Ignoring and delegitimizing Hamas is a repetition of the delegitimization of the PLO when it represented Palestinian interests in the 1960s, 1970s, and part of the 1980s. At the time, the Jordanian regime was entrusted by the Israelis and the Americans with speaking on behalf of West Bank Palestinians until the PLO pledged to be a servant of Israel and US interests and began to view both as friends, and not as enemies. While this strategy has worked superbly in ending the enmity between most Arab regimes and Israel, it has failed miserably in convincing most Arabs that Israel is not their enemy. Israel’s recent military victory in slaughtering defenseless Palestinian civilians and its losing the war against Hamas by failing to realize any of its military objectives have hardly endeared it or its Arab supporters to the Arab peoples at large or to Muslim regional powers who are not fully subservient to the US. The Israeli settler-colony might have become the friend of oppressive regimes across the region, but in doing so it has ensured the enmity of the majority of the peoples in whose midst it has chosen to implant itself.

for those who want to read massad’s article in arabic check out al akhbar: إسرائيل كعدوّ… كـصديق by جوزيف مسعد.

lest you think that racism and lesser-class citizenship is only something directed at palestinians in the so-called “democracy” of the israeli terrorist regime, think again. recall that first of all the zionist entity is a “jewish state” meaning that one must be jewish to have rights. many of you may be old enough to remember the 1980s when there was a big push in the u.s. to fund the airlifting of russian jews to the israeli terrorist state. what you were never told is that many of those people are actually christian. this was one of their devious tricks to up their demographics, to outnumber palestinians. and they exist in large numbers and are being courted by israeli terrorist candidates like avigdor lieberman who advocates further ethnic cleansing (“transfer” in zionist speak):

Liberman has also advocated the “transfer” of some Israeli Arab towns close to the West Bank to any future Palestinian state. He himself lives in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. “He’s the kind of leader we’ve been waiting for, he knows how to talk to Arabs in their own language, the language of force,” said one woman when Liberman took his talk-tough message to villages close to the Gaza border.

barnaby phillips shows some of this dynamic in his report on the election for al jazeera:

notice that phillips mentions lieberman’s position that one must swear allegiance to a jewish state or be stripped of his/her citizenship. can you imagine if we were talking about jews living in a muslim country in this context? can you imagine what the u.s. would do? if jews lived in a fascist muslim country to which they had to swear their loyalty to? and if not they would be ethnically cleansed? what would happen then do you think?

but all this is to suggest that somehow there are real choices in the israeli terrorist election that would make a difference in the lives of palestinians. and the truth is that it will be shades of worse or worst. just like americans deluded into thinking that obama/mccain would make a difference. it’s the same thing. for those who are occupied, who are oppressed: there are no choices. there is no one representing the side of the poor, the peasant, the disenfranchised.

gideon levy had an interesting op-ed piece in ha’aretz this week about the elections arguing that perhaps the worst candidate, rather than the worse candidates, would be better for palestinians:

Benjamin Netanyahu will apparently be Israel’s next prime minister. There is, however, something encouraging about that fact. Netanyahu’s election will free Israel from the burden of deception: If he can establish a right-wing government, the veil will be lifted and the nation’s true face revealed to its citizens and the rest of the world, including Arab countries. Together with the world, we will see which direction we are facing and who we really are. The masquerade that has gone on for several years will finally come to an end.

Netanyahu’s election is likely to bring the curtain down on the great fraud – the best show in town – the lie of “negotiations” and the injustice of the “peace process.” Israel consistently claimed these acts proved the nation was focused on peace and the end of the occupation. All the while, it did everything it could to further entrench the occupation and distance any chance of a potential agreement.

For 16 years, we have been enamored with the peace process. We talk and talk, babble and prattle, and generally feel great about ourselves; meanwhile the settlements expand endlessly and Israel turns to the use of force at every possible opportunity, aside from a unilateral disengagement which did nothing to advance the cause of peace.

With the election of a prime ministerial candidate who speaks of “economic peace,” the naked truth will finally emerge. If, however, Tzipi Livni or Ehud Barak are elected, the self-delusion will simply continue. Livni herself is enamored with futile, useless and cowardly negotiations, and Barak has long abandoned the brave efforts he made in the past. The election of either will only perpetuate the vacuum. The world, including Washington, will breathe a sigh of relief that for once, Israel has elected a leadership that will pursue peace. But there is no chance of that happening.

The record of each of these candidates, and the positions they have championed until now, proves that what has been will continue to be. Livni and Barak will rush to every photo opportunity with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan. The Americans and Europeans will be pleased, but nothing will come out of it other than the sowing of a few more illusions. We will move from war to war, uprising to uprising, settlement to settlement, and the world will continue to delude itself into thinking an agreement is within reach. Hamas will grow stronger, Abbas weaker and the last chance for peace will be irretrievably lost.

Netanyahu would offer something else. First, he is a faithful representative of an authentic “Israeli” view – an almost complete distrust of Arabs and the chance of reaching peace with them, mixed with condescension and dehumanization. Second, he will finally arouse the world’s rage towards us, including that of the new U.S. administration. Sadly, this may be the only chance for the kind of dramatic change that is needed.

The Palestinian Authority, another mendacious facade, will finally collapse, and Israel will face the non-partner it has wanted and sought all these years. The world may not rush to embrace Netanyahu as it would the “moderates” – Livni or Barak, who have led Israel to more unnecessary wars than Netanyahu, the “extremist” – while the real difference between them is almost non-existent.

Lifting the veil will lead to a crisis situation, which unfortunately is the only one that can bring about change. We must hope that both Kadima and Labor do not join a Netanyahu government (regrettably, another futile hope), as Israel’s exposure will then be that much starker. A government composed of Netanyahu, Shas and Avigdor Lieberman will not, of course, have to deal with an opposition of Netanyahu, Shas and Avigdor Lieberman, and may therefore behave differently once in power than one might expect. Have we mentioned Menachem Begin?

But even if Netanyahu is the same old Netanyahu, this will be an opportunity to place the right’s policies under the microscope. Let’s see him stand before Barack Obama and speak of the grotesque idea of “economic peace,” or wage foreign or security policies according to his stated positions. Let’s see him answer just what exactly his vision is for 20 to 30 years down the road.

In due course, his anticipated failure may just hasten an alternative route, on condition that Kadima and Labor do not join the government and bring us another year of fraud. The lemons may yet yield lemonade – maybe the establishment of a right-wing government will remove all of the masks for good. The alternative, known and expected by all, is far more ambiguous, dangerous and threatening.

So let Netanyahu win. There is no alternative at this point anyway.

this is sort of why i keep wishing john mccain had won the election. i would much prefer a clearer enemy in the white house than one everyone continues to see as an (fake) arbiter of change. here is what omar barghouti had to say about israeli terrorist elections a few years ago (still applies today):

A recent study of Israeli racism confirms this “moral degradation.” More than two thirds of Israeli Jews stated they would not live in the same building with Palestinian citizens of Israel, while 63% agreed with the statement that “Arabs are a security and demographic threat to the state.” Forty percent believed “the state needs to support the emigration of Arab citizens.” This general shift of Israeli public opinion to extreme right positions well explains the remarkable rise of Lieberman.

But one does not have to be Lieberman to be a racist, as Ha’aretz writer Gideon Levy notes. “The ‘peace’ proposed by Ehud Olmert is no less racist,” he argues, adding: “Lieberman wants to distance them from our borders, Olmert and his ilk want to distance them from our consciousness. Nobody is speaking about peace with them, nobody really wants it. Only one ambition unites everyone – to get rid of them, one way or another. Transfer or wall, ‘disengagement’ or ‘convergence’ – the point is that they should get out of our sight.”

this word “democracy” struck me today as i sat in on a seminar at an najah university. a group of students were practicing their debating skills in a role-playing exercise based on a couple of different themes. in each scenario one student was the zionist and the other the palestinian. the palestinian students playing the role of the zionist kept explaining about the “democracy” they supposedly have. and actually all the students who played the role of the zionist were quite good. they had their argument down pat (or their propaganda i should say). they knew all their arguments, because the propaganda is repeated like a broken record day in and day out, even on al jazeera. but for all the students playing their own part, the role of the palestinian, they could not come up with a single specific example to refute the claims of those playing the role of the zionist. i was not surprised because i know how little my own students know about their own history. i blame the u.s. and the israelis for this (for censoring palestinian textbooks) and i blame the palestinian authority for this (for self-censoring for fear of israeli-u.s. censorship). but i also blame the students themselves. there are many excellent palestinian historical documents in libraries and bookshops here, including at an najah university (in multiple languages). but the students do not take the responsibility to read on their own, to study, to learn the facts. in the end this means that all the arguments become circular. or it becomes a futile back-and-forth about who was here first or who kills more children. there is so much work to be done on so many levels to counter act this. and this is in the west bank. in 1948 palestine–where supposedly palestinians live in the “democratic” (read: terrorist) state of israel–palestinians are not even allowed to learn their history at all. all they get is the zionist narrative.

to understand the history–and the specificity of that history–is to be able to track the ways in which there have been multiple displacements, massacres, ethnic cleansings. to understand the history of political prisoners. the uprootedness. the depopulation policies that have always been present among zionist colonist terrorists. it is a way of connecting the past to the every day reality that affects all palestinians whether they are refugees outside or inside, 1948 palestinians, or palestinians living in gaza and the west bank. to understand this history is to give context to the current reality here:

14,000 homes, 68 government buildings, 31 NGOs destroyed leaving 600,000 tons of rubble in Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians are living in tented camps after Israel’s three-week assault on the Gaza Strip, hoping for a swift end to Israel’s blockade so they can rebuild their homes.

Aid workers said on Thursday at least 16,000 people have found temporary accommodation in 10 camps set up in districts laid to waste in a war that local medical officials said left around 1,300 Palestinians dead and more than 5,000 wounded.

But conditions are cramped, with several thousands of tents held up at border crossings from Israel into the Gaza Strip.

A total of 548 Palestinians are detained without trial in Israel, including 42 who have been held for over two years, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said on Thursday.

Among the Palestinians detained without trail, two have been held for four and a half years, B’Tselem said in its annual report.

Six of those detained without trial in December were minors, including two girls, the report said.

It said a total of 7,904 Palestinians were in Israeli custody at the end of December.

The report also said that by December 26 Israeli security forces last year killed 455 Palestinians, including 87 minors. It said at least 175 of those killed did not take part in the hostilities. Eighteen Israeli civilians and 10 Israeli troops were killed by Palestinians in the same period, the report said. The figures do not include casualties from the 22-day military offensive Israel launched in Gaza on December 27, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

Israeli occupation forces advanced into Fakhari area east of Khan Younis district, to the south of Gaza Strip, at an early hour on Saturday amidst indiscriminate shooting.

PIC reporter said that a number of IOF tanks and bulldozers advanced hundreds of meters in the area and bulldozed Palestinian cultivated lands.

and, of course, it is not just palestine. israeli terrorists love to invade lebanon regularly, too:

An Israeli army patrol on Thursday crossed into southern Lebanese territory, the state-run National News Agency said.

It said a 15-member patrol crossed the electronic fence into the border town of Blida and searched the area for more than 50 minutes before pulling out at around 10:00 am.

or the invasion of a lebanese ship in gaza territorial waters:

all of these israeli terrorist policies are cultivated in israeli terrorist universities by a wide variety of scholars in a range of disciplines, including philosophy (hint: this is why there is a need for the academic boycott of israel):

When senior Israel Defense Forces officers are asked about the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians during the fighting in the Gaza Strip, they almost all give the same answer: The use of massive force was designed to protect the lives of the soldiers, and when faced with a choice between protecting the lives of Israeli soldiers and those of enemy civilians under whose protection the Hamas terrorists are operating, the soldiers take precedence.

The IDF’s response to criticism does not sound improvised or argumentative. The army entered Gaza with the capacity to gauge with relatively high certainty the impact of fighting against terror in such a densely populated area. And it operated there not only with the backing of the legal opinion of the office of the Military Advocate General, but also on the basis of ethical theory, developed several years ago, that justifies its actions.

Prof. Asa Kasher of Tel Aviv University, an Israel Prize laureate in philosophy, is the philosopher who told the IDF that it was possible. In a recent interview with Haaretz Kasher said the army operated in accordance with a code of conduct developed about five years ago for fighting terrorism.

“The norms followed by the commanders in Gaza were generally appropriate,” Kasher said. In Kasher’s opinion there is no justification for endangering the lives of soldiers to avoid the killing of civilians who live in the vicinity of terrorists. According to Kasher, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi “has been very familiar with our principles from the time the first document was drafted in 2003 to the present.”

Kasher’s argument is that in an area such as the Gaza Strip in which the IDF does not have effective control the overriding principle guiding the commanders is achieving their military objectives. Next in priority is protecting soldiers’ lives, followed by avoiding injury to enemy civilians. In areas where Israel does have effective control, such as East Jerusalem, there is no justification for targeted killings in which civilians are also hit because Israel has the option of using routine policing procedures, such as arrests, that do not endanger innocent people.

Prof. Kasher has strong, long-standing ties with the army. He drafted the IDF ethical code of conduct in the mid-1990’s. In 2003 he and Maj. Gen Amos Yadlin, now the head of Military Intelligence, published an article entitled “The Ethical Fight Against Terror.” It justified the targeted assassination of terrorists, even at the price of hitting nearby Palestinian civilians. Subsequently Kasher, Yadlin, and a team that included IDF legal experts wrote a more comprehensive document on military ethics in fighting terror. Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, who was the IDF Chief of Staff at the time, did not make the document binding but Kasher says the ideas in the document were adopted in principle by Ya’alon and his successors. Kasher has presented them to IDF and Shin Bet security service personnel dozens of times.

this is also why we need student agitation on campuses across the world to help push for boycott, divestment, and sanctions as students have been doing successfully in various ways in the united kingdom:

A STUDENT sit-in at a Scottish university ended peacefully last night, after the university authorities agreed to cancel their contract with an Israeli water company.

The 40 students, led by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, occupied the foyer of Strathclyde University’s McCance building, to demand that it sever all links with Israeli organisations following the bombing of the Gaza Strip.

The students presented the university management with a list of demands, which included: the cancellation of a contract with Eden Springs, its main water cooler supplier; the severing of funding links with arms manufacturer BAE systems; the issuing of a statement condemning the Israeli action in Palestine last month; the creation of a scholarship programme for Palestinian students at Strathclyde; and a pledge of solidarity for the Islamic University of Gaza.

Students also asked that the university oppose Israeli academics who promote military research, to condemn the BBC for not showing the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Gaza appeal and to broadcast the appeal on campus as part of a fundraising day.

Following negotiations yesterday afternoon, agreement was reached on a number of points: the contract with Eden Spring would be cancelled, a scholarship programme would be established for Palestinian students and the DEC appeal would be broadcast on the campus.

finally such activism is spreading to the united states!:

Students from the University of Rochester and members of the local Rochester community will be occupying an academic building on campus tomorrow for peace and in solidarity with the people Gaza and in opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the recent atrocities in Gaza. The action, organized by U of R Students for a Democratic Society (UR-SDS), will begin on the afternoon of Friday, February 6 and will last until the University of Rochester administration meets the demands put forward.

The demands are:

1. Divestment: We demand the University of Rochester to adopt the “UR-Peaceful Investing Initiative” which institutes a peaceful investment policy to the university’s endowment which includes divestment from corporations that manufacturer weapons and profit from war. (For example, the U of R invests in General Dynamics which manufactures weapons to maintain a 41-year occupation of the Palestinian territories and wars which slaughter Palestinian civilians by the 100s)

2. Humanitarian aid: We demand that the University of Rochester commit to a day of fundraising for humanitarian aid in Gaza within the next two weeks, as part of an ongoing commitment to provide financial support for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

3. Academic aid: We demand that the University of Rochester twin with the devastated Gaza University and provide the necessary academic aid (e.g., recycled computers, books, etc. ).

4. Scholarships: We demand that the University of Rochester grant a minimum of five scholarships to Palestinian students every year.

and this is also why we need many other aspects of the boycott to develop including a sports boycott…which it seems could be in the making soon as qui qui suggests today on kabobfest:

Yesterday night, the Israeli Maccabi Basketball team played against the Barca team (Barcelona), a game part of the EuroLeague 2009. It took place in Barcelona – Catalunya.

The Maccabi team is known for its support of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Three of its players visited the soldiers at the Gaza border during the recent bloodshed against Palestinian civilians.

In a response to that, 9 people jumped onto the basketball court shouting pro-Palestinian slogans and carrying Palestinian flags before they were dragged out by “security” forces and the police. At the same time, the public was chanting “Palestine Palestine” while they applauded and lifted banners in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom. Many people waved Palestinian flags and booed the Israeli team.

in an email omar had this to say about it:

Barcelona basketball fans receive Maccabi Tel Aviv with dozens of Palestinian flags and a stunning chant: “Boycott Israel — Viva Palestine”!

After sports fans and activists in Turkey and New Zealand took action in support of a sports boycott of Israel, this very promising sports boycott movement has finally eached Europe, where it counts the most, starting from Barcelona, no less, a major European sports powerhouse! As many of you already know, Israeli teams compete in European championships as if Israel were part of Europe. Not different from academia, among other fields.

Finally, Israeli sports teams are facing what their South African predecessors had experienced in the 1980s. Could not have come at a more opportune time …

And for those who think that sports should not be “politicized” or that Israeli sports is about the nobility of athletics as an expression of humanity, a thorough examination of the Israeli sports scene will confirm that sports teams (particularly football and basketball teams and most of their fans) are no different from the mainstream in Israel: racist, colonial and every bit deserving of boycott.

here is the lovely video where you can watch this action (though i would personally prefer people NOT spend money on events where israeli terrorist athletes are competing… ):

on racism and prisons

i just finished composing a letter for a friend in gaza who is applying for a visa to speak in the united kingdom about besieged gaza. he had been invited last month, too, but the british consulate in al quds denied him a visa because they didn’t believe he’d return home after his lecture tour. it struck me as i was writing the letter that i felt like i was writing on behalf of a friend who was in prison. (okay, yes, gaza is a prison and that is the point.) as i wrote words and phrases kept popping into my mind like “flight risk,” phrases one uses to describe someone who is undeserving of bail. someone who deserves to be locked up. and as i wrote the other night about his online visa application, the questions about one’s criminality on the british visa application are certainly geared more towards excluding israeli terrorist war criminals who fall into the categories of having committed “war crimes” or who practice state terrorism. but the racism of the british system makes it such that it is palestinians whose travel gets excluded, who remain in the gaza jail.

nathalie abou shakra posted videos today of the damage done by israeli terrorists to palestinian fishermen in gaza waters. this is another element of the prison: fisherman can’t fish. or if they do they risk their lives or their boats which are necessary for their livelihood:

These are some footage comrades George from Greece, Andrew from Scotland and I took of the shootings yesterday and today of the fishermen’s boats. One of the fishermen, Alaa el Habil, from the Shati’ camp, was wounded in the leg before yesterday, and a boat arrived to the port of Gaza yesterday as we were there, of which was targeted by the Israelis…

The fishermen were given a limit of 20miles before the Oslo accords, then it diminished to 12, then 6 miles during the siege, then 3 miles now… it is impossible to catch good fish, a variety, and a good quantity within such a limit.This is especially devastating for the fishermen whose lives depend on fishing… whose families cannot survive without an income from this.

unlike other prisons, the gaza prison keeps people out and locks people up inside. this is one of the many reasons why it is so difficult for aid to get inside gaza:

Israel says 453 trucks entered Gaza 18-23 January, but only about half of them carried humanitarian aid – not nearly enough for 1.5 million Gazans, say UN agencies and international aid groups.

“The donors and the general public have mobilised from all over the world but the aid is stuck outside Gaza,” said John Ging, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza.

Of the 100-120 trucks permitted to enter per day, some 37-40 are for UNRWA, about half are for commercial goods such as meat and nappies, and the remainder are for other aid agencies, said Ging, who pointed out that before June 2007 Israel permitted 500-600 trucks to enter daily.

and this is why aid workers are even protesting because they are kept from getting inside gaza:

Aid agencies have been protesting about their restricted access to Gaza since the 18 January ceasefire, stressing that the full opening of crossing points is crucial for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

“It is unacceptable that staff of international aid agencies with expertise in emergency response are still not given full access into Gaza, and that the crossings are not fully operational for humanitarian and commercial goods,” said Charles Clayton, chair of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), which includes 75 agencies.

here is an al jazeera report on the aid situation and the challenges posed to those sending it to gaza:

and this is why the tunnels are so vital for palestinians in gaza, why they must remain open and why it is so devastating when israeli terrorists bomb them as they did last night (see fayyad’s post on kabobfest for the racist response among israeli terrorists egging on renewed bombing in ha’aretz):

Israel says the attacks on the Rafah tunnels are aimed at stopping alleged weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip by Hamas fighters.

The tunnels are also used to smuggle food, fuel and consumer goods from Egypt and are considered a life-line for thousands of ordinary Gazans.

there are other ways this gaza prison functions to keep people locked up, including those needing life-saving medical treatment outside gaza as jonathan cook reports:

For four days running, an ambulance has driven 15-year-old Amira Ghirim from Shifa Hospital in Gaza to the Rafah border in the hope that she will be allowed to cross into Egypt and then on to France, where she has been promised emergency surgery.

Amira’s left arm and thigh were crushed and her internal organs damaged by falling rubble when a shell hit her home in the Tel al Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City in the final days of Israel’s offensive. The attack killed her father, brother and sister, leaving her an orphan.

But, despite her urgent need for surgery, Amira has been turned away at the border each time, said her aunt, Mona Ghirim. “Each morning we arrived at the crossing and the Egyptian soldiers cursed us and told us to go away.”

Ms Ghirim said Amira’s condition has been deteriorating because of the long periods out of hospital. Yesterday, after hearing news that the border would remain shut, they decided to abandon the journey. “She is very ill and these futile trips are not helping.”

Amira is one of four children who have been offered potentially life-saving surgery by a team of doctors in France. But she and the other children appear to be victims of a bureaucratic wrangle involving the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Egypt.

but of course the biggest culprit, at the root of this conflict, is always the israeli terrorists. to be sure, they have far too many partners in their war crimes, but their crimes are at the center, which are fueled by their racism. just check out this graffiti from the inside of palestinian homes in zeitoun, gaza:

israeli terrorist graffiti
israeli terrorist graffiti
israeli terrorist graffiti
israeli terrorist graffiti

this is not isolated racism (also see eva bartlett’s newest post for more photographs, films, and descriptions of racist graffiti and destruction in gaza). anyone who saw inside lebanese homes in south lebanon after the israeli terrorist invasion in 2006 saw the same kind of graffiti (though we also found many homes where they also shat on the living room floor, on beds, in pots and pans). rampant, just look at how yigal bronner and neve gordon describe what israeli terrorists chant at futball games:

Israeli soccer matches were suspended during the assault on Gaza. When the games resumed last week, the fans had come up with a new chant: “Why have the schools in Gaza been shut down?” sang the crowd. “Because all the children were gunned down!” came the answer.

Aside from its sheer barbarism, this chant reflects the widespread belief among Israeli Jews that Israel scored an impressive victory in Gaza – a victory measured, not least, by the death toll.

for the record, i’m told that the old chant is “death to arabs.”

likewise the racism of the israeli terrorist army’s chief rabbi, avichay rontzki, has magnified this racism by producing a booklet from the army’s “jewish awareness department” as jacky rowland reports on al jazeera:

supposedly rontzki was “severely reprimanded” today (in israeli terrorist terms, this means he was treated to a bottle of champagne).

but there are other ways racism works internally here in palestine and in the region. sometimes it is also militarized as when the lebanese army besieged the palestinian nahr el bared refugee camp in the summer of 2007. until now only a small fraction of the palestinians from this camp have been allowed to return to it. those who live there now and who are working to rebuild their lives with little help from the outside world, including the lebanese government, live in a prison, too. one cannot get inside without permission from the army–this applies to those who live there and those who wish to visit their friends and loved ones who live there. now the rumors of a lebanese naval base which have circulated for over a year now appear to be valid and in response the people of the camp wrote an open letter to prime minister fouad siniora, which reads in part:

Mr. Prime Minister and Ministers,

You, who are opposed to the siege of Gaza and the crazy war launched on it, why don’t you support this same people [the Palestinian] in Lebanon by granting it a dignified existence without military constraints and laws prohibiting the right to work or own or even bequeath property to one’s descendants.

We thought we were partners and refused to believe in a conspiracy theory that claimed the destruction of the camp was intended to allow for the building of naval and land military bases. However, we have no choice but offer a negative reading of the situation of inhumanity and humiliation we live in.

Having expressed our opinion and spoken of our reality and the unbearable conditions being forced upon us, we shall assume that you are now aware of it. And so we kindly urge you to review the condition of this camp and to remove all military manifestations on its ground. We also urge you to remove the barbed wire and barriers and to facilitate the movement of people and the return of normal civilian life to its former state.

We also hope that you revisit the decisions issued in relation to Nahr al-Bared camp after its destruction in light of the difficult times that all Palestinians are going through, and we beseech you to place military and naval bases far from Palestinian and Lebanese schools and neighborhoods.

there is also the kind of racism here in palestine of a more personal level. i ate lunch yesterday with an african palestinian colleague who is originally from yaffa. he lived in the u.s. for a while and was comparing the racism there to the racism here. he was telling me that here he has been unable to find a wife because he is darker in complexion than other palestinians and as a result no family, as of yet, has allowed him to marry their daughter. racism, unfortunately, is universal. for those who are unaware, there is a community of african palestinians who live all over palestine, including al quds:

Currently some forty African Palestinian families live inside the old city, many of whom reside within 50 feet of the center. Upon talking with Adam, the center’s young director, one gets a sense of how proud the community is of its identity. “Many of our ancestors were pious Muslims who came from across Africa to defend Al-Aqsa from military conquest,” I was told by Adam and others in the center. “They stayed and married and their children grew up here. “We are as Palestinian as anyone else but we also remember and our proud of where are great grandfathers came from and sometimes visit or stay in touch with our other family members in Africa.” Aside from the various wars which brought Muslims from Africa to safeguard the sanctity of its Muslim Holy Sites, other Africans settled in Palestine after spiritual pilgrimages to the land’s various holy sites, including of course the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Many Palestinian Africans have heroically managed to retain their presence in this incredibly important and highly symbolic space even while the oppressive closure policies of the Israelis makes life increasingly difficult in all kinds of ways. “They don’t want us to live,” said one of the community leaders. “They go around telling the world that we are savages and want to kill them all. This is ridiculous. Here I am telling you that I am Muslim, Palestinian and African and I have no problem living peacefully with the Jewish community and I condemn suicide bombings. But these people don’t even give us a chance. They make life impossible because they want us to leave Jerusalem but we will never leave. We will die here before we leave.” The sprawling growth of Israeli settler housing outside and within Jerusalem’s Old City seems to be in line with a policy that the city’s old Israeli mayor ten years ago dubbed as the “Judaization of Jerusalem.” The harsh realities of a population under military occupation punctuate the daily lives of these Palestinians who are often cut off from being visited or supported by Palestinians elsewhere in the West Bank or Gaza. Many of the first and second generation leaders of this community like most Palestinians have spent considerable time languishing in Israeli jails for offenses as minor as being rumored to have been at a protest.

my colleague and i continued our discussion about racism in the united states and the way it works on the state level, too. this is seen most clearly in the discourse about the closure of guantánamo as mickey z reports on dissident voice:

Waiting a year to close a single prison is nothing to celebrate. Transferring those illegally detained humans is not change anyone can believe in. Public promises about not torturing have been heard before and even if we could trust such dubious assurances, why are we so goddamned appreciative when a US president merely declares his theoretical intention to think about adhering to fundamental international law?

The Chairman of Change has made no secret of how he wholeheartedly adores the bogus war on terror. Closing Gitmo (an act which still falls squarely into the believe-it-when-you-see-it category) is at best a strategic sidestep by a cautious and calculating new president.

A related New York Times piece began oh-so-cleverly: “Is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed coming to a prison near you?” In the Jan. 24, 2009 article—“Guantánamo Detainees? Not in My State,”—journalists (sic) Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane wrung their hands over the 245 remaining inmates being “released into quiet neighborhoods across the United States.” It’s illustrative of the utter depravity we tolerate as normal in the home of the brave that war criminals like Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Dick Cheney, Wesley Clark, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton, etc. etc. walk freely among us while the newspaper of record preys on gullible readers with sensationalism and xenophobic fear mongering.

In that same Times article, Mazzetti and Shane inadvertently offered another manifestation of America’s cultural rot when they mentioned a discussion of reopening San Francisco’s Alcatraz Prison specifically for the assumed terrorists detained (illegally) at Gitmo. But a spokesman for California Senator Diane Feinstein was quick to clarify that Alcatraz was a “national park and tourist attraction, not a functioning prison,” and that the senator “does not consider it a suitable place to house detainees.”

americans seem to be oblivious to the racist/xenophobic discourse surrounding the closure of guantánamo: where are the reparations? why is it that these men who have been illegally detained for years now are not being offered u.s. citizenship? why are they being forced to seek refuge elsewhere when the united states is responsible for their detention and torture over the last several years?

but this is how the u.s. treats its own prisoners, too. american indian movement leader and political prisoner leonard peltier, who should have been pardoned decades ago was recently beaten up in canaan federal penitentiary:

I am so OUTRAGED! My brother Leonard was severely beaten upon his arrival at the Canaan Federal Penitentiary. When he went into population after his transfer, some inmates assaulted him. The severity of his injuries is that he suffered numerous blows to his head and body, receiving a large bump on his head, possibly a concussion, and numerous bruises. Also, one of his fingers is swollen and discolored, and he has pain in his chest and ribcage. There was blood everywhere from his injuries.

Write to your congressional representatives, and write or e-mail President Obama to call on them to insure that Leonard is receiving medical attention for his injuries.

We feel that prison authorities at the prompting of the FBI orchestrated this attack and thus, we are greatly concerned about his safety. It may be that the attackers, whom Leonard did not even know, were offered reduced sentences for carrying out this heinous assault. Since Leonard is up for parole soon, this could be a conspiracy to discredit a model prisoner.

He was placed in solitary confinement and only given one meal. This is generally done when you won’t name your attackers; incidentally, being only given one meal seriously jeopardizes his health because of his diabetes. Prison officials refuse to release any info to the family, but they need to hear from his supporters to protect his safety, as does President Obama. His attorneys are trying to get calls into him now.

if you want to help peltier here is what you can do:

Call Canaan Federal Prison at 570-488-8000 to register your concern that Leonard was severely beaten and to ask what steps are being taken to insure his safety and take care of his medical needs. You must give Leonard’s prison identification number–89637-132–to have your call recorded.

and this is not an isolated case either. racism and the prison industrial complex go hand in hand in the u.s. jordan flaherty recently reported on torture used in angola prison in louisiana:

The torture of prisoners in U.S. custody is not only found in military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. If President Obama is serious about ending U.S. support for torture, he can start here in Louisiana.

The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is already notorious for a range of offenses, including keeping former Black Panthers Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox in solitary for over 36 years. Now a death penalty trial in St. Francisville, Louisiana, has exposed widespread and systemic abuse at the prison. Even in the context of eight years of the Bush administration, the behavior documented at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola stands out both for its brutality and for the significant evidence that it was condoned and encouraged from the very top of the chain of command.

In a remarkable hearing that explored torture practices at Angola, 25 inmates testified last summer to facing overwhelming violence in the aftermath of an escape attempt at the prison nearly a decade ago. These 25 inmates – who were not involved in the escape attempt – testified to being kicked, punched, beaten with batons and with fists, stepped on, left naked in a freezing cell and threatened that they would be killed. They were threatened by guards that they would be sexually assaulted with batons. They were forced to urinate and defecate on themselves. They were bloodied, had teeth knocked out, were beaten until they lost control of bodily functions and beaten until they signed statements or confessions presented to them by prison officials. One inmate had a broken jaw, and another was placed in solitary confinement for eight years.

all of this racism of the u.s. mixed with israeli terrorism and their war crimes, prison and torture systems make for great partners in crime it would seem. michael hureaux perez draws out some of these connections in the black agenda report:

There is the reality of the working class world, which is the reality of the Gaza Strip, and the urban black working class reality of Sean Bell, murdered on his wedding day by New York City cops, and Oscar Grant, who was murdered by the Oakland Transit cops on New Year’s Day. The Gaza Strip is the reality of the inner city in the United States, writ large.

Then there is the pseudo-reality of race and class justice that the corporate sponsors of Barack Obama – and his programmatic petty boojwah supporters of whatever racial and class background – want us all to absorb. Well, I been there, and I done that. Only back in my starry-eyed youth, Barack Obama was named David Dinkins, or Norm Rice, or Coleman Young (reservation cops all), or some other sad clown who was arrogant enough to run interference for a ruling class so venal and crazy it doesn’t even care that its ass is on fire. And it doesn’t take a stellar political economist to realize that if the problems of race and class or workplace and cultural empowerment can’t get solved at the regional level using the political schematics of the capitalist system, those problems sure as hell aren’t going to get solved at the national level by a charming rogue who uses the same schematic. Trust me on this, even as the trumpet and rose petal spectacle of the inaugural continues to ring in our ears: Obama’s United States is still the Western Imperium, which means it’s the tyranny of race, class and commodity, but now it’s parading at the national level in blackface. (Talk about stale ideas!)